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September 2012 Issue
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World mail September 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, reviewerRT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet);  DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.

 


 

 

Linn DSM preamplifier and 242 loudspeaker. 

 

THE POWER OF LINN

Having first noted Dr Jeremy Honeybun’s April letter concerning the lack of Linn reviews, as an owner of various Linn items I was interested to read Noel’s August issue appraisal of the Linn Akurate DSM full system that was ‘forced’ upon him!  – and in particular his rather lukewarm reaction to the amplifier and speakers. The front ends of my fairly modest system consist of Linn LP12/Lingo 1/Ekos 2/Klyde/Linto vinyl and Genki CD feeding a Kairn pre-amp. 

The output end however consists of Musical Fidelity XA50 monoblocks (upgraded a couple of years ago by J S Audio – an excellent Hi-Fi World suggestion!) and Tannoy M20 Gold MkII speakers (very effectively upgraded by Derek Gilligan of Kudos fame). 

I use Russ Andrews / Kimber mains, interconnects and speaker cables. Everything apart from the cables, cartridge, XA50s and speakers were obtained second hand. The LP12 was bought in 1980 and has been steadily upgraded to ‘just short of SE’ spec. I have owned the Genki and Kairn for the past six years. I have bought everything other than the cartridge only after careful comparative listening. 

I enjoy a wide range of music  folk/rock/pop/blues/soul/jazz/classical. The XA50s were originally bought in 1998 to partner an Audiolab 8000C pre-amp because I found that they brought dynamics, space and air – at odds with the rather sterile and grey sound of the Audiolab power amps of that era – and this brings me to my main point. 

Like those Audiolab power amps, I find that Linn seem to be able make theirs measure well (as borne out by Noel’s review) but somehow sound ‘sat upon’. In addition, their speakers often seem to exhibit overblown bass. As a strong supporter of much of what Linn do therefore, I find it frustrating that complete Linn systems just never seem to ‘do it’ for me. 

To my ears, my comparatively modest LP12 and Genki front ends with the Kairn exhibit an unusual combination of clarity and cleanness, yet warmth and lack of harshness far beyond their price range (particularly second hand!) that I find very appealing, yet I have to turn to other manufacturers to hear their full potential. 

It is a shame that Linn resist single item reviews. I am sure that if they changed this policy many more people could learn to appreciate just how good Linn ‘front end’ gear can be. 

I feel that they could also usefully do a u-turn on their ‘no CD player’ policy and release a Genki replacement as evidenced by the overall comparatively slow take-up of computer audio; we don’t all want to stream our music! 

Perhaps Linn could then spend the income from extra sales on developing power amps and speakers to do justice to the rest of their gear! Might I even dare to hope they could allow Hi-Fi World comparative reviews? 

Cartridges are of course an item for which reviews are particularly important. Perhaps I could ask right now in fact:  are there good alternatives to the Klyde that suit the Ekos?

Finally, on a slightly different matter I am sure that a lot of LP12 owners would be fascinated by a comparative test of the range of LP12 upgrades now available e.g. Funk, Inspire, Tiger Paw et al. A minefield to arrange, I am sure,  but if you can pull it off you’re welcome to the loan of my deck for a start!

All best wishes,

Prof David A Deeks

www.davedeeks.com

 

Thanks for your views on Linn products David. If you want to exploit Linn's unique three-point cartridge fixing then you have only the Akiva to consider. If you don't care about this then the world is your oyster! Look toward Ortofon, from Cadenza Bronze upward, or to Benz Micro or Van den Hul. All make fine MCs. I am happy with an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze that has a lovely tonality and also a golden sheen to treble. For a darker sound use a Cadenza Black, and Tony Bolton would suggest a model from Benz Micro I suspect. NK

 

AKURATE REPORTING

Thank you for running such a comprehensive and balanced review of Linn in your August issue. It’s great to see Linn getting some decent coverage. I actually agree with everything you say, and I was very interested to learn about Linn’s approach to the Hi-Fi Press. I feel they are their own worst enemy there. Whilst I am clearly a Linn fan, I would be the first to say that their speakers are pretty awful, for my purposes at least; and I don’t think I am understating it there, given their price. 

