February 2012 Issue - page 3

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I was reading a recent copy of Hi-Fi World and one of your contributors was bemoaning the loss of CIF Bathroom with Bleach.

Obviously this has had an adverse impact on his skip diving escapades. I'm cut from similar cloth, having furnished myself with a range items from the civic amenities site behind Battersea power station, a Thorens TD150 turntable and a BBC model B, both strong products in their field when I was a lad. I have a tip to allow him to continue his restorative practices; it may even take his mind off the CIF loss.

Many '70s '80s and early '90s electrical items included buttons, switches and areas of casework made from cream plastic which after many years yellows.

Now this chemical isn't the magic bullet called CIF for full case cleaning when it comes to hi and medium fi, however it can be put to good use on his previously cleaned finds that are now let down by discoloured knobs and trim.

It's a bit dangerous, but that just adds to the joy when the item looks new and nobody you know keeled over due to the noxious fumes.

I can assure you it works on all manner of items made from ABS plastic of the whitey, creamy variety that, due to middle age, now have the appearance of an item once owned by a lover of Capstan Full Strength. This find may help to improve his general malaise.

The plastic in general was used on some of the more medium fi, multi purpose Music Centre, or indeed High Street tape-based items rather than hi or indeed high end. RetroBright is at least something to cling to until inspiration strikes in regards to wood and aluminium fascias.

Kind Regards

David Gray

Twickenham, UK



CIF with bleach was Adam Smith's favourite cleaning agent. David Grey removes discolouration with Retrobright.




Hmmm... CIF with Bleach is basically a mild abrasive scouring agent. Jewellers Rouge is another abrasive, as is Brasso and products like it.

Hydrogen Peroxide, the basis of Retrobright it seems, is an oxidant and so different in its effect. Looks interesting but is, as you say, dangerous – so readers beware. Wasn't hydrogen peroxide used as an oxidant in early rocket motors? I suspect it is a fire / explosion hazard., rather than just noxious. Definitely one for the garden shed! NK



I am broadly in sympathy with David’s views on the attachment to physical software. The download generation may well not miss something they never experienced, but this points to a significant aspect of music consumption today.

Loosely put, quantity rather than quality characterizes the music collections of younger listeners. Limitless choice, but lightweight involvement. I realize that I am generalising, but the experience of wanting and waiting for the latest single, or album, or fresh interpretation of a classical masterpiece, or browsing in a record store, or waiting for a mail order to arrive means that you are investing a deeper level of interest and commitment in the music. The new disc will probably be played exhaustively for many weeks, then be rested and brought out later for re-assessment, or just for old time’s sake. The album notes and artwork will have been absorbed, and the whole experience becomes a part of your make up. Taking time to appreciate performances one at a time produces a deeper level of satisfaction. While skating around iTunes or Spotify has it’s charms (I use Spotify to identify outstanding albums, which I then buy and enjoy at higher quality) and today’s listeners do have access to the widest range of music, many iPods are crammed with tracks that are never listened to, or given 10 seconds before being discarded. Who has time for “10,000 songs”? Recorded music today is all pervasive and is more heard than listened to, which devalues it, which has resulted in a flood of free and cheap music.

The food world has championed slow food - we should be calling for slow music!

Dave Clewlow





"Many iPods are crammed with tracks that are never listened to" says Dave Clewlow.





I have been helping out a vinyl lover with cables etc, and have come up with a little snag. He bought and fitted a Jelco arm. The arm was secondhand and came with a different arm cable, rather cheap by the look of it and not the pink original as supplied by Jelco. With the Grado Prestige Gold there was a slight pulse type interference, but only after a high setting on the Primare A30 amplifier he’s using, together with the Lehmann cube RIAA stage.

However, he’s just fitted a moving coil cartridge and with the extra gain, at about two thirds setting on the volume control this pulsing is more prominent. I have established that the problem is not mains borne, but suspect that as he lives up near Muswell Hill and on the top floor of a flat, he is getting radio type interference because moving the arm cable nearer to other cables increases or lessens the pulse intensity; of course all the various earthing options have been tried without success, so suspicion is on the cheapo arm cable.

Can you suggest a good quality cable that is reasonably inexpensive, as cost does not always mean good sound.? The Jelco original is around £85 but can be gotten cheaper probably, but I’m thinking someone is probably selling an excellent cable with good reports somewhat cheaper.

The cable has the 5pin mini-DIN fitting into the arm and moulded phonos on other end. I have already hunted through the forums but there is not much info there, so we must come to the experts in the field of BVD and associated hardware. If you could advise we would be grateful. Also, if the matter is of interest it could go in the letters page of mag.

Update on this interference problem. Got the chap to wrap aluminium foil around arm cabling and earth it to earth stud on RIAA stage:  problem almost eliminated. Seems the arm cable needs better screening and is also sensitive to re-radiation from other nearby audio cables, so placing the newly screened arm cable as far away from other cables clears the problem up. So a new arm cable is going to be required.

Have spoken to the BBC and it seems the Alexandra Palace transmitter nearby is still transmitting and is the likely cause of the interference. I have asked the BBC to confirm the half second pulses are to do with the 60kHz clock update signals, but they need to get back to me on this one as too late for engineering staff to comment. The guy in question is looking to possibly buy the Jelco cable, but I have asked him to hold fire pending any advice from your good selves as to possibly better cable for arms....

Many thanks

Vince Hawtin






Alexandra Palace transmitter in North London is producing pulse interference in a sensitive phono stage, says Vince Hawtin.

If it is radio pickup, as seems likely, then there are some standard fixes that people in the Crystal Palace area are well be aware of, as that is a real hot spot for radio breakthrough.

The problem always occurs within phono stages, but not for the reason one might imagine. Firstly, radio pickup usually takes place in the loudspeaker leads. You can check this by disconnecting them. The path through to the phono input is thought to be the amplifier’s feedback loop, but it may be through other paths because even earths have impedance at radio and TV frequencies.

As your phono stage is external, radio or TV pickup may be direct into it, with rectification taking place in the first transistor junction. A common fix is to solder a small value capacitor of 100pF or so (the lowest value that works is best) across the base-emitter junction to cure this. This is a cure you will be forced to consider if a better screened lead does not help.

I suggest you contact an arm specialist like Dave Cawley at Sound Hi-Fi about suitable cabling. See his view below. NK


The red Jelco lead is in fact wired using Mogami Neglex cable and I often use it on my SME V because of its excellent screening.  If you look hard you can find them for as little as £65 which is quite a bargain!

You will have an enormous amount of RFI where you live and properly shielded cable is going to be a must. In quiet Devon with a metre of cable plugged into my RF spectrum analyser, you can see at least a dozen signals over 10mV. With a poorly shielded cable these will both mix and demodulate in your phonostage producing the effect that you noticed, and often worse.

Wrapping the cable in tin foil is a part way measure and shows the problem to be RFI ingress into the cable you are using. Most moving coil phonostages are in fact loaded with 1,000pF and you might assume this would remove the interference, but with varying levels of earth tracks and the RFI generally getting inside the amplifier and hence being sprayed around, the only certain option is to stop the interference getting inside in the first place.

As an aside, I have tested very expensive arm cables that are not properly screened; maybe the designers thought the almost inaudible intermodulation added to the sound?  Your solution is to buy a proper cable and then some more vinyl.

Dave Cawley





Dave Cawley of Sound Hi-Fi recommends Mogami Neglex arm cable for its effective screening.


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