Jeff

Nov 182017
 

Inspired by the praise and enthusiastic response from Duelund Coherent Audio customers around the world to the Duelund DCA line of tinned-copper cables, Frederik Carøe did something amazing, he applied the same creativity he used in developing the Duelund DCA cables to new lines of Duelund tinned-copper foil paper-In-oil capacitors.

Prototype 0.22uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper capacitor.

I compared the prototype Duelund CAST 0.22uF tinned-copper capacitors in my vintage MX110Z tuner-preamplifier’s first stage cathode follower of the high level input, where I replaced two key pairs of 0.1uF capacitors at C93 & C95 and C94 & C96, with various pairs of desirable vintage and current production high-performance 0.22 uF capacitors.

It was perhaps the most dramatic “slap down” I have ever heard.

The prototype Duelund CAST tinned-copper-foil paper-in-oil capacitors were at a performance level both musically & sonically so far above any of the other capacitors I’ve tried I was stunned by the result.

It wasn’t like the Duelund’s were a little bit better, they were more like an order of magnitude better, and the result in my MX110Z was breathtaking!

The only caveat with the hand-crafted Duelund CAST tinned-copper PIO’s is that they are physically large in size, which limits where you can fit them in a circuit.

The prototype Duelund tinned-copper PIO’s were a tight squeeze under the hood of my MX110Z, and had I not been able to get them inside, I would have surface mounted them on the outside, as the performance improvement was so dramatic I couldn’t have done without them.

I get quite a few emails asking for recommendations of capacitors for “hot rod” modifications to audio electronics, and my recommendation is always to use the Duelund tinned-copper PIO’s because of their remarkable level of performance.

For my musical and sonic preferences, there’s nothing in my experience that even comes close to the Duelund’s.

A pair of prototype 0.22uF Duelund CAST Sn-Cu capacitors that I’ve soldered into my vintage MX110Z McIntosh tuner-preamplifier.

I also tried the prototype Duelund CAST tinned-copper foil PIO’s in the breadboard crossovers I had built for my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, with the same dramatic results.

I have come to the conclusion that the Duelund CAST tinned-copper foil PIO capacitors represent the single biggest audio capacitor advancement … perhaps ever!

Duelund 0.22uF JAM tinned-copper capacitor.

The extensive labor that goes into the handmade (and essentially custom order) Duelund CAST tinned-copper PIO’s makes them very expensive, which puts them out of reach of a lot of enthusiasts, so Frederik created a more budget oriented line of Duelund tinned-copper foil paper-in-oil capacitors called Jam.

The new Duelund 0.1uF JAM tinned-copper PIO capacitor!

I haven’t yet tried the Duelund Jam line of tinned-copper foil PIO’s yet, but if they are anything like the Duelund CAST’s, they could be the high-performance bargain of the century.

I reported earlier that Frederik had sent me a set of four of his new Duelund 0.01 uF tinned-copper bypass capacitors to experiment with.

Duelund 0.01 uF tinned-copper bypass capacitors.

If you’ve been reading along for awhile, you might remember that I compared the Duelund CAST silver-copper hybrid capacitors (with their built in pure silver foil PIO CAST bypass capacitor), to their pure silver foil and pure copper foil CAST counterparts in the C1 positions of the Duelund CAST external crossovers for my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

External Duelund CAST crossovers for my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers.

I thought the Duelund CAST silver-copper hybrid capacitors sounded a lot like the ultra-expensive pure silver foil paper-in-oil Duelund CAST capacitors (that I prefer to use in my WRSE crossovers C1 position) from the mid-range on up, and like the pure copper foil paper-in-oil Duelund CAST capacitors from the midrange on down.

It was an impressive display of the voicing power that a Duelund CAST silver bypass capacitor could exert on the already impressive pure copper foil paper-in-oil Duelund CAST capacitor.

Duelund CAST 6.8uF copper-silver hybrid capacitors (left), Duelund CAST 6.8uF pure copper foil capacitors right.

Duelund pure silver CAST 6.8uF capacitors.

As I reported earlier, I tried the new Duelund CAST tinned-copper bypass capacitors in the crossovers of my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers with impressive results.

If fact I really didn’t want to take them out for other trials as I was so satisfied with the positive results they brought to my A5’s crossovers.

But I wanted to repeat the C1 experiment in my Duelund-WRSE crossovers using the Duelund tinned-copper bypass