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April 2013 Issue
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Thanks for a great read and for printing my letter a while back. You gave me the courage to wield a soldering iron and convert my old JVC JAS11 to power amp duties. Didn’t get the Creek passive pre though – made my own using bits from Maplin, an Alps blue pot and an old freeview box enclosure. The improvement over the original input loom is pretty impressive, apart from a slight lightening of tone. Lots of scope to upgrade wires etc when the mood takes me. 

The only affordable phono stage available off-the-shelf in Bristol was a NAD PP2. Initially I was quite pleased, but lately LP has been sounding a bit dire, with everything at the back of the mix sounding coarse and distorted. Lead vocals and instruments remain clear and smooth, but have retreated to behind the speakers and the illusion of a real performance has been lost. 

Swapping in a more expensive (Ixos) interconnect helped a bit, but didn’t solve it. Changing inputs on the preamp made no difference and AV, CD and MiniDisc remain unaffected, so it’s deck, cartridge or phonostage. 

I get the impression you don’t rate the NAD box – is this why? Can it be that they only sound good when new? Or could the effect described be due to the 1042’s stylus suffering damage – there have been no drunken incidents (that I remember!). 

Advice needed, never had a sudden drop in performance like it. If I had £1k for an Ortofon 2M Black and a new phono stage, which would you recommend? Is my Akito a good match for the Ortofon? 

Now a bit of a moan about a curious, but grievous error in Paul Rigby’s usually excellent prose - and a serious audiophile point. The reason many of us spend more than we should on kit is so that we can tell the difference between, say a violin and viola playing in the same register, no? The same applies to rock instruments, unless processed beyond recognition. Early sixties music typically relied on the basic tonal signatures of specific instruments to make a band’s ‘sound’. If you don’t know or care which were used, an MP3 player is all you need. There were four main types of electronic organ used in the sixties – Farfisa, Hammond, Werlitzer and Vox, each of which has a quite characteristic sound. The two that are least similar are the Hammond and the Vox. Paul, do you think the Doors used a Hammond, or the Beatles, Monkees, etc, etc? Booker T played a Vox, not a fat - assed Hammond, because he was cool and still does as far as I know, God bless him.


Mark White



"Booker T played a Vox" on Green Onions, "not a fat assed Hammond",

says Mark White. 


The NAD PP2 is not especially distinguished as phono stages go but it does the job, sounding a bit dark and lacking transparency. However, its performance should not deteriorate in the way you describe. This is more likely due to the cartridge, as they do slowly lose lustre, but this is a long process. The simplest way to find out is to buy a new stylus assembly for the 1042 and see if that revives the sound of LP. 

Otherwise, a Cambridge Audio will give a brighter sound or you could move up to the Icon Audio PS2. 

As a final thought, I hope you have inspected the stylus to ensure it is clean, and checked the arm settings such as tracking force. A 1042 needs 1.7gms I recall from my days using one. I also recall its body did slowly descend over time and the sound become a bit dynamically flat. At this point I moved on to pastures new. An Ortofon 2M Black cartridge plus Icon Audio PS2 valve phono stage would be an ideal upgrade and give you amazing quality. NK





The Hammond B3 organ, popular in the 1960s with artists like Stevie 

Winwood. Beside it is a Leslie speaker cabinet.


According to an array of sources I have to hand,  Booker T. played a Hammond B3 on Green Onions. May I suggest that the tonal difference you detect is caused by Booker T. not utilising a Leslie cabinet with the Hammond? Further proof, if proof be needed, is a 2011 Internet video of Booker T. and his famous Hammond, playing ‘Green Onions’ ‘live’ where you can hear that recognisable sound for yourself ( PR



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