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July 2011 issue - Page 5

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July 2011 issue
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HARD SELL

Although I now live in Melbourne and have done so since 1972, I shall always be the product of my English upbringing, in the 1950s. Every Christmas or birthday my mother would make us write a thank you note for every present we received, whether it was to our liking or not. Such was the way good manners and, if you like, protocol ruled her approach to life. I have, of course over time, come to agree with her. A phrase I like to sum it up “ good manners are a social lubricant” So what is all this about?  Here is a thank you letter written without mater standing over me! I very much enjoy my system, of Project Perspective turntable, Transcriptor turntable with Shure V15/lll, Cambridge 640p phono stage, Musical Fidelity XA-1amp and my home built omni directional speakers. Not quite high end but very musical. Up until recently I had a Micro mc in the Perspective’s arm. It finally wore out and so a replacement was sought. I had an old but still in good condition Supex sd700-a mc. and set it up.  At first it sounded lovely but I soon found it was sending me to sleep. So rich and warm was the sound (initially beguiling ) that all the excitement in the music was gone.

 

As a listener mostly to jazz, I quickly realised I was missing all the percussion in the music. The top end was so tame it had no zing at all. Great for extended bass of course but I am not a bass freak. I like it real, not just deep. The real bass had gone to be replaced by a warm, comfortable blanket.  What to do?


We all know how hard it is to audition different cartridges at a dealers, let alone in our own systems. So I had to do the hi-fi crime and buy with only a review to go by. I purchased my monthly copy of Hi-Fi World, the September 2010 issue to be exact, and there on page 109 was a review of the Audio Technica ATF3/lll. At only 189 GBP it grabbed my attention. By the way, we read so many letters of people bleating about the balance of high end to the more affordable in hi-fi journals that I have to say I believe you get it about right. Who among us buys a car magazine only for a review of a Hyundai Getz and ignores the article on the latest Ferrari? Not I!


I purchased the cartridge at a far better discounted price than you quoted, so far so good, and installed it in the Project. Now this is the point of the letter. All the points made in the review, whether positive or negative, were reproduced on my system in exactly the way you describe. The treble is a little bright compared to some and the bass, while not as deep as some, is very quick and full of lots of different notes, very satisfying. Do cartridges need to break in as is the case with other equipment because, now that I have been listening to it over the past week there is no doubt that the sound, in general, has sweetened, especially in the top end or maybe it’s just me ears becoming attuned to the sound. As it has bedded in it even has classical recordings sounding better than expected. A true high performance bargain, it has shown itself to be a fine match for my system and a great improvement over the Micro. 

 

The point is, your review told me what to expect honestly and so I could not, and was not, disappointed. Keep producing honest reviews, not just ones so glowing it is obvious they are designed only to sell, sell, sell and that I suspect many journals do just that. What a wonderful mix of reviews, articles, vintage and the best letters section anywhere.

Cheers.

Martin Bray

Melbourne

Australia

 

Thanks Martin - kind of you to say so. As I am constantly explaining to manufacturers, some of whom complain that we’ve “spoiled” their reviews by saying “negative” things (even if they get the coveted five globes), we are not a marketing wing of the hi-fi industry. We have to put the equipment we review into perspective. Everything ever made has weak points (in absolute terms, if not at its price point), and us pointing them out isn’t us spoiling the review, it’s giving a sense of perspective and balance. I know our readers won’t stay with us if everything’s just “this is great and that’s great and so is that”; they want some meat on the bone, so to speak. Even products we covet have downsides; nothing yet invented is absolutely flawless; if it was we’d all be out of a job! The AT-F3/II is a great little budget MC, and should gain some much needed sweetness with age have fun with it. DP

 

TWEAK PEAK

At present I am enjoying the following set up:


My sources are a Linn LP12 (serial number 77000 plus), Ekos, Lyra Dorian, Lingo 2, Trampolin, bought second hand two years ago and serviced / reset 1 year ago when Trampolin and cartridge (new) were fitted, Trichord Dino and Dino+ 2years old. I also have a Leema Acoustics Antilla CD that is two years old and a Leema Acoustics Tucana (with balanced option) that is two years old. My loudspeakers are Monitor Audio PL100 on MA stands and interconnects are Chord Chameleon Silver Plus. Loudspeaker cables are Chord Rumour 4 bi-wire and mains conditioning an Isotek Mini Sub G 11 with Isotek Mains cables throughout.  All of this is on good quality shelving on wall supports. The CD player also sits on a Mission Isoplat. Listening is shared equally by vinyl and CD and consists mainly of Blues, Jazz, Rock, Mozart and Tchaikovsky. I now wish to tweak this set up and would welcome your suggestions regarding improving mains.

Many thanks in anticipation,

Mike Thompson

 

icon-audio-ps3

 

Icon Audio’s PS3 phono stage is ideal for Mike Thompson’s system thinks DP, adding much needed valve euphony.

