February 2011 issue - Page 1

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February 2011 issue
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I was both amused and saddened by Adam Smith’s experience with the packaging of purchased products on e-bay. However, for such a kindly and benevolent person as your photo would indicate on your opinion page, I was outraged at your suggestion that you would use a piece of Four by Two on the poor innocent party; it should have been Six by Four!

I can however relate that this also happens with professional suppliers. In this instance a turntable supplied to an associate in Melbourne (that’s at the bottom part of Australia) which had a platter left on for a 13,000 mile ride! By the time it had reached the poor customer, the platter had worked it’s way down the taper of the new bearing, to such an extent that the spindle had to be held vice-like in a pair of 12 inch mole grips whilst the platter was wrenched around in order to release it from the taper. Can you imagine the picture, this on a brand new black SL1200 MkV supplied with SME V tone arm. This exercise I understand required a few attempts before victory. Needless to say that his new High Precision Bearing was destroyed in the process!

The problem Adam, is that to an extent the ‘casual’ seller has done his job and got his money. Proper and correct packaging is probably the last thing on his mind as he goes out for a few beers to celebrate his sale.

Mike New




Technics SL1200 MkV - damaged by the time it reached Melbourne.



I would very much appreciate your advice on the best direction to take my vinyl replay. This is currently – Thorens 125 Mk2 with SME 3009 Improved arm and a Linn Adikt cartridge. Phono stage is a Rega Fono. The arm and deck date from the mid 1970s and the deck was fettled a few years ago by the dealer I have bought most of my recent gear from, and I have also fitted various tweaks from SRM-Tech which have enhanced the sound appreciably. Nevertheless, I find the sound has too much treble emphasis.

I suspect the main issue is with the arm but am also not sure how the Thorens now compares with modern decks.


Would you advise upgrading the arm (and if so to what) and possibly the phono and cartridge as well or would I really be better off retiring the Thorens. I am well disposed to retaining the Thorens as I like it’s looks but only if you think it viable to do so.


My main listening is classical but also folk, some jazz and light rock.

Many thanks,

Hugh Marks


Thorens TD125 - a fine deck that deserves a good arm and cartridge.



It's an easy one, this. Do you want to retain the TD125.2's period look and feel? If so, then you'd be best to buy a modern deck and use your Thorens in your second system, as it won't look good with a Rega RB251 mounted to it, complete with Funk Firm Achromat! The deck itself is excellent, and with a serious service and decent modern arm mounted (Origin Live Silver, for example) it would yield super results; we're talking close to LP12 performance here.


Yet rather like modern wide diameter alloy wheels and low profile tyres on classic cars, I can't help thinking you're spoiling something. I kept my 180bhp Triumph TR8 roadster on its original 13" rims and 185/70 section bicycle tyres for precisely this reason; it was a bit slippery in the wet (and the dry for that matter), but it looked right and drove as its maker intended. I rather feel you should do the same here, too. The TD125.2 is a stunning period piece in my view, and so should be allowed to retain its dignity. Think how Roger Moore would look in a hoodie, and you'll surely agree things are best left as they should be!


What to buy? Depends on your budget; I still think the GyroDec takes some beating at around £1,200 - but there are a number of great decks out there. If you want maximum sound per pound, then buy a Technics SL1200, get out the (proverbial) hacksaw and fit a modern Rega derivative arm, such as a Michell Tecnoarm, and replace your Rega Fono phono stage with something like an Icon Audio PS1.2; this combination will really get your bass bins moving...




Hi team and in particular to Noel. Why? On the strength of his somewhat favourable review of the TRI TRV-88SE valve amplifier in the July issue, I ordered one immediately! OK, it wasn’t a totally off the cuff decision. I’ve been wanting to create a new heart for my hi-fi system for a little while now and I’d been mulling over the idea for a fully valve based amplifying system ever since auditioning the fabulous TRI TRV-4SE preamp in my home some months ago. This wonderful bit of kit, when connected with a set of SlinkyLink interconnects to my highly upgraded Jaycar headphone amp (Black Gates, Dale resistors and an Audio-gd HDAM) driving a set of Sennheiser HD 650s made the amp and cans sound like a million bucks. I simply could barely believe such bass and tonal definition coming from the Sennheisers. Such an incredibly smooth and detailed balance from top to bottom.

I began to wonder if the integrated amps also had such qualities and so only weeks ago I was able to borrow a TRI TRV-34SE integrated amp, the EL34 tubed version. Not being certain that either the EL34s or the KT88 would drive my KEF Q7s very well, this would be a good test. I was impressed!

Yes, the EL34s were a touch rolled in the top end, exacerbated by the KEFs not having a particularly extended top end (although I’m very aware of this with them, I still love so much of what they bring musically to the party, so to speak) and lower bass was a little softened, the sheer magic in the midrange, the glorious openness and communication was enough for me to make the decision to go for the KT88 powered version.

