April 2011 issue - Page 2

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I know from doing a quick Google that you had a Marantz CD63 KI - DP edition made. I think there was a run of 30 units?

I own a CD63 KI which I only recently purchased. My system is very much budget based, purchased 2nd hand, comprising CD63 KI, PM66 KI and Spendor S6e speakers and decent speaker cable/interconnects.

I’m seeking your opinion on how the 63 KI stacks up to modern budget CD players (say up to £250) and ones up to £500 (the original sale price of the KI).

I have carried out a few external mods to my CD player, Russ Andrews Yello power cable and Milty Foculpods feet, also I have just lined the inside of the case with 2mm bitumen sheets.




A great nineties CD player, the Marantz CD63 Ken Ishiwata Signature. It sounds good today.


It would seem that the used price of the KI is still very strong and the modifiers forums are also very busy concerning tweaking the KI.

Speaking to a few hi-fi friends (Cyrus owners), they all imply the KI is basically a “turd” these days and any modern CD player would knock it for six, irrespective of price. From my own experience I have back to backed my KI with an Onkyo SACD and a Cambridge Audio 640c V2 and I prefer the detail and delivery of the KI to both of these. It’s like a fine mist has been lifted and the sound stage enlarged when reverting back to the KI

Would you still entertain using a KI or has technology really moved on that much? Hoping you can give me your opinion!




Technology has improved but things aren't that much better. There's still a far bigger gulf between a good and a bad CD player than there is between a new and an old one. Whilst I'm not saying all old CD spinners are great, the Marantz CD63 Ken Ishiwata Signature is still a very strong performer. It has an innate musicality, a certain fluidity, that many other machines of today can't match. Hence its value is holding strong secondhand. I'd say it's one of the few 'cult' machines from the nineties, and it is worth having one now.  As ever though, make sure you get a good 'low mileage' one and if necessary send it to Arthur Bildzruk at Audio Technology Workshops (020 8746 2600) for a service; he's a classic Marantz specialist and does great work. The difference between a fully working, up-to-spec CD player and a dirty, tired and flaky one can be bigger than you might think. DP



As a regular reader of the magazine, I very much enjoy Noel’s valve amp. reviews, which are informing in their depth. However, I would be interested to know a couple of things omitted in his review of the Icon Audio 845s.


Firstly, what pre-amp did he use? Was it the Creek OBH-22 he likes, or something else? Would the Music First Audio pre-amp match the 845s?

Also, how were the amps sited; presumably, they don’t fit any commercial rack.


Secondly, although the weight of the amps was mentioned, nothing was said of the physical measurements. Surely, the foot- print is as important as the weight.






The Music First Audio transformer step-up preamp. offers 0dB or 6dB gain with superb quality.


Hi Rob. I used a Creek OBH-22 and an Icon Audio LA4 MkII. The latter gives a bouncier, more dynamic sound but as I was reviewing just the power amplifiers I felt happiest using the Creek. Some listeners feel the passive Creek has a flat and dull sound though, and a Music First Audio would certainly be an improvement. We rate this transformer based ‘preamp’ (step up device) very highly.


The amps sat on a concrete floor, for stability and to avoid vibration. The measurements are 54cms deep, 24cms wide and 28cms high. We tend to assume people will get this sort of info from the ‘net these days, but perhaps not and we should publish it. We do carefully measure up loudspeakers after some complaint on this matter! NK



I hope you can help me reach audio nirvana as unfortunately with the current system I have stopped listening to music for extended times.


My system comprises Wadia 170I i-pod dock, Musical Fidelity X-Ray V8 CD player and X-DAC V8 (not seen it reviewed by you, but had very positive comments in other reviews), Musical Fidelity X-Pre V3, TACT SDA 2175, Rega P3 with Origin Live Stubb and Goldring GX1022 (I just bought a Michell Tecnoarm, which is not installed yet). Two Van den Hul The First Ultimate interconnects, two QED Signature 75 Digital interconnects, various power cables including Russ Andrews Silencer block, Chord Odyssey 4 bi-wire loudspeaker cable, B&W 703 loudspeakers.


I have upgraded many times over in the last five years but do not seem to enhance the sound, more changing it (curse of eBay I guess). I have before always had Epos speakers from ES11 to M12, but bought the B&W since I wanted a more sensitive loudspeaker that was involving at low volumes and had a little bit more scale. This due to the fact that I loved the Sonic Impact T-amp. I played around with having two of them bi-amped which gave fantastic sound in the sense that it had a lot of detail, was still somewhat warm sounding and had very wide soundstage (I would call it complete channel separation which is what I love, e.g. a very wide stereo soundstage).


Unfortunately the T-amps had disadvantages with very low power etc so I changed to the Lyngdorf SDA 2175 which I am not that impressed with (maybe due to a ground-loop so I have to select the balanced selection on the amp even though I do not have a balanced system. I have earthed the pre-amp to the Silencer block but that did not help so do not know what to do).


In any case my current system does not have enough detail, has somewhat too much bass, or bass bloom (I hate bass bloom which I can hear at medium volume level), is not involving enough at lowish volumes, is a little bit shrill.  I do not want a warm sound but detail and clarity, but without harsh treble.


