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May 2012 Issue

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May 2012 Issue
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World mail May 2012 issue

Write to us!  E-mail –>     This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

 

Letters are published first in the magazine, then here in our web archive. We cannot guarantee to answer all mail, but we do manage most!

 

Or  comment in the Comment section at the bottom of each page.

 

Your experts are -
NK Noel Keywood, publisher; PR Paul Rigby, reviewer; TB Tony Bolton, reviewer; RT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet); AS Adam Smith, reviewer; DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.

 


 

 

icon-audio-la4-amp

Put a good valve preamp in front of a Naim power amplifier like the NAP200 and you end up with a great hybrid amplifier. That's what Jon Myles did.

 

HOT NAIM

Isn’t it wonderful when you try something new in our wonderful world of hi-fi and it simply takes your breath away? Admittedly, for those of us unable to afford stratospheric price tags it might not happen all that often but my recent experience has taught me that a little experimentation can sometimes go a long way.


To summarise: I have always been a transistor amp user, having grown up during the 1970s and, frankly, never having heard anything different. After a series of various sideways moves through Marantz and NAD products I finally gravitated to a Naim Uniti two years ago and subsequently added a NAP 200 power amplifier some six months ago.


Sublime sound – or so I thought until shortly before Christmas when a friend popped round with his new Icon Audio preamp and we hooked it up to my system. What a revelation! I still had the grunt and propulsion of the NAP 200 but now allied to a much more fluid and rounded presentation. It really was like listening to a whole new system. So much so I was kicking myself for not having tried the trick before.


I know Noel has often championed using valve preamps with Naim gear but, frankly, I didn’t take much notice as I was quite happy with what I had (sorry Noel!). But this made me realise how much more performance can be wrung out of some systems with just a bit of lateral thinking. I’m now eagerly awaiting delivery of an Icon Audio LA4 Mk II in the near future. It’ll probably be the best upgrade I have ever made and I’d recommend any other Naim owners to try the combination. Many thanks for a fantastic magazine. Keep up the good work.

Jon Myles

London

 


CHEAP AUDIO STREAMER

I have been looking into the idea of creating a connection for audio streaming to my main system which is in a music room on its own. I can already stream music to the main living room which has an AV set up, using my Sony Blu-ray player. However for the main music room I want to be able to stream hi-res. files and then put all of my current CD collection (5000 +) as Flac files. However, as with most people in the current climate, cash has become very tight so I am having to look at this on a budget. Problem is, while I have seen the obvious choice which is the Squeezebox Touch, I was just wondering if there is any alternative that might offer me a saving and some greater flexibility.


In the way I will be using this it will be into a single room only and use digital out straight to my current Perpetual Technologies P-A1 and P-A3. So the quality of the internal chips is not vital, just so long as the unit offers a good digital out. The touch has a pretty screen but to be honest you cannot see it from across the room so you would need to keep getting up to sort and make choices of what to play.


My idea is to look for a good but cheap plain black box media streamer with digital out and native Flac support and then use a cheap Android Tablet with an App. as a very nice remote control with a screen to view my choices from my listening seat. Connection to the streamer would be via a Netgear Powerline Ethernet plug wired directly which should provide the unit with good consistent speed. Is what I am suggesting sensible? Possible?


If so, which of the current cheap media streamers would you advise I look at? I have not seen anyone really checking them out for sound quality. The one advantage of this route over the Squeezebox is that when money becomes available I can change the media streamer for a better sounding model and keep the tablet as the remote using the same App. or one specifically for the media player.

Any suggestions for what to look at or even links to places that have reviewed any models would be a big help.

Regards

Andrew McBride

 

 

sonos-connect

Rear view of the Sonos Connect network payer shows digital outputs for a hi-fi, or DAC, network inputs and analogue audio in and outputs. All this for around £300 – and it can be controlled by a smartphone.

