December 2011 Issue - page 3

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Currently I have a Luxman PD441 direct drive turntable with a Roksan Tabriz arm, and an Ortofon 2m Bronze cartridge. Overall I’m very impressed with what it can do, but like all hi-fi nuts I want more. I plan to fit the 2m Black stylus assembly very shortly

But I am also wondering how good is my existing arm. I have contacted Roksan re their upgrade kit to take it to the Z1. The kit would cost me $500.00 Australian, plus postage, and if it’s something that Roksan has to fit it would involve me sending the arm back etc. so the cost would be around $550.00 to $600.00. I am wondering if this upgrade would be worthwhile. The only thing I can find out about it is that it improved the tracking on warped records, and mine are not warped. There is a local fellow selling an SME V on eBay, for $1,900 I am tempted.

What would your suggestion be...

A. How does my existing arm stack up?

B. Would the upgrade to the Z1 be worthwhile?

C. Would the SME V be an upgrade, and if so relative to what I have now, would you consider it a slight, moderate, major or extreme upgrade?

I would appreciate your help, and I fully appreciate that ultimately it’s my decision, but I would value your input.

Peter Abbey





SME V pickup arm is an upgrade on most others, it is so good.



Hi Peter – yes, the Zi would be an improvement, and the SME Series V would be a very big improvement on this. It’s a case of how much cash and how much determination. See this issue’s tonearm supertest for more enlightenment! DP


My first system was Linn LP12, Ittok arm with P77 cartridge, A60 amp and Heybrook HB2 speakers on Linn Kan stands.  It had a lovely sound, I should never have bought another hi-fi magazine.

A bigger house and the upgrade bug took me through SD1 speakers (lovely sound but now out of business and were unable to be repaired ), Beard P100 valve power amp, (same scenario) Rose valve preamp and matching Rose mono-blocks, (same scenario), Croft valve preamp (kept blowing valves).

Now back in a smaller room 12ft x 10ft and am still running the LP12, now with Lingo power supply SE upgrade recently done, Ekos arm with new bearings, fitted with new Ortofon Rohmann cartridge. Michell Iso HR phono stage to Lehmann Black Cube Linear headphone pre-amp and hence to Lehmann Black Cube Stamp Amplifier. Speakers are recently purchased Spendor SA1 on dedicated stands connected with amp by Vectour solid core cable. Very detailed sound but lacks the warmth, sweetness and ‘must keep listening’ factor of even my first system.

My musical tastes are varied but favourites would be John Martyn, Joni Mitchell, J.J. Cale.

Is the amplifier the item to change?  Spendor suggest more power with the likes of Naim or Cyrus, but I wonder if that will just give me more volume (not required). My budget is around £1500 (though I would save up if more is required) and much though I love the valve sound, experience of buying new valves has put me off, so although not completely ruled out, solid-state would be preferable. Would Sugden fit the bill ? Hope you can help and thanks for a fine magazine.

Martin Cook





For a big, full sound try a Naim Supernait shown here, or just the Nait.




For a full bodied sound with good detail try either Naim and the Nait or Supernait, or Creek and the Evolution. Sugden Class A amplifiers are on the glassy side, if super clean and clear, and totally free of grain. This goes for Class A generally and it may not be what you are looking for.



Yep – I’d go for the Creek Evolution integrated for a warmish, smooth sound; the Sugdens are a little too stark and bright (although smooth) for your tastes, methinks. If it’s super big and sumptuous you want, the Icon Audio 300B/II integrated is a corker for just above your budget at £1,990. DP


Thanks for publishing my letter about the Yamaha CT7000. A couple of other things you might want to look at.

The new Hi-Q Supercuts from the vinyl factory. Staggering – the Previn Holst Planets is quite something. The vinyl itself is deathly quiet throughout – exceptional quality.

I obtained one of those Ed Saunders stylus for a Shure V15 MXR (the Micro Ridge one which stopped manufacture about two years ago), off eBay and cost about $34 plus post. It’s a cracker - a very good and amazingly cheap way of keeping this great cartridge going. It really does sound very good (although I can’t compare with the original stylus now). Worth getting one just to keep that old Shure cartridge as a very fine spare. I’ve put it on the end of system no.3 (which was in development when I wrote earlier). This has a Project Perspective with the Project boxes, Quad 34 / 405 and a pair of refurbished JR149s. It’s for my eldest daughter – wish my dad had got me a system like that!

Keep an eye out for those Realistic Minimus speakers - they are brilliant for computer systems.

