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dimanche 14 juillet 2019

EMT HSD 006




During the last months I have considered modifying my way of aprecciating hifi gears.
In so many years of listening and owning and selling and distribuiting hifi equipment, something has broken. I have learnt to making less mistakes, even though it means at the end less fun in exchange of more satisfaction.
Strange eh?  If I do not allow me to make mistakes I could not try later to solve these same mistakes, to improve things, in this case sound reproduction. And a lot of the game in hifi is concentrated on it.
How not to make mistakes? I have thought about it and the easiest and most efficace answer I have is: to know what you are able to really love. Easy with many years of experience but difficult at the beginning.
It is nevertheless fascinating how a certain basic sound taste stays inside us almost unaltered. We cover it, we kill it, we modify it only to realise after a while that it is always there.
I remember, many years ago, maybe in the very early '90 I was listening and comparing cables with my, at that time Arcam CD drive and separate DAC. For digital cable, at the end of many comparisons, I was enjoying much more an expensive MIT then anything else. Its dynamic freedom, this kind of free breathing was talking to my sensibility. But of course its timbre were not as beautiful as another cable I had on hand and a little monochromes. So you think I would like also high efficient speakers? No, I have never liked them since generally they are more coloured then other designs and when my ears detect a coloration they will magnify it little by little after every exposure so that within few days I could not stand it.
So I should like electric cross overs? Yes I love them. You get much more free breathing with them, but many amps, many cables, cost and complication rise the bar too much for my economic situation and space allowance.
What I have done in all these years is starting liking many audio things, but loving very, very few of them.  It was like a curse. The more things I was liking the less things I was loving. I started liking the way some equipment were able to reproduce timbres, the way they could paint an acoustic landscape, and so on. But at the end, within their good qualities and within the admiration I had for some of their capabilities, for me they were more or less useless, at least on an  deep listening level relation.
The most important basic feature that an hifi gear has to have for me is to be able to talk to my heart, not just to be interesting in a way or in another.
How many times, it happens that something is better in almost all reproduction parameters in comparison to something else but miserably fail to move us ? So why we end up with things like that ? It is because when we have to spend our hard gained money we try to be reasonable, but when we try to be raisonable in an heart affair (and music is an heart affair) we make mistakes. So when we choose our new amplifier in comparison with our old one, and we ear better bass, better high, better immaging, then we are selling ourselves that product, we are allowing us to spend that money since we have,what we think , a valid reason to do so. At the end this very valid reason become the worst reason, since, after a short or a long while, we relise we were enjoying our music more with our previous amplifier. Everybody has done this same mistake in his hifi journey, and me of course included.
Since I am not paid, nor I receive any gift from anybody in the audio bussiness, I have made the decision to change, from now on, my way of writing about hifi gears. I will try not to write about what you could like, like a professional audio writer does, and trying to describe a sound in a way that, from his writing, you may think you would be able to like it or not. My positive conclusion will only be based on if something is capable of talking to my heart or not. Yes, I will become much more subjective. I think it will be easier also for you that are reading me. At the end you will be able to discover if you have more or less the same taste that I have.
And this will happen starting from right now. Right from this cartridge.
It is listening to this cartridge that at the end brought me to consider this choice. 
Now to this cartridge.
This is An EMT cartridge. EMT is an old firm and bla bla bla, you remember I am not paid to describe everything and to try to show I have earnt my salary, so if you are interested in knowing more about EMT you can do your researches. It is the less expensive in their range, and according to Mr. M.Huber at EMT, "Our experience is that – if treated carefully – the diamond will last for 2’000 hours. High tonearm friction values will reduce the lifetime".
It is a fairly high output MC so no need for step up transformers (even though I love what step up trasformer do, I just said no need of it) if you have a decent MC phono preamp. I have tried with few phono preamps with no problem, from a Trichord Dino to a very expensive Lamm. I found the optimal loading to be spot on with EMT recomandation between 200 to 300 ohms.
The building quality is quite good ; I am just a little disappointed in the quality of the red painting of its body that has a clear imperfection on one side of the cartridge, like a finger print... This could be easily avoided I think without the production being more expensive at the end.
What you have with this cartridge after the very needed 50 hours break in ?
 The first thing you notice is a certain sense of completeness.
You are not called upon a certain aspect of the music reproduction, like delicacy, timbre, or bass, or drive, or whatever, but you are called upon earing the music. This is extremely rare. It has enough drive, enough image specificity, enough bass, enough high, enough nuances, enough trasparence, enough of any parameters in a way that any parameter is neither left behind nor pushed foreward so that you have this sense of completeness I have talked about.
If this will be your only cartridge and you won’t compare it with anything else, this will be enough. But to appreciate and to quantify the long list of enoughs that this cartridge is capable of, we have to compare to other cartridges in the same price range and beyond.
Comparing it with some same category price champions cartridges I don’t think will be a question of taste : the EMT HSD006 is just better, if you listen to music. If your goal is to listen to hifi you could prefer something else.
It is better not just because of its completeness but also because it exposes shortcomings in other similar prized cartridges and also some much more expensive ones. Maybe one has better midrange glow or delicacy but just a little bit, and at the end this little bit is heavily paid by much  less drive. Maybe another cartridge is a little more silky, but it pays off this little more silkness with a lot less transparency. And so on. Of course if you are one that has one specific sonic attribute where all your emotions are concentrated you could prefer something else only in direct comparison since the EMT will give enough of it in its own. None on my hands, except a much more expensive Koetzu had better colours, and its drive was almost on a pair with Deccas, none had the life in it like the 006 has, except the now out of production Myabi Standard. You soon realize that it can compete in certain  parameter with almost any cartridge and if looses on them it will looses slightly but when it gains in athor parameters it gains easily.

