The Audiophile Man Featuring Hi-Fi and Music news, reviews, features and interviews 2019-01-15T15:17:40Z https://theaudiophileman.com/feed/atom/ Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Cleaner From Kirmuss Pt.1]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29119 2019-01-15T15:17:40Z 2019-01-15T13:39:09Z Positioning itself as a midrange product, Paul Rigby exhaustively reviews the Kirmuss KA-RC-1 ultrasonic vinyl record cleaner. This is Part One of a two part review.  Growing in popularity, the ultrasonic record cleaner is becoming an essential part of many vinyl fan’s armoury. I have used every variant of vinyl cleaning known to man (manual and machine-based) and have found ultrasonic technology to be the most effective and efficient out there. I use this type of Record Cleaning Machine (RCM) on a day to day basis. So what is ultrasonic cleaning, exactly? The general idea is to dip your vinyl into a bath of distilled water (not low enough to wet the label, of course). That disc is slowly, mechanically rotated.  Built-in, bath-fixed transducers increase pressure and vibration in the water producing millions of rising bubbles that stretch and compress. The frequency of the transducers determine how large the bubbles become. Their structural integrity fails and they collapse…violently. If this happens near vinyl grooves, they will agitate and remove surrounding particles. This is known as cavitation. Any surfactant (a substance to lower water’s surface tension) added to the area attracts further bubbles. Kirmuss has taken three years to develop the KA-RC-1, […]

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Positioning itself as a midrange product, Paul Rigby exhaustively reviews the Kirmuss KA-RC-1 ultrasonic vinyl record cleaner. This is Part One of a two part review. 

Growing in popularity, the ultrasonic record cleaner is becoming an essential part of many vinyl fan’s armoury. I have used every variant of vinyl cleaning known to man (manual and machine-based) and have found ultrasonic technology to be the most effective and efficient out there. I use this type of Record Cleaning Machine (RCM) on a day to day basis.

So what is ultrasonic cleaning, exactly?

The general idea is to dip your vinyl into a bath of distilled water (not low enough to wet the label, of course). That disc is slowly, mechanically rotated. 

Built-in, bath-fixed transducers increase pressure and vibration in the water producing millions of rising bubbles that stretch and compress. The frequency of the transducers determine how large the bubbles become. Their structural integrity fails and they collapse…violently. If this happens near vinyl grooves, they will agitate and remove surrounding particles. This is known as cavitation. Any surfactant (a substance to lower water’s surface tension) added to the area attracts further bubbles.

Kirmuss has taken three years to develop the KA-RC-1, focusing on a particular ultrasonic frequency for vinyl cleaning, the correct height to hold the record in the bath, developing an effective surfactant and more.

The first time I saw the KA-RC-1, it was at the North West Audio Show at the Devere Cranage Estate in Cheshire, last Summer. I want to dwell on this occasion a little because it has a bearing on the product, the company itself and this review. 

My first view of Kirmuss as a company was its staffer bedecked in a white coat. I had to smile at this. I thought, “Hello, what do we have here, then?” The coat may have been worn to instil confidence but that sort of adornment triggers the opposite from myself. Then I saw the machine, it looked bulky and gawky yet the feature-rich chassis was intriguing, as was the long and involved cleaning process. So I interviewed the company there and then.

INTERVIEW

During the interview, Kirmuss talked a lot of sense and it was generally informative. And yet, there were also issues that got in the way. Apart from the pantomime white coat there was also the self-aggrandising, self-mythologising and self-promotion. I was constantly dragging the interviewee back to the point. I’m sure Kirmuss only wanted to be informative but it also sounded like Kirmuss was revealing big Dan Brown-type secrets previously hidden, warning of terrible dangers and pointing a trembling, damning finger at my record collection while stating that the only chance I ever have of reaching analogue nirvana and quite possibly also surviving to my next birthday was via the use of a KA-RC-1. Basically, the spiel was just too much.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

I wasn’t the only person there who felt like he had just faced a guy who was selling a potion off the back of a wagon that was guaranteed to give long life, enhance my attractiveness to the opposite sex and cure my dodgy knee…and all I had to do is pay him some money for the privilege. This market stall-approach to promotion was and is not the norm in the hi-fi industry. And not in a good way. And so my hackles were up and alarm bells rang.

More than that, I felt that the company desperately needed (and still needs) a professional PR and marketing team to act as a conduit and buffer between it and the public/press. Sometimes companies need help when trying to convey a message to the press and public. Kirmuss needs such help.

That thought would continue and intensify, as you will see below. Nevertheless, I continued to show interest. 

Later, because I also write for the UK news-stand, national magazine HiFi World, I was given the opportunity to review the thing. I liked it too (and Kirmuss has wasted no time in plastering my comments on its website). The problem with print magazine reviews is the limited deadline time you have to fully investigate the product. Which is why, even if you’ve read that print magazine review, you should really ignore it and press the reset button in your memories. Since then, I’ve given this machine many weeks of further research and discovered many new areas that you should be aware of, as well as undertaking additional independent research and interviews, all of which are listed below and need digesting. 

This is a big review but I don’t apologise for that. This product is important because it’s the first ultrasonic RCM to seriously look to bridge the gap between the DIY cheapo machines and the high end, super expensive models. It also has a host of options and potential that needs investigation with many additional, potentially contentious features that require careful thought.  

MANUAL & WEBSITE

The options I mentioned are all described in the accompanying 8-sided, A5 manual, replete with illustrations.

The problem with this? The manual is a mess. It’s poorly planned and laid out, it’s confusing, grammar is a secondary concern and there is no sense of guiding the user through a graduated process of education. 

Yes, the early parts of the manual have a semblance of order but that quickly degenerates into a confusing mixture of vinyl and record format history plus How To… instructions spread over the manual and various paper supplements. 

Clicking the link (below) you flow downwards from this busy part of the screen…

The website (www.kirmussaudio.com) retains this haphazard style with a lack of design thought, spelling mistakes and grammatical issues plus the insertion of massive blocks of confusing white space positioned in the centre of each page.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

…the featureless desert that is is part of the page and then again down to…

Hence, the overall impression from the public demo routine, the manual and the website is not a good one. They give the impression that you’ve just walked into amateur night. Again, there’s a need for professional PR and marketing help here.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

…some semblance of civilisation

And the reason I’m telling you all of this? Because, faced with the above (and you might have been at some point), it’s easy to be discouraged. Stick with this product, though. It’s worth investing time and effort into the KA-RC-1. It might not be the magical force that Kirmuss infers but there is a solid product on offer here.

DESIGN

As you can see from the accompanying images, the chassis is a low-and-long design that, unfortunately, demands a fair amount of footprint. Many other ultrasonic cleaners user a vertical design that minimises the amount of space.

Another downside? The KA-RC-1 chassis also looks like a toy. There’s even an ill-advised cartoon graphic stuck on the side to emphasise the Toys R Us feel. One that I would remove 30 seconds after removing the chassis from the box, to be frank. When I first unpacked the KA-RC-1, I actually looked for the Nintendo logo. The KA-RC-1 chassis is even bedecked in that classic Nintendo gray shade. 

Kirmuss won’t volunteer the information but this chassis is not their own, it’s bought in. Other, non-hi-fi, third party companies also use the same chassis as a basic ultrasonic cleaner. When I asked about the bath, Kirmuss revealed that it had approached the manufacturer and modified the original design to suit its own purposes. Hence, Kirmuss has invested in its own bespoke, vinyl-centric top plate section and has removed the temperature/heating options. The chassis normally arrives with its own internal basket to hold items for cleaning. That has been removed but can be bought back from Kirmuss if you want the KA-RC-1 to clean other, non-vinyl items in its chassis. 

Of course, not developing its own chassis is how Kirmuss has been able to maintain a relatively low price for its RCM.

I do like the built-in handles on the chassis of the KA-RC-1. Other ultrasonic cleaners forget that you need to move cleaners around on a semi-regular basis during cleaning and refilling. I always feel that I’m about to drop my Audio Desk RCM, for example. Without built-in handles, accidents threaten. Kirmuss has the right idea here.

The bath system uses six litres of distilled water as the basis of its cleaning process, which is a lot. Competing systems (like the Audio Desk) often use a lot less – four litres is common – so you’re going to be spending a little more money on distilled water with the Kirmuss. This is not such a big deal, though because distilled water is not, in the grand scheme of things, that expensive.

The rear of the KA-RC-1 chassis features a power cable and rocker power switch. The right side is where the outlet pipe is situated, allowing the exit of bath water during cleaning, with the help of a supplied add-on flexi-tube. The front sees a sturdy valve switch to open/close that pipe. I tested both and they work with no issues.

The top-right features the cleaning controls and readout. The latter keeps a track of the countdown during a selected process, underneath the clock is a set of lights indicating the process underway as well as a colour-coded temperature gauge. Under that are buttons to change the cleaning time (78s, for example, only need two minutes of ultrasonic cleaning whereas vinyl requires the default five minutes).

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Beneath those are two further buttons. The first is to set the ultrasonic cleaning in motion. The second is a degass (aka Pulse) button to remove latent bubbles within the distilled water. Reportedly, de-gassing makes the water bath a more unified body of water, enhancing cleaning efficiency. Without it, says Kirmuss, the cavitation process spends half its time removing the bubbles in the water, instead of concentrating on cleaning your vinyl.