My experience is not great, but I have heard the 242 speakers driven by an Akurate DS. In my experience, although a hi-fi system is a sum of its parts, it is the ‘speakers that have the greatest influence on sound quality and character. What one person hates another can love, and there is no substitute for listening, as I’m sure you will agree. 

I listen mainly to organ and choral music, and through the 242s the organ pedal notes were woolly and indistinct. Hook the DSM and the 2200 up to a pair of PMC OB1is, as I have, and the quality is a revelation – and at half the price! I actually bi-amp the speakers with a Linn 4200, which brings further benefits in focus and solidity. I have also heard them through a pair of large Proac floor standers with similar results. 

So, Linn produce excellent electronics, but pretty poor speakers, which was more or less your conclusion I think. One just has to rely on a dealer who sells more than one manufacturer's equipment! I don’t think Linn should be disappointed at that. One can’t be good at everything after all! Thanks again for an excellent review! 

Dr Jeremy Honeybun 

Abergele

Wales

 

 

Another loudspeaker from Glasgow that competes with the Linn 242, the Tannoy DC10.

Big bass and point source imaging, lovely finish and accurate balance, but lower price tag.

 

The Linn 242 loudspeakers came alive on the end of a Tellurium Q Iridium power amplifier, sounding both smooth and dynamic. I understood and appreciated their strengths in this situation, although bass quality remained open to question, shall we say! 

But as you note, there’s no shortage of competition out there, not just from PMC but also KEF, B&W, Monitor Audio, Tannoy, Triangle, Quadral – the list goes on – at the price. Against this commercial backdrop the 242s don’t look so competitive. They were lacklustre in styling and finish too. 

In contrast to the 242s, the Akurate DSM network connected preamp was a tour-de-force of engineering and a rare beast indeed. Few other preamps in the world combine a quality MC phono input along with wi-fi control from an App. plus internet radio and music streaming from network drives or a computer, plus HDMI input and output.

Coincidentally, in this issue we review an Onkyo TX-8050 receiver that could be seen as a budget version of the DSM, offering similar basic functionality. It isn't a Linn by any means of course, but it's an interesting package all the same.

I suspect stereo ‘preamps’ that do it all will become more popular in future. But in the meantime Linn’s DSM stands virtually alone in its broad range of abilities and is as impressive as you said! Linn have a lot to offer. It is a pity that getting it in for review was such a task because more exposure is needed, especially with a product as complex as the DSM. NK

 

KARAT RELIGION

After a number of months in silence I was motivated by the June 2012 Letter of the Month to drop you a line. I can’t stop being amazed by Hi-Fi World readers, their views and fresh opinions based on current or past experiences. In this case,  the fact that Steve Bennett's IMFs may be addictive in spite of being icons from a much different era. Steve centers some of his decisions, regarding the evolution of his system, on keeping his Dynavector Karat 17D3.

I have been directly touched by this option as, after many decades of trying different cartridges, I always come faithfully back to the Karat in any of its incarnations. Maybe two decades ago the main problem I have faced using the then Karat 17D (I think that is how the model was named in the mid nineties) was the need of serious gain to really profit of its genetic qualities. 

With the current version, the problem remains and the need for high gain in the preamp still exists. Such a low output challenges you and your records a lot more. To get rid of a baffled sound once and for all, it won’t be enough to pick a good preamp and a good phono stage. 

If the elected cartridge is a Dynavector Karat, correct equipment matching is absolutely necessary. Most of the Karat's users have no idea about the extraordinary performance they may extract from this classic cartridge. 

The Dynavector brand includes several exquisite cartridges and some a lot more expensive than the good old Karat but, the Karat is an addictive object, almost a religious object in the USA where there are plenty of Karat dependants – some even known to swear by it. 

The most recent Karat versions must have been designed with the American market in perspective and only such a fact explains why it works better with American pre amps. I’ve tried mine with a Conrad Johnson and a VTL 5.5 and the results were excellent. The Conrad Johnson is much too expensive but the VTL 5.5, though pricey, is a perfect option and a lot less expensive too. 

