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August 2010 issue

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August 2010 issue
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World Mail    August 2010 issue        

 

Write to us!    E-mail –>     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Letters are published first in the magazine, then here in our web archive. We cannot guarantee to answer all mail, but we do manage most!

 

Or  comment in the Comment section at the bottom of each page.

 

Your experts are -

DP David Price, editor; NK Noel Keywood, publisher; PR Paul Rigby, reviewer; TB Tony Bolton, reviewer; RT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet); AS Adam Smith, reviewer; DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.

 


 

nakamichi-600

The distinctive sloping fascia of a Nakamichi 600 cassette deck.


MUSEUM PIECES

I did a search and found your 2002 review of the Nakamichi 600 cassette deck and found it impressive. I’m interested in getting a classic machine like that! My question is: your review says the deck offered 20Hz-20kHz in frequency response. I read a copy of the owners manual and it says the frequency response is 40Hz-18,000Hz. I guess it doesn’t matter much if the deck impressed you so much, but I was just curious if it really makes a difference?

Brian Joyce

 

Such a small difference in frequency response makes no difference at all, even in an item as invariable as an amplifier. Frequency response of a cassette deck (when recording) varies quite substantially with the tape used, although Nakamichis can be tuned flat by altering bias. Replay response, relevant to prerecorded tapes, is also difficult to pin down to tight limits.

If you are going to buy an old cassette deck just be aware that if it has been heavily used then it may need quite a lot of service and if this includes new heads, the bill will be steep. B&W handle Nakamichi cassette deck service in the UK, as they have always done, and the bad news is that they say they have no spares left for the 600/600II. I suggest you check out B&W’s Nakamichi site and perhaps even get some service and spares costs first, before buying an old Nakamichi. This advice applies to much old kit, which often use parts unavailable now. Consult relevant restoration specialists first or you may just end up with a non-working museum piece. NK

 

Noel is of course bang on about buying second-hand cassette decks, although it should be restated that it applies to any second-hand piece of hi-fi gear. We're 'classic hi-fi' lovers here at Hi-Fi World, and all use some such kit, but we have to point out that you can't expect equipment that's decades old to work like new. Sometimes it does, but you're lucky. Usually it doesn't, so always do your homework about whether parts are still available before you assault your local car boot sale or the mighty eBay! As for frequency responses, there are several ways of measuring it; the key point is the response until it drops to -3dB. A deck that's 20Hz to 18kHz (at -3dB) could easily be said to go up to 20kHz, although it's likely to be -10dB or more down by then. Published specs aside, any tape deck that gets up to 18kHz (-3dB) is very good indeed; most people's hearing rarely exceeds 15kHz. In my view, as far as cassette decks are concerned the wow and flutter figures are more important in practice. DP

 

PICKY EARS

I really looked forward to the March issue, eager to see your review of the Q Acoustics 2020. As my own ears had picked these out, I’m pleased they were given such a good report by an expert too. These speakers had been due in since early November 09, and they either keep coming in and are sold only to pre-orders, or they never actually arrive in the country. Their in-at-the-dealer date of ‘early Jan’ changed to ‘due Feb’ as soon as ‘early Jan’ came. Great speakers, but how to buy them? As it happened I had several tax codes arrive, which reminded me of how much I was going to be robbed. In an effort to spend my own money I did something I said I’d never do, i.e. buy some speakers without hearing them first. Thus I’m running in some Monitor Audio BR5s. Fifty hours going by the book.

But there was so much more in the magazine this time too. The Sony TC-WE475 cassette deck went onto my shopping list. This could solve my problem of how to transfer some cassettes I made onto CD – with my PC upstairs and the tape deck downstairs, supporting three other hi-fi units, so it means a lot of disturbance to get it out as it is. A second tape deck would sort that one nicely.


Not for the first time on seeing radio tuners reviewed, I compared their specs with my Sony JX2L. Some figures are hard to compare like for like, but the Sony has a frequency response of 40Hz–12.5kHz, a signal to noise ratio of 72dB, and separation of 45dB. These would suggest to me it’s still able to hold its own with some of the current, much more expensive models. Listening to some stations via headphones at night, I can vouch for the fact that channel separation is excellent.


You reported on the Creek’s imprecise rotary encoder, the main control, going backwards instead of forwards, not incrementing properly. Yep, I’ve been there. I have similar on my Ferguson DAB/FM kitchen radio. This is a case where technology makes things harder. Enter the Sony again. Turn the tuning dial and the pointer moves such that I can whip between stations at either end of the scale in no time at all, and searching for others in between is easier than trying to increment a digital scale too. On my Ferguson, to manually tune from one end of the FM scale to the other, say, takes hundreds of turns of the knob.


And while I’m at it, I prefer volume controls to be knobs, not buttons. Whoever thinks changing volume by holding down one of two buttons is a good idea needs their head examined (just my humble opinion, you understand). Furthermore, I don’t have a telly, so I was surprised when I first saw someone alter the TV volume via a remote - and the line appeared on the screen. Why ruin a picture for everyone, surely no-one needs to see what the volume is? Just listen.


Martin Simpson’s ‘Prodigal Son’ – you’ve got good taste in music too. I have the early Martin Simpson records signed, and a cassette, then I’m missing a few, but the only unsigned one I have bought is his CD, True Stories. I do think Martin dilutes his talent a bit on 'Prodigal Son' (and 'True Stories'), by having so many guest artists playing with him. With a mike and acoustic guitar in concert he’s an outstanding musician. I’d settle for him alone.


Liked the Prog Rock article too. I’m not sure whether you class Be Bop DeLuxe as Prog, but I do maintain you haven’t lived till you’ve heard their ‘Drastic Plastic’ LP. Bill Nelson can write some witty lyrics too.

Melvyn Dover.

 

drastic-plastic

 

Drastic Plastic LP from Be-Bop Deluxe - "you haven't lived unti you've heard it" says Melvyn Dover.

 

Thanks for writing with your thoughts, Melvyn. It’s nice to hear someone else’s views on what is said in the magazine. I’ve noticed that some electronic volume controls must be turned slowly and deliberately if their ‘shaft encoders’ are to work at all. I am not yet convinced these things are better than an Alps Blue or Panasonic potentiometer. NK

 

I'm a huge Be Bop Deluxe fan too, Melvyn. It amazes me that they were never huge, considering what talent they had. For me, it's got to be 'Modern Music'; I have about five pressings of this, so worried I am about never again finding one! DP

...AND AGAIN

With the Monitor Audio BR5s still just short of their running in period, I noticed a website (www.speakerpoint.co.uk) with Q Acoustic 2020s on it. No mention of pre-ordering or expected dates. In other words they seem to have them in stock. A choice of graphite or walnut. I phoned to order some in walnut (there’s always a second room for a second pair of speakers) and spoke to a very helpful man who told me the walnut was out of stock. He apologised, but added they only had them in gloss white or black. Gloss white! Wasn’t that what I was after way back when! So gloss whites were ordered and they arrived the next day (they even came with a pair of white gloves).


