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May 2013 Issue
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"The speaker upgrade path was smooth and has culminated in the

Tannoy DC8Ts that I enjoy now" says David Jarvis.

 

MUSICAL SYNERGY

This Christmas I persuaded my nearest and dearest to buy me vinyl rather than CDs if at all possible. Luckily I was given three LPs. 

What I heard when I played them made me think and has prompted this letter, but more of that later. Before I married back in 1972 I did not own a single record, the nearest I got to vinyl was when my brother, who had a Saturday job in a local record shop, would occasionally bring home a few singles to play over the weekend along with a Dansette record player borrowed from the shop. 

  Later I heard records on my girlfriend’s (now my wife of forty years) brother’s music centre. I vowed that when I had a place of my own a proper hi-fi would be high on the list of essentials. To that end in 1973 we bought our first hi-fi system from Leicester Hi-Fi. It consisted of a Sansui turntable and amplifier and a pair of largish LMB standmount speakers. 

For some reason, probably because we couldn’t afford them, we didn’t buy stands and so the LMBs stood on the floor. The bass was so prominent that the plates on the dresser used to shake when I played music loud. Not ideal but it was a start. 

   Over the next 39 years my upgrading of turntables has taken a fairly smooth upward path, through a middle of the range Sony direct drive, the inevitable Rega to a Clearaudio Champion 2 and finally to my fantastic Roksan TMS 3. The LMBs were replaced by a pair of Tangent TM1s bought from a guy named Derek Wittington who was just starting out in business. At that time he had a room at the top of the same building where the LNBs were made in Loughborough. The TM1s were also standmounts but even bigger then the LMBs but this time we bought the stands, with castors, and all was well. 

    Again the speaker upgrade path was smooth and has culminated in the Tannoy DC8Ts that I enjoy now. I have to say that the amplifier upgrades were not always so satisfactory or necessary; there were a few sideways moves. In the 80s I bought an Armstrong integrated. In many ways it was a great amp, it sounded good and was finished in a lovely wood casing but used to blow fuses for fun. 

    Anyway, I have finished up a with a Naim pre/power and a Quad twenty four P phono amp. And so that’s my system forty years later. 

The very first record I bought was a recording of Rossini’s William Tell Overture but my tastes have widened considerably over the years and I enjoy music from every genre and I own several thousand LPs and CDs. I think that I have developed my musical tastes by taking chances. By that I mean that probably fifty percent of the music that I buy I have discovered in a Guardian review or similar and have bought it unheard. 

    Sometimes I’m a bit disappointed – but only rarely. In my opinion too many people only buy music types that they already like and never extend their range. 

I used to listen to the great John Peel on the radio. Some nights he played total dross but I hung in there because I knew that eventually a new gem would eventually come along (my gem was someone else’s dross of course). Also in the mid-seventys there was a programme on Radio 3 on a Sunday evening that was presented by the music critic on The Telegraph. He used to play new LP releases from every musical genre, classical, jazz, rock, pop, folk, the lot in fact. I picked up some classics in that way. Some bands I heard then I’ve not heard of since! 

     I  also remember once going to the very same Derek Wittington (who sold my the Tangents) to buy some vinyl. At this time he had a very successful business called Sound Advice. It was the typical specialist Linn/Naim dealership of the time. Derek is a music lover first, hi-fi salesman second. He took my wife and me into his best listening room where he demonstrated his top kit to prospective buyers and just played music to us for an hour. He knew full well that at that time we weren’t in the market for the equipment we were using so at best he might sell us an LP, and that’s just what happened: we bought an imported copy of Joni Mitchell’s Chalk Mark in the Sand. 

So I have my LPs and CDs and a very nice system on which to play them. 

    Just before Christmas, as I have some recordings on both formats, I decided that I would play both simultaneously and switch between the two and listen critically for differences. I was shocked to find that I didn’t hear much difference at all. (CD playback though Cyrus transport/PXR and Musical Fidelity TriVista DAC). I don’t believe that I have particularly acute listening abilities but I was still very surprised. 

    So why am I such a vinyl nut? The fact remains that when I listen for pleasure I’m much more likely to listen for longer when playing vinyl than when I play CDs, so here must be some subliminal thing that comes over with vinyl that CD doesn’t offer. And so to my Christmas LPs. 

    The first was a blast from the past, The Ramones first LP release; the second was a current release from Taffy called Caramel Sunset. 

The last and the one that prompted this letter was Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’s recording of Wake Up Everybody recorded in 1975 and re-released by MOV. I own quite a bit of 70s soul but I can’t say that it comes near the top of my favourites list and so I was particularly surprised that when I played this album I was totally blown away. The synergy was all there. Great music made by Harold and his pals played though a system carefully put together over forty years and yet another superbly mastered and pressed LP from MOV. Musical bliss.

David Jarvis 

Leicester

 

 

Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes’s album Wake Up Everybody , re-released

by Music On Vinyl (MOV) and superbly mastered and pressed, says David Jarvis.

 

I’ve just returned from a meeting with our distributor, Seymour (they take in mags from the printers and send them around to newsagents in the UK and around the world) and our representative there told me, almost sheepishly, that he thought LP had “more depth” than CD, even through his JVC system. He is a musician too so had an ear for such things. So whilst he played CD and an iPod, like most, he still felt LP was more attractive. This is an appeal that seems universal, one you share with so many others. Just beware of the Ramones first album: it destroys loudspeakers cones – and brain cells too! But it is fun. NK



 

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