After filling the KA-RC-1 bath with distilled water, I was asked to degass the water twice, a process that took just over 90 seconds each. Kirmuss recommends that you do this when you first fill the RCM but that you should also repeat after several disc cleans. The feeling being that the water will have been agitated enough to produce extraneous bubbles within the body of the bath liquid content.

RECORD ASSEMBLY

I loved the whole KA-RC-1 Record Assembly Unit concept. The modular nature of this area is quite brilliant and this one area justifies the larger chassis footprint. For a number of reasons. Firstly, it provides a range of record format options from the off, as a default. No costly extra adaptors are required for 7” or 10”/78 records. Both of these formats are included as part of the package, as are two 12” size discs: four in all. This is a welcome decision by Kirmuss to give the user this quality of choice from the basic package.

More than that, this Assembly is operated using an almost clockwork array of belts and cogs. It looks fixable by replaceable parts. It appears to be something that, if it broke down, you could actually repair. A concept that is rare nowadays.

More than that, the Assembly is a drop in solution. That is, the top assembly loosely fits onto the top of the bath. A short electrical lead connects to the side of the chassis to provide power to the gearing.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Two 12″ discs can be inserted for cleaning at the top, third slot down is for a 10″ with a 7″ disc slot at the bottom

What I want Kirmuss to do now is work on a range of Assembly choices, to provide various format options. Hence I’d like to see Assemblies that you can buy as additional accessories. In my own mind’s eye, they could cater for: four 12” discs, four 7” discs, four 10” discs and an Assembly with half and half (two 12” discs and two 7” discs). And then I want Kirmuss to produce a rack for them all, holding a maximum of four Assemblies so that I can then pull the Assembly I need for that day from my rack, drop it into the KA-RC-1 and off I go.

Apparently Kirmuss is working on a new drop-in unit with an alternative slot arrangement but whether Kirmuss will actually have the cash and wherewithal to fulfil all of these record cleaning fantasies of mine is another question. It also depends on user demand.

That sense of potential flexibility is very exciting for someone who not only has thousands of vinyl discs in his collection but has a range of formats sizes to address.

CAVITATION

There are effectively two KA-RC-1 stages to cleaning a record. Firstly, there’s the active ultrasonic cavitation process. Then the record is removed and a sort of After Care process is begun. I’ll describe the cleaning process first. After Care – which is more significant to this review than you might think – will be dealt in Part Two.

The standard KA-RC-1 cleaning process, according to the manual, goes something like this.

You insert your record into one of the KA-RC-1 size-compatible slots. You can either change the cleaning time or run with the five minute default. The process begins after the top mounted On/Off switch is pressed twice. 

After a single clean, for new records, Kirmuss wants you to remove it and play the thing there and then. 

For used records, Kirmuss advises that you place the record on a 7” felt mat (supplied, I talk more about this mat in the After Care section in Part Two) and pump three sprays of Kirmuss’ ‘surfactant’ (also supplied) around the record. This stuff apparently helps to soften the muck and grime but its principle job is to remove surface tension from the distilled water and cavitation bubbles, allowing the bubbles to get closer to the grooves to remove groove muck. In effect, it makes the water wetter.

I want to emphasise the importance of a surfactant to this review. This is a first. It is the first time that any commercial company  has promoted such a step in vinyl record cleaning. General cleaning liquids are applied to the record surface, yes, but don’t count because they are in effect all-in-one cleaning solutions and home-made recipes are excluded here too. I’m talking about a commercial, officially promoted system. This is a first. Other ultrasonic cleaners talk about surfactant use but they often include it as part of the bath liquid. Not as a separate application applied directly to the vinyl surface itself to then be washed off during the secondary cleaning process.

The surfactant is sprayed around each side of the record which is then worked into the grooves by a densely bristled brush (again, more in Part Two). Back into the bath the record goes for a further five minutes of ultrasonics to remove more gunk and wash off that surfactant. Then out comes the record for the After Care section.

Let’s pause right here and backtrack.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

The Record Assembly is connected to the bath with this cable. Not exactly elegant but it works.

Firstly, if Kirmuss is recommending a surfactant at all, why shouldn’t you be using it with a new record as well as old, used records? After all, the surfactant is supposed to enhance cleaning efficiency, isn’t it? Hence, I recommend the use of surfactant on new records too. 

As for that surfactant, what actually is it? Kirmuss, in its manual, describes the liquid as 1% propane-½-diol or Propylene Glycol, as it’s more commonly known. It’s used in the eco-variant of anti-freeze. Don’t panic, though, it’s the stuff which stops anti-freeze actually freezing and is non-aggressive. Propylene Glycol is even used in skin care products, in vaping, foods such as ice cream and it’s also in fake fog you might see in the theatre. Glycol isn’t a surfactant, though. It’s there to, in effect, keep the surfactant in place and stop the actual surfactant pooling on the vinyl surface. When Kirmuss mention the surfactant in the manual and suggest that it is merely distilled water and Glycol, that is a half truth. The actual surfactant ingredient is hidden from view. Kirmuss won’t talk about it. You can tell it’s there because this stuff has a perfume and it bubbles up in use. Glycol is greasy and has no smell. I asked Kirmuss on three occasions to reveal the full contents of the supplied surfactant liquid but it was reluctant to do so. Even when I promised to keep my mouth shut about their surfactant secrets. When pushed, it did reveal a rather confusing and murky chemical/brand name but refused to supply further information or links. I wanted to know more because of this…

WARNING

The Propylene Glycol is rated as safe in any documents you might read on the Internet. Potential hazards are few and far between and there’s no long lasting issues that I could find within the documents I found. That said, I had a reaction because of that unknown part of the liquid, the perfumed surfactant I mentioned above.

What happened was this. In use, when sprayed at the vinyl surface, a small amount of the spray kicked back and flew upwards from the vinyl surface. Looking closely, you could actually see this happening. I then unintentionally breathed the stuff in, it irritated my throat and I flew into a coughing fit. I had to reach for water to stop coughing. This occurred on four or five occasions, immediately after spraying. I did this to make absolutely sure that there was no other possible reason for the reaction (the things I do for you, eh?) The surfactant was used on older and, I hasten to add, brand new records. 

I reported this to Kirmuss and owner Charles Kirmuss replied, “The splash back could have been…something coming off of the record as fungus.” Then he hurriedly quoted information relating to how safe his surfactant liquid was – even though I have no idea where the information came from, had no opportunity to double check it and didn’t know what liquid it referred to. Kirmuss’ assumptions may have had grounds if my treated records were all old and had been badly stored but mine were not. As I say, some were even brand new, so fungus infection was doubtful in the extreme. Kirmuss’ scientifically enquiring mind also didn’t think to ask any questions of myself. To save him the trouble, I can tell you that I can react badly to strong perfumes and I guess that was the cause of my reaction. Nothing more. I hope.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

The surfactant is supplied in the tall bottle. More about the other tools in Part Two

Again, I know that a PR and marketing team would have handled this situation better, would have been more thorough, less dismissive and more supportive.

I trust that this is the only issue in terms of health and I assume that, even then, only some people with sensitive throats will be affected in this way. That said, I’d rather not be breathing this stuff in at all and I was. As I say, I could see it lifting off the vinyl surface. It might not do me any bad but it certainly won’t do me any good, either. The day after my coughing fit, I had a slightly sore throat. Nothing worse than that, though.

So, what to do? Forget the KA-RC-1? No, there’s no need to take such drastic steps. As I say, any spray hitting vinyl will rebound upwards towards your face. If you want to continue with the Kirmuss-supplied liquid (or if you spray any surfactant of any type onto any vinyl surface), I’d recommend buying a pipette, eye dropper-type bottle from Amazon with a relatively high capacity bottle (click HERE to see more). This will stop the issue of spray entering the air, retains my good health (and yours too) and, an additional benefit, will be more precise in terms of application so it won’t accidentally spray all over your precious record label.

THE USE OF ALCOHOL

Then we get to the bath of distilled water. There’s something else included within the water itself. Kirmuss recommends the use of Isopropyl alcohol. This is not sprayed onto the vinyl, as I say, but added to the actual bath of distilled water. Hence, your vinyl is cleaned with distilled water, cavitation and alcohol. You need to buy the alcohol yourself. It’s not supplied. Kirmuss recommend a bottle of 70% alcohol. This liquid is sometimes labelled as Rubbing Alcohol and arrives in two flavours: pure and ‘tainted’. The latter includes impurities for safety reasons, added to make it taste pretty bad. Some Rubbing Alcohol products are pure, though and that’s what I used in the review. Others are literally labelled as 70% alcohol. The other 30% volume is distilled water. You could, of course, use less of the 100% Isopropyl alcohol variant too. 

When preparing the bath of liquid for the KA-RC-1, you add 40ml of the 70% solution to the bath of distilled water which amounts to 0.43% total volume. A very low figure indeed.

The addition of alcohol and its recommendation by Kirmuss will be of major concern to some. It was to me, I have to admit, even if only 0.43% was being added. To this point, I have had a zero tolerance of the stuff. In the past, I’ve found it to be nasty and aggressive. It can ruin a vinyl disc.

