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May 2010 issue - page 6

Article Index
May 2010 issue
page 2
page 3
page 4
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page 6
page 7
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COMPUTER AUDIO

I have just bought a new desktop PC and am loathe to connect to my stereo amp’ (Rega Elex) using a mini jack and phono inter-connects. My experience is that after a while the heavy interconnects cause the mini jack to become wobbly and eventually the connection goes.

 

I am keen to get the best in terms of stereo from my PC and mainly listen to audio and video clips from the internet. Please could you advise me of the most straightforward (and cost effective) way.

 

I am guessing I will need to upgrade the sound-card to improve the potential sound and have seen some ‘audiophile’ ones with phono outputs on them. Would I need a DAC as well to connect to my hi-fi amp or would the soundcard produce an analog out signal?

many thanks,

Mark Sweet

 

Hi Mark - there are a great many ways of doing this, and indeed we plan to cover them in a forthcoming issue of the magazine. Meanwhile, the simplest thing to do would be to buy a Musical Fidelity V-DAC (£150), which has a USB input. Take the sound out of your PC via USB and directly into the V-DAC, which then goes into your line input on your Rega Elex via RCA phono leads. This will give you a good standard of computer audio playback. DP

 

CASTLE REBUILD

I purchased Castle Warwick 3 loudspeakers second-hand 5 years ago. Recently the drive went in one of the speakers and unfortunately I found out to my dismay that Castle Audio had gone into liquidation. Would you know where I could purchase a replacement driver, or if Castle were taken over by another Company? I have tried ebay with no success to date.

I would be most obliged if you could offer me any assistance.

Hugh Mc Nulty

castle_knight_5_speaker

Castle are back in the market, now built by IAG to reproduce the original Castle sound. Here is the Knight 5, using TPT non-resonant bass loading, not a port.

 

Readers will be pleased to know that Castle speakers are still alive and well and will be re-introduced to the UK market after the Bristol show this year.

In the meantime please contact IAG UK Service Department, Unit 4, St Margarets Way, Stukeley Meadows Industrial Estate, Huntingdon, Cambs, PE29 6EB, Telephone 0845 4581122 for all spares enquiries. We cannot promise support for all legacy products but will do our best!

best wishes,

Peter Comeau, IAG.

 

CLASS A

I have been an avid reader of Hi-Fi World for many years and always appreciate the impartiality to the various products that are reviewed each month. The review of the Musical Fidelity Class A transistor amp in last month’s issue was very interesting and detailed as usual. I hope you don’t mind my thoughts on this, but it might have been useful to have been given some sort of comparison with the only other Class A UK manufacturer, Sugden.

I appreciate that the Musical Fidelity is much more expensive but all the same both amps are Class A and as I am about to consider buying such an amp for my new system, the considerable cost difference is very important to me in these difficult, economic times.

John Turkie

 

Well, as you say, it's not fair comparing the £4,135 Sugden IA4 with the £7,000-plus Musical Fidelity AMS35i, but I'll try! The Sugden is a superb amp at the price, inasmuch as it offers a truly clean and open window on the world in the way that only a serious Class A amplifier can. It has air, space, pace and grace - although the latter is a little lower down its list of fine qualities; in a revealing high end system it can sound a touch brightly lit. It's not harsh and hard like most high end Class AB fare, it's just as if someone's turned the contrast up a little too much on the telly. It's ideal for vinyl or smooth sounding speakers, but can 'set off' a system that was always going to be forward.

 

The Musical Fidelity builds on this, turning the contrast down a tad and adding a fuller, more barrel chested bass. It's also musically more lucid, approaching that of a good tube amp. There's a lovely texture to this amp; via speakers with uncoloured drive units (i.e. high end Martin Logans) you can hear right into the recording as if the sound was translucent. It's really lovely and this, allied to real punch and dynamic ease, makes it a stunning 35 Watter. I almost feel embarrassed to be so effusive about this amplifier, but certainly in my system it's magnificent. I've been looking for something to truly work with my NS1000Ms for nigh on fifteen years, and this is it. Think of the Sugden as the first step to solid-state perfection, while the Musical Fidelity could well be the last for many people. As for the AMS50 power amplifier, I suspect this would truly be the ultimate, but as Noel won't let me leave the premises with it, I can't yet say! DP

 

IN WALL

To begin with, thank you for the excellent magazine. I discovered it in the mid 90s, and read it religiously until the early 2000s when other things in life began to take over my time and money. I decided to buy a subscription last year, and now look forward to each new issue. After an absence it’s interesting to see how the enthusiast driven essence of the publication is unchanged. I do miss both the DIY supplement, and the excellent Rock & Pop record review section, which influenced the purchase of many CDs, but can understand why they are no longer included.  I was almost shocked to recently see a photo of my Philips 14-bit CD player whose sound I have always enjoyed, and finally an explanation why I enjoy it!

