November 2011 issue - Page 2

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November 2011 issue
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Dear Noel - I believe you are a Garrard 401 fan, which pleases me because I have recently purchased a 401 installed into an SME 2000 plinth with an early SME 3009 arm. The arm lift has failed to work and SME have told me that it cannot be topped up with fluid. I have tried to cue by finger but am not too happy with that. It is fitted with a Shure V15 111 cartridge.


It is time to splash out for a new tonearm I think. And cartridge. I have only ever used MMs, so do not have an MC phono stage. This is where I would like your help please. I will soon have a budget of £2,000 to spend.


I have been reading Hi-Fi World for many years and it always gives me much pleasure. I have short listed the Origin Live Illustrious Mk 111, the Audio Origami PU7, the Funk FXR 11, the Inspire X 100, and SME Series IV maybe, although I understand that may be a little less romantic in its presentation?


As for a cartridge, I have read good reports of the Ortofon 2M Black, Benz Micro Ace and the Goldring 1042. Any other suggestions? I have not heard any of them and I don’t know how on earth I will be able to compare. This is where your expert opinion will be so valuable.


I have just read the review by Paul Rigby of the Icon Audio PS2. That could be just the job once I have sorted out the arm and cartridge. Although I could be tempted by something like the Graaf WFB2 for the same money.


My system comprises a pair of Klipschorn corner horns (original 1972 models). I am thinking of purchasing a pair of Trachorns from ALK Engineering ( ) when funds permit. The 401, an early Croft Super Micro pre (the weakest link?), and a pair of CR Developments Amphion single ended power amps with the “spectacular” (your words) 6C33C output valves. They sound lovely.


My tuner is a Leak Troughline with decoder.....I love it! also an old Pioneer PD9700 CD player. My room is approx 26’ x14’ with a curved long wall and 8’ 3” ceiling. I have no option but to have my speakers on the short wall which is not ideal I know.


I very much look forward to your reply so that I can move forward and enjoy my music again (after all, I am pushing on a bit and time and good reproduction of good music is very precious to me)!

Terry Mason


What's the best tonearm and cartridge for Terry Mason's Garrard 401?


Hi Terry. The 3009 and V15 are well past their sell by date. Both have merit and the Shure tended to disguise the 3009’s lively structure, but times move on. All the arms you list are very, very good and the PU7 and FXR are especially strong, although the Inspire pips them all for value in my view. Goldring’s 1042 is great fun to listen to, and basically very accurate. Its stylus also resolves high frequencies well, and it is a fine tracker – all at a reasonable price. Ortofon’s 2M Black is technically more correct sounding and forensic, and it is a triumph of engineering when measured, but you pay for all this, at £400 nearly double the Goldring.


Budget moving coil cartridges are getting very good and becoming popular, and the Benz Micro Ace is one fine example. Just bear in mind you will need a suitable preamplifier, making this a costlier solution.  Personally, I don’t much see the point of buying a good MC and then pairing it with a cheap transistor phono stage; it strikes me as contradictory. NK


Icon Audio PS2 phono stage was liked by reviewer Paul Rigby - see our August 2011 issue.



Recently I was given a Musical Fidelity A100 as a worker, but with intermittent faults. Apparently, it had been back to the dealer for repair on several occasions over a number of years and the customer had just lost faith in the product. As an electronics engineer, I took this on as a challenge (especially as it was free of charge). After some remedial work which included un-blocking/cleaning the cooling fans, replacing the emitter resistors and resoldering a few suspect joints I then had a working product. I also noticed that the heatsink compound was not very evenly applied across the heatsink, so that was cleaned and replaced.


I now had what I consider to be a very good sounding product (Class A) and very low noise floor especially on the line inputs. In the past I had overlooked Musical Fidelity as a company, but was familiar with people like Leak, Quad and Audiolab. The amplifier is now giving a fine performance in my second room system.


You may wonder where this is all going! Having had success with a 20 year old product and liking the house sound it led me to purchase a new Musical Fidelity preamp as a start to my upgrade path and if funds permit an Musical Fidelity power amp, although I am currently using a self-repaired Audiolab which had a couple of burnt resistors which I replaced, along with some damage to the PCB track. So I do feel that second hand is a good way to experiment with a variety of makes, and could lead to a purchase of new equipment, if styling, features and warranty are important to you. Currently I am using a pair of speakers I bought for £10 from eBay, but that’s another story...


Changing tack, I have been following with interest, your review of the Eminent LFT-16. I see that the review did not make it to the August magazine, and all is explained on your new website. I first heard these speakers about a year ago and was very impressed, and was almost ready to buy, but I did have a couple of concerns. In the UK a got the impression that these were being distributed by a one man team, so I was concerned about continuing support, although there is a three year warranty.


Styling and look were quite basic. However, given the sound of these speakers, I think that is not so important, as any other type of electrostatic/ribbon type speaker will either be too big for the room, or could never be placed in an optimum position. I also noticed that on the Eminent website there is a very good user guide for the LFT-16s which details the design theory, measured performance and component values. I also notice that there is another downloadable document, which describes how to adjust the film tension, using the adjustment cams. Although the LFT16s are not specifically mentioned, I wonder if you could enquire when you revisit the review if any adjustments are required during the life of the product. We know that companies like Quad and other independent traders can offer rebuilds, repair and upgrades and I wonder where we stand with Eminence. If these support issues could be addressed in the review, I could well be their next customer.

Alan Ralph


Musical Fidelity A1 / A100 - not bad as a fixer upper for free!


Hi Alan. You are a brave man methinks, but the LFT-16 is arguably one of the best £1k loudspeakers going and out runs others sonically by a big margin I feel. As we are finding though, U.S. production seems a little – erm – variable. We await more news of the fix for depressed tweeter level.


In the meantime, another manufacturer tells me they are to revive their ‘Isodynamic’ treble unit from the 1980s and we might hopefully see a midrange unit too. Magnetic planar drive units have potential, the LFT-16s show. NK


Hi Alan - yes, there’s a lot to be said for buying second-hand, and contrary to what many manufacturers seem to think, it doesn’t actually preclude people going on to buy new. Speaking personally, my first Michell GyroDec was a previously (well) owned example, from someone selling up to move to South Africa. I bought it, with GyroPower PSU, for £425, fitted a Rega R200 arm and Linn K9 cartridge to it (both lying around in my hi-fi spares box) and was amazed that it sounded better than my finely fettled, very expensive, bought-new, Linn LP12/Ittok/AT-33E. I duly sold my Linn, and my second-hand (and slightly battered) Gyro and bought a brand new Michell Orbe. So there you go – used hi-fi can be a great stepping stone to new hi-fi. It’s also a great way to get lots of bang for your buck (metaphorically speaking; that wasn’t a reference to your A100’s unreliability)! DP


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