dimanche 5 juin 2022

Naim Powerline





 

It is quite probable that you are not going to like this cable. It is quite probable you are going to dismiss this cable for many reasons.
It does not sound good out of the box.
It is not going to sound that great out from a Naim system.
It is a cable that needs a lot of patience from your part. 
You have to accept from faith that it is a good cable and if it does not sound good it is not its fault.
Generally, it means always, we are up in a hifi situation when we have controlled the bad things by smoothing things out. Highs are too aggressive, we get a smoother cable here and there. But when we are using "smothers" we are loosing some information, spatial, timbric or rithmic and surely we are using filters.
High end systems sound good and uninvolving. We admire them  without caring about them at the same time. Most of the time they don't reproduce the essence of the music. Only a clean sequences of notes and very silent spaces.
So we have a mid high, high end system and we insert this cable in. What we will ear after about 300 ours of burning in? If we listen before this burn in period this cable could sound even worse then a $10 for 1m Belden power cable, that by my standard is a very decent cable.
So after this long burn in period you will ear that the sound stange get more compact. The propulsive energy is concentrated in a smaller scale landscape. The bass is well controlled, go very low but you feel it is sometimes too dry. The mid hig are very open and tense. The highs are neither very extended not very controlled.There is a sensation of things being tense, and soon you will become tired of it. You will go back to your previous cable with aural confort.
OK, once again you wanted to upgrade and things went on the wrong side. You take the cable away and hope to sell to Naim owners. Yes because I don't think it would be easy to sell it to other people.
But what happen if you accept by faith that this cable sounds good and what you are hearing are...

It is going to show all the vibration issues on your hifi. You think it is bright or it is forward only because you didn’t fix the vibration well in your sistem.
This was an impossible task with other higher end power cables. They tend to smooth things out and wash also the timbre out in the meantime and sometimes rithm too. But they are polite. They have a calming effect on your hifi problem. I think is because the Powerline is extremely open in the mid-high region that the vibrations issues of the system will show. The Powerline will show how manipulative and coloured high end power cables generally are to smooth things out and to low the noise floor.
The most notable thing in this cable is its medium frequencies section: it is more open then you thought could be. After you try another cable it will almost inevitably feel shut off in this regiion or if not shut of or recessed a little foggy.

This cable is raw. It means it leaves your system breath. 
It is very different from other power cables. It is not for fixing or improving things out, is to let things out. So this can be a good or a bad thing.

It will give you some work sinceit behaves completely differently from other power cable. 
I personally find this work to be worthed. I always found that it is quite easy to calm down a system, but to give life to a system that is on sedation is very difficult. 

With the Powerline your system, after correct use and matching, will either sound bad or good depending on your work, but it will never sound boring. And I hate boring systems.


mardi 1 février 2022

Cardas Clear Beyond and Clear Reflection power

 

Cardas again! What a strange thing for me. I have never listened for a very long time Cardas cables. My listening experience with Cardas stopped at the time of Golden Reference. Now, after many years I can appreciate what evolution does. 

I have already said that in the past I was not really a Cardas fan. Not because they were not good cables, they always have been good, but I felt they were more like fixing cables. For most systems it was a good thing, but when you were putting togheter components that were blending well togheter, I have found Cardas cables were retaining informations, dynamic and rytmic abilities.


You know how it is, most of us are only partially intelligent. We have an experience in time and we project it in the future with a forever stamp on it. It is for this stupid reason that I was not listening to Cardas cables. Even though I have to admit, I have herd few times systems sounding extremely well with a complete Cardas set up. But they had to be completely Cardas cabled. 

Now after many years I have to say that Cardas sound has changed, and these changements were all positive. I think now Cardas sound can be more universally appealing. 

Let's start with the Reflection. Reflection sound is fluid and slightly raw at the same time. It is a strange feeling!  I think it is a question of microinformation. It is not the quitest cable,  but within this not complete quiteness and black background it gives a kind of "educated freedom".

This cable is also rithmically capable. In the absolute scale I can only say it is slightly dynamically restricted and the bass is...not the strongest point, but well blended with everything else. I guess if the bass was different it would not sound this fluid any more and maybe it will be more heavy handed and this last thing is something I really dislike. It is similar soundind to the old Golden reference power, but more fluid, less coarse and less upfront. 

The Clear Beyond sounds very different.

The first thing we notice are  actually two: the dynamic window is more open and its silence is deeper, much deeper.

These two attributes makes for a less propulsive sound and more space for everything to happen. But it gives also the impression to slight alter the time, not the timing! You get the feeling timeis slightly expanded, that music is less constrained. It is a faster then the Reflection but it seams slower for this time thing. A little like a professional F1 driver against a very good driver. When we see the good driver in the circuit we think he goes very fast, its driving comes out as aggressive. Then you see the F1 driver in the same circuit with the same car. It seams he goes slower, that he has more time to express his skills, and his controll over the car and the circuit, he floats, everything is smooth, no compensation in the trajectories, it seams the car goes on invisible rails. At the end this apparent slower perception will be time recorded as a much faster lap!

