I’ve taken my B&W P6 speakers to the repair shop. I’m waiting for them to call and tell me how much that will cost and I suspect it will be a lot.
Meanwhile, I’ve been looking at A/V Receivers and got a bit of sticker shock.
I’ve been thinking about the Onkyo TX-NR646. (Right now it’s between that and Denon, but I’ll use the Onkyo as an example.)
I went to a shop in Quezon City, official distributor, manufacturer’s warranty, all that. The price there is P41,999. That’s almost US$900.
In Hong Kong the same unit sells for HK$4,184 (according to price.com.hk). That’s roughly US$540. Slight difference.
Meanwhile Amazon is selling it for US$400, or certified refurbished ones for US$350.
$400 vs $900 is just completely fucking insane. But Amazon won’t ship this item to the Philippines, which means shipping it to some mail forwarding service in the U.S. So shipping fees x2 plus the handling fee plus the customs fee when it gets here. And having to buy a fair-sized step up transformer since the one Amazon is selling is 110 volts. Still has to be cheaper than paying $900 for it here.
In search of cheaper options, I found on Lazada, someone is selling new ones discounted at P33,500. Over on OLX someone has a used one in “almost new condition” at P25,000.
“Home theater in a box” seems to be extinct in Manila. The Sony Philippines web site features the BDV-N9100W, which isn’t even the latest model. I went to two “Sony by Avid” shops and in each I was told that it was discontinued, that Sony doesn’t sell HTIAB any more, only soundbars. (Someone over at the PinoyDVD forum commented, “home theater in a box is for pussies anyway.”)
Side note #1 – Sony makes 2 or three soundbases. They’re well reviewed and I thought that would make a good option for the bedroom. But they don’t sell the Sony soundbases in the Philippines at all.
Side note #2 – At the Sony shop in Eastwood yesterday, a relatively upscale neighborhood, they were featuring the Sony A6000 as the latest and greatest Sony mirrorless camera. This camera was released almost 2-1/2 years ago. The Sony A6300, released 5 months ago, doesn’t seem to exist yet as far as they are concerned.
I’m almost thinking that I should do my stereo shopping on my next visit to Hong Kong, then bring the box to LBC and take my chances on customs fees.
Meanwhile, on my last trip to Hong Kong, I went a little crazy and bought the Audioquest Dragonfly Red DAC.
Even my crappy ears could hear a major difference with and without it. (I listened to an odd combination of stuff while checking it out – Steely Dan, Michael Kiwanuka, Talk Talk, Supersonic Blues Machine. But I’ve been playing tons of stuff through it since I got it.)
The website for the Philippines Audioquest distributor lists the two year old version and not the latest Red or Black models. Rather sad but apparently typical. In Hong Kong, price.com.hk was showing prices somewhat higher than the US$200 selling price, but I was able to find it at exactly that amount.
The next day I thought to myself, hmmm, maybe I need new headphones to go along with this. I decided that I had to set HK$2,000 as my upper limit, which ruled out the Astell & Kern Layla II model, which sells for US$3,000.
Talking with the guy in the shop, he told me the most expensive headphones they are current selling go for over US$5,000.
Anywho, after reading through a lot of different reviews online, I settled on the Audio Technica ATH-MSR7.
A lot of really good reviews on these. Also a lot of comparisons to the Sony MDR-1A, but the Audio Technica seemed to come out ahead each time. I compared both in the shop (without using the Dragonfly). The Sony ones were a lot lighter which probably meant more comfortable to wear longer but also felt cheaper. The bass was a lot different between the two as well. On the Audio Technica, the bass felt a lot sharper, a lot more well defined – though a bit on the light side, so this probably wouldn’t be the first choice for people into hip hop or EDM. Some reviews have noted that despite the soft memory foam around the ear cups on the Audio Technicas, they are quite a tight fit, and that’s the case for me as well.
On the airplane ride home that night, the Dragonfly plugged into my iPad, the Audio Technicas plugged into the Dragonfly, watching Mr. Robot, I was struck by the increased clarity and definition. Mr. Robot probably has the most unique audio design of any show currently on TV and that really came through with this combination.
One drawback of using the Dragonfly is that if your headphone cable has volume and pause buttons, they will be useless. But problem solved for me as I can still leave my iPhone in my pocket and control it from my Apple Watch.
Anyway, back where I started when I sat down, waiting to find out the cost of the B&W repair. If they’re repairable at a reasonable cost, I will do that and get a new receiver and figure out the subwoofer later on. If it’s too expensive to repair them and home theater in a box isn’t available as a reasonably cheap option, then I might end up getting a Yamaha soundbar and see how that goes.