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September 2012 Issue
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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





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.



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







"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

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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