December 2010 issue - Page 5

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I need help to avoid making what could be a mistake. You see, I have got the upgrade bug again. In 40 years of hi-fi I have never had valves in any part of my systems and I have been pretty lucky when adding or changing a piece of kit.

My present system is VPI Scout, Dynavector 17d2, Lyngdorf CD 1, Whest audio PS.30 RDT SE phono stage. Amplifiers are PS Audio PCA2 Pre and HCA2 power. Loudspeakers are Zingali Prelude 4 with REL Subwoofer Britannia B3. I also have Isotek Sigmas and all kinds of cables.

My room is 8m by 3.1m by 2.5 high. Behind the listening position at 5 meters, one wall cuts back into the room to take off a corner; it forms a kind of triangle at that end of the room. To the right of the right hand speaker is dining area 2.4m by 2.1m. This space used to be a terrace and was converted into living area. It is 50% glazed with hard surfaced walls and a timber floor. Believe or not, it isn’t as lively as you would expect and is one of the best rooms I’ve ever had  for hi-fi.

I’m happy with my present vinyl source and as the Whest is brand new I feel it can only be the PS amps that go onto ebay. The Zingalis are 92dB sensitive so maybe borderline for Yamamoto 2watt SET amps (but oh so pretty). You see how that bug works,

My budget could be stretched to £5k but that is very much top wack and less is more, as they say, Life threatening sound levels are not an option so quality over quantity would be the preferred route.

My musical tastes are quite varied but mostly Rock/Pop from the 60s up to present day Alt stuff like Midlake or Interpol, but throw in some Vivaldi or Bach and I’m happy. As I am out of my comfort zone with the valve scene any help in avoiding this potential mistake, such as buying those Yamos, would be much appreciated.


John Fishwick.




Heavens, you do not want to start out using valve based equipment by purchasing a 2W Single-Ended! It’s aimed at people who have a pair of Tannoy Westminster Royals in their bedroom, most of whom are to be found in Japan. This is where Tannoy sell most of their Prestige loudspeakers.

Take a look at an Almarro A318B if you are interested in an amplifier that looks great and delivers a wonderful sound. But it does need a 90dB sensitive floorstander at least, as it possesses a power output of just 12 Watts, we measured in our September 07 issue review. Your Zingalis should suit. NK




Japanese Almarro 318B Single Ended pure Class A amplifier. Looks great and sounds great.



Hello gents! I used to pick up your magazine every now and then at a local newspaper stand, then lost sight of it altogether and now for the past two years (has it been three already?) I have been a subscriber. It seems I just cannot live without it...

The “problem” concerns the sound of violin music when played on my vinyl front end: solo violin sounds great, but massed strings sound so strident that I have to turn the volume down. This problem does not occur when playing violin music via CD. Since I do not want to repeat the mistake of buying stuff suspecting that it might sound good in my system, only to find that it did not, I thought I had better get your advice.

My present system consists of: Naim NAC 202 / NAP 200 with Napsc + Hicap power supplies, Thorens TD124 in open slate plinth sitting on RDC spikes and ditto cups, Rega RB250 tonearm with upgraded counterweight and Incognito wiring (I think copper, but I’m not sure since I had this mod. ages ago), Goldring 1042 MM cartridge, Trichord Dino+ PSU with dedicated connecting lead, van den Hul M.C. D102III Hybrid Interconnects, Tannoy D500 ‘speakers, TEAC VRDS-T1 into Bel Canto DAC 1, 8TC KIMBER Special Edition Speaker Cable (hyper pure copper), all fed via a HMS Energia power distributor and Energia power cables (sorry for this long and over detailed list...).

My guess is that somewhere along the vinyl replay chain I have one or more components that are not quite feeling at home in this setup, but which one (s)?

I have checked and rechecked my cartridge setup, but this seems to be fine. The cartridge is relatively new too. My first suspicion was that the Trichord Dino+ phono stage might be a little forward, and replacing it with a Project Tubebox II did seem to bring some relief, but this is not in the same league in other areas.

So, are tubes the way to go? In addition, if you were asked to further improve the sound of this system, where would you start and what would you do, given a total budget of approx. 4000 euro? Mind you, I would like to hang on to the turntable and amplification, if at all possible, but if they have to go, so be it!

I would be most grateful for any advice you might be able to give me.

Peter Inghels

The Hague

The Netherlands


Hi Peter. That is a little odd. A Goldring 1042 pickup cartridge has an excellent stylus with great tracking and superb high frequency resolution. It should be able to track massed violins properly and an RB250 should not hold it back. I wonder whether something is amiss.