This is the thing that happens with the Beyond. 

One thing that I was absolutely not prepared for was to realise that Cardas Reflection does not blend that well with Clear Beyond. In the past I could have mixed every Cardas and they would have mixed well togheter. The Reflection power blend perfectly with Reflection interconnect and loudspeaker cable, but not so with Clear interconnect. And the opposite is also true.

But the Beyond is a more universal cable then the Reflection. It blended well also with a Naim NAC A5 speaker cables that is very difficult to pair with almost anything. The Beyond is a cable that easily tend to disappear. This is an excellent thing, but if your system has been covered by some pushing from cables to compensate a laziness or whatever adding the Beyond will make it sound the component connected how it should. This is how thing should be. But at the end the result it is going to be less "involving" you are going to think it is the cable while it is not. I have tried many combination and this was clearly shown. For this reason I think the best way to assemble a system is to have very neutral cables and then at the end matching the components. But most of us already have components so we try to get what works best with them in our listening room.

I have the impression that when you go Clear you should get everything in the Clear range. And that the Clear range blends well with other brands too. This is because Clear range is more neutral and leaves very litle signature on its own.

The Reflection is beautiful, but its beauty is more delicate, you have to respect it more, you have to put it in a more sympathetic context. But if you already have a Reflection somewhere, go and "reflect" everything else and you will be an happy guy! The ending result is extremely balanced.

Except for one thing. Don't put a Reflection feeding your power strip feeding other Cardas cables. The sound will suffer. Don't ask me why...

dimanche 2 janvier 2022

Cable confrontation: Naim NAC A5 VS Straight Wire Virtuoso H

At one of my friend's house with my Kuzma Ref2 turntable. He wanted to listen to it in his system, and then we said why don't we make a video of the cables we are listening to?
And here you have it. A confrontation between two "immortals" speaker audio cables. Both are still in production after many years and both are extremely good value for the money.
The Naim is difficult to make it sound this way. It needs more then 400 hours of break in and has to be correctly dressed. If not you are going to discharge it after 5min listening, but you will never catch its value. The Straigh Wire is of a very easy interface with most amplifier speaker combination.



 Whatch it on you tube and you will have the subtitle to know which cable you are listening to.

It will be nice if you will write your thoughts and preference!

vendredi 30 juillet 2021

Cardas Clear Beyond Phono cable


 

This is such an expensive cable! Yes, but who is going to buy it? Surely no uf you have a $1000 tonearm.

But, for the lucky ones that can own a reference tonearm, is such a cable worthed?

I will put it simple: it is not only worthed but it is a bargain! There are many phono cables in this price range and above, and one thing is sure the Clear Beyond surely belongs to the range above its price.

The most beautiful thing about this cable is its coesive easiness with everything. Everything is expressed without struggle or too much fluidity that can be boring even if at times seducing. 

The one thing that is really Beyond is its silence. It does not pick up any noise and it does not have any noise from its own. Just compare it with any other cable and you will easily realise it. There is also  no trace of metal conductur signature. You cannot guess either it is silver or copper or whatever. 

Its transparency is exceptionally good as its soundstage. But every detail is perfectly integrated in the music message. This is a very uncommon thing to achieve. Generally when you have a very detailed cable, it makes the details sounding like in another dimension in time that is different from the music.

Also their nature can appear to be from another happening. It is difficult to explain, but it is for this reason that details can be too much of a good thing and harsh. It is like a frequency get separated from the whole message. The Clear Beyond achieve the rare thing of being very detailed and musical at the same time as no other cable I have tried so far can.

And it is fast without being dry. And here again the beyond gets "beyond" another paradox in hifi reproduction. When a cable is fast generally is short in reproducing notes decays. And also feels it simplify  the musical message somehow. This generally tends the  rithm of the music to be perceived more easily.  But it can sound a little dry. The Clear Beyond allow a beautifull decay being fast at the same time and never letting the tempo in the second seat. Maybe it is a question of ultimate time control or maybe it is a question of not letting the signal being polluted by noises or by any kind of distortions. Anyway this managing of tempo (PRAT) and decays is unique among cables. Expecially if we add that the reproduction of depth is magnificent. The reproduction of depth most of the times does not go hand in hand with good ritmic capabilities in hifi staff.

All these characteristics allows the instruments timbres to be fully develloped, and also the bad recording to sound bad, but not as bad as with other top cables. Because there is more of everything.

And then its bass... Deep, controlled, fast but breathing at the same time.  The bass has space to breath with this cable. The best reproduction of bass of every phono cable I have ever listened to.