Then I decided I should have ordered gloss white 2000ST stands to match. I tried, but they’re out of stock, expected mid-Feb. Doh!

The instruction book for the 2020s states, “In the EU it is against safety regulations to use 4mm loudspeaker plugs.” Is this really the case?

Also I noted the sensitivity for the 2020s is 88dB and not 86dB, as your review stated.


These are great speakers, plonking them on top of the BR5s for temporary convenience, I was able to switch A/B and there seemed very little difference between them at practical volumes.


All this was the catalyst to me biwiring the Monitor Audio BR5s, as their instruction book recommends. What a difference! Immediately they sounded clearer, and there was no longer a squawking parrot in the background, and far less midrange mush from the radio. It really brought them to life.


I’ve tried bi-wiring the 2020s too, but found I prefer them with standard. Perhaps that’s because it’s early days for them. In any event I’m now enjoying two pairs of speakers.

Melvyn Dover.

 

No difference between a BR5 and 2020? Oh dear Melvyn! Methinks the 2020 is a sight more neutral and even in tone, even perhaps too much so to be exciting for some. But it is a super smoothie. Monitor Audios are nearly as accurate in basic tonal balance, but have a speedier sound and a certain zing that comes from metal cones. They are both nice loudspeakers though. Monitor Audios take quite a lot of running in and they recommend you use their (somewhat weird sounding!) De-Tox disc. What you say about bi-wiring is interesting.


We understand one person in Europe managed to connect their loudspeakers to the mains through its 4mm socket inputs and their use has been discouraged ever since. It is common for them to come fitted with plastic stoppers that must be prised out to prevent this.


On sensitivity, our measured result is commonly lower than that of manufacturers by a few dB but since we use a calibrated Bruel & Kjaer microphone and a calibrated Clio microphone as backup, we are confident our result is accurate. Our measurement is made with pink noise using an rms reading meter, however, and I suspect higher figures are obtained using a sine wave placed judiciously at a response peak. NK

 

AGELESS

David, I don’t recall precisely how long ago it was that you took on the mantle of editor of ‘Hi-Fi World’. But a superbly posed photograph showing your youthful features certainly graces the oldest copy of the magazine (October 1994) to have remained in my possession. However, as purported by the photograph in the current issue, your appearance has not changed one iota during the intervening years! Surely the cut and thrust of hi-fi journalism has taken its toll over time, causing your hitherto splendidly dark hair to grey ever so slightly at the temples? Why, that trendy designer stubble may even have evolved into a full beard!

Or is it simply the case that, like your favourite Yamaha NS1000 loudspeakers, you only improve with age! As a fully paid up subscriber, I demand to know!

Alan R J Scott

 

david-price-2010

 

Editor David Price in 2010. No need for Grecian 2000 yet.

 

 

Here’s the rude truth Alan. My picture of David, taken at the Bristol Show February 2010, shows a remarkable lack of wear and tear for such a busy person. He obviously knows something the rest of us would like to know, how to hold old man time at bay! NK

 

Oh my good gawd! There are a few grey hairs showing now, and my barnet's a tad floppier, so to satisfy your obvious interest Alan, I shall duly arrange to update my column picture... It's something I've been meaning to do for the last five years, but never seem to have time. So what better reason could there be for you to place your order for September's Hi-Fi World now? DP


LAGGING LINN

I hope you can advise. My setup is a Leak Troughline 3 + Onething stereo decoder, Linn LP12 turntable with Ittok arm and Asaka moving coil cartridge, Cambridge Audio 640P MC phono stage, Cyrus DAD3 Q CD, stepped attenuator passive, Decware SE84C for low/medium volume, home built Tripath 2024 and 2020 amps for higher volume feeding Decware modified Fostex FE206e in large Lowther based horns.


The problem I have is noting sounds anywhere near as good as the Leak Troughline 3, especially the Linn – it sounds terrible. My i-pod playing FLACs sounds much better than the vinyl. The Troughline that I have tuned to BBC Radio 3 is not a  modded one, not even fed with a very good aerial, but when I listen to it – the only source I think I have listened to that I consider high end – it simply blows everything else away. But I am at the mercy of the radio schedule and although this broadens my listening scope, it also limits me. Could it be that my records are all worn out?

Christopher Bowen

 

leak-troughline-tuner

Leak Troughline 3 "simply blows everything else away" says Christopher Brown.


It’s more likely that your Asaka cartridge is worn out, and the Cambridge Audio 640P is not an appropriate match, either in quality terms or its own bright balance. I’d recommend an Ortofon Cadenza Black moving coil cartridge, feeding an Icon Audio PS3 valve phono stage (with valve regulated power supply). This would provide a leap up in quality, whilst at the same time moving the presentation into that you are used to from the Troughline, spacious, atmospheric but easy going – and free of false emphases.


Then your record deck will see into the recording on the LP, many of which are surprisingly engaging; you’ll be aware of the tape hiss, the studio ambience, the physicality of the performers, and the way they are working together in a real environment. Modern processed recordings lack all this; they are slick, but heavily contrived and lacking the pull of old, live studio performances. It’s one of those small but engaging wonders of listening to historic vinyl, a performance the Troughline matches with Radio 2 and 3 in particular I find, due to their high signal strength and good broadcast quality, especially when the programme content is live. NK

As Noel says, your Linn Asaka moving coil is surely well and truly cream-crackered by now - given that they were last made in the mid nineteen eighties! If the stylus hasn't worn out (which is about as great a certainty that you can get in the world of hi-fi!) then the cartridge's suspension has all but collapsed. So a swift change of pickup would work a treat; even an Audio Technica AT95E (£30) would be a good tester to see if the problem lies there or elsewhere. If a change of cartridge doesn't help, then the set-up of the Linn is the next issue; take it to your friendly local Linn dealer and get it freshly fettled. If the deck hasn't been done for a long time this will have a dramatic difference. Finally, the Cambridge Audio 640P is far below the capabilities of your front end; as Noel says you should be looking for something at least the quality of the Icon Audio. DP

HARD DISC DECISION

I’ve been in the market for a reasonably priced hard-disk player for a while to replace all the physical storage my CDs and DVDs take up. I’ll probably aim for the 1TB category, but my biggest fear has been buying a decent unit but then not being able to browse CDs and DVDs by either album / DVD title, artist, or track, but only being able to browse in order of uploads. Put another way, I want to make sure, once all my CDs and DVDs have been uploaded, I want to be able to sort by various headers, as well as not being stuck with albums and DVDs that weren’t uploaded without content details (titles etc).


