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April 2013 Issue
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World mail  April 2013 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);  DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.

 

 

If you play 78rpm records (shellacs) then you need a 78rpm cartridge.

"I bought the Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge and find it to be excellent"

says George Hulme.

 

ALL THAT JAZZ

In the review of the Lux L-505U (October 2012 issue), Tony Bolton claims that Chris Barber started the British trad jazz revival in 1948. This is incorrect. George Webb formed his band playing classic/traditional jazz in 1942/43 and recorded as early as December 1943. There were similar bands playing in Liverpool, Manchester, Sheffield and Birmingham at about the same time. Ken Colyer began his band career in 1948 with the Crane River Jazz Band and he did not join Chris Barber until he returned from New Orleans in 1953. He left the band after a difference of opinion on the style that should be played in 1954.

In the review of the Da Vinci cartridge, Tony Bolton claims that his RCA Victor LP of Fats Waller was taken from 78 transcriptions. This is incorrect as the album was derived from conventional Victor and Bluebird 78 rpm commercial records. At the time of those Waller recordings, transcriptions were 16-inch diameter and played at 33 and 1/3 rpm.

Mr Bolton gives the impression that he is content with his worn and damaged Fats Waller LP. Should he wish to obtain a copy in near mint condition he should be aware that there is a thriving market in second hand jazz records with its own magazine (VJM - Vintage Jazz Music) and there are two major record fairs each year at the Fairfield Halls in Croydon and two more at the National Motorcycle Museum in Birmingham as well as others in various venues. There are also a small number of specialist record dealers who cover jazz as well as other musical forms. The prices, unlike those for pop music, tend to be very reasonable.

Mr Melvyn Dover, whose letter gives very useful advice about cleaning records and their covers suggests the use of “sticky” tape for repairing the covers. I would suggest that ordinary adhesive tape (Scotch, Sellotape) is best avoided as the adhesive soon dries out, leaving an unsightly brown stain and the tape itself peels off. If adhesive tape is used, it should be of the archive quality such as Scotch “Magic” tape or its equivalent from other suppliers as the adhesive on that type of tape is stable.

Finally, I am surprised that none of your contributors mentions the fact that mono microgroove records, both 45 rpm and 33 & 1/3 rpm, use a larger radius groove than that on stereo records. If a mono record is played with a stereo cartridge, the stylus sits well down in the groove and the sound is degraded as a result. Proper size styli are available from specialist suppliers and make a much improved reproduction of mono records.

Finally, as a result of an article in the December issue, I bought the Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge and find it to be excellent. It tracks well at the recommended 1.8 g on conventional 78s and acetates while reducing the surface noise which I think shows that the stylus profile is accurate. I bought it partly because I use the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge for stereo LPs. I noted that Ortofon also list a 2M mono cartridge for mono vinyl. However, although the cartridge body appears to be the same as that for the 2M 78 unit (at £80), the cost of the mono version is £230 with a replacement stylus price of £175. That seems to be unreasonable in comparison.

I am sure that all original mono LPs and 45s need the larger stylus. What the more recent audiophile mono LPs need could be anything.

George Hulme 

Old Basing 

Hampshire

 

 

 

 

The new Ortofon 2M 78 cartridge. No need for a wind up gramophone any more!

 

Thank you George for filling in gaps in my knowledge of the history of jazz. I based my comments on reading various books on jazz over the years, most of which date the start of the British Trad Jazz movement as 1948. You have the distinct advantage of being out and about in the London Jazz scene at the time, I learn from our correspondence. For those of us too young to have experienced this, you recommend a book called “History of Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950” by Jim Goldbolt. Jim was a British jazz writer and historian (and also the agent and manager of sixties group “The Swinging Blue Jeans”). A revised edition of this book was published by Northway Publications of London in 2005. (ISBN-10: 0955788811). My copy is currently on order at Amazon.

