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World Mail June 2010 issue  


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Your experts are -
DP David Price, editor; NK Noel Keywood, publisher; PR Paul Rigby, reviewer; TB Tony Bolton, reviewer; RT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet); AS Adam Smith, reviewer; DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.




With 12W available the Leak TL12 needs a sensitive loudspeaker.



I am about to resurrect my hi-fi, not used for years. My musical taste covers most areas of music: Blues, World, Folk, Soul, Rock, Jazz; acoustic and amplified. I am a guitarist and listen to a lot of guitar of all sorts. My room has a suspended timber floor with rugs, is book lined on the speaker wall and about 11 by 13 feet. I would like to achieve a decent soundstage whilst the quality I most rate is probably timing. I am less fussed about huge bass or high volume.


My preferred sources are vinyl, cassette and CD. I have a lot of mostly old LPs of varying condition and cleanliness. Likewise tapes and inevitably CDs.


The kit I have is a pair of Leak TL12+s overhauled and wired for direct phono plug input, Marantz CD63 KI Mk2, NAD 6100 cassette deck (flakey), a Connoisseur BD1 (very flakey) and SME 3009 II Detachable (headshell). My speakers are Tannoy 12 Golds in 75 litre cabinets and in need of some work. I also have a Leak Point One preamp and Leak Troughline tuner, neither of which I use. I am told the preamp is best forgotten and that overhaul of the tuner likely to be uneconomic given the end of FM being nigh. Please say if you think otherwise!


I like the TL12s and intend to keep them. What I need to do is replace the Tannoys for the time being with something smaller that will suit the Leaks but not disappoint. I am intending to recab the Tannoys and was considering connecting the crossovers at the amps (eventually!) and bi-wiring from the crossovers to the cabinets using two pairs of binding posts at the cabinets for each unit. Is this a good idea and what cable should it be? Tannoy's wiring between the controls and crossovers, and from the crossovers to the units just looks dire to me.


Secondly a new vinyl front end, with deck, arm, cartridge and phono stage that are well matched, and fairly easy to install and maintain. A few years back I nearly bought a Garrard 301, I got the SME rewired and a Shure V15. Today there are probably better options.


I will stick with the Marantz unless you suggest otherwise (I am something of an old fogey when it comes to CD and digital music) and I thought I might acquire a Sony WM-D6C cassette recorder for some portable recording and playback of other tapes through the system. You might suggest a different deck though, for replay in the system.


For vinyl and speakers, leads and cable I have a budget of around £3,000.

Finally, is it worth getting my LPs cleaned or buying the means to do it myself given the likely cost of the new cartridge?

John Weston


Wise to keep the Leak TL12+s of course, and I bet they sound lovely in renovated condition. Your problem is they produce little power, just 12 Watts. Unfortunately, small loudspeakers are insensitive, unlike big Tannoys, so it isn’t realistic to make a swap unless you are prepared for a great drop in volume. A sensitive floorstander like a Q Acoustics 2050 (or even a 1050) is your best choice, as it costs little (circa £380), offers good quality and is sensitive enough (90dB) to give adequate volume.


On the record deck side of things I suggest the inevitable Rega P3-24. Your SME Series II with detachable headshell is not so clever now, but you may get a good price for it on eBay. Since you probably like a warmer sounding cartridge I suggest a Goldring 1022GX, or even Shure M97xE. This little lot will keep you well within your budget.

On the cassette side of things there isn’t much choice as only Sony make one, the inexpensive Sony TC-WE475 we reviewed in our March 2010 issue. Although just £130 it worked surprisingly well in every respect, especially replay of prerecorded tapes.


Whether your records need cleaning depends upon their condition. I suggest you try your new record deck first to see just how much noise there is. Being in storage, unused, does not hurt discs, although those in paper sleeves will slowly dry out, loose their plasticity and get noisier. Put all LPs in plastic sleeves if possible.


The end of VHF/FM isn’t nigh I believe. However, even when restored the Troughline has poor selectivity and is only practicable in areas where there’s a reasonably clear line to a transmitter, without pirate stations (urban areas) in between. Even then you will need a high gain, directional aerial pointed at the transmitter, but this is only £150 or so. In such circumstances a restored Troughline is magic; with talk programmes it is like being in the studio!

The preamp would likely need a rebuild before it sounded any good. If you don’t want these items, eBay them to those that do. Leak equipment well restored is special. NK


Hi John - whilst I'd agree with Noel in general, I thought I'd mention that the Technics SL1200/2 is a superb deck at £400; partner with the aforementioned Goldring and you'll be amazed how pacey and punchy it is. The Rega is a fine deck with more finesse but can't touch the Technics in the musicality stakes. An interesting speaker to consider is the M.A.D. My Clapton (£1,500 approx.); I've just tried this in my own system and it's a great sounding large standmounter with tremendous power and verve, plus a valve amp-friendly 92dB sensitivity. Watch out for a review of it in Hi-Fi World soon. DP



Beethoven string quartets are not everyone’s cup of tea, I know, but for some they are a musical destination worth evolving towards. The equipment I play them on is Meridian 200 series CD transport, Meridian 263 Delta Sigma DAC7, Pioneer A400 amplifier and Ruark Talisman Mk I speakers, with budget quality cables and interconnects. I also have a pair of Usher S520 speakers.