And I guess every of all these most of the time reciprocatly exclusive factors brings at the last for me inesplicable characteristic: this cable has wamth. Most of the times this feeling is given by a curtain effects on the high frequencies, or a slightly fattening of the mid bass region. But in the Clear Beyond the high frequencies are extremely well extended and the mid bass region is the best of any other cable I have tried. I feel it achieve this characteristic avoiding faulse harshness and being true transparent. I guess the true transparency allows timbres to be beautifully portraied and the lack of distortions, even the pleasents ones, togheter with the true transparency brings this wamth out. For this reason I will say it is a different kind of warmth of which we audiophiles are used to. It is a kind of natural warmth, results of lack of intrusion of "bad" things. 

This was one of the easiest review for me. 

I have listened to more expensive phono cables that can do something better then the Clear Beyond does, or at least we are more readily aware of these advantages, maybe because umbalanced from the integrity of their total musical portray,  but these "betters" were always less important in comparison of the "betters" the Beyond is capable of. The Beyond generally did better were music count the most.

Without any doubt one of the best cables ever built.

An absolute masterpiece.

I truly compliment Mr. Cardas for this achievement.


PS: if the Clear Beyond interconnects are of this same level, it would be a very bad thing for my economic  situation... but I am too tempted to try them out. Maybe I will do like Ulysses or Odysseus, with the syrens. I will listen to them with my bank access guarded by my wife and I will tell her not to be mooved by any of my attempts to convince her to allow me access to money or credit.



mercredi 24 février 2021

Cardas Clear Reflection Interconnect - Get it and forget it


 

I have always found Cardas cable good, but on prolonged listening I have always felt they were not… enough. Musicality was there, but either I have found them to be too dense or too slow or missing in openess. But I am talking about old Cardas cables. Not even the very classic like Golden Reference and before it the Golden Cross were totally of my liking. I said it again: not totally of my liking. Since I had friends who absolutely loved the Golden Cross and the Golden reference. But despite this, all the time I was listening to a sistem all cabled with Cardas… I just listened to the music. So I have thought they were just balancing each other. But you know how we are : we like changing cables, mixing brands and so on. In the past with Cardas cables this was not a too good idea. It is true that most of cable brands shine when working with same family cables, but some were allowing better then others to change one cable here and another there easier then Cardas cables.

But with the Clear line this changed. 

I have always wanted to try the Clear Refelction since they affirm is an improved version of the Golden Reference. And I know the Golden Reference very well. I have sold it many times when I was in the hifi bussiness and I also had it for some time. 

I really didn’t know what to aspect from this cable, and I was expecially curious how it would blend with other makers cables.

When I have received it everything looked familiar. The same minimalistic plastic bag. The same smell. Yes there was a special smell on the Golden Reference, and I found it in the Clear reflection.

I cooked it for few days and I started my listening session replacing my installed cable between my passive preamp and my amplifier. I know in this position I like very few cables. I know that passive preamplifier makes things more difficult so I have started from here.

As soon as the first seconds of the music started playing I got one strong feeling : everything it is how it should. Not too much not too less of anything. A balance that does not allow you to appreciate something in particular neither feeling something is not that right. This is extremely rare for me to happen. Most of the time, for the good ones,  I have a feeling that tells me that something is so good and that same something is fooling me and in few days it is going to bother me. And this is what generally happen after a delay that goes from a week to a month at the most.

Days went on and I started to putting words and thoughts to what I was listening.

The various elements music is commposed of are blended in an almost perfect balance. I say almost just becaus I don't think perfection exsists. This means the music message makes sense all the time. You are not going to appreciate rithm or instrumental localisation, or timbre and then when you search for something else you feel it is a weak point. You allow yourself to be less critical, and this is a great thing for us that are passionate about sound reproduction! We found ourselves too often to jump and focus on a weakness and this spoils our listening pleasure. This cable gives you the permission to just listen.

This is rare. Very rare. And I think this is Cardas Clear reflection strongest asset.

If I have to decompose the sound of it I would say the high frequency are extremely well rendered. They develop with fluidity and ease and at the same time the attack of the notes is not diminished. In a word: elegant.

I have to say that I am extremely sensitive to one thing: no matter how good a cable is, no matter how beautifull it reproduces acousticals landscapes, localizes instruments and so on, if I feel the rytmic part is weighted, I say this when you have the sensation that it does not come easy, I cannot stay with it too long. When the rithm is followed, like a kind of tedius work instead of a natural flow, I get frustrated in my listening sessions. 

With previous Cardas I always felt this timing thing was not as fluid as it should be. The Clear reflection do it in a way I don't have any frustation at all.

As we go in others specific parts the organisation of the different instuments is very good, you can feel they are separate and playing at the same time togheter and the depth is rendered much better then most cables.