Regarding the Fats Waller LP. I do actually have a better condition copy of this record. However, the copy that I used in the review has been played by me on just about every turntable, arm and cartridge combination that I have had in the last 35 years, so I know exactly how good, or bad, it can sound depending upon the choice of equipment being used.

I am sure that I am not alone in having less-than-perfect copies of a record and I feel that it is a valid test of any arm, cartridge, turntable or phono stage to see how well they deal with extraneous noises from wear or damage. Some are considerably more forgiving than others, and their behaviour in these conditions may well be a deciding factor in a potential purchaser’s choice of equipment.

I discussed the pricing of the 2M 78 and 2M Mono cartridges with distributor Henley Designs who advised me that the difference in price is due to the greater cost of the more sophisticated stylus profile used on the 2M Mono, compared to the spherical design used on the 2M 78. I agree with you on the excellent performance of the 2M 78 cartridge as you can see in my review of it in HI-FI World, April 2013. TB

 

Hi George. Thanks for the corrections and your detailed knowledge of Jazz and where to buy it. I am in discussion with Ortofon and Abbey Road about the forthcoming Beatles Mono LPs, that I believe do not need a larger diameter mono stylus. Such styli were for old mono records. So there is a qualification to be made here I believe. The experts will in due course let us know about all this and we will publish the information. NK


BEATLES VINYL

Like many others, I was originally very excited by the release of the new Beatles box set by EMI. However, I to have those nagging reservations about the digital process that has been used to create these albums. In addition, the marketing literature explains that various methods have been employed to iron out what are considered to be certain undesirable sonics from the original recordings. 

Although I have not yet heard these new albums, I have little doubt that in the main, this iconic music has attained an extra warmth, body and a smoother top end. The question is: what price one sets on authenticity? 

Interestingly, I have yet to read any comparative comments made with the Mobile Fidelity Beatles box set of the early 1980s. I am fortunate to own a set of this limited edition release. Apart from half speed mastering, these albums were produced – in typical Mobile Fidelity tradition – from the original first generation tapes. They even show a photograph of each one on every album protective sleeve to prove it! 

To be fair, some of the Beatles earlier albums do sound a little thin with, at times, a rather ‘hot’ top end. Having said this, there is a tremendous vitality and presence to the sound that I doubt can be beaten. I often think when listening to them that this is almost certainly the best and most authentic way to hear the Beatles, not withstanding turning up at Abbey Road studios and asking to hear the original tapes. 

I believe it is your intention to review the new box set in your next edition. I for one would be fascinated if you were able to put your hands on a Mobile Fidelity box set for comparison and comment accordingly. In any event, I will not be parting with my set any time soon.

Clive Kerr

 

 

The Beatles Stereo box set, shown here, was released 2012. Due 2013

is the Mono box set, possessing all the definitive early mono mixes. 

 

 

 

Hopefully you have now read our full and in-depth review of The Beatles Stereo vinyl box set, in the February 2013 issue, which should have clarified matters for you on many of the points you have raised.

    I was unable to source a Mobile Fidelity set for the review. Such sets are very rare, I’m afraid; you are very lucky to own a copy. I have heard a set and, if memory serves me correctly, the Mobile Fidelity set is good but the new box set is better. 

   The Mobile Fidelity box is not perfect. Reportedly, there is a nagging fault within, namely a 120Hz saw tooth (almost B flat) buzz that intrudes on certain sides to a greater or lesser degree. The discs are half-speed mastered so the 60Hz (U.S.) mains buzz is transformed into a 120Hz buzz on playback. This fault was rigorously pooh-poohed by Mobile Fidelity until they finally admitted to hearing it themselves, blaming a possible ground or lighting fault. That said, some ears hear it more than others and there is word that not all pressings feature it. PR

Mobile Fidelity The Beatles box set. It was half-speed mastered from

the original tapes. So did the original tapes leave Abbey Road?

Or were they 'transfer masters'?