The phono stage puts a complete different question. We need gain but we also need transparency and analytical detail to compensate for the Koetsu like properties of the Karat. Very good American phono stages are also very expensive ones and Dynavector’s own P75 isn’t enough for the job. 

Trying not to go bankrupt I faced the dilemma of using the Karat with an Icon Audio PS3, or go for a solid-state European phono stage. My amplification wouldn’t allow the use of the Icon Audio as I am using a pair of bridged (modified) BAT VK60s plus a pair of KEF Reference 107/2 R. Cook. And though very interesting and velvety, the tonality became too dark. 

After many different hearings I ended up with a German ASR Basis Exclusive and couldn’t be happier with the final results. The sound is crystal clear, instruments are well and singularly placed on the sound stage and the bass levels are more vivid than with the best CDs and respective players. There is a depth and control to bass that was unsuspected before. Voices are amazingly present in the room even with big choral works, Britten or Elgar. Absolutely astounding. I do not ask for more, at least, as previous experiences already told me, for the time being. 

I’m currently using two absolutely different turntables, out of the many different turntables I have accumulated for the last 37 years: a heavily modified Technics, like Steve’s one (sorry but I don’t buy the SME 309 idea) equipped with a Rega RB1000 (modified) and also, because their presentations are so different, a Well Tempered Lab Amadeus GTA (I only changed the plate mat). 

Both are equipped with Dynavector Karat cartridges (the Rega arm sports a K 17D2MKII and the Amadeus, the more recent Karat 17D3). In the end some records and some music styles still need different turntables to spin at their best. But that’s how this hobby goes. What’s true today will be overtaken next year, vinyl being the only exception I know. 

Best regards and thanks for an outstanding Mag! 

Mario Kopke Tulio 

Lisbon 

Portugal 

 

 

 

ASR Basis Exclusive phono stage. "I couldn't be happier with the result"

says Mario Kopke Tulio.

 

Ah – words of wisdom from deep experience! However, I don't quite understand why you don't 'buy' the SME309; Adam Smith thought it a superb arm sonically and it is beautifully finished too. And I have always used an SME, albeit a 12in one. But then, Regas are good also. Thanks for your experiences, as always. NK


IMF DREAMS

I noted your Letter of the Month on IMF Monitor speakers in the June 2012 issue. The IMF Monitor was the speaker of my dreams when it came out and while I never managed to own a pair I did own two sets of IMF Studios (TLS50s in England) that were smaller versions of it. 

Living in Philadelphia at the time I got to know Bud Fried (Irving M Fried, or  IMF) and we became life long pals even though he always teased me whenever I didn’t own his speakers and for my love of Celtic music that he would call tinkle music (Bud listened only to Classical music, especially opera and particularly Wagner).  

I note the writer’s concern with the slowness of the speaker which, especially with the march of the years, I agree with. Your advice to him is to the point. And I believe I can add to it. I know a couple of current IMF owners, both of whom changed bass drivers. The TDL woofers are drop-ins for the KEF B139s with the same frame, but with a concave rather than flat diaphragm. The result was much tighter, better damped bass. I assume that the Q of the TDLs is lower than the KEFs, Q improving the overall system bass control without fouling up the crossover region. The bass response is much more of a modern vein.  

These speakers are, of course, quite old. That could mean that the capacitors in the crossover have deteriorated. Changing them for more modern ones of the same value would probably result in cleaner, more defined sound from top to bottom. And it might improve the bass further also, since improving the bass harmonics should improve the overall bass sonics.  

Finally, if he can get into the mid-range enclosure, a card board tube running front baffle to back baffle, he should check the damping. My IMF studios came with a simple roll of foam. Bud changed it to a three layer system, complaining the factory was harming the mid-range in the interest of saving a few pennies. 

The back layer was now a short heavy one. The middle layer was much less dense. And the layer behind the driver was very lightly packed. The improvement in reproduction was obvious in seconds when we compared the first one that was changed to the original in the other speaker. The mid-range loading is a short transmission line and the volume right behind the driver is very sensitive to reflection if the damping there is too thick. 

