Au­dio for the elite

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - By N. RAMA LO­HAN By SUJESH PAVITHRAN afile@thes­tar.com.my

that clas­sic axe out of your reach? Fear not, there are al­ways af­ford­able op­tions that strut al­most as man­fully as the leg­end.

THE Les Paul has en­dured some­what of a strange ex­is­tence in its life­time. It came out in the 1950s, was dis­con­tin­ued early in the 1960s and ex­pe­ri­enced a resur­gence late that decade cour­tesy of Eric Clap­ton.

Then it died dur­ing the hair rock era of the 1980s but was given a new lease of life, this time by Slash, late in that decade.

Since then, it’s been a gui­tar that’s re­mained a fan­tasy for many play­ers of the in­stru­ment. So, it’s barely sur­pris­ing why it’s also one of the most-copied de­signs by many other gui­tar mak­ers.

Hence, what you get out there is the good, the bad ... and the ugly.

Cort cer­tainly makes them pretty and neat, so an LP copy would al­ways be wel­come, and what more from a range called Clas­sic Rock.

Hand­some, not pretty

The CR250 was al­ready beg­ging to be played when seen hang­ing in the re­tailer’s store. Yes, this one was a beauty – sim­ple, yet with well-ap­plied aes­thet­ics. It’s tried and tested tra­di­tion here of two hum­buck­ing pick­ups, with two vol­ume and tone con­trols each and a three-way tog­gle switch for con­fig­u­ra­tion changes.

The gui­tar’s body is a straight­for­ward af­fair of a ma­hogany (and the neck, too) slab capped with a flame maple ve­neer. Un­like an authen­tic LP though, the CR250 has square fret­board in­lays on its 22 frets, which span a 24 ¾-inch scale neck.

The nickel hard­ware is a nice touch. Over­all, this is a hand­some gui­tar, not a pretty boy. LET’S say you be­long to an elite breed of consumer who de­mands the very best. House, a lux­ury prime-area bun­ga­low with ex­otic ac­cou­trements; car, a Bent­ley on week days, an As­ton Martin for the week­ends; hol­i­day ... oh, al­right, you’re just loaded with it. So when it comes to an au­dio or home the­atre sys­tem, you’re not go­ing to set­tle for any­thing less. Here’s some­thing for you, then.

Eclec­tic prod­ucts are not a rar­ity in the world of hi-fi, but even then, there are state­ment de­signs by a hand­ful of man­u­fac­tur­ers that oc­cupy a niche that’s all their own. Take for ex­am­ple, the col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween the le­gendary pi­ano man­u­fac­turer from the United States, Stein­way & Sons, and cut­tingedge au­dio in­no­va­tor Peter Lyn­g­dorf.

Lyn­g­dorf, a Dane who de­signed the world’s first full-range DSP room-cor­rec­tion de­vice when he was with the now-de­funct Snell Acous­tics, dreamed for years of build­ing the per­fect sound sys­tem. The story goes, he promised Stein­way, who have turned out the world’s finest pi­anos for more than 150 years, that the sys­tem he de­signed would make a recorded Stein­way sound like the real thing.

The re­sult was the im­pos­ing Stein­way Lyn­g­dorf Model D sys­tem, com­pris­ing a podium-sized mod­ule hous­ing a CD player and pro­ces­sor, and a pair of mas­sive dig­i­tal speak­ers. The Model D, with­out ar­gu­ment, is a no-com­pro­mise prod­uct for the mu­sic lover yearn­ing to make a state­ment. It’s no off-ther­ack sys­tem but built to or­der – the wait time is two months, be­cause the fin­ish is done at the Stein­way fa­cil­ity. The price tag, not sur­pris­ingly, runs in the high six-fig­ure range.

Of course, there are more “af­ford­able” prod­ucts in the range, built for smaller spa­ces and needs. The lat­est among them, launched world­wide a cou­ple of months ago and in Malaysia this month, is the S-se­ries, a speaker sys­tem that prom­ises to de­liver, whether in stereo or multi-chan­nel con­fig­u­ra­tion, “stun­ning, true-to-life sound from a sur­pris­ingly com­pact size.”

The sys­tem was demo-ed to the me­dia at the show­room at Starhill Gallery in Kuala Lumpur by Stein­way Lyn­g­dorf’s Asia Pa­cific vice-pres­i­dent (sales and op­er­a­tions) Ran­jit Wi­jedasa.

