Hi-Fi Shows

I went to the Milan Hi Fidelity show last weekend and the same 3 things struck me as happens in just about all the Hi-Fi shows I attend.

1) Some absolutely dreadful Muzak is played just because they are excellent recordings. This means that when I request a decently-recorded CD track I know well to be played, I am nearly always disappointed compared to my own system.

2) Some systems have impressive bass; more than I am used to. From experience, having owned some bass behemoths in the past, I know that – for me at least – it is just a novelty that soon wears thin. I much prefer a fast, transparent bass to room-shaking depth and the compromise in midrange clarity that comes with that. The unrealistic desire many have to recreate orchestral scale in their rooms detracts from the delicacy needed for World Music, Jazz or Folk.

3) And now for my most controversial point. I am used to what some would dismissively call ‘pipe and slipper’ speaker designs such as old Spendor BC1s, Harbeth HL Monitors and Rogers LS5/8s. As often happens, I heard a track I knew well at the show, a viola da gamba track played by Jordi Saval. The speakers were Brave New World designs built from what looked like solid aluminium billet. The natural resonances and reverberations I expected were, for the most part, bleached away! Many recordings seem to lose much of the natural resonance and 3 dimensionality of the music. The approach of most modern Hi-Fi systems is to be clean, focussed, tighter-than-reality and rather uninvolving. Valves add a global 3 dimensionality often lost.
There is an intuitive understanding that for music to sound real something more Yin and Yang than simple resonance control is required. It is not that subjectivists condone adding colouration, as many objectivists claim, but that they instinctively seek that extra connection and engagement you get with the original performance which the recording often lacks. Furthermore, valve amps generally sound more natural than transistor probably because the signal travels through a vacuum rather than silicone.

Funk Firm F-X arm – £850.

Excellent condition with box.

Same as FX-R except for fixed arm lead.

(The removable arm lead on FX-R has fragile pins.)

Retailed for £1300.

Cleaning records.

I have tried cleaning records in various ways over the years.

From tap water and washing-up liquid which can leave a calcium residue to wood glue which  can get stuck in the grooves where spread too thinly.

I recently tried Covid hand sanitiser rubbed gently into grooves with my finger tips and used warm water to rinse it off. This works very well and leaves no calcium deposits. By using finger tips one can feel how much attention each record needs before it becomes clean.

Funk Firm Houdini Mini Review – Nov. 2020

The Funk Firm Houdini has added focus, lowered distortion, improved dynamics slightly but, most importantly, the music now floats out of the speakers in a way digital never really manages. This is in quite a high-end front end. Without exaggerating, I would compare the effects to a successful £2000 upgrade or 25% improvement in my set-up and I have had over 40 years of experience in getting the best out of systems. What is particularly interesting about Houdini is that I can’t think of an upgrade in any part of the Hi-Fi chain where quite that same improvement in space and perspective within the soundstage is achieved. The music sounds closer to the real event rather than just different.

Now stocking Houdini as I have been so impressed!

Damage to New Records

Record sleeves even with specialist pressings are often made of cardboard and put fine scuffs on the records every time they are removed. This can cause surface noise. E.g. Aldous Harding – ‘Party’ my most recent buy. I have had to buy plastic-lined paper inner sleeves which work well but the original cardboard one doesn’t fit alongside them.

 

Turntable DC power supply

Minimalist turntable DC power supply with adjustable speed control.

Can run on battery.

Built on maple and ebony block with Black Gate capacitors and 2W Audionote tantalum resistors.

Wired with flat silver in cotton sleeving.

Excellent sound quality!

4 ohm speakers and effect on power delivery.

I often get asked about this and some speaker manufacturers like to avoid stating average impedance when they quote speaker sensitivity…

In 2002, Paul Messenger described beautifully the paradox of 4 Ohm speakers.

‘Over the years, speaker makers have tended to evolve their designs to suit the typical transistor amplifier which is essentially a voltage source with a low source impedance.

Halve the speaker’s impedance from 8 to 4 Ohms and the speaker draws twice the current and power from the amplifier. This extra power gives an increase in apparent (though mythical) sensitivity. Once one manufacturer adopts the strategy, others feel obliged to follow.’

A 4 ohm speaker actually draws 2W when provided the voltage required to provide 1W into an 8 ohm speaker so a 93db 4 ohm speaker is no easier to drive than a 90db 8 ohm one!

Mild steel support brackets. £150

PAIR OF MILD STEEL SUPPORT BRACKETS. 6MM WALL MOUNTING  PLATES DRILLED FOR ANCHORING TO WALL (CHECK BEARING CAPACITY OF WALL PRIOR TO INSTALLATION AND FIXING TYPE) 50MM X 50MM X5MM MS ANGLES WELDED TO PLATES TO PROVIDE SUPPORT. UPPERMOST BRACKET ARMS WITH THREADED BOLT ADJUSTERS FROM BELOW TO ALLOW LEVELLING (SUPPLIED). (LOWER BRACKETS NO ADJUSTMENT- USE SHIMS / SIMILAR (NOT SUPPLIED) IF ADJUSTMENT IS REQUIRED) BRACKETS ARE DESIGNED TO BE FINISHED WITH SAME PAINT AS WALL PLANE TO BLEND IN, AND AS SUCH, WILL COME WITH RAL 9010 MATT DULUX PAINT COLOUR PICTURED.

Gold Note CD-7 with top of the range Favard upgrades – £1200

The compact CD-7 was always very musical.

This is a custom-built one-off Gold Note supplied to me with upgrades from the top of the range Favard including its Burr Brown PCM 1792A DAC, components of its power supply including the power regulator and OP as well as the Clock.

The idea being to have a really compact CD player of superior quality.

DIMENSIONS: Width 200mm  x Height 80mm  x Depth 260mm

Superb and at my cost price.

Tektron TK2A350S REF power amplifier.

Ex-dem with 10 hours of use.

Fascinating power amp with adjustable heater voltage allowing use of different output triodes – 45, 2a3, 300B, VT 50 &52.

Can use UX245, UX345, KR 242 and type 46 with adaptors.

Currently has Electro Harmonix 300B Golds.

JAN 5Z3 rectifier.

Retails for £3750 + VAT.