If his damping is simple like mine was, I’d try about an inch of foam at the back, then a couple of inches of long hair wool or Acousta-stuf at about the classic half pound /cubic foot (experimentation is probably necessary) and finally a very, very light layer.

I still have warm thoughts of this speaker, sort of like a first love. If I had the space and the extra cash today, I suspect I’d find a pair and update them a bit as I’ve described above.  

Allen Edelstein 

New Jersey 

USA

 

 

 

IMF TLS50 loudspeaker, cutaway diagram from IMF, 1975. It used an 8in

bass unit loaded by a transmission line,  a midrange, tweeter and super tweeter.

 

Hi Allen. Thanks for your observations. I should perhaps explain to readers that IMFs were built in the UK by IMF UK and distributed in the U.S. by Irving M Fried. Go to http://www.marklev.com/IMF for more on their models and tortuous history.  

IMF UK then became TDL, run by John Wright until it closed some years ago. The TDL bass unit you mention is described as “having a thick tapered styrene cone with a plastic coating, this produced a rigid piston action and was extremely light without any cone break up and produced an excellent fast response at low frequencies”  by ex-director John Hayes. I hope your info on making improvements is a help to the  lucky owners of these monsters. NK

 

INSPIRED

You ran a very interesting review of the Inspire mod of the Thorens TD160. As an owner, user, modifier of this particular turntable I can see why the company picked it as a natural upgrade! 

If you remember, you published an article about my turntable some time ago. My modifications were considerably cheaper than the Inspire ones and to be honest I think their success is more to do with the ‘don’t touch what ain’t broke’ method, than the rather more expensive mods in the review. 

For a start, a synchronous AC motor will be far smoother than a DC one, no matter how many poles the new motor has or the quality of the electronics. A DC motor is really lumpy as it moves from coil to coil in its armature. 

All you are gaining with DC is torque which, given that you are using a rubber band to connect to the platter is going to be diminished in effect in any case. If you feel that the drag of the stylus is in need of that torque then any motor control of speed needs to relate directly to the speed of the platter. Since there is no feedback mechanism then this will be largely a waste of effort. 

Greater damped mass in the platter is what is required in the TD160 to remove the ringing of the outer section. The effect is dramatic. Bass firms and rises in level. Surface noise and the effect of clicks and pops are diminished drastically. 

By replacing the plinth too there are additional benefits that relate to feedback and long term stability. I would say that my plinth is still a hollow box so it will never be like the skeletal designs from Avid or others as is the current trend. However, my plinth weighs in at more than most stand mount loudspeaker pairs and more than many floor standing ones too and is non resonant and pretty much sealed from below having over 2 inches of kitchen worktop beneath it in its construction. 

I only use a 28 year old SME 3009 fixed arm and an old Ortofon VMS20E but if something like a more recent arm were fitted the humble TD160 would take on all comers. 

From what I can see the best way of taking away some further issues of the TD160 is to isolate the AC motor from the mains by building a dedicated quartz locked mains supply which in turn will allow for electronic speed switching (just alter the clock speed in the converter) and do away with the mechanical speed change which is a liability in this turntable. I’m working on that one! Keep up the good work!  

Regards and best wishes.  

Dave Tutt 

Tutt Technology

Chatham 

Kent

http://www.tutt-technology.co.uk

 

 

 

 

 

Thorens TD-160 can be improved simply by damping the platter, says Dave Tutt.

 

 

 

Like quite a few turntables of the 70’s and 80’s the TD160 is a well designed and solid performer.  But any 40 year old machine is going to need maintenance and refurbishment.  All moving parts including the suspension are not going to perform now as they did all those years ago.

  The debate over AC and DC motors is likely to outlive all of us.  A DC motor when not powered but rotated by hand, does indeed appear lumpy.  An AC motor is smoother with no power, but often just as lumpy when running.  A true test would be to run both under a load and measure the vibration with an accelerometer.  An easier way would be to buy a cheap stethoscope from eBay and listen perhaps.