 

 

Hi Andrew. The Logitech Squeezebox Touch is as cheap as it gets, or alternatively a Sonos Connect will do the job. An Orb MP1 is cheaper than both but you will have to find one in the UK or buy from the States. NK


 

 

PHONO FUNK

This letter is something of a follow up to my letter in the June 2011 issue. To cut a long story short, a trip to Icon Audio with some of my favourite LPs resulted in the purchase of their Stereo 40 Mk111 with KT88 valves. My first valve amp I should add – and I love it. I prefer it in Ultra Linear mode.

Further upgrades to my system included an Audio Origami Pu7 from ebay (checked out by John Nilsen) and an Analogue Innovations Sole sub-chassis. Both were fantastic upgrades for my LP12 which includes Cirkus and Lingo as well.


The rest of the system consists of the Ortofon MC25FL cartridge, a Trichord Dino phono stage and Castle Pembroke speakers. Cables are Kimber etc. My listening room is a small 9ft by 11ft, including a bay. I listen mainly to classic Rock and Blues.


In the new year I will have some funds available to spend, up to £3000 on a new cartridge, phono stage and speakers.

Auditioning a selection of cartridges is nigh on impossible. Based on reviews and comments in the mag. I'm considering the Benz Ace Micro, Audio Technica AT33EV or perhaps another Ortofon, maybe the Kontrapunkt b?


I have heard the Icon Audio PS1 when I auditioned several of their amps. and liked that. But would the combination of valve amp and valve phono stage be too smooth sounding over time? Would the Ant Kora prove a better match?


Finally, speakers. I feel the Castle Pembrokes can overwhelm the room at times and are perhaps not the best speaker for my tastes, although they really shine with acoustic music. I think a small, good quality standmounter may be the way to go.


I really need some good advice and pointers as I won’t have this sort of money available again and don’t want to waste it.

Kind regards

Steve Chapman

 

 

 

castle-knight-2grill

Castle Knight 2s give good bass in a small room.


Hi Steve. The Castle Knight 2 loudspeakers work well in a small room. They are designed to go against a wall and have very solid and clean bass. They are on the bright side and need a lot of running in, but may well suit – and at £400 give you a lot to splash out on other items.


The Benz Micro  Ace feeding an Icon Audio PS3 is a classy combo and worth considering. I run a PS3 through a WAD 300B triode amplifier and do not find the combo too warm, but this is a matter of taste – and loudspeaker.


I believe the Ant Kora 3T is no longer available and I am reluctant to recommend silicon chip phono stages for a good moving coil cartridge. The low output of an MC is best exploited by a transformer; this is the only elegant way of turning current into voltage, as it were – and input transformers are almost always found in tube phono stages. NK


OLD MARANTZ GOLD

I have written to you a couple of times before and have absorbed the advice – and being impatient ignored it! I’m sorry, one of the questions was related to a replacement for my B&W DM602S3s, in which I liked them but found the overall balance cool even using a valve amp. You kindly recommended a pair of My Audio MY1923s but I knew I would have to wait a while before I could purchase them.


So I trawled the internet (ebay) and found a pair of Marantz DS900 loudspeakers for sale on castored stands. They looked immaculate, with beautiful veneered woodwork and so I ventured to Chesterfield to audition them with an old Technics SLP 333 CD player. I was pleasantly surprised and purchased them and immediately drove to Wilmslow Audio near Leicester where they modified the old clip terminals for me.


When I got them home I went through a period of ‘have I done the right thing?’ and considering their age decided to again visit Wilmslow Audio and ask them to replace the ageing crossovers with modern components.


Well you could have blown me over with a feather. They are now simply staggering, besides being beautiful furniture, which I think is missing from today’s modern products. Their reproduction is knock-out, the 10” bass driver gives a warm bottom end and the frequency extension is sublime, assisted by a pair of Tannoy ST50 Supertweeter.


The midrange unit is excellent, with very slight forward projection and lovely clarity. The castors went I’m afraid, my better half thought they were very industrial looking, so I thought about it and after reading other recommendations in your august tome decided on granite plinths. Luckily it was the kitchen chopping board that came to my rescue, a special from Asda which unfortunately is no longer available. I took the plunge and purchased two polished granite slabs and haven’t looked back. I’m very happy to say that they meet the wife acceptance factor, she has said that the speakers are remaining, end of story!