If the arm has been rewired it is worth checking that it is OK and moving freely. To do this, set tracking force to zero so it floats, then deflect it laterally and vertically (use a light tap) to make sure movement is unhindered. You will need to remove the stylus first, or put the cover on and secure it with a piece of Sellotape.

If all is well here, ensure tracking force is 1.7gms or 1.8gms maximum. Use a stylus gauge; they are cheap.

Finally, you may need to take a close look at the stylus in case there’s a problem with it. Unfortunately, it takes very high magnification (> x100) to do this, and light and depth of field become issues with high magnifications.

Would you be able to borrow another cartridge? Or perhaps take an LP to a dealer and listen to it on another turntable?  If you’ve played your LPs in the past with a budget cartridge, mistracking at high levels may well have damaged the groove walls and the Goldring 1042 cartridge is just playing this imprinted distortion. The only solution here is to replace the LPs. Changing the phono stage will not provide a solution.

It would be easy for me to suggest you spend lots of money upgrading the turntable and indeed better arms are available. To improve upon the Goldring 1042 you really need to use either an Ortofon 2M Black, or move up to Moving Coil cartridges. NK


(Peter's next letter came in after the above reply had been written)



There has been some development on this front. I decided to put the Tannoys on SoundCare spikes and what do you know: for the most part the problem is gone! Now, the Tannoys were always on spikes, the ones supplied by the manufacturer, but apparently SoundCare were doing something right when designing theirs!

Still, I am wondering whether the Naim transistor pre amp and power amp paired with the high-sensitivity Tannoys (92 dB according to the manufacturer) makes for a happy marriage per se. I probably do not need all those watts in the first place with sensitive speakers like the Tannoys. A handful of clean valve watts would suffice. So, if I were to decide to sell the Naims, would you recommend a valve amp take their place? What about the power consumption of valve amps? Is there such a thing as an environmentally friendly valve amp or is there no need to worry?

thanks again,

Peter Inghels

The Hague

The Netherlands



A low-ish powered valve amplifier suits sensitive Tannoy's.



Big Tannoys sound best with valve amps; they're a perfect match. I'm constantly begging Tannoy not to demo their loudspeakers at Shows with humongous transistor amplifiers. The loudspeaker is running from the first Watt or two of output and this is the dirtiest bit, blighted by noise, colouration and crossover products – that's why I test amplifiers at 1Watt output at 10kHz. It gives the worst result!

So listen to a decent valve amplifier like a Quad and see what you think. Mains power consumption lies in the 100W-200W region for Quads and this is fairly typical, which amounts to just two bright light bulbs (of the old fashioned sort!). NK



Due to a moment of madness I have broken the stylus of my Linn K9 cartridge; I understand the stylus / cartridge is no longer available. What would be a comparable cartridge or even improve on the K9? I am out of touch with hi-fi and prices today; would I be looking at £100 - £150, or more? Would I be better with a MC cartridge or stick with an MM cartridge?

My system is a LP12 Valhalla deck, Basic Plus arm, Audio Analogue Puccini amp, Monitor Audio R352 speakers.

I also have an Acoustic Research deck with a Basic Plus arm and K9 cartridge. Would it be better to put the K9 on my LP12 and fit another cartridge to the AR. If so, which would you recommend?

What speaker cable / interconnects would you recommend for my system?

Finally, I have a Marantz CD65 player (purchased second hand). I would like to upgrade to a newer player with more warmth and musical smoothness. Could you advise any players around £300 - £400 or do I need to save and purchase something costing a bit more? I play rock / pop and a small amount of classical. I am not against purchasing second hand if you could advise me what to consider.

Any help you can give me would be appreciated. Thank you in anticipation.

yours sincerely

Keith Russell




Goldring 1042 Moving Magnet pickup cartridge, a great replacement for a dead K9.

Hi Keith - buy a Goldring G1042 moving magnet (£200) for your Linn LP12/Basik Plus; it should make a fine combination. This cartridge is so far ahead of the K9 that you should ideally have one on both decks! Basically, put the K9 on your least favourite deck!

I'd recommend Black Rhodium Tango loudspeaker cable, or Chord Odyssey 2 if you want a sharper, ballsier sound. At the affordable end of interconnects, buy the best Missing Link cable you can stretch to.

As for CD, well I'd go for a Musical Fidelity M1 DAC, an excellent affordable upsampling design at around £400; it should work a treat with your Marantz CD65, giving a far smoother and more finessed sound. DP


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