samedi 19 décembre 2015

Naim Aro rewiring

Ikeda wiring
I have been an Aro lover for many years. It was not a love at first sight or better at first listen but the kind of feeling you don't have with somebody when you are with him but only when you are not with him. What the Aro does well it does better then any other tonearm I have listen too, included Triplanar, SMEV, Roksan Artemiz, Alphason, Rega RB1000 and others.

But it can be improved? One of the easiest way to improve a tonearm is rewiring it.
Even expensive ones like the SMEV sounds vastly better when rewired with a Kondo. In the Aro there is no litterature about rewiring since it belongs to a brand which owners don't like to experiment  with or they have the feeling that is a sacrilege to touch its originality. I don't have that kind of feelings  with hifi material of any kind and of any brands and I like experimenting with hifi and it has been my businness for many years so I have tried to play with the Aro.

Cable used for rewiring: Cardas, VDH, Ikeda, Audio Note, Kondo, and latest a cannibalized Hovland groove. Yes I have tried rewiring it with all these cables.
I always had an Aro arm top with original Naim wiring used as reference.

First and major thing: The character of the Aro is very greatly influenced by its original wiring. Or more: the character of the Aro is given by its internal wiring.

I am not going to describe all the differences between the wirings I will only highlight interest findings.
With all the silver cables, like Kondo, VDH,  Audio Note, immediate was the impression of the timbrical improvement and freedom in higher frequencies and at the bottom. So the original wiring was obviously blocking both frequencies extremes. The sound always stayed fast and details also improved. So it was It was not better. It was better hifi but not better music. Going back to the reference (Aro with original internal wiring) there was something terribly seducing. A kind of solidity and temporal coherence that with the other cables, better in all other aspect of the music reproduction didn't have. The Aro with the original wiring has a magical midrange that is even more magical since it calls for attention dimming out other components of the music reproduction. It is like it attracts you toward its medium range. Its medium range becomes like a pivot for everything else. It is uni pivot also in its reproduction! With the original wiring you really loose informations but not essential ones. The essential informations are highlighted.
The Aro with its original internal wiring highlights essential musical informations dimming out not essential ones. 

It does the same way Linn LP12 did and does and like LS3/5a.

Now cabling with the Hovland Groove.

It was hard for me to sacrify the Hovland Music Grove phono cable. It used to sell in the range of $1000... but I had a coupple ot these (I used to distribute this maker in the past when I was in the hifi bussiness) and I was terribly curious what could came out of it. 
I opened the cables jackets to get the cables out. And since the Hovland uses to separate small cables for each contact I used the same configuration for rewiring the Aro. Except at the end, the last few cm that go to the arm plug, so not to get in the way of the freedom of the movemen. So the very end the double cables become single. Also the Aro original wiring does it to get thinner cables at the end . So nota interrupted chain in the original not an interrupted chain with the Hovland.

Why I decided to use the Hovland phono cable? This cable has a very fluid and expressive midrange and is unmechanical sounding the way the Aro is, but is well extended at the top and slightly shy at the bottom.

So how did it sounded?

From the start, and like the other cables tried befor it, its frequencies extremes are freerer then the original Aro internal wiring. Image is wider but not taller. It is more transparent then the Aro wiring not in the middle range but everyway else. Its anylitic capacity are spread all over the frequencies. in the Aro with the original wiring are concentrated in the medium high medium frequencies. The higher you go or the lower you go the less details you have, like you have a stepted down volume in the frequencies extremes. They are there but less present.
In the Hovland there is a very slight veil in comparison to the all siver cables, but is more fluid, not the same timbric distinction but close. Globally the Hovland really sound like a bridge between the Kondo, Ikeda, VDH and the Naim original wiring. The only very important to me thing it misses is that kind of special urgency in the attack of the notes the original naim cables has.

So what is my conclusion: don't spend a lot of time and money on rewiring the Aro. 
The only cable that I could prefer and only sometimes to the original one is the Hovland. But the Hovland is not in production any more, was expensive and you have to destroy it to use as internal tonearm wiring cable.

So at the end it seemed that I could not really find a better cable then the original one for the internal Aro wiring. 
I gave my very last try. I didn't want to, I was feeling in the position that I could forcast more or less the cables behaviour with the Aro. But one day I was too damn curious and I had to try. And then after all this rewiring, rewiring the Aro for me it takes about one hour, of course when everything around is ready for it.

The last cable is another Van den Hul. I had wired before the Aro with a VDH but was the single strand version, now I had the multi stranded version that looks like a thiker version of the Audio Note.

 I put a record on and...this is was really interesting.

I had the power and urgence of the Naim original cabling without the inconsistencies, (Aro owner they know what I am talking about. Sometimes is sound like a spell, magic, other times you don't understand what happened).
I had the beautiful timbres of the silver cables, but the sounds was more solid then the Ikeda, the Ikeda was more delicate, and expecially the silence between the notes is much improved iin comparison to all the other cables I have tried.
And best of all it is the most neutral of all. You don't hear it in every recording. It was very clear for me. For example when you have experienced all the internal wiring the Aro is very recognaizable when it has its original wiring, when it is cabled with the Ikeda or the Cardas or the VDH single stranded.

So this one is worthed and can be bought! But only for your spare Aro arm top since the Aro in its original version has something special that it is nice to go back to.
If you have an all Naim system then you shoudn't even try another wiring. The original one in an all Naim system is like a tailor made suit.
I said this is just if you have a spare arm top since: everytime you put the Aro with its original internal wiring on, you will loose some extension, some timbre purity, some other thing, but you inexplicably have also someway a deeper connection to the music! Music is less beautiful and complete in its single constituents but has more meaning. A Naim magic wonder!

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