So I next turned to my CD source as I was using a Rega Planet (the original not the later version). Buffered between my Icon Audio Stereo 40i (using KT88s) and the Musical Fidelity X-10D Line Buffer the sound was pleasant but it had not rung my bell so to speak. I consulted Brent at Fidelity Audio in Doncaster who recommended a Marantz CD63 or similar, modified with one of his power supplies and a new clock. My off-board DAC is a modified Beresford TC7510 with a highly specified power supply. I wasn’t sure about the Marantz CD player so I acquired a Philips CD630 which had the Fidelity Audio magic done to it. I can honestly say that it is the closest I have ever come to vinyl replay.


I have almost finished my tinkering with the system. There are Klotz AC110 interconnects and Atlas Equator speaker cables, a recently acquired Fidelity Audio power supply for the X-10D and my beloved Technics SL1210 Mk2 with Audio Technica AT12S Shibata stylus.


Guess what, I am almost at the end of my quest for beautiful sound reproduction. It seemed never ending. Another Fidelity Audio power supply is needed for the Project Phono Box SE (Mk1 version) and an upgrade on the cartridge. I have recently become interested in Jazz which is I find a natural follow on to classical music. So there is life left in old equipment: clean it, update if needed and cherish it.


Perhaps an article might be possible from you about the DS900s which were also produced in a slightly reduced wooden cabinet, known as the HD series? Could you tell me who made the drive units and are they still available today? Thank you for your forbearance, yours is an excellent magazine and whilst I think about it, thanks to my wife for her continued support and understanding over my wonderful hobby!

Regards

Nigel Masters.

 

 

marantz-900

 

Marantz DS900 loudspeakers from yesteryear made Nigel Masters happy after he had the crossover upgraded.


They are a nice pair of oldies. Unfortunately, we have no info on them, nor any experience. The drive units are almost certainly of Japanese origin and I do not recall seeing anything like them in modern component catalogues. I suggest you ask Wilmslow, as they have a broad knowledge of drive unit suppliers. NK


 

META MATTER

Thank you for publishing my last note - and in the ‘Letter of the Month’ slot too! Having bored for Britain on metadata I should mention that I’m not a total bit-head (careful how you read that). I too have a cherished vinyl collection – but imagine racking them all in identical, plain sleeves! That’s what missing metadata does.


Which is not to detract from DP’s point. Assuming they aren’t in plain wrappers you can survey thousands of albums at a glance. Subtle cues of location, colour, even the scruffiness of old friends’ covers lead you to what you want faster than any database search. They can even make new links – “Ah yes, haven’t played that one in a while ... why not?” That’s where the human brain leaves music software coughing in the dust.


One way to harness our capacity might be to present stored music as a stack of LPs / CDs viewed edge-on – spines rather than full covers. That visual metaphor would echo what we see looking at our physical music collections and make best use of limited screen space. The iTunes ‘cover flow’ view is a step in that direction but, for me, doesn’t quite hack it. So, do any hot-shot app developers out there want to give it a go?

Regards,

Derek Nudd

Portsmouth


TECHNICS MEMORIES

I really enjoyed reading your article on the SL-5 turntable in the January 2012 edition. I owned one of these in the mid 1980s, together with the matching 315 components consisting of integrated amplifier, cassette deck and tuner using Heybrook HB1 speakers. It was a cracking system, very easy to live with and a really good sound. At the time of purchase I was looking for something compact as I had just moved into a small bachelor pad. I didn’t really audition anything else because although I had an extensive record collection I wasn’t particularly interested in hi-fi then.


I was fortunate then that I went to an electrical shop, sadly no longer in existence, and was served by someone who was a very keen audiophile and who guided me in my selection. One weekend after installing an FM aerial on the roof, I was in the bedroom pulling up the slack on the aerial cable and heard an almighty crash from downstairs. I ran down to see what was the cause, to find my tuner dangling from the ceiling on the end of the aerial cable and the remainder of the hi-fi in a heap on the floor! Remarkably, everything bar the SL-5 was unharmed. The turntable unfortunately had a broken lid and wrecked cartridge.


