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INTERVIEW | “The Editors” series |29|


Title: “Eric’s Hi-Fi Blog”
Publisher: Eric Teh

Publication type: BLOG
Publishing frequency: IRREGULAR
Year of establishment: 2008



Interviewer: Wojciech Pacuła
Images: Eric Teh | press materials

The Editors

No 196

September 1, 2020

“THE EDITORS” is a series of interviews with audio magazine editors from all over the world – both printed magazines, as well as online magazines and portals. It started on January 1st 2012 and 28 interviews have been published so far – the one below is No. 29. Our aim is to make our readers more familiar with the people who usually hide behind reviewed products. It is the “WHO IS WHO?” of specialist audio press.

have come across ERIC THE’s blog a few times, looking for information on brands less known in Europe, usually Chinese ones. I was impressed by his energy, his apparent qualifications for the job he does, as well as a lack of pomposity. Even though he is a professional, he deals with even the smallest products that seem too cheap to others. On the other hand, he is a true audiophile who has a “cool” audio system that he has managed to fit into a small room in SINGAPOUR.

Apart from writing his blog and articles for the “Stereotimes” portal (, Eric takes photographs and cooks. We can also read in his bio included in the blog that he collects fountain pens. Most of the photos that we can find in his tests have been made using either his iPhone 5, or the Canon 5D Mk II camera equipped with one of the three following lenses: EF 24-105 mm f4.0 L, 100 mm f2.8 Macro or 50 mm f2.5 Macro. As he puts it, his single malt collection is under constant attack by his significant other, while his daughter loves to sing.

ERIK TEH is interviewed by WOJCIECH PACUŁA.

WOJCIECH PACUŁA: Tell us something about yourself, please.
ERIC TEH: I went to a law school at the local university in Singapore and qualified to the local bar. The practice of law is nothing like what you see on television. A lot of time is spent on research, drafting and ploughing through documents. After a few years of practice, I ended up working as an in-house counsel with a bank and I’ve been there ever since!

⸤ ERIC TEH in one of his listening rooms


WP: When did you notice you were addicted to audio?
ET: My father, like most families then, had a decent stereo system which consisted of Japanese components from Sansui and Akai. The receiver was pretty decent, although the speakers, tape-deck and turntable were very basic. The most interesting thing he had was an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. Music was probably the most interesting form of entertainment then and I spent many hours listening to the radio, as my father did not have much of a music collection.

My first serious system, though, was the acquisition of a Marantz CD 60 CD player in 1988. I received a small windfall from a school competition and my parents allowed me to blow it all on hi-fi! I hooked the player up to my Pioneer component set then, but the dismal sound quality motivated me to purchase a pair of Sennheiser HD 540 Reference headphones. This was followed by a Pioneer A-400 integrated amplifier and a pair of Mission 760i speakers. I still have those Sennheiser headphones and they work fine.

As hi-fi equipment was very expensive for a student, I spent many hours taking different products apart and trying to figure out how to improve their sound. Some of these ideas were quite silly in hindsight and, fortunately, both the equipment and the owner have survived all those experiments.

WP: How did your blog adventure start?
ET: I actually started with a few pages dedicated to basic information on both Hi-Fi and Audio Video systems more than twenty years ago. The blog was hosted in free space provided by my Internet Service Provider. Pages had to be edited using an HTML editor and then uploaded using FTP. The blog was popular enough to be listed in the popular links page of one of the more prominent hi-fi websites of those times. I stopped updating it when I started working and got caught up in all the usual distractions of adulthood.

In 2008, I decided to start writing again. Blogs were rising in popularity and technology made it so much easier to publish content, including high-quality photos. My boss used to make fun of my writing skills. He said: “You lawyers always hide behind words and jargon. You shouldn’t use more words than necessary to get your message across”. I started my blog to improve my writing skills, as well as to use it as a way of recording my observations on components and accessories that I was trying out at that time.

I began to write more seriously when people started to give me feedback that they liked what I wrote and the products that I covered. In particular, I wanted to focus more on Asian products that had very little or no coverage at all in the Western World or in English print.

WP: What is your outlook on product reviews?
ET: My task is to evaluate the product and to describe its qualities, to help readers make a choice whether the product is worth an audition or purchasing based on their preferences. I try to be as objective as possible, as personal taste is very subjective.

⸤ Eric’s main listening room, all covered with acoustic treatment elements


Occasionally, I receive products that do not perform up to my expectations. I try them out in multiple setups before making any judgment – component synergy is very important – and I try to bring out the best in any product I receive for review. I am quite fortunate to have a few systems around the house. If they are still not able to make the cut, I return the products to the manufacturer or dealer with my feedback but without publishing anything.

I try to keep my main system as constant as possible to serve as a reference point. The reviewed product is substituted in and out, at least for a week at a time before I make any conclusions. Any change unsettles a system and it can take a day or two before it reverts to normal. Like good things in life, it is easy to get used to it – removing the given item is often as informative as putting it in.

As I do not carry advertisements or accept payments, I would like to believe that my reviews are more free from commercial considerations than most other articles.

