A sound investment

The more serious audiophiles would not really even bat an eye on investing a huge amount to acquire the highest end products that could satisfy not only their sensitive ears, but to a certain extent, their ego

by ZAINAL ALAM KADIR

CONRAD-JOHNSON, Rogers, Copland, Marantz, ProAc, Audio Pro. If you can identify these names and what they are associated with, you are certainly in the bracket of people who are a little bit more serious about high-fidelity sound reproduction.

Chances are, you do not mind spending that extra ringgit to get the equipment and accessories that could give you the best sound.

The more serious audiophiles — mainly the more well-heeled — would not really even bat an eye on investing a huge amount to acquire the highest end products that could satisfy not only their sensitive ears, but to a certain extent, their ego.

Ask John Yew (picture), MD of CMY Audio & Visual Sdn Bhd, and he’d tell you that his clientele varies from the novice right to the more serious audiophiles, who would spend as high as RM200,000 in one purchase just to get the sound right.

Choices of ‘new old stock’ — new or used LPs — in The Vinyl Shop

If you know Jeff Rowland, then you’d be on the right lane. A set of pre-amplifier and amplifier from this brand could be priced between RM100,000 and RM200,000.

And we have not factored in the other elements in the entire system like the CD (compact disc) player, turntable, tuner, speaker cables and power cables, as well as the specialised extensions and peripheral that would make the experience complete.

“It is not really the price though. It is also about how you can stretch your imagination to get you the best of sound that is according to your taste and inclination,” Yew told The Malaysian Reserve in an interview.

An audiophile would usually seek to reproduce the sound of a live musical performance, typically in a room with good acoustics, which is exactly what Yew’s shop offers.

In fact, if you ask any audiophile for the best place to get your audio equipment, chances are, you’d be directed to CMY, a company that has kept many of its clients happy for at least 27 years. From a small outlet in Sungei Wang Plaza, Yew recently expanded his business by taking over nine lots in the shopping complex with a combined space of over 5,000 sq ft.

Even if you do not know where to start as a beginner, Yew and his crew would tell you exactly what you should get according to your budget.

They’d also advise you on the kind of system that you should have according to the kind of music you listen to, and the size of equipment and the peripherals that could fit your space.

View from one of the CMY showrooms which feature the latest in sound technology

Yew and his crew would patiently guide you on the best pieces that could get you started.

“I guess, if you enjoy what you’re doing, there would never be a bad day,” Yew said.

His friendly policy has certainly worked well. Over the years, he has gained the trust of many and most of his clients have remained loyal, and some have even become his closest friends too.

Now, since its establishment in 1992, CMY has become one of the most respected names that deal with HiFi and home theatre.

What Yew would always try to offer his clients is the “perfect combination of the highest possible sound quality with the best value”.

“I’ll give you a good price, my friend” might be one of Yew’s favourite lines. Guess what? It works all the time. More often than not, when you thought you’re just checking out the latest in audio technology, you might end up purchasing something worthwhile.

Perhaps, CMY is not as intimidating as many other similar outlets that seem more “particular” about their clientele.

Some new models of vinyl players featured in the showroom

Yew’s friendly approach has also translated into a good business. CMY, which started at a lone, small outlet in Sungei Wang Plaza in Kuala Lumpur, now operates several outlets in various parts of the Klang Valley and Penang.

The second showroom at Sunway Pyramid shopping mall was opened in 1997, while the third showroom at Gurney Plaza, Penang, was opened in 2001. CMY continued to expand and established its fourth showroom at Damansara Utama, Petaling Jaya, in 2003.

To cater for the increasing demand for HiFi and home theatre systems, CMY opened the fifth showroom at One Utama Shopping Centre in 2005, followed by the sixth showroom at Jusco Shopping Mall, Balakong, in 2006.

The seventh showroom was opened at Sunway Giza Shopping Mall, Kota Damansara, in 2010. Showrooms No 8 and No 9 are located at Sungai Wang Plaza, near the first outlet, which houses Yew’s latest pride and joy — The Vinyl Shop.

He said vinyl (or LP, if you may), is making a huge comeback among Malaysian music lovers.

“Sales of CDs are somehow declining. More people are gravitated towards vinyl now,” he said.

Many in the know would agree that the LP is more suited to classical music because of its extended continuous playing time. These days, vinyl also allows a collection of 10 or more pop music recordings to be put on a single disc.

Vinyl sales have been climbing steadily in the last few years. The sales reached 2.8 million in the UK alone in 2012, while the US vinyl sales in 2017 reached 15.6 million and 16.7 million for 2018. Yew’s shop now offers over 10,000 pieces of vinyl that cover different genres of music — from pop, classical, jazz and other niche pockets of music style.

Many enthusiasts, who initially drop by to browse through the catalogue, would end up buying something.

“The younger generation is now more discerning when it comes to sound. I guess that’s why we’re doing well in this market,” Yew said.

CMY’s vinyl includes a choice of “new old stock” — new or used LPs — and the titles on offer might just make any collector go crazy.

Apparently, through his extensive contacts, Yew has managed to get hold of among the best original pressings from RCA Corp, Decca Records, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips and Teldec from various periods too.

Most of CMY’s showrooms are built specifically for demo, reliving the excitement of live music as if you are in, say, a concert hall.

If Yew is not around, fret not, as his colleagues at CMY are equally knowledgeable, attentive and friendly.

They’d provide you with the best understanding of the products, so that you’d get the best out of your favourite music and sound reproduction.

The staff are trained to provide the highest quality installation for HiFi, home theatre and multi room systems.

“Getting advice and information from our experts on your system settings will undoubtedly improve the reproduction quality of your system,” Yew said.

Most of the products are from well-known manufacturers around the world, and Yew would tell you that the products are chosen based on the “quality of sound, and not the specification”.

Products that are designed by ear and built by hand exist for one reason: To enhance the experience of music listening.

High-end components are usually expensive, but there are some budget equipment that can also offer great performance.

Yew said “High End” refers to the products performance, not necessarily the price. So, what’s new and “in trend” among buyers now? Well, that should be the Dolby Atmos home theatre system.

It is currently among the most sought after for those who are into home theatre systems with an edge.

“If you have one at home, you certainly don’t need to go to the cinema anymore. However, if you do not instal it properly, it could be a disaster too. I assure you that our people know exactly what they’re doing. These are among the challenges that we have to keep up with to keep our business going,” Yew said.