After taking it back to my friendly electrical shop and getting a repair done, funded by the house contents insurance, I had it up and running again after a few weeks with the added bonus of the then top of the range Technics P mount MC cartridge. This had a boron cantilever, I think it was an EPS 310 and the sound was better than ever and started me off on the hi-fi path.


I have been through many an upgrade since those days and am lucky enough to own a Xerxes 20/Artemiz/Kontrapunkt C as a front end but still remember the SL-5 with great fondness. Thank you for bringing back the memories.

Regards,

Andy Aldridge

 

technics-sl5

Technics SL5 brings back old memories for Andy Aldridge.

 


TREACLE TREAT

Thought I might pass on this tip/discovery I made today: it may be of interest to other readers!


I was recently given an old Rega Planar 2 by a very good friend of mine as a first foray into vinyl. Unfortunately, the deck had been quite neglected, a drive belt of knotted string, a goodly layer of dust and detritus, and was in desperate need of some timely tlc! Fortunately, I'm a bit of a strip-down, clean and re-assemble kind of guy, and got stuck right in!


The glass platter is now spotless, the plinth shiny black, the RB250 arm cleaned and modded with a Rega stainless steel stub and counterweight to replace the nasty plastic one, a new drive belt installed along with a nice clean and fresh felt mat – so far so good!


During all this cleaning and replacing of components, I discovered the arm lift was not working as intended. I removed the arm from the plinth and took the arm lift apart, cleaned the old gunk out and re-greased, only to discover there was now no damping at all!

After researching online, I realised the arm lift has a special damping grease when manufactured (rocal kilopoise) and a replacement/substitute was difficult and expensive to get hold of. What to do then...?


A quick shout through the house to the good lady wife “do we have any black treacle?” I asked, "yes” she said, “excellent!” I replied.

After a deft application of said black treacle and re-assembly, the arm lift is now working better than ever, and I got to lick my fingers after the job was complete!

A great little tasty tip and successful remedy!

Kindest regards,

Mike Ruxton

 

lyles-black-treacle-final

 

Black Treacle ... guess what this is used for in high fidelity? It

isn't to give a sweet sound or dark silences, but another more

functional benefit, thought up by Mike Ruxton.

 


 

TURBO'D

I was delighted to read the review of the Fidelity Audio upgraded Cambridge CD player. As a huge believer in ‘turbo charging’ existing equipment it was great to read about the benefits and improvements that this course of action can bring about. Also congratulations to Hi-Fi World for having the guts to undertake this type of review – brilliant stuff!!


I have over the past five years had huge upgrades that are tangible, real and clear leaps forward via the route of component upgrades. First was a re-clocking and power supply upgrade (Trichord Clock 4 and Never connected power supply) to an ageing TEAC T1 transport. This was brilliant and up until the laser gave up late last year was my regular front end. At the time this was feeding a Musical Fidelity Tri Vista 21 DAC that I thought was wonderful ... until JS Audio got hold of it and as with the TEAC took it to an altogether different level through upgrades. When I got the Tri Vista back I really saw what it was capable of.


The demise of the Teac had me searching for a replacement. I called some contacts that I had known for many years and via CPT acoustics came across a Cambridge Azur 840C CD player. A bit of brand snobbery crept in and I said that I was looking more towards Naim, second hand Wadia etc. Colin at CPT acoustics laughed and explained that it was a massively upgraded Cambridge and not a ‘stock’ player.


A visit to CPT with a handful of discs soon had me blown away ... it was simply stunning! But Colin advised me to take it away and demo it against other machines before I make any decision. So that’s what I did...and he was right, it really is something very special. I compared it at various dealers to some Naim players including a CDX2 (honestly!), the Audiolab 8200 (not a prayer in getting remotely close), a 1500 Micromega, Cyrus CDXt2 transport and DAC ... good but not good enough, and more that I can’t remember. The funniest thing happened at a reputable dealer who said to myself and the wife towards the end of the dems “ I have an Esoteric for 9k that may do the trick...I’m sure you’d like it”....we declined his suggestion although I was tempted but didn’t fancy the divorce!!!