 

ISOBARIK

I require advice / recommendations for a new front end to use with my  ancient Linn Isobarik DMS loudspeakers. I was using  – wait for it !  –  a NAD 3240 receiver as a pre amp and a NAD 2100 power amp, both of which have finally bitten the dust, and a Denon 1520 CD player. “What?”, I hear the purists scream.  It’s a mismatch for such speakers I know.

I am considering using a NAD M3 Master Series integrated amplifier with a NAD M5 CD player. Budget is hopefully £5,000 but could be increased substantially if it would produce worthwhile improvements. I loathe the idea of changing the speakers because they still produce a wonderful, albeit coloured sound, but the bass weight is awesome. I listen to mainly rock / heavy metal music, and also any sound with a wide dynamic range particularly  live  recordings (try Genesis Live – the longs – old medley). I also play it loud – very loud! 

My other problem is that I want to home-audition the new front-end prior to purchase (back problems mean I cannot move the Isobariks !) Do you know any dealer/s who carry out such a service. Please advise.

Best Regards,

Chris O’Callaghan

 

 

The Linn Isobarik delivered mighty bass – and was mighty heavy too.

Chris O'Callaghan needs to home-demo suitable amplifiers. 

 

You need good, clean power and plenty of bass grip for the Isobariks. Sonically, a Roksan K2 stereo power amplifier (£650) suits, as does an Electrocompaniet Nemo but at much higher price. Musical Fidelity also specialise in high power amplifiers that sonically suit Isobariks and an M6PRX may be what you are looking for price wise. 

You don’t tell us where you live, which makes recommending a dealer difficult. However, an IP address look-up of your e-mail header suggests Wolverhampton, in which case Moorgate Acoustics offer home demo of the items you are interested in. I think you have Midland Hi-Fi Studio and Sevenoaks Sound and Vision close by too, and they may well offer a similar service. I suggest you phone these dealers. NK


DVD AUDIO

In your reply to Paul Marfleet (Dec 2012 issue) you stated “...as far as I am aware, you cannot now either create or play DVD Audio discs, except...” 

As far as playback is concerned you are partly right in naming Cambridge and Oppo. What is now a poorly kept secret is that the innards of the Oppo has found its way in quite a few Universal players (Marantz McIntosh, Denon & Ayre amongst others) at something of a premium.

On to the creating piece. Yes you can!!! A company called Cirlinca (www.cirlinca.com) offers two programmes (HD-Audio Solo Ultra $68.98 US and DVD-Audio Solo $44.95 US) that allows you to roll you own. 

HD-Audio allows you to burn DVD-A disc as well as – get this – Blu-Ray discs. Yes, you are reading this correctly. Even more astounding the Blu-Ray discs will hold 60+ 24/192 tracks. 

The DVD-Audio version of the programme allows you to burn DVD-Audio discs. 

Both programmes will rip your current CDs and upsample up to 24/192, so one could rip and burn in one fell swoop. However, I find that ripping with dBpoweramp is quicker. Both dBpoweramp and the Cirlinca programmes allow you to save your 24/192 files in both WAV and FLAC format on your hard drive etc

I sent a quick query to the guys at Cirlinca asking if there was any move to 32/384 capability and they replied no. Guess I’ll just have to keep rolling my own at 24/192.

Cheers,

Roger Crossman 

 

You can burn DVD-Audio discs with Cirlinca, Roger Crossman tells us.

And it will burn Blu-ray audio discs too. 

 

Fascinating stuff Roger – thanks for the update. I see free trials are available and prices range from $44.95 for DVD Audio Solo Standard, to $68.95 for HD-Audio Solo Ultra. The software is for PCs, not Macs; VMware emulator or Windows running in Bootcamp are solutions to this limitation. Vista 32bit and Windows 7 64bit are compatible apparently, but Vista can cause problems (read Support). Circlinca are based in San Francisco and are DSD aware.