The medium zone is a beauty. Fluid, saturated withoud being heavy, and very expressive. The only part that I could say not too good thing about is the bass. Yes, the bass is there but it is not that expressive, not that propulsive. But it is perfectly blended with the rest. I feel that if it was different and I dare to say if it was of a different nature, it would have spoiled the nice blending it has with the rest. But you notice it only in a direct comparison with more expensive cables that, to tell you the truth at the end don't have the same level of musical enjoyment the Reflection is able to convey. 

This was not an easy session for me, not for the listening part, but for the critic part. I almost felt guilty about criticizing it, so honest, so fluid, so pleasurable, so without annoying characteristics this cable is.

The Clear Refleftion is extremely well made, extremely well balanced and most of all extremely musical. Another thing is that it is a cable that most people will like. I have listened to it with a friend that has a taste for music reproduction that is opposite to mine and he like it to! 

I forgot to say: I have done most of my listening test without changing other cables around, and sometimes changing them but not putting other Cardas around, and I found this cable to be an easy match with anything if components are put togheter in an harmonius way. Then I have started putting some of its family arouund, Clear Reflection power cable, then I have put on the Clear reflection loudpseaker cable. The result is globally  better, but not something you have to. It is like its qualities are able to be expressed in an even easier way. 

 Living with this cable is easy and pleasurable or an easy pleasure. Get it and forget it!

One thing: I have red a review somewhere where the author found that this cable is very calm. Yes it can sometimes sound this way depending on the power cord the components is linking is fed. With the Reflection power cord it is not very calm, it is just very balanced not too rushed not too calm. Actually I feel it is slightly on being fast. But it is true that with not the right power cord it can sound too calm. This is a very interesting thing that I think happens with many other cables. For example with Wireworld Gold Platinum or Platinum with the wrong power cord they can sound a little pushy on the high medium frequencies. But they are not! With cables that are not compressed and that gives you a faulse sense of speed this happens all the time. It is true that if you don't have few cables to play around with, when you buy a cable that is not dynamically compressed or that is very linear, you could end up with a too slow or a too much medium high frequencies showed in your system. If you are not sure about how really is your system, and nobody can be sure except the ones that have tried many combinations, I think it is better to buy lower range cables from good cables companies, like Cardas or Wireworld or the likes.

 Weakness: it seams the Clear Reflection could be the perfect cable, but it is not. It would not make any sense for Cardas to make more expensive cables. Yes the Clear Reflection has its own weaknesses but are not the kind of being harsh and sometimes umpleasent to listen to. It never presents such downsides. Its downsides are of not being that open, even though is not closed, not having that dynamic freedom that you can have with other more expensive cables, but these last have to be very good ones. These minor sides appear only when things get real high in your hifi chain. 

For example when I have put the Reflection between my preamps and amps combination and I had my turntable phono cable of good mid level, things were extremely enjoyable and no downside was exposed. When I have changed my phono cable with the Cardas Beyond this one let so much more informations to pass through (good informations) that the Reflection limits were showed. But with the lesser phono cable it was taming its few downsides making the combination a joy to listen to.

Considering this, I guess the Reflection is a cable that could be used in all the application when there is some little traces of bad things like not too much body, high frequencies slightly aggressive and so on, but these deficiencies have to be minor, since it is enough transparent to show when they are not that minor. It does not have downsides, just few limits that I would consider small only in an objective context. Considering its asking price it does not have any limit!



samedi 13 février 2021

Kuzma Stabi Ref 2 - the king of consistency (Long article. The sound at the end)

 



I wanted to have a new turntable. A turntable that I have always wanted to have, but that for economic reasons, what else, I had to wait for. So now, after few years of putting money away and renouncing to many things, I have got it! I have bought it to be one of my references. It is not a new design, it is sturdy, it is easy for the armboard to be changed so to fit with different tonearms. Perfect for me.

The turntable arrived in a cartoon box. I was surpriced that something of this weight, we are talking about 45kg of shipping weight, is shipped in a cartoon box. But it has been out for many years so they must know.

Fortunately the box was in perfect conditon. At the same time it is difficult to throw a box of 45kg all over the places...

I took out the parts to assemble it. The chassis base with the 4 suspension tower in perfect condition, or almost,since few small marks.


This is the base. I have put it in a levelled support.

Then I have taken out the subchassis, a nice and heavy block. Everything is nice and heavy. 

And here things got bad. 

In the subchassis there are 4 holes with a rod at a center of each that goes inside the supsension tower of the base. 


The left holes were damnaged. One by a pretty big shock.


Just have a look at the holes of the left side.






  this one was deep!




This one... 









These are sign of a shock. These are signs of towwer scratching against the holes supposed to receive them. Since the subchassis has to be put into the base over the 4 towers, it is obvious somebody before me mounted it. He has lost control of it and the holes of the subchassis went out of the center of the chassis towers causing marks. But... no marks whatsoever in the towers...

