August 2011 Issue - Page 4

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Thanks to NK for replying to my question about testing solid-state amplifiers as published in the April issue. In the same issue, he responds to a question on speaker damping and amplifier damping factors. Quick question for him; what would he consider the Quad ESL-63 to be, underdamped, damped, or ?? Just a quick reply would be appreciated.

Joe Wdowiak

(in Canada, where the snow is finally melting)


Simple – it is ?? That means there is no simple reply. The bass panel resonates at 90Hz, Peter Walker told me, and as you would expect, impedance rises to a very high value as a result. Technically then, it is lightly damped. Hope the grizzlies aren’t awake yet. NK


Is it  under-damped or over-damped asks Joe, as the snow melts in Canada.



Sometimes your magazine drives me to extremes in reaction to your response to some reader’s letters! Here in Singapore I just picked up your April copy yesterday. The Peter Schuster letter. Somehow I don’t think the guy’s first language is English, does he not want to control volume in three independent listening areas from the same source? What’s the Flamingo thing about?

Anyway, gripe over and I didn’t even mention the great cable debate and usage of experts to wage war in your pages. Overall sometimes the responses don’t seem so fair (sometimes the letters are not fair I grant, but you may choose not to publish!). Anyway, it’s also your right to express your thoughts also as you deem appropriate.

Anyway the review of the Technics was very nicely done. As I’ve written in the past, DIY is a great way to get what you want. I think some articles on this would be interesting. For example, how do you modify a Technics? (what are the choices?). What should I do with my loudspeaker to improve (destroy) it? (I mean actual  ‘how to’ not buy this and this).

Probably in the next few weeks I’ll send you some info + photos on the end result of my Technics journey, but the situation in Japan is hampering the final piece of the puzzle. A cheap turntable mat using a coating that allows the record to be bonded to the mat in playing, but can be easily lifted on and off. The turntable is mounted on a massive plinth with a 12in arm (hybrid OL/local making), series /shunt supply (sinks and sources), magnetic bearing and of course the mat.


Mitchel Long


Hi Mitch. We don’t care about the English, or lack of it, so much as whether the writer has something to say that might interest other readers. Personally, I rather like the fractured English of many overseas writers; it has its own charm. And generally the letters have valuable content, unlike a lot of the hollow opinion and personal insults traded by the twitteratti in many forums these days, for example. Looking forward to hearing about your Technics mods. NK


How do you modify a Technics SL-1200, asks Mitch Long? This is a Timestep Evo modified Technics, where the power supply and drive circuitry have been tweaked.



I am slightly intrigued by DP’s reply to Peter Smith concerning vinyl to CD in your March 2011 issue. Having created a CD-R using a CD recorder surely this CD-R would be accepted by any computer for copying/editing/scratch removal or have I got the wrong end of the stick?


Also, of the many options for converting vinyl/cassette to CD which, in your esteemed opinion, gives the best sonic results.

Wayne Allen


Hi Wayne - I think you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. You’re right that a CD-R made on a CD recorder is perfectly fine for computer use.

As for your second question, there are umpteen options. A CD recorder, recording direct from the line outputs of your phono stage is a good start – especially if the CD recorder is of high quality and has good analogue-to-digital convertors.


The other way is to do it via your computer; get a USB analogue to digital convertor (such as an M-Audio Mobile Pre) and a software recording application (such as Audacity; and record your vinyl or cassettes onto your hard drive. You can then edit, chop up or process the files to your heart’s desire. The quality of this depends again on the quality of your analogue to digital convertor; spend thousands on a studio-quality product and you’ll get better results than via the hi-fi CD recorder! DP




Download the free Audacity sound editor software to record your LPs to computer.



You recently gave me advice on Townshend Rock References and tonearm choice between an SME V and Excalibur. After battle commenced and more than a little help from J7 at Audio Origami, the SME V was finally plumped for. The Excalibur is getting a good fettling from Audio Origami and will be sold on with the other Rock Reference.