So the upgraded Cambridge 840C was purchased for a ridiculous price that was well below £1000 and not far north of £500!! And the sound, well to be honest it is staggering: the detail is brilliant, soundstage nailed, space and air around instruments nailed, top-end smooth but highly detailed, bass tight as a drum and deep enough with no boom or overhang.


So reading the review was really relevant and totally mirrored my own experiences. I really would suggest hI-fI owners consider this route. There is a risk involved in so much as it’s hard to return a product if you don’t like it after it’s been messed with. But choose a reputable company such as Fidelity Audio as featured in Hi-Fi World, CPT Acoustics or JS Audio (from personal experience) who could work with you in achieving the type of sound that you are searching for and can explain what potential lies within your current equipment.


As a side issue the Tri Vista has been moved on as the Cambridge going through it didn’t work, it simply sounded better as a standalone player. I have also dropped on a pair of ATM SCM40 loudspeakers to replace my brilliant and trusty Linn Kabers that have given 10 years sterling service.

Dave Mayer

 

 

cambridge-audio-650c

The Fidelity Audio upgraded Cambridge CD player was a brilliant review says Dave Mayer. Turbo charging hi-fi gives "upgrades that are tangible, real and clear leaps forward" he says.


NEW SMOOTHIE

I would like some advice. I’m thinking of changing my CD and amp. I would like something very smooth sounding for a budget of £600 for the pair. I recently upgraded my speakers so I want something to do them justice.

Many thanks,

Chris Close,

Lincoln

 

 

nad-326bee

For a smooth sounding budget amplifier try a NAD 326BEE we suggest.

 


The smoothest sound you will get for that price comes from NAD in the form of their 326BEE amplifier. An alternative is an Onkyo like the A9377. Both NAD and Onkyo produce good quality amplifiers having a smooth sound and good bass. I think it best if you then choose a matching CD player.

NK


 

 

MOVING FORWARDS

I have recently re-visited my hi-fi since first assembled circa 1982, comprising, Thorens TD160B Mk II with SME Mk II modified and damped arm, Sansui AU 317/II amplifier and a pair of Armstrong 602 speakers, all in good working order. Now, I want to plan an upgrade.


To start the process, I’d be very appreciative if you could direct me to where I can obtain a review of the speakers; and what would your suggestions be for replacement speakers.


Your views would also be greatly appreciated as to what would be economical alternative replacements for the remaining items. The only refurbishments I have undertaken have been the re-wiring of the arm, also speaker cross-overs, with noticeable improvement in depth, detail and stereo image.


With a view to replacing the cartridge from AR Cambridge C77 to one from the Clear Audio range - e.g., Arum Beta S. I welcome your thoughts.

Yours sincerely,

Leo Beirne

Hi Leo, You will find a review of the rare Armstrong 602 loudspeaker at http://www.audiomisc.co.uk/Armstrong/600/600page3.html on the internet. They look well designed, but you will find modern drive units give a cleaner sound. I suspect you will like loudspeakers from Q Acoustics 2050i floorstanders as they give a smooth and even sound balance much like the Armstrong 602s, and they don’t have zingy metal cones.

I strongly recommend you get an Ortofon 2M Black, at £400, if you want a top Moving Magnet cartridge. There’s little to match it. NK


HOT TALES

Greetings from Down-under. Many moons ago after half a life-time of listening I arrived at my form of Audio heaven in the form of a set of Audion Parallel Single Ended Silver Nights (18 Watts ) driving a pair of Audio Note AN-Es fed by a Denon S-10. As the Audion Mono Blocks had inbuilt passive pots I skipped the pre-amp and ran the C.D. player direct.