I’ve been thinking about the Lacie LaCinema, as an example of a complete media recorder. Then there’s the Iomega media player range as well as Western Digital product. See my predicament? So many options out there, but no real way to see how they all work before buying. And then there’s your very positive review of the Brennan JB7.


Any advice of how I should approach this? I appreciate any tips or views you could give.

thanking you in advance

kindest regards

Vincent Hibbert

Dublin,

Ireland

Sadly Vincent you're not very specific. What's your budget? Do you want a discrete player or a computer audio based system, or simply a Network Attached Storage hard disk drive? How many discs do you have to encode? Do you have a wireless home network? Do you require better than 16bit/44.1kHz quality? Do you download any music? It's such a big subject that you first need to answer these key questions before I can advise you; please reply and I'll do my best to help. DP

ORACLE

I read your enthusiastic review of this CD player with great interest. The Oracle seems to be not quite analog sounding from your description, but not typically digital as well. Does this CDP require warm partnering equipment? I have a Moon i-7 integrated, Audio Note AN/E HE Lx speakers and LX AN (copper) cables.

Thanks in advance if you have time for any feedback!

Mike Ranfft

Canada

 

The Oracle CD1500/II to which you refer, reviewed in the July 2009 issue of Hi-Fi World, isn't exactly on the warm and sweet side, but it's hardly particularly steely and hard either; overall it's just on the bright side of neutral. I remember it as being an extremely powerful, high energy listen, one that lacks that last degree of scale and smoothness (that you'd get from the likes of a dCS Paganini DAC, for example), and one that doesn't quite have such a fluid midband, But it does have massive dynamic articulation and incredible attack, making it a lovely listen. The Moon integrated and Audio Note speakers aren't over rich in their tonality, the latter especially being a touch on the dry side, so I wouldn't say it's a dream combination; I'd be thinking along the lines of a pair of Icon Audio MB845 valve amps doing the power supplying duties to really get this set up to sing. DP

FRIDGE FOLLY

I have used Linn Isobariks for some time, initially with a Naim system and more recently with a Krell 250A power amp.  The overall sound with various sources and live recordings is faithful to the original.

However, I have had adverse reactions from my wife and most female visitors about a ‘pair of fridges’ in the lounge. Large speakers are never attractive in a domestic setting and I need to find some smaller speakers. Can you recommend a suitable replacement to partner a REL subwoofer (which doubles as a side table). Have considered ATC but reluctant to lose the Krell.

J Hodge

Hmmm... how much smaller? And what's your budget? Could you take taller speakers, but one's that are slimmer? Or does it have to be standmounters? Musical tastes? Room size? Another tricky question from someone who's not keen to reveal all! My own preference would be Yamaha's Soavo 1.1 (£3,000), which are tallish but slim floorstanders with an exquisite piano black lacquered finish; the same as that used in their concert grands. They're super fast, clean, powerful and dynamically articulate, love serious front ends and should sound larger still with a decent subwoofer, or two. Oh, and the wife will love the fact that they don't look like fridges. DP

 

DISAPPEARING RADIO

It now looks as though the BBC are trying to pretend FM radio doesn’t exist. If you look at the R3 homepage on the internet it only mentions “online, on DAB digital radio & digital tv” !

best regards,

David Turner

 

The website had no mention of reception methods on the Homepage when we looked, but the site places emphasis on web listening via podcasts and what have you. The help section mentions VHF FM and provides a list of frequencies etc.

NK

 

bbc-radio-3

 

How to listen to Radio 3.

 

 

I think it's daft that the BBC is still prattling on about DAB, when the cost of spreading it to 98% of the UK isn't far off a billion pounds, and it's already been superseded not just by DAB+ abroad but by the Beeb's very own, and very good, iPlayer in the UK. I'm not privy to all the internal politics and machinations at Auntie, but I would love to find out why its love for this format is so entrenched with the high ups at the Corporation. The irony is that most people prefer FM (for sonic reasons, and/or the fact that it's already in their car radios). If it's convenience and digital content, then the iPlayer and/or Freeview is excellent. All of which leaves DAB very much in limbo. DP


BAD DAYS

As an occasional purchaser of Hi-Fi World I note your penchant for all things vinyl. As someone with an interest stretching back to 1970 I started with vinyl and went through a few turntables before the revelation of a Rega Planar 2 made me realise what a difference a turntable could make. When all things are right vinyl has no equal and CD by comparison runs second.


However, I remember only too clearly the bad days of vinyl. For the entire cost of my Saturday employment at a well known chain of chemists I could purchase a single chart album or LP. Often it was noisy, crackly, warped and even the hole was sometimes off centre. Long were the battles I had with discount record retailer Downtown records in Romford Market. I got through four copies of the Beatles ‘Sgt Peppers’ album and still settled with a dud. True, I have a superb copy of Tango in the night and my original pressings of Emerson Lake and Palmer and Black Sabbath are excellent.


But such was my frustration at the quality and fragility of the product that on occasions I purchased musicassettes. To my ears CD when I first heard it was a revelation. The silences between tracks or on soft passages was a pleasure.


Of course the market has now polarised. Vinyl is a premium product probably played on expensive gear with a matching price tag. I look at the reviews and wonder what if? I then note that for the price of one new vinyl album I can often buy 3 - 4 back catalogue CDs. I rarely pay more than £5 for a CD and always have one on order.


True, it’s not as good as vinyl but my Linn Classic, Sennheiser HD600 and AVI Neutrons keep me reasonably happy. In the meantime I can furnish my hobby of exploring new artists and revisiting old ones. Music for me has never been cheaper and at the end of the day it is all about music.

My vinyl collection of some 220 albums and 300 singles lies forlorn in the spare room. My Rega Planar 3 also lies there unused for at least 8 years. Perhaps one day I will bring my Sugden down from the loft and get it all working again.


In the meantime it is CD for me. And neither format can hold a candle to live music.

yours sincerely

David Morris

One need not exclude the other David. Just relax and use both, without getting too worried about which is best. I have plenty of crappy LPs, but thankfully so many good ones. Put a decent cartridge, like a Goldring 1012GX, into the Rega and enjoy the music you once enjoyed and still own. Your interest might be sufficiently reawakened to realise that vinyl still has a lot to offer, from bargains you can find in Charity shops and car boot sales, to the super expensive re-issue stuff that seeks to better re-create historic recordings in their original format. NK

 

rega-planar-3

 

Unused and in the loft for 8 years - a Rega Planar 3. Dig it out and fit a Goldring cartridge, we say.