  If stylus drag is an issue then only a properly implemented PLL direct drive will do, or second best something with a very high mass platter like the SME Model 30. 

  I like the idea of your very heavy plinth and perhaps an SME 309 might finish it off?  A small quartz locked mains supply would be good too. I looked at the mains here in Dartmouth, Devon,  the other day; I don’t know what the neighbours are up to, but the waveform was decidedly not nice: around 2.5% distortion and an odd sloped flat top to the sinewave.  

Let us know how you get on. 

Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi.

 

 

 

Big IMFs are great for Prog Rock, says Steve Petch. Pictured are monster

TDL Reference monitors, successor to IMFs. 


 

PROG ROCK

It has been quite a considerable time since I last contacted your still great publication and still my preferred option of the monthly hi-fi mags. I was actually motivated to write having read Steve Bennett’s great Letter of the Month in the June 2012 edition. Two things really struck me about it, the first being the refreshing open candor with regard to Prog music. So many people in the Hi-Fi Press treat Prog as a dirty word which is something that I feel very strongly about. 

Like many other genre’s of music it has it’s highs and lows and there are those that would say that it was “of it’s time”. There are some amazing bands out there as we speak, recording some fantastic Prog music and little recognised for doing so. 

The second thing that struck me about the letter and indeed the only thing I will concede to the “of it’s time” philosophy is the equipment that it is played on. It was a breath of fresh air reading about Steve’s forays into amplifier configurations, arms and cartridges etc, though it was his steadfast use of his beloved IMF reference standard Pro monitor Mk4s and his Technics turntable that I can fully endorse for listening to Prog upon. 

I – like many – listen to many different styles and genres of music and for the most part my system (elaborate valve based, mainly analogue) sounds great. However, nothing captures the original retro Prog or for that matter modern Prog albums better than the equipment manufactured at or around the time of it’s massive popularity. 

Methinks at a time when Prog was manifesting itself in our psyche we were, as individuals, perhaps in our most formative years as far as music goes. Capturing such moments again may prove to be a difficult thing to do with so many things in the equation like age, attitude, surroundings and physical deterioration of both ourselves and the things around us. Thanks for a great letter Steve. Keep enjoying your Prog and of course your great hi-fi too.

Steve Petch at 

www.progmeister.com

 

 

 

 

Classical music downloads from 2L of Norway come in up to 24/192

resolution and sound superb. "We don't trust it" says Cliff Millward. CD is more durable.

 

CABLES

I’ve just been reading your July 2012 issue, as full as ever with interesting items, but there are two things which I would like to comment on. The first is that old chestnut of cables. You review pairs of speaker cables, all priced reasonably. But to those of us who play classical music, there is no mention of such music being used in your assessment. Are we to believe that such cables are merely for those who play simpler stuff, for want of a kinder expression? I notice that this is a trend in hi-fi magazines at the moment, especially the yellow one! (Rock, Pop and more of the same).

But moving on. I recently, whilst browsing Amazon, ordered some speaker cable which is claimed to be used by EMI in their studios. This is made by someone called Van Damme. Out went my former VDH and in came the Van Damme. To be quite honest I have been very pleased. Considering that the new cable is a fraction of the cost of the old, which I sold on Ebay, it has opened up the sound to a degree which I didn’t expect. I later sent for some more and bi-wired my MA RX6’s to my Kandy K2. This act had a greater effect and has taken away the slight sheen noted before.

Now at about £2.16 a metre this seems to beat something costing a lot more, and is something which you should investigate. I think that a lot of cable is over priced and must make a fortune for those peddling it to people who feel afraid of being left behind. Not keeping up with the audio Jones as it were.

My second point concerns the letter from Matthew Abbot in the same issue, regarding the death of CD. I read this in all the hi-fi mags. It’s something of a mantra amongst hi-fi buffs. When CD came out we serious music fans welcomed it with open arms because it rid us of surface noise, rumble, off centre holes and end of side distortion. And it gave us better sound quality. 

If Mr Abbott and yourselves would like to look at the Presto Classics website and click on new and future releases, you will see that CD isn’t dead. The number of new classical CDs is huge. Personally I have no desire to have my music on hard drive or whatever. If I have a flood here at least my CDs will still be playable. If a hard drive crashes everything is lost.