I have tested an LP to destruction with 100% proof Isopropyl alcohol. In those tests, the first couple of cleans produced a brilliantly clear and open suite of sonics but subsequent cleans produced an increasingly edgy and harsh sound, brittle and bright in tone. After a while, the LP became unplayable, such were the sonic extremes that the alcohol took the sound. The reason? Melting vinyl and groove damage. I’ll address that subject in more detail below.

Suffice to say, I avoided Isopropyl alcohol from that point. I know plenty of people who use it now and swear by it and use various liquid recipes containing it. Often 25% or 20% volume is a common figure in many user’s recipes. I was nervous, though, because I had no facts or figures as to exactly when alcohol caused damage. What was the boundary, over which damage to vinyl occurred? When did alcohol change, transferring from a friendly groove-cleaning product to a damaging, ruinous acidic destructor? Where was the line to be crossed? Was it more than 25%, How about 40%? Maybe it was 15%? Who knows? No-one I ever talked to could tell me for sure. Everyone had an opinion. But no-one actually knew.  

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Bottom right is the power connector. To its left is the toggle power switch

Because alcohol is so contentious as a cleaning ingredient and because the liquid is so much at the core of the KA-RC-1, I felt that I had to learn more about it. How could I truly recommend the KA-RC-1 if I could not trust a key part of its cleaning process?

So I undertook lengthy independent research to find out which was spread over a period of months. I reached out to the vinyl industry because, if anyone would know the answers then they would, right?

NEW RESEARCH

I approached five separate sectors of the vinyl industry. I first talked to a UK company, Transcom, that supplies acetate discs to Abbey Road. These discs are made from a soft acetate to test a master before committing to a full pressing. I talked to a Canadian-based chemist, a lady whose name I’ll keep to myself to retain her personal privacy, who also works on a regular basis with Abbey Road and knows vinyl. Next, I talked to Vinyl Factory, a UK vinyl pressing plant and the guy who runs the place. Based in the UK, this is a factory that actually makes vinyl records. Finally, I talked to the two largest producers of vinyl pellets in the UK, one was Dugdales the other wished to remain anonymous (it’s a nervous and competitive world, the vinyl pellet business). I’m talking about the raw vinyl. The core material that is supplied to the record pressing plant. Bags of these pellets are supplied to the vinyl pressing plant for processing.

Now, surely, if these guys didn’t know the answer, then no-one would. 

I initially asked these experts about alcohol but learned a lot more than I bargained for – all of it valuable and fascinating and of use to audiophiles. I’ll share some of this information with you now (Not all, I’m wary at the final size of this increasingly large review!) and hope to share more, for those who might be interested, later in a separate feature. 

The most important conclusion from talking to all of these industry experts is that no-one, I repeat not one person I talked to, knew how alcohol affected vinyl. Not in all encompassing and definitive terms, at any rate. Yes, they told me that Isopropyl alcohol was an issue when used neat. I knew that already but no-one knew when Isopropyl alcohol actually became a danger to vinyl. No-one could tell me at what stage or at what point or at what strength Isopropyl alcohol actually attacked vinyl or if repeated use of safe levels was a problem over time. There are, I was told, no figures. None at all. Yes, everyone had a personal opinion and the conversation quickly degraded into conjecture but nothing official was offered.

To say that I was surprised at this was an understatement. Then I found out why. The reason is down to the vinyl itself. You may think that vinyl is vinyl is vinyl. PVC, eh? No. In fact, far from it. Vinyl records are not made from a single substance. The vinyl in your collection is created from a recipe of chemicals. Only one of those is PVC. There’s between four and 10 elements to any one vinyl recipe.

One contact I talked to had many recipes, ready to go at any one time, “We have around six difference black record formulations we make depending on the state of the [pressing] machines but that can increase if the presser wants something ‘a little softer’, for example.” The “state of the machines” refers to age and wear and tear and if the pressing machines vary in pressure and the like. So that’s at least six (maybe more) different types of vinyl recipe from this one company here and today. But there’s more, my contact’s company has changed the recipe of its vinyl pellets over time.

One of the supposed devastating effects that Isopropyl alcohol has on a vinyl record is to distort the plasticiser with it. The bit the helps the grooves retain their form. Everyone I’ve ever talked to in the hi-fi industry believes that plasticiser is and always has been part of a vinyl record. Now I find that it’s just not so, at least not exclusively, “There is no plasticiser added in our formulations,” said my contact, “other companies might add them but we stay away from them as they distort the record if the balance isn’t right and depending on what it is, the surface finish would be hazy and not crisp and glossy.”

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Typical vinyl pellets used in the production of vinyl records

Other chemicals have come and gone too. This adds to the variations in the vinyl recipe. If one company requires six vinyl recipes at any one time then, as above, replaces the plasticiser to create another new recipe (so, that’s six new recipes available on a daily basis), then changes more chemicals (another six variants multiplied by the changes) and keeps doing that over the decades, imagine how many different types of vinyl there are on the market from that one supplier alone? And if you have a different combinations of chemicals making up vinyl disc, it makes sense that alcohol will react differently to each, yes?

There’s more than one company out there making vinyl pellets to create vinyl discs, though. And it’s a highly competitive business. Each company lives and dies by its own bespoke recipe, “…every compounding company will have their own formulations and ingredients, there is no set formulation,” said my contact.

If every company has its own secret formula, how many companies are there in the world creating raw vinyl? My contact said, “I would say, including us, there is around 40 to 50. Could be wrong but Asia have a load and the US have loads as well.” And then going back into history? What about those companies who don’t even exist any more?

Just how many variations are there exactly? No-one knows. It’s an impossible figure to consider. What is entirely possible is that there are hundreds, more like thousands of different types of vinyl out there. You might play 20 vinyl records from your collection and it’s possible that every single one is constructed from completely different vinyl recipes. Or not. Who knows? Because of that, each vinyl disc, theoretically, will react differently to cleaning with alcohol.

So what to do? I decided to put my fear of alcohol to one side and complete a sound test with and without alcohol.

78s

Before I get to that, a word about alcohol and 78s. Kirmuss recommend that you clean 78s in its bath containing 0.43% alcohol. Most 78 users are told that alcohol should never touch a 78 disc. Kirmuss says that the 78 discs will not be damaged because the cleaning cycle is ‘only’ two minutes long and the discs are not exposed for long in the tiny amount of alcohol contained in the water bath. I didn’t have a chance to test this because of limited time, I’m afraid but you have been warned.

SOUND TEST 1

I began the first KA-RC-1 sound test tests with a Richie Havens original release. The LP, Something Else Again and a track called From The Prison. The track possessed a continual stream of noise that sat underneath the vocals. 

I undertook the sound tests, initially, by the Kirmuss book but included no alcohol as part of the bath of distilled water. So I firstly inserted the vinyl into the KA-RC-1 to soften up the muck and dirt in the grooves, ran through a single, five minute, ultrasonic cavitation cleaning process, took out the LP, applied the spray-on surfactant to the LP (to soften up the muck some more) and cleaned it off with another cavitation clean. 

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Havens – working for the audiophile cause

Sonically, I noticed a dramatic reduction in noise. Some noise could still be heard but the overall effect was much improved with sonics also benefitting from being smoother, less edgy and with an informative midrange. 

I decided to give the same record an additional surfactant spray and another ultrasonic/cavitation application, again without alcohol as part of the bath contents.  The noise reduced still further while sound quality improved again. Clarity improved while extra air and space was heard across the soundstage. 

I did notice a mucky build up on my stylus tip. So I tried a third time. I sprayed more surfactant, cleaned that off with another cavitation cycle and played the record. It was this third application that I realised that I’d hit a bit of a wall and no further sonic improvements were occurring. 

At this point I added the alcohol to the water, degassed the KA-RC-1 liquid bath again and repeated the cleaning process. More reduction in noise occurred. What remained was very low level, mostly heard between tracks and at the very beginning of the LP. This could easily have been age and vinyl wear. 

What really hit me, though, was the sonics. The effect was, how can I put it, less, “Oh that was nice.” And rather more, “Wow!” The minor levels of alcohol are supposed to act as a “grease remover” and that sense of a veil being lifted from right across the frequency range was certainly heard here. Focus, precision and clarity were all enhanced as was a slight increase in gain. Haven’s voice was enhanced in terms of the texture and gravel-like nature of his crescendos while his acoustic guitar was powerful and expressive during his powerful strumming routines. 

I did notice a tiny deposit on the stylus tip so maybe the record could have done with one last clean (see the After Care section in Part Two for more on this). I decided to leave that, having satisfied myself of the enhanced sonic qualities. 

Instead, at this point, I took the record out of the KA-RC-1 and ‘cleaned’ the same record in my Audio Desk ultrasonic cleaner. The latter featured bespoke Audio Desk liquid within. No alcohol was present in the Audio Desk RCM.

I then played that same Havens’ cleaned record on my reference system and I have to say that, compared to the KA-RC-1, a thin veil had now newly appeared over the music once more. The sound quality was still excellent, lots of detail and so on – this wasn’t a disaster I was hearing by any means. So, let’s not get carried away. That said, there was a dulling, a muting of the top end and a lack of excitement around the vocal delivery. String plucks lacked that organic tonality that I was hearing before. The KA-RC-1  naturalism had largely gone or, at least, had been softened and restrained. Almost as if a thin layer of something had covered the grooves.