 

There's something very nice and self-contained about CD. It's easy, cheap (now, although it was not always the way), and there's a real diversity of music available on it. Kit yourself out with a great, compact way of playing it (and Linn's Classic music system is precisely that) and I can see why you're reluctant to clutter up your life with vinyl paraphernalia. So many people feel this way. However, those who have dug their vinyl out of the loft are often the first to write to us here at the mag about the wonder and awe of their experience; it's sometimes akin to a religious rebirth (the born-again vinylistas are the worst!)...


So don't dismiss your black plastic; buy a basic phono stage (a Cambridge Audio 640P would suffice here) and get the Rega back on the road! DP

REMASTERED

With reference to Paul Rigby’s column in the March issue, I recall that around 1980, EMI digitally remastered some of their recent classical recordings (e.g. Rachmaninov orchestral works with Previn and the LSO), and the mid-price LPs and subsequent CDs were criticised for their degraded sound quality.

With the launch of CD, classic older recordings which had remained at full price on LP (e.g. Elgar Cello Concerto with Du Pre, Strauss Four Last Songs with Schwarzkopf) were given AAD transfers which, in some cases, still sound better than subsequent ADD reissues.

Perhaps most important is ensuring that the analogue replay machine is correctly set up.

yours faithfully,

R. Mark Hodgson

London

AND AGAIN...

Replying to a letter on the Beatles remasters, NK says he always prefers analogue recordings on LP. On my own modest equipment*, I find it hard to tell the difference, although CDs are more fatiguing over time.


However Pye, who pioneered the stereo LP in the UK, had dreadful pressings, noisy and cramped; the PRT and EMI CDs, mostly remastered by Mike Dutton, are much better. Mercury, who engineered some Pye recordings, and often used 35mm film, avoided compression until the cutting stage (unlike most rivals), so only their CDs have the original dynamic range.

kind regards,

R. Mark Hodgson

*Technics SL1100 with Isoplatmat, SME3009/II, Grado Prestige Gold; Arcam CD62; Audiolab 8000P (rewired by Musical Fidelity - thanks for the tip!); Quad IIs, rebuilt by GT; Rogers Studio 7s.

Indeed so, and the same goes for vinyl too. The originals with all-analogue recording and mastering, are invariably better than any subsequent releases, to my ears. DP

SMOOTH OPERATOR

I have a suggestion and a query. It seems that a number of manufacturers are now selling loudspeakers directly by mail order. Whilst this seems something of a heresy given the usual advice of get a dealer demonstration before you buy, I am aware of the substantial contribution which room acoustics make to the sound of music as it is perceived. The ability to try a product in the room in question with the option of returning it (usually at your own expense it has to be said) might seem an attractive and sensible strategy. I do feel that magazines might help here to give an indication of the sort of sound produced at least to narrow a short-list to a couple of contenders.

 

My suggestion is therefore a Hi-Fi World test of mail order standmounts. I am aware of two such from the Arcaydis factory in Worcestershire, the DM1 and EB Acoustics EB1 as well as WAD WD25a of course, and I believe there are others. Such a review would make a novel and illuminating comparison.


My query is related to this. My system is a Cyrus 7 CD and amp driving Monitor Audio GR10 speakers. This has a rather forward and up-front sound which was tempered in my 4m x 4.5m x 2.5m by heavy Chesterfields and a thick carpet, despite its thick stone (but plastered) walls. This room, my study, was our haven in an extended period of restoration of the rest of the cottage and much enjoyment was derived. Eventually the Chesterfields went to other, prime locations and a form of antique minimalism has taken over with stripped pine floor and lighter furnishings. A Q upgrade for the CD and PSX-R power supplies for the CD and amp tempered things a little, but the upper mid band sounds too prominent and hard. I have tired of this sound and my first thought is to replace the speakers. I would like something that preserves the speed and detail of the Cyrus electronics, but which has a warmer tone, sweet upper midband and treble and a firm bass. I am aware that this is not the current recipe for speakers, but am willing to consider anything from £500 – £1500 which might fit the bill - larger standmounters or small floorstanders.


Is this the best route or should I tackle the electronics (Naim seem to produce kit that is civilised and musical in the best sense these days and seems to cope with upfront speakers very well). My musical tastes are very wide, early and Baroque, chamber and orchestral, jazz from Bop onwards, world music, rock, some pop and contemporary music of all genres (Nyman through Westbrook to Mr Scruff).

I would be very grateful for your comments and suggestions.

John Hurley

As you note John, “a warmer tone is not the current recipe for speakers”, and rarely will be again, because it was usually caused by an engineering weakness, a dip in output between midrange and treble drive units. But having said that the new Q Acoustics 2050s floorstanders sound warm and fit your needs almost perfectly, so fate has smiled on you.


The only other loudspeaker with a warm balance, along with great all round ability is the Tannoy DC-8 and this would suit your home quite well I suspect, as well as your musical tastes. It’s a ‘mature’ sound from a mature company and impressive in its own way, as well as unique of course. The price isn’t right, but who knows, perhaps you won the Lottery just after posting your e-mail to us! NK

 

tannoy-definition-dc8t

Tannoy DC8 - a finely honed loudspeaker with a warm sound.

 

You're not exactly spoiled for choice looking for something to warm the somewhat dry and over-precise sound of your Cyrus 7-series components. My instinct would be to save up and spend £2,000 on a pair of Spendor S8e loudspeakers, which really do have a less 'up front' sound than most boxes, including your Monitor Audios, which are not an ideal sonic match. Also try Black Rhodium Tango speaker cable, which I've found to be a very smooth, soothing performer. DP


BIG BAMBOO

I have just seen Paul’s letter detailing his turntable project. Congrats to him; it’s a lovely piece of work. I too have just finished a similar project, a sand box for my turntable and a raiser and tot box for my computer screen.


When starting this job my wife suggested I use some left over bamboo flooring. This proved to be an inspired suggestion. I have attached some photos of the completed work for your perusal.


This material is great to work with as it does not chip or splinter and mitres can be cut very precisely. It comes in various shades and sizes.  There is little finishing to do once the job is assembled. I chose to use bees wax, which can also be purchased in different shades.

A further advantage is that should you inadvertently dent it, all you need is some judicious use of damp blotting paper and a hot iron and the dents can be raised and then waxed again.


I can recommend this material to anyone, just Google bamboo products and get a wealth of info on uses and tech details.  I hope this will be of use.

regards

John Lancaster

 

bamboo

The bamboo finished, sandbox turntable plinth built by John Lancaster.

 

SIMPLE TEST

I have discovered  a simple test as to whether music, or more specifically hi-fi, has become an unhealthy obsession. It’s when you struggle to remember the names of your old girl friends but, without hesitation or deviation, can rattle off the names of each bit of kit you’ve ever owned for the last thirty five years, including the model number identifying which version it was. I recall starting with a Garrard SP25 Mk III, Tripletone amp and Solavox speakers from Comet, somewhere round about 1974. At this point I should mention, for the sake of marital harmony, that I can usually remember my wife’s name. I’ve even been known to be really nice to her just before discussing a hi-fi upgrade.