Perhaps I and folks like me are becoming obsolete. We have no desire to get into computerised music storage. We don’t trust it, nor do we trust hi-fi experts who bang on about it. There are many companies who can supply needles and spare parts for windup gramophones, and we can buy styli for electrical pickups to play the discs. Such things have become a minority interest, but it means that folks who don’t react to the latest fashions and ditch things merely for being a member of the flock, are perhaps wiser and love music for itself. I have a room full of discs from 78s to SACDs and I can handle them and read the sleeve notes. They mean something to me and are my possessions. Something hidden away on a hard drive is not the same.

Best regards, 

Cliff Millward

Tipton

Yorkshire

 

 

 

 

"Look at the Presto Classics website and click on new and future releases,

you will see that CD isn’t dead" says Cliff Millward.

 

 

Rafael Todes insists LP is the best source for Classical music, because it offers a better representation of the original venue and instrumental tone than CD, as well as being a true historical record. So views are split here. And Rafael also greatly likes Classical music streaming, because it avoids the less pleasant qualities of CD, I think I am right in saying. So there are opposite views Cliff. If you can, do try and listen to some quality Classical downloads.

You are absolutely right about hard drive vulnerability. I have lost a lot of music this way, including a lot from iTunes from the days before you could go back and retrieve downloads from your account. But hard drives are getting cheaper and cheaper, making safety backup less onerous, and memory sticks now hold vast amounts of music and are durable. Then there are Solid State Drives, which have a limited write lifetime but an unlimited read lifetime. If you can develop a backup strategy then you will find downloaded and streamed Classical music offers better quality than CD. But as you say, music on something tangible like a disc has its own attractions, durability being just one of them. I’ve never had an LP crash on me! There are merits in both. 

And finally I hope you find what recording engineer Tony Faulkener has to say about all this in his interview with Rafael Todes on p26, interesting. It’s great to hear an expert with first hand experience speak. NK


TROUGHLINE 3

I pickup a slightly unwell Troughline 3 from eBay for £41.  It needed new electrolytics and one resistor that had changed from 47K to 75K on its own! The good news was aside from a very small tweak of the discriminator coil, it sounded stunning!

  I then built in a decoder using the National Semiconductors LM1870. No time for a valve one at this present!

  The decoder is in the position used I believe in the Stereo versions of this tuner. 

As for performance, it is quite astonishing! I am at least 40 miles from the Sutton Coldfield transmitter and  I have a simple 3 element Yagi in the roof. I have full signal on all the BBC stations, and no hiss whatsoever in stereo! All original valves and no re-alignment needed.

  Even more amazing is that I do not use the AFC. I turn it on in the morning, rarely re-tune and yet it never drifts at all over the day!

  And now that the BBC claim they are backing off on DAB, there is hope it seems!!

  What a fab tuner! I am so glad you mentioned them!! I enclose a picture to enhance your enjoyment. Note the green “stereo beacon” in the top right corner of tuning scale Thanks!!

Best regards,

Mark Manwaring-White

Ming Da Valve Audio UK

Great Malvern

www.mingda.co.uk

 

 

 

Leak Troughline 3 tuner cost Mark Manwaring-White just £40. "What a fab tuner", he says. 

 

It looks fabulous Mark, I am envious that you can buy a Troughline 3 for £40. As you may know Tim de Paravicini once designed a valve stereo decoder for Hi-Fi World using valves in the sum (mono) channel and a chip to handle the difference channel. It sounded superb of course. If you ever have some spare time I am sure readers would love an updated version! Don't miss our Troughline feature in this issue of course. NK

 

MISSED POINT

Can someone explain to me what is the point of digital music streamers?

I now have a significant collection of digital music files (mostly WAV) garnered from a mixture of transferred cassette tapes, recorded radio broadcasts and a few transferred LPs and these sit on an external computer hard drive (backed up on another one!). I can listen to these in the room where my computer lives via a small DAC and headphone amplifier but am now considering the best way to make them available to the hi-fi system in the sitting room.