KA-RC-1 Ultrasonic Record Cleaner From Kirmuss

Drain pipe on the Kirmuss’ RCM, to remove old bath liquid. A pipe is also suppled to attach to this nozzle

I then took the record out of the Audio Desk and cleaned that same record once more with the KA-RC-1 RCM and the passion come back, so did the dynamic reach, the mids opened up allowing space and air within the soundstage once more, tonality was enhanced, the reverb ‘ring’ off the back of the strummed guitar strings was more evident now and the vocal was far more expressive…even the gain increased. 

The revelation was absolute. The shock or rather aftershocks of this test were unquestionable.

Yet there was a single variable that was proven to be responsible for this sonic change. Alcohol. At least alcohol enhanced by the ultrasonic action – and I think the latter is very important here. Remember, only a tiny portion of alcohol was used but this one factor (in conjunction with the ultrasonic action) was key to the change in sonics. Up to the addition of the alcohol, I felt that the performance of the KA-RC-1 and the Audiodesk were roughly on par in terms of sound. That is, sound quality was very good indeed in terms of sonics and the removal of noise, pops and clicks. These physical obstructions had been reduced by both machines to a similar level. 

That, in itself, was an intriguing find because the Kirmuss was achieving roughly the same anti-noise performance for around half the price. 

Nevertheless, it was the the addition of the alcohol (plus ultrasonics) that was giving me the addition of the sonic lift, removing that dulling veil across the entire soundstage. The alcohol was the important part of the recipe that increased sound quality.

At this point, I’ll end Part One of this test of the KA-RC-1 RCM. Please don’t draw too many conclusions from this one Sound Test – there’s more to come and the story changes. I hope to see you for Part Two which includes the After Care section, more direct tests with the Audio Desk RCM plus a few suggested tweaks to hone the performance of the Kirmuss (and the Audio Desk) and that final rating.

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Poison 8 Speakers From Auris Audio]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29085 2019-01-11T13:39:06Z 2019-01-11T13:02:34Z Presenting a pair of floorstanding speakers replete in a sumptuous wood finish, Paul Rigby reviews the high-end Poison 8 speakers I could…I could make an illusion to the name of these Serbian, 4-way speakers and the fact that they arrived in wooden coffins (well crates, but as good as) but I won’t. Instead, I’ll skip to their emergence and their inherent beauty. The walnut and leather finish is…just…beautiful. It really is. You could grab a chair, coffee and choccie biccie, sit in front of these things, no music, just the speakers and just stare for a few hours.  The images here bear no relation to the effect they have in real life. Floorstanding, yes, but not too high (1,102mm), pretty darned thin when viewed head on (153mm), they roam backwards quite a way (390mm) and they look good enough to eat. All that wood makes them heavy, though at 30kg a pop. So watch your hernia. Many of you will just despair at the above. Not another thin speaker, eh? Well, as others have done when utilising this inherently lifestyle-oriented design option, a larger bass bin has been inserted into the side area (Beyma, in this case, with a bass […]

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Presenting a pair of floorstanding speakers replete in a sumptuous wood finish, Paul Rigby reviews the high-end Poison 8 speakers

I could…I could make an illusion to the name of these Serbian, 4-way speakers and the fact that they arrived in wooden coffins (well crates, but as good as) but I won’t. Instead, I’ll skip to their emergence and their inherent beauty. The walnut and leather finish is…just…beautiful. It really is. You could grab a chair, coffee and choccie biccie, sit in front of these things, no music, just the speakers and just stare for a few hours. 

The images here bear no relation to the effect they have in real life. Floorstanding, yes, but not too high (1,102mm), pretty darned thin when viewed head on (153mm), they roam backwards quite a way (390mm) and they look good enough to eat. All that wood makes them heavy, though at 30kg a pop. So watch your hernia.

Many of you will just despair at the above. Not another thin speaker, eh? Well, as others have done when utilising this inherently lifestyle-oriented design option, a larger bass bin has been inserted into the side area (Beyma, in this case, with a bass port underneath). It’s a 203mm bass unit. Front on, all you get to see is the Fountek midrange driver and ribbon tweeter. Inside is a Mundorf-based crossover and on the rear is a tweeter. You’ll also find a 3D switch to enhance sound dispersion plus the WBT terminals.

Speaker outriggers stop the thing falling over.

In terms of positioning, I would move the Poison 8 pairing away from the wall to give them room to manoeuvre and I wouldn’t point the tweeters at the ear. They can beam a little at you in that position. I would point the speakers down the room and then toe them in gradually until you find that sweet spot of midrange detail without any intrusive edge. The Poison 8s are not the most neutral speakers I’ve ever heard in my life. They’re not overly bright but they like to push the upper mids as far as possible to accentuate this part of the spectrum.

SOUND QUALITY

I began the review by playing an original vinyl cut of Richie Havens’ Something Else Again on Verve and the track, From the Prison. This is quite a sparse track featuring Havens’ textured voice but passionate acoustic guitar playing with often aggressive strumming effects. Anyone who has seen the classic, original Woodstock film will have seen Havens at the beginning of the actual concert.

The Poison 8s structured the soundstage in an intriguing manner. The mids have an intriguing, slightly deep-set effect that pushes the Havens’ vocal backwards along the stereo image, giving the soundstage depth but also immersing the vocal in a bubble of atmospheric yet relatively subtle vocal reverb. This gave the ‘man in the studio’ feel to the track. His voice had a slight upper midrange hardening but nothing too problematic. The Poison 8s seemed to push the upper mids hard to extract as much information from this area as possible.

The acoustic guitar was positioned slightly forward of the vocal. It offered plenty of detail. Part of the guitar rendition includes the regulation Havens aggressive strum and the Poison 8 speakers successfully delivered that harsh bite when Havens almost leant into the strum itself, adding power to the effect. Other parts of the song had individual strings, slowly and firmly plucked, adding a real bounce to the string effect. The Poison 8s were able to respond well to the thump effect of the string.

The Poison 8s seemed determined to present bass to the ear even when there was little to offer. In this case, that meant focusing on Havens’ foot stomping on the ground. There it was, present and correct, adding a weird sort of tonal balance to the mix. 

I then moved to Jazz from Queen and Dead on Time, a high octane track. This track is a rather lively master with slightly harsh upper mid frequencies and, because the Poison 8 speakers accentuate this area a tad, the effect was highlighted.

Bass was strong here, with powerful sub bass and a firm lower frequency foundation. That bass never swamped the soundstage, though. It was present but never dominated to any great extent.   

I returned to the Havens track but, this time, flicked the 3D switch on the rear of the speakers. This effect widened the dispersion of the speaker’s frequencies. It reminded me of those extra EQ options you often find on headphone amplifiers. It’s useful if you’re not sitting still. If you’re working around the room, on the move, then this option is useful because you never really lose the sweet spot – mainly because the sweet spot is never really there with 3D switch on. For serious listening, though, I turned this feature off. It’s not for audiophile listening, it’s a gimmick.

I then brought in my McIntosh CD player and played Depeche Mode’s Enjoy the Silence. That slight midrange hardening remained here but was never a great issue while the space around the soundstage gave the music a grand and epic feel. The pushing of the mids did reveal a host of information from subtle synth runs to minor percussive effects. There was plenty of information available for the ear to focus upon. Bass, meanwhile, was forceful, massy and weighty in its approach giving the track an impressive forward momentum.

CONCLUSION

Delivering music with a midrange edge, the Poison 8 speakers offer a honed series of upper frequencies. They also look the part and do a good job of trying to be demur while delivering a punch. They deliver music to the ears on a pedestal or – more aptly – a big stage. You really feel that you’re in the audience for quite a show. To that end, the speakers present you with a real sense of grandeur. 


AURIS AUDIO POISON 8 SPEAKERS

Price: £8,561

Tel: 01334 570 666 

Website www.eliteaudiouk.com

GOOD: aesthetics, bass response, detail, broad soundstage 

BAD: slight midrange stridency

RATING: 7


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Cartridge

Soundsmith Paua Mk.II cartridge

McIntosh MCD600 CD Player

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[SL-1500C Turntable from Technics]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29070 2019-01-10T15:59:26Z 2019-01-10T15:29:52Z The SL-1500C semi-automatic…just pause there for a sec, done that? OK carry on…Technics turntable includes a coreless direct drive motor a built-in phono amplifier and Ortofon 2M Red cartridge I never thought I’d see the day when a new Technics turntable would incorporate a ‘semi-automatic’ action but, there it is. The way Technics introduces this feature is odd. It does it almost in a shy way. Stuck at the end of the press release with no fanfare at all. As if it’s not sure how it might be received. Although, actually, it isn’t. Hence, when the tonearm reaches the end of the record, the auto-lift automatically raises the tonearm. And then nothing happens. It doesn’t move from that point but the arm does raise. Less semi-automatic, then, but possible quarter-automatic? It kinda reminds me of the Thorens TD294. Well, it’s on the same lines. The SL-1500C uses a single-rotor, coreless direct drive motor in which the stator has no core and eliminates the rotation irregularity called cogging. In this motor, the magnetic force of the rotor magnets was improved and the gap between the coreless stator and rotor magnets was optimised. Furthermore, the motor control had been optimised in accordance with the […]

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The SL-1500C semi-automatic…just pause there for a sec, done that? OK carry onTechnics turntable includes a coreless direct drive motor a built-in phono amplifier and Ortofon 2M Red cartridge

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

I never thought I’d see the day when a new Technics turntable would incorporate a ‘semi-automatic’ action but, there it is. The way Technics introduces this feature is odd. It does it almost in a shy way. Stuck at the end of the press release with no fanfare at all. As if it’s not sure how it might be received.