What I do want is detail, detail and detail (I am very anal), plus clarity. Complete channel separation as I call it, maybe this is called wide soundstage (I hated a Naim Nait 5 I had that sounded dark and Mono), less bass bloom, more involvement and detail at lowish volume. Somewhat warmish sound ala T-amp would also be OK (I have never heard a valve amp but think I would think that it would be too warm sounding and not detailed enough, but may be wrong).

I do not want a lot of bass, shrill treble, or too warm sound if the detail is sacrificed.


The listening room is around 6 x 10 metres and I listen primarily to electronic music like Depeche Mode and Pet Shop boys, but also Jesus & Mary Chain, Stone Roses and similar. I probably play 60% using the Wadia, 35% CD and 5% vinyl.


So I was thinking about changing the amp to say a used Naim Supernait (used due to budget constraints), or a new Sugden A21a S2, or maybe a Nuforce if I can find a good deal on eBay.




Monitor Audio's Platinum PL200 loudspeakers; detailed treble from a ribbon tweeter.


On the other hand, going forward I would like a one make system with as few components as possible and would love – say – a Naim CD5I (or Uniti maybe?) with Naim DAC and Supernait.


Apart from Naim I do not see another one make system as I think Sugden CD players may not be that outstanding, or easy to integrate with the Wadia. Maybe Audiolab as I like their design as well (I know)? Brands that I like the design of are Naim, Esoteric, Sugden, NuForce, Audiolab, Musical Fidelity, MF Audio Pre, and possibly Marantz so would prefer to buy from these makes, but any suggestions are welcome.


The loudspeakers I would also like to change but the wife does not want to, as they are pretty. To me it sounds like Martin Logan the Source would be something I would like but the wife says they are ugly. I guess I would like an electrostatic or a standmount without a bass port(?). Thoughts?


Also, I think I will buy a Michell Gyro SE even though I do not listen that much to vinyl. So if the amp has a good inbuilt phono stage that would be a plus. If not, is a cheap Cambridge phono stage an alternative for a later upgrade?


So to summarise, I would like suggestions on: 1: One make system that fits the bill to aim for going forward, or at least suggestions on amp replacement. 2: Loudspeaker suggestions. 3: Phonostage question as per above. 4: Loudspeaker cable (the misses want something not as thick as the Chord). Tellurium Black maybe? 5: Any other suggestion you may have, for example order of upgrading as per above.


Budget is flexible but I would not want to pay more than say £1500 to £2000 for each main item, but can pay more if you think that is worthwhile.

And yes this time I will audition before I buy as I realise I will continue not being happy unless I do.

Best regards,

Paul Bjernklo,



Hi Paul. If you want detail, detail and more detail, but without harsh treble then you can only go the Martin Logan route. This is the only loudspeaker able to truly fulfill your needs and I strongly suggest you get a demo. You may also like to listen to Monitor Audio Platinum Series loudspeakers, like the PL200. These have very good ribbon tweeter quality treble. It’s a bit prominent, but you may find the balance to your taste.


I think you need to sort out the loudspeaker before working backward to the amp and source. With electrostatics I always recommend valve amps and Quad II-forties come to mind with Martin Logans, or II-eighties if you choose passive subwoofered ones. Naims would suit the Monitor Audio Platinums. Unfortunately there was a hint of bass bloom in the Platinums, even the big PL300 I reviewed. You will get drier bass from the big Triangle Antal EX loudspeakers or the recent Anniversary version, or the Spendor A9 I review in this issue. It also has intense detailing, if not the superb treble quality of the Platinums.




Digital amps are characterful. A NuForce is dry but concise and distortion free. It is one of the best.


Digital amps (Class D PWM) are very 'characterful' and you must audition before you buy. The Lyngdorf is heavily band limited and warm; you'd probably like the dry, detailed but clean NuForce sound, but Sugden would suit too.


I hope you will find these comments useful. Our editor David Price can say more about the turntables. NK


Gosh - I can't say I shared your love of the Tripath; it always reminded me of going to the dentist! There’s no one-make system that I can think of that completely fits the bill for you. My suggestion would be to get a Sugden A21a S2 integrated amplifier which will really add insight and a finely etched midband, plus a bright and open treble. The Musical Fidelity M1 DAC is a brilliant boost for your digital sources, and is super atmospheric and amazingly detailed at the price; it should be a real improvement on the old X-DAC v8. Finally, get a Michell GyroDec SE, fit your new Tecnoarm and install a Lyra Dorian (which is about as detailed and incisive and airy as you can get at anywhere near the price).


Look to ANT Audio’s Kora 3T for a great solid-state phono stage; valves are unlikely to be to your taste! This done, you’ll have a fast, fleet of foot and forensic system that will be great to listen to. At this point, decide if you still don’t like your speakers and come back to us for replacement recommendations if you need to. DP

Comments (1)
KEF Q100
1Friday, 08 June 2012 20:57
Jake Thomas
The Cyrus amps will drive the [url=] KEF Q100 speakers easily, they sound great in my Cyrus system.

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