The likes of Linn were way out of my reach in those days, although my lust-after item at the time was an Armstrong 626 receiver. I meandered through a variety of stuff, including Pioneer PL12D and Dual CS505 turntables and various bits of stuff from Arcam,  JVC, Monitor Audio and Heybrook. Finally I succumbed to the Linn disease and, after a brief flirtation with an Axis disc spinner, ended up with an LP12, which seemed like nirvana (sorry!) at the time.  Like many others, I took the occasional wrong turn. In my case, it was a pair of Linn Tukan speakers which I came to dislike quite quickly.


Anyway, I suppose I had better come to my query before you lot fall into a deep coma reading this epistle. My beloved current turntable is a Michell Orbe SE with an SME IV arm, Dynavector DV10x5 cartridge and a Graham Slee Era Gold V phonostage.  The rest of the system is a WAD Kit 34 amplifier (built for me),  Arcam CD37 and Comete Triangle ES ‘speakers.


Stylus wear means a new cartridge is needed and funds are tight, so an MM type seems the best solution – a low output MC would involve having to buy an Elevator for the Graham Slee (I accept that the turntable and arm would appreciate a high-end MC cartridge, but needs must at the moment).  Although my Dynavector has been fine, I wonder whether a switch to an Ortofon 2M Black would be a good move, or do you have any other ideas?  I like a warm sound without excessive treble and listen to a lot of acoustic jazz, where I like to be able to follow the double bass lines.

Also, in the medium term I might look to change amplifiers. I am firmly in the valve camp so perhaps the latest WAD integrated or something from Icon might fit the bill.  Again, your opinions would be appreciated.


Finally, when is Adam going to open his Turntables ‘R’ Us superstore?  I don’t think he would have too much of a problem stocking it.

regards

Alan Smeaton

Newcastle upon Tyne

The 2M Black offers a cool, correct sound; it is technically accurate rather than warm, with treble that is fine and ‘obvious’, but not emphasised. I am not sure this is what you are after. The only cartridge I know of now that is ‘warm’ is the Shure M97xE, which is an old design - and sounds it. Resolution of detail isn’t great by today’s standards, but it tracks well and is warm sounding, due to classic 1970s generator droop. That makes it an easy listen and would suit your current absence of ready readies, as it were. NK

 

michell-orbe-se

My Michell Orbe SE with SME IV arm, needs a warm budget cartridge, says Alan.

 

Hi Alan - well, mentioning no names, but there's one contributor to this august journal (not wishing to give the game away but he likes Sony Walkmans a lot) who once somewhat harshly observed to me that the majority of Adam's turntables are not, to borrow a phrase from the Sale of Goods Act 1979, "of merchantable quality". He might think that, but I couldn't possibly comment... DP

BEOWHATSITS

I’ve seen the odd sideswipe at B&O equipment in your Letters pages so I thought I’d share this story with you.


Around the mid-80s a new neighbour came over to borrow some tool or other. As we walked through the lounge, he noticed my B&O system and said: “That’s crap”. As a long time B&O owner I was used to such comments so I let it pass, though I found it somewhat un-neighbourly.


Shortly after, the new neighbours invited us to dinner and he took the opportunity to demonstrate his “real” hi-fi. Composed of various separates, it sounded fantastic. Then, a few months later, we hosted a party for around 30 people. As was the habit, after all had eaten the music was cranked up and we danced the night away. In the early hours, as people were starting to leave, I found my neighbour on the couch, listening. I joined him with a nightcap and he said: “I’m sorry, I’d never heard one of these before - the sound is incredible.”


I suspect, like most dogma, the audiophile one is followed blindly. I no longer have a B&O system (my ex-spouse inherited the last one) so I can’t comment on their latest kit. What I can say is, for over 30 years the music played on various Beowhatsits enriched my life.

Peter Keene

Cape Town

 

That reminds me of the expression “I always remember whatsit”. Er, yes Peter! In truth we have a B&O nut at Hi-Fi World, a certain Adam Smith, who is always willing to speak up for B&O.  Their products are well styled and decently engineered under the skin, especially the loudspeakers, which we have been very impressed by. There’s no doubt that B&O are serious producers of high fidelity and I’m glad you find their whatsits work so well! NK


I’m afraid the sideswipes at B&O are an inevitable part of the hi-fi industry, Peter, and it also seems to me that more than a few are made by people who have never heard any of the equipment! Still, here at Hi-Fi World we have a fellow contributor in Tim Jarman who runs a vintage B&O website and has written books on the subject, as well as my good self who has one B&O system in the dining room, another in the lounge and...er...”one or two” more items under the bed in the loft room where my wife hasn’t thought to check yet!


Add to this our esteemed Editor who is also gradually building up a small collection of Danish loveliness and you can see that we most definitely do take B&O seriously here, even if they have come out with a few duffers over the years.  

 

bo-beolab-9

A B&O product that received Five Globes in Hi-Fi World, the Beolab 9 loudspeaker (see June 07 issue).

 

 

My trip to their factory in Struer a few years back only reinforced my opinion that, love or loathe the results, the technological know how and sheer passion that goes into their designs is really quite something to behold. AS

COST ISSUES

I have to take exception to Adam’s comment (Pro-ject Xperience 2, April 2010) that it “...makes a similarly priced CD player sound a little bit limp...”.

I am committed to vinyl myself - Technics SP15, custom plinth, Roksan Tabriz Zi, AT OC9 MLII, WhestTwo - but don’t like to see this statement made without an effective comparison.


Were you talking about similar to: £820 (turntable and arm) or similar to the total of £820 (turntable and arm) +£230 (cartridge) +£745 (phono stage) = £1795 (your test rig)


In terms of price - particularly in terms of CD players - that’s a huge scale.

regards

Neil McKirdy

Well Neil, I am sorry to have offended your sensibilities but my comment was actually directed at the whole Pro-Ject range in general! I have long been of the opinion that, from the storming budget Genie right up to the mighty RPM10, there isn’t a deck in the range that is a duffer and that comparing any of them to a CD player of similar price will show that, for sheer musical enjoyment, the Pro-Ject will most likely come out on top.


More specifically for the deck I reviewed, I see where you are coming from, regarding the ancillaries with which I partnered it but my aim, as always, was to see just what the deck was capable of when stretched to the maximum. £230 worth of cartridge and £730 worth of phono stage are not exactly common bed fellows for an £820 turntable and arm combo, but these were items that I chose to see what the deck could really do. It performed admirably but I do take your point that it would have a tough time up against one or two £1,700 CD spinners.


