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August 2010 issue - Page 3

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August 2010 issue
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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



 
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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