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March 2011 issue - Page 5

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March 2011 issue
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PURRING HUMMING AND BUZZING

As a long-term subscriber to Hi-Fi World who has been the happy recipient of useful advice in the past, I thought I would submit my most extreme problem to you for possible suggestions. The problem is basically the Mains and all the nasty noises it is transmitting to my hi-fi.


The context – France, major city centre, 230V nominal, the hi-fi is on a dedicated spur I had installed when we bought the 1980s flat. The kit  LV-modded Canary Audio 601 Mk2, Avondale stereo power amp., Chord DAC64 Mk2, CEC TL51 drive, SME20 turntable with SMEV arm and Dynavector DV20XL cartridge,  Aesthetix Rhea phono stage, Proac Future .5 (cables are a bit of a mix, but I am slowly going Kondo).


Although the mains voltage is generally acceptable at a low 229 to a high 231, I have a huge amount of transformer buzz even in the kit which is already connected to a Moth 1kVA isolation transformer. Before spending more money on mains conditioning, I followed the advice of a dealer and used a Fluke-branded instrument to conduct a 24 hour measurement.


Initial results indicated that there are “significant” amounts of 150Hz, 250Hz and 350Hz on the waveform; there seems to be a 45s-47s cyclical voltage variation of about one volt; there seems to be some voltage on neutral and some DC. There is also 15kHz-16kHz created by the frequency generator associated with the lift-braking system (this creates tones at that frequency in the video and computer equipment). DC seems to be present, but in quite “normal” amounts (and given the humming of transformers isolated by 1kVA 1:1 devices is perhaps not so obviously the root of my problems, if I have understood anything).


In concrete terms, the 1:1 isolation transformers hum, buzz and sometimes create a lot of noise, as do the transformers in the hi-fi downstream of them (the level does vary during the day but never seems to completely go away). Inversing the input-output of one of the transformers in order to have a moderate voltage reduction did not change the situation.

What is there to be done to improve the situation and eliminate the above problems?

All the best,

Nigel Briggs

France

purepower-2000

If your mains supply is as bad as Nigel's , try regeneration with a Pure Power supply.

 

 

Bonjour Nigel. Since your current mains conditioners have been overwhelmed by what sounds like a chaotic supply, the only solution left is mains regeneration. In this process the mains is converted to d.c. where battery storage can be introduced, then back into clean a.c. through what are effectively high current, high efficiency power amplifiers fed from a sine wave source. This not only blocks all rubbish, it also provides immunity to short term power loss. Go to the Pure Power site at www.purepoweraps.com for more information where you will find 230V models. I presume you will be able to buy in France or the UK. NK

 

SATORI IN NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Ireland could hardly be described as the land of the midnight sun, more appropriately the land of the midnight rain, sleet, snow, explosion. We have however just had our first audio show in 10 years which has prompted me to write and explain my ‘sudden illumination’, my Satori, in contradiction of the generally accepted industry philosophy which suggests that upgrades are only achieved by buying something better. As an enthusiast who for over 30years has regularly swapped boxes in pursuit of hi-fi nirvana, much to my wife’s chagrin and the groans of my bank account, I have arrived at my present system:


Vinyl – Gyro SE, SME IV with Furutech AG-12L arm cable, Ortofon 2m Black, HR Power Supply, Pure Sound phono stage connected via Chord Company Indigo Plus cables.

CD – Chord Electronics Blu Transport, DAC 64 with 2x Indigo Plus digital cables running balanced via Furutech Reference III XLR leads.

Amplification – DK Design (now LAS) VS.1 Signature Mk III hybrid integrated.

Speakers - Wilson Benesch Curves bi-wired using Furutech Reference III cables.


The system has a dedicated mains spur in a dedicated listening room 15ftx14ft and is connected with Furutech Reference and Evolution power leads (more about these later).

My sudden illumination came about when I was introduced to products, loosely termed accessories, which have had a dramatic and beneficial effect on my system and thus my enjoyment. Firstly my friendly neighbourhood dealers and kindred spirits, those nice people David and Gary Campbell at Kronos Audio Visual (great coffee and conversation) suggested I try an Acoustic Solutions Resonator, a device which apparently improves bass response. As the eternal sceptic I was naturally doubtful that a block of wood with a bronze cup attached could have any audible effect, let alone improve the low end. Having installed said product I was astounded to discover that the bass had firmed up, become more tuneful and that paradoxically the top end was more focused with more air and space. A mere snip at the asking price.


Next I became acquainted with a resonance damping device - Black Ravioli. I borrowed three pieces and initially wondered if they would be better served with Arabiatta or Putanesca sauce as opposed to their suggested placement under my phono stage. Once employed I was pleasantly surprised, nay shocked, to find that Rickie Lee had a more palpable presence, had taken a step forwards into the room and that the sound stage had become more three dimensional with better separation and added weight.

At this stage I began to wonder if Kronos’ David Campbells predilection for Greek myths would be better changed to Arthurian legend as these products were more likely to be the unnatural offspring of Merlin than Zeus’ father. I consequently used 6 more pieces of this black magic, employing 3 each under my CD transport and dac, yielding equally astonishing and beneficial improvements. CD now sounds more musical with a reduction in hardness without artificial warmth, Black Ravioli just allows the equipment to work to its full potential. An inexpensive upgrade.


I borrowed and subsequently bought high end power leads from Furutech, those previously referred to, these had similarly positive and dramatic effects resulting in increased openness, spatiality, detail and weight. Okay I know they are expensive but they are also a long term investment as getting the infrastructure correct can be of greater benefit than changing equipment.