However, as part of the review I also loaded the Xperience 2 up with an Audio Technica AT110E and spent a day or two listening to it through a Cambridge Audio Azur 640P phono stage, bringing the total package cost to around £920 and being far more representative of the items that might normally partner such a design. In this guise, it certainly wasn’t quite as good as the fully loaded setup, but I’d still have taken it over a £1,000 CD player. AS

 

Throughout my reviewing career, I've always kept the Rega Planar 3 (now the P3-24) as something of a benchmark. The first one I bought back in the mid eighties cost £188 (plus £34 for a Rega R100), and it outperformed my Yamaha CDX2 (£600) CD spinner by a clear margin when properly sited and set up. Throughout the years I've periodically put it up against many sub £1,000 CD spinners and I've never ever felt the Rega turntable to be comprehensively outperformed; quite the reverse in fact. That's why I was never convinced by those who say CD offers great sound per pound; actually it doesn't. For me, if sound is the absolute priority, there's always only been one option... DP

NJOE TJOEB

I see in February 2010 Hi-Fi World that you have a Njoe Tjoeb 4000. I have owned one of these fine CD players since October 2002, when I purchased it from Upscale Audio in California (at that time there was no agent in N.Z.). It was purchased in 16bit 44.1k form. Since then there have been four Upgrades by Herman. One is a 24 bit 192k board. And there are three Clock upgrades using valves instead of the solid-state devices. I hope that you have got it in its final form as then it becomes a Giant Killer of CD players at its price.


I have long been surprised that more reviewers have not used this in their review systems, but maybe it would not match too many solid state systems (mine is an all-valve system.)

Keep up the good work there in UK

best regards

Alan Smith

New Zealand

 

ah-njoe-tjoeb-4000

 

Dutch Njoe Tjoeb is a real tulip, says Alan Smith from New Zealand.

 

 

GYRO ADVICE

Try as I may I cannot get my Michell Gyrodec / Technoarm “A” / Audio Technica OC 9 MLII / Tri-Chord Diablo to perform anything near my Leema Antila CD player in terms of, well, anything really. The Gyrodec is about 10 years old so has the AC motor and twin belts (replaced 12 months ago). The arm, cartridge and phono stage are now also about 12 months old. It’s a good performance, please don’t get me wrong, but in terms of soundstage width, depth and clarity the Antila is streets ahead and also outshines the Gyrodec on it’s depth of bass. The Antila is just a lot more involving.


The Gyro combination is very clear and analytical, but there is just no presence or depth to the music – it’s almost as though it’s giving a clinical and sterile performance. The turntable stands on top of a spiked Partington Minim rack, nicely weighed down by a Musical Fidelity A5CR pre amp and power amp so this is a heavyweight support. The deck is levelled and set up meticulously, 30 second bounce etc and the OC 9 tracks at 1.5 grammes. The Diablo is set to the cartridge parameters. Having tried different interconnects over the years I admit to being a cable sceptic and would need convincing that this is where the issue lies. I’ve tried swapping but can hear no difference and it would take more than a cable change to enable it to catch up. I tried a PS Audio GCPH phono amp as a substitute but was really disappointed in the amount of noise it put into the system.


Speakers are Bowers and Wilkins CM7s and due for a change but that’s another story.


Before I give up on vinyl is there anything I can do to improve things or do I accept that I’ve now reached a “natural state”? If I’m missing something what do I need to do to at least equal the Antila or hopefully surpass it? I have too many LPs to give up easily but am reluctant to have the Gyro just sitting there as a beautiful curiosity. I’m prepared to spend up to £1000 to fix this providing it moves me forward.

best regards

Bob Allen

 

Hi Bob. I would replace the Technoarm A (David will say more about this) and - especially - the phono stage. There are some top quality phono stages in this issue and one of them is likely for you. A valve phono stage will give you stage depth and imaging aplenty and I suspect the tweaked up Icon Audio PS1.2 would be worth auditioning. NK

 

The sad thing here is that you've obviously set the Gyro up meticulously but didn't spend quite as much time considering the original combination of arm, cartridge and phono stage. A properly set up and matched Gyro should romp ahead of any CD player, but I fear you've got for a relatively bright and forward arm, cartridge and phono stage, which gives a rather toppy and mid-forward sound. Actually, the main culprit here is the Diablo, which is excellent in its way, but not famed for its deep, fulsome tonality. You either need to go for a fuller, bassier cartridge to partner it with or swap it for a richer more three dimensional phono stage. Here there is surely only one at the price; the Icon Audio PS3. Sumptuous is how I'd describe it, and it would suit your system a treat. DP

 

MODS

Over the years having had access to big Pioneer 9000 series stuff and Teac reel-to-reel (the owner used to get me into free concerts at the Cornwall Coliseum - The Cure, New Order, Motorhead hitting the 100dB level - ouch!) and also Rogers A100 and big Nightingale triple enclosure things - well I was hooked!

Notable equipment has been a Nakamichi deck, Quad 34 (the controls more than the sound), Spendor speakers, John Michell Gyrodec/QC/Technoarm (which 18 month Lucy is showing unnerving interest in), Chutes Black, Sugden A21, Anatek phono (Adam’s review) and lots of Tannoy, currently Glenair 15 – spot on about toe-in Noel!...


A question for David; Gyro SME IV v Orbe RB1000 variant. Priority – stage depth/tuneful bass.


A question for Noel. et all. Sorry about your loss of Tannoy Yorkminsters. Will heavily nodded WD Phono 3 (Black Gates etc;), give me worthwhile benefits of instruments having own timbre and space over otherwise good Anatek to support what the Chutes is good at.


Tannoy also don’t advise Litz cable i.e. my Kimber 8tc?? I liked Townshend Isolda, and apparently Glenair 15 is not a real Prestige for not being Alnico like the Yorkminster (couldn’t they have put a 15 in that cabinet), a political hot potato, I know but thoughts all the same please.


Hi-Fi World high points have included David after taking over from the Popemeister in Aug 07; SME, Sugden, Anatek and your expansion of vinyl section. I am currently listening to Goldfrap’s Seventh Tree,  Heads Remain in light, Daniel Lanois, Dennis Wilson – Pacific Ocean Blue, Kraftwerk Min’Max,

David Anthony Howey

Cornwall

WD Phono 3, which uses valves, modded with special components like Black Gate capacitors, will sound quite substantially better than any commercially available phono stage. The company making Black Gates, Jelmax in Japan, ceased manufacture in 2007 though, so unless they have re-started, Black Gates will be getting rare by now, as stocks decline. Go down this path if you can, however.


I wouldn't worry too much about Alnico and such like. There are fad materials like Alnico in the Far East and the basis of their popularity is well founded, but nothing to get too worked up about. Tannoy Prestige loudspeakers are intended for the Japanese market where such boxes must be ticked. NK

 

icon-audio-ps3

Icon Audio PS3 phono stage gives a sumptuous sound, says David.