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

Although, actually, it isn’t. Hence, when the tonearm reaches the end of the record, the auto-lift automatically raises the tonearm. And then nothing happens. It doesn’t move from that point but the arm does raise. Less semi-automatic, then, but possible quarter-automatic? It kinda reminds me of the Thorens TD294. Well, it’s on the same lines.

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

All together now, “The only way is up! Baby, for you and me now…etc.”

The SL-1500C uses a single-rotor, coreless direct drive motor in which the stator has no core and eliminates the rotation irregularity called cogging. In this motor, the magnetic force of the rotor magnets was improved and the gap between the coreless stator and rotor magnets was optimised. Furthermore, the motor control had been optimised in accordance with the platter weight. 

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

The SL-1500C has a built-in phono amp compatible with MM cartridges. The dedicated power supply for the phono equalizer is isolated from the power supply for the motor and control circuitry. Furthermore, the shield structure “…suppresses the effect of external noise,” said the company. 

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

“The FG coil pattern of the full-circumference detection FG system was improved in precision,” which means? A more accurate platter rotation speed.

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

Featuring a S-shape tonearm is made of lightweight, high-rigidity aluminium while the bearing section of the gimbal suspension construction tonearm also consists of a machined housing.

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

The platter includes a two-layer structure with deadening rubber on the entire back surface to, “…eliminate unwanted resonance in the aluminium die-cast platter,” said the company. 

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

The aluminium die-cast, two-layer chassis is integrated with an ABS mixed with glass fibre and the insulator is comprised of a spring and rubber. Price is £TBA.

SL-1500C Turntable from Technics

To learn more, click www.panasonic.co.uk

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[SL-1210MK7 Turntable From Technics]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29051 2019-01-10T12:04:32Z 2019-01-10T11:43:37Z The new model inherits the traditional design while adding a coreless direct drive motor and reverse playback. The SL-1210MK7 is launched as the first new standard DJ turntable in approximately nine years The direct drive system uses a slow-rotating motor to directly drive the platter. This system has various advantages. It offers rotation accuracy and powerful torque, does not require replacement of parts and maintains high reliability over a long period of time. However, the direct drive system was said to occasionally produce a rotation irregularity called cogging. For the SL-1210MK7, a new coreless direct drive motor was developed. This motor employs a coreless stator. The removal of the iron core from the stator, “…eliminates the root cause of cogging,” said the company.  Furthermore, the magnetic force of the rotor magnets was improved and the gap between the coreless stator and rotor magnets was optimised, thus achieving torque performance equalling that of the SL-1200MK5. The platter rotates in the reverse direction when the speed selector button and Start/Stop button are pressed simultaneously. Utilising a microcomputer, the motor control technology, “…responds accurately to a wide range of DJ play styles, such as scratching,” said the company. To those ends, the starting […]

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The new model inherits the traditional design while adding a coreless direct drive motor and reverse playback. The SL-1210MK7 is launched as the first new standard DJ turntable in approximately nine years

The direct drive system uses a slow-rotating motor to directly drive the platter. This system has various advantages. It offers rotation accuracy and powerful torque, does not require replacement of parts and maintains high reliability over a long period of time. However, the direct drive system was said to occasionally produce a rotation irregularity called cogging. For the SL-1210MK7, a new coreless direct drive motor was developed. This motor employs a coreless stator. The removal of the iron core from the stator, “…eliminates the root cause of cogging,” said the company. 

SL-1210MK7 Turntable From Technics

Furthermore, the magnetic force of the rotor magnets was improved and the gap between the coreless stator and rotor magnets was optimised, thus achieving torque performance equalling that of the SL-1200MK5. The platter rotates in the reverse direction when the speed selector button and Start/Stop button are pressed simultaneously.

Utilising a microcomputer, the motor control technology, “…responds accurately to a wide range of DJ play styles, such as scratching,” said the company. To those ends, the starting torque and brake speed can be adjusted individually to suit the user’s preference.

The stylus illuminator features a new push-type structure and employs a high-brightness and long-life white LED. The illumination area and intensity were reviewed to provide improved visibility of the stylus tip compared to previous models even in a dark environment.

SL-1210MK7 Turntable From Technics

The tonearm S-shaped tonearm is made of lightweight, high-rigidity aluminium. The bearing section of the gimbal suspension construction tonearm consists of a machined housing and “high-precision bearing”.

The platter features a two-layer structure with deadening rubber on the entire back surface while the chassis is aluminium die-cast and feature ABS mixed with glass fibre to achieve a two-layer construction. The insulator features a spring and rubber. 

SL-1210MK7 Turntable From Technics

The rotation speed can be set to 33-1/3 rpm, 45 rpm or 78 rpm. The pitch control function allows fine adjustment of the rotation speed within ±8%/±16%. 

SL-1210MK7 Turntable From Technics

The SL-1200MK7 is available in black with black buttons and a black tonearm. The LED light (which doesn’t shine black, thankfully) can be set to illuminate in either red or blue. Price is £899.

To learn more, click www.panasonic.co.uk

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Acutus SP From AVID: The Source Of Sources]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29027 2019-01-11T10:13:15Z 2019-01-09T15:09:39Z A high end turntable based on a thoughtful and intriguing design, Paul Rigby reviews the AVID Acutus SP turntable My experience of the Acutus began before it was upgraded by AVID to the SP status which included the additional of a second belt – yes, this is a belt-driven turntable. Having been rather slow in catching up with the improvements, I thought I’d look at the turntable afresh now that I have heard that upgrade. My review sample features a SME fitting and a SME IV tonearm. This is a recognised package from AVID, one that its distributors are happy to present to potential customers and so I will reserve my comments on the turntable and the package as a whole. There is a reason for that but I’ll get to that point later on.  This is a big deck, it is imposing and weighty. In fact, it weighs a total of 28.5kg with the platter on its own fetching 10kg. I know many turntables out there whose entire weight totals half the weight of the Acutus’ platter! Spanning 460 x 400 x 210mm, the Acutus stands tall with grand suspension pillars giving it an almost Romanesque architectural look. The […]

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A high end turntable based on a thoughtful and intriguing design, Paul Rigby reviews the AVID Acutus SP turntable

My experience of the Acutus began before it was upgraded by AVID to the SP status which included the additional of a second belt – yes, this is a belt-driven turntable. Having been rather slow in catching up with the improvements, I thought I’d look at the turntable afresh now that I have heard that upgrade. My review sample features a SME fitting and a SME IV tonearm. This is a recognised package from AVID, one that its distributors are happy to present to potential customers and so I will reserve my comments on the turntable and the package as a whole. There is a reason for that but I’ll get to that point later on. 

This is a big deck, it is imposing and weighty. In fact, it weighs a total of 28.5kg with the platter on its own fetching 10kg. I know many turntables out there whose entire weight totals half the weight of the Acutus’ platter! Spanning 460 x 400 x 210mm, the Acutus stands tall with grand suspension pillars giving it an almost Romanesque architectural look.

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

Two stage clamp (centre)

The Acutus really started AVID on its way as a hi-fi company. Founder, Conrad Mas wanted to create the best turntable he could at that time. From this position of excellence, the Acutus has been the inspiration for a range of lower cost designs that have all stemmed from the Acutus ‘mother’, as it where. Hence, the Acutus has become a source for a host of other sources that retain their family links. 

AVID has never liked massy platter designs like those from Clearaudio because it says that the stored vibrations will, ultimately, reflect back up to the record and arm while the Linn-type approach results, says AVID, in too much vibration in the plinth. AVID has always tried to drain noise from its designs. 

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

The gnarled feet (bottom) can be rotated for levelling

One principle method of doing that is the W-shaped lower subchassis which, by its very shape, acts as a drain point. The frontal part of the deck plus the motor are other escape areas for noise. Mas, as a designer, sees the choice of arm for his turntable as important. Rigid bearing designs are preferable. Hence, you should avoid unipivots if you want to buy an Acutus.

The turntable is divided into three parts. The ridged base contains the suspension columns and, in itself, is a damping point. Even the aluminium skin does a job by removing high frequency noise (which is why the aluminium version is sonically superior to the new ‘Dark’ version currently on offer from AVID). Three feet can be rotated for levelling while a tiny, built-in, bubble level aids visual adjustment.

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

You can just see the built-in bubble level (centre, bottom)

The next layer above that holds the W-shaped sub-chassis and the tonearm too. In my case, that was a supplied SME IV. Three feet from this sub-chassis easily slips into the lower suspension columns beneath and are held in place with strong rubber bands, allowing the sub-chassis to bounce gently on the lower base’s springs. 

The inverted stainless steel bearing with a Tungstern carbide/Sapphire thrust point is placed on top of the sub-chassis. The Platter is placed upon that.

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

This column/foot holds the sub-chassis in placed on a supportive spring

The isolation performance is quite superb which reduces the need to find a perfect shelf for the Acutus. That said, I would encourage you to do so – why chance it?

