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August 2010 issue

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August 2010 issue
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World Mail    August 2010 issue        

 

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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 -

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.

 


 

nakamichi-600

The distinctive sloping fascia of a Nakamichi 600 cassette deck.


MUSEUM PIECES

I did a search and found your 2002 review of the Nakamichi 600 cassette deck and found it impressive. I’m interested in getting a classic machine like that! My question is: your review says the deck offered 20Hz-20kHz in frequency response. I read a copy of the owners manual and it says the frequency response is 40Hz-18,000Hz. I guess it doesn’t matter much if the deck impressed you so much, but I was just curious if it really makes a difference?

Brian Joyce

 

Such a small difference in frequency response makes no difference at all, even in an item as invariable as an amplifier. Frequency response of a cassette deck (when recording) varies quite substantially with the tape used, although Nakamichis can be tuned flat by altering bias. Replay response, relevant to prerecorded tapes, is also difficult to pin down to tight limits.

If you are going to buy an old cassette deck just be aware that if it has been heavily used then it may need quite a lot of service and if this includes new heads, the bill will be steep. B&W handle Nakamichi cassette deck service in the UK, as they have always done, and the bad news is that they say they have no spares left for the 600/600II. I suggest you check out B&W’s Nakamichi site and perhaps even get some service and spares costs first, before buying an old Nakamichi. This advice applies to much old kit, which often use parts unavailable now. Consult relevant restoration specialists first or you may just end up with a non-working museum piece. NK

 

Noel is of course bang on about buying second-hand cassette decks, although it should be restated that it applies to any second-hand piece of hi-fi gear. We're 'classic hi-fi' lovers here at Hi-Fi World, and all use some such kit, but we have to point out that you can't expect equipment that's decades old to work like new. Sometimes it does, but you're lucky. Usually it doesn't, so always do your homework about whether parts are still available before you assault your local car boot sale or the mighty eBay! As for frequency responses, there are several ways of measuring it; the key point is the response until it drops to -3dB. A deck that's 20Hz to 18kHz (at -3dB) could easily be said to go up to 20kHz, although it's likely to be -10dB or more down by then. Published specs aside, any tape deck that gets up to 18kHz (-3dB) is very good indeed; most people's hearing rarely exceeds 15kHz. In my view, as far as cassette decks are concerned the wow and flutter figures are more important in practice. DP

 

PICKY EARS

I really looked forward to the March issue, eager to see your review of the Q Acoustics 2020. As my own ears had picked these out, I’m pleased they were given such a good report by an expert too. These speakers had been due in since early November 09, and they either keep coming in and are sold only to pre-orders, or they never actually arrive in the country. Their in-at-the-dealer date of ‘early Jan’ changed to ‘due Feb’ as soon as ‘early Jan’ came. Great speakers, but how to buy them? As it happened I had several tax codes arrive, which reminded me of how much I was going to be robbed. In an effort to spend my own money I did something I said I’d never do, i.e. buy some speakers without hearing them first. Thus I’m running in some Monitor Audio BR5s. Fifty hours going by the book.

But there was so much more in the magazine this time too. The Sony TC-WE475 cassette deck went onto my shopping list. This could solve my problem of how to transfer some cassettes I made onto CD – with my PC upstairs and the tape deck downstairs, supporting three other hi-fi units, so it means a lot of disturbance to get it out as it is. A second tape deck would sort that one nicely.


Not for the first time on seeing radio tuners reviewed, I compared their specs with my Sony JX2L. Some figures are hard to compare like for like, but the Sony has a frequency response of 40Hz–12.5kHz, a signal to noise ratio of 72dB, and separation of 45dB. These would suggest to me it’s still able to hold its own with some of the current, much more expensive models. Listening to some stations via headphones at night, I can vouch for the fact that channel separation is excellent.


You reported on the Creek’s imprecise rotary encoder, the main control, going backwards instead of forwards, not incrementing properly. Yep, I’ve been there. I have similar on my Ferguson DAB/FM kitchen radio. This is a case where technology makes things harder. Enter the Sony again. Turn the tuning dial and the pointer moves such that I can whip between stations at either end of the scale in no time at all, and searching for others in between is easier than trying to increment a digital scale too. On my Ferguson, to manually tune from one end of the FM scale to the other, say, takes hundreds of turns of the knob.


And while I’m at it, I prefer volume controls to be knobs, not buttons. Whoever thinks changing volume by holding down one of two buttons is a good idea needs their head examined (just my humble opinion, you understand). Furthermore, I don’t have a telly, so I was surprised when I first saw someone alter the TV volume via a remote - and the line appeared on the screen. Why ruin a picture for everyone, surely no-one needs to see what the volume is? Just listen.


Martin Simpson’s ‘Prodigal Son’ – you’ve got good taste in music too. I have the early Martin Simpson records signed, and a cassette, then I’m missing a few, but the only unsigned one I have bought is his CD, True Stories. I do think Martin dilutes his talent a bit on 'Prodigal Son' (and 'True Stories'), by having so many guest artists playing with him. With a mike and acoustic guitar in concert he’s an outstanding musician. I’d settle for him alone.