         The other software for this purpose that I’ve used in the past, but overlooked, is DiscWelder, from Minnetonka software, near to Minneapolis, USA (near the Great Lakes). DiscWelder Bronze works on Mac (Intel) as well as PC and costs $99. I see they also have Bronze 1000m ($199) that provides DSD-to-PCM conversion before burning to disc. 

DVD-Audio is a ‘rare’ format now, recognised by few players. DVD video players mostly reject DVD Audio discs, saying they are ‘unreadable’. We’ve consistently mentioned Oppo and Cambridge Audio Blu-ray players that play DVD-Audio as well as SACD, CD and Blu-ray; they are unusual in being able to play all silver discs.  That’s because they use a Mediatek platform solution, and it’s likely the other players you mention also use it.

Internet reviewers and forums often talk about “company XX copying company YY”, but in truth none of these companies have the ability to develop the necessarily complex chip sets required by Blu-ray and no one copies anyone in the way forums speculate. They buy in a solution, package it and market it; that's the reason they look the same. Go to www.mediatek.com and their MT8555 Single chip Blu-ray player to read more; only Mediatek do this I believe. Just don’t ask about minimum order quantity, with a price of £60-£100 per chip. 

       You may be interested to know that Mediatek are now offering a complete Smartphone package, explaining the sudden appearance of $100 Smartphones at this year’s CES in Las Vegas. I think I am right in saying the Huwei Ascend D2 uses this turnkey platform. Mediatek (Taiwan) are big, very big and this is where DVD-Audio players currently come from. Otherwise, it is a dead format, unsupported by the CE industry at large. NK

 

Blu-ray players are hugely complex and based on solutions from the big

chip manufacturers. Cambridge Audio and Oppo both use Mediatek

technology, as do most other manufacturers, but Cambridge

(shown here) put their name on everything!


 

 

ORGAN FAILURE

Thanks for a great read and for printing my letter a while back. You gave me the courage to wield a soldering iron and convert my old JVC JAS11 to power amp duties. Didn’t get the Creek passive pre though – made my own using bits from Maplin, an Alps blue pot and an old freeview box enclosure. The improvement over the original input loom is pretty impressive, apart from a slight lightening of tone. Lots of scope to upgrade wires etc when the mood takes me. 

The only affordable phono stage available off-the-shelf in Bristol was a NAD PP2. Initially I was quite pleased, but lately LP has been sounding a bit dire, with everything at the back of the mix sounding coarse and distorted. Lead vocals and instruments remain clear and smooth, but have retreated to behind the speakers and the illusion of a real performance has been lost. 

Swapping in a more expensive (Ixos) interconnect helped a bit, but didn’t solve it. Changing inputs on the preamp made no difference and AV, CD and MiniDisc remain unaffected, so it’s deck, cartridge or phonostage. 

I get the impression you don’t rate the NAD box – is this why? Can it be that they only sound good when new? Or could the effect described be due to the 1042’s stylus suffering damage – there have been no drunken incidents (that I remember!). 

Advice needed, never had a sudden drop in performance like it. If I had £1k for an Ortofon 2M Black and a new phono stage, which would you recommend? Is my Akito a good match for the Ortofon? 

Now a bit of a moan about a curious, but grievous error in Paul Rigby’s usually excellent prose - and a serious audiophile point. The reason many of us spend more than we should on kit is so that we can tell the difference between, say a violin and viola playing in the same register, no? The same applies to rock instruments, unless processed beyond recognition. Early sixties music typically relied on the basic tonal signatures of specific instruments to make a band’s ‘sound’. If you don’t know or care which were used, an MP3 player is all you need. There were four main types of electronic organ used in the sixties – Farfisa, Hammond, Werlitzer and Vox, each of which has a quite characteristic sound. The two that are least similar are the Hammond and the Vox. Paul, do you think the Doors used a Hammond, or the Beatles, Monkees, etc, etc? Booker T played a Vox, not a fat - assed Hammond, because he was cool and still does as far as I know, God bless him.