 

 

Hi Mike - your system sounds superb on paper, although probably the weakest point is the Trichord Dino phono stage, and so it’s this I’d replace first. Either go for the ANT Audio Kora 3T or the Icon Audio PS3, depending on whether you want a little valve euphony injecting (via the PS3), or a wonderfully open straight-down-the-line sound from the ANT Audio. Your supports look pretty good to me, as is your cable. The Antilla upgrade would be worthwhile, but don’t expect a night and day change, just a subtle improvement. DP

 

No, the weakest point is Tchaikovsky. I recall a Simon Rattle interview in which he said that in all his years leading the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, he had managed to avoid programming Tchaikovsky altogether. I understand how he must have felt - AG

 

VINYL DEMAND

I write seeking your help regarding an upgrade path for my existing vinyl set-up which consists of a Michell Gyro SE Deck, SME Series IV arm and Ortofon Kontrapunkt b cartridge. The arm is fitted with the standard SME wiring/cable.  The above equipment is connected to an EAR 864PL pre-amp, which has an internal phono Stage, an EAR 869, which is used as a power amp and a pair of Spendor S8es.

 

My main music taste is rock/pop although I do occasionally venture into the realms of classical! I look forward to your response to this request and would just add that I enjoy reading the mail section of your magazine each month as it offers such an interesting variety of content.

Jeff Keilty

West Dorset

 

michell-orbe-se

 

Michell Orbe is a good replacement for the Gyro SE.

 

Hi Jeff – the weak point here is your deck. The Gyro is superb, but the Michell Orbe is better still, and the obvious next upgrade; it will add bass power and extension, plus a cleaner, more transparent midband and treble, with a more natural rhythmic flow that makes the Gyro sound a little mechanical by comparison. The rest of your system is well placed to signpost the differences, I feel. DP

 

LANDSCAPE

I’ve been listening to the second Landscape album, From The Tea Rooms Of Mars...(etc) and suggest that (a) it’s one of the great unsung synth albums, and (b) the opening track European Man would make a great hi-fi test track, ranging from its quiet and thoughtful opening (dig those not-very-accurate synth piano sounds, or are they meant to sound that way? Who knows with Landscape...) to the (very loud) peak, and finally the song just bounces along from there. It would give your NS-1000s a good workout! Forget Einstein A Go-Go, this track (and the title track) are the classics! 

 

Oh, and while I’m on the line, you haven’t published a review of Kraftwerk’s The Catalogue on vinyl yet. Either (a) there’s no real difference compared to the original LPs (I have The Catalogue on CD) [but this wouldn’t apply to Electric Cafe/Techno Pop], or (b) there wasn’t enough space in the magazine, or (c) you’d just be having too much time enjoying yourself to write the review!

All the best,

John Malcolm

 

roksan-xerxes-20-plus

 

To cure your Xerxes, 'phone Roksan's London HQ they told us.

 

Thanks for the tip-off, John. I actually have that album and do like it, but whenever I feel the need to hear ‘Einstein a Go’ I then feel myself reaching for the album that sits next to it in my rack (if it’s in the right place, that is), which is New Musik’s ‘From A to B’; I adore ‘Sanctuary’ and think Tony Mansfield’s songs and arrangements are amazing for that era. I try not to write about Kraftwerk as I become a fawning fool and feel myself drifting into my sixth form dream world where I was going to be the world’s greatest ever music writer. Not going to happen, got to let it go! I’ll be putting ‘The Catalogue’ on to my Christmas list though, even if I suspect the reissues won’t hold a candle to the original vinyl. DP

 

SITE AND SOUND

You have a new website but have no links to the buying guides and recommended components of the old site. I use the recommended components page quite often, although it was seemingly very out of date, with no components from the last few years. Is it coming back and are you updating it with newer 5(worlds) items?


Also, I have a pair of Cabasse Jonque 302 speakers I bought some 10 years or so ago. What is your opinion of them and how can I get the best bass response from them?


Also, I have an original Roksan Xerxes that I have just got back out of its box after some years in storage, and the motor seems very rough now, and audible. What might be the problem? I have heard that the power supply fails. How do I check that, as the motor still turns albeit with a hand start, which it did not need before?

Many thanks,

Raz Shankar

 

Hi Raz. An updated World Favourites section has been added and we will be making further updates and adding more information soon. You will also find the 2010 Awards products on the site. I do not know your Cabasse loudspeakers so cannot comment on them. NK

 

There have been several iterations of the basic Xerxes, but the general feeling at Roksan Towers is that something like the main spindle or the motor alignment, for example, may have become misaligned in storage. They suggest that you give them a call at their London HQ on 020 8900 6801, with the player available for visual inspection. AG




 

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