May 2012 Issue - page 5

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I have recently re-visited my hi-fi since first assembled circa 1982, comprising, Thorens TD160B Mk II with SME Mk II modified and damped arm, Sansui AU 317/II amplifier and a pair of Armstrong 602 speakers, all in good working order. Now, I want to plan an upgrade.

To start the process, I’d be very appreciative if you could direct me to where I can obtain a review of the speakers; and what would your suggestions be for replacement speakers.

Your views would also be greatly appreciated as to what would be economical alternative replacements for the remaining items. The only refurbishments I have undertaken have been the re-wiring of the arm, also speaker cross-overs, with noticeable improvement in depth, detail and stereo image.

With a view to replacing the cartridge from AR Cambridge C77 to one from the Clear Audio range - e.g., Arum Beta S. I welcome your thoughts.

Yours sincerely,

Leo Beirne

Hi Leo, You will find a review of the rare Armstrong 602 loudspeaker at on the internet. They look well designed, but you will find modern drive units give a cleaner sound. I suspect you will like loudspeakers from Q Acoustics 2050i floorstanders as they give a smooth and even sound balance much like the Armstrong 602s, and they don’t have zingy metal cones.

I strongly recommend you get an Ortofon 2M Black, at £400, if you want a top Moving Magnet cartridge. There’s little to match it. NK


Greetings from Down-under. Many moons ago after half a life-time of listening I arrived at my form of Audio heaven in the form of a set of Audion Parallel Single Ended Silver Nights (18 Watts ) driving a pair of Audio Note AN-Es fed by a Denon S-10. As the Audion Mono Blocks had inbuilt passive pots I skipped the pre-amp and ran the C.D. player direct.

About 8 years ago a bunch of your average local scumbags stole the lot and kindly burnt down the house on the way out. Lacking insurance so ended my love affair with Hi-Fi. Now the time has come to re-enter the world of Hi-Fi but although the buyer is keen the budget is lean! Both Audion and Audio Note products are hideously expensive down here and Adelaide is a bit of an Audio back-water so auditioning is difficult. I can’t think of a speaker that offers what the AN-Es do, sensitivity, deep bass, smooth treble, huge dynamics and fantastic imaging. Any suggestions?

The Audio AN-E kits seem a good way to save a dollar. My musical tastes are broad but I am chasing good deep, fast bass, smooth treble with rock solid imaging and vocalists who are presented forward in the mix. Would any of the Transmission line speakers meet my criteria? I have not heard a Horn yet that gives the solidity of vocal image I desire but I love their speed!

Audion has under-gone some changes and I do not know if they still have the magic they did. I purchased the first set of Silver Nights in Australia at the Absolute High -End Show in Melbourne and my friend Bob ended up purchasing the 9 Watt Golden Nights to drive his concrete horns. Icon Audio seem to be making a lot of decent amps but seem to lack a 300B single ended. The new 805 appears to fit the bill but I may have to put a mortgage on my soul to afford them! Have you had a review pair yet? Once again any suggestions? The Icon Audio Remote Control Passive looks like a bit of a winner to me if I go to stand alone power amps.

Finally to the front end. Once again I’m looking for bang for my buck. I have rebuilt a large CD collection and would be looking for the best replay without a bunch of stuff I will never use.

Last but not least a quick question that probably requires a five page response! I used to own a CD-R so I could burn the old mixed tape! I now own a Mac. How do I download my collection so I can burn my own compilations with no or minimal loss of musical integrity? Do I need to purchase something explicitly for this process? It definitely improves my listening pleasure to be able to group my music together in bundles to suit my mood.

Cheers Lads,

Hugh Barnes

Eden Hills.

South Australia






The Q Acoustics 2050i loudspeakers are fine budget floorstanders that could well replace Armstrong 602s.

Hi Hugh. And greetings to all those down under. If you look at my Wigwam Show report 2012 you will see inevitable Tannoy Lancasters, Corner Horns and what have you that are a feature of the UK vintage, enthusiast scene. People buy ‘em and restore ‘em. These are sensitive, give big bass and forward project vocals. Perhaps you can find a pair in Oz, unmolested by the local Wombat. Tannoy horns seem to be what you need – they are sensitive and move the room with bass, but I’m not sure so many will have found their way to your part of the world. The Japanese market may well have them available second hand, but although Tokyo is closer than Glasgow, it still is a way if you are going to ship. Sea freight isn’t so expensive though; you’ve just got learn how to read Japanese e-bay! Don’t forget Hong Kong and Singapore too, as both have a healthy hi-fi market from which you may be able to ship at reasonable rates.

You do not have to stick to 300Bs. They are expensive and other valves can give great results. The 2A3 sounds very sweet, although it is power limited. The big, chunky 6C33C, comprising two triodes strapped in parallel, delivers a lovely sound in my experience and it is cheap. Even the EL34 can sound nice in the right circuit – very light and detailed – and then there is the 6550 and KT88, my preference being for the latter. You might be able to pick up a pair of old Quads of some sort, or perhaps Quad II-forties. Then there are the EAR amplifiers, and as you mention the great Icon Audio range. For a decent budget CD player think Marantz like a CD63 KI Signature of a version of it.

iTunes on a Mac will rip a CD into the computer and it will burn it back out from a Playlist too, so you should have no problems here. You will need to check this of course as you may not have a CD/DVD burner installed, depending upon the Mac you have. Current Minis don’t even have an optical drive but they will still rip in and burn out through an external drive, at least with Lion and Snow Leopard. I believe Leopard will do it too. NK

Comments (1)
Cheap Audio Streamer
1Thursday, 21 February 2013 11:00
John Meerman
This is a response to the post of Andrew McBride about a cheap audio streamer suggestion. I use a Squeezebox Touch that has been upgraded by installing an App to provide a digital signal on its USB bus. Although it is limited to 96kHz 24 bit, it provides the best digital out option in combination with an Arcam rDAC that has an asynchronous USB input. I compared some 192Khz 24 bit files played over the spdif output with the same music files downsampled to 96kHz 24 bit over the USB bus. I preferred the latter. A good upgrade to the Arcam rDAC is a better power supply e.g. a linear BOTW power supply, or even better, a Teddy Pardo rDacPS. The combination Squeezebox + Arcam rDAC + rDacPS plays is a very high quality playback system, better than my Naim CDX2 player, and even outperforms at some aspects my Linn LP12 (Valhalla, Akito 2, AT OC9/MLII, Naim Stageline).
I have also upgraded the Squeszebox with a BOTW power supply, but as I use its USB output it did not change much in sound quality, but I do not want a noisy wall wart in my system.

Best regards,

John Meerman

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