Regards,

Mark White

 

 

"Booker T played a Vox" on Green Onions, "not a fat assed Hammond",

says Mark White. 

 


The NAD PP2 is not especially distinguished as phono stages go but it does the job, sounding a bit dark and lacking transparency. However, its performance should not deteriorate in the way you describe. This is more likely due to the cartridge, as they do slowly lose lustre, but this is a long process. The simplest way to find out is to buy a new stylus assembly for the 1042 and see if that revives the sound of LP. 

Otherwise, a Cambridge Audio will give a brighter sound or you could move up to the Icon Audio PS2. 

As a final thought, I hope you have inspected the stylus to ensure it is clean, and checked the arm settings such as tracking force. A 1042 needs 1.7gms I recall from my days using one. I also recall its body did slowly descend over time and the sound become a bit dynamically flat. At this point I moved on to pastures new. An Ortofon 2M Black cartridge plus Icon Audio PS2 valve phono stage would be an ideal upgrade and give you amazing quality. NK

 

 

 

 

The Hammond B3 organ, popular in the 1960s with artists like Stevie 

Winwood. Beside it is a Leslie speaker cabinet.

 

According to an array of sources I have to hand,  Booker T. played a Hammond B3 on Green Onions. May I suggest that the tonal difference you detect is caused by Booker T. not utilising a Leslie cabinet with the Hammond? Further proof, if proof be needed, is a 2011 Internet video of Booker T. and his famous Hammond, playing ‘Green Onions’ ‘live’ where you can hear that recognisable sound for yourself (www.npr.org/event/music/135840639/booker-t-jones-tiny-desk-concert). PR


COST RATIOS

I have been discussing the cost ratios of hi-fi gear on a turntable based forum, garnering opinion as to how money would be split to purchase a new vinyl system. Generally, the opinion was 50% on the turntable/arm/cartridge, 25% amplifier/s and 25% ‘speakers. However, none of the contributors who listed their systems with prices paid (or estimated) seemed to be any where near that, including myself.

I thought I would try a pseudo-scientific approach and use data from your magazine, as I have always agreed with your findings, and recommendations. I added up all the quoted prices in each category, and arrived at the following. Turntable 26%, arm 14%, cartridge 6%, amplifier 25% and ‘speakers 30%, so not a million miles away from the forum’s thoughts.

If one wanted just a CD source, the figures turned out to be CD 30%, amplifier 30%, ‘speakers 40%. Of course, this neglects the other things like cables, stands, racks, etc., but it might give a clue as to how a person new to hi-fi might spread their cash for a new system.

Lastly, it might be of interest to know that most people on the forum bought mostly second hand items, but that doesn’t really help the first time buyer.

Kindest regards, 

Bryan Wallwork, aka Cat’s squirrel.

 

 

 

 


Spend 50% on the turntable/arm/cartridge, 25% on the amplifier and 25%
on the ‘speakers. Is this right? Bryan Wallwork provides an interesting analysis.

 

Those figures seem sensible to me. The only item that seems to suffer is the cartridge, at just 6% of the cost. If it is a £120 Goldring (say) then the system costs £2000 and the ‘speakers £666. That is fairly balanced and quite typical, but a budget Rega RB301 arm will do justice to an Ortofon 2M Black (MM) costing £400 or a Benz Micro Ace (MC) costing £600 and this would be a justifiable re-balance I feel, at least for those that want the very best from vinyl. 

Although manufacturers commonly dislike the idea of people buying second hand, it does in practice keep values up. When a product becomes worthless after use, as computers do for example, it affects perceptions of value. Most proper hi-fi (as opposed to cheap budget audio) is well made, durable and good value second-hand. NK

 

FORCE COURSE

I’m a bit stuck trying to balance the arm on a Technics SL-220 turntable. I can do it to a certain extent, but I am not sure what the spaces represent on the tracking dial and on the anti skate as they’re both different after 1.5. The cartridge instructions say 1.75, but it has 1.0 and 1.5. if I knew what they were in between it would be a lot easier.

