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March 2010 issue
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LISTENING METHODS
I have been a hi-fi enthusiast for more years than I want to remember, having started back in the 1950s in the era of DIY loudspeakers and even amplifiers. I have been an avid reader of magazines but only came to Hi-fi World comparatively recently. And a refreshing experience it has been!
I realise that I am probably not your typical reader, being twice if not three times his average age, and also listening solely to classical music. Recently I upgraded some aspects of my modest kit which has always been devoted to giving me the highest standard of music reproduction that I can afford. A Quad CDP2 CD player (connected directly into a Quad 606 power amp.) and Spendor A6 loudspeakers have done wonders for even my ageing hearing. But I have been wondering whether I am missing even greater things by not going in for downloading from the internet uncompressed files that can outdo even the high(ish?) standard of CDs. So I have spent much time searching for help to that end and have arrived at a position of complete bemusement. May I set out my needs and ask for your reaction as to whether I can satisfy them or whether I should just be content to soldier on with what is, after all, a modest but satisfying system?

My computer is in a separate room distant from my hi-fi set-up and this controls some of the following. The way I listen to classical music is to look at my rack of CDs and LPs and then decide which suits my mood at that moment. I take down the chosen disc whether silver or vinyl, put it on and sit rapt in the magical sound which results.

So I am not keen on storing my music on my computer for sending when needed to the hi-fi via wireless. What I really want to do is to download it off the net and make a disc of it in the computer for storage in my CD rack for future use. I thought I had found the solution to this from Oppo who were producing a wizard machine which would play almost anything (except FLAC for some reason) but they have now decided not to introduce their kit onto the UK market. So how do I now find a method of making a disc of superior digital quality onto which I can download the wonderful music out there from people like Passionato and others and then replay it on my hi-fi set-up?

Linn have something mysterious called DS but try as I might I cannot find that it will actually play discs.
Also, there is Squeezebox to which the same applies. There are DACs from Cambridge and others but they won’t play discs, will they? And of course down the road there is, or ought to be, the need for Blu-ray capability since that seems to be the obvious way to upgrade the CD format.
So I need to find something to play discs that I have burned myself as FLAC or WAV files, as well as those of any format such as Blu-ray, HD audio and all the others. Does such a thing exist? At a relatively reasonable price?
James Bruxner

Hi James. Denon make a Blu-ray transport that will play all discs, and you can buy the Oppo BDP83 in the UK from CRT Projectors, who will be legally obliged to provide support if it fails. You would have to ask them about this. It is a U.S. Region A player  but most Blu-ray discs are All Region or Worldwide so will play. However, this does not apply to commercial DVDs, which were generally zoned. The BDP83 works on 240V. A hack is available to make the player multi-region.

I have just learnt from Hi-Audio they are to import both a BDP83SE (£800) and something known as a BDP83SE NuForce (£1200). The latter comes from a tie up between Oppo and NuForce, both of which are Taiwanese. I'm told the respective MDs went to school together, are good friends and there's a lot of co-operation between Oppo and Nu-Force as a result. We hope to review the BDP83 NuForce very soon.

tmpg

Blu-ray authoring is in its infancy, but TMPG Authoring Works 4 does the job and TMPG (Japan) say it will author audio.

Authoring music to Blu-ray is in its infancy and something I have limited knowledge of. Blu-ray write-once discs (BD-R) currently cost around £8 each and I've already turned many into coasters trying to author video to them. However, Panasonic BD-REs erasable discs are now available so this problem has vanished, as I can run test burns on an erasable disc first. This again has been successful, so the technology works! You will need a Blu-ray burner for your computer of course. I encounter no problems burning video (HDV) to Blu-ray in BDMV format using TMPG Authoring Works 4. This programme isn't the easiest to use for editing, but it is comprehensive in what it does, has a superb MPEG coder that delivers better picture quality and costs little. However, I have not used it or even tried to use it for audio authoring. TMPG, Japan, told me in response to this query that Authoring Works 4 in latest form handles 5.1 AAC compressed surround-sound and up to 20bit PCM at 192kHz sample rate. They aim to accommodate 24/192 in future issues. There is a two week free trial available on-line and instruction on its use on You Tube at   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n26AEkW00Zk&feature=related.