About 8 years ago a bunch of your average local scumbags stole the lot and kindly burnt down the house on the way out. Lacking insurance so ended my love affair with Hi-Fi. Now the time has come to re-enter the world of Hi-Fi but although the buyer is keen the budget is lean! Both Audion and Audio Note products are hideously expensive down here and Adelaide is a bit of an Audio back-water so auditioning is difficult. I can’t think of a speaker that offers what the AN-Es do, sensitivity, deep bass, smooth treble, huge dynamics and fantastic imaging. Any suggestions?


The Audio AN-E kits seem a good way to save a dollar. My musical tastes are broad but I am chasing good deep, fast bass, smooth treble with rock solid imaging and vocalists who are presented forward in the mix. Would any of the Transmission line speakers meet my criteria? I have not heard a Horn yet that gives the solidity of vocal image I desire but I love their speed!


Audion has under-gone some changes and I do not know if they still have the magic they did. I purchased the first set of Silver Nights in Australia at the Absolute High -End Show in Melbourne and my friend Bob ended up purchasing the 9 Watt Golden Nights to drive his concrete horns. Icon Audio seem to be making a lot of decent amps but seem to lack a 300B single ended. The new 805 appears to fit the bill but I may have to put a mortgage on my soul to afford them! Have you had a review pair yet? Once again any suggestions? The Icon Audio Remote Control Passive looks like a bit of a winner to me if I go to stand alone power amps.


Finally to the front end. Once again I’m looking for bang for my buck. I have rebuilt a large CD collection and would be looking for the best replay without a bunch of stuff I will never use.


Last but not least a quick question that probably requires a five page response! I used to own a CD-R so I could burn the old mixed tape! I now own a Mac. How do I download my collection so I can burn my own compilations with no or minimal loss of musical integrity? Do I need to purchase something explicitly for this process? It definitely improves my listening pleasure to be able to group my music together in bundles to suit my mood.

Cheers Lads,

Hugh Barnes

Eden Hills.

South Australia

 

 

 

q-acoustics-2050i-final

 

The Q Acoustics 2050i loudspeakers are fine budget floorstanders that could well replace Armstrong 602s.



Hi Hugh. And greetings to all those down under. If you look at my Wigwam Show report 2012 you will see inevitable Tannoy Lancasters, Corner Horns and what have you that are a feature of the UK vintage, enthusiast scene. People buy ‘em and restore ‘em. These are sensitive, give big bass and forward project vocals. Perhaps you can find a pair in Oz, unmolested by the local Wombat. Tannoy horns seem to be what you need – they are sensitive and move the room with bass, but I’m not sure so many will have found their way to your part of the world. The Japanese market may well have them available second hand, but although Tokyo is closer than Glasgow, it still is a way if you are going to ship. Sea freight isn’t so expensive though; you’ve just got learn how to read Japanese e-bay! Don’t forget Hong Kong and Singapore too, as both have a healthy hi-fi market from which you may be able to ship at reasonable rates.


You do not have to stick to 300Bs. They are expensive and other valves can give great results. The 2A3 sounds very sweet, although it is power limited. The big, chunky 6C33C, comprising two triodes strapped in parallel, delivers a lovely sound in my experience and it is cheap. Even the EL34 can sound nice in the right circuit – very light and detailed – and then there is the 6550 and KT88, my preference being for the latter. You might be able to pick up a pair of old Quads of some sort, or perhaps Quad II-forties. Then there are the EAR amplifiers, and as you mention the great Icon Audio range. For a decent budget CD player think Marantz like a CD63 KI Signature of a version of it.


iTunes on a Mac will rip a CD into the computer and it will burn it back out from a Playlist too, so you should have no problems here. You will need to check this of course as you may not have a CD/DVD burner installed, depending upon the Mac you have. Current Minis don’t even have an optical drive but they will still rip in and burn out through an external drive, at least with Lion and Snow Leopard. I believe Leopard will do it too. NK


 

 

GIVE ME PUNCH

My hi-fi system still does a fine job but having heard a friend’s set up I feel I could beef things up a bit, possibly by getting some new speakers, but I’d like your opinion if that’s where best to spend the cash.


My system is Linn Sondek/ Meridian 506 CD player/ Sugden a21A amp/ Mission 752 Freedom speakers. I’m not sure what CD player or amp my friend has, but the speakers are B&W 684s and compared with my set up the sound is more lively, punchy, detailed and engrossing.