 

As a self respecting hi-fi enthusiast who grew up in the cassette era, there was no chance I would consider a dual cassette deck, but your recent review of the Sony TC-WE475 strongly influenced its purchase. I couldn’t be happier to have a decent sounding deck which doesn’t require new belts, head cleaning, azimuth adjustment, contact cleaner sprayed in all the controls and switches, etc. only to find out that electrolytic capacitors are failing, or some unavailable idler wheel is getting dry, and I need to again risk inhaling a fatal dose of rubber re-nu to keep it going a little longer!  I will use it to make cassettes for my WM-EX615, and my 1990 Mazda Miata, as well as listen to tapes from my collection.

 

I am writing to ask for advice on two subjects. First, I would appreciate your suggestion for a good circuit for a moving magnet phono preamp. I would prefer to build rather than buy this one. I have a Clearaudio Emotion + Satisfy, and an Aurum Classics Wood MM cartridge. I also have a Thorens TD-124/II, SME3012, and Shure setup which it will likely also be used with. Basically, I am looking for something which is transparent, low noise, and has accurate RIAA equalisation and a warp filter, as my Tannoy Saturn S6 speakers go quite low, and are a bass reflex design. Being compact and solid state would also be preferable, perhaps even battery powered.

 

The second subject is a request. Having recently done some home renovations, the subject of in-wall, and in-ceiling speakers has come up. It appears the state of the art has advanced significantly in the last 10 years, with many quite expensive options being available. I heard a very nice sounding installation which paired B&W in-wall speakers with Linn electronics. Ninety five percent of the information I have found is either written as advertising, written with a focus on home theatre, or written by people with no real knowledge of audio. I would be very interested to know what the people of Hi-Fi World have to say on this subject, and if any articles are planned, or maybe there was one, and I missed it. Namely, how to place the speakers for 2 channel use, if good sound from ceiling speakers is even possible (there are high end ones out there!), tips for installation, etc.

Max Holubitsky

Canada

 

P.S. I know it is a little late to ask, but where is the soldering iron I was awarded in the December 1995 DIY supplement?  The amplifier I was asking for advice about building then was successfully completed and is still in daily operation in my Dad’s hi-fi system.

bw_ccm816_in-ceiling_spkr

 

The B&W CCM816 can fire down at listeners from the ceiling, and is good for home theatre B&W say.

 

Hi Max. We don't have a library of solid-state phono circuits, but there are plenty on the 'net if you Google 'phono stage circuit' including designs attributed to Douglas Self and John Linsley-Hood at Elliot Sound Products in Australia and a discussion of RIAA equalisation at http://www.users.globalnet.co.uk/~valveamp/RIAAStageDesign.htm. I suggest you consider building one of these. As always, you will need basic test equipment, like a volt meter and, I suggest, a PC with a sound card, running the free Audacity sound editor that can generate noise and spectrum analyse it to give frequency response. Computer circuit analysis is available from the free LTspice programme which, if you understand it (it's heavy stuff, meant for engineers), can provide deep analysis.

 

We have never covered in-wall loudspeakers and do not propose to. Building loudspeaker cabinets is difficult enough, but building walls is quite beyond us!

 

There's no reason why in-wall units should not give decent results, except for limitations of rear space. It is never good to have a hard reflective surface close to the rear of a drive unit, because rear radiated sound bounces off it and back out through the cone as a delayed (and coloured) signal. If there is plenty of space behind, then there is no problem. B&W discuss this and dangers of weakening walls when installing loudspeakers (!) on their website. Their in-ceiling CCM 816 driver is a Kevlar coned, tweetered unit tailored for "half space" use, as they put it, meaning bass output is lessened so as to be in balance when radiating from a flat wall.

 

Sound from the ceiling is hardly a portrayal of everyday reality though, heavenly choirs excepted. However, height info channels are discussed and even available in some discs; go to www.ambisonics.net and check out the subject of Periphony (height information). I see even BBC Research & Development have a modern piece on this fascinating topic, at www.bbc.co.uk/rd/projects/2009/10/ambisonics_periphony.shtml. where they say they "hope to evaluate the benefits of Ambisonics and Periphony". It looks like 'proper' surround-sound (sound field encoding) is coming up again in relation to 3D movies; who would have thought it? You really do need ceiling 'speakers for this, and perhaps for Dolby Pro Logic IIz synthesised height information. So perhaps we'll have to get out our masonry hammers after all and may soon be drilling holes in ceilings! NK



 
Comments (1)
Speaker matching with Lumley ST70
1Saturday, 02 July 2011 09:06
Mike Ford
The Output transformers on The Lumley ST70 have 4 ohm taps but these are not wired to the output terminals as standard. A competent technician should be able to alter the connections to 4 ohms.

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