Alternatives are generally more expensive. Sony has Blu-print and the Vegas series, and Adobe has Premiere, but whether they can author audio to disc I am uncertain.  If any readers have experience  of authoring music to Blu-ray, please let us know.  NK

MARANTZ TT-1000

Hallo! I live in Norway and buy your magazine every month. I have been a reader of Stereophile, HI-FI News, Absolute Sound and many other Hi-Fi magazines but now I only by Hi-Fi World.

marantz-tt1000

Marantz TT-1000 "plays very good but I wishes to do some tweeks" says Ragnar Philip Rosenlund from Norway.

I read that your editor David Price have a Marantz TT-1000 MKI. I also own this lovely turntable and I see in your issue for December that the editor's TT-1000 is recently been restored. I think my TT-1000 plays very good but I wishes to do some tweeks to make it play better. So I wonder if you can give me some advice on this matter. I use a SME 3009 Improved and an Audio Technica AT 1010 on my TT-1000. I also read that your reference system often uses the TT-1000, so it has to be a very good turntable.
regards
Ragnar Philip Rosenlund
Norway


Yes, it is a very good turntable, one that compares well in sonic terms to every modern high end turntable I've reviewed for this magazine. Costing four times as much as a Linn LP12 when it first came out, it's an expensive device and durable too. Basically, it's a heavily tweaked Micro Seiki, which is a good thing as they're fairly straightforward to rebuild (as high end Japanese direct drives go)! My own deck was serviced brilliantly by Richard Peachey of Vantage Audio of Taunton (www.vantageaudio.com, 0845 4294643). DP

EFFECTIVE MASS
I have recently upgraded my Goldring 1042 moving magnet (MM) cartridge to a MC and was originally considering Denon DL-103R or Audio-Technica AT-OC9ML/II.

After deeper investigation into Arm Effective Mass and Resonant Frequency due reports that the Denon only being suitable for med to high mass arms I found that my Roksan Tabriz (standard model) at 11g mass would not be suitable. (cartridge/arm matching is very well explained @ http://www.theanalogdept.com/cartridge___arm_matching.htm)

My system consists of Meridian 502/557 pre/power amp, 507 24bit CD player, Sony ST-SDB900 Tuner, Manticore Mantra with Origin Live standard motor upgrade/Tabriz/ AT33PTG via Cambridge 640P phono stage and Wilson Benesch Orator speakers with Chord Silver Siren/QED Silver Anniversary cables and own made screen power cables and junction box. Part of the reason for the upgrade was due to a recent upgrade to the 502 with a MC board on board which replaced my existing 551 which had a MM board. I was going to swap the boards over but found out that they are a different fitting, the 502 MC being the same as fitted to newer G0 series.

I would imagine that the Meridian MC unit will sound a lot better than the 640P as the old MM fitted to my existing 551 sounded quite a bit better than the 640P does now, hence the upgrade. I know that there are better phono stages than the Meridian one but at this time upgrade finances are a little tight and I'm sure Meridian wouldn't fit any sub standard item, especially as the board alone costs £290 if purchased separately!

Getting back to the cartridge, after some research and due to price constraints I actually bought an Audio-Technica AT33PTG which from reviews was quite tolerant to mass/resonance and was better or at least as good as the AT-OC9ML/II. I was originally going to purchase the OC9ML for around £250 through Vinyl Engine membership but due to the recent financial crisis the price has risen to around £370 which is a substantial increase. I managed to buy the AT33PTG for £240 all in from a highly rated eBay seller in Japan. I do quite a bit of buying from auctions and selling on eBay to pay for salmon fishing trips and hi-fi so I know how to avoid the mishaps of buying through eBay.

It sounds superb and after being burned in sounds even better with great depth and separation, though one thing I will point out I have now installed a spacer under the cartridge seat which adds weight (5g) as I found that there was a slight bit of distortion/resonance which I presumed was due to lack of arm mass which has now been eradicated so maybe the ATs aren't quite so tolerant as first thought. This increases the arm mass to 16 grams and still leaves plenty of movement on the counter balance weight.

My system is situated in our L shaped living /dining room which measures 7 x 9 metres, the 9m being the depth into the L section which is 4m wide, the speakers are toed in and .5 metre away from the corners firing across the room as I work on my computer with my back to them in the opening of the L section. I listen to it all day most days, to the wife's annoyance!

My music tastes being most types of music except classical via Radio 2/4, CDs and Analogue as the mood takes me, I also now listen to quite a bit of Spotify Premium (320kbps) which I read about in your or one of the other magazines and find it excellent and very user friendly, the only drawback being no licence to access The Beatles music. Hopefully, this will change in the near future once enough of the Beatles re-mastered music has been sold.

