May 2012 Issue - page 6

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My hi-fi system still does a fine job but having heard a friend’s set up I feel I could beef things up a bit, possibly by getting some new speakers, but I’d like your opinion if that’s where best to spend the cash.

My system is Linn Sondek/ Meridian 506 CD player/ Sugden a21A amp/ Mission 752 Freedom speakers. I’m not sure what CD player or amp my friend has, but the speakers are B&W 684s and compared with my set up the sound is more lively, punchy, detailed and engrossing.

My question is whether an investment in new speakers could bring an improvement in the punch and excitement of my own set up?

Many thanks,

Dave Clarke





My friend's B&W 684 loudspeakers "sound more lively, punchy, detailed and engrossing" than mine, says Dave Clark.



The obvious reply is to get a pair of B&W 684s, which are sensitive at 90dB, B&W claim, and will suit your low powered 20W Sugden a21A. Alternatives are produced by Tannoy, KEF and Monitor Audio, all of which may well suit. Try to get an audition. Just bear in mind that with 20 Watts on hand you need very sensitive floorstanders, the bigger the better. It just may be that you need more power than the a21A can provide, in which case you may have to sacrifice quality. I would suggest you listen to some of the better Marantz amplifiers, since they get close to the Sugden sound, whilst producing more power. NK




After a long lay-off from buying magazines I restarted buying Hi-Fi World in 2008 (just for the knitting patterns you understand!). I have had valve amps for a number of years and just recently I became the proud owner of a pair of Bill Beard’s P100 monoblocks, together with a P500A pre-amp, thanks to Simon at ‘2nd hand hi-fi’ of Stockton-on-Tees (real nice guy – likes a biscuit or six). I also own a Shanling CD-T80 (valve output) CD player but I would like to change it for something with a bit more excitement and I was wondering if ‘you lot’ could come up with some suggestions?  As I have had to pay for some new valves I would like a recommendation around the £500 mark (don’t mind pre-owned ). The rest of my system is Linn LP12 / Ittok/ Ortofon MC10 Supreme turntable, and Ruark Crusader II ‘speakers.

I would like to give an unashamed ‘plug’ to Simon at 2nd hand hi-fi as a proper, helpful old fashioned hi-fi dealer and a gentle man ‘to boot. Hope you can point me in the right direction.

Alfie Forcer




Before the Canor CD2 came the Edgar CD1 and this is a great player to get if you can find one. Otherwise, save up for a Canor. Both have

a valve regulated power supply and valve output stage - and both sound fantastic.

Hi Alfie. You want to replace the Shanling CD-T80 with something cheaper? I would have suggested you try replacing the valves, the usual solution to a valve output player that loses its excitement. Even though small signal valves last 10,000 hours, their sound doesn’t hold up so well over that period. But you say you have replaced valves. If this was in your p100 monoblock power amplifiers, then try replacing those in the CD-T80. Otherwise, it isn’t easy to recommend a £500 player that will give more excitement. A Canor CD2 is a step up and you might be able to get its predecessor, the Edgar CD1 for a good price. Otherwise, consider the Icon Audio CDX1 or even an Eastern Electric player second hand. NK




I have just finished reading the February 2012 issue of your mag. Normally I skip over the 'how to turbo charge your Linn' articles as I never bought into the whole Linn/Naim thing in the 80s anyway. Something in this particular item must have caught my eye as I read it through (Tony Bolton does write a good article).


Being the owner of an aged but lovely original Gyrodec (updated platter and bearing, QC power supply) the older Gyros had the facility to fit two arms by moving the motor. Why not give it a try I thought. I can always reverse it no harm or foul! So 3 hours later (those motor wires are very fragile and a pig to solder!) I sat down to listen for a difference in sound.


Wow! Talk about a smack in the gob! Even with my elderly Gyrodec/Helius Orion Mk1/Ortofon MC2000 set up the sound really tightened up. The soundstage stayed wide and focused but the drums on Lucifer by the Alan Parsons Project snapped out like never before! Everything from 180gram Parsons Grievous Angel to original 1979 Barclay James Harvest went for a spin. Now I’m hooked on vinyl again – the upgrade bug has bitten! So swap the Ortofon for something newer? Or would a dedicated phono amp better the phono stage in my Musical Fidelity 308 pre amp? Musical tastes are fairly wide but mostly A.O.R. but absolutely no jazz. Budget around the £1000 mark (cheaper options appreciated). Keep up the good work.

Phil Dennis.

We usually recommend the Benz Micro Ace or Ortofon Cadenza Bronze, covering the £500-£1000 MC slot. But see Tony Bolton's group review of MCs this month Phil - he does have a great ear. You need at least an Icon Audio PS1 phono preamp though for these quality MCs. NK



I need help. You see I think I may have made a mistake and I’m not sure how to remedy it. A compulsive purchase of an ex demo Cyrus 6xp (now upgraded to 8xp) has led me on a journey to a system of the above mentioned amp, Cyrus CD6se, Proac tablette anniversary speakers and IPod Touch into a musical fidelity VDAC via a pure i20 digital transport. Too much information perhaps?

The question is where do I go now? Detail is present, a snap and drive is present too. I can hear individual instruments - great, but how do I get a more full bodied sound, but more importantly where is the music that I remember so fondly from my youth with vinyl?

I had convinced myself that it was analogue reproduction that was missing. All those 0s and 1s are too stark, too precise for me. Right then save up for a Roksan Radius or pick up a used Technics SL1210 and modify it. But wait, I have hundreds of CDs but only a couple of dozen Vinyl LPs. That is the aforementioned mistake. My digital path is set. Realistically I need to maximise my digital output in a more musical, warmer (analogue like) way.

Here is the question. How do I upgrade my system without replacing the main Cyrus items? My inclination is to save up for a really good DAC for both CD and IPod. Will a TeddyDAC or Moon 300d give me that warmer musicality I seek and if so which would be better? Or would they be overkill for my setup?

Do I upgrade the CD6 to an 8 or even CDXTSE Transport. Do I upgrade the VDAC through a company such as Fidelity Audio, who you recently highlighted?

My musical preference is Rock and a good, powerful bass is quite important. I know my system isn’t great in this department and needs a boost. I believe the Cyrus PSX-R will broaden the sound and add bass, but I don’t want to add one just yet due to space limitations. Ideally, budget is limited to the cost of the (Simaudio) Moon but £1500 is kind of ceiling for me. I do like the look of the TeddyDac though.

Many thanks,

Ray Bennett,



You will not easily get an analogue like sound even from better DACs, unless you go stratospheric to dCS with their Ringdacs. The best you could do would be to buy a Chord Electronics DAC64 second hand. This has a really warm, smooth sound that shades most else. The reason is that, apart from being a good DAC, it also has rolled down treble above 16kHz. The subsequent QBD76 wasn’t the same at all. There are few alternatives to this at £1500, although the Canor CD2 may be within your reach and is a superb way to listen to CD. NK



The superb Chord Electronics DAC64 became renown for its smooth sound. Not now available, it is a great second-hand buy.

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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