Haven't been there since '92, but I can tell you everything that you've ever wanted can be had seen in almost one building...the "Adelphi". Used as well as new items are for sale and at lower prices.
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I used early nineties, switchable Threshold separates while living on 220/240. Inside a compartment in the power amp's rear panel was an ingenious little circuit board that could be inserted four ways. Likewise the preamp's separate power supply had a rotating drum which displayed its voltage setting thru a cutout. The switchable gear is out there but sorry no specific recommendations. Here are some additional considerations:
1. If you take your USA configured turntable with you, moving to a country with 50Hz may make it play at the wrong speed.
2. If you get other gear that's switchable between 120 and 240, remember to halve the line fuse values whilst running it on 240. Fuses downstream from the transformer can stay the same.
3. When you get there, go to the hardware store for wall plugs to reterminate your power cords as necessary. Disassemble an existing, native plug to learn the power cord color codes.
4. Frys electronics has a compact converter/inverter that you can use on either side. It is about the size of an automotive battery charger or half a loaf of Wonder bread. It costs less than $50. I used one to power a USA configured Nakamichi cassette deck. The deck worked well on 50Hz. The converter/inverter performed quietly on 240 with the deck but was noisy while powering 240 hair straighteners in the USA.
The speakers will perform the same on either supply, unless they are internally powered. Whether the newer models of a line are worth the difference cannot be answered by anyone save you. I suspect I myself might like the older ones better as I find most metal dome tweeters too "hot" and supposedly the improvement in the diamond line was to increase the treble but you may have a totally different take on it. US made products will be cheaper here but European or Asian ones may not be.
I currently live in Shanghai, but have also lived in Hong Kong and Taipei. So I know the hassle of moving audio equipment.
I suggest that you dump all your current U.S. equipment, and upgrade in Singapore as this will be a great excuse for doing so! I believe Singapore has very little, if any, import duties, as it is a free port, like Hong Kong. So new and second-hand price should be about the same as those in U.S.
In fact, do a search on Audiogon for Singapore
"http://cgi.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/srch_fs.pl?ZIPC=singapore" and you will see that second hand prices are comparable to those of U.S., and there are a lot of dealers. I suggest that you contact them, and visit their stores.
Singapore is an extremely wealthy "little" country. Last I read was it has the highest percentage of millionaire households, with at least 30% of its households having net assets (other than their primary residence, which are all most likely at least US$1 million since real estate is incredibly expensive in many places in Asia) of at least US$1 million. You will be very surprised at how many people are into high-end audio in Singapore and Asia in general, and what they can afford... So finding what you want should not be too difficult.
Of course, your second option could be to send the equipment back to manufacturer to have the voltage reset, and this will be a hassle and will cost you in service charge and shipping.
In any case, good luck with your move. You will definitely find a lot of audio fanatics in Singapore too!
I live in Singapore. If you are going to buy new, I would buy in the US and ship through your company. While there is good selection here, I don't think it is as good as in the US. Plus, the weakness of the dollar mades US branded speakers a good value right now, and you don't want to buy them in Singapore when the shipping could be borne by your employer.
As for amps, look at Wyred 4 Sound as they will do whatever voltage you want.
I am going through a similar search for electronics to go to Europe. Here is what I have found. Most main line dealers with standard brand names will not sell you 240 V gear. There license will not allow it - to protect the overseas distributors. Some of the smaller companies and the direct sale companies (e.g. Wyred 4 Sound) will sell you 240V gear. Some equipment (Peachtree, for example) has a switch to select the voltage. Some equipment has a dual tap transformer that can quickly be changed by a qualified repair person. If it is a single tap transformer, the whole transformer will have to be switched out. Small companies like Wyred 4 Sound, Peachtree, Jolida, Oppo are the best options. If you want want to go used, check if the equipment has a dual tap transformer which can be easily changed.
I live in Hong Kong myself, have lived in Taipei (which was 110v, actually), and have been in Singapore for periods of a couple months in the past on assignment. I moved here from NYC about 5 years back and can relate.
Gear in Asia is indeed much more expensive compared to the US for US BRANDs. European/British brands are harder to say, as those run quite expensive in the US as well. In Hong Kong the premium ranges from 20-50% depending on what US brand in particular you are looking at. Singapore looked similar although I have never really purchased a full blown set in spore, mainly window shopping. Dealers are also more difficult about giving discounts here due to the small market, in fact most shops list at "MSRP" prices some 30%+ higher than the US, then cut 20% off and act like you are getting a phenomenal deal.
Due to the significant price differences, you will actually find that there is actually an extensive culture of parallel importing here, despite the risk of no warranty attached to that.
All in all, you will need to think it through and decide which method carries the most merit for you. Some food for thought for you:
- If you buy your gear in the US and bring it out here, usually warranties are enforced by original dealers. So much like parallel imports, you are likely to find it hard to get service, as you will have no relationship with the dealers out here and they will be out to get a leg and an arm out of you if you do need service
- I would not really recommend you bringing analog equipment out here. Someone mentioned turntables. I do not know the technicals, but another friend of mine had analog gears turn out very badly when he was trying to run them with transformers.