Mainly as a trial I invested in a Hong Kong eBay purchased 24/192 DAC supposedly made by or labelled Onkyo in the Eastern market. I got an audio electrician friend to peruse over the specifications which he thought was very good considering the price of £95 all in. It arrived after a couple of weeks and works a treat and once again was very easy to install through my highly upgraded Dell Studio 17 laptop running Vista.

I have just read the letter from Steve Trowbridge Dec 09 and I too like to buy old hi-fi and have a fiddle, probably my best purchases being my current Manticore Mantra bought complete but with broken RB250 arm and very dirty for £6, a JR149 Subwoofer bought for £22 re-foamed and sold to a German hi-fi enthusiast for £380, a set of Quad II/Quad amp & tuner/Garrard 301/SME 3009/V15/Tannoy Lancaster corners bought for £185(!) and a QED A240 CD amp which I still have, as it sounds superb in my shed through my homemade LS5as.

As a matter of interest, in your opinion what would be the next upgrade step? If you say speaker cable, please note that they have to turn a few corners and measure 9 metres each and are bi-wire.
Keep up the good work.
regards
Alan Vincent
Rickmansworth,
Herts


Oh dear Alan! The notion that arm / cartridge matching is just about where low frequency resonance falls is overly simple and very outdated. Your Roksan Tabriz, at 11gms effective mass is actually just below the 12gms benchmark 'normal'' value nowadays and would suit an AT OC9 MLII well enough. Moving coil cartridges have lower compliance, higher tracking force and greater ability to tolerate massy arms, although nowadays even a large 12 incher like SME's 312S comes in at 14gms.

2m-blackrb301-final-2

Arm resonance - Ortofon 2M Black cartridge in Rega RB301 arm. At 10Hz this is an octave above warps in the 5Hz region; the arm will ride warps, not read them.

Historically, cartridge manufacturers stopped pursuing high compliance in the cantilever hinge a long time ago, allowing arm effective mass to rise without arm/cartridge resonance sinking to dangerously low values (below 8Hz).  This means the pairing ride over warps and do not try and trace them as a signal, something that would introduce excessive cantilever movement. I measure arm/cartridge resonance and these days it commonly hovers around 10Hz, which is acceptable. To be specific, a compliant Ortofon 2M Black cartridge in a Rega RB301 arm resonate at exactly 10Hz (vertical modulation). With a Ortofon Cadenza Black moving coil this figure rises to 12.5Hz. Since the Rega has an effective mass of 12gms the Roksan would have given a value much like the Cadenza, with an AT OC9MLII.  

Arms have a characteristic sound determined by many other factors, including arm wiring, vibrational behaviour of the structure, geometry and such like. Silver wired arms can sound a bit zingy bright, whilst acrylic arms often sound well damped and neutral, and long arms just very smooth and easy going. I am generalising here of course, to make a point. Not everyone likes the Rega arms, mainly for a midband less smooth than is possible elsewhere, but I love their lower midband separation and dynamism. So you can be a bit more adventurous with your Roksan Tabriz, which is a decent arm. NK



 
Comments (3)
Technics mods
3Wednesday, 25 May 2011 11:58
Dave Cawley
Hi Anton

We are SL-1200 modifiers and currently have a half page advert in Hi Fi World. I have tried very many combinations of arms and cartridges, both my own and customers. If the standard arm is new or not abused it can easily take an OC9 cartridge and you could live with that almost happily ever after. In my view, and we are all different, the Rega 300/301 is only marginally better than a perfect stock arm and as such we recommend going a bit further up market to the SME 309, which with an OC9 or AT33EV will give quite remarkable results.

The links Noel gives above are a good starting point.

Regards

Dave Cawley
Technics query
2Tuesday, 24 May 2011 11:55
NK
Hi Anton,
Our usual advice is to go to -
http://www.soundhifi.com/sl1200/SL1200%20PSU.htm
or look up the Timestep forum at -
http://www.time-step.net/
regards, Noel Keywood, publisher
Technics SL1200 arm?
1Tuesday, 24 May 2011 06:23
Anton
In Vinyl Quest DP says "There are a number of specialists who can do this (fit a Rega arm to a 1200) for you, and who advertise in HFW". I cannot see any ads on your site for this. Can you tell me these people?

thanks, Anton

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