What was im­pres­sive was how the 5.2 sys­tem – yes, two bound­aries subs are used in multi-chan­nel con­fig­u­ra­tion, each with two 10-inch woofers – filled up a large room with­out los­ing con­trol of de­tail or dy­nam­ics, when Wi­jedasa played us a con­cert video. Was it as good as the real ex­pe­ri­ence – well, if you stretched the imag­i­na­tion a bit, you could be in the mo­ment!

Then again, fac­tor out the has­sles of go­ing to a live event, and you can un­der­stand why con­cert videos, on high-def­i­ni­tion video and high-res­o­lu­tion au­dio, are so pop­u­lar.

Even with a 2.2 set-up, the S-se­ries sys-

Taste­ful rude

This axe was var­i­ously plugged through Sil­ver­tone 1482 and National Tremo-tone amps – low-watt, sin­gle twelve-inch tubed jobs. For gain pur­poses, a Vox Ice-9 over­drive pedal was pressed into duty.

The CR250 is a hefty chunk of wood that bal­ances nicely when played. Neck ac­cess is as good as a sin­gle-cut de­sign would al­low but the 12-inch, rather flat ra­dius took a lot of get­ting used to.

Tonally, though, this is a fine piece of plank. It was hard not to whip out the gems ... tunes from Free, Led Zep, Skynyrd and so forth.

This baby’s a ragged glory. It’s not a re­fined in­stru­ment – it’s rude and crude, so when you sculpt your tone across the vol­ume range on tem sounded spec­tac­u­larly punchy and de­tailed, cap­tur­ing kick drums and low bass with fi­nesse, while al­low­ing the midrange to breath eas­ily. One was im­pressed by how nat­u­ral the whole pre­sen­ta­tion sounded, no mat­ter the seat­ing po­si­tion.

The S-15 satel­lite speaker’s heart is the AER (Am­bi­ence En­hanc­ing Ra­di­a­tion) dipole tweeter de­sign, which dis­perses higher fre­quen­cies for a spa­cious dipole ef­fect. It can be placed up against or par­al­lel to a back wall. The AER de­sign, ex­plained Wi­jedasa, al­lows the high fre­quen­cies to spread out at a wider an­gle, thus favour­ing less crit­i­cal seat­ing po­si­tion.

Of course, at the heart of the Model SP-1 Sur­round Sound Pro­ces­sor that is part of the S-se­ries sys­tem (you also get monobloc dig­i­tal am­pli­fiers) is the pro­pri­etary Room­per­fect

A go-to axe

Years ago, a made-in-in­done­sia gui­tar was con­sid­ered the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor, but this gui­tar is cer­tainly go­ing to cause some re­assess­ment of opin­ions.

For its ask­ing price, the fin­ish­ing is im­mac­u­late, the elec­tron­ics are top-notch and the gui­tar sounds just like a rock­ing Les Paul. But then again, this is the phi­los­o­phy that Cort has con­tin­u­ally sowed, so this shouldn’t be all to sur­pris­ing.

If you know a Gib­son Les Paul is out of your league, you re­ally have to give this one a go. And if you are look­ing for a lowly-priced back-up to your Gib­son Les Paul, this is also the go-to gui­tar. So is this mine, then? tech­nol­ogy de­vel­oped by Lyn­g­dorf. This of­fers an es­o­teric al­ter­na­tive to the tra­di­tional route of adapt­ing the room to the sound sys­tem us­ing acous­tic room treat­ment. Stein­way Lyn­g­dorf in­stead adapts the sound sys­tem to the room.

The S-se­ries is, given the num­ber of com­po­nents in it, com­pet­i­tively priced, clos­ing in on a six-fig­ure tag for a 2.2 sys­tem that com­prises two speak­ers, two subs, the pro­ces­sor and am­pli­fiers. A full 5.2 set-up would, of course, cost a bit more than dou­ble. Yet, for a unique home the­atre ex­pe­ri­ence at home, this one rides out in front of the pack.

For more in­for­ma­tion on Stein­way Lyn­g­dorf, see stein­way­lyn­g­dorf.com. Or just head down to the Stein­way­lyn­gd­of­show Suite(% 03-21451669) to hear it for your­self.

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