September 2010 - Page 3

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I have just finished reading the May issue and really appreciated the article on “oldie” turntables. What with the LP12 being out of trim (a regular three year thing) and the Denon DL103 on the 12” Ittok + Sony TTS3000 having lost its cantilever (a cleaning lady first!), that article prompted me to swap turntables around a bit.

Since the two disasters to my favorites, I had been using my trusty JBE Slate s3 with Technoarm a and Grado Sonata but tonight I decided to check out my Technics SL110+3009/Shure V15 III – glad I did! It is not perfect but it is a very coherent whole - a real fun experience with Rock and albums from Madonna, Yes, Siouxsie...



Keep the Denon DP2000 turntable says David.

I now have two major problems to sort out. Which one of the DDs do I keep? JBE, SL110 or that Denon DP2000 which never got its Hadcock installed? No way I can house six TTs in the sitting room and I see no point in storing them in the attic. Whichever DD I keep will end up with that Technoarm or the 9” Ittok from the LP12 when I can afford an Ekos or a more modern SME.

The other problem to sort is what to put on the SME 20/2 when it arrives next week (my piggy bank got mugged). For the next few months it will have to be either the 3009+V15 or the Technoarm a+Grado Sonata (on Bastin adaptor) but which? Mid Autumn I should be able to find £2.5k for an arm and cart.

The context: Chord DAC64 MkII+CEC TL51 (really nice), Linto, Naim Stageline or EAR 834P phonostages (medium term goal an Aesthetix Rhea or an EAR pre with double phono inputs), Avondale amps (long term goal Class A  integrated or Airtight ATM1S) and Proac Future .5 speakers.

Suggestions concerning what to listen to would be appreciated, as the phrase goes.




Get an SME V tonearm for your Denon DP2000 Direct Drive turntable.



It is difficult to answer a question like that.  It's like what classic car do I keep, the Sunbeam Alpine, the MGB GT V8 or the Healey 3000?

If it was me I'd keep the Denon, simply because it's rarer than the Technics, whereas the JBE is a lovely deck in its way but not earth-shatteringly reliable, so I am told. As for your turntable, I'd look towards an SME V tonearm (in black finish) with the likes of an Audio Technica OC9/III cartridge; or if you have enough dosh then an Ortofon Cadenza Blue MC. DP



If you recall you posted a letter of mine in the April 2010 edition, and asked me to return with my thoughts about what I wished to do. I stated that I was looking to upgrade my speakers and had my mind set on a  pair of Sonus Faber Cremona Auditors to replace my Ruark Equinoxes. I wanted to pair these with my Musical Fidelity Nu Vista m3 amp and Nu Vista 3d CD player.

Well, I took a blind leap and the advice of a chap on a hi-fi forum and bought a pair of Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage that were in as mint a condition as you could ever expect. Also, I shopped around and found a pair of Missing Link Cryo Ref Interconnects and a pair of Cryo Ref speaker cables for a very good price.

Without getting into any technical jargon and fancy wording about sound I would just like to say that never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to have such a beautifully presented sound stage; this was just the sound I have been searching for. Honestly, when I put on the David Gilmour CD 'On An Island' I was completely astounded at what I was hearing, it was like Liquid Gold being poured through Silk, with the tightest bass and open detailed midrange I have ever heard (the Townshend Supertweeters may have added to this also), just very fatigue free.

I have been playing guitar for some years now and have seen and heard a lot of live performances from talented and not so talented people, well when I put a CD into this system it just works like a perfect ensemble of professional heads. The music just sounds very professional.

I still plan on having the amplifier upgraded in the future (CD player has already been upgraded) and I will replace the cables on the back as well as the jumper cables on the inside with more Missing Link Silver. I am even considering in the future buying the Isotek Aquarius mains conditioner.

The only thing I would say is that vinyl has a fatter sound with my Vpi Aries Scout with JMW-9 tonearm and Goldring 1042 cartridge. Any ideas on thinning the sound from the vinyl?

Or any ideas on what I have just written would be great. If I can improve on this sound I will be very, very happy but as this system stands at the moment I will be keeping this combination for life and looking forward to adding whatever I can to try and improve on it. I did read in an earlier edition where you stated that a CD demagnetiser would maybe help.

I have really begun to listen to classical music as I have never heard it played properly like this before and all my other CDs have been transformed into just something very different, even the rock and heavy CDs sound fantastic.

Any advice would be appreciated. Cheers and thanks for a wonderful magazine.


N Ireland




Sonus Faber Guarneri Homage loudspeaker.


Hi Alan - good to know things have worked out for you! The vinyl sound can be 'thinned' with a £300 Audio Technica AT-F7 moving coil cartridge, which is a good bit crisper and leaner (and faster and more detailed) than your Goldring. Going for the £100 cheaper AT-F3/III would also be an improvement, but I think the F7 would be a much larger one, for just a few shillings more, as it were... DP



Since the age of 15 (I’m only 25 now) I’ve read hi-fi mags and have come to favor your magazine over the others, based on auditioning a large variety of equipment over the years and tending to agree with a lot of your reviews. So I thought this to be a great opportunity to write in for your opinion on my current dilemma.

Since my CD player died, I’ve been seriously researching the best way to incorporate a music server into my hi-fi system. Even though I build PCs and use Microsoft Windows on a daily basis, I’ve decided against this route in favour for an Apple Mac Mini. The problem is that I can’t decide whether to go Optical or USB.

