For this edition of record rooms, we're shining the spotlight on a very committed individual - with not one, but two rooms dedicated to listening and DJ-ing. With an impressive collection of rotary mixers, high-spec amplifiers and incredible speakers, coupled with a deep love for dance music and the passion for sharing it, he's truly built up two of the most amazing listening spaces we've seen. Take a look!
Hey David! Great to have you on the series. How've you been doing these days?
David: Have been doing well and am just glad that everyday living is getting back to normal, both with work and on the personal front. I've been traveling again and just returned from a business trip in New York. Manage to also squeeze in a night of DJ’ng and of course digging for records.
So what's your story, how did you fall in love with music, sound and DJing?
David: Music has always been a part of me, and from a very young age I was already collecting records - Jazz, Disco, Funk and New Wave. I was obsessed with sound and more importantly how it made me feel, the energy it created and the story/journey I could create with my selections. DJ’ng came in my 20’s after living in New York and experiencing the legendary clubs The Tunnel, Vinyl (Body & Soul), Twilo, Palladium, Limelight, CBGB and The Roxy. This began my love affair with the different genres of House music and the power of the DJ.
David at Kee Club
David: I returned to the Philippines from New York in 1996 to work and that’s when my dear friends Manolet Dario and Manolet Santos introduced me to the art of DJ’ng. After playing countless clubs including my own underground after parties (Renaissance), I moved to Hong Kong again for work. I had been buying records from The legendary DJ Joel Lai and he gave an opportunity to frequently play at his Club Drop. I then met my dear friend Vinnie Quek
who asked me to be a resident DJ alongside him at Kee Club. I've had incredible experiences honing my craft and playing alongside the best DJ’s in the world.What brings you to Singapore?
David: I work for an American Financial Services Company and I am the CEO for the Asian Operations. Same company I started my career with in New York. I’m what they call a lifer 🙂 I moved to Singapore from Hong Kong in 2014 with my wife and now 4 kids.Big connection to Owens we featured on the series too, how did you guys meet? You both have a very good ear!
David: Owens is a a dear friend and we both pretty much started our DJ journey together in Manila. He is an incredible DJ, purveyor of music and the one I blame for my obsession in Hifi 🎶. We both share a love for vintage JBL speakers, quality amplifiers, technics turntables and rotary mixers.
As it seems, you've got 2 rooms, each dedicated to a different purpose. What's the reasoning there?
The listening room
David: Yes, I wanted a separation of musical sound, aesthetics and function/purpose. The Hifi room is situated in the living area and main function is to sit back and enjoy quality music (mostly on Vinyl) with a quality system. In my Den or my man cave as my wife likes to say, is my Heart and Soul - my DJ room. This I where I can spend hours mixing tunes and experimenting on sounds. It’s my private space to be artistic and of course release and escape from the chaos of the world. The DJ room is also a high resonance sounding room but with more of a club feel.
The DJ room
Run us through your hi-fi listening setup, we'd like to know everything! From the turntables and carts to amps and speakers.
David: I use my rotary mixers as my preamps for this Hifi set up. I have two on rotation at the moment (4 in total that shuffle between Hifi and DJ room). Rotary mixers on rotation now are the Isonoe 420 and ARS 9100. I do a lot of my A/B rotary testing here. The whole system is placed on the Atacama Hifi rack.
Isonoe 420 and ARS 9100 rotary mixers as preamps
What about your DJ setup? What have you got going on there?
Mastersounds modified Technics
SL1210 M5Gs for DJ application
David: The DJ room consists of a custom made solid Oak booth. Speakers, subs and amplifier are made by TPI Sound of the UK. A five band EQ from ARS is also featured on top of the TPI amplifier. I have two Technics SL1210 M5G turntables modified again by Ryan Shaw at MasterSounds UK. Ryan is a master not only of his boutique rotaries, but in his modification of technics turntables. Cartridges are also Audio Technics AT XP7’s. In my opinion the best sounding cartridges that can withstand the pressures of DJ cueing. Both turntables have been specially engraved as well. They both sit on a TRB x Isolation system designed and made by TPI with collaboration from MasterSounds.