The set up came with a Transfiguration AF 1 cartridge, which seems to have a very low output of 0.1mV compared to my old Dynavector 20X High Output 2.8mV. Obviously this has resulted in very low listening levels, and I have to turn a Quicksilver Full Function Pre Amp (old style) to full tilt to get any kind of air moving. The Gain of this pre amp is 39dB (at 1kHz) and at full tilt, there will be more noise picked up than desired.

It is also noticable that some of my high frequency performance is lost in the mix, and I think it may be down to the very low gain, as the  high frequency response seemed fine in J7’s set up, but he was using a bg Marantz Solid State amplifier and it was nice.

This  high frequency response wasn’t a problem with my old Elite Rock, so I would think the Reference would have been similar in nature, but, a little moreish.

My suspicion is that the finer details of the midrange upward is getting hidden with the noise picked up when the pre is set very high, and I am listening to bass - low mid and high mid - swathed in noise.

There are a number of MC Step Up transformers out there, so any idea what makes I should be looking at and what kind of step up ratios I should be aiming for.

Any idea where I can demo Icon Audio stuff in the frozen north, as I am very curious about their stuff and am considering their MB 845s. I am not entirely sure how they made the massive leap from the Mark 1 to the Mark 2, and not convinced if the difference in cost merits such an outlay, but, its certainly a future consideration. Thing is I like the Quicksilver stuff, and a direct listening test would be useful.

System info is Townshend Rock Reference, SME V, Transfiguration AF1 (very good condition - checked at 60 x magnification), Quicksilver Pre amplifier, Quicksilver V4 Mono blocks, Sugden Masterclass CD player and Celestion A3 loudspeakers. Listening room is around 12ft x 18ft, wooden floor – its an old cottage and the ceiling is around 10ft. I also have many cassettes and my Nakamichi BX 300E went pear shaped in recent transit damage, the front door was damaged badly. Do you know if this is salvageable, as I may even consider the Sony Wm D6C, or even another Nak. Your advice would be greatly appreciated, the magazine has provided me with a lot of useful info, and moments of hilarity when my letters have been printed as my partner thinks I’m quite silly to be so chuffed when they get printed.

The new website is a big improvement, are more historical reviews going to be added as time passes?

Ewan Scott



Luxman's E200 phono stage is super sensitive and very quiet, matching even the lowest output moving coil cartridges.


Best for the Transfiguration is Luxman’s E200 phono stage we tested in the August 2010 edition, available on-line (go to our website and the Read Online button at top left). This is able to cope with ultra low output MCs. An Icon Audio PS3 may well be adequate as its input noise is low too, but no preamp is as quiet as the Lux by a big margin.

I phoned Nakamichi service, part of B&W loudspeakers, at 01903 695 695 and they told me they have parts for BX-300s and a stack of donor machines, so a repair is likely. Cosmetic damage may be difficult to eliminate though.


We have added some old DIY projects, 300B amplifier and KLS9 loudspeaker, and more old reviews and features will be added too, over the coming months.  NK



I own a couple of vintage amps., a Sugden A48 Mk 1 and a CR Developments Kalypso valve amp (15 watts). I wonder if you could help me as I’m not sure either amp would work with my vintage pair of Quad ESL57s. As the impedance drops like a bomb on the electrostatics, I’m concerned that I might damage the Sugden. Would the 15 watts output of my valve amp be a better match or not powerful enough? Your thoughts on this would be very much appreciated. I have a 303/33 Quad amp waiting in the wings if all else fails!

James Turkie



Low loudspeaker impedance at 20kHz, right down to one Ohm or so with electrostatics, is only a problem if you turn volume right up whilst playing Rock music with strong treble. The current drawn may then blow an output transistor, although this is not likely, because the current pulses are not of a sufficiently long period to heat the p-n junction up to failure. So used at modest volume the A48 MkI should cope, but it isn’t an ideal choice I must admit.


Valve amps have no such problem but 15 Watts isn’t a lot for ESL-57s. The 33/303 combo is ideal of course but a bit soft and murky by today’s standards unless modified. Really, you should get a modern 45 Watter from Quad or Icon Audio. NK



The Quad II-forty valve amplifier was designed to drive ESL-57s.


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