 

Hi David – the SME Model 10 offers superior stage depth to the GyroDec, although to be fair the Gyro is more expansive left to right. The Linn LP12 has one of the most tuneful basses around, and fine stage depth, although again isn't as wide left-to-right as a Gyro. DP


GET ECSTATIC

I wonder if you can suggest one or two alternative ‘speakers for my system. It consists of Naim Nat 03 tuner, Rega Saturn CD, Krell FPB 250 watt monoblocks, Audio Research Reference 3 pre-amp and - at present - Gamut L3 standmounts. Transparent Super cabling throughout.


I listen to classical music, especially piano and string quartets, and acoustic jazz - no rock or pop.  The Gamuts are a well engineered design, but I feel I need speakers with perhaps greater finesse and delicacy and a more open, airy soundstage. They could well be floorstanders. Budget up to £6000.

Tony Mates

 

I would suggest you audition Martin Logan hybrid electrostatics, such as the Puritys I reviewed in our September 08 edition. They offer a beautiful sound with any music type but being so pure and crossover free and are especially strong with strings and classical instruments. Of all the loudspeakers I review Martin Logans stand out in my mind (excepting Tannoy’s vast Prestige loudspeakers), especially at their price, which under represents their relative quality I feel. The Martin Logan electrostatic panel really is a special experience and you will not hear a sound stage that comes close, from a cone 'speaker. NK

 

 

martin-logan-purity

Martin Logan Purity hybrid electrostatic loudspeakers.

 

Also consider the Eminent Technology LFT-8b. Substantially cheaper at around half your maximum budget, these planar magnetic hybrids are wonderfully seamless and expansive. DP

 

OLD GOLD

I came across, on the World Design Forum web site, an article about upgrading the KLS3 tweeter from the Audax Gold to the Seas 002 Millennium tweeter.

I built the original Mk II loudspeaker when it first came out. I have similar problems with the rippling on the surface of the tweeter but I didn’t realise that the gas leaked from this tweeter. Does this rippling mean that the gas has leaked from my tweeter also?


Can you advise me on whether I can buy a similar Audax replacement? And can you give me details of the crossover mod to suit the Seas 002 Millennium tweeter and what companies would supply this tweeter?

Thanks for your time.

yours faithfully,

Patrick Smith

Hi Patrick. This is a recurring tale as the Audax HD-3P piezo Gold Dome tweeter did leak, losing its inert pressurising gas. We ran a complete article on replacing the Gold Dome of KLS3 with a Seas Millennium in our June 2008 issue (p80). I cannot reprint it here, but it is available as a back issue from our e-editions. Just go to the web site www.hi-fiworld.co.uk to go though to our on-line delivery system to buy the back issue. You can get Seas drive units from Madisound in the USA or Solen in Canada. Seas are Norwegian but do not sell direct. NK


 

seas-millenium

Seas Millennium 002 tweeter, a top quality design able to replace the Audax HD-3P Gold Dome.

 

TRANSFORMER VOLTAGES

I am currently using an Eastern Electric M520 purchased about 3 years ago. Sadly, it has developed a nasty buzz in the transformer but my local valve expert in Exeter has just managed to solve the problem when we thought a new transformer might be needed. The amplifier I bought is rated at 220 volts and the local repairer is sure that  240 volts is putting a strain on the amplifier, saying H.T. is rising beyond the safe limits of the capacitors and suggesting I have a separate transformer made up to reduce the mains to 220 volts. He has regularly measured the local mains at 248 volts and is concerned for the safe future of the amplifier.


As experts is this area, I wondered if you would advise on this and whether other readers have experienced similar problems with valve products sourced from abroad.

Thanks very much for any advice and insights as I have been missing the amp a while, though a friend  lent me an old NAB. Speakers are sensitive Audionote ANEs, usually suited to valve equipment.

regards

Mark Armitage

Exeter


 

Hi Mark. If the mains is running at 248V and the product is designed for 220V then there is 13% over voltage. This is a little higher than the 10% or so a designer might envisage, although Eastern Electric are based in Hong Kong (220V) and would be aware that their products may well see 240V overseas, as many territories use 240V.


You say the problem was ‘solved’ but do not say how. Do you mean the realisation that a voltage difference existed? If so, I think not. Mains transformers buzz because they have loose windings or because the local supply is ‘dirty’ and full of harmonics and I see you live in or close to Exeter, where agricultural or industrial machinery might be a problem. This is one possibility.


Sometimes the transformer mountings need tightening or even the lamination clamp screws, as the lams. can buzz too. Transformers are varnish impregnated to prevent this but air pockets can result in dry areas. Over-voltage does not in itself cause buzzing; capacitors simply rupture if over run.


It is usual to use an auto-transformer for step down and you need to consult Farnell or RS Components for this. I suspect it will not provide a cure however. If the buzz disappears late at night, then it's the mains supply I would guess. If it is constant, the transformer. Either way, it does not need replacing unless the buzz is driving you mad. NK

 

SIMPLY NOT THE BEST

Whilst I agree that thinking in terms of “the best” is unhelpful and reductive, I thought it a bit ironic that, close by that statement, in the key defining your “verdicts”, the top category was “simply the best”. I think that, like Tina Turner, it is time that description was pensioned off.  How about “pushed our buttons” or just “exciting quality”.


Anyway, I bought the edition because it included the Heresy speakers. I use a 1990s Heresy II model with considerable satisfaction and wondered if there were any real changes and what you thought (I can remember what Ken Kessler thought of the Heresy II). It turns out that the Heresy III is different in a variety of ways and I have a sneaking suspicion I would not want to swap over to them.  But the Heresy IIs are very bass-light, so not everything is different.

regards

Graham Elliott

 

klipsch-heresey

Klipsch Heresy III, idiosyncratic but fun, says Noel.

 

Perhaps we should say “amongst the best”, but somehow I’m not sure it matters that much. There are, in truth, lots of statements we make that should be qualified, but then you get into long, linguistically tortuous diversions that send our readers to sleep. And we do try not to do that!


The Heresy’s were nothing other than idiosyncratic, but imaginative and very good in many ways. Not the subtlest package perhaps but definitely entertaining. Putting the bass unit close to the floor brought bass up, part of the design, and putting them close to rear walls would also help. High sensitivity means they are great for low powered valve amps. NK


DAMPING FACTOR

I became acutely aware of your inclusion of damping factor as a measurement in your extensive amplifier tests in the April issue. I find damping factor can be a meaningful spec but not as it is usually presented.


Simply giving a value is mainly useful to compare amplifiers measured the same way but is not very meaningful for an individual amp without further information and usually a lot more of it.