Lee Dodd

Manchester.

 

 

Easy to use, high resolution and accurate due to its calibration weight,

the Pro-Ject Measure IT traacking force gauge will solve Lee Dodd's problems.

 

 

 

You have to guess where 1.75 is on the scale if the divisions are 0.5g apart (i.e. 1 - 1.5 - 2). It is exactly half way between the 1.5 and 2gm marks on the counterweight. For greater accuracy buy the excellent Pro-Ject Measure IT from Henley Designs, price £80, complete with 5gm calibration weight to ensure accuracy. If this seems a bit hi-tech and expensive, the simple mechanical Shure SFG-2 at £38.52 is an old favourite that works well enough and will get you to where you want to go.

NK


 

MEDITERRANEAN ISSUE

The February 2013 issue of Hi-Fi World was a great read as always (in Cyprus I usually get the online version) and I was really nodding away to your article about what constitutes “the best loudspeaker” (Quad ESL 57, you were arguing, which I have, thanks to you), but best does not mean for everyone and so on.

Imagine my surprise when I see you mentioning me as disagreeing with your review of the said radiator – sorry, loudspeaker. I didn’t actually disagree (readers can see the review online under Reviews > Loudspeakers) but just mentioned that some things are so good that maybe we should rearrange part of our life around them. Their bass is usually criticised, and I just put the idea that if our reference is a box speaker, then you will not be hearing that boxiness, but don’t mistake that for lack of bass. I look forward to the next issue where you report on the latest ESLs. I accept that one man’s 5 Globes is another man’s wife’s veto. “Best” is absolutely relative and system/environment/taste/spouse dependent

My system is a Rock II/Excalibur/Ortofon MC15 S2, an EAR 834P mm/mc/vol, a Quad 405-2, which probably has to be changed for tubes, and ESL 57s, for which I recently had new treble panels and used-but-checked bass (okay, upper-bass) panels from Quad, Germany. 

I have also acquired recently a Musical Fidelity 3A-X preamp for occasional CD/Quad FM3/iPhone listening. The passive output seems smoother, at least in this setup. It has an mm/mc phono stage which I read was considered highly, especially in passive mode, but I have not tested extensively.

The Ortofon MC15 replaced a broken MC25FL that I was very happy with. The MC15 has to go but am not sure to what. I read through all your reviews, World Favourites, technical articles and replies to many, many letters that related to cartridges but can’t say I have a clear idea.

Choose a suitable cartridge for the 834P? I have used Decca SG, Milltek Olympia in the past with good results. From the current options, 2M Black, Rondo Blue, Benz Micro Ace SL? 

I note you do not recommend the 834P anymore. Just use the Musical Fidelity preamp with a 2M Blue/Goldring 1042? Replace the 834P, MF and 405 with currently recommended valve phono, pre, power? Cartridge then? Another route?

Music taste is from Cat Stevens to Black Sabbath. And Dido, Adele, JJ Cale and anything with Ian Paice and Jon Lord (RIP). Your suggestions would be much appreciated.

Regards,

Manolis Kroussaniotakis 

Cyprus

 

 

 

As budget moving coil cartridges go the Benz Micro Ace is a fine choice. 

But if you listen to Black Sabbath or Deep Purple like Manolis Kroussaniotakis 

then perhaps an Audio Technica AT-OC9 MLIII is best.

 

 

Hi Manolis. I used your views to illustrate the point I was making about the difficulty over reaching absolute conclusions about products, to fit in with a rigid rating scheme. What readers think and say valuably illustrates diversity of outlook and our need to cater for it, something a simple rating system does not do, giving an often unfair (as the manufacturer sees it) or misleading (to a reader/buyer) view. As I said, it isn’t an issue of disagreement, so much as differing tastes and requirements, so I am always grateful for your views  –  and those of all readers of course.