Hoe it can be betterred? Many things like a more silk top end, a slightly better image hight, a slightly more differenciated bass, and a slightly richer mid high reproduction, and transparency, but… if to get one of these things better, it means altering the pleasure this cartridge is capable of giving, please don’t touch it ! Leave it the way it is !Please do it for us.
This will be my daily pleasure cartridge, capable to reproduce effectively and with the right attitude all my very different music collection, from Baroque to Reggae and Jazz and some Pop too.
For the specials occasions I have many others cartridges that I can love for that « certain » moment, when I crave transparency, or a beautiful midrange golden glow.
How it will sound a much more expensive EMT JSD Pure Black or the beautiful green JSD Pure Lime, or the Platinum ? It will be dangerous to discover it out…
At the end the JSD 006 easily achieve things that too many even much  more expensive cartridges fail to achieve: to reproduce the emotion in the music it is playing. Too many times cartridges and other hifi equipment don't know how to do it. In their quest of a flatter response or a better something else  they get lost in the steril dettails, perfectly detectable by our ears and brain but absolutely tasteless for our soul. 

Considering the reproduction of music is for me absolutely undissociable to the capability to reproduce its emotional content, the EMT JSD 006 is very simply one of the best product in hifi history. And of course it will appear in my new Favourites sections.


PS: in the coming week I will be updating all my recommended components. No more great hifi products only great soul movers... the problem is that many, too many, if not allmost all new products are just great hifi products...

mardi 13 novembre 2018

VDH The Crimson Stradivarius vs The Crimson SE Ebony final conclusions.


I am writing this since somebody has written me saying that from my previous writing it seams I found the Stradivarius better then the Ebony. Well I am sorry if I suggested it from my writing, but I certainly didn't want to assert this superiority. The reality between these two great cartridges is more complicated that being able just to affirm one is better then the other.

After living few months with the Ebony (that I end up buying) I can more easily affirm the differences between this cartridge (maybe unique) and the Stradivarius.
I say that the Ebony could be unique since I don't really know if VDH sells it in his catalogue or if it is just a special order cartridge. At the begining of the life of this cartridge there was a specific necessity I had: the best possible reproduction of piano and about 1mv output. I have talk about it to a VDH friend distributor that asked about this requirement to Mr VDH. After few months we got the Ebony.

My final conclusion vs the Stradivarius are simple: on a absolute quality level they are surely on the same level. But they are different.

The Stradivarius is like a beautiful lady on her mid 30s, perfectly conscius of her beauty that want you to notice and wants to seduce you and she will manage to do it!  Perfectly dressed, with a perfect make up. The right colours, the right shoes, the right mooves and voice and gestures.

The Ebony is a beautiful girl that has not riched her mid 20s yet. She is the way she is. She has a not calculated beauty. She does not want you to be seduced by her, she is more natural, more in contact with the root of life, her smile is from her heart with no filter of her brain to make it nicer, she is dressed very nicely, actually she could wear anything since anything would be nice on her,  but her dresses do not come from Armani. She wears e very light make up. She moves less elegantly then the Stradivarius but in her mooves there is something the Stradivarius does not have a kind of simplicity and sincerity that it is very difficult to describe but obvious when you see it.

These is the difference between these two cartridges.
When you are listening with your brain ready to critic and to make an autopsy of the sound you will end up liking the Stradivarius more, but when  listen with your heart you will like the Ebony. Generally when we compare two things we listen with our brain. We are in a critic mode.

The strange thing: whenever I had the Stradivarius on I really loved it! But after a while inside my heart in a small place I was missing the Ebony. But while  listening to the Ebony I never missed the Stradivarius.