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

When you put a record on the platter, you’ll notice that it will wobble a little bit because the centre of the record rests upon a slightly raised brass area. AVID supplies you with a two-stage threaded clamp. Once the record is in place, you screw the upper part of the clamp into place. Once tight, you then screw the lower ring of the same clamp. This eases the record flat onto the platter’s bonded polymer surface creating a complete connection with the surface. In effect, the record becomes ‘as one’ with the platter surface.

The platter is rotated by a powerful motor that’s hidden underneath the platter. So attaching the belts around the motor’s pulley and the underside of the platter is a finicky job. You’re given a handy little tool to assist. The system works fine after a bit of practice but it’s not my favourite part of the installation.

A separate power supply holds the power button and 2-speed selector.

SOUND QUALITY

I began the tests with an original copy of Jan Akkerman’s Can’t Stand Noise (CBS) from 1983 and the instrumental track Piétons. Akkerman’s electric guitar is distinctly noodly on this track and seems to plug into a Chet Atkins style along the way. The music is little jazzy rock with an easy swing to it. You’ll also hear organ, bass and percussion plus secondary percussive backing.

Firstly, I was impressed by the bass from the Acutus. It’s not just the solidity – although the lower frequencies are very firm and massy in nature – or the nature of the transients which are lean and fast, keeping the music moving at a pace but the character aspect of the presentation, it gives percussion a rhythmic, naturalistic flow. 

The noise level from the Acutus is also very low which means that fine details have a great chance to emerge from the soundstage. Even tiny mistakes within the song are noticed by the ear. At the beginning of this song are three almost subliminal rings. As if someone has accidentally knocked against something. But the recording is so busy they’re easily missed. The Acutus picked them up and others like it. Its eye for detail is quite stunning. 

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

The upper mids and treble hold most of that detail which flows very easily which means that the organ, lurking to the rear of the broad soundstage can easily be masked by the dominant instruments out front. The Acutus hates to leave any instrument alone though which means that here, the organ can easily be tracked by the ear while offering a wealth of informative detail to boot. 

One of the interesting points during Richie Havens’ Something Else Again on Verve and the track, From the Prison was not so much the midrange response from the plucking of the strings, which was excellent have no doubt about that, but the after effects of the action. The metallic ringing after effects offered a mixture of power but also delicacy as the sound decayed and the reverb petered out. 

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

Again, the low noise aspect of the Acutus’ design allowed the ear to hear more from this turntable. On the Dylan cover, Maggie’s Farm, I heard – for the first time – a particularly muddy line clarified within the lyric. I could finally tell what he was talking about. It was a case of, “Oh that’s what he’s saying!” The relief was palpable, let me tell you. Hence, the clarity of the Acutus is superb. That sense of information, even normally hard-to-track information, hitting you from all angles keeps the ear busy during a typical song. There’s so much to notice that you’ll be assimilating a new track over several plays. 

Playing Queen’s In the Lap of the Gods from the EMI LP, Sheer Heart Attack I was impressed by the dynamic energy from the percussion but also the contrasting and open nature of the backing piano. The expansive aspect of the piano with its own reverb tail added a richness to the sound as a whole. More, the next track Stone Cold Crazy is a full-on, heavy rock outing but I was impressed how the ear could easily track the cymbals taps throughout. Instrumental separation was of a high quality here. As was the 3D effect from the central stereo image.

ARM IN ARM

There is one point of note here. You may find the Acutus for sale with a Pro-Ject 9 CC Carbon. You’ll normally pay around £600 for it. Don’t go there. Reject the offer. Really, just don’t. The arm is fine but the Acutus is just too good for it.

And I have to ask, what on earth is AVID doing instructing its distributors to recommend such an arm with a deck like the Acutus? A nice arm, as I say, but one that’s not worthy to kiss the feet of the Acutus and one that’s bundled with it’s £1,650 Ingenium? 

Acutus SP From Avid: The Source Of Sources

You can say the same about the SME IV. As good as this arm is, I realise its legendary status and it performed very well during the test, it is the weak point of the turntable. It’s a good start, which is why I used it for this test but, ultimately, you need to aim higher with this turntable. The SME drags on the Acutus.

A new arm is your next upgrade after buying the Acutus. A £5k Origin Live Enterprise, for example or something of an even higher quality will really get the most from the turntable design. After that? You’re looking at an upgrade to the AVID Reference…but that’s another story and another review.

CONCLUSION

The AVID Acutus SP is a thoughtful, innovative and incisive design. Just roam your eyes over the chassis and you’ll only find features here aimed at enhancing sound quality. There’s no faff, no filigree and no wastage. You can see where you’ve spent your money and, more importantly, you can hear it too. I’ve rarely experienced a turntable that flows so well in design and sound terms.


AVID ACUTUS TURNTABLE

Price: £13,500

Website: www.avidhifi.com

Tel: 01480 869 900


GOOD: build quality, overall design, firm bass, clarity, detail, low noise

BAD: nothing

RATING: 10


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

Origin Live Sovereign turntable

Origin Live Enterprise 12″ arm

Van Den Hul Crimson XGW Stradivarius Cartridge

Soundsmith Paua Mk.II cartridge

Icon PS3 phono amplifier

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

All vinyl was cleaned using an Audio Desk’s Ultrasonic Pro Vinyl Cleaner

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Eddie & The Hot Rods: The Island Years Box Set]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=29009 2019-01-08T17:50:58Z 2019-01-08T17:08:43Z Title: The Island Years  Label: Caroline If you ever see one of those TV documentaries on the history of punk you’re bound to have experienced a brief introduction on the range of pub rock bands that laid the foundation. Groups like Ducks Deluxe, Brinsley Schwarz and Kilburn and the High Roads reigned supreme during their brief moment in the beer soaked sun. Within this movement, you also had a range of bands who seemed to infuse the genre with ambition and looked beyond, detaching themselves from that collection, almost reaching out but possibly not quite entering the punk fold. Dr Feelgood was one such outfit, Eddie & The Hot Rods was another.  This new Eddie & The Hot Rods multi-CD box set offers good value for money. I decided to look closer at one particular LP within, Teenage Depression. Just to get a feel for the set as a whole. Released in 1976, the music packing these grooves is decidedly loud and wholly disrespectful, it offers high energy, rage and frustration and is a testament to youth and youth culture of the moment. As a project, it even connected strands of earlier youth movements with its inclusion of a few covers: […]

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Title: The Island Years 

Label: Caroline

If you ever see one of those TV documentaries on the history of punk you’re bound to have experienced a brief introduction on the range of pub rock bands that laid the foundation. Groups like Ducks Deluxe, Brinsley Schwarz and Kilburn and the High Roads reigned supreme during their brief moment in the beer soaked sun. Within this movement, you also had a range of bands who seemed to infuse the genre with ambition and looked beyond, detaching themselves from that collection, almost reaching out but possibly not quite entering the punk fold. Dr Feelgood was one such outfit, Eddie & The Hot Rods was another. 

This new Eddie & The Hot Rods multi-CD box set offers good value for money. I decided to look closer at one particular LP within, Teenage Depression. Just to get a feel for the set as a wholeReleased in 1976, the music packing these grooves is decidedly loud and wholly disrespectful, it offers high energy, rage and frustration and is a testament to youth and youth culture of the moment. As a project, it even connected strands of earlier youth movements with its inclusion of a few covers: Pete Townshend’s The Kids Are Alright (a live cut), Joe Tex’s Show Me and a frantic version of Sam Cooke’s Shake. The essence of the covers was to link the 60s’ ethic with contemporary punk.

Eddie & The Hot Rods: The Island Years Box Set

The LP was released before much of the classic punk output hit the streets. It provided a call to arms and a sense of what was on the horizon.

This album can be found in a new clamshell-type box set that covers the band’s Island years. The set also features Thriller (1977), Life on the Line (1977) plus BBC sessions, In Concert disc and Rods Fan Club LP. It’s a brilliant collection and is packed with value.

Eddie & The Hot Rods: The Island Years Box Set

For a ‘mere’ value pack, in audiophile terms, I was impressed by the structured 3D soundstage from all of the Eddie & The Hot Rods CDs. On Teenage Depression, for example, I was happy to hear that the drum roll on the first track was decidedly placed way back, at the rear of the soundstage, before the guitars began front left and right. Mastering for the set is good with a relatively low noise application providing a spacious, airy feel to the midrange with a well behaved bass that never swamps or blooms. A sublime box of noise, then.

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28999 2019-01-08T15:25:21Z 2019-01-08T15:19:18Z Not designed by NAD but by DF-ID, the BluOS-backed NAD M10 takes a minimalist theme with its solid brushed aluminium and glass  Completely operable by Wi-Fi connection to the BluOS App, you can also control the amplifier via the touch screen. The M10 uses NAD’s ‘Masters Series’ technology. HybridDigital amplification featuring the HypeX nCore amplification stage is included.  It is compatible with Apple, Crestron, Control4, Lutron and many others if home automation is your thing too. There are also custom BluOS Apps for iOS and Android tablets and phones, as well as desktop control from Windows and Apple OS. Other information? It pushes out 160W over 8 Ohms via a 1GHz ART Cortex A9 processor, it includes a 32bit/384kHz Sabre DAC,  two-way Bluetooth via a Qualcomm chip and it features Ethernet. But that’s not all, it also features HDMI eARC for TV connections, pre-amp output, stereo line inputs and coax/optical inputs, supports AirPlay 2, DSD and MQA, Dirac room correction and supports Tidal, TuneIn, Napster, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and, apparently, lots more. Price is £2,199. Spanning 215 x 100 x 260 mm, it weighs 5kg. To learn more, click www.nadelectronics.com Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The […]

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Not designed by NAD but by DF-ID, the BluOS-backed NAD M10 takes a minimalist theme with its solid brushed aluminium and glass 

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

Completely operable by Wi-Fi connection to the BluOS App, you can also control the amplifier via the touch screen.

