August 2010 issue - Page 2

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August 2010 issue
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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 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


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



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


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



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


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



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.





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

Comments (1)
Nakamichi 600
1Monday, 11 November 2013 04:24
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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