Denial that subjectivist types hear what they think they hear.
That the ear is not reliable in blind tests etc.
That natural body and resonance are coloration etc.
That an explicit, hyper-detailed sound must be right.
When long-term realisation shows that it is just tiring. If you want to show your system picks up a vocal inflection, a click of the tongue ”more betterer” than your friend’s system that’s fair enough I suppose but you are probably cheating.
The fact that it is probably a manufacturer manipulated upturned frequency response to impress in a comparison audition… well never mind. When I look at Hi-Fi magazine reviews I am mainly looking out for the reviewer’s description of something as ‘musical’. That is what music is about not logic. Should not need to be said really…
Or equipment that you simply really enjoy that takes your mind off comparing – ”but this, but that”… that is always a good sign.
Or an album track suddenly ‘making sense’ that never quite gelled before – that is a good sign.
When it comes to music with vocals, I think we are too generous when we say people have different tastes. The voice is either as real as possible or it is not. Too many systems produce voices in a way that is slightly robotic and cold. (Speakers with baffles less than 8 inches wide tend to be poor in this area.) I don’t accept this trade-off !
I sometimes genuinely forget that I have loaned an item from my system such as a DC blocker and filter which would be hidden behind the equipment rack. I absent-mindedly wonder why the soundstage is relatively congested, where the life has gone. Then I remember I have loaned this or that.
Or when you audition something that should be better than what you had. You start by hearing what it does better. Then, maybe through tiredness, you just listen almost subconsciously, half-listening. Then you can really judge if overall it is more musical and enjoyable than what you had before. In other words, when you are not looking for a difference and you hear one that is what counts! Call it subconscious comparison.
I LIKE THE HONESTY OF THIS ARTICLE SO I HAVE POSTED IT WITH PERMISSION FROM LAVARDIN.
What is the best rack to put under an amplifier?
A platform for audio components should firstly support the component stably and secondly be itself as neutral as possible.
For this reason, placing components on resonating materials seems like a really bad idea. Some materials which at first may not be suspected of resonating do in fact do so much more than expected: glass, marble, even granite and all minerals and metals have very poor self damping properties and allow vibrations to be stored, amplified and sent back to the component.
The ultimate material is wood. Wood is made of random fibres that conduct energy and reduce it when energy has to pass from one fibre to another. Moreover, plywood behaves much better than solid wood because of its thin crossed layers that allow a maximum dispersal of energy. Chipboard and “medite” powdered wood do not spread energy because they lose the fibrous structure of real wood.
For these reasons, avoid any stand made completely or partially with:
– Minerals, glass, marble, granite, ceramic: dry sound, too much treble, loss of nuances.
– Carbon fibre, compounds, polyester, etc: as above.
– Metal, steel, aluminium, …. loss of nuances, aggressive sound.
– Pressed wood and medite: loss of detail and nuances.
– Solid wood: expensive and not as good as plywood : simplified music, loss of nuances.
– Springs, rubbers, magnets, air chambers: loss of treble, detail and nuances.
From our point of view, combining minerals with metal, rubber and everything else, is not a demonstration of know-how…
As soon as the life of the music is killed by poor sounding audio racks, tonal balance remains the only thing to discuss, sadly…
If you have a solid, well-built, heavy piece of wood furniture supporting your equipment, it has a good chance of sounding far better than most of the Super High Tech Space or Formula One technology ( ! ) options available on the market.
Furthermore, you can add a thick board of plywood under each component for even better results….
I need a few words to describe Audioflair: great experience!
Adrian is more than a specialist. He’s like an old friend, someone to talk about your musical ideas and always ready to suggest a tailor-made solution for you.
In my case, I was looking for information on Croft acoustics and that was why I contacted Adrian.
At that time, my Rega P3 seemed perfect for my needs.
Now, on top of my Croft gear, there’s also a Gold Note Valore, probably the best turntable I’ve ever had (for my budget).
Thank you Adrian.
Le chiacchierate al telefono con Adrian sono quanto di più interessante e divertente io ricordi nei miei trascorsi audiofili. Mi hanno fatto ritrovare quel gusto della scoperta che avevo nei primi anni ’80, quando giravo per negozi a cercare il mio primo impianto.