Now we have only and only two possibility, at least in my point of view, I am not Leonardo da Vinci genius, and if there is another one please you that read, feel free to write it down in a message.

The first: somebody at kuzma assembled it, lost the control of the subchassis that got damnaged. He saw the damnage on the towers and he replaced them, just leaving  parts with acceptable small damnages, that is not good anyway.  But, he didn't check the subchassis out since he had to look under the subchassis and  just replaced the towers that were in his sight.

When you have a shock between two components both must have marks! Here no, only the subchassis has marks, the corrispettive towers have no marks at all, only small acceptable marks just in the top of them caused by the rods. But not a scratch. Noo sliding marks, no impact marks. Why I say it must be happened at kuzma? I don't think there is another place where they have spares suspension towers on hands...

M. Kuzma, in one of our exchanges, said that he is not accepting my conclusion. And it is perfectly OK with me. Of course he has his right in doing so. He insists in a transport shock something like a flat shock. 

That it was more of a shock during transport... and no signs on the tower? In a shock you have marks in the parts that shock togheter! Here the subchassis got shocked with apparently...no other parts.

So here my second conclusion: inside the box there must have been the visit of some creature with a cisel that did the marks in the subchassis, trying to mimik the impact of the suspension towers.

So I am not accepting M. Kuzma conclusion on my side. And this should be OK too since each one of us has the right to his own conclusion.

This signs on the subchassis must be said that don't impact the mechanical function of the turntable at all, so are more of an estetic issue.

But it does not matter what kind of problem you can have, it matters how it is solved. Problems can just happens, that's it. 

I must say that at the end of few mails, M Kuzma proposed me to pack the turntable and to send it back to the factory to be either replaced or the parts to be replaced.

Even though I appreciate the gesture, that was offered very fast, I know companies that try their best to refuse to do it and are many, I was not keen on it.  But for my personal reasons.  My physical conditions is not that great, many back and cervical operations and metal plates and screws all over my body, so to put the turntable back in the box, to transport it, to wait for the other turntable to come, to unpack it, and so on, I have to ask the favour (payed favor) of being helped by somebody and it is not that nice to ask help many times and wait for it. 

So I proposed M.Kuzma an easier solution for me: I would repair the turntable by myself, I have the tools and the experience to do it.

The easiest thing was for me to wait M.Kuzma to send the damnaged parts.  At that moment I would at the same time replaced the new parts and demounted the damnaged part and sent them back to Kuzma. 

This, for my deep regreet ,was not possible do. ! My only option was  first to sent the damnaged parts to Kuzma, that needed to understand what happened, and then he would have  sent me the new parts. So I will stay for I don't know how long, with a completely dessambled turntable with parts all over. And I have a wife and this can lead to some problems much worse then a turntable damnage. I had two ex wives I know what I am talking about. 

Why M.Kuzma needed to understand what happende before sending me the new parts? 

So I proposed not to have parts all over my place for a certain time, wife detest it, and buying  this damnaged parts new, but at least at factory price. M.Kuzma did not accept my  proposal. So it is better for me having a mess around for I don't know how long just because... I don't even know.

Things are not finished.

I have asked an armboard to be cut for my Moerch DP8 tonearm



The correct spindel to tonearm axe distance was communicated correctly to Kuzma French distributor, and it easy to find in the Moerch website

this distance is 212mm.



When I got the turntable, after I have seen the subchassis got damnaged, I wanted to inspect everything carefully, just to see if the other parts where OK. 
So I mounted the armboard and checked if the distance from the turntable spindle was correct.



























It didn't look quite ok with the tonearm mounted checked with my Feickert protractor that is very accurate. After setting on the protractor the right distance, the vertical pointing down rod, should allign with the tonearm axe center. In the Moerch is not the little screw that fix the armtube, as many thinks, but a little on the back of it. But in the pictures is clear the tonearm is few mm far away from where it should be.

I wrote to Kuzma and he answered me that I shouldn't check with the tonearm mounted. But how can we mount correctly the cartridge if not setting the right distance with the tonearm mounted? To demonstrated that the amboard hole was not at the right distance I took the tonearm out and mesured in three different ways.

In each way I have mesured it, it is sure I don't have 212mm. 
I have 215mm. It is 3mm out!!!



I have put the metal pointer of my Feichert protractor, to face down the tonearm hole. From this sight you just see a clearer metalic small dot at 212mm distance from the turntable spindle. This dot should be at the middle of the underside hole. You already see it is not.









With a piece of paper I have just highlighted the space between the hole and the turntable spindle : 215mm









Last check, for the hell of it, the most brutal way, but even with this method we see the center of the armboard hole is not a 212mm distance from the turntable spindle.