The Stradivarius will impress you and your friend more. The Ebony you will want it only for yourself.








jeudi 26 juillet 2018

Bel Canto CD3t







This is my first time ever contact with a Bel Canto product. Here were I live there are not too many around. Actually were I live there are not too many around of anything. It is a city were hi-fi interest died around 15 years ago. The reason of its dying is the same reason it died or faded  almost everywhere, but there are some parts where there are more survivors then others. One of the main reason is, I guess, being exposed to mediocrity we get acustomed to it, and then we don't feel the need of somoething else, also because we have a limited capacity, either regulated by our economic power or from our personality, of desiring the not really necesary. Then it is difficult to follow many field of interest at the same time.  20 years ago if you were following hifi it was already challenging, if you were following hifi and photo it was difficult. Today we have to add to this scenario  that even if we don't want  to we have to be interested in PC and smartphones.This wrong or right  thought  has been suggested to me by my recent camera changing. A friend of mine, that I know since I was 6 years old, gave to me his "old" camera since he bought a new one. It was a fairly recent camera, with interchanchable lenses. In my youth I was passionate about cameras, but I left this passion many years ago. My friend kept the camera passion but lost his hifi passion. He has a decent stereo system, considered very good from people that  don't share this passion, but considering his buying power it only shows that hifi is not one of his priority any more.
So he gave me this "new camera". I shot a picture with it of this Bel Canto. Previosly I had already  shot a picture of it with my regular compact camera. The difference was not great but profund at the same time: this time in the same details there was more reality! The black is much more black. The different textures of the wood shelf were I had put the Bel Canto is more evident as the work of polishing of its front panel. In one word it is more close to reality. I was getting much more interested in portraing a recognizable object then trying to put a deeper representation of reality  in the picture. Is it necesary? The answer is long and interesting to develop, but this is not the right place to do it, but if I have to resume it I would say yes: from the importance of this kind of details depends our dignity. It could sound odd but try to develop this topic by yourselves if you have the attitude or the interest in doing it.
At the end of course I have replaced the picture that I previously took with my compact camera with the one taken with my "new" camera.

And now about the sound of the Bel Canto CD3t:

the first thing I did was to immediately listen to this brand new unit to see the difference after a burn if any. Out from the box the sound is agile, light but the one characteristic that is more evident is a special expressivness in the mid high, high range. There is more life then usual in these region. And even though the bottom end is good it seems not to have the same nature. So at the end you feel it is missing a certain coherence or that the mid high and the tonal balance is slightly tilted toward the mid high.
I put a Cd on for 5 days and after I listend to it again: much better. Now the tonality is linear and the bottom end gained in strength and the mid high and high kept their special expression. Of course now this special quality is less evident since everything else is part of the whole message but still there.
So the first foundamental quality of this transport is the expression of its mid high, high range. This range is more complex then many other CD transport costing much more. In this it reminded me of the signature of an old DAC from Audio Alchemy. In comparison with many other DAC of that era it had a special complexity in the mid high, high range.
Another evident quality in this transport is its agility and ritmic capability. Yes, try to change with another transport and you will know what I mean. Maybe another transport has more gravitas, another one more depth, another one more of something else, but most don't have the same rithmic capability, the same agility. They are heavier in their movements. Only one transport was close in this field and is a very old one: the Meridian 200.

Another goodness of this unit, and I think it is the best since the lest common one, is that it is capable of beeing tidy and timing very well, that is already a very rare quality, and being tidy without sounding mechanical. I don't really know if this is the result of a shortcoming. I say it since the way it focuses. The subjects on the first field and just after behind are very well focused but the more we go deep in the soundstage the less focused are. It is true that with unit capable of excedingly good focus, also in the very depth of the sonic scene, generally we have a feeling of the music being reproduced in a mechanical way.

We are talking of a transport that is very affordable so what is missing in comparison with more expensive ones? One thing that is missing is a thing that you will notice only in a direct comparison: its dynamic does not breath in the same way of a Lector Digidrive TL3. For example in a orchestra crescendo with the right equipment the Lector can scare you, its dynamic expression behaves more like the reality does like a window that becomes bigger and bigger, a wave that grows before investing you. With the Bel Canto you won't have that. There is a large space were the dynamic  can develop but its energy does not grow. If I would speak in engine term I would say the Lector has more torque. In comparison with another very expensive transport we realize what I have said before that the instruments in the depth are not well focused.

But there is for me a bad point in this transport , and I don't really understand why they could not fix it, maybe the conceptor does not think it is a bad point. The CD3t in its operation is space. It is space means it is strange. For example if you play track number 4 with any other CD player or transport you just press play and it will play from the beginning the same track again. The Bel Canto won't do it. You have to compose the number of the track that you are playing again to listen to it again from the begining.  Another strange thing: when you power it up the drive is going to operate in the emptiness for about one  minute but not in search of a disc, just for the hell of it! Then it stops and you are ready to introduce in it your  chosen CD. I have to say that after this strange waking up ritual it recognizes the disc immediately, the tracks access and the stop and the play and every other operation is fast, like in a Marantz CD player that are a dream in their operation, and not like some old Cyrus, and maybe the new ones too, I don't know since it has been a while since I didn't listen to a Cyrus CD, that had to take its time to do everything.