WP: How about audio after COVID-19?
ET: COVID-19 will have a long-lasting impact on both businesses and consumers. People tend to take things for granted, enjoying their music, taking a walk in the park, visiting their favorite hi-fi dealer …… the list goes on.

A lot of hi-fi retailers I know are from the old-school way of doing things and have never taken online sales seriously. Within weeks of the pandemic, I was heartened to see some of them adapting to continue business on online marketplaces, etc. It is unavoidable that some of these businesses will not survive this crisis, but the survivors will hopefully come out stronger, with a clearer idea of how to do business in a more efficient manner.

Personally, spending so much time at home has also given me some time to consider my life and audiophile priorities. I ended up with the conclusion that we sometimes get carried away with the purchase of hardware and software, but we seldom have the time to fully enjoy what we have.

WP: What is the most interesting aspect of modern audio?
ET: Young people have rarely had to deal with physical media. Their content is available from music streaming services or stored in their electronic devices.

The other thing is that they are overloaded with information. In the past, you had to clutch tightly on to your hi-fi magazines and scrutinize every line, trying to figure out whether the given component was for you. If you got really lucky, you would meet a wise old owl that would give you a lesson or two (or a misguided one that would push you into a pit). Today, there are so many free online resources, and plenty of forums to equally educate and confuse you.

WP: What you think about streaming versus physical media?
ET: Physical media are not really on most young people’s minds. Thanks to their interest in anything retro, you do see some of them venture out into records, but, by and large, streaming services fulfill most of their needs. On the other hand, many of the older audiophiles I know value physical media and go to great lengths and expense to acquire the best CDs and LPs, especially first pressings.

WP: How about you? Do you prefer LPs, CDs or SACDs? Streaming perhaps?
ET: Audiophiles have their preferences and some have very stubborn beliefs that there is only one route to happiness. I believe that all roads lead to Rome. For myself, more than 90 % of my listening is through my streamer and the remainder via LPs.

To me, SACD has ceased to be a mainstream format. Thanks to streaming, it lives on as DSD data files. Whether we like it or not, streaming is the way of the future. You are beginning to see a lot of equipment featuring Bluetooth inputs or having some form of network playback capability.

WP: What do you think of room acoustics correction using DSP?
ET: DSP has its merits, although I have doubts as to whether a typical audiophile is able to set up such systems adequately. Room acoustics is a terribly complicated subject and most users go overboard with their corrections or try to use DSP as a band-aid to try and fix bad setup or poor speaker placement. Most of the audiophiles I know that started off with DSP have switched to traditional room treatment instead.

Signal manipulation in the digital domain has many advantages and you often see this being used very effectively in active speakers, and other components. I think what Devialet has done with their SAM technology is very forward-looking. Unfortunately, so many audiophiles get seduced with the idea of big speakers and end up overwhelming their room. Worse still, many speakers are placed in corners or too close to the wall for aesthetic reasons.

WP: Tell us something about your listening room.
ET: My room is quite unusual. Although it is rectangular, the rear wall is actually a soft wall instead of the usual concrete and brick used in Singapore. It measures 2.7 x 3.5 m and I listen to music in the nearby field, less than 2m away from my speakers.

⸤ The VIVID GIYA G4 speakers with acoustic treatment elements behind


I believe that acoustic treatment is one of the most important, if not a commonly overlooked “component” in an audio system. I worked with a well-known audiophile who also happens to be an expert in acoustic matters. He arranged to fabricate the room treatment panels that you can see in the picture of my room. The corner lower panel is a thin bass trap, while the surrounding panels are diffusers.

The idea was to moderately attenuate bass boom, while scattering reflections from the first point reflections. Fortunately, my ceiling is quite high and I have chosen not to apply any treatment there, as well as to ignore side-wall reflections. We experimented on the side walls, but the effect was not to my liking. The reason for scattering the reflections instead of absorbing them was my intention to maintain the liveliness of the system. I've heard systems with very heavy absorption and bass trapping that sounded very quiet, but also dark and dead.

I also use some unconventional room treatment devices, such as the Synergistic Research HFT and Acoustic Revive QR-8 resonators.

WP: What equipment do you use to listen to music?
ET: A little bit about my system – incoming power is delivered via a single circuit. Unfortunately, I had to move in a hurry and did not have time to do any renovations, so I have no dedicated power lines for my listening room. I have two balanced power conditioners, a 3000W and 1500W model produced by Plixir, a local company that has gained an excellent reputation overseas for their power products. I also have a Frank Power Bank UB25000Ws plugged into an adjacent receptacle. The two conditioners are split to feed the main system (on 3000W) and my streaming equipment chain (1500W).

The core foundation of my system are my Vivid Giya G4 speakers. I've met Philip Guttentag personally and have great respect for the work done by Vivid, especially Laurence Dickie. Besides being able to disappear like no other speaker I've heard, they have the detail, speed and coherence that are in a class of their own. I've always been partial to tube-based equipment and I use a Conrad Johnson preamplifier and monoblock amplifiers.