   Your LP front end is getting a bit long in the tooth. The EAR 834P goes back a long way and much has changed since its introduction. It had very strong bass, and a big warm sound. Also, the Ortofon MC15 and 25 measured very well but had a peculiarly lifeless sound, lacking verve. I was always a little bit perplexed by them. 

But that was long ago now. As LP sales grow and people return to the format, the budget moving coil cartridge sector is seeing a lot of activity and the Benz Micro Ace is one of our favourites of the new MCs. Get the L Low output version as this gives the best sound, it just needs a quiet phono stage which the 834P is, due to the use of input transformers. 

If you want to spend less then look at the popular Audio Technica AT-OC9 MLIII that is great for the Rock you quote, or a softer Denon DL304. Avoid the budget MCs though because you’ll end up with the same slightly lifeless sound you have from the MC15. 

    If you drop down to Moving Magnet cartridges then the Ortofon 2M Black is our favourite. However, just bear in mind that MMs generate significant hiss (thermal noise) internally and lack the dynamic range of MCs as a result. This almost certainly accounts for the subtle perceived improvement an MC displays. NK

 

Astell&Kern AK100

Thank you for such a comprehensive review of the AK100 ‘personal player’. Your impressions and thoughts about its use in a home hi-fi set-up are exactly mine, and I’m pleased it performed so well in your opinion – and with good technical results to back them up as well. 

    I have however spotted an error in the text and the battery life issue is of some concern that needs looking into.

   Codecs on the player: you say that the AK100 is only offered with WAV and FLAC, but the AK100 has always been capable of accepting WAV, FLAC, WMA, Ogg and MP3 music files now, and all future AK100s will also be loaded with Apple AAC, ALAC and AIFF files, these being downloadable from the iRiver web site for older AK100 units.

On battery life you quote 4 hours. This is disturbing! The quoted battery life is 16 hours from full charge when used with the screen off in normal function mode (screen turns itself off after a minute or so). I have had over 10 hours from full charge personally, with the screen on whilst changing tracks, albums etc (normal function mode). I wonder if the screen function on your AK100 is on at all times? 

    Both these are stated in the ‘negative’ list in the summary.  I wonder if it would be possible to correct at least the codec’s issue in the next magazine. A confirmation that the unit is always set up in English for our market would be useful to mention as well.

Best regards,

Michael Osborne

 

Astell&Kern AK100 portable plays high resolution audio up to 24/192

through headphones, acts as a CD player, and has Bluetooth.

 

The original battery test was structured, the player being switched on at 9am after charging overnight on an Apple iPhone charging unit, and set to repeat play, headphones connected (they draw current), screen off; it stopped working at around 1pm. The player was new from Korea and little used. 

   Repeating this test, after the battery had been cycled by use, the player was started at 8am and stopped working at 4.20pm – 8 hours and 20 minutes. That is a lot better and closer to your figures. Why the discrepancy I do not know. Lithium ion batteries are not the most stable or predictable of devices, as Sony and Boeing well know, and usage may have improved charge retention. 

    Also, the charging logic is opaque: the player charges when switched on or off it appears, but won’t switch off whilst charging and offers different responses to being charged when off or on, so whether charge rate differs I do not know – and this would affect results. As I said in the review, the charging process needs clearer explanation in the handbook, a charger should be provided or recommended, and a battery charge indicator fitted so battery condition can be assessed, as it can on most tablets etc. 

    I rather overlooked the fact that it plays MP3 and Ogg Vorbis, as you state: my apologies. Ours would not play AIFF, eliminating all Apple generated files so it’s good to hear that an upgrade overcomes this limitation, because it is a great player at heart and really shows the way forward. Our sample will be winging its way back to Korea shortly and we look forward to reviewing an updated version soon. NK

 

 

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