Another thing to notice. The CD3t does accepts only BNC and AES, I think they opted to this choice to be more sure the buyer would  use at least a decent digital cable. Because it is true that you have some extremely good digital SPDIF cables that I prefer to their AES version, but there are also some very bad ones. I don't know very bad AES or BNC digital cables.

So my conclusion is clear:  great product, a very great accomplishement  for the price. If you don't have a lot of money to invest for a CD transport but you still want to have a very good one,  now you don't need to search for it in  the second hand market any more.

mardi 24 juillet 2018

RECOMMENDED & FAVOURITES




THIS SECTION AT THIS MOMENT HAS BEEN PROFUNDLY MODIFICATED and is going to be called REC

 very few products will appear in the future with an explanation for their presence.






vendredi 11 mai 2018

The winners are the classic: Wireworld, Cardas and Purist Audio


I am old enough to have experienced the very beginning of the cable war.

The first MIT boxes, VDH the First all carbon cable, the birth of Straight Wire with its Maestro that was, at least in my origin country a best seller, and not long after the Purist Audio with the incredible idea of putting some liquid around the cable to avoid perturbation of any kinds. And yes the first cables made of liquid conductors that never took off. In all these years I have bought, listened to , sold and worked with a very large number of cables of any kind and price, from very modest to some costing like a new car. Now that I am in my early fifties I feel the need to sum things up, getting to some conclusion, with an honest critic sense. I am not going to play again with considering the question if cables make a difference since if you are in this hobby and you trust more your ears then what you prefer to believe in it is absolutely clear that cables do make a difference.
Waht should be our attitude towards cables?  Most of the time we get lost in our upgrading path. And most of the time cable makers get lost too in their offering and in their attitude. Many cables manufacturers do like some restaurants,  trying to get satisfied as many clients as possible they propose the longest menu. You can surely find there what you prefer and in many declination. What you get from this doing is that who is proposing it does not relally have a leading sound or a leading belief how something should sound and so they prefer driving on the highway where the direction is clients budgets and personal taste. The first thing is a correct attitude but the second is a risky one. Even though a listener have the right to have their own taste and even if they would not have the right they have it anyway, and to go after their liking to get pleasure out of it, we must admit that if this was the leading criteria for the building of a musical instrument we would have never had a Stenway or a Gibson or a Stradivari. Can you imagine if Stradivari was not listening with its ears but keeping in mind only what could be a little better or getting to some bulding construction only having faith on a client taste. It would have not made any legend. An individual can have a taste capable of perceiving the most subtle nuance while another one just perceive the global thing. Everyone listen in its own particular way. Listening is a question of frequencies since if we are not able to perceive any frequencies we would be deft, but music is not only the perception of frequencies but expecially in the feeling aroused by a certain sequence of frequencies, the way they are linked or proposed, the resonace of different woods or percussion even if they would do the same frequency they comunicate to our feeling center a different response. Frequencies are mesurables. The different response of our feeling center is not. Our feeling center can react and does react to things that are also not scientifically mesurable. Building a cable is like building any musical instrument. It is a blend of artistery and science. It is also accepting that a certain material or configuration even though it gives the same mesurements sounds different to us and to some other people. There are out there few blessed people that don't ear any differences in cables or in amplifiers, for them a Stradivari or a Guarnieri are identical to a 200 dollars violin and a Chateau la Tour has more or less the same taste of a Montepulciano d'Abruzzo. But crazily enough they are very able to appreciate the difference between a Coca and a Pepsi...
It is not bad belonging to this last category but if we belong to this last category we should be aware of it. Can you imagine if you should trust an individual used to eat the same two things to become a gastronomical critic. No, you could not rely on his liking since his liking is not capable of expressing a wide palette of appreciations. Good for him for sure, but not good as a guide for absolute quality. In this hobby there are people that are there to get pleasure from the music, and others that get pleasure from trying to get the most music out of their sistems.
You belong in one of these two categories for sure.
With a cable, as with any other hifi equipment, you can satisfy these two categories, but few are the companies that are able to do it in a linear way.
You have some companies like VDH that even though proposes some cables that I really like, it is uncapable or unwilling of proposing a coherent approach. So you have some cables that sound in a way, and some that sound in an opposite way. There are other company that offer a very consistent sound and have a clear objective in the music reproduction like MIT cables (for which I admit I have a weakness for ) or Audioquest. They propose some absolutely wonderful cables, but they have a catalogue proposition that is "strange" at least for me and for other buyers. I am sure for them it makes perfect sense, but when you propose cables that are so close in price or some that are less expensive but have more expensive material but less efficient geometry, things that leds you to different series, it becomes too much, expecially when you see the  top offer of an inferior serie costing more then the entry one of the higher serie...which one should give you, at least on the paper the highest performance? And MIT is too unclear in what they are proposing you about material and so on. Only articulation points... I would like to know what the cables are made of the higher you fo up in the range to justify my money on it.

