March 2011 issue - Page 3

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I am pretty sure all of my kit has received enthusiastic recommendations from you or your reviewers over the years, so I am hoping you can advise on where to go next. I have Spendor SP 9 speakers (with upgraded wiring), Tannoy Super Tweeters, Esoteric 01 D2 CD Player, Musical Fidelity KW 500, Nordost Red Dawn cabling throughout and IsoteK mains filter. Having built up the system carefully, I like all the kit and it all works very well on a Quadrespire stand in a solid room. However, while clear and powerful it can all lack a bit of emotion and warmth. Any thoughts welcome on which component I might change to get more warmth and feeling into the sound.

I was wondering whether changing the KW 500 to something else might do the job or maybe I am just finding the limits of the CD format? Any suggestions that you have in a price range appropriate to the rest of the kit would be greatly appreciated.

Simon Hodgson




Musical Fidelity KW500 - does it lack warmth?



Whilst I like a lot of what Musical Fidelity does, I find the brand can be quite variable in its output. This is partly because Anthony Michaelson has a wide ranging, and somewhat eclectic set of proclivities; one minute he's trying to do sweet sounding things with tubes, the next it's massive transistor monoliths with more power than a JCB. With this in mind I never really warmed to the kW500. I was always impressed by it, sometimes even slightly scared by it (you don't want to play fast and loose with the volume control, lest your loudspeaker voice coils end up in your lap!), but I was never charmed by it. That's not something I can say about the Musical Fidelity AMS35i – which has a lot less power but a lot more life, and delicacy. The '35 won't turn your listening room into a live venue with sound pressure levels to match a PA, but it will still go plenty loud with your Spendors and offer so much more detail, atmosphere and general musicality. As such this would be my choice. DP



I’ve been dreaming for the past 25 years, dreaming about valves and something like a Linn LP12, so I decided it must be time now to have a really nice entry level system with the valve equipment coming from Icon Audio. I’m no expert in system building so I decided to speak to the editor from Hi-Fi world magazine where all my dreams began 25 years ago. David Price was on hand to help me but he did have concerns with the fact I was spending fifteen hundred on valves and only three-four hundred for something like a Pro-Ject turntable. His advice was to spend around a thousand on a turntable and the three-four hundred for an amplifier, but David understood I really wanted my dream valves and that I would probably upgrade to high end turntable some years down the line, therefore the advice was go for a Rega P 3-24 because it surpasses everything else in it’s class, and fit an Audio Technica AT 95 cartridge to stay with the entry level setup. I told David about my vast collection of CDs and what budget player should I look for, good advice again in the form of Cambridge Audio 650C.

So there you go folks, my new system is Rega P 3-24 turntable, Audio Technica AT 95 cartridge, Icon Audio PS 1 Mk11 phono stage MM/MC with separate PSU, Icon Audio Stereo 25 Mk11 KT88 integrated amplifier, Cambridge Audio 650C CD player, Royd Audio/ Royd Eden loudspeakers.

Have you any advice on cables please?

Many thanks,

John Smee,



Add a pair of Black Rhodium Tango loudspeaker cables and you'll be cooking on gas, says David.


Gosh John, I was expecting to hear that you didn't follow my advice and that in the end you bought an Amstrad music centre, and could I please suggest how to improve it! So many folk I advise seem to go off on a tangent but amazingly you haven't, so well done that man!

I do hope you upgrade your turntable fairly soon, but in the meantime you've got a fine front end and it's doubtless already making nice music. Add a pair of Black Rhodium Tango loudspeaker cables (£15/m), which will see you right for many future upgrades, and a pair of Rhythm interconnects (£50) which are a great match for your current good quality mid-price kit, and you'll be cooking on gas. DP



Please help my constant fiddling. Over the years I have gathered what I regard as some nice equipment which should be satisfying my ears, so I can just concentrate on listening to the music instead of amusing (I think!) my wife and my dog with my constant speaker placement and checking connections.

My system consists of LP12/Cirkus, latest Akito/Adikt, Lingo 1, Primaluna Prologue 2 (upgraded KT88s), Project Tubebox, Missions 752F (bi-wired), all connections are Van den Hul First Ultimate and 'speaker cable is VdH The Wind

I think my problem is with my speaker connections. When all connections are cleaned with Kontak the sound is beautiful, transparent and a joy to listen. But within a few days the sound goes off, so I start fiddling with speaker placement to re-gain that sweet spot, as now the soundstage is all over the place. This is when listening to hi-fi gets most frustrating, and tiring. Eventually I re-clean the speaker connections and wipe the perspiration from my worried brow. I know that the speaker cables are terminated with very inexpensive plugs, care of Maplins, but they can sound fabulous...until they don’t!

What would be a good compromise plug for the speaker terminations, and would these need to be soldered professionally? After so many years would it be wise to replace the 'speaker posts on the Missions in case these are worn. If so, any thoughts with what?

I also read with great interest the replacement Tube review (Jan’10) and am considering the TJ Full Music 12AX7 as a suitable upgrade for the Primaluna. Would it also be a good investment to upgrade the 12AU7s from the same source, or other?

I want some stability in my hi-fi life, and just get back to the music, and to complete reading Hi-Fi World!

Many thanks,

Martin Trevers

Croxley Green


A top quality source of connectors is WBT of Germany.


Hi Martin. That is a fascinating problem, one I have never heard before. However, I well remember one reviewer who insisted on using old 30A round pin plugs that he polished with Kontak regularly, plus all other connectors and swore by the process. A top quality source of connectors is WBT of Germany and you can buy them from, to name but one source. You will have to resort to a bit of DIY butchery if you wish to replace the Mission's terminals. An alternative is to hard wire this connection, by either soldering direct to the terminal posts or to the crossover inside the cabinet.


Better yet again is to remove the crossover from the cabinet altogether and lead drive unit wires straight out to it. We tend to put the crossover in a plastic case, as there are strong magnetic fields around the bass inductors. You can then either solder cables to it direct or use high quality WBT connectors.

TJ Full Music valves have a good reputation, as do NOS of various manufacturers, especially Mullard and Philips. Also, cryogenically treated valves are interestingly purer in sound. NK


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