                                                                                                                

I wrote to Kuzma and I didn't like too much the first answer he gave me, that I could moove the cartridge out. Yes of course it is technically possible but not all the cartridges can be moved that out, and then it is acceptable to have 3mm difference in a product of this caliber?
I have drilled more then 50 armboard, and even though I cannot say I am an expert armboard driller, the worst I did was 0.5mm out! I don't do a 3mm out even making an hole free hand!

So after other mails he accepted to change the armboard too. The bad thing is that, even after my three mesurement I was feeling M. Kuzma could not really believe me! It is like M.Kuzma has such a complete thrust in his manufacturing process that even if you mesure and see things for him is extremely difficult to accept. But this is a feeling I had and maybe is not the reality. I like to differenciate as much as possible what is subjective with what is not.

At the end of it of course I am not happy. Would you be happy of it! You would not be happy if you have these issues with a $500 component, so with one that is near $10000...

I am not happy for many reasons. Because I know a problem can happen, but it is bad when the other side don't get or cannot for his good technical reason go your way completely. They surely have their reason, but for me was frustrating to having to accept things also for my personal situation.

So I find it frustrating M. Kuzma couldn't accept to send me the replacement for the damnaged parts so that I , in the same day, I could have replaced the damnage parts with the new ones and sent back the damnaged and wrong parts.

Strong  and weaks points of M.Kuzma :

fast reply (it is getting a rarety) this is objective. No way around it. It answered during week end time!
Not too nice but polite person. He puts the points and limit in the dialogue and this is not nice in my perception of things.  
Trying and willing to understand. You really have the feeling he is trying to solve the issue and not in his favour. Just want to solve it. And this is rare.
The feeling that you have is that he wants to do things in his own terms even though he often states "what would you like me to do?" leave you with a bitter feeling. It would be nicer if he could nicely explain why he cannot do certain things and have to do something instead.  But it is also true that he put himself in the position that generally the distibutor has. And considering its personal involvement in the issue, I have to rate this as extremely positive from his part.

Things like that should not happen, but can happen nevertheless. They are not small things!  We have damnages and error in drilling the armboard! Quality control must be an absolute priority at this level! 
Even if my one is a rare case, and I am pretty sure it is, for me it was a very unlucky situation. If I was in perfect physical shape, I just would have packed the turntable, send it back to Kuzma at their cost, as he kindly offered, and waited for the new one of for the repaired one to come back. 


this is the ready to be shipped subchassis metal plate.




Everything was ready to be shipped out, but after few days I have decided not to send the metal part of the subchassis to Kuzma factory. 
What I was afraid of happened. My wife, during the week end told me: "How long are you going to have this thing all over the place". She said this calmly, but since even in the best case scenario to send the board, to receive another one back and so on would have taken surely three weeks in the best case scenario, and since post services are loaded for the covid situation we are not in the best case scenario, , I decided to repair it by myself.
A friend of mine has a mechanical shop, he makes parts for F1 teams, he did the repairing job, then  thermolacted the chassis and it came out as very close to perfection. The repairing job was an easy one since exclusively exstetical.

So I wrote where I have bought the turntable, saying I have repaired it by myself for time reason, and that I was then not using the waranty service that was kindly and promptly offered to me. I asked if I could have an undrilled armboard, spindle oil and a spare belt, that I would pay as normal spare parts.

You can either beleive it or not, but now started a big problem! M Kuzma said directly to is France distributor that he was not selling any parts to me!?!


 Things were getting strange, but eventually realized that there was a kind of basic misunderstanding.
From one side Mr. Kuzma proposed all the support a company can offer. He did not put the fault on me neither on his side, but on the shipping. One thing I was willing to accept more easily, changing the damnaged subchassis by myself without getting it back, packing the turntable and so on was not accettable for Kuzma. And I can partly understand it. I would have not liked by my side, if I were Kuzma to do this, and I would have done the same as he proposed. Getting the unit back and giving it back perfect.
Anyway I decided to keep this unit and to fix the estetic damnage by myself. Yes I accepted it since we are talking about things that don't have any influence on the sound itself.

Now after all this and few moths of listening  I can go to the sound of this CLASSIC, turntable. Yes after all this years of being in production and of being reputed ammong the best turntables, we can call it a classic.

                                                               

                                       THE SOUND                                                                                                      




I have wrote in the begging of this review: the king of consistency, and I will try to explain why I have strongly felt this quality about this Kuzma.

I have few turntables, and I had more then 15 that I don't own any more.
Every turntable I had or I have had some good things and some bad ones. Some were building wise, other technically, other of  musical reproduction consistency.
What I call with this last term is: some music comes out well while other music is not reproducted in a convincing way. The cheapest turntable are more consistence in this regards. all kind of music is reproducted in an average matter. The more expensive a component is, the less I found it to be coonsitent. Some just get me nervous about it.
Soome high mass turntable do something very well and other not. Some suspended also. Some direct drive too.
You are always felt with the feeling that you would like something that is in the middle of them all.
At least I feel it, since I listen to al lot of different style of music.
For example with my Linn LP12, there are times when music comes out in a extremely seducing way and other times you feel it is missing too much.
With my Thorens TD124 also. But in this case it is a question of something hard, tense in the soul of the music.