Duly ordered, they were excitedly brought home to my living room just five days ago and have already notched up some 40 hours of running in time. This is my first brand new out-of-the-box amplifier in some thirty of thirty seven years in audio, so this is a huge treat for me.

Gee, what can I say that Noel hasn’t already said! This amp is an emotionally communicative joy and utterly addictive to whatever is playing through it. I’ve actually had to wait until the current CD finished playing to continue writing this letter, two visits to my listening seat left my laptop in mid sentence, Tanita Tikaram’s Ancient Heart CD having me utterly entranced, the strings on Valentine Heart so luscious and expansive and her voice and piano are so gloriously emotive ... what’s a bloke to do? The swagger and swinging beat of Twist In My Sobriety draws me like a magnet into the tune as a whole. None of my music sounds like it ever has before, a whole collection to now explore and rediscover anew. The KT88s drive the KEFs very well, bass is taut and punchy, midrange so open and clear, yet the sheer musicality of this wonderful musical instrument makes it very difficult to talk in the usual hi-fi terms, there’s just ... music ... effortlessly. How incredibly beautiful!

The TRI TRV-88SE seems to work very nicely driving the KEFs with 2m lengths of SlinkyLink speaker cable, these truly excellent cables making a highly synergistic match with the SlinkyLink interconnects. I find both items bring an amazing level of coherence to the sonic picture and this matches perfectly with the of-a-piece brilliance of the amplifier.

So Noel, thank you for helping to make a decision so right that I can barely imagine now not having made it. A truly fabulous heart to my new hi-fi system, it awaits a new set of even better matched speakers when I leave my current home for a smaller one in the near future. I did want to hear a set of the Triangle Antals or their slightly smaller brothers with the TRI, but it seems the importer has given up on them and I’m out of luck there, unless I can pick up a second hand pair. For now the KEFs portray plenty of soundstage in both width and depth and when I use my DAC as a preamp into the Pre-In sockets on the TRI amp, the walls and hi-fi system totally vanish even more. Actually, it’s almost spookily eerie in a virtual reality way, my lounge being replaced with the venue of wherever the Rutter Requiem was recorded, the soprano standing in space and surrounded by the choir and orchestra, the acoustics clearly heard from the roof of the venue. That’s really something in my book!

Just one thing please, Noel. I would love to hear what ICs and speaker cables you use in your reviews, for the Triangle Antals to sound so wonderful in your lounge they must have been connected to the TRI amp with something rather good, no? Balanced, cable wise, yes? I find it useful as a potential purchaser considering the reviewed item to have an idea of what sort of, say, speaker cables may be a good match with this amplifier. Considering that the SlinkyLinks are made from twin lengths of very fine pure silver with an air dielectric and that they may not carry high current levels if required, maybe there is an even better match with my chosen speakers, or your Antals? I would like to hear your thoughts on this, as other members of Hi-Fi World do tend to address the associated bits n bobs in their reviews. Is this not important to you, Noel? Just asking.

Otherwise, I am in great appreciation to you (and the team in general, as I so enjoy picking up my copy of Hi-Fi World each month!) for, in a way, transferring your great enthusiasm for this amplifier into my own lounge every day! A set of Shuguang Treasure Series Black Bottle KT88s are in the pipeline, maybe TJ Full Music 12AU and AX7s as well.

I adore this musical treasure!

Kind regards,

Christopher White

New Zealand.


The Triode Corporation TRV-88SE is "an emotionally communicative joy" says Christopher White.



Ah, a convert to the bottle – the glowing bottle that is. Editor David Price will, however, suspect I wrote the letter, your praise is so effusive. He does not believe I am able to bring joy to readers (!).


But really, it can be quite a shock to hear a good valve amp and I’m glad you like it and find it as beguiling as I did. Valve amps come with a wide variety of presentations these days but the Triode Corporation TRV-88SE was classy – and KT88s usually have a bit more kick to their sound than the EL34.


On the ‘bit an’ bobs’ side I commonly use more than one system, often one at our office listening room and one at home. And I swap around items within them. This makes for quite a variety of products and to avoid confusion and also because space is short, I tend not to go into this too deeply. You will see that I now always use a valve amplifier and at least one transistor amplifier when reviewing loudspeakers, for example, and my valve amplifier at home is a now-unavailable World Audio Design 300B, tuned up with special parts. This makes for a rather confusing panorama of components.


Loudspeaker cables? I like the laid back sound of Van den Hul’s inexpensive Royal Jade hybrid cable, with its saturated carbon layer. But beware that this cable is a bit too laid back for many people. NK



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