I would be unlikely to return to vinyl and I would be reluctant to part with the CD player as I am extremely fond of it! Apart from the Ushers, this kit is mostly twenty years old or more but is all fully functioning and in sparkling condition. What I am trying to achieve is a more natural sound for the string quartets, violin sonatas and piano music which I listen to most of the time. My system seems to shout, being sometimes aggressive and uncomfortable to listen to. I am attracted by the World Designs WD88VA amplifier and WD25T speakers. Do you think they would bring me nearer to the natural, insightful sound I seek using the Meridian source and optimal cabling? My room is 17ft x 12ft, with the speakers pointing up the long axis. A figure of £3,000 to £4,000 comes into mind but could be exceeded if sounds of exquisite naturalness met my ears from any other equipment you were kind enough to suggest. If pushed, I would change the DAC but I hope you will not insist on me replacing the 200 series transport!

Christopher Hughes




For lovely reproduction of strings - and much else - try a Martin Logan Purity electrostatic loudspeaker.


Your Ruark Talismans are best suited to Rock, not Beethoven, and especially not string quartets. To listen to strings you need to consider an electrostatic from Quad or Martin Logan, I’d suggest, or the Princesound Prince II. Martin Logans are the most affordable and practicable and you really should try and listen to a Purity (Sept 08 issue) or Source (Nov 08 issue), both of which are in your budget. The Pioneer A-400 isn’t ideal for them, but it should do. Upgrade to a World Design WD88VA or if you don’t want to DIY, the recent Icon Audio Stereo 40 MkIII. NK



My system comprises: Electrocompaniet EC1-2 and Electrocompaniet AW60FTT bi-amping early Acoustic Energy AE1s on A.E. stands, Michell Orbe SE with Origin Live modified RB250 and Dynavector 20X and Electocompaniet ECP1 phono stage. I am aware the arm and cartridge could be improved, and possibly the phono stage. I would appreciate your recommendations on an upgrade path and would an A.N.T. Audio Kora 3T LTD be a good choice? Many thanks in anticipation of your advice.

Geoffrey Heath


My thoughts would be around an Icon Audio PS3 phono stage; the ANT is lovely, but the Icon adds a tiny bit more warmth and euphony, whilst being very closely matched to the ANT in other respects. The next weakest link is the Dynavector, which is a fine and musical budget MC but you're really going to get up towards an Ortofon Cadenza Blue to get anything like the best from your Orbe. Final change, for me, would be the tonearm, to the Origin Live Encounter, which works beautifully on the Orbe. This would add extra space, depth and finesse to your already fine sounding OL RB250. DP



After much consideration and investigation, I have decided to purchase a pair of electrostatic (planar-magnetic) Magnepan MG12s to replace my old cone infested speakers. However, as you probably know, the MG12's specs include a sensitivity of 86dB into an impedance of 4 Ohms; whereas my old cone jobbies were nothing if not efficient with a rating of 92dB into 8 Ohms; thus I also need new amplification (I’ve come across the 100 Watts RMS suggestion several times). So I'm considering the NAD C725BEE stereo receiver and the Rotel RCX1500 receiver, and would like to know your thoughts about them for my application.


The NAD sounds good and has enough power (I think), but how does the Rotel compare? I like the Rotel's FM internet streaming capability because we here in Southern Ontario have two great, good-old-analogue FM stations (one with 24 hour jazz ( and the other with classical programming (, both using extremely high quality broadcasting technology) that I use for familiarising myself with potential CD purchases. I use a good CD player for critical listening (only jazz and classical music, at reasonable loud levels).


On the other hand, going against the Rotel (assuming it sounds as good as the NAD) is that it has a built in CD player which I don’t need but which ups the purchase price. Do you know of any sub-$1,000 100W stereo receiver that tunes in internet FM and sounds good (I realise that me being on the other side of the big pond complicates you recommending specific kit somewhat)?


Do I need to forget the one box (receiver) idea and go with separate tuner and amp, even though this also ups the price? Is there other kit that you would recommend (no tubes/valves please)?


By the way, why are Yamaha stereo receivers never tested in hi-fi magazines (I've seen multichannel, AV ones tested)? Is it that their low price bracket keeps them out of the hi-fi category, even though the best ones have high power ratings? I really would appreciate any advice you could suggest.

Roy Chant



The insensitive Magnepan MG12 magnetic planar loudspeaker needs plenty of power.


Hi Roy. To be frank, I have little experience with stereo receivers, only surround-sound ones - and few of those would really do justice to Magnepan MG12s. As stereo receivers are their budget cousins I suspect you are expecting too much here. Driving the Maggies with a separate amplifier allows you to optimise that side of the system and get the most from them. You will need a quality stereo hi-fi amplifier and I suggest you start out trying a Naim Nait 5i. It won’t go super loud but Naims deliver current well and have a fulsome bass that suits Maggies. If you have a large room or listen very loud then you would need more power, from a Supernait or upward. Alternatively, think Simaudio Moon, but you may have to buy second-hand.


Whilst VHF/FM off-air offers good quality, via the internet you are faced with a compressed signal and JazzFM91 comes in at a low 48kbps, an iTunes player tells me in London. This is not good quality. It could be that I am served a low rate because of my London IP address and you get a higher quality stream locally, but it is unlikely. Your CBC Classical station comes in at a standard 128kbps and this is better, but hardly super-fi! VHF/FM off-air should sound considerably better, especially when taxing audio material like a full orchestra with violin sections is subject to internet compression, just to stuff it down telephone wires. VHF/FM then trounces internet radio, whose quality becomes quite gruesome.


Logitech Squeezebox internet tuner brings stations in from around the world.


So I would suggest you take it easy, get one item at a time, possibly purchase second-hand from eBay, and build your system progressively. A Logitech Squeezebox will serve as an internet tuner and there are many options for a VHF/FM tuner of course. The MG12s are quality loudspeakers and deserve good partnering equipment. I hope this helps. NK


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