Simon Gregory,




Technics SLP990 CD player transfixed Dave Mayer. (picture courtesy of Panasonic UK)


I read with great interest the letter in the August issue from Tim Harrison in which he raves about a Panasonic CD player blowing away his Resolution Audio Opus CD player. Having heard the Opus a few years ago and remembering being really impressed with the sound quality, I find it interesting to hear someone who says an ageing player from a brand not usually associated with high end sound can blow away a much more modern, highly respected and reviewed player. What is going on????

What the letter also did, following its references to the Technics brand, was to remind me of a couple of CD players that I heard from about the same era that certainly impressed me hugely at the time. They were, if my memory serves me right, the Technics SLP770 and SLP990 (I think these players became the SLP777 and SLP999 respectively). When I listened to the SLP990 at a dealers in Derby I was totally transfixed, I still recall listening to Simply Red, Paul Young, Queen and some other music from that era and being amazed at the resolution and detail clearly coming through.

At the time my system had two really strong source components, CD was a second hand but brilliant Cambridge CD2 and analogue was a Townshend Rock/RB250/ATF3 set up. But I still remember how the Technics dug way deeper in terms of getting detail off the disc and presenting it in a really impressive way.

For years everything that I listened to never seemed to live up to the Technics quality that I had heard. More surprising was the fact that my own Cambridge CD2, itself a really highly rated and revered player at the time, didn’t quite cut it in comparison. Unfortunately finances didn’t allow me to buy the Technics and ultimately both me and my system moved on to other sources, but I still remember the SLP990 so clearly due to the impression that it made and left.

Maybe Hi Fi World could and should start doing some comparison reviews to establish if time has created rose tinted spectacle scenarios or whether some of those older players were in fact bloody brilliant and sadly overlooked and replaced all too quickly. For instance could you lay your hands on either the CD1 or CD2 Cambridge players, maybe one of the two Technics that I remember, or how about some of the early Phillips or Marantz models or something from the Sony ES range that got so many great reviews all those years ago. How about pitching them up against today’s machines or some from the last couple of years. Let’s see how much things have moved on and what, if anything, has improved.

Obviously, besides CD source components I’m sure that the same intriguing comparisons could be leveled towards amps, turntables and speakers. How would a Pioneer A400 amp or an early 1990s Rotel RA820 measure up against say a new Roksan or something similar, how would a pair of 80s KEF Coda 3 cope up against today’s budget offerings, what about DP’s revered Yamaha NS1000 against Yamahas latest Soaves???

Bear also in mind that interconnect and speaker cables, stands, mains conditioning are all way beyond what they were 20+ years ago and that this could also really lift some of these older components to levels that they could never have reached when they first came onto the market!!

The back pages of this magazine, e-bay and loads of dealers across the U.K (world!!) offer tons of second hand products. My own system is virtually 100% used gear, in fact my front end is a 17 year old Teac T1 transport, still mint, still working perfectly and although heavily modified shames many real high end and esoteric modern players (recently kicked a 3000 Naim into touch...even the Naim dealer scratched his head in disbelief!!!!).

Second hand has allowed me and no doubt many other HI-Fi enthusiasts to buy into a level of performance that would be out of reach (certainly in terms of justifying parting with large amounts of cash at new prices), so a magazine that looks into and presents this market to a wider audience must be onto a winner in terms of capturing buyers and readers imaginations.

I’m sure that your readers would find these types of tests interesting, maybe a little amusing and a great trip down memory lane but also an opportunity to see and read about progress (if any) in Hi Fi World.

Dave Mayer







Cambridge CD1 was a great player in its time but sounds dated now.



Hmmm... We have a Cambridge CD1 (Adam is currently looking after it) and it is not up to current standard at all. In my experience very old product commonly sounds smoother and less harsh or bright than modern product, but also more vague and muddled. I believe much of this is down to component quality, which has improved considerably over the years. Circuits have changed less, often little. That’s why rebuilds with new components can transform the sound of old amplifiers.


I am generalising and there are old products that seem to last the distance but they are the exception rather than the rule in my experience.

Listening tests on old products are hampered by relative degradation; what you are listening to is the product in its aged state, that may or may not be representative of the norm.


I recall Quad telling me their early 405 amplifiers were limited by poor electrolytic capacitors they had used, something they only became aware of much later after hearing a rebuild. And electrolytics degrade progressively. To get a Leak Troughline sounding good it usually has to be thoroughly overhauled. The real bargains are the products that have just slipped out of currency. No one wants something that has just become outdated, yet you get a modern design with plenty of life left in it at a low price. NK


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