Ever since The Den India, relocated to their new venue and opened for business last month, Pawan Sahjwani, the owner had been patiently calling me time and again to come over and experience his entire AV Showroom but for some reason or the other, it did not materialise until yesterday when I decided to go for an impromptu visit that too without him being aware of the same. To be honest, I was keen to do so only once his allocated hi end stereo set up was in place, up and running and to the satisfaction of Khushrau Jilla, the bossman of Nexus AV. To me that was the proverbial cherry on the cake, but to what extent it was going to bamboozle me was still unknown. More on that later….
I shall purposely not include an in depth review of each component of the room which from now onwards I shall refer to as the ‘Unit’ in this article, as I feel that the sum of the total parts is what makes the ‘unit’ perform the way it does. The break-up of the components installed were as follows:-
AVM MP3.2 CD Player with Streamer
Octave V70SE with Black Box (External Power Supply Booster)
PMC Twenty5.26 – 3 Way Floor Standing Loud Speakers
Kaiser Acoustics Diffuser and Absorber Panels
Music heard on CD’s –
Retrospective – The Best of Suzanne Vega
This is one album, I thought was simply at it’s best playing at really very high spl with immense bass control in songs like ‘Luka’, ‘Tom’s Diner’, ’99.9F’, ‘Blood Makes Noise’
Ms. Vega’s vocals were always in the spotlight but with the rest of the instruments in balance, making one wanting to hear the album in its entirety.
Meenaxi: Tale of 3 Cities – OST
The drum beats of ‘Yeh Rista’ were intoxicating, the composition of ‘Chinnamma Chilakamma’ sounded brilliant and the effervescent artifacts of the entire sum of the musical and non musical instruments used to create a vivid image of ‘Cyclist’s Rhythm’ were mesmerising to say the least. This song perfectly encapsulates AR Rahman’s creative genius and why this album needs to be in every music enthusiasts collection of CD’s.
Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow
This is one of my favourite albums that I thought was very poorly mastered and recorded until yesterday when I heard it. ‘Man on the silver mountain’, ‘Catch the rainbow’, ‘Snake Charmer’, ‘The temple of the king’. I was specifically listening to certain passages of each song twice or thrice, literally in disbelief as what was I hearing was truly possible or not? Most noteworthy in all the tracks was the presence of Cozy Powell’s insane melodic timing with his stick work and intense rhythmic pounding of the skins and cymbals that was never felt as deeply as it was today. Now I can live happily in the fact that this album is indeed recorded and mastered at a higher level than what I was lead to believe for all these years!
Stradivari Sampler – Volume 2
The control the ‘unit’ displayed whilst playing Bach’s ‘Toccata and Fugue in D Minor’ had to be heard to be believed. The bass was felt more than heard which was magnificent and really satisfying.
If You Wait – London Grammar
Hannah Reid’s seductive vocals in ‘Strong’ were simply a treat to my ears. The strong (pun intended) bass was also a revelation.
The Dark Knight OST – Hans Zimmer
The true depth and power of this extremely dark composition needs to be heard in it’s entirety of 16 odd minutes to truly comprehend what Hans Zimmer is all about. Incredibly powerful and deeply connects with you on an emotional level. ‘If you are a fan of the movie then you can simply visualise the scenes in front of you, such is the impact’. Khusrau said so and I concur.
Random Access Memories – Daft Punk
The tracks ‘Giorgio’ and ‘Contact’ just pull you into the music with an addictive bassline and intense contact (again pun intended) The frenzied pace of the beats kept me awake at night, whilst I tried to get some sleep but the experience had earlier in the day was not leaving my consciousness. Total knock out!
Love In The Modern Age – Josh Rouse
I heard this artist and album for the first time thanks to Khusrau. It has a very 1980’s music feel that instantly connects with a listener who grew up in the ‘80s. ‘Businessman’ is a track with so much of the ‘80s synth vibe that it instantly transports you into a happy space, emotional connect and nostalgia. I heard this track a couple of times and each time enjoyed it even more!
I literally had a ‘reset’ and my ears were re-calibrated by the ‘unit’ whilst listening to all the albums that I had carried along with me. The intensity of the music played at varying volumes was always on point. Infact, so seductive that it makes you listen to the album end to end, what with so many nuances in the recordings coming to the fore that you are bamboozled by how much information there has been in your favourite tracks that you are realising this only after listening to it in this environment. Ones ears also get re-calibrated with regard to the lower frequencies, their texture, quality and finesse that sadly most if not all of us have never truly experienced in our life to date. Another important aspect of the whole experience was that we could listen to music at a stretch for hours together, without any ear fatigue, irritation and also manage conversations without having to shout or strain to hear the other person speak. A side note and probably the irony of this being reiterated with authority was when an accompanying non audio video industry related person mutually known to me and others in the audio video industry had just come from an uber high end system set up listening session, where he was truly miffed at the level of sheer ear fatigue and irritation he experienced in that listening session vis a vis to what he experienced in this room. He was simply not able to comprehend how a uber hi end stereo music set up costing 6 times more than the ‘Unit’ was so terrible, painful to the ear and not able to have any musical connect with him at all?
The sharing of his experience simply reassured me and validated what I was experiencing was true and there was NO false sense of over appreciation that he or I was intentionally or unknowingly getting into.
One thing that impressed me most about the whole set up is that Pawan clearly states that he is selling you a tailor made solution that is guaranteed to make you happy as the entire gear on demo including the acoustic panels will be sold as a ‘unit’ or single entity only. Yes, you may want to buy selective components from the ‘unit’ but how will it perform by itself is not something that he is interested in getting into. As far as Pawan is concerned, there is clear focus and a plan of action in what the ‘unit’ does. Play the entire game or don’t play it at all! This ensures top level performance that is guaranteed to make a music enthusiast relish the opportunity of experiencing sheer bliss. At a price of 40 lakhs, our market may be very very small and insignificant in context to the one in matured markets worldwide, but the fact that there are buyers of hi end audio in our country and that their tribe is growing, is gratifying and ensures that the need of the hour is to correctly showcase hi end stereo in India. The hallmark of a great sounding and optimised room is how much one is able to just forget all the baggage of life and relax into a nice comfortable chair to not only listen but to get involved in the music. The ‘Unit’ achieves this so effortlessly that it became addictive for me to hang around inside its environment for a couple of hours than what was supposed to be just a few minutes.
Overall to sum things up, it takes courage of conviction & intestinal fortitude to go all out and walk the talk. Pawan & Khushrau have managed to showcase in our country, what high end stereo done at an international level is all about. It is a matter of great satisfaction that now there is yet another dealer who is ready to make the dream a reality as far as hi end stereo set up showcasing is concerned.
Chapeau time for both the gents mentioned above and look forward to them succeeding in their endeavour. I only hope that the others too in the audio industry take the cue from them and collectively take the leap of faith to replicate such environments pan India.
As always, my aim is to first and foremost be unbiased and share what I feel on a personal level than sugar coat or wax eloquently on something that isn’t true. Infact, I would appreciate the readers of this article to visit The Den India and experience first hand what I did yesterday. It would be best if you could get in touch with Pawan and his team to fix an appointment for experiencing the same. I also suggest to carry all your favorite music album CD’s to enjoy to the maximum.