An incredible setup on a custom oak booth
For the digital aspect of this room, I have 2 CDJ 2000 NXS2 on a Spacetek CDJ stand and 1 CDJ 900 NXS on a pioneer CDJ stand. Always fun ring creative using the features of CDJ’s to mix. I also love using a third CDJ for my accapellas.
CDJ 2000 NXS2 for playing CD's or digital files
David: The mixer in use for this room at moment is the Condesa Carmen V hand made my Mehdi of Condesa Electronics in Australia. The mixer is paired with the Erica Synths Zen Delay as the effects unit. I also have a MasterSounds Radius 4V with Fx unit and my sole linear mixer, the Play Differently Model 1.4 on rotation.
The Condesa Carmen V - a thing of beauty!
Paired with the Erica Synths Zen Delay on the effects send
Your rotary mixer collection is absolutely incredible. What do you like about each of them?
Each of the mixers are unique in their own ways from sound, functionality, aesthetics and craftsmanship. I love being able to rotate and use them frequently as you get such a different experience either listening or mixing on these rotaries. This is what I like about each:
Isonoe 420 - a true audiophile mixer with incredible range and more transparent sound. It has a very unique layout with double isolators and shelving units as EQ to help shape and be creative in your sound/mixes. Summing is incredible. Definitely need a quality system to bring the best out of the Isonoe.
Condesa Carmen V - another audiophile mixer with class A discrete circuits delivering a sound on another level. A full and warm sounding mixer. The summing is so smooth and effortless. Such a joy to mix with. As with the Isonoe, best paired with a quality front line system.
Condesa Carmen V
ARS 9100 - the Japanese know how do build a quality mixer. Craftsmanship is first class and the sound of this mixer is so clear and loud. The standout for me are the Isolators. True performance isolators reminiscent of The Real Dope Isolators. So fun to play with.
ARS (Alpha Recording System) 9100
MasterSounds RV4 - I really love the functionality of this mixer and the warmth of the sound with those 4 valves glowing. Sound gets better and better the longer you mix with this mixer. Layout is very traditional and so easy to use. I also like the cross fade and gives your the flexibility to switch. When paired with the MasterSounds FX unit - it is an ideal set up. This FX unit is the bomb with buttery HP and LP filters plus an array of delays.
Mastersounds Radius 4 Valve
Play Differently Model 1.4 - my only linear mixer and the only one worth having. This is an absolute gem of a mixer. Full analog sound and unique features such as shelving EQ’s and individual HP/LP filters per channel to deliver creativity in your mixes. Ritchie Hawtin is a genius!
Play Differently Model 1
Let's hear a bit more about those speakers in your DJ room! Those subs and tops look like a fantastic combo.
David: I’m in love with the TPI sound and speaker/sub combo. I experimented and tested so many systems and this is by far the standout. I wanted something that still delivered that hi end/ high resonance sound but still giving you that club feel with no compromise. I was introduced to Giles (CEO) @ TPI by Ryan from MasterSounds. We spoke at length about what I needed and he delivered an absolutely incredible system comprising of 2 twin 8” monitors (V28) and 2 15” sub woofers (UC15) paired with the TPI 2000 amplifier. Absolutely sublime sound and can DJ for hours with zero ear fatigue and being able to hear every note as intended plus not to mention some pretty deep bass.
Speakers by TPI Sound
Do you have a bit of a philosophy about your gear?
David: I don’t necessarily have a philosophy, but more like an instinct for the sound I love. I’m very meticulous about the depth, range and clarity of the sound and how important that is for anyones musical experience be it pure listening or heavy beats in a club. I do a lot of research, listen to various equipment, experiment and tweak configuration to land at something that appeals to me.
Let's talk about music, what have you been digging these days?
David: Everything! Hahaha! I’m on this musical journey of experiencing different genres and sounds - breaks, techno, house, soul, classics, classical, ambient, future/cosmic, 80’s new wave (lost most of my collection from the move from HK and slowly rebuilding). When digging, I don’t go in looking for a particular record. I’m just eagerly anticipating to be amazed by whatever I find.
How do you organize your records?
David: I try to organise by Genre so it’s much easier to sort and find.
What kind of advice would you give to someone just starting out in their sound journey?
David: Be open to different musical experiences. This could be genre, listening on different kinds of systems, the feeling of how the music/sound resonates with you and the emotion it creates. Just have fun!