Then there are some companies that make wonderful cables but...if you want to sell them in the second hand market for upgrading or just because you are like me and you like to change after a while even if what you have is already very good, you can just consider either that you have lost almost all your money, or that is going to be long and difficult or you have to rely in your personal luck.
It is only for this reason I didn't consider them in my final choice. Nothing to deal with their performance.
For example: Vovox makes some very good cables. But try to have a Vovox and a Cardas of the same price range and sell it second hand. You are going to sell the Cardas in probably a week or so, if you sell the Vovox in a week you are going to be very lucky. It is not because the Vovox is worse but because Cardas in all these years has built a certain reputation among the hifi people. And who is going to buy it is also considering that if for a reason or another he is not going to like it he can sell it again easily. With the Vovox it is different. Who is going to buy it, it is just either for a direct exposure, he had listen to it to a dealer or to a friend's house or a friend has lend it to him, and he is sure he wants it.

At the end, after considering all these things I ended up with only three makers: Cardas, Wireworld, and Purist Audio.

They present a simple and clear catalogue. They propose one leading concept that is fine tuned by a more sophisticated geometry and or more metal or better quality conductor the more you get in the higher part of their catalogue. And they are like Audi or Mercedes cars so they are easy to sell in the second hand market. In this aspect the Cardas is the   clear winner. Any cable from the present or past Cardas line is surely the easiest cable to sell with a decent price in the second hand market. This cannot be said for other cable makers even for some models that are or were exceptionally good. In this regards Cardas has an advantage over Wireworld and Purist Audio.

Going back to the catalogue of these three cable makers: their catalogue is clear. The path toward the highest performance offering has no mistery or woodoo involved. And expecially if you already have one of their cable and move up in the line you will find a sonic consistency that is very seldom achieved by other manufacturers. Yes you can hear they belong to the same family. This is a distinctive advantage since with other cable makers when you go up in their line the sound can get completely different. They change geometry, they change dialectric, they change so many things that at the end the more expensive cable it is like coming out  from another universe, maybe better, but also sometimes a better that we don't like. This is very important since too often we cannot try a cable long enough for an honest appreciation or we cannot try it at all. And another thing is that our ears get used to a certain sound so it is easier to feel an improvement if we moove in the same direction. 

Then about quick conclusion and weird things: comparing one thing to another is a common thing to do but also a thing that brings to a common mistake.
The classic A vs B comparison is usefull only to detect how and in which ways two things sound different from each other and what we prefer...in that moment right after the difference has been exposed.
I don't say that it is always useless I just say many times it is not the right way to choose. You will detect better parts of the musical spectrum but not musicality. And at the end this method is going to lead you to the wrong choice.

There are beautifull qualities that wares us out and small defects to which we get along well after a while or after a very short while.
Small defects made legends: Quad ELS, LS3/5a, Linn LP12, Thorens TD124 and others. No one of these design was perfect or it is perfect, and for this same reason they are extremely easy to criticize but...
Let's go to another point: it is better a boring perfection or an addicting but imperfect musical reproduction? 
The difficult point is that to make legend you need musical geniuses not just engineers. They must have understood one or two things.
And here we get to an important point: has a cable neeed to be built as a musical instrument or as a neutral bridge? It depends. But it depends from what? From the system it is going to be connected to. Most systems needs adjusters and make ups, few systems needs as less as possible influence from other components if not their balance will collapse. Now another point: do you have a system which components are well matched togheter? You think so, I think it is not probable. When I was working for many years in hifi shops it was not that easy to assemble a satisfying system (at least for me). And this difficulty was present even though I could choose among many components. Very rarerly sometimes things summed up well togheter, most of the time unespectedly and without following my logical prediction. When this "balanced" system passed the two months listening fatigue test one thing was clear. It was constantly showing the better cable following the moving up scale of serious manufactures companies. With other set up this was not the case. Sometimes a lower rank cable was better. Why? because a lower ranking cable is most of the time a more masking cable. 

How we can sum up the result you have with the three makers I have choosen? 

Wireworld line is the search for nothingness. The higher the line you go the less sound of the cable you have.

Cardas line is the right use of butter. And like butter is good with most things. And like butter make things nice. The higher you go to the line the less butter you get though. 

Purist Audio is the pacifier and it stays with elegance right between the two.

So what can go wrong using one of these three? 

Let's start with Wireworld: your system has some prominence of the mid high range somewhere, amplifier, loudspeaker, room speakers interaction,  wherever, you change your cable for Wireworld it will expose this except if you buy the entry level cables, and the higher you go up in the range the worst is going to be. You are going to get to the point of reveiling the  balance of your system and you are going end up saying stupidity like: Wireworld are bright. If you have a very nicely balanced system the higher you go in Wireworld range the nicer the mid high is, not bright but more richer and complex. 

