The Journey of an Andy.EF : From Cassette Tapes to #donglemadness

My story begins with the hashtag #donglemadness, something that I started almost two years ago at the height of the Covid lockdowns. The world was in a state of chaos, and we all needed something to hang on to. So, I decided to divert my attention from the inability to indulge in normal outdoor activities and started a journey of wanting to try every possible portable DAC/Amp I could get my hands on. People may know me for this madness, but what they may not know is that I am originally from Mukah, Sarawak on the Borneo side of Malaysia and have been a resident of Kuala Lumpur since 1992. Audio gears may be my current passion, but I am also an avid bicycle enthusiast, and music is what drives my love for audio gear.

My audiophile journey began in 1984-86, when I was just a young man from Mukah, Sarawak, on the Borneo side of Malaysia, who was captivated by the sound of music. Back then, I would have given anything to have my own portable cassette player to listen to my favorite tunes. That desire was finally realized when I was gifted a battery-powered portable cassette player, which allowed me to dive headfirst into the world of Loudness, Sepultura, AC/DC, and more.

Fast forward to 2006, and I found myself wanting to experience better sound from my listening equipment. After years of using stock earplugs that came with my Nokia and Sony phones, I finally discovered audiophilia and acquired my first Etymotic ER4S, which marked a turning point in my journey. I became a diffused field neutral junkie and my search for the perfect synergy between my IEMs and portable amps began.

My journey has been filled with many twists and turns, including dabbling in the world of portable amps like Ray Samuels Audio, TRIAD Audio, and bespoke modded iPods of Redwine Audio. I then moved on to optical gears with the iRiver H series and eventually found my endgame in the form of STAX Electrostatics.

Along the way, I have amassed a collection of favorite audiophile equipment, including my trusty Shure KSE1500 (Energizer only KSA1200 version) and Etymotic ER series IEMs. I am also fond of the BQEYZ Winter, Kinera Idun Golden, SeeAudio Bravery AE for IEMs, and the CEntrance DACport HD, Cayin RU6, Ovidius B1, VE Megatron, Abigail/Avani, and iBasso DC03 Pro for DAC/Amps. Despite my love for these high-end pieces of equipment, I still use the Tanchjim ZERO IEM on a daily basis, which is a testament to its amazing sound quality despite its low price.

Music is a huge part of my life and I listen to it for 30-40% of my day. My audiophile journey has become a habit, and I always have something plugged into my ears. When selecting new pieces of equipment for my collection, I look for design and technology that catches my eye. I also take my time to understand my own listening preferences and acknowledge the differences in tuning variants.

My advice to anyone just starting their own audiophile journey is to take a step back and understand what they like in terms of sound. This hobby is highly subjective, and one person's trash can be another person's treasure. It's important to take the time to figure out your own preferences and learn to acknowledge the differences in tuning. And, of course, don't forget to have fun and enjoy the journey!

Check out Andy.Ef's Youtube channel for his insightful audio reviews and hit the subscribe button to stay updated on all his latest works!"

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