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

The M10 uses NAD’s ‘Masters Series’ technology. HybridDigital amplification featuring the HypeX nCore amplification stage is included. 

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

It is compatible with Apple, Crestron, Control4, Lutron and many others if home automation is your thing too. There are also custom BluOS Apps for iOS and Android tablets and phones, as well as desktop control from Windows and Apple OS.

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

Other information? It pushes out 160W over 8 Ohms via a 1GHz ART Cortex A9 processor, it includes a 32bit/384kHz Sabre DAC,  two-way Bluetooth via a Qualcomm chip and it features Ethernet.

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

But that’s not all, it also features HDMI eARC for TV connections, pre-amp output, stereo line inputs and coax/optical inputs, supports AirPlay 2, DSD and MQA, Dirac room correction and supports Tidal, TuneIn, Napster, Amazon, Spotify, Deezer, Qobuz and, apparently, lots more. Price is £2,199.

M10 BluOS Streaming Amplifier From NAD

Spanning 215 x 100 x 260 mm, it weighs 5kg.

To learn more, click www.nadelectronics.com

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony ]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28986 2019-01-08T14:35:58Z 2019-01-08T14:15:38Z Forthcoming Sony PS-LX310BT turntable includes Bluetooth capabilities There’s not a lot of hard core information on this one but here’s what I’ve got so far. The LX310BT performs like any standard turntable but that BT appellation is the giveaway because this new design also offers a wireless abilities via Bluetooth. Pairing is achieved via a dedicated button on the top of the plinth.  Offering an auto-play function, music is played from your last paired device when you press play. You will also find a built-in phono pre-amp, useful for those on a tight budget. The LX310BT arrives with an aluminium die cast platter and a newly-designed tonearm. A dust cover arrives as part of the package.  The PS-LX310BT model will be available from April 2019, priced at £200. To read more, click www.sony.net Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Forthcoming Sony PS-LX310BT turntable includes Bluetooth capabilities

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

There’s not a lot of hard core information on this one but here’s what I’ve got so far. The LX310BT performs like any standard turntable but that BT appellation is the giveaway because this new design also offers a wireless abilities via Bluetooth. Pairing is achieved via a dedicated button on the top of the plinth. 

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

Offering an auto-play function, music is played from your last paired device when you press play.

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

I have no idea about its sonic qualities but, I have to say, there is something intriguing about the design. A bit B&O, perhaps?

You will also find a built-in phono pre-amp, useful for those on a tight budget.

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

The LX310BT arrives with an aluminium die cast platter and a newly-designed tonearm. A dust cover arrives as part of the package. 

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

The PS-LX310BT model will be available from April 2019, priced at £200.

PS-LX310BT turntable From Sony 

To read more, click www.sony.net

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28949 2019-01-07T15:25:59Z 2019-01-07T14:29:12Z And they said the format was finished. Well not according to McIntosh it ain’t. Paul Rigby reviews the new MCD600 CD player The CD format has been receiving bad press for some time now but a lot of that is propaganda. From it’s sales high when it was the only digital format in town in a time that was pre-Internet (largely, at any rate), pre-Web browser, pre-digital mobile culture, pre-smartphone, pre-broadband, etc sales are bound to drop in the face of stiffer competition. Yet the sales drops are sold by national media akin to a slow-motion disaster movie. CD sound was never the perfect specimen offered by the format’s initial sales pitch but those early, bad old days of CD sound have largely receded. Steadily upgraded ADCs used in modern studios mean that CD’s potential sound is better than ever. I heard a high-end digital hi-fi set up at the Cranage show in the UK, during last Summer and was, frankly, blown away by the quality of the music. And that in an untreated room too. CD is also the only viable physical digital format in town which means that you can actually own your digital music as opposed to […]

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And they said the format was finished. Well not according to McIntosh it ain’t. Paul Rigby reviews the new MCD600 CD player

The CD format has been receiving bad press for some time now but a lot of that is propaganda. From it’s sales high when it was the only digital format in town in a time that was pre-Internet (largely, at any rate), pre-Web browser, pre-digital mobile culture, pre-smartphone, pre-broadband, etc sales are bound to drop in the face of stiffer competition. Yet the sales drops are sold by national media akin to a slow-motion disaster movie. CD sound was never the perfect specimen offered by the format’s initial sales pitch but those early, bad old days of CD sound have largely receded. Steadily upgraded ADCs used in modern studios mean that CD’s potential sound is better than ever. I heard a high-end digital hi-fi set up at the Cranage show in the UK, during last Summer and was, frankly, blown away by the quality of the music. And that in an untreated room too.

CD is also the only viable physical digital format in town which means that you can actually own your digital music as opposed to renting it via streaming or holding it on a dodgy hard disk (all hard disks are dodgy) as a download. Often complete with nice packaging, added books and other goodies too, I might add. Have you seen the CD-based box set releases from the likes of Nazareth and The Beatles? You won’t get that level of sophistication and packaging from Roon, you know. 

I say it about vinyl but I now say it about CD too – there is more to come in terms of sound quality from this format. Part of that is down to the hardware, of course.

So McIntosh is not as daft as you might think, in releasing the MCD600. Although it does address digital files too, to cover all bases. 

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

Also supporting SACD play, the unit features a newly designed digital circuit featuring a 8-channel, 32bit PCM/DSD DAC. The DAC is used in Quad Balanced mode, with four DAC channels allocated to each of the left and right audio channels. All PCM signals are up-sampled up to 32bit/384kHz.

The MCD600 can also play music from user-generated CD or DVD Data Discs as well as USB flash drives. Numerous file formats can be played from these discs and USB flash drives including AAC, AIFF, ALAC, DSD (up to DSD128), FLAC, MP3, WAV (up to 24bit/192kHz) and WMA. Flash drives can  be connected via the front panel USB input.

Also included is a coax and optical digital input for connecting other digital sources. A ‘High Drive’ headphone amplifier section is included.

Connected to the transport is a twin laser optical pickup. That is, the unit uses a single objective lens with two laser units each employing different wavelengths that are optimised for SACD and CD playback. A Disc Layer button on the front of the chassis will select between CD and SACD if you insert a dual-layer disc.

A nicely designed remote control is also included. 

Spanning a healthy 44.45 x 15.24 x 48.3cm, this large box weighs in at almost 13kg. Power and data links are also supplied to connect to other McIntosh products.

Let’s dwell a tad on that connectivity. One of the best features of this CD player is the multiplicity of connection options. Firstly, there is a standard RCA to your pre-amp using single-ended cables. Then there is a balanced option to allow you to connect XLR cables to your pre-amp. Both are these options are connected to the MCD600’s Fixed outputs. That is, the volume is fixed coming out of the CD player which means that volume duties are handed by the pre-amp. No surprises there. What the MCD600 does provide, though, is a third option. Here, you can by-pass your own hi-fi system’s pre-amp entirely using a bank of Variable outputs. This means that the CD player itself handles the volume. In effect, then, the CD player becomes the pre-amp. Using the method, you can connect the MCD600 directly to a power amp.

I tested all three and used Neil Young’s Comes A Time album as the music. I chose the track, Human Highway a low key country rock piece with a Young vocal, female backing, percussion and plenty of stringed instruments including guitar and banjo.

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

Before I dive into the three connectivity options, a quick word about the remote which I was happy to see, didn’t require a line of sight to work. My radiator-sized electrostatic speaker was in the way of the CD player so the remote signal had to bounce around it. Which it did with aplomb. The remote worked perfectly. That said, the pause button did not. I had to press the Play button again to pause the music. Odd.

SOUND QUALITY

During the sound tests, I listened to the MCD600 in three distinct modes.

MCINTOSH RCA TO HI-FI PRE-AMP

In this mode, I was impressed by the overall neutral presentation of the MCD 600 and the broad aspect of the soundstage which comfortably ranged across the speakers. At no time was I ever assaulted by those classic CD-type faults of edgy upper mids, pinched treble and synthetic bass (where organics were expected). Here, Young’s vocal was expressive while never sounding stilted and crescendos were always allowed to range without hardening during the upper areas.

Instrumental separation was impressive. The rather shy banjo work during the song can easily be swamped by the rest of the relatively busy soundstage but the MCD600 was easily able to delineate the classic string plucks. 

Similarly, I was pleased to hear how the vocals were handled, the female backing vocal could easily merge into vocals to provide a pleasing harmony but, if you wished, you could also hear her output as a separate entity. Hence, the clarity and space was experienced across the midrange.

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

MCINTOSH BALANCED TO HI-FI PRE-AMP

In this mode, the range of frequencies had a more balanced (pardon the pun) presentation. By that, I mean that bass was a far more active part of the mix and had a greater effect. Hence, a bass guitar string pluck had the initial ‘Dummmm’ bass-type noise. More than that though, the string continued to resonate seconds after so you heard a diminished ‘mmmmm’ as the music continued which was fascinating to hear. 