Liked the Prog Rock article too. I’m not sure whether you class Be Bop DeLuxe as Prog, but I do maintain you haven’t lived till you’ve heard their ‘Drastic Plastic’ LP. Bill Nelson can write some witty lyrics too.

Melvyn Dover.

 

drastic-plastic

 

Drastic Plastic LP from Be-Bop Deluxe - "you haven't lived unti you've heard it" says Melvyn Dover.

 

Thanks for writing with your thoughts, Melvyn. It’s nice to hear someone else’s views on what is said in the magazine. I’ve noticed that some electronic volume controls must be turned slowly and deliberately if their ‘shaft encoders’ are to work at all. I am not yet convinced these things are better than an Alps Blue or Panasonic potentiometer. NK

 

I'm a huge Be Bop Deluxe fan too, Melvyn. It amazes me that they were never huge, considering what talent they had. For me, it's got to be 'Modern Music'; I have about five pressings of this, so worried I am about never again finding one! DP

...AND AGAIN

With the Monitor Audio BR5s still just short of their running in period, I noticed a website (www.speakerpoint.co.uk) with Q Acoustic 2020s on it. No mention of pre-ordering or expected dates. In other words they seem to have them in stock. A choice of graphite or walnut. I phoned to order some in walnut (there’s always a second room for a second pair of speakers) and spoke to a very helpful man who told me the walnut was out of stock. He apologised, but added they only had them in gloss white or black. Gloss white! Wasn’t that what I was after way back when! So gloss whites were ordered and they arrived the next day (they even came with a pair of white gloves).


Then I decided I should have ordered gloss white 2000ST stands to match. I tried, but they’re out of stock, expected mid-Feb. Doh!

The instruction book for the 2020s states, “In the EU it is against safety regulations to use 4mm loudspeaker plugs.” Is this really the case?

Also I noted the sensitivity for the 2020s is 88dB and not 86dB, as your review stated.


These are great speakers, plonking them on top of the BR5s for temporary convenience, I was able to switch A/B and there seemed very little difference between them at practical volumes.


All this was the catalyst to me biwiring the Monitor Audio BR5s, as their instruction book recommends. What a difference! Immediately they sounded clearer, and there was no longer a squawking parrot in the background, and far less midrange mush from the radio. It really brought them to life.


I’ve tried bi-wiring the 2020s too, but found I prefer them with standard. Perhaps that’s because it’s early days for them. In any event I’m now enjoying two pairs of speakers.

Melvyn Dover.

 

No difference between a BR5 and 2020? Oh dear Melvyn! Methinks the 2020 is a sight more neutral and even in tone, even perhaps too much so to be exciting for some. But it is a super smoothie. Monitor Audios are nearly as accurate in basic tonal balance, but have a speedier sound and a certain zing that comes from metal cones. They are both nice loudspeakers though. Monitor Audios take quite a lot of running in and they recommend you use their (somewhat weird sounding!) De-Tox disc. What you say about bi-wiring is interesting.


We understand one person in Europe managed to connect their loudspeakers to the mains through its 4mm socket inputs and their use has been discouraged ever since. It is common for them to come fitted with plastic stoppers that must be prised out to prevent this.


On sensitivity, our measured result is commonly lower than that of manufacturers by a few dB but since we use a calibrated Bruel & Kjaer microphone and a calibrated Clio microphone as backup, we are confident our result is accurate. Our measurement is made with pink noise using an rms reading meter, however, and I suspect higher figures are obtained using a sine wave placed judiciously at a response peak. NK

 

AGELESS

David, I don’t recall precisely how long ago it was that you took on the mantle of editor of ‘Hi-Fi World’. But a superbly posed photograph showing your youthful features certainly graces the oldest copy of the magazine (October 1994) to have remained in my possession. However, as purported by the photograph in the current issue, your appearance has not changed one iota during the intervening years! Surely the cut and thrust of hi-fi journalism has taken its toll over time, causing your hitherto splendidly dark hair to grey ever so slightly at the temples? Why, that trendy designer stubble may even have evolved into a full beard!

Or is it simply the case that, like your favourite Yamaha NS1000 loudspeakers, you only improve with age! As a fully paid up subscriber, I demand to know!

Alan R J Scott

 

david-price-2010

 

Editor David Price in 2010. No need for Grecian 2000 yet.

 

 

Here’s the rude truth Alan. My picture of David, taken at the Bristol Show February 2010, shows a remarkable lack of wear and tear for such a busy person. He obviously knows something the rest of us would like to know, how to hold old man time at bay! NK

 

Oh my good gawd! There are a few grey hairs showing now, and my barnet's a tad floppier, so to satisfy your obvious interest Alan, I shall duly arrange to update my column picture... It's something I've been meaning to do for the last five years, but never seem to have time. So what better reason could there be for you to place your order for September's Hi-Fi World now? DP



 
Comments (1)
Nakamichi 600
1Monday, 11 November 2013 04:24
Donald
Hi, I bought a Nakamichi 600 cassette deck head from B&W UK, I think they told me then it was their 2nd to last one. Still excellent. One of the finest pieces of hi-fi machinery.

Yes, Nakamichis were lovely – I have a ZX-9 and love it, but spares are drying up. What a shame. NK

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