June 2012 Issue - page 3

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June 2012 Issue
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page 6 (Digital Cables)
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I read with interest the letter ‘Missing Music’ in the March 2012 issue. The fact that Christopher Warrender's copy of Eric Clapton’s Unplugged album on vinyl had some music missing did not really surprise me. You published a letter by me in late 2010 in which I complained about the poor quality of vinyl pressing produced by the major labels and it seems that things have not improved if Mr Warrender’s experience is typical.


I would take issue, however, with his assertion that reissues should be avoided. I buy a lot of reissues on vinyl, mostly from specialist reissue labels such as Doxy, Sundazed and Music On Vinyl and the quality I find on these LPs is always superb. It would seem that the majors who reissue their own stuff on vinyl just don’t care about quality and are just out for the quick buck. That view is counter productive of course, because “once bitten, twice shy” as the saying goes, so you don’t buy their reissues a second time.


I have to say that I was surprised that Hi-Fi World did not follow up Mr Warrender’s email to Warner as surely you have a better chance of squeezing a reply out of them, being the respected magazine that you are!


Keep up the good work, although I’m not very keen on the increasing emphasis you are giving to digital.

David Jarvis





Re-issue labels such as Doxy, Sundazed and Music On Vinyl are superb, says David Jarvis.



The music business is its own world, one having a difficult time as music sales slip downward and once-great studios close. With engineers adding distortion to give music “graunch” and compressing and balancing recordings to sound loud on a small radio or in a car, it can be depressing to even attempt any discussion about quality, and often a waste of time. This is one of those horrible generalisations; for every engineer that has become functionally brain dead after spending years in front of giant studio monitors cranked to max volume, there is one that uses electrostatics. But we visited a West London studio not so long ago where they cut vinyl and upon asking how they replayed the result to check quality they sheepishly admitted they did not bother. We suggested they buy at least a little Rega turntable and an Ortofon 2M Black to hear what they were doing. NK




I have a fully Funked Sondek/Ittok 2/Dynavector 10x5, Naim NAC32/NAP160 and a pair of Harbeth HL monitors Mark2. I am thinking of replacing the preamp with a valve based unit, hoping to smooth off a few rough edges and open up the soundstage. I’ve read some favourable reviews of the Croft micro basic and the Micro 25 preamps and I’m hoping for some advice as to whether or not they are electronically compatible with my NAP 160. If they are, would you advise going for the 25 which has a phono stage or the basic, which is £350 cheaper, and use a separate phono stage.


A couple of dealers have suggested the Icon Audio LA4 and I remember reading NKs review of this preamp a couple of years ago where he mentioned compatibility with Naim power amps, although in its current form its about £300 more than it was then and I’ll need a phono stage as well.

I haven’t heard either but I will before I make a decision. Advice about these preamps and any other suggestions would be welcome.

Steve Wright




Icon Audio phono preamps have a volume control, so can drive a power amplifier like the Naim NAP160, owned by Steve Wright, direct.



Hi Steve. You get what you pay for here. The Crofts are fine and inexpensive and we hear they drive a NAP160 successfully, but we have not tried it and cannot be sure. Technically, there is no matching problem but you do have to beware of having enough gain in the system to drive the NAP160 from a turntable. The Icon Audio products have sufficient gain (x3000 MC) and that is partly what you pay for. Don’t forget that you can drive a power amplifier direct from an Icon Audio phono stage, because it has a volume control. Whether it will get the NAP160 to full output we do not know but it will almost certainly go very loud at full volume. You could then get an LA4 preamp for extra gain and input switching later. NK




Perhaps you could offer me some advice on my next upgrade. I currently use a Roksan Kandy K2 amp/CD player with new Monitor Audio RX6 speakers. These are connected with VDH cables and I listen to LPs using a Project perspex turntable fitted with a Goldring 1042. The sound is very good, but I will soon have in the region of £2k to spend, and am thinking of buying a Creek Destiny 2 amp. Everyone says that this amp has a valve like quality and I am wondering if I would get a better standard of reproduction by changing amps? I would keep the Kandy CD player.


Also, is the MM add-on phono stage for the Creek as good as the inbuilt Kandy stage, or would you suggest a stand alone unit? Would I also gain a lot by changing the Goldring for the Dynavector DV10X5 pick up?


My musical tastes are very wide, from classical to jazz, but no boom boom stuff! Room size is approx 13’ x 14’.

Any help would be welcome.

Many thanks,

Cliff Millward


West Midlands




A Quad QC-twentyfour P phono stage has a lot of gain, so is a good match for an integrated amplifier with limited gain (low input sensitivity), like the Creek Destiny 2.


The Creek Destiny 2 would be an upgrade for your Roksan Kandy, but having said that Roksans are very good. You would be going from good to slightly better, and from a dry, yet solid sound to a big, fulsome delivery. Try and audition first to see if this change of character suits. And yes, the Destiny 2 is as close to a valve amp as you will get from transistors.


To be frank Dynavector cartridges are not my greatest love and the DV10X 5 was surpassed long ago. High output MCs are not a very good idea and few sound special. Stick with MM and upgrade to an Ortofon 2M Black, which will give you a more technically correct if arguably less funky sound than the excellent Goldring 1042, or do it properly and upgrade to MC. You would then need to consider an external phono stage for the Creek, perhaps their own, or a Quad QC-twentyfour P, and at least a budget MC – see our group test in the May 2012 issue.


And a quick word of advice on high output MCs – avoid them! Always go for the low output option. These have the fewest turns of wire, the least wire coloration, the lowest output impedance and the lowest effective tip mass, meaning they track best. To compensate you need a quality preamplifier with low noise and plenty of gain, but you are spoilt for choice nowadays. NK


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