For my source, digital decoding is handled by a Totaldac d-1 Six DAC (more about the company HERE, Editor’s note) and analog playback is through a Soulines Kubrick DCX deck, Jelco TK-850S tonearm and Shelter 5000 cartridge. The Soulines Kubrick is a work of industrial art and sounds as good as it looks.

The SOULINES KUBRICK DCX turntable – it serves for just 10% of Eric’s listening, while the rest is file-based


I also use a mixture of accessories and cabling. My view is that each brand has a certain sonic signature and it is best to use a mixture to avoid the domination of any single flavor. As for cabling, I am very fond of Acrolink cables (especially their power cords) and Black Cat cables (analog and digital interconnects, more HERE). Other brands I use in my system include Sablon Audio (more HERE, Editor’s note), Cardas and Wireworld.

You could also describe me as an audiophile polygamist. My various systems reflect my different approaches. I use class D amplification there, as well as other low-powered amplifiers, class A transistor designs and directly heated triode amplifiers. The two most often used speakers in my other systems are the Thiel CS2.7 and the Tannoy Kensington GR.

WP: What is “the absolute sound” for you?
ET: This is a tricky one. Many have told me that the live event is the absolute sound or reference. Unfortunately, a recording is the result of many factors, from the choice of microphones and their setup to decisions made by the recording engineer at the mixing desk. Since we do not have the privilege of being involved in the recording process, we can only make an intelligent guess as to what the recording really sounded like. Exposure to a great variety of equipment helps you come to an approximation of this, in my view. In essence, we are not listening to the live event, but the recording made.

WP: Tell us please about 10 albums that “High Fidelity” readers should listen to right away…
ET: I am going to cheat a little bit here. There is so much good music out there, so I will choose some albums recorded by local artists, which are really quite special. The remaining albums are must-haves for audiophiles, in my opinion.

|1| Jacintha, Jacintha is Her Name, Groove Note GRVCD1014


Jacintha is a great vocalist and probably one of the few local jazz vocalists known internationally. You may even see references to her albums in international publications.

|2| Kit Chan, The Music Room, New Century Workshop NCKC003


Kit is our another home grown talent that has made it big, including in Hong Kong where she lived for quite some time. This is a live recording of her concert in 2011 at the Marine Bay Sands. The songs are a mix of English, Mandarin and Cantonese. It is a very powerful performance, so do not let the language barrier deter you.

|3| 2V1G, Tempting Heart, S2S SSDI-9760


Winnie Ho and Serena Chong on vocals, with guitar work by Roger Wang. I had the privilege of hearing them live, in a small acoustic space in the Esplanade when they had a small concert in Singapore. Sadly, they disbanded soon after that. It is a very simple and pure performance, especially strong on the part of Winnie Ho and Roger Wang.

|4| Patricia Barber, Café Blue, Premonition Records PREM-737-2 (original release) or the “unmastered” version PREMSA90760


This album was highly recommended to me by an older audiophile. I was 20 years old and followed his advice. While listening to the music, I was wondering what on earth was going on and kept the CD after a few plays. It took me another 6-7 years to revisit this and then I understood what the fuss was about (more information on the recording of the album can be found in the article entitled MITSUBISHI ProDigi. Digital reel-to-reel recorders – from X-80 to X-880 | PART 2: MITSUBISHI, read HERE, Editor’s note).

|5| Hillary Hahn, Hillary Hahn Plays Bach, Sony Classical SK 62793


A superb performance and recording. I use it as a reference. The simplicity and purity of the performance is able to tell you a lot about a system.

|6| Jacqueline Du Pré, Elgar Cello Concerto


This is a very emotional and poignant performance that never fails to move me emotionally. I find it tragic that someone so talented had to leave us so soon. This has been released in many different versions, choose the one that is the easiest to find for you.

|7| The Bassface Swing Trio, Plays Gershwin, Stockfisch Records SFR 357.8045.1


I love this recording for its energy and dynamics. The performers are obviously having such a good time, too! It’s worth noting that the vinyl version is a direct-to-disc recording.

|8| Diana Krall, Live in Paris, Verve Records ‎065 109-2


Out of all Diana Krall’s albums, this one is my favourite. Purists may say it is too commercial, but I find this particular album very good from both an artistic and a technical viewpoint. When she sings, A case of you, you can be your typical audiophile and count the number of coughs, chair creaks, etc. Otherwise, just sit back and enjoy the performance.

|9| Hugh Masakela, Hope, Triloka Records 7203-2


Despite the constant abuse of Stimela at hi-fi shows, this is still a great album to have.

|10| Tsuyoshi Yamamoto, Midnight Sugar, Three Blind Mice TBM CD 2523


This is a must-have for anyone who is into jazz. You can almost imagine yourself being at some smoky and dimly lit jazz club in Tokyo. This is one of those endearing classics that should be in everyone’s collection.

WP: Thank you for your time!
ET: Thank you, too! Greetings to all “High Fidelity” readers!

“THE EDITORS” series: