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October 2010 issue - Page 3

Article Index
October 2010 issue
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6 - Mac Mini
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STAR STATIONS

I read with interest the Letters section in the latest edition of Hi-Fi World. You were responding to a letter by Roy Chant about stereo receivers and internet radio stations. Roy mentioned a station called http://www.jazz.fm which caught my attention as I like Jazz. I read your answer with interest and a degree of scepticism as you went on to point out to Roy that the sound quality wasn’t very good streaming at 48kbps and that internet radio often sounds dreadful.


Sceptical about your response I decided to check out http://www.jazz.fm for myself. After about 3 minutes of listening to the station I thought, whoops! Noel was right about this one! The sound quality was very disappointing.


I had a HomeTheatre PC custom built for me in 2006. Its been very much part of my hi-fi system and I use it to play CDs and DVDs, plus listen to internet radio stations – now its becoming the norm but I had a Linn Karik 111 which I sold to use the Home Theatre PC as my source instead, in 2006, so I feel like a pioneer! I have saved internet streams which I consider to output high quality sound. One of the 1st stations to do that was The Jazz which lasted only 12 months from 2007 to 2008 due to politics – it was a great station and the internet stream was much better quality than their DAB counterpart.


Another station with excellent sound quality is France International Paris (FIP) which plays a combination of jazz, adult oriented pop, and other eclectic music. http://sites.radiofrance.fr/chaines/fip/endirect. I have been listening to the satellite version of this station on Hotbird, 13 degrees east, and latterly Astra, 19 degrees east, since 2000 and though the internet stream is not quite as good as the satellite station, the sound quality has improved in the last 12 months and is not far off.

 

 

radio-france-paris

France International Paris offers an excellent sound with a variety of music, says Laurie Burnette.

 

Another station I listen to regularly is Radio Monte Carlo, again originally a satellite station http://www.radiomontecarlo.net/home http://www.radiomontecarlo.net/it/multimedia/webradio/rmc_2. It plays a lot of Euro electronic dance music, chill and electro jazz much better than Chill DAB who have a similar remit.


AOL also outputs very high quality radio streams. I regularly listened to the Fusion stream but unfortunately they've stopped streaming to Europe which is a shame. You now get re-routed to http://www.last.fm.


I thought it might be an idea to recommend Hi-Fi World in a future edition maybe doing a feature on Internet Radio and recommending some high quality streams for people to check out. I'm sure there are stations I haven't discovered which I would like to hear.


Just one last thing. I also found your feature on the revival of cassette fascinating as an easy way to record music. I'm the proud owner of a Sharp IMR 420 1 bit Minidisc recorder that  I use it to record off satellite radio, internet streams and transfer CDs. I listen to it on the road and play through my hi-fi when at home. The sound quality is absolutely excellent using ATRAC3 which is highly thought of, I understand. Minidisc could have been a great mass replacement for cassette. I'm amazed Sony missed such a trick because it's reported they try to sell it as a replacement for CD when with its recording facilities it should have been a replacement for cassette decks!

regards

Laurie Burnette

 

VINYL QUEST

I am on a quest for answers (as we all are who write into you at Hi-Fi World) to the ever-plaguing need for partnering perfection. I have done a lot of research, more than I like to admit, yet I cannot find decisive answers to pairing tonearms and pickups. So here I write to you, the experts who I hold in high regards, for some direction.


Before indulging upon my questions, let me fill you in on what I have to work with (i.e. hi-fi system and budget). My system consists of a Roksan Caspian M-Series-1 integrated amplifier, Dali Ikon 5 speakers, a pair of the Chord Carnival Silverscreen speaker cables (which I believe help the Ikon 5s tendency to be bright at the high end), and a Rega P3-24 turntable with the TT-PSU. All of which has been bought second hand, otherwise I would have never been able to afford it.

 

icon-audio-ps1

A good budget phono stage, Icon Audio's PS1

 

Vinyl records are the only source of music I use in my system. The P3-24 is replacing my Pro-Ject Debut III run from the Pro-Jects Speed Box II and linked to the Roksan via the Cambridge Audio Azur 640P phono stage. I understand that my components are not high-end, but feel I've done well with the money I managed to scrape together, spending just over £1,100 on the Roksan, Dalis, and Rega over an extended period of time.


This brings me to my budget and my intentions. Personally, I really like the simplicity of the P3-24 and love the idea of being able to tweak my turntable over time as my cash-flow permits. I plan on upgrading the P3-24's sub-platter, platter, and tonearm. I will also be upgrading my phono stage and interconnect. The sub-platter and platter I am going to use for the upgrades are the ISOkinetiks ISOsub sub-platter and bearing kit and ISOkinetiks ISOplatter 25mm Reference acrylic platter, but any suggestions/alternatives to these are very welcome.


The phono stage upgrade will be determined by what pickup I choose; at the moment I really like the Graham Slee phono stages for price and quality. I am planning on upgrading my tonearm to Rega's RB700 (an OEM version). Again, I am very open to alternatives for the tonearm upgrade. I would like to spend in the region of £400 to £500 on the tonearm and would like to keep the pickup around £200 to £350.


The sound I am hoping to accomplish with my hi-fi system is something detailed/analytical, but a warm and inviting expansive soundstage with a tight, potent low end, a crisp midrange, and a clean, delicate high end. And although my budget may not be extensive I feel this is still feasible (in retrospect to the amount I have to spend).

 

rega-origsubplatteriso

The original Rega sub-platter and ISOsub (top) side by side.


With that out of the way here are my questions... Do you think it is worth upgrading from the RB301 to the RB700? Or, should I just upgrade the tonearm wires/cables? What pickup works well with an RB700 (and/or the RB301) and a P3-24 plinth? Due to the RBs rigid nature and lean tendency, which I have concluded from my research and listening to the RB301; would an MM or MC pickup work better? With that in mind, what MM and/or MC would you recommend? With the tonearm and pickup pairings you recommend, what phono stage do you think would work well in my current system, my desired sound, and with a budget from £200 to £500?


And finally, what interconnects do you recommend with the pickup/tonearm/phono stage partners you listed? Since I only listen to vinyl there is only one interconnect I need to buy (0.5m to 1m), so I am happy to spend anywhere from £50 to £150 on it, but if there is an interconnect you feel is perfect for my hi-fi system and is over this price range, please do not hesitate to let me know.


Some alternatives I am considering: for the pickup Goldring 2500, Ortofon 2M Bronze/Black, Denon 103R, Goldring GX1042, Ortofon Samba/Salsa, and Dynavector DV10X5.

For the phono stage: Graham Slee's Amp 2 Special Edition (MM)/Amp 3Fanfare (MC)/or Era Gold V (MM)/Reflex C (MC), Icon Audio PS2 (though I do not know much about tube amps), and Trichord Dino MkII.


Just a heads up; I have an Ortofon 2M Red I used on my Pro-Ject Debut, and from my understanding the bodies of the 2M Red and Blue are the same with only the stylus being different, so I could save money by getting a 2M Blue replacement stylus  if you believe this tonearm and pickup partnering would be the best option for my system and budget.

Please bear-in-mind buying at the lower end of the budget will be quicker to achieve and will keep my wife smiling with the money saved. While buying at the higher end of the budget will inevitably take longer to achieve but will keep both of us, myself and my wife, smiling with the beautiful sounds the end product produces; this is a quest after all...

thank you,

Joe Kanaan

 

The RB700 is clearly better than the ‘301, offering more focus plus a more natural and less mechanical sound; upgrading the 301 with fancy wires will take you closer to the 700, but is a hassle and you’ll have to live without your arm for a week or two! I have extensive experience of using an AT-OC9 moving coil with a Rega Planar 3, and it works very well on the end of the Rega arms; the AT gives a very crisp and dynamic sound which kicks some life into the gentle warmth of the Rega deck. At the price you’re considering, the Graham Slee phono stages are excellent and have an enthusiastic following if you’re into solid-state stages; alternatively Icon Audio’s new PS1 (£449) will give a fuller, fatter and slightly less detailed sound. There’s a litany of competition; best take your deck and cartridge over and find a good dealer and listen for yourself, in my humble opinion. Personally, I’d recommend a Missing Link ‘Link Cryo’ (£245/0.5m) as an interconnect; it’s a bit over your budget but well worth it in the long run, such is its very open, smooth, sweet and musical sound. DP



 

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