If the Hifi Guru Says So...
Thoughts on musicality and the art of hifi

Meeting the Hi Fi Guru

Angel discovers a "killer"

My friend Alvin - I call him my angel because he had appeared out of nowhere to offer help when I needed it - once told me he discovered a "killer preamp". It sounded very much better than his famous brand preamp that reviewers had highly praised. Yet it costs less than half the price. I wanted to find out more. So one night I went with Alvin to check out this "killer".

And so I met DIVA designer T S Lim.

We visited him at his apartment where he had a small room with a cramped work table by the door, loudspeakers somewhat in the middle, the floor littered with various pieces of hifi equipment, the two side walls lined with CDs, the floor by the back wall piled with records. The room was packed full with hardly room for anything else - except music.

When the music came on, I was astounded, amazed! It sounded exceptionally good. It sounded totally unlike anything else I've ever heard before. The realism, the liveliness, the emotion... were just incredible.

At the time I met Lim in late 1997, I had just started my hifi business selling some rather costly equipment.

The total cost of my hifi set-up exceeded $20,000 which was, to me, fairly "high end". Yet I found Lim's set up to be far, far better sounding than mine - at one third the price.

I was shocked to hear how good a modestly-priced hifi system could sound. I decided, without hesitation, to work with Lim. I offered to market his DIVA amplifiers without bothering to first check out how it compares with other brands. Lim accepted. Thus began my association with Lim that continues to this day.

It was one of my customers, Werner, who first referred to Lim as "the Guru". Werner and I would sometimes make snide remarks like, "If the Guru says so, then it must be correct!"

Don't misunderstand. We never accept Lim and his proclamations about hifi on blind faith, the way members of religious cults accept the teachings of their gurus.

No. I, for one, has had many animated discussions, heated debates and sometimes even angry arguments with him.

Sometimes I found his views to be strange, his opinions strong, his positions extreme. Often, I could not understand what he was talking about, I could not agree with him.

But eventually I would see - and hear - his point of view. And realise that he was right. This realisation sometimes took a few minutes, sometimes a few years!

This collection of essays is a sharing of some of the things I learnt from T S Lim. I hope you enjoy reading them,

I hope they will inspire and lead you to a deeper appreciation of hifi, music and art.

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