My current system consists of: Dynaudio Audience 82 speakers (real wood version), Audio Note L3 pre-amp (that I built and upgraded with a remote controlled Dact stepped attenuator) and the original Quad IIs (that I’ve sympathetically modified). I know the Quads aren’t ideal to drive the Dynaudios but I love the sound they produce and I live in a flat, so the low power probably keeps my neighbours happy.

Ideally, I’d like to build an Audio Note DAC to connect the Mac Mini to my system, but it doesn’t have an optical input. In my mind I’d prefer to use an optical connection to isolate noise from the Mac. I have also read that the Mac doesn’t automatically switch between sample rates when outputting to a USB DAC. So I have to change settings in OS X to the correct sample rate of each track to ensure bit perfect output. But I can’t find information on whether this is an issue when using the optical output. Most of my music will be ripped from CD to WAV or AIFF format using error correction. But I will want to download higher sample rates in the future when they become more available and I know manually changing the sample rates on the Mac will become tedious.

So the questions are: do I use Optical or USB? And if I were to use Optical, what DAC would you recommend for around £1000-£1300? Any help/advice would be much appreciated.

kind regards,

Mr. Leigh Penny



Mac Mini outputs digital audio from USB, and analogue audio from a jack. S/PDIF is rare on computers.


Hi Leigh. I am not aware Mac Minis have an optical audio output. Mine don't and the new ones don't either. You must use USB (Note: early Mac Minis had no optical output; later ones do - see Letters in future issues).

The Mac will not alter sample rate unless it runs a programme that down samples (or even up samples), such as an editor of some sort, like the free Audacity programme. Ripping from CD will give you 16bit code at 44.1kHz sample rate and this is what the computer will store as a WAV file. On playback the DAC will detect and play the PCM digital stream automatically and 96kHz sample rate at 24bit resolution is not uncommon. A Musical Fidelity V-DAC has a USB input and does what you want. In my experience 24/48 is nice and smooth, 24/96 faster sharper and cleaner and 24/192 like 24/96 but  more densely detailed. Have fun! NK



Many thanks indeed to Paul Rigby for his excellent article on record care (“Wash and Go” – June ‘10 issue). I have been using a (Moth) RCM for many years but I still learnt from the article - e.g. why the 1:4 mix of alcohol I use is probably the optimum.

I’ve not bought isopropyl alcohol for some years and I am now needing new stock, so the supplier info is timely. I checked out both recommendations and found that Biostain (£5.20 for 1 litre, with free carriage) is the less expensive of the two. I also bought a small supply of 150 ml plastic bottles with atomiser tops for less than £1 a bottle from Very useful for applying different solutions (I now intend to use the 1:4 alcohol/water mix, followed by Russ Andrews’ detergent based solution and a water rinse). Incidentally, Russ supplies the Keith Monks RCM, as well as a much cheaper one, and also supply a range of anti-static inner sleeves.

Just one thing to add to Paul’s tips and that is to add wetting agent to the alcohol/water and/or water rinse. This can be obtained from good photographic suppliers (or Google 'wetting agent'). The primary function is to break down surface tension but, very usefully, it is also an anti-static agent. Caution with this because only very tiny amounts are required so it is best to add the wetting agent to the water before mixing with the alcohol.

keep up the good work!

Bob Parsons



Many years ago I thought some of the best sounds at the annual Audio Show came from Transmission Line speakers from the likes of I.M.F. and Cambridge Audio, but they also tended to be somewhat on the large size. Then in 1994 in your D.I.Y. Supplement No7 Dominic Baker described the building of a pair of I.P.L. Compact transmission-line loaded speakers which he said were fun to build, well designed and sounded superb.

Shortly after this they were on demonstration at the Audio Show at the Ramada Hotel and having heard them I decided to build a pair.

They were easy to build [but I had built several others in the past] and I must correct the impression Dominic Baker gave that the crossovers must be fitted before the last side panel is in place. This is not so as the crossovers can be fitted through the cutout for the bass unit.

These speakers have given me much pleasure and I have recently improved them with an upgrade kit from I.P.L. consisting of ribbon tweeters, improved bass units and crossover components all for £215 including delivery and it certainly is an upgrade as I listen mainly to classical music and the sound of soprano voices and the instruments of the orchestra are superb.

On another subject, in this month’s H.F.W. a reader asks if you can recommend a phono pre-amp circuit and I note that in the same D.I.Y.Supplement No7 your own Andy Grove has a D.I.Y. Phono Amp circuit. Do you have any experience of this design  as I had considered building it.

with best wishes to you all from

Bob Angus,




Thanks for the reminder about IPL, who are still selling an attractive range of DIY loudspeakers. We do not have any info now on Andy's phono preamp from our April 1994 issue, nor much memory, so much water has passed under the bridge.  Andy Grove is now with Audionote.




Could I suggest that you do an article on a company called Slateage near Burnley. See I have just had my slate plinths for my Garrard 401/SME IV combination, and they are every bit as good as the ones in the photograph, at a very reasonable cost. With the demise of Slatedeck this company offers a very viable alternative for Garrard 301/401 enthusiasts.

The company is great to deal with, comprising of John, Lynne and Katherine and possibly a few more!


Mike Bickley



IPL Compact transmission line loaded loudspeakers were great to build, says Bob Angus.




Hi Mike - we shall investigate; thanks for the tip! DP



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