With this Kuzma you are not seduced sometimes neither you are deceived. It is constantly good and sometimes excellent. No tension felt like with the direct drive ones, but close to their propulsive rithmic abilities, not the feeling of enourmous stability of the high mass ones but neither gives you the feeling  of not being "solid". 
The best thing of them all is that it is the most perfect turntable as far as timing concern.
The Linn is consider a champion in this respect, but...when things get complicated it looses its way.
The direct drives are slightly better sometimes, but you feel there is a particular timing signature in every kind of music. This signature can be great or not too great depending the type of music.
The Kuzma gava me the very strong impression of getting the tempo out of any kind of music the way it was supposed to be. This for me is a unique quality. I have never heard a turntable doing this. Being able to reproduce the correct tempo and rithm of different musics without putting its signature on it.
For me this could be already enugh to consider it as one of the best turntable out there. But other things are also in a high league.

I have tried the Kuzma with just two tonearms that I know particularly well: the Moerch DP8 and the Linn Ekos. And lastly with a friend tonearm that I know but not so well as the first two.
It allowed me to appreciate their differences, without allowing me to say that one was better then the other.
This is very revelatory.
A very good tonearm should have a signature but a small one. It should be able to do many things in an highly satisfactory way.
The problem is that with too many turntables, I would say most, a tonearm has to integrate its sound with sound of the turntable it is matched with. Sometimes this turntable will highlight the tonearm caracter, sometimes not, sometime a tonearm will compensate a turntable weakness and so on.
It was like the Kuzma but being there but being in this matching game as little as possible.
This is an excellent thing! It allows you to just get one component out of the interaction hell!

I had also a friend that lent me his Triplanar tonearm, and here again I was listening to a very good tonearm, but which the final outcome was not better then the Moerch neither then the Ekos.
They were extremely well balanced with differences.
The system never lost its timing consistency. It was slighly magnified with the Ekos and less with the Triplanar, the Moerch was between the two.
When I change the tonearm in another turntable,and I am talking about excellent tonearms, I can easily destroy the balance, the equilibre of the sound. Timing can collapse or other terrible things can happen.

This means the turntable talks to much with the tonearm. Or their "colours" are not mixing too well. They are discussing too much for their own sake. Of course at the end you can have excellent results, but you are forced in accepting some combination. You are not free to choose it, but most of the time you have accept that for the excellence you have to combine this turntable with a certain tonearm or at the most two. If you don't have many tonearms, maybe you are going to be happy with what you have because you will never know how it will work with another one. For this reason for most of us, that don't have many tonearms to play with, it is better to buy a combination proposed by the same manufacture. Kuzma makes great tonearms, not too sexy looking, like a Triplanar can be, nor elegant styled like the Moerch, or minimalist like a Linn Ekos. They look more likes truks, but they are extremely good. I would really like in the futre to put one of them in this turntable. I am thinking of the 4P...

Another thing that has to be considered with attention:  this Kuzma gives you the choice of putting one of two spacers on the platter before you put on your LP. This allows the clamps to perfectly flat the LP.
This little thing was never talked about in other reviews of this turntable, but I have to say that it makes a very sensible changement. The bass get deeper and more articulated. The differents instruments or voices are better separated. More depth. Most of the distortion ash that gives the "wrong" impression of space is gone. The tonality of it becomes for all these reason darker. I don't generally like a tonality when is dark. But this kind of darkness is not the result of too much overdamp. At least I didn't feel it to be the case. When the darkness is due to something ovendamped, I have the acoustical feeling of suffocation and I cannot stand it for too long. In this case you have a feeling that this dark character is the resul of an almost perfect neutrality. When you take the spacer of, you are very aware of the introduction of colorations. But...with the spacer you gain many things but you loose PRAT. I have tried many many times and got to the same conclusion.


If I had to have only one turntable I would surely choose this one. It does too many things right and it is built in a way that promises you eternity. 








mardi 31 mars 2020

Wireworld Micro cables reference balanced digital Eclipse and Platinum Eclipse 8, or The Importance of Being Earnest.




Balanced digital...I have always thought it was my less favourite digital type connection. There were few times I have compared the same cable with different connectors (BNC , XLR and RCA) and for digital applications I ended up accepting the RCA choice as my favourite one. But it was just with a couple of transports and DACs.
It is true that in hifi we can say what actually work for our systems, but we tend up to project what it worked up for a certain system also for future systems. And this could be a mistake. Recently I had spare time left for my experiments and I wanted to try digital cables again, in the old school connection drive dac.
I have got in my hands two Wireworld fairly new offering; the Micro Eclipse Platinum and the Micro Eclipse both 8 version.
I have started with the Eclipse. It replaced in one of my systems, a cable costing 3 times more and even though it was not largely better it was better nevertheles! It was just more honest and expecially everything was better proportioned. When I talk about proportions I don't talk just about space development but timbre, timing and so on. The proportion of all the musical igredients was more honest, more wisely balanced even though if maybe less seductive on the very short exposition to it.