What would happen with Cardas? You already have too much coloration in your system or your system lacks life and rithmic capability. You put a Cardas and your system is going to be dead. You are going to get a nicely layered sound but coloured and sometimes tick. The higher you go up in its range the better thing will be but you are not going to feel you get what you need. So at the end you will end up saying Cardas cable are too coloured or slow.

And with Purist Audio? I would say if you are not sure what kind of balance your system has in the right or in the wrong side, and if you don't know what you prefer it is the one that is the least risky to use.

At the end of this you realize something: the best thing is at the begining to have a well balanced system. But how to get it? How to do it? Start from the cables!  Get one of these three companies cable set of the level adapted to the system you would like to have (a complete set including power chords, it is very important) and then built a system around them. Everything is going to be very easy. It is an extremely strange proposition from my part, but I assure you it works! Then you can upgrade in a predictable way going up in their offering range and you can easily sell second hand the cables you had before!

What sense does it makes when you try to match components to balance the outcome of the cable they are connected with? And then at a certain future upgrading changing the cables in a way to suit the components that you have choosen to balance the other cables they were connect at the beginning with? What sense does it make to have a cable that connect your equipment that every professional reviewer judged bright or arsh in the mid high? What kind of amplifier or preamp or speaker would you choose with it? Certainly some that are overly educated in that frequency region. And then in the future you will end up having either a component or more then one component that is this way. When you are going to upgrade your system with cables or whatever, you are already limiting yourself with something that sound like the first you had but slightly more controlled. And it is going to be more difficult to find. Not impossible but more difficult for sure.
When you start with  a set of cables from the company I have mentioned (remember including power cords),  the components you are going to select to work togheter surely are going to have a certain coherence since they are going to be connected with something that have some coherence.
With  this starting approach I think Wireworld has a margin vs Cardas and Purist Audio. If you set up a system using Wireworld cables you can upgrade or change taste with Cardas or Purist being able to really grasp the difference in sound without going too much toward a certain character. And in a all Wireworld set up if you would like to add a little silkness just insert a Purist Audio somewhere in the chain.
If you start with Cardas (not the Clear line, but a lower product) when you change for example to Wireworld you will have a little more of the caracter of the pure Wireworld sound, and a slightly less of the pure Purist Audio sound.
Wireworld gives you more possibilities of inserting another flowor without making the achieved balance of your system collapse.
in second place for this we have Purist Audio in third place Cardas.
What about universality of sound of thiese classic makers? What about if you just insert one cable in your system that has different makers?
Considering that most of the systems out there (I really guess more then 90%) suffer of a certain balance problem, when you insert a Cardas you will end up saying is too closed even though it has a very nice layering and it is not fast, if you put a Wireworld you will say it is slightly brigh in the nid high and tight, if you put a Purist Audio you will probable say it is nice but not exciting. All of this is not true.
In a well balanced system an all Cardas set up will sound calm and majestic, a Wireworld  one will sound reactive and focused, a Purist Audio refined and smooth, but all in a natural manner. They never will give you too much in their own natural direction. With this I mean that with Purist Audio you will never have a too much refined and smooth sound to become boring, and with Cardas not so calm to became too slow and with Wireworld not so focused to be tiring.

Most important thing: before trying to get a highly satisfying system or even just a satisfying one the single most important thing you have to do is to find the right placement of your speakers. Speakers interaction with your listening room can produce strong colorations that surely will bring you to wrong conclusions when you try cables out. If your speakers are not in the best position or at least close to the best position you can forget about everything else.
Speaker placement in most of hifi owner is very far from optimal. It is the very first cause of the coloraition of their system and why they end up with wrong opinion since they get wrong experiences about cable and equipment. The bigger the speakers the worse.
Hifi made around speakers that are not difficult to position generally give the best results. Whenever I go to someone's house when I see Audio Note speakers the sound is good since they like to be positioned close to the rear wall. Another sure good result is when I see an all Naim (old olive) system and speakers, for the same reason of the Audio Note. The worse systems I have heard are from difficult to place speakers such Avalon, big classic Spendor like the SP100 or the SP1/2, and generaly electrosatatics. And the same speakers I heard in bad sounding system where speakers I generally like, owned and knew they could sound very well.
Once I have heard a system with big Focal Utopia in a romm no bigger then 24m2, and McIntosh big monos. It was very expensive and terrible sounding. No immage, bloated bass, and so on.
I have personally experienced in some difficult rooms with difficult speakers the difference from sound to good sound could change within 1 cm!

jeudi 5 avril 2018

Moerch DP8: 9" or 12"?











