Hi-Fi Shopping in Asia

Singapore

Singapore offers a unique hi-fi shopping experience - most of the high end dealers are concentrated under one roof - The Adelphi at 1 Coleman Street.

The Adelphi is easily accessible via the City Hall MRT  (underground / tube / subway) station. Turn left when you immediately exit the MRT turnstiles, and turn left again when you exit at ground level. Adelphi is just a short 3-5 minute walk ahead.



4 floors and a basement of predominantly audio stores

Some dealers operate by appointment only, while most are open usually from 1 or 2 p.m. daily, closing at about 6 or 7 p.m.

Is hi-fi shopping in Singapore cheap ? Not really. Most imported products sell at a premium of their UK and US prices. There are some items that are cheaper, especially equipment from the large MNCs, but do your homework carefully.

Voltage in Singapore is 230 V, 50 Hz. As the high end market is quite specialised, do not expect dealers to stock 100/110 V models unless the unit happens to have a voltage selector or is multi-voltage.

Local goods and services tax (GST) is 7 %. Only dealers that are GST registered will charge GST. Refund of GST for tourists depends on whether the retailer participates in the tourist tax refund scheme.

Apart from the Adelphi, there are a few specialist dealers in the Lavender area, one in River Valley, and two in Upper Bukit Timah, and some other areas.

Looking for parts ? If you are not looking for premium items, the best place to start would be Sim Lim Tower at Jalan Besar, or Koba Electronics at People's Park Centre. For premium DIY items, have a look at the following places,

Larry Hi-Fi

101 Upper Cross Street
#B1-58, People's Park Centre
Singapore 058357

Larry Hi-Fi is located in the same building as Koba Electronics and a short walk away from Live Acoustics.

They stock Tango iron, TKD and Solen, as well as a multitude of other brands. They also stock a variety of new and NOS tubes.

http://www.larryhifi.com/home.html

Live Acoustics

Blk 34 Upper Cross Street 
#02-152
Singapore 005034 

Specialises in full range driver speakers and tube equipment.

DIY parts include Kiwame resistors, Neotech cable, Mundorf, Duelund, Clarity and Khozmo. They also carry a small selection of tubes from Shuguang (black treasure) and Psvane.

http://www.liveacoustics.com.sg/

Well Audio Lab

175 Bencoolen Street 
#01-43, Burlington Square
Singapore 189649

Frankie of Well Audio Lab is the man to go to for NOS tubes. Do not expect low pricing, but he has a formidable choice of tubes, and plenty of knowledge to share (if he is in the mood).

He also carries a small range of DIY parts including Riken Ohm resistors, Relcap capacitors, Wima capacitors and Black Gate capacitors.

http://www.wellaudiolab.com

Martin Electronics

175 Bencoolen Street 
#01-47, Burlington Square
Singapore 189649

Martin Electronics is located a few units away from Well Audio Lab. Their specialty is in DIY speaker and tube amp building, and have all necessary parts for such projects. They also stock a limited range of Hammond iron, and Jensen capacitors. They stock a decent range of new vacuum tubes, and a limited choice of NOS tubes.

Hong Kong

If you don't have a specific idea of what you are looking for, the best places to shop for hi-fi would be in Mongkok or Apliu Street.

Mongkok is accessible via MTR (Mongkok Station). If the crowds in Shibuya or Shinjuku station in Tokyo are your cup of tea, you will love Mongkok. If you have issues with claustrophobia, maybe you would like to give Mongkok a miss.

A friendly word of advice - if you are looking for something specific, please get the exact address first. It is very difficult to find buildings in Hong Kong, as most have a very narrow facade, and are almost invisible at street level.

A good place to start would be Grand Castle Commercial Centre, 2T Sai Yeung Choi Street.


Start from the top floor and make your way down.


Walk down the narrow flight of stairs and you have a dealer on every floor !