My question is whether an investment in new speakers could bring an improvement in the punch and excitement of my own set up?

Many thanks,

Dave Clarke

 

 

bw-684-speaker-final

 

My friend's B&W 684 loudspeakers "sound more lively, punchy, detailed and engrossing" than mine, says Dave Clark.

 

 

The obvious reply is to get a pair of B&W 684s, which are sensitive at 90dB, B&W claim, and will suit your low powered 20W Sugden a21A. Alternatives are produced by Tannoy, KEF and Monitor Audio, all of which may well suit. Try to get an audition. Just bear in mind that with 20 Watts on hand you need very sensitive floorstanders, the bigger the better. It just may be that you need more power than the a21A can provide, in which case you may have to sacrifice quality. I would suggest you listen to some of the better Marantz amplifiers, since they get close to the Sugden sound, whilst producing more power. NK

 

 

EXCITING CD

After a long lay-off from buying magazines I restarted buying Hi-Fi World in 2008 (just for the knitting patterns you understand!). I have had valve amps for a number of years and just recently I became the proud owner of a pair of Bill Beard’s P100 monoblocks, together with a P500A pre-amp, thanks to Simon at ‘2nd hand hi-fi’ of Stockton-on-Tees (real nice guy – likes a biscuit or six). I also own a Shanling CD-T80 (valve output) CD player but I would like to change it for something with a bit more excitement and I was wondering if ‘you lot’ could come up with some suggestions?  As I have had to pay for some new valves I would like a recommendation around the £500 mark (don’t mind pre-owned ). The rest of my system is Linn LP12 / Ittok/ Ortofon MC10 Supreme turntable, and Ruark Crusader II ‘speakers.


I would like to give an unashamed ‘plug’ to Simon at 2nd hand hi-fi as a proper, helpful old fashioned hi-fi dealer and a gentle man ‘to boot. Hope you can point me in the right direction.

Alfie Forcer

 

 

edgar-cd-1

Before the Canor CD2 came the Edgar CD1 and this is a great player to get if you can find one. Otherwise, save up for a Canor. Both have

a valve regulated power supply and valve output stage - and both sound fantastic.


Hi Alfie. You want to replace the Shanling CD-T80 with something cheaper? I would have suggested you try replacing the valves, the usual solution to a valve output player that loses its excitement. Even though small signal valves last 10,000 hours, their sound doesn’t hold up so well over that period. But you say you have replaced valves. If this was in your p100 monoblock power amplifiers, then try replacing those in the CD-T80. Otherwise, it isn’t easy to recommend a £500 player that will give more excitement. A Canor CD2 is a step up and you might be able to get its predecessor, the Edgar CD1 for a good price. Otherwise, consider the Icon Audio CDX1 or even an Eastern Electric player second hand. NK

 

 

A NEW POSITION

I have just finished reading the February 2012 issue of your mag. Normally I skip over the 'how to turbo charge your Linn' articles as I never bought into the whole Linn/Naim thing in the 80s anyway. Something in this particular item must have caught my eye as I read it through (Tony Bolton does write a good article).

 

Being the owner of an aged but lovely original Gyrodec (updated platter and bearing, QC power supply) the older Gyros had the facility to fit two arms by moving the motor. Why not give it a try I thought. I can always reverse it no harm or foul! So 3 hours later (those motor wires are very fragile and a pig to solder!) I sat down to listen for a difference in sound.

 

Wow! Talk about a smack in the gob! Even with my elderly Gyrodec/Helius Orion Mk1/Ortofon MC2000 set up the sound really tightened up. The soundstage stayed wide and focused but the drums on Lucifer by the Alan Parsons Project snapped out like never before! Everything from 180gram Parsons Grievous Angel to original 1979 Barclay James Harvest went for a spin. Now I’m hooked on vinyl again – the upgrade bug has bitten! So swap the Ortofon for something newer? Or would a dedicated phono amp better the phono stage in my Musical Fidelity 308 pre amp? Musical tastes are fairly wide but mostly A.O.R. but absolutely no jazz. Budget around the £1000 mark (cheaper options appreciated). Keep up the good work.

