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August 2010 issue - Page 4

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August 2010 issue
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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



 
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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