Other buildings you should visit in Mongkok are :-

1. Prosperity Building, 6E Nelson Street
2. Fa Yuen Commercial Building - 75-77 Fa Yuen Street
3. Pakpolee Commercial Centre, 1A Sai Yeung Choi Street
4Yau Shing Commercial Centre, 51 Sai Yeung Choi Street

There are a number of street food stalls in Mongkok. The "aroma" wafting around the corner is probably smelly toufu or fermented beancurd. It smells far worse than it tastes, although for most, it is an acquired taste.

Apliu Street (accessible via Sham Shui Po MRT Station) in comparison is a somewhat different scene. Street vendors sell all kinds of electronics, some of which are second hand. Quality, reliability and authenticity are a bit of a gamble.




The hi-fi dealers are generally located on the second floor of the buildings on the street.

Don't forget to reward yourself with some wonderful Cantonese cuisine.







Drop by Tim Ho Wan at 9-11, Fuk Wing Street, Sham Shui Po (10-15 minutes walk from Aplliu Street) for very high quality and affordable Dim Sum. Don't be put off by the queue, its absolutely worth it !

There are also a number of specialist dealers on Hong Kong island, and other parts of Kowloon. On Hong Kong island, they are mainly located in either Central or the Causeway Bay / Wanchai area.

Hong Kong is tax-free, and operates on a voltage of 240V, 50 Hz.

Japan (Tokyo)

For the absolutely lazy tourist (like me), I head straight for Yodobashi Camera, either in Shinjuku or Akihabara. The most challenging part is probably getting there without getting lost in Tokyo's massive and mind boggling subway and rail network.

The Akihabara outlet in particular is enough to send the most jaded enthusiasts into spasms of pleasure. It's a short walk from the JR Akihabara station and has 8 levels of goodies, including a restaurant.

The Shinjuku outlet is slightly more confusing as it consists of several buildings (next to each other) which stock different things. High end audio is located in one of the buildings.

Provided that you don't get bowled over by all the cameras and gadgets, your heart will literally skip a beat when you see the rows of equipment and headphones for audition, including top drawer models from Stax.




I have a soft spot for Japanese equipment, and many of their wonderful products either are not exported, or have limited distribution overseas.

Don't forget to bring your passport, you can claim back Japanese sales tax for certain items if your purchases exceed a certain value. The tax is not refundable for some items like accessories, but I have found this to be dependent on the luck of the draw.

English is not widely spoken, and it is not always easy to make yourself understood. I usually take pictures of the equipment I am looking for, to show their sales staff, who try very hard to help, in typically excellent Japanese service fashion.

Sales tax in Japan is 5 % (slated to rise to 8 % in April 2014) while voltage is 100V, 50 or 60 Hz (depending on which part of Japan you are in)

Culinary delights await you to reward yourself after a hard day of shopping.





Japan (Osaka)

There is a Yodobashi outlet at Umeda, with direct entry from the Umeda subway station on the Midosuji line. Umeda is a major interchange with a number of rail lines also passing through.


The audio equipment section is not as large as the Akihabara outlet but is quite decent sized.

Perfect for the audiophile with a fetish for AC plugs and receptacles
There is a decent headphone and earphone section with most models (except for selected high end models) out in the open for you to try.

You could also consider the Bic Camera outlet at Namba. Like Umeda, Namba is also a major interchange for a number of rail and subway lines.

The Bic Camera outlet is directly accessible via an exit in the underground mall, Namba Walk. It's audio section is considerably smaller than Yodobashi Umeda although the headphone / earphone section is about equal in size. 

3 comments:

Miguel Camões said...

Another very good spot to shop for high quality HiFi at good prices is the city of Guangzhou in China. It's around the Dashatou Road, near the Donghu subway station.

John Rainey said...

Hi, I'm in Cebu, a hi-fi black hole. Do any of the guys you mention do internet sales?

Many thanks, John

Eric Teh said...

Hi John. Cebu is a nice place - lovely mangoes.

Some of the dealers mentioned do have websites and entertain online sales. For the Singapore dealers mentioned, Liveacoustics definitely does so.

Regards

Eric