Phil Dennis.

We usually recommend the Benz Micro Ace or Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, covering the £500-£1000 MC slot. But see Tony Bolton's group review of MCs this month Phil - he does have a great ear. You need at least an Icon Audio PS1 phono preamp though for these quality MCs. NK


 

CD NOT LP

I need help. You see I think I may have made a mistake and I’m not sure how to remedy it. A compulsive purchase of an ex demo Cyrus 6xp (now upgraded to 8xp) has led me on a journey to a system of the above mentioned amp, Cyrus CD6se, Proac tablette anniversary speakers and IPod Touch into a musical fidelity VDAC via a pure i20 digital transport. Too much information perhaps?


The question is where do I go now? Detail is present, a snap and drive is present too. I can hear individual instruments - great, but how do I get a more full bodied sound, but more importantly where is the music that I remember so fondly from my youth with vinyl?


I had convinced myself that it was analogue reproduction that was missing. All those 0s and 1s are too stark, too precise for me. Right then save up for a Roksan Radius or pick up a used Technics SL1210 and modify it. But wait, I have hundreds of CDs but only a couple of dozen Vinyl LPs. That is the aforementioned mistake. My digital path is set. Realistically I need to maximise my digital output in a more musical, warmer (analogue like) way.

Here is the question. How do I upgrade my system without replacing the main Cyrus items? My inclination is to save up for a really good DAC for both CD and IPod. Will a TeddyDAC or Moon 300d give me that warmer musicality I seek and if so which would be better? Or would they be overkill for my setup?


Do I upgrade the CD6 to an 8 or even CDXTSE Transport. Do I upgrade the VDAC through a company such as Fidelity Audio, who you recently highlighted?


My musical preference is Rock and a good, powerful bass is quite important. I know my system isn’t great in this department and needs a boost. I believe the Cyrus PSX-R will broaden the sound and add bass, but I don’t want to add one just yet due to space limitations. Ideally, budget is limited to the cost of the (Simaudio) Moon but £1500 is kind of ceiling for me. I do like the look of the TeddyDac though.

Many thanks,

Ray Bennett,

Lancashire

 

You will not easily get an analogue like sound even from better DACs, unless you go stratospheric to dCS with their Ringdacs. The best you could do would be to buy a Chord Electronics DAC64 second hand. This has a really warm, smooth sound that shades most else. The reason is that, apart from being a good DAC, it also has rolled down treble above 16kHz. The subsequent QBD76 wasn’t the same at all. There are few alternatives to this at £1500, although the Canor CD2 may be within your reach and is a superb way to listen to CD. NK

 

chord-blu-dac64

The superb Chord Electronics DAC64 became renown for its smooth sound. Not now available, it is a great second-hand buy.

 
Comments (1)
Cheap Audio Streamer
1Thursday, 21 February 2013 11:00
John Meerman
This is a response to the post of Andrew McBride about a cheap audio streamer suggestion. I use a Squeezebox Touch that has been upgraded by installing an App to provide a digital signal on its USB bus. Although it is limited to 96kHz 24 bit, it provides the best digital out option in combination with an Arcam rDAC that has an asynchronous USB input. I compared some 192Khz 24 bit files played over the spdif output with the same music files downsampled to 96kHz 24 bit over the USB bus. I preferred the latter. A good upgrade to the Arcam rDAC is a better power supply e.g. a linear BOTW power supply, or even better, a Teddy Pardo rDacPS. The combination Squeezebox + Arcam rDAC + rDacPS plays is a very high quality playback system, better than my Naim CDX2 player, and even outperforms at some aspects my Linn LP12 (Valhalla, Akito 2, AT OC9/MLII, Naim Stageline).
I have also upgraded the Squeszebox with a BOTW power supply, but as I use its USB output it did not change much in sound quality, but I do not want a noisy wall wart in my system.

Best regards,

John Meerman

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