My first thought was to get a digital music streamer but I find that, with the exception of the most expensive (and boy, are they expensive!), these have no on-board file storage capability (despite the trivial cost of memory these days) and it is necessary to have a computer switched on whenever they are being used. So, why would I not buy a second hand or OEM refurbished lap-top for say, £250, put my music files on that and connect it directly to a DAC or (increasingly these days) digital input on a CD player. This would also give me access to internet radio.

Perhaps I am missing something, in which case I would be grateful if you could enlighten me.

Kind regards,

Edwin Smith

 

 

 

No need for Edwin Smith to use things that spin around and around.

You can play music from a memory key using a Cambridge Stream Magic 6.

 

Yep, you are missing the ability of most network players to play music from a memory stick. The Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6 we reviewed in the August 2012 issue has an out-of-sight rear USB port for long term storage and a front port where you can more easily plug-n-play. You don’t need to have a computer running, nor do you need a home network. You play music out of Flash Memory.

The alternative is to get a computer that doesn’t ‘run’, like an all-SSD Mac. Or just don’t switch the computer off. I use silent Macs most of the time and do not switch them off, so my music library is always available on the network. But all the same I prefer to use ‘sneakernet’ to walk music into the lounge on a memory stick. This gives best sound quality, likely because my wired network is an aerial in a sea of my neighbour’s wi-fi transmitters! If you want to know what impact this has, see two fascinating letters on digital cables published in our June 2012 issue. If you don't have the issue, see Letters on our website at www.hi-fiworld.co.uk. NK

 

CLASS A CONTESTANT

Hi Noel. I very much enjoy your mag and was interested in your overview of Class A/single ended amps. 

I'm a big fan of Monarchy Audio. Mr C.C. Poon, proprietor and designer, offers several transistor Class A  options. The SM 70 configurable as stereo or monoblock ( run balanced) is a hands down best buy: sweet, transparent, punchy. I’ve owned three and wish I'd hung on to at least one of them. 

I currently use his higher rated SE 100 deluxe Mk2 monos to drive my NS1000 M plus Maximum Supertweeters loudspeaker set up.  I  keep the speaker cables as short as possible – 6 inches or less. The amps are driven by a passive Transformer Volume Control by Promitheus Audio – another jaw dropping best buy. 

This set up is giving me amazing performance at a fraction of the cost of it's many predecessors.

Andy Smith

Canada

 

 

 

The Monarchy Audio SM70 – a big Class A amplifier from California.

Just look at those cooling fins! It is "a hands down best buy: sweet,

transparent, punchy" says Andy Smith.

 

 

Thanks Andy. Those U.S. power amps look wonderful. They are available direct from the factory in California we note. 

Put a multimeter across the input terminals of your Yamahas to measure their DC resistance. Halve the value because their are paralleled and you have the minimum load impedance. If it is less than 3 Ohms you may well draw too much current, but Class As are durable, because they have to be. 

NK

 
Comments (2)
right amp for speakers
2Thursday, 03 January 2013 22:35
richard johnston
hi guys,just wanted your advice on a suitable amp for my Bicor 200 spks which have lowther dx3 drive units. im loathe to go down the valve road as i live in rural ireland and know of no one to help should it break down- i have no experience of valves. i was wondering if a Sugden a21 would be a suitable partner for the lowthers. many thanks for a great mag. Richard.

Hi Richard. If you can, get a Sugden A21SE. It has a fabulously detailed yet deliciously pure sound that is a real education as solid-state goes. It is a Single-Ended design (with dynamic load) of low efficiency and power output, but it does not get burning hot and it is smoother and less glassy than the typical push-pull Class As. It's a great match for Lowthers' forthright sound. NK
Van Damme cable
1Wednesday, 21 November 2012 19:13
darren pickering
I completely agree with the comments on Van Damme cable: the 8mm version its amazing for £6 a metre. Bryston also recommend this cable for studio installs

It would be really good to see a review versus audiophile grade stuff!

Thanks Darren.
Yes, that is a good point, we must get some and give it to our cable experts.

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