- If you buy your gear out here, you have the option to sell your old gear in the US first. It will be much easier and safer logistically for you to sell your old gear while you are in the US. This will help fund Asia purchases as well
- Similarly, if you are looking to buy second hand, its going to be easier for you in the US. second hand markets in Asia are smaller.
Selection-wise, you can honestly get most brands out here that you would want. I do not believe the brand selection is inferior to the US if you throw in British and European brands, which are harder to find in the US but easier in HK/SG. The prices just aren't pretty, because each city will have just one distributor dominating the supply. What with the strong population representation in Mainland Chinese and expats out here, prices aren't like to go down either.
All in all, you could definitely save a lot of money buying in the US and carting it over. But if you are out here in the long haul, I would seriously consider buying your stuff here despite the price premium to get acquainted with a few local dealers and the market.
To further address your specific questions...
1. Some factories/manufacturers are able to adjust their equipment in the US. There is a fee involved and can take significant time with shipping back and forth. Some audio-grade power conditioners also provide both 110 and 220v outlets, which would interestingly allow you to bring gear as is if you do not want to upgrade.
Some gear is also universal power supply, such as gear with a switching power supply.
2. I have been told 220-240v is usually the superior for amps at least. You can probably research why, I do not recall the reasons off the top of my head, it was actually explained to me by a dealer in the US so it should be legit, but I would imagine marginal or you would see more discussion about it.
3. Not familiar with this particular issue
4. I've auditioned both, but do not have extensive experience as I was in there for the 802d. I thought the 804d (new) was a little better than the 804s (old dealer demo being sold off) dynamically, bringing out the individual lines in the music more clearly. diamond tweeter is always nice on paper but I do not that think that was the cause.
That said, a friend of mine had 804s for quite awhile and was quite happy with them. The simple answer is if its bang for buck, the 804s is definitely better. But in absolute terms, the 804d is capable of more technologically. If you want to save money, 804s will serve you fine.
Sorry, one more point I wanted to mention but somehow missed just now...
You probably do not know what kind of place you will be moving into at this stage. If you plan on buying a completely new set of gear, you are gonna want to take your new room under consideration... which you are unlikely to be able to do in the US. If you are just bringing our old stuff and the company is covering shipping, I guess there is not too much harm in it, but something to think about seriously if you do plan to buy new stuff. Would be a shame to buy a bunch of new gear in the US and then find you can't effectively position or use it in your new home (not to mention put a serious damper on any cost savings)
When I lived in Singapore (20 years ago), US gear was more expensive than in the US, mass market Japanese gear (Sony, Pioneer, etc) was roughly the same, European and higher end Japanese gear (Luxman, etc) was cheaper. The latter was because, unlike in the US, you could get discounts from MSRP on pretty much anything. You'll get a better discount if you bring a local with you, since Americans won't get as much of a discount as a Singaporean will.
I don't think this has changed too much today. I was there two years ago, and bought a Linn Lingo and a Benz Ace (both European) at the Adelphi for noticeably less than they would have cost me in the US.
With regard to brining gear over from the US, speakers are fine - no major issues with them. However, due to the climate Singapore rooms tend to have more hard surfaces than typical US rooms (e.g., marble floors rather than carpet), so speakers tending towards bright might become overbearing there.
Amps and CD players just need to have the right voltage - as noted, if they have dual primary transformers they should be able to just be rewired internally, but unless they have an external switch or you know what you're doing you should get a pro to check and do the switch. You'll also need to get the right kind of power plug for the wall - Singapore uses the UK style, and those are readily available there.
Turntables and tuners are more problematic. If a turntable uses a syncronous AC motor which uses the power frequency to control the speed (many belt drives are this way), it'll run at the wrong speed because Singapore uses 50Hz AC power while the US uses 60Hz AC. If the speed is electronically regulated (like, say, most Linn LP-12s), you need to make sure the regulator has switchable power (Linn Lingos and Valhalls do).
Tuners have the 230V or 120V issue like amps do, but also need to have adjustable deempahsis (Singapore uses 50uS, the US 75uS). Without that, a US tuner will have depressed highs if used in Singapore. Digital tuners also need to be able to tune on even decimal frequencies (say, 91.2) as well as the odd ones used in the US (such as 91.3)
One more thing, since this is the Home Theatre forum. When I was living there, the TV standard was completely different than the US standard, so a US TV or VHS deck wouldn't work there at all. Expats used to buy "multi system" TVs, which would work on either the US NSTC system or the UK PAL system Singapore used.
This may have changed with HDTV - you should check before bringing over any TVs, DVD players, etc.
They have/used to have a digest sized mag that had a listing for every audio store in the city. There's a used store in a shopping center in Sambawang that's pretty good.
P.S. Don't chew gum or spit. Beware of the Triad and don't walk in tall grass at night(King Cobra's). Enjoy the warm rain and get used to the expression "Lah" used after every few words.
Just got back from a work trip and boy, you guys are awesome!!!
Insomniac928, my place will come with a hall about 10 x 12 feet, not sure about the ceiling.
Richardyc, the website is exactly what I had tried to look for, it seems very active!
Seems like the best way is to bring along my speakers (since it doesn't depend on power supply) and get a receiver in Singapore.
I know this may be strange to some regarding the trouble getting an audio system over, but it is really one of the few things I truly enjoy.
Thanks for all your advice.