Perhaps you have printed this and I just missed it, but damping factor needs a statement of the impedance used to measure it. I would normally assume 8 ohms for this but in this day of lower impedance speakers perhaps 4 ohms is used and I would appreciate knowing this. Another piece of data needed is at what frequency the value is derived. I’ve seen measurements over 100 Hz and since damping factor implies a degree of bass control this may not be a useful point to take it since at lower frequencies the damping factor can be quite different and is often lower implying lower control.


Finally, I have once in a great while seen damping factor measured across the bandwidth, particularly at high frequencies. This is rare but I find it useful in getting a sense of the basic linearity of the amplifier circuit before the application of corrective negative feedback. If the damping factor is basically the same at low frequencies, mid-frequencies and high frequencies, basically across the audible 20Hz to 20kHz bandwidth the amplifier circuit is probably quite linear and also quite stable and the amp is probably therefore quite good.


Your thoughts on this subject would interest me, given the experience shown in your reviews and particularly given the design experience of many of your writers.

Allen Edelstein

New Jersey, USA

 

Hi Allen. Thanks for writing and your interest. We measure damping factor by switching from 8 Ohms to 4 Ohm and noting the change in an amplifier’s output voltage. Then D.F. is (m-n)/mn-m, where m is the factor by which the load changes (2 in our case) and n is the change in output voltage. You can find the derivation in Mannie Horowitz’s book ‘Measuring Hi-Fi Amplifiers’, Library of Congress Catalogue No. 67-20987. We use 40Hz as the measuring frequency.


You could measure output impedance (inverse of damping factor) across the audio band to assess feedback, but we choose to measure the rise in distortion at high frequencies. This takes into account basic non-linearity as well as the amount of feedback used.


Our experience of using a wide variety of loudspeakers with an equally large number of amplifiers shows that damping factors above about 20 are sufficient to obviously apply control to under damped loudspeakers, whilst damping factors below about 5 have no affect. This, quite frankly, is in line with the general industry view. As Laurie Fincham of KEF pointed out to me long ago, loudspeakers are self damped acoustically and magnetically, as well as electrically by the amplifier. Highly damped loudspeakers do not much need a high D.F. amp. However, under damped loudspeakers like our in-house Spendor S8es boom and sound boxy with low D.F. valve amps, but are fine with high D.F. transistor amps. Our Spendors work wonderfully with Musical Fidelity’s AMS50 but they sound obviously ‘tubbier’ with our Icon Audio MB845 valve (sorry - tube!) amps and do not suit zero feedback valve amps at all.


When taking a view on all this, it’s always useful to bear in mind that every bass unit has a big coil of wire, the low pass inductor, between it and the amplifier, and this will measure 0.5 Ohms or so, according to the core material, wire thickness etc., increasing output impedance and lowering damping factor. This being so it is surprising we hear any differences at all. NK

 

WELL CONNECTED

I thought I would write to tell you about something that occurred after upgrading to a valve amplifier.


I just received my Icon Audio Stereo 40 III (KT88 Version) and after assembling it and connecting up all the interconnects I sat back to listen. I can tell you I am very impressed; whether its this amp or the fact that I am now using valves I can’t tell you, but the sound is a magnitude better than my old transistor amp. All the instruments on my vinyl and CD now sound like instruments; its hard to explain but everything just sounds more real!


Anyway, the point. When installing the new amp I had to move a couple of components around (to allow the amp to sit in a more spacious area, to give better cooling). While doing this I happened to swap a couple of my interconnects to other components. Once I’d finished, I sat back to listen and started with my CD.


Now, although it sounded good, as always, I felt it was not quite as clear and vivid as before. After checking I realised I had used my original CD interconnect (VDH the 1st ultimate) to connect up the tuner. Before I removed anything I swapped to listen to the tuner and after a while thought that was not as good as before also. So I set about swapping all the interconnects back to their original components. Now my CD player sounds great again and my tuner is also back to how I like it.

It seems to be some sort of synergy thing! CD (an original MF X-Ray) just sounds much better with the VDH interconnect, yet that interconnect does not make my tuner sound better, it seems to sound best with its Chord interconnect.


Up until purchasing the new amp I was as sceptical as the next hi-fi listener about the difference interconnects and speaker cables can make (it’s all in the head of the listener etc). But I think as valves let you hear more of the feeling within the source being used, the cable differences are more apparent.


I suppose this may start another cables debate within the Letters page, but I’m only writing down what I have observed. Anyway, it will make a change from the Denon 103 debates!

thanks for listening

Andrew Burtchaell

 

musical-fidelity-ams50

Musical Fidelity AMS50 keeps a tight grip on loudspeakers.

 

 

MICHELL ALECTO

I have just seen the letter from John Rainey in the Philippines regarding his Michell Alectos. Apologies if you were already aware of this, but just to let you know (and it might be worth passing on to the readers) that Graham Fowler at Trichord Research can now supply the Mk2 Alecto boards, so existing owners of Mk1 Alectos can upgrade to new main boards, which can then be further upgraded to 250 watts per channel (I believe an extra transistor is added) and is said to transform the sound. It might be a cost effective upgrade for Mk1 owners such as Mr Rainey.

regards

Robin Cook

 

michell-alecto

Michell Alecto amplifier can be upgraded, Robin Cook points out.

 

KEN DOD

Tonight I’ve been listening to ‘Presenting Ken Dodd’, his first album, a mono LP of romantic ballads from 1962. Once again I’ve enjoyed a lovely sounding mono recording and could hardly believe this one is 48 years old. I won’t be around to see how my CDs fare in 48 years time but I do wonder.


The trip to the record shop in town was well worth it this week. First, I couldn’t resist buying an LP featuring Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and Acker Bilk, the reason being the very same combination are due to appear at Yeovil’s Octagon theatre soon - The Legendary ‘Three B’s’. It seemed a fitting buy.


Then I found the shop had some more 78s for sale. I picked up a few (couldn’t manage to take more because of the weight) and they include three gems. Two Lonnie Donegans and wait for it - a Norman Wisdom recording. Being a fan of his I’m thrilled at owning a Norman Wisdom record on 78.

Well, sometimes you have to go backwards to move forwards...

best wishes,

Melvyn Dover

Weymouth, Dorset

 

Hi Melvyn, I’ll swop my Lady Gaga album for your Ken Dodd album if you want! NK


 
Comments (1)
Nakamichi 600
1Monday, 11 November 2013 04:24
Donald
Hi, I bought a Nakamichi 600 cassette deck head from B&W UK, I think they told me then it was their 2nd to last one. Still excellent. One of the finest pieces of hi-fi machinery.

Yes, Nakamichis were lovely – I have a ZX-9 and love it, but spares are drying up. What a shame. NK

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