Aldilà della composizione tecnica trovata, della quale sono estremamente soddisfatto, Adrian mi ha dimostrato il grande pregio di saper contagiare le persone con la sua passione per l’alta fedeltà. E si capisce da lontano che non è semplicemente lavoro.
Fosse anche solo per questo, consiglio Audioflair a tutti coloro che amano ascoltare bene la musica.
Incredible sounding slim dual transmission line floor standing loudspeakers – great imaging, tight bass, very integrated crossover with natural top end which is never shrill. Work very well with a wide range of amplifiers and suit Croft very well. The image shows the wood finish we have in stock.
There’s a new little star in the constellation of our cartridges: the name is Vasari, the sound is…well, just read the review by Jeff Dorgay on this month’s issue of TONE Audio if you want to find out:
“With decent cartridges in the four-figure range, what’s the new audio enthusiast to do? Four words: Gold Note Vasari Gold. And you can get one for $385.”
The brand new DS-1000 is our take on music streamers, we suggest to use it in pair with QNAP or SynologyNAS and your favourite UPnP music server (like MinimServer) to achieve the best reproduction quality.
You can also use DS-1000 to enjoy TIDAL or Qobuz simply installing the MConnect Player app (see MConnect for iOS and MConnect for Android) on your smartphone and tablet.
Visit www.qobuz.com/goldnote to try the service for free with a 1 Month trial – please remember that Qobuz is not worldwide available yet.
Now DS-1000 is also on 6moons:
“DS-1000 fears no competition. It is a very complete versatile machine with an unusually extensive upgrade path […] From a sonic standpoint, what else can be said than mission accomplished? Elegance, vividness, resolution, transparency and great dynamics honor the essence of music.”
I write to share a review of the new Enterprise. The review highlights our great achievements producing compact loudspeakers that outperform loudspeakers twice their size from the standpoint of bass reproduction, soundstaging/imaging, and value.
Both the PSB T2 and the Vienna Mozart Grand SE are roughly twice the size of the Enterprise. Moreover, The PSB T2 has (3) 5.25 inch woofers. The Vienna Acoustics has (2) 6.5 inch woofers. The Enterprise has (2) 4.5 inch woofers.
The reviewer found the Vienna Mozart Grand SE is similar to the Enterprise in the overall beauty of its tonality and color, but its bass is not as extended, as taut, or as accurate as the Enterprise’s. And Vienna Mozart Grand SE doesn’t produce the large, layered soundstage that the Enterprise renders both in height and width. He noted that the “PSB Imagine T2 has very good macro-dynamics, but its overall presentation is not as silky smooth/musical as the Enterprise.”
And concluded that, The Enterprise will compete with speakers at least double their price and outperform much more expensive stand-mounted monitors both in soundstaging and bass extension.”
Tuscany cartridges feature an extra-thin Micro Ridge diamond tip developed with Adamant-Namiki, the worlds most famous professional Diamond manufacturer: the special multi faced shape cut guarantees the best deep vinyl groove contact possible.
Deep, fast bass, great detail. Superb with 300B SE amps!
Like a Spendor SP100R but faster, more responsive and suited to all music types.
A pretty-unique design combining the best practices of classic designs with modern technology.
More information from Gold Note’s website at the time in 2013 directly below the images…
The XS-93 is a real 93dB high sensitivity 3 way sealed loudspeaker designed to achieve the best possible natural audio resolution in an elegant cabinet which cosmetically matches any modern environment. The XS-93s use a new extra light plywood cabinet specifically tuned which features the whole frame treated with real leather that provides a rational frequency resonance control. The rear panel works as passive driver helping the bass response extension of the speaker, thus obtaining an exceptional lifelike sound quality. The 100 litres volume cabinet houses one 12.5″ paper custom cone woofer, the only available on the market today of this size powering a sealed design. This special driver has a soft foam suspension that ensures low bass response, astonishing speed and a very high efficiency. The 6.5″ midrange is the same XS-96 top quality hand made paper semi-flat cone capable of handling high power with fine detail and extremely fast transient and dynamic response. The 1″ soft dome tweeter has a double split phaser which enables great dispersion over the front baffle of the speaker and provides ultra-fine detail that guarantees a wide and deep soundstage with very natural resolution. The hand made crossover is made with custom components such as large size film foil capacitors and precision MOX resistors wired with Goldenote solid core custom cables. The XS-93 features the Goldenote BP-01 binding posts exclusively treated with rhodium 100% nickel free to preserve perfect conductivity.