The Micro Eclipse 8 cable sound is one of no real personality. Nothing stands out when you listen to it. It is not evidently more focused or evidently quiter, or bright, neither dark,  or evidently more something else. The only thing that you can listen in these lack of personality traits is the missing of some electronic haze, or kind of electric things going around and inside the instruments. And it is difficult to explain, but it is also present in many Wireworld products. Maybe is this the triboelectrique noise of which Wireworld is talking about in its philosophy of design?

I ended up being impressed by it. So I was expecting a lot more from its Platinum version,even though Wireworld affirms differences between these cables are mild,  and... yes, I was expecting too much and Wireworld statement was right. The Platinum did everything the Eclipse did just a little better. The only thing that actually did that the Eclipse version could not do was portraying the colour of the space around the instruments. In the Eclipse version the space is very silent but has no colors. In every recording is very silent but is very the same. Not so in the Platinum version. This caracteristic brought to a strange phenomenon: the perceived, "immediate" contrast between instruments,was more evident with the Eclipse then with the Platinum. When the musical message is simpler it often happens. But the Platimun has better timbres, it has better layering, it is more relaxed, it is better focused, you have more things going on even though many of them are not musically essentials. So my conclusion in this very short review is that musically they are both on the same level. The emotion they can bring to the listener are more or less the same, but the Platimum gives you more information about something that sometimes can be nice to have. But even thought the Platinum is evidently mildly better then the  Eclipse, the Eclipse is the king of balance. With the Eclipse after you get accustumed to it, you don't feel the need you would like something better, with the Platinum this does not happen.  And this is not because the Eclipse is more musical and the Platinum does better the hifi tricks. As I said before both have the same degree of musicality. So you say it is better staying with the Eclipse...if you have both and you compare both this won't be possible since the Eclipse is mildly better so when you go back to the Eclipse you feel you have lost something. This something lost is most on the low spectrum. It is more developped in the Platinum and I guess it is for this reason that the Platinum caries more information about space.
Maybe there is a threshold that when reached you just need more of it and you don't even know why. The Platinum reach this treshold, the point when things start getting more real and gives you the desire to have more. The Eclipse does not reach this level of psycological contamination or push. It's just a good boy. It is very strange getting to this conclusion since the two cables are really very close if not for the more bass development of the Platinum and its more grounded sound. Even the resolution is extremely close.

I have compared these two cables with few others that I like and if I have to say something I have learnt about them this would be : The Importance of being Earnest. If you know this Oscar Wilde  comedy you know what I mean...

And this is a secret: in a very well balanced system, a system that is done as a project not as a balancing act of components that you presumed you liked and that expecially does not simplify things in favour of a musicality that you could achieve with much less money,  110 Ohm Digital is better. I would like to develop a little more the sentence " that does not simplify things that much in favour of musicality". It is true that there are systems that are expensive and musical at the same time, and this is not always the case since many times are just expensive, loooks good, can go loud but are better at looking then at listening, and others that are cheap and musical. The cheap ones achive musicality easier since the musical message they give you is very simplified. But, I say BUT, when you start spending an important amount of money you want the message to be as much complex and full of informations as possible remaining musical at the same time. And this is rare. Many times, unfortunately you get the same resolution and sometimes more in fairly cheap integrated amplifier of good pedigree then in expensive separate pre - power combos. Ok, then the combos have more dynamic headroom and have better this and better that but when I can hear details with a cheap integrated that are lost in the big boys this does not makes me feel confortable. For this reason there is a limit for every maker. When I hear a very expensive component that is also very famous and that is also very musical but that has the resolving power of a cheap one I... hate it.  There are too many of this kind of components out there, also very, very famous ones. Of course the first thing is being musical, but not the musicality of a cheap car stereo only with more dynamic headroom...
This is the very deep reason why few British makers had success.  They were keeping the musical message simple. They were doing the essential right. If they are not expensive it is ok, but when you want more, more does not means just bigger sound. And the most difficult thing to get right is timbre, that misteriously, very misteriously is often lost in the connection between elements, so  it is "missing in cables".

To get back to Wireworld: I feel this maker would deserve much, much more attention that it already have. You won't probably like if you buy only one of its products, since they are tailored just to be honest. And an hifi chain is based on lies. But you have just to sort out the bad lies and keep the good ones in. Wireworld let you focus on the bad lies of other components. If you accept it you can do great thing with them.

But remember to keep the good lier in your chain, if not you are not going to enjoy it.