February 2011 issue - Page 4

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I bought your November copy at Birmingham airport the other day and liked it a lot and so have subscribed to your on-line service. I would like your help.

Earlier this year I replaced my exhausted Celef PE1s with B&W 805s, had my Linn LP12 serviced and updated and had my Copland CSA14 serviced. In addition I changed the 'wires' with some Russ Andrews goodies. I am very happy with the music the system makes and now want to improve the digital side of my system, an aging Philips CD850. Apart from listening to my CDs I want to download some of B&W’s and Linn’s studio masters and listen to Linn Radio and the BBC’s streams once they have sorted out their quality issues.

On a recent trip to the UK I visited a local hi-fi shop and listened to their Cyrus 6 and 8 SE ranges and, to be frank, I was not too impressed. They suggested adding a DAC to my CD850 and my PC. I also auditioned a Linn Akurate DS which sounded nice. However, I didn't think it was very user friendly and thought it was a lot of money.

Would you go down the DAC route or are there alternatives to this? My budget is in £1,000 to £1,500 range.

Thanking you in advance,

Peter Wicksteed

Las Palmas de Gran Canaria


Musical Fidelity M1 DAC - I've heard £1000 machines struggle to beat it, says David.


Hi Peter - I'd suggest that, for the moment, you buy a good basic DAC like the £399 Musical Fidelity M1. I've used this in a number of situations and it's a really, really impressive performer. Don't be put off by its low price; I've heard £1,000 machines struggle to beat it. It will be a massive upgrade on your Philips, which has a good CD transport but is off the pace, DAC-wise. Expect a far more spacious and open soundstage, with smooth airy treble and a more supple, tactile bass. The clever thing is of course that it can accept computer audio via its USB input, although my listening tests, via an Apple MacBook Pro, show that it sounds best running an optical cable out of the Mac direct into the M1 DAC. The reason for this, I speculate, is that the TOSLINK optical lead removes all computer-derived electrical noise. However you connect it up though, you'll find a fine sound quality that's a world apart from stock computer sound. DP



Hello David. Could you give me some unbiased advice please?

My system is 1985 Linn Sondek LP12, Basik Plus/K9, NAD 3120 (1986), Boss BR900CD (I play the drums which feeds into this CD recorder mixer), M-Audio studiophile BX-8a monitors, and Marantz SA7001 CD player.

I have a dilemma; I can either pay £950 to get the Majik PSU fitted to the LP12 (because there is a funny smell coming from the deck), a service (reset), a new motor, a new Linn Adikt cartridge, 45 rpm adaptor, Quadraspire wall shelf for the Linn or buy a new Rega Planar 3 with the Rega cartridge, ext PSU and Rega wall mounted shelf which will be £750.

As the Linn LP12 does not appear to be as good as it used to be (i.e. there are other decks just as good), which will give me the very best sound and is it worth another £200 to pay on the Linn compared to the Rega?

Or would a Technics SL1210 (the semi pro one) be a better bet at roughly the same price as the Rega?

Which would hold its value better in the future, the Linn in repaired/upgraded form or the new Rega 3 or technics SL1210?

I want a really professional sound from vinyl, so want the very best sound for the money available and pitch stability (good speed stability/timing) is important as I play the drums

Kind regards,

Michael Moore



For a tweaked Rega arm try an Audio Origami RB250.


Okay - if pitch stability is your absolute priority, then get an SL1200 – fitted with a tweaked Rega arm (I like the Audio Origami RB250), Timestep bearing and power supply. You could fit any good arm, but the secret is to fit a good arm and not use the stock one! A modded Technics will beat either of the other decks in terms of pitch stability, although the Linn is actually very good in this respect for a belt drive, it must be said. Not sure about which would hold its value; I'd buy it as an investment in music. If it's money you want to make, buy a one ounce gold Kruggerand! DP



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