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May 2011 issue - Page 4

Article Index
May 2011 issue
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Page 3
Page 4
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COMPUTER AUDIO

Many thanks for your response to my last e-mail in December's issue. I thought I would quickly update you as to what I went for.

After reviewing a number of options, I decided on purchasing a Logitech SqueezeBox Touch and a QNAP NAS. Despite some scare stories on the web and the usual niggles (there’s always a few), installation was surprisingly smooth.


The Touch has a nice user-friendly touch screen and remote, and very intuitive menus. The NAS is connected to my router so I can wirelessly download hi-res audio files from my laptop, and then afterwards stream them to the Touch without (this is very important) having to switch on the laptop. The sound is excellent through an off board DAC, although it is very good through the Touch itself.


I’m not trying to plug this system, but it represents a neat solution for my needs. I haven’t seen any sign of the Cambridge Audio NP30 to date.

Regards,

Dr Paul Harris

Whitehall

London

logitech-squeezebox-touch

A Logitech Squeezebox Touch and a QNAP Network Attached Storage device works for Dr Paul Harris.

 

I contacted Cambridge and they told me the NP30 is still not ready, but it won't be long and we will get a sample to review. So we are all waiting eagerly. NK

 

Hi Paul - good to hear all this; I too haven’t had a chance to play with the Cambridge Audio NP30 even though it’s been ‘an open secret’ for nearly a year! Looks like they missed their chance to have you as a customer! DP

 

OLD CIRCUITS

I’m looking for a two-part supplement of a MC/MM valve phono head and pre amp designed by Chris Found quite a few years ago. There was also a previous design by someone whose name I cannot recall (but he did go on to work for Audio Note UK) which I am also looking for. Can anyone help? Both circuits used ECC88s.

Regards,

Rey Bowen

 

The design by Chris Found was published in the December 1997 DIY Supplement. The person who went to work for Audionote was Andy Grove who designed a transistor phono preamp in April 1994, but also designed World Audio Design valve phono preamps such as KLPP1. You can find a DIY Supplement Index on our new website, in the Olde Worlde section.  We cannot supply DIY Supplements anymore but keep an eye on the World Design forum at www.world-designs.co.uk. NK

 

VINYL SET UP

I hope you can help me get more from my vinyl as you clearly have a great deal of knowledge in this area. I recently upgraded from a NAD 5120 to a Rega P3-24 / Elys2 with TT-PSU and whilst showing an obvious and major improvement over the NAD, I am sure I could be getting more out of it but am hampered by my ignorance of turntable setup and not knowing where I could tweak or upgrade to best effect.


I started on the hi-fi route about 25 odd years ago just as CD was taking hold. I did not have a huge collection of vinyl and it was not all in great condition, so it gathered dust for a while as I invested in CD. I bought the NAD to play some albums I couldn’t find or did not want to buy again on CD – but vinyl listening was sparse as I grew my collection of CD’s.

My system evolved over the years and now comprises Quad 99 CD-P2, Primare I30 and Spendor A5 with a Squeezebox Touch pumping FLAC into the Quad. I upgraded to the Rega because a) there was a great deal from our local dealer at the time and b) I almost never listened to the NAD.


I have always read with interest the quality that can be available from vinyl but have never heard it for myself. Within my own system the CD player has always shown better results than the vinyl equivalent but that is not surprising as some of my vinyl isn’t pristine. Both the Quad (and previously Arcam Alpha 5 plus) are great players costing much more than the TT’s in my system at the time. I have never had the opportunity to hear a really good system elsewhere so have no real reference points.


Recently I took custody of my Dad’s old vinyl collection (classical) which is much bigger and in better condition than mine and I would really like to get the most out of it. I would also be interested in buying new vinyl, especially some audiophile pressings, if I could get the system to show the benefits.


The Rega and cartridge were set up by the dealer and I am sure they were set up correctly. What I tend to find with vinyl are two main issues;

I have to really crank the amp right up to get a reasonable level of detail and presence.


The soundstage and detail lag significantly behind either CDs or FLAC files via the Quad (though a lot better than the NAD).

Sorry for the long intro. My main questions are: am I expecting too much from a outlay of £400 for the Rega setup? I have read a lot about how musical it can be but I don’t know what that is compared to? Can it be tweaked or upgraded to match or improve on the Quad? If not, what sort of spend and level of turntable will really reveal what vinyl is capable of?


I had expected (before gaining my Dad’s vinyl) that it would probably be my last turntable purchase as my original collection did not really justify any more expenditure. However – if it is capable of showing the benefits of upgrades such as cartridges etc, then I would be happy to explore those. Any advice on upgrades that the turntable and my amp and speakers are capable of benefiting from would be very gratefully received.


In particular I have wondered if the phono stage is letting the side down. I am using a Project Phono Box II because this was “thrown in” as part of the deal when I made my amp and speaker upgrade. Is this why I need to crank up the amp so much to hear any detail or is that just an inherent problem with vinyl?


I would be particularly interested in your advice in this area and where the level of budget would be that you start to reach diminishing returns because the turntable or the rest of the system cannot deliver the benefits promised by phono amps at that sort of money. I have no problem with spending more on tweaking the machine than the original cost if it and my system are capable of showing a good return on the investment – I just need help on what is possible and where to look.


I particularly enjoy a lush, full sound. I like detail but not cold and analytical detail – I would rather sacrifice that for an involving and musical presentation. I listen to a wide range of music from rock to blues, jazz and classical with the odd brass band thrown in for good measure.

Many thanks,

Andrew Greensted

quad-qc-24-preamp

For a big, lush valve sound and oodles of gain, get a Quad QC24P phono stage.

 

Hi Andrew. Your Rega P3-24 is a fine machine and will take you a long way. The Elys 2 isn’t so great however, and the Project Phono Box II is, as you suspect, also holding performance back, because it is a budget product. Low gain in this device is responsible for your need to turn volume right up when using LP.

 

A quick and easy fix is swapping the Elys 2 for a Goldring 1022 GX and then upgrading the phono stage to – if you can afford it – a Quad QC24P valve phono stage. Now I know this is disproportionately expensive at £1200 but have a listen if you can. Otherwise, get an ANT Audio Kora 3T or, stepping down a lot further, a Lehmann Black Cube. The Quad will give you the sound you want though and amaze you with its sound. This is the one to go for, even though it is a stretch. NK



 

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