Record Rooms 08 - Calvin Phua

Record Rooms 08 - Calvin Phua

We're back with a new entry in our Record Rooms series, this time featuring a really decent and dependable setup from our good friend Calvin. He's been a strong supporter of the vault for a number of years now, and has been active in our live music scene through his contributions with his band Stopgap and session duties for Inch Chua & TAV Records fam Intriguant. 

Hey Calvin, thanks for doing this! Stoked to feature a long time friend and supporter of the shop. How have you been these days and what's been on your rotation?

Hey yo! I've been good lately. I've been trying to listen to records that aren't on any streaming platforms right now, so usually a lot of City-Pop to be honest!

Pacific Breeze compilations, Tatsuro Yamashita and music from the members of YMO to be more specific.

Let's hear a bit about yourself and how you got started on your music journey.

I've been playing in my band, Stopgap since 2011! Yes, we're getting old... hah. But somewhere down the line, in 2016/17, I've been sessioning for Inch Chua and did a couple of songs/shows with Intriguant as well. So yeah, I've been fortunate enough to collaborate with artists that are outside of my band's style and genre.

How did you arrive at your current setup and what inspired each piece? It's really minimal and we love the look of it. 

I've just moved into a new place with my partner! So this is version 1.0 of our set up. It's been cobbled together from stuff we had in our respective homes before we moved in together, so it's kinda still growing and developing.

Calvin's home setup

Turntable & Cart: Technics SL-1200MK2 w Shure M44-G Cart - I got this in a pair from someone's DJ set up. My friend jumped on the deal and needed someone else to take the second turntable from him, as he only needed one. Score! I paid less than half of what you would normally expect for these now. The cartridge I got during a warehouse sale as well.

Technics SL-1200MK2                             Shure M44G

Speakers: Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Bookshelf Speakers - My partner and I inherited these speakers from a family friend! Not much i can say to be honest, except that they sound really decent! Nothing to complain about.

Monitor Audio Bronze 2 Bookshelf Speakers

Amp: Denon AVR1910 - This amp came with the speakers! So once again, not much to chime in on.

Denon AVR 1910 (front)                         Denon AVR 1910  (back)

Others: Not pictured - Schitt Mani phono preamp - I got this just cause the amp doesn't have a phono in! I don't hear a significant difference, or havent had the time to try and A/B test other preamps.

Is there anything on your wishlist to improve your current setup? 

Yeah! The amp in this set up is definitely the weakest link, with it being an old amp that didn't really have a focus on good sound quality. Also, the chassis of the amp is massive. So I guess something like an NAD amp or something compact that's focused on music would be nice!

A fresh switch up from the Kallax for your vinyl storage. Can you tell us where you got this shelf?

I got this shelf from Muji! We didnt want more kallax shelves in our house as they look abit bulky. So I went with this shelf, coupled with bookends, so the records can stay upright.

Calvin's Muji shelf, fitted out with bookends to keep records upright

Very grateful for the continued support from you over the years Calvin! Can you tell us a bit about any treasures you've dug out from our shelves?

Happy to patronise! I've definitely dug in the Japanese Jazz and Citypop section the most over the years, followed by the Modern Jazz section. It's always a pleasure to find out about an album or artist you would've never discovered in your own scope of listening and discovery. I think the most vividly memorable record I've dug out is probably The Aegean Sea, a Haroumi Hosono album in collaboration with Masataka Matsutoya and Takahiko Ishikawa. It's one of the best mood setters, and definitely lets you zone out for the entire length of the album. Basically an aural holiday to the Aegean sea.

Is there anything you would recommend to others on our website right now?

Definitely! Pacific Breeze 3!!!