My last tweak was to replace the valves in my Pure Sound phono stage and came about at the suggestion of Kronos and through meeting Guy Sargent at the N.I Audio Show. Guy kindly recommended gold pinned E88cc and ECC803S to replace the stock valves. Once installed the Pure Sound which punches above its weight was metamorphosed into an entirely different animal, bass arriving in my listening room coupled with a sweeter and more open top end that one would normally associate with extremely high end esoterica – and all for the princely sum of £45.


As each product employed gave vast and audible improvements to what was already an open and musically resolving system I can only conclude that finding a good dealer, trusting their suggestions and wringing the best from what you have, thus resisting the temptation to swap boxes for the latest all conquering panacea can not only be a more cost effective but a rewarding experience. Whilst some may consider that blocks of wood/bronze cups, black pasta and wires are more audiophool than audiophile my ears tell me to adopt the diametrically opposed view point and I would recommend exploring such products without reservation. Sometimes you just have to accept that what appears to be alchemy and black magic may lead to illumination.

Gary Gardiner

 

On matters like this readers must judge for themselves. I have not been convinced by various balls, triangles and other mystic devices demonstrated to me at Shows, but then a Show atmosphere isn't the best to discern fine differences. Perhaps dealers can provide home trials. NK

 

THORENS TD125

I hope you may be able to help me in locating parts for the above turntable. I have owned a Thorens TD125 turntable since the 1970s and ran it alongside a Sony amplifier. Initially I had a pair of B&W P2h speakers and subsequently changed for a pair of B&W DM 16s. I had to put the equipment into storage and because of the suspension unit on the deck put the Inner platter, outer platter, mat and what I would term the central pole (for the record to go on – sorry for the lack of technical jargon), with the amplifier in our loft. Unfortunately, as a result of some work being done to our plumbing in the loft it was not until some months later that I found that the above items had been stolen.


If you are unable to help directly with regards to the above parts, are you able to put me in touch with someone who may be able to help in order that I may know whether they are available and affordable?

Thank you,

Barry Gibbons

thorens-td125

Thorens TD125 had its bits stolen and needs repair, says Barry.

 

If you are indeed looking for the inner platter, main platter and bearing/platter spindle for a Thorens TD125, then the first person to call is the owner of www.theanalogdept.com.  If they can’t help then the only alternative in my view would be to buy a faulty turntable from eBay for the parts.  The TD125 was unusual at its time as it used a Wein Bridge transistor sine wave oscillator and power amplifier to drive the motor, very advanced technology in those days!  Let us know how you get on.

Dave Cawley

Sound Hi Fi

 

Hi Barry – another person to talk to is Haden Boardman ( This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ); I'm sure he'll have a solution for you. DP

 

ADVISE PLEASE

I wonder if you could provide some advice and guidance on the next step of my hi-fi journey please. My current system is as follows; Roksan Kandy LIII amp, Monitor Audio RS8 speakers, Cambridge Audio DacMagic connected to PC via USB. Panasonic Blu-ray player also connected through the DacMagic but only really used for movies. Project Xpression III record deck and Ortofon 2m Blue used as main source of music.


I have recently moved into a smaller flat and the system is now in a room approx 4 meters by 4 meters with a ceiling height of approx 2.4 meters filled with the usual sofas and coffee tables etc.


I am very happy with both the amp (bought 2nd hand only about 6 months ago) and ‘speakers (though I do think that perhaps the speakers are too big for the room). However, since getting the DacMagic approximately 2 months ago I find that the PC side of things sounds a lot better than the turntable. More detail is apparent and it seems to have a bit more sparkle about it. Bass is also firmer and overall I just find it a more exciting listen.


With that in mind, could you advise on my next step in improving the turntable side of things. Vinyl is really the only form of music I actually buy and it’s the medium I love the most. I do not have massive funds available but could make £500 to £750 available for this upgrade.


I have seen a Roksan Radius turntable available 2nd hand for around the £550. Would this provide a significant upgrade over the Project ?


I have also fallen in love with the looks of the Michell Tecnodec, though a new one (including a Rega RB250 arm) would be at the top end of my budget. If I was to go with a new Tecnodec would it be worth using my existing 2M Blue until further funds are available? If not, what cartridge should I be looking at? Also, what other turntables would you recommend looking at either new or 2nd hand?


Finally can you comment on the phono stage in the Kandy? Would it be worth upgrading this to a stand alone box before the turntable upgrade ? If so what should I go for?

Finally I guess an idea of my listening trends might help? I like everything from heavy hard rock through to electronic dance music, pop and the occasional folk and jazz disks.

Thanks in advance,

Ben Sexton

 

Here is my two’pennyworth Ben. I am no fan of the lesser 2M cartridges from Ortofon, but the 2M Black transcends their limitations, quite dramatically so in my view; it is head and shoulders above the other models. It has the sparkle that you are looking for too. So either get an Ortofon 2M Black, or head toward the Goldring 1000 Series, like the 1024 GX or 1042. These are an easy listen, without being dull, and they have plenty of dynamic life to them as well, with good quality bass. Add in a very reasonable price and you are boogeying. I can’t help feel that you may be well advised to improve your record deck also, but David will say more on this. NK

 

The Kandy phono stage is surprisingly good, actually, Ben. What's really wrong in your system is your turntable, which is a fine machine at its price point but is a little out of its depth in the context of the rest of your components. If you're buying new, then stretching the budget to a Michell TecnoDec would really bring big rewards; far more focus, grip and insight, plus a wider soundstage and a deeper bass than your Pro-ject. I also feel it would be better, if well set up, than the Roksan Radius but it's likely a close run thing. This said, you would have to mount the Michell carefully, preferably on a wall shelf, to get the best from it. Just sticking it on a chest of drawers will drop its performance down to Rega P3 levels. Use your 2M Blue until you can afford a 2M Black or, ideally, an Audio Technica AT33EV. DP




 

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