It is true that the longer tonearms are living a second life now. More and more listeners are intrigued by this longer arms.
I don't have any experience at all except one with 12 inch arms. But with the Moerch DP8 trying the different flavour is just a question of changing the arm tube and counter weights...and of course having a turntable that allows you to mount tonearms of this dimension. I had a very busy month in doing this since I really wanted to get to something real and not a maybe. The difficulty of setting 12 inch arms is that we have much less margin of allineament error. If we are not spot on, we could easily loose its advantage. To be as precise as possible I used a digital microscope so that for the difference in sound the set up could not be held as responsable. I used also the same tube mass but it is true that adding more counterweights alter the mass of the tonearm, so at the end I just set up each respective length in the way it was performing the best. For the listening I have used these turntables: Garrard 301, Thorens TD 124, Platine Verdier, Brinkmann Balance, Nottingham Analogue Dais. The difference between the 9 and the 12 were revealed in each set up with any system I have tried them. Since these turntable don't belongs to me (except the Garrard 301) I listened in different systems belonging to my friends or customers. I had to do this since the other turntable I own (Linn LP12 and Oracle Delphi ) don't allow the mounting of a 12" tonearm.

The work has been long, but the outcome not too difficult, much easier to detect and to appreciate the differences then I would have expected.
It is not going to be a long writing since I can summarize it easily.
There is not a better length when the two are correctly set up. The 9" is apparently more dettailed in the mid -high, high frequencies. I say apparently since I have not really understood what happens. At the beggining I though it was more dettailed, then I thought the 9 version added false dettails! I realized it highligths details in this frequence range. But I am aware also of some details that with the 12 I am not. At the very, very end I have a feeling that the 9 length more dettail (compared to master ADAT or tape I had of the same LP played) is the result of a slight inaccurate note decay. Go figure that out...
This medium high frequence range is not just brighter, it is faster. it is like the younger version of the 12inch. It has less timbre saturation and I believe for this reason the leading edges stand out better and with this we have the perception of  a better ritmic propulsion. It is not more ritmic of the 12 version it is just that this aspect of the music is more evident. The 12 inch is more "organic" every parts of the musical message are blended togheter with a lesser sense of having a different origin. The 12 inch is calmer, more contemplative, bigger sounding, the silences are more profund and the bass surely goes more down and is more natural in its development. But it is less... awake. It has less tension, but tension used as a positive term. If the 9inch is a 100m sprinter the 12inch is a 400m runner. It is more condifident but less passioned about its playing. The 12 emotions are more controlled then the 9 inch version. 
The bad thing is that it is not a question of liking one better then another. In some turntables like the Garrard the 12 inch is better. It copes better with the design weakness and qualities. In the Brinkmann Balance... I liked the 9" better. The 12" made everything sound more distant, with less soul. Too much of same good things. With the Nottingham Analogue Dais and the Platine Verdier... It is more complicated.  You are sure the 12 is going to sound better; you are sure it sounds better after switching it for the 9" but when you put back the 9" you find it better... I guess in this case, with this kind of design the length is not the dominant factor.   The Thorens 124? Very strangely and unespectedly it was better with the 9". I thought that with all the noise cause by the direct drive the longer tonearm mounted more distant from the turntable chassis, (a special armboard has to be made for it) would have sounded better like it did with the Garrad 301. Not in this case.
My conclusion after all this work is simple: this revival of the 12 inch is justified only because there are turntables designs that works better with the 12 inch version and not because the 12 inch length is better then the 9" one. So don't overview a turntable just because it cannot accept the 12 inch tonearm and for the same reason don't buy one because it can accept a 12" tonearm.
The bad thing is that even with a turntable that can accept both lengths you could prefer one over the other. At the end it is very annoying. No final result. None is better then the other. Like with everything else you should have both length to decide. In my listening session even 12 inch tonearm only forever supporters had to surrend to the evidence that with certain turntables the 9 inch length was a better match.

lundi 2 octobre 2017

Moerch DP8 tonearm

I have to say that is always nice to find something different in hifi. Either for its look or for its conception. This tonearm is different in both areas. It looks...intersting but it is not up to my personal taste, the narrow diameter of the arm tube give to its look the impression of fragility. And in its 12 version, is the same of the 9 inches one except for the length of the armtube that is interchangeble and it is even worse as far as the look issue. It has a kind of mosquito look.
But its conception is very interesting. I am too lazy to talk about it in my blog and since 

