January 2011 issue

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January 2011 issue
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World Mail    January 2011 issue        


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Your experts are -

DP David Price, editor; NK Noel Keywood, publisher; PR Paul Rigby, reviewer; TB Tony Bolton, reviewer; RT Rafael Todes, reviewer (Allegri String Quartet); AS Adam Smith, reviewer; DC Dave Cawley, Sound Hi-Fi, World Design, etc.





Get a Luxman amplifier with tone controls to cure hi-fi addiction, says Greg. Here's a modern Luxman amplifier.


I read with interest the editor’s piece on the first page of the November issue and the “what’s best for you..” message struck a chord with me.

I know this is going to be a strange one but I am not writing for advice.  In fact I am writing to let you know that Audiophilia Nervosa is curable, should you want to be cured. I have gone through the mill of pre-power amps, power supplies for everything, valve monoblocks, standalone phono stages, in-vogue set ups (Voyd, Audio Innovations, Snell), out of fashion set ups, mismatched, etc, etc. Once I had a valve amplifier rig that consisted of seven boxes, the lights almost dimming as it all powered up. It was so complicated if my other half wanted the radio on she resorted to a small portable!

My other half has been in turns despairing, co-operative, a great pair of ears, and uninterested (read bored by it all!). Even having uncomplimentary nicknames for some of the units I had. I have tried the latest flavours (Sugden A21SE) old masters (Audionote Es) and all points in between.

How was I cured? Well, I got fed up with all the boxes first. I got fed up with the power up and power down routines of power supplies with everything and bought a Luxman integrated amp with tone controls (yes I know..!! but once over the shock they are actually quite useful, a bit like having the ability to change cables at will) with it’s dirty great big 1970’s power meters, gold brushed aluminium, and an internal phono stage.

I bought decent and complementary wiring that doesn’t intrude in any obvious fashion, LFD interconnects and speaker cables. I used these throughout, including the internal 'speaker wiring.

I got my trusty old Impulse H6’s crossovers redesigned by a local speaker designer using his equipment and knowledge. I run a simple suspension-less turntable (Kuzma Stabi/Stogi) and run a venerable Marantz CD94 Mark 2 with a spare Mark 1 in the loft for breakdowns.

My dealer recommended I try a Benz Micro Glider as a good match for the Kuzma when it was new. A good match? It sounds ideally matched to me!

Now this hasn’t happened overnight, but by some careful planning and some lucky accidents/discoveries/good dealer recommendations. I honestly think I am cured.

I occasionally wonder if I would like to replace an item but every piece of the jigsaw complements each other. I really wouldn’t want to start again.

It is therefore possible to have the best for your own ears, with patience, an open mind/ear – and not all for a king’s ransom.

However, I still buy the mag because it is a hobby after all. I buy the motorcycle mags but have had the same bike for 12 years. Once something is right and needs no further work you will know. A bit like painting a picture, the trick is knowing when it is finished and not to keep tinkering or you will spoil it.


Greg Gilding


Hi Greg - I do actually think that hi-fi requires a lot more thought than some give it. Let's face it – it's a tool to listen to music, and if you're up for spending serious sums, then you obviously want to get close to your music. But – and here's the thing – 'getting closer' isn't simply about getting the best sound. Actually, you want an accessible, useable package that you can just enjoy without endless fiddling. That's why CD took over from LP, because for most it was the best compromise between sonics and ease of use.


I'm reminded of my earlier 'motorcycle years', where I pursued a bike upgrade path following all the latest and greatest bikes, getting ever bigger, heavier and faster ones. In the end, I think I realised that just about the most fun I ever had on two wheels was from an old 1980 Suzuki TS185ER trials bike. It was a wild, rough as hell two-stroke 'rat bike' (as we used to call them) which I took here, there and everywhere; routinely fell off it in the snow and unceremoniously dumped my little brother off the back of it once, whilst pulling a ridiculous wheelie!


My point is simple; fun comes from something that's both good at what it does and really accessible too. Living with an Arcam Solo Mini last year reminded me of this. Not the best hi-fi in the world but just great for when you wanted some decent sounds when the only alternative would have been the telly or transistor radio. DP



You kindly printed my letter in the January 2010 concerning a suitable cartridge for my system which now comprises a Townshend Rock Reference turntable with Excalibur 2 tonearm (Van den Hul silver wired), Reson Mica cartridge, Gryphon Callisto 2100 amplifier (replacing the Sugden A21a) and Castle Conway speakers.

My Trichord Diablo phono stage has been sold and I intend to take your advice and purchase an Icon Audio PS1.2 phono stage. The Reson Mica and the silver wired tonearm are the problem and Noel suggested a Shure M97XE (possibly too warm and I wanted to try a moving coil) and David an Ortofon Cadenza Bronze (too expensive) or an AT OC9 MLII.

I was thinking along the lines of the AT OC9 MLII, but in the September 2010 issue, in response to another letter, it was suggested that the AT OC9 MLIII (the replacement for the II) is fairly bright and not a good match for silver wired tone arms.

I’m confused! I just want a moving coil that is detailed, dynamic but not overly bright or fatiguing. Any other suggestions for a moving coil up to £500? Would it be worthwhile getting the Excalibur 2 rewired by Audio Origami with say Cardas OFC copper litz?

Trevor Scull


Yes, I have another suggestion that I am sure is right for you: get an Ortofon Rondo Bronze moving coil cartridge as reviewed in our May 2010 issue. It is smooth and peak free, performs well all round and is suitably priced too. Sorry about the confusion. I hope this resolves the issue for you. NK


I would say that, if you're going to use a smooth sounding Icon Audio PS1.2 tube phono stage, you're not going to run into brightness problems with an OC9. It's not the brightest of Audio Technica's range by far, and has fine tracking. My feeling is that the Rondo Bronze would be softer and smoother still, but you may enjoy the Audio Technica's punch and pace if you're a rock or pop fan. DP



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