February 2011 issue - Page 3

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February 2011 issue
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After more time than I would like to remember, I have finally taken the plunge and decided to start listening to vinyl again.


My system consists of Naim CDX, Chord CPA 3200 Pre Amp, Chord SPM 1200C Power Amp, Wilson Benesch Orator Speakers with cabling being a combination of  Chord, Audioquest and Black Slink all supplied previously by Doug Brady.


Just a quick plug for Doug and his team of thoroughly professional colleagues. Nice to see that the customer still comes first in some places.

My dilemma now, having recently purchased a Michell Gyro Se on a well known internet auction site, closely followed by both new Technoarm and a Whest One, I am now in the position of looking for a MC cartridge.


Confused doesn’t even begin to describe how I feel in making a decision. You appear to regularly recommend the Audio Technica AT-OC9 ML111. According to Brady’s, Lyra cartridges work well with the Technoarm. I’ve even contacted Michell themselves, who use the Benz Micro wood when demonstrating. Where do you draw the line with prices in this game?


Now, in your latest edition, you give the Wood SL a thoroughly glowing review. I realise that as with all equipment, demonstration is essential. However, name a dealer who stocks everything? And I’m wary of carting around the Gyro Se.


My taste in music varies from 70’s Rock to Blues and Easy Listening. Don’t tell my dad who always said one day I’d realise that the old music was the best.

Many thanks,

Dave Colgan


Benz Micro Wood - a great sounding cartridge says reviewer Tony Bolton.


Hi Dave - my choice simply comes down to the rest of your system, which isn't backward in coming forward. As such, the Lyra – brilliant though it is in many respects – has a rising treble and thus falls out at the first hurdle. The Audio Technica isn't the world's most laid back either, and that leaves us with the lovely, and slightly less upfront Benz. For best results, make sure your Gyro is perfectly level and the springs are set up meticulously so they don't bounce unevenly. DP



Dear David. Recently you helped me decide on equipment to build my new hi-fi system so I was wondering could you suggest any British Entry Level cables that would be good to use,

I’ve seen Black Rhodium in the Hi-Fi World, what do you think?

My system comprises Rega P3-24 turntable, AT95 cartridge, Icon Audio PS1 MK11 MM/MC Phono Stage and Cambridge Audio 650C, Icon Audio Stereo 25 Mk11 amplifier and Royd Eden Speakers.


John Smee

Haverfordwest, Wales


Is Black Rhodium loudspeaker cable the answer?


Hi John - a pair of Black Rhodium Rhythm interconnects (£50/1m) would hit the spot nicely. When your boat comes in, look towards an Audio Technica AT-OC9 MLIII cartridge for your Rega; it's perfectly capable of getting great results from it, and the P3 certainly deserves better than the humble AT95E! DP



I have a great two-channel set-up which includes an Audiocom-modified Marantz CD player (wonderful machine!), Meridian 501 pre, LFD PA1 power amp (plus a Funk Firm Vector TT and LFD MM phono stage). Speakers are Harbeth HL III.

I’ve also just got an Oppo DV-980H universal player and that’s encouraging me to buy SACDs – mostly classical and either 3-channel (RCA Living Stereo series) or 4-channel (Pentatone).

At the moment I play the SACDs in stereo, but would love to get the full benefit of the other channels. That means I need a suitable receiver on top of all my other amps and three more speakers.

My problem is this: can I integrate such a system into my existing one or do I need to have a separate multi-channel system?

So can you recommend a great sounding receiver and three speakers (2 rear, one central for those 3-channel RCA and Mercury Living Presence SACDs) that would integrate well with my Harbeths? I’ve read that the speakers should all be the same so they’re voiced the same – but obviously having old Harbeths that’s out of the question.

Here’s hoping what you suggest is available here in New Zealand.

Many thanks too for all your help you’ve offered in the past.

Reza Azam

New Zealand


Hi Reza. You can either buy an AV receiver, or an AV preamp like the Onkyo PR-SC886 I reviewed in our July 09 issue. I suspect an AV receiver with Preamp Outputs you will find most suitable. The front Left and Right channel preamp outputs can then feed your LFD power amplifier (just leave the receiver power amps unused; they won’t blow up) and Harbeth loudspeakers for stereo 'as you know it', ignoring how the receiver preamp may slightly influence sound quality. The remaining channels will then need additional loudspeakers. You can then hook up the Oppo DV-980H via HDMI to get full surround-sound from SACD.


Obviously, with this and any other arrangement you will not have matched loudspeakers. The only solution here is to get more Harbeths. How about new HL-P3s for the main channels, relegating your oldies to surround channels?


In my experience Marantz make the best sounding receivers, closely followed by Onkyo. Sad to say, I could not recommend any other brand as being ‘hi-fi’. Their internal transistor amplifiers commonly sound vague and unengaging, in true budget solid-state fashion, because AV receivers are very heavily cost-cut, junk audio affairs using the cheapest components and mass manufacturing techniques.



An Onkyo PR-SC886 AV preamp can do it all. It is a great hi-fi AV solution.


The best sound would come from a dedicated preamp like the Onkyo PR-SC886 driving tube amps., something I tried with great success in the July 09 review.

Also, if you want to spin Blu-ray audio discs and concerts, something that is well worth doing, you need to upgrade the Oppo to a BDP-83 or get a Cambridge 650BD, both of which are based on the Taiwanese Mediatek platform. You will then be able to play 24/192 PCM Blu-ray recordings in addition to SACDs. Sound quality isn’t better, so much as a bit different (more analytical, less organic), or the many 24/96 concerts appearing on Blu-ray, many of which are have great sound quality, largely because the original recording was a High-Def affair and there’s no studio mixing to mess things up, meaning you get a very live and intense sound. Many of these concerts make your average music CD sound bland and barren.


I think you can get most of this kit in New Zealand. You will enjoy the extra channels too. Done properly surround-sound can be very engaging and real fun. NK



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