I am not paid by anyone I can afford not to
write about things that you can find somewhere else in the internet and that are objective like techincals things are, and I prefer focusing more on the sound of things that is subjective so that I can share my personal experience.
First thing: to assemble this tonearm you need about 2 hours. I like assembling things so it is not a problem for me, actually I prefer doing it by myself because I am sure at the end the assembly has been made as best as possible and not because he had to be done by somebody that has just descovered his wife left him to go with his best friend... And this is going to have a repercussion in his job and in his attention whatever effort is going to put to avoid it. After the assembly has been completed one thing very different from every other tonearm you ever had is that its orizontal moovement is very dumped. Actually you can even dump the vertical one adding some silicone in the right place but the conceptor affirm that rarely hear a sonic advantage in doing it, so why he did it? It is a cool option anyway, but since the silicone you have in its box is very sticky if you add it then it is going to be kind of hard to take it away in the trying which option is better to your personal taste. Since I like the idea of vertical dumping and since it is rare to find it even though it is said it doesn't give you that much advantage I opted to use this option thinking if it does not gives you a clear advantage it is not going to give you a bad thing either.
So at the end the tonearm is ready to be mount in few turntables that I know sonically well: Linn LP12, Thorens TD124, and the Oracle Delphy of a friend of mine. After building  or modifying armboards and adaptors to fit it first disc on, Tom Waits nighthawks at the diner, and...
It was good, very good, but not special magic came out. Not a special golden light from behing the voice or a saint golden alo around the interpreters. It was very good but no seductive.
I know what does it mean and how it feels to be seduced (only in the hifi term and by hifi equipment). It is a nice thing. You find yourself in a different mood. The music is proposed to you in a different manner or in an expected one. It has a special spice on it.
I really like this feeling, but at the same time after a while it is something you can predict. Even if it is very pleasent, its predictability can become boring. Yes, after a while you have to be in the right mood to be seduced with the same tricks you already know.
So the Moerch is not a Naim Aro or a WT with their beguilling fluid and open and expressive midbands. With that kind of easiness. But in these last two tonearms, that I love and know well, this easiness is vanilla. It is something that only some kind of "monsters" cannot like, but when you have vanilla all the time, sooner or later you are going to crave for something more shacking.
The Moerch is just salt and olive oil. It makes the flavours coming out but it does not spice them or make them interesting with its touch. If you have a nice singer voice, it will give this voice no harm but also no a beauty maquillage. And this is its weak point. If you are used to some kind of beauty in the medium range, the Moerch does not have it. Or better: it does not add it or create it where it is not. It is just as it should be. A nice contract, a neutrality statement. In the medium range the Moerch is definetely Switzerland even though it comes from Danemark. In this region it has a stable devise.
The more you go up in the frequencies reproduction the more you realize that this stability is a fondametal bonus that somehow let the higher frequencies to develop in their freedom. The Moerch made me think, and if this thinking is true it made me realize, that what we hear not right in the upper mid and in the high frequencies is a development of "nice" medium distortions that are not felt like that in the medium range but that developed futher up they produce a certain hardness of the sound. The Naim Aro avoid it not allowing a complete development in the higher frequencies, muting them somehow. And the WT does it too, since it lacks bite over there. The Moerch instead it goes up from its way to the higher frequencies very clean and without any strange anomalies you could hear in some very good tonearm like the Triplanar or some too much control and not enough freedom as in a SME V.
Where the Moerch is king is the bass. There is not much to say here. It is the king. The bass goes lowe, is more expressive and better articulated and has better timbre then any I have heard. I cannot say of everything that exists since mabe some $20.000 arms could propose the same quality.
The Moerch does also a good job in sounding very little mechanical.  It does not sound easy flowing as a unipivot but neither mechanical as a articulated arm.
At the end the Moerch is a difficult tonearm to love and at the same time a difficult tonearm not to need. It allows you to use the cartridges you want (you should go to the Moerch website for its peculiarities), it does not seduce you but it doesn't boder you.  It is the kind of wife we all would like to have after the fire of the starting passion. It allow you to go to do your fishing or your sport or your hifi listening without cecking out on you or without letting you pay later for it or without making it difficult.
At the end what I had great difficulty to find as a quality for this arm I  found it in a word: accomodating.
Even this term is not seducing! But living with soemthing that is accomodating is beautiful.
At the end in a accomodating atmosphere you find that the Moerch reproduction of piano is absolutely beautifull, that its dynamic expression is great and that at that the sax that you love has the right mixture of grab and fluidity and body you always wanted.
Yes it leaves you with a feeling that it never seduced you. But neither it leaves you with the necessity to recall the special thing that seduced you or that still  seduces you to avoid to get rid of it to have something better.
It is a pacifier. And with it you can do a lot of thing. It has a non imposing caracter. So you can get the sound you like changing cartridges and tonearm cable. Every cartridge I have used with it has shown its signature in the most evident way. Even though there always will be the match you will prefer, it is not a question of either you do it the right way or it won't sound right or too light as with a Naim Aro or too laid back as with an SMEV.
At the end of the day if you only have to own one tonearm I don't think you could do better then buying this one. First of all these days and even long time ago, comparing tonearm is amd was almost impossible. What we have is some dream formed by some review we have red about that used words to describe a sound that we think we would like. Then of course there is the apperance of the mechanical object that has a certain power of attraction. But considering that we are not going to be in the position of listening to a tonearm before buying it then it is better to have a tonearm that can be tailored in a ceratain way to suit our taste and to our cartridge or cartridges and you can do this with the Moerch. And if you really want you could even swap later for a 12 inch tube if you wish to get to this trip. We can consider it as a very safe investment.