MAIN DETAILS Loudspeaker – 93dB high efficiency sealed speaker – 6ohm – 3way Floorstanding 105cm tall, 37cm wide, 40cm deep – 40Hz-20000Hz – 12″ paper woofer – 6,5″ paper Midrange – 1″ soft dome Tweeter TYPE: 3 way sealed speaker FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 40-20000Hz ±3dB SENSITIVITY: 93dB spl (2,83Volts/1mt) TWEETER: 1″ soft dome driver. MIDRANGE: 6,5″ paper cone driver. WOOFER: 12,5″ paper cone custom driver. SUGGESTED POWER AMPLIFIER: 5Watts – 100Watt MAX POWER HANDLING: 160Watts RMS IMPEDANCE: 4Ω nominal (8Ω from 500-20000Hz) quite resistive phase CROSSOVER: 350Hz@12dB/Octave – 4500Hz@12dB/Octave UPGRADES CROSSOVER components: PHYSICAL DIMENSIONS: (LxDxH): 360mm x 400mm x 1050mm with Integrated Stand VOLUME: 100 Litres each WEIGHT: 30.00 Kilos (88Lbs.) each packed FINISHES GENUINE LEATHER: Handcrafted real Italian leather with walnut front panel.
This fabulous Gold Note deck is available ex-dem with the Tuscany Gold cartridge and the PH-11 phono stage.
The sculpted, solid walnut lower plinth adds an authority to the sound and the new pulse-width modulating Fiorino TSC speed control/power supply gives great pitch and dynamics offering the advantages of AC set-ups which major on torque together with the detail-enhancing silent background DC set-ups are renowned for.
DEMONSTRATOR AVAILABLE FOR SALE AT EX-DEM PRICE – please e-mail me for details.
With their renowned range of support platforms, mains leads, mains filters, distribution boxes, analogue/digital interconnects and speaker cables they offer a comprehensive strategy to get the very best from your system. A compelling argument can be made for the purchase of this range of products before the upgrading of ancillaries! Introduce them into a decent system in a systematic way and the benefits are vast. They tackle head-on the increasing problems of RFI (getting worse almost daily! ) and also microphony and vibration within components and from their external environment.
While many customers go for the Jaya filter as a quick fix to their mains problems, there is a logical order to proceed which includes starting with a Kinabalu support platform under the source component. By getting the supports right, the effects of their filters, mains leads, distribution block, interconnects and speaker leads all become more obvious.
They have produced a comprehensive guide book which discusses a hierarchical approach to these problems.
They are ingenious designs ranging from platforms which sink vibrations and energy from within a piece of equipment placed on them while blocking unwanted energy from outside getting in.
Mains filtration devices that work in parallel with the mains rather than in series and therefore avoid robbing equipment of its dynamics while minimising interference.
Interconnects and speaker cables with in-line boxes which ‘sink’ the vibrations from transformers and valves from travelling to the next component in the chain.
Steve at Vertex does an impressive demonstration where he scrapes the end of a conventional interconnect plug while you listen at the other end of the lead with a stethoscope. The rubbing and vibration is plain to hear whereas with a Vertex lead this unwanted interference is inaudible, clearly showing how conventional interconnects let electrical and mechanical vibrations pass along the component chain. Once auditioned in your system, the results prove that motors, valves and transformers produce mechanical noises which travel down the wires which link your system and are amplified like the music signal itself!
I admire the fact that they have formed a knowledge alliance between themselves, Nordost and Acuity to technically measure the effects of their products. There have been too many unknown facts about mechanical energy control up till now. With their Aerospace and military background, Vertex have proved they have the experience to put together a cohesive solution.
In sonic terms, there is a greater background silence and more space and accuracy in the placement of instruments. A once boomy bass becomes focused and followable, a bright top end gains refinement and definition.
The latest Hi-Fi equipment tends to be very detailed and dynamic and Vertex kit can really help control these greater energy demands.
I like the fact that Vertex solutions can bring the best out of any philosophy; valve designs becoming tighter and more focused, solid-state sweeter with better tone. This is proof in itself that it does what it claims.
I was the UK importer for Gold Note for many years until 2017.
I have some interesting deals from my stock and a couple of one-off items – please see my USED HI-FI/EX-DEM listings.
GOLD NOTE, rebranded from Goldenote (originally Bluenote) are an Italian company who make everything in-house from turntables, tonearms, cartridges, CD players through to loudspeakers. The best of ‘lifestyle’ in terms of style but with sonics and musicality of the highest order.
They produce beautifully crafted arms from aircraft-grade aluminium and titanium. The top tubes are machined in varying thickness of titanium to cut down resonances. They make gimbal bearing designs of up to 12 inches in length. (There were some great Unipivot arms – now discontinued.) Their turntables use AC 24 pole motors for better dynamics than DC motors and combine acrylic plinths with brass spacers and counterweights. The bearing design comprised a PTFE slug (the slipperiest substance known to man) in a brass sleeve which gives a highly detailed but natural sound owing to there being no metal to metal contact. Their cartridge range is smooth and detailed and starts with entry-level Moving Magnets followed by High-Output Moving-Coils and Moving Coils of the highest order.
The Micro-Line comprised the compact CD-7, DAC-7, HP-7 headphone amp and pre-amp, AP-7 integrated amp, M-7 mono amp, PH-7 phono pre-amp, and PSU-7 external power supply. All in compact sized casework 200mm L x 80mm H x 260mm D.
They voice their digital products by comparing them to similarly priced turntables in their range resulting in an excellent tonality. Consequently products like the Bluenote Stibbert valve CD player was considered amongst the world’s best by Harry Pearson of Stereophile.
An excellent amplifier range, the top models such as the Demidoff were 60% handmade employing inductive power supplies, tastefully backlit VU meters and remote-controls.
Finally, their speakers respect the tradition of pre 90’s Spendor, Rogers and Harbeth with thin-wall construction – actually of varying thickness – making them transmit sound like a musical instrument. Some have screw -mounted back panels to decouple vibrations in the time-honoured fashion which made for such musical engagement all but lost in most modern MDF designs by designers who think over-focused detail is everything even if it means losing the natural reverb and decay of a note.
This company deserves far greater recognition. They produce attractive modern designs which simultaneously respect the greatness of past classics; they are forward-thinking artisans!
THE CROFT ETHOS IS TO OFFER HIGH PERFORMANCE AUDIO AT SENSIBLE PRICES.
I believe Croft Amplifiers to be the most underrated, best value for money amplification on the audio market. Glenn Croft has over 35 years of experience refining truly innovative valve circuits at very reasonable cost. They are hand-built and meticulously point-to-point wired in the UK.
Great tone and dimensionality that works brilliantly with vinyl and transforms digital.
In brief, the range consists of PRE-AMPS and POWER AMPS:
The Croft 25 pre-amps – All valve designs which come in linestage or phono versions.
If you don’t play vinyl, a linestage version is all you need.
There are 3 main versions.
1) 25 linestage £550, 25 with phono £770.
2) 25R – regulated power supply giving more grip and control – £1000 for linestage version and £1400 with phono.
3) 25RS top of the range 2-box pre-amp – power supply regulated and upgraded transformers in separate box – £2000 for linestage version and £2800 with phono.
They can all be ordered with 2 mono volume controls or 1 stereo.
I can fit REMOTE CONTROL to all versions.
The power amps are hybrid designs with valve input stage and mosfet output stage. The advantage of this is that you don’t need to change expensive output valves which can get consumed in a year or so of hard use with an all valve power amp. Also, mosfet bass tends to be tighter than amps with output valves yet without the exaggerated bass tightness of many transistor amps.
