Our New Denon

I left off in my last blog with my nephew having trolleyed the Denon 2700 amplifier onto his van just before lunch on 12 November which was a Saturday and almost a month from to date. Su had wished that he would bring it to Mei Foo the next day so that we could work on it on Sunday, but it took more than a few days – my nephew was busy with his hairy crabs trade at the time – so that we didn’t see our new toy until past mid-week, and after which Su began a steep learning curve on electronic and sound mechanics.  

Let me first go back to the morning we bought our new Denon from True Sound in Causeway Bay. Ah Man, the shop manager, was very helpful. Not only did he give us a big discount, he also taught us a few things. For example, the phono cable should be fitted with a third ground cable to remove the noise and humming, which we thought came from the main speakers. There and then, we bought a new phono cable as well as a new set of speaker cables of the better-quality type. Soon, we learnt that we need to make the new Denon work with or talk to our almost ten-year old Smart TV, and we need to learn how the various cables work. Manufacturers had stopped producing users’ manuals for a long time; and Su found out that the Smart TV was actually smarter than we thought. First, it could display step by step whether and how each speaker was connected, so that the TV remote control actually functions as a menu selector. In the process, we learnt that our surround sound and centre speakers and the subwoofer had not been properly cabled or operating under the previous regime. I then recalled that when we moved to Mei Foo, we had paid $2,000 to Derek’s helper to wire up the home theatre to 5.1 with the Yamaha he sold us. Looking back, the helper obviously had not done a proper job at all. We also learnt that the media industries had stopped producing 3-D movies in 2016 and that our TV sets were somewhat obsolete and behind, by present technology standard, as was our Blu-ray DVD player. Indeed, 4k TV sets are not considered modern equipment these days. In order to view the films on the many 3-D discs that Su had acquired in recent years, when HMV went into receivership, which we had yet to view, Su bought a new Blu-ray 3-D disc player from a shop at Sham Shui Po; at a discount because they were not in demand; and she was thinking of acquiring a bigger 4k TV set, but that would be another story.  Next, we discovered that the speaker cable for the subwoofer was broken and the centre speaker was somewhat defective or unreliable. We went to True Sound for a few more trips to pick up a new cable for the subwoofer, new HDMI cables and a new centre speaker, QUAD S-C, which cost more than the Denon 2700.

With everything almost properly wired, we found that the turntable was working better than before, generating noticeably better sound effects. We also watched a few 3-D movies at home – the sound effects proved to be phenomenal, as was the 3-D experience, albeit rather tiring. Another spin off from the new Denon is that we now have easier access to YouTube. Our friends in YVR had recently sent us on WhatsApp the full ten episodes of Hong Kong Returns produced by Malcolm Clarke. I had talked about Clarke’s first four episodes in July on my blogs which, for those who have yet to watch, were filmed during the riots following the anti-Government extradiction bill in 2019. In July, I couldn’t access the remaining six. Now, they were available on YouTube even though I couldn’t access them on my phone because of copyright issues. I must confess that I am not exactly sure what the problems were. But Clarke’s series was informative as well as watchable and believable. He had acknowledged inputs from Regina Ip, Christine Loh, Yonden Lhatoo, Eric Wishart, Nury Vittachi, Phil Hynes and others, through a series of interviews.

Then came World Cup; and Su was convinced that we could use the Smart TV to view the games free – provided by Viu TV – with the new home theatre sound system. One evening, three young brethren who shall remain nameless, complete with PhD and self-declared expertise, came to help after a few drinks at KCC. One introduced to Su more functions of the TV remote control, but the input between them were minimal and insufficient to make the TV broadcast heard through the sound system. Undaunted, Su worked on her own with single minded determination, consulting YouTube in the process. She also consulted Marco Lam in Australia, a few times, from whom she gained some insight. At last, she discovered the knack of the whole thing, which was somewhat complicated – for me anyway – and difficult to articulate in a few sentences for the layman. But Su wrote out the process in a WhatsApp chat group to the three young brethren who had tried to help; and everyone was impressed and amazed. In short, it involves teaching the Denon and the TV set to communicate with each other, either way, every time one wants the TV output to use the speakers to be enabled by Denon. We have since been able to watch the World Cup matches using the more powerful and surreal sound systems, which was great, and we intend to watch the remaining four matches in this mode.

Before I go, let me share with you a recent experience with the electric car. A few weeks ago, returning home with about 10% charge, I took it to the charger for an hour because it was late. It was uneventful; and the next day, I tried to charge the car for four hours which was the most I could under the system. When I collected my car, I found that the EV company had charged my account, but the car was not charged at all. I called the company to explain the situation. The staff was polite and tried to be helpful. She asked me to try another charger, of which there were four. I did, but same thing happened. I was billed but my car was not charged. I called the company again. She suggested that maybe there was a system failure and would ask the technicians to visit Mei Foo for a check; and in the meanwhile, would refund what I had been billed. I was content, and parked my car for a few days, for the battery was low. A few days later, I tried to charge my car again, but had the same experience. I called the company again and had the same polite and helpful reception. She acknowledged my complaint and offered full refund for what I had been billed. An hour later, she called again and told me that other owners had been able to have their EV charged and suggested I had my car checked. She had arranged for full refund of the few occasions I had been billed. Th next day, I called Zung Fu for service and had my EV fixed in under two hours without charge. A defect had developed in the car’s charging mechanism and it was under warranty.

I would be planning to write my year ender soon; but I hope to talk to you again soon.

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