Head-fi Audio Shopping in Singapore
contributed by Terence Ng
Thanks to extensive marketing funded from the deep pockets of big name brands, the “Head-fi”, or portable audio, scene in Singapore has taken quite a few steps forward in the past few years. Although individual preference and music genres still make it near impossible to have a product that is perfect for everyone, our guide to the local audio gentry of “audiophile” stores will help you sought for your perfect sound more easily.
In terms of awareness, technical knowledge and brands available, audio aficionados have come to appreciate good sound and product quality. Some have started to question if they are getting the best value for money or might there be more customisable options available elsewhere, apart from the mainstream Apple store widely seen across the island. BetterThanBrunch kicks off with five of our favourite audio stores in Singapore.
Being in the Hi-Fi industry for fourteen years with two shop units at The Adelphi shopping centre specializing in speaker equipment, AV One is assuredly not a newbie in the local audio scene. Despite such experience, they are still quite a new kid on the block with regards to portable audio. Opening not just one but two portable audio gear stores earlier in February this year, as well as carrying many big name brands, not many would dare proclaim that AV One did not start this aspect of their business with a bang.
Brands of note that can be tested and purchased would be the Bakoon and Woo Audio line of high-end desktop amplifiers, Cypher Labs portable amplifiers, HiFiMan audio products, and popular US made headphones, Audeze. AV One also happens to be the only local retailer of Ultimate Ears custom line of in-ear monitors.
1 Coleman Street, #01-10
The Adelphi, Singapore 179803
Tel: (65) 6337 0080
68 Orchard Road, #04-03a
Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6884 4666
Most people would not have heard of Connect IT until recently but they probably would have come across or bought something from its parent company, Jade Gift Shop. Opening its doors as a small electronic retail shop in 1978, Jade Gift Shop has been providing consumers’ audio needs in the form of cassette walk-mans and disc-mans before the modern incarnations of digital music players. Keeping up with the times, Connect IT was started in 2012 at both ends of the island, focusing on audio products and aimed towards a younger audience. Spacious, well laid-out and excellent service at both outlets make for an enjoyable audio shopping experience.
Along with some of the usual brands like Ajays and Westone, Connect IT has also brought in bigger name products such as German-based Inear StageDiver in-ear monitors, ALO cables and amplifiers and American Aurisonic ASG earphones.
50 Jurong Gateway, #04-39
Jurong East Mall, Singapore 608549
Tel: (65) 6734 7522
10 Tampines Central 1, #04-14
Tampines 1, Singapore 529537
Tel: (65) 6785 1005
Owners David and Albert have been audiophiles for as long as they can remember and decided last year that they wanted a comfortable place of their own to hang out, listen to audio gear and talk shop with other people of like interest. The result is this little obscure hole-in-the-wall piece of audio heaven located right in town. The smallest space-wise amongst this line-up of esteemed audio stores but definitely one of the most welcoming. Your effort for finding this relatively hard to find shop will be quickly rewarded once your feet are over the threshold. Well, what more can we say when both owners are nothing but such warm and fine hosts.
Products of interests of in the shop would be the wide range of Dunu audio earphones, locally designed Dita Audio, of which E1 is one of a few dealers with demos in stock, as well as the top of the line Stax 009 headphone setup.
E1 Personal Audio Singapore
545 Orchard Road, #05-10A
Far East Shopping Centre, Singapore 238882
Tel: (65) 9789 6899
Probably the most well-known hi-end portable “audiophile” gear store in Singapore, if not in Asia. Jaben started as a small shop in the top floor of The Adelphi shopping centre more than ten years ago and has since opened twenty-three other outlets including Malaysia, Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Thailand as well as, Australia and even South Africa. Owned by the man affectionately known as Uncle Wilson whose purpose of opening this first-of-its-kind store was to cater to the needs of portable audio enthusiasts in what was then considered a relatively niche hobby.
Carrying more products than their website has space to fill; it would be a good idea to drop a call to check if something you are looking for is actually available, as it may not be shown on the website itself. The only local distributors for some high-end brands like Japanese made Fitear and Final Audio Design, Korea’s Calyx, American made Jerry Harvey Audio and many others, Jaben is a definite must-stop for the serious audio hobbyist.
1 Coleman Street, #01-09
The Adelphi, Singapore 179803
Tel: (65) 6337 0809
Located at the Eastern side of the island, Soundwaves Studio starting out in late 2011, aiming to share their knowledge and educate local people about audio products, hopefully getting more people into the scene, through providing a vast range of products in a warm and friendly atmosphere. If you are staying at their end of Singapore or happen to be in the area, do drop by and take a look. They may just have what you might be looking for. Do note as well that there is a wider range of higher end and exclusive products at their Bedok branch.
Amidst the usual plethora of more consumer oriented audio gear, exclusive to Soundwaves Studio are the range of custom in-ear monitors from Rhines and Custom Art. Both brands pride themselves on their purely handcrafted products, the former in acrylic and the latter in medical grade silicon.
311 New Upper Changi Road, #B1-58
Bedok Mall, Singapore 467360
Tel: (65) 67024142
112 East Coast Road, #B1-58
i12 Katong, Singapore 428802
Tel: (65) 6636 3937
Having dual outlets located in the heart of the city, Stereo is the most convenient store for one to explore their audio curiosities in this little island of Singapore. Without a shortage of friendly staff around at either outlet also means potential consumers will never feel neglected or have their wants and questions left unanswered for long. With roots dating back to the 1970s in a small home theatre store at the northern side of Singapore, the people behind the Stereo enterprise are definitely not new to this endeavor. Thus it was no surprise when they finally decided to expand to bigger and better locales in just a short span of three years.
Likely having the most stock of more generic products amongst all the shops listed thus far, Stereo is also the sole distributor in Singapore for Unique Melody custom in-ear monitors as well as newly launched brand name iFi Audio products. A tip: Check in on their Facebook page once in a while for Stereo-only exclusive products.
2 Orchard Turn, #B4-23/24
Ion Orchard, Singapore 238801
Tel: (65) 6634 3520
68 Orchard Road, #04-06
Plaza Singapura, Singapore 238839
Tel: (65) 6336 7113
A part-time audiophile and full-time music lover, Terence has developed an all too expensive fondness for high-end Chinese digital audio players and Japanese made earphones. You would seldom catch him outside alone without his faithful HiFiMan player at his side and Fitear TG334s plugged into his ears. If you do spot him, feel free to gently let him know that he looks silly bopping his head too much to music. It happens.