1) Series 7 45w £770
2) Series 7R – again, regulation gives more grip and control – £1400
3) Series 7R mono-blocks – more separation and bigger soundstage. £2800.
In more detail:
NATURAL IN TONE AND BODY – I have owned Croft equipment since my teens when I purchased a Micro to use as a pre-amp into the original Nad 3020. (For more on this see the ‘About Me’ section.) I admire the fact that the tonality of all his products is extremely natural while rhythm and timing are spot on. Over the years I kept coming back to this range having compared many competitors’ products and found them lacking. Glenn’s genius lies in his ability to simplify a circuit to the point where transparency comes to the fore. Workmanship is superb.
There are three pre-amplifiers in the current range plus the Linestage versions of each model. (The Basic has been discontinued.) Standalone Phono stages are also available. Zero gain versions can be ordered at no extra cost for those with very powerful power amps or power amps with a particularly low input impedance or very sensitive speakers e.g. horns.
1) The Croft Micro 25
2) The Micro 25 R
3) The 2 box 25RS.
They all have separate volume controls for left and right channels and a mute switch. The ‘R’ stands for Regulation and gives more grip across the whole frequency spectrum; bass is more controlled and cymbals more focused. ‘R’ versions also have a more refined sound because phono sockets are higher quality and resistors in signal paths and key capacitors are upgraded. The R versions also have an extra transformer for the regulation circuit.
ALL MODELS CAN BE ORDERED WITH SINGLE STEREO POT AT NO EXTRA COST.
I OFFER A REMOTE-CONTROL OPTION.
Cosmetically the various models use similar casework. Croft do not believe in fancy extrusions which waste world resources and make Hi-Fi akin to jewellery. These are not the old Micro circuits in a new case; they are quicker on their feet and more focussed.
The 25 pre-amps employ a type of hybrid design with an SSD doing the job of the usual cathode follower valve. Glenn says that “hybrid” is not really a correct description as the Mosfet is not directly in the signal path.
Prices range from £550 to £2800.
The hybrid power amps from the Twinstar to the present Series 7 range are designed similarly to his classic output transformerless valve circuits with one leg of the mosfet going directly to the speaker terminal. No biasing is needed.
Better tone and naturalness than a typical 2A3 or 6550 valve amp using current production output valves IMO. The Series 7 range are hybrid in design using improved circuitry over the previous Croft Polestar/Twinstar range of amplifiers. The 45w Series 7 sounds significantly more powerful than the 100w Primare A30 and 50w Rega Brio R in my experience.
The different models are cosmetically identical, but with different configurations under the lids – twice the work and components from e.g. 7 to 7R, twice again from 7R to 7R monos. Prices range from £770 for the Series 7 to £2800 for the 7R mono-blocks. The power amps comprise:
1) The Croft Series 7
2) The Series 7R
3) The 7 mono-blocks
4) The 7R mono-blocks. (Again ‘R’ means regulated.)
These are designed to work with the Micro 25 pre-amps and complement each other perfectly. Both pre and powers are phase-inverting.
1) The Croft Acoustics RIAA phono stage The RIAA phono stage is MM uses 2 valves. Price: £500.
2) The RIAA R with regulated power supply and non-inductive resistors in key signal positions. Extra transformer. 3 valves. Price: £1000.
3) The 2 box RIAA RS with really beefy outboard power supply, further regulation and higher component quality. Price: £2000.
Croft Integrated versions.
The Integrateds have a passive linestage as there is no room for an active buffer stage valve as in the 25 pre-amps. (N.B. Some sellers websites claim the Integrated is a Series 7 and 25 in one box…)
1) The Integrated Line
2) The Integrated Phono
3) The Integrated R which is line only has no space for a phono stage.
Probably the best value for money valve amplification on the audio market. Nearly 40 years of experience hand-building point-to-point wired products. Croft aim for sonic neutrality which through the medium of valves imparts depth, dimensionality and a superb tone. The phono stages are simply brilliant and with Croft amplification digital comes to life. Made in the UK with a 2 year warranty.