In terms of midrange, I noticed that the details had been tweaked, adding much more focus and precision to the vocal delivery, for example. In practical terms this meant that it was easier to follow the lyrics but it also added emphasis to emotions and precision to guitar work. This enhanced precision tidied up the rear of the soundstage, emphasising the lower noise output and making more of a ‘thing’ about silences and even minor pauses. You tended to notice the absence of music a lot more in this mode.

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

MCINTOSH RCA TO HI-FI POWER AMPLIFIER

In my case, the power amplifier was a pair of monoblocks but I could only test the single-ended option. I couldn’t test the balanced mode in this configuration, to my regret, because I had none. 

Nevertheless, I was fascinated to hear the results from the MCD600 because this mode essentially removed the pre-amp from a piece of the hi-fi chain, effectively simplifying the signal. 

The sonic result was quite, quite beautiful. The music flowed soft, smooth and clear with a rich and resonant tone from the vocal pairing. The voices now had a fully formed structure. The other connectivity options seemed to now offer a relatively weedy and unsatisfying presentation (in relative terms – in isolation they remained impressive). Even the simple guitar strums behind the initial vocal performance proved to be much more complex than previously. With far more subtleties emanating from the plucked strings, the vibration of each string and how it responded to the wooden body of the guitar was much more interesting while backing instruments seemed to spring into life. 

Bass was strong, full formed, organic in nature, heavy in tone and full or force but it never dominated. Instead, it took its part in the mix. 

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

I then played a few SACDs to test this area of the MCD600, including two from David Bowie (Lets Dance and Ziggy Stardust from 2003) as a duel CD/SACD layer productions. Both of the latter proved that SACDs might offer greater potential than CDs but the results are not always representational. Both of these SACDs offered enhanced detail but both also offered a suite of bright upper mids. Edgy and nasty with pinched treble during cymbal crashes, both albums proved detrimental to listening fatigue. These were disc issues, the McIntosh was not to blame here.

I then loaded a SACD-only production from Tony Bennett and his Unplugged (1994) album. This was much more like it. Dynamics ranged in a broad manner, treble-infused cymbals were delicate, mids were both detailed and neutral while bass was restrained yet could be easily followed by the ear. 

Overall, SACD layers on a dual disc format were easily found and played while SACD-only discs were sensed immediately and played without a problem.

It was time to turn to the digital section. 

Playing Andrew Gold’s Hypothetically from Spencer Manor Suite at 16bit/44.1kHz was also rich in detail over the direct to power amplifier signal route. Although there was a slight, almost subconscious, hardening around the mids which added a smidgeon of noise in the sonic extremities (this effect could be heard via a USB source too) the overall effect remained subtle and was undoubtedly a result of the DAC being ‘bundled’ inside the same chassis as the amp. As I say, this effect was very low key. Generally, the music offered a very wide soundstage indeed from my Astell&Kern AK120 source with delicately plucked guitar strings contrasting nicely with the bass from the background percussion.

Similarly, on Bob Marley’s Jammin’ running at 24bit/96kHz, the soundstage was broad which enhanced the instrumental separation, allowing subtle and minor sonic effects to reach the ear. The open nature of the soundstage also allowed the music to flow easily and without apparent effort.

MCD600 CD Player From McIntosh

Finally, I played St Thomas, a jazz instrumental from Sonny Rollins at 24bit/96kHz. Despite that minor noise issue noted above, I was impressed by the midrange detail and the broad soundstage while the precision from the percussion was admirable.

CONCLUSION

This connectivity test was very surprising indeed. I would go as far as this: if you buy the MCD600 to connect to your hi-fi, bypass your pre-amp and go straight to your power amplifier(s) if you have one one or more. The sonic results are truly worth it.

SACD play, meanwhile was quick, efficient and, with the right software, full of transparency and detail.

I was also happy with the built-in DAC. An external model will always sound better because of the enhancements due to isolation of the DAC components but this module still sounded smooth.


MCINTOSH MCD600 CD PLAYER

Price: £7,995

Tel: 01202 911886

Website: www.jordanacoustics.co.uk

GOOD: neutral CD play, feature laden, CD to power amplifier connection: focus, precision and detail from the same

BAD: slight midrange hardening from the DAC

RATING: 8

RATING: 9 (for CD play connected directly to the power amplifier)


[Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

REFERENCE

Densen B-475 CD Player

Aesthetix Calypso pre-amp

Icon Audio MB845 Mk.II monoblock amplifiers

Quad ESL-57 speakers with One Thing upgrade

Tellurium Q Silver Diamond cables

Gekko Purple Haze cables

Blue Horizon Professional Rack System

Harmonic Resolution Systems Noise Reduction Components

CAD GC1 Ground Controls

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Paul Rigby http://www.theaudiophileman.com <![CDATA[Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio]]> https://theaudiophileman.com/?p=28930 2019-01-04T12:00:19Z 2019-01-04T11:38:07Z Gold features the technology used in Monitor Audio’s flagship Platinum II loudspeakers. For example, the Platinum II drivers have been re-developed for Gold  There are six different speakers: a single stand mount model, two floorstanders, single centre speaker, rear/FX speakers and subwoofer. GOLD 100 The Gold 100 is the only stand mount speaker in the series. With the combination of a 165mm bass/midrange driver and an MPD tweeter, the bass driver utilises a 50mm diameter voice coil. The HiVe II port has been located on the rear of the cabinet. RDT II Cone technology is included. This is a specially developed sandwich cone technology using thin C-CAM, Nomex honeycomb core and woven carbon fibre back skin. While a DCF (Dynamic Coupling Filter) is designed to “…reduce high frequency cone break-up,” said the company.  A die-cast metal driver chassis design allies itself to the Pureflow silver-plated OFC copper internal cabling. Crossovers feature “premium grade” bespoke polypropylene film capacitors, air-core and low-loss laminated steel-core inductors. The cabinet is a 18mm MDF construction with contoured vertical edges and contrasting sharp top profile plus a soft touch top trim. A single-bolt-through driver technology addition is included to provide increased bracing strength, rigidity and driver/baffle de-coupling. Bi-wire […]

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Gold features the technology used in Monitor Audio’s flagship Platinum II loudspeakers. For example, the Platinum II drivers have been re-developed for Gold 

There are six different speakers: a single stand mount model, two floorstanders, single centre speaker, rear/FX speakers and subwoofer.

GOLD 100

The Gold 100 is the only stand mount speaker in the series. With the combination of a 165mm bass/midrange driver and an MPD tweeter, the bass driver utilises a 50mm diameter voice coil. The HiVe II port has been located on the rear of the cabinet.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

RDT II Cone technology is included. This is a specially developed sandwich cone technology using thin C-CAM, Nomex honeycomb core and woven carbon fibre back skin. While a DCF (Dynamic Coupling Filter) is designed to “…reduce high frequency cone break-up,” said the company. 

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

A die-cast metal driver chassis design allies itself to the Pureflow silver-plated OFC copper internal cabling. Crossovers feature “premium grade” bespoke polypropylene film capacitors, air-core and low-loss laminated steel-core inductors.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

The cabinet is a 18mm MDF construction with contoured vertical edges and contrasting sharp top profile plus a soft touch top trim. A single-bolt-through driver technology addition is included to provide increased bracing strength, rigidity and driver/baffle de-coupling. Bi-wire terminals are included.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

The finish is supplied by wood veneers, piano lacquer and satin white finishes.

GOLD 200

Whilst remaining compact, the Gold 200 has a more traditional design format with two 165mm drivers and a mid-range/MPD module in a full three-way system.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

This compact floorstander is recommended for medium to large rooms and prefers to be sited with at least 30cm between the speaker and wall.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

It includes a specially developed 64mm mid-range driver with die-cast metal chassis that houses a rare earth magnet system with 35mm voice coil and very low mass, dished C-CAM cone.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

You’ll also find RDT II, DCF, dual HiVe II ports this time, the same internal cabling and crossover too.

GOLD 300

The Gold 300 is the flagship of the range and features a pair of 203mm RDT II bass drivers in each cabinet. The Gold 300 is recommended for larger rooms and requires at least 30cm between the speaker and wall to allow the system to breathe and perform optimally.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

This is a three-way, four-driver configuration including a 64mm mid-range driver with die-cast metal chassis, FEA, RDT II, dual HiVe II ports…

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

…Pureflow silver-plated OFC copper internal cabling, the usual crossover plus a terminal panel located at floor level and cast metal out-rigger feet with spike or rubber foot for carpet or hard flooring.

Gold Series Speakers From Monitor Audio

You’ll also find “premium” mirror matched wood veneers, piano lacquer and satin white finishes.

Prices:

Gold 100: £1,400 pair piano gloss black, satin white, dark walnut, piano ebony

Gold 200: £2,900 pair piano gloss black, satin white, dark walnut, piano ebony

Gold 300: £4,000 pair piano gloss black, satin white, dark walnut, piano ebony

To learn more, click monitoraudio.com 

Don’t forget to check out my Facebook Group, The Audiophile Man: Hi-Fi & Music here: www.facebook.com/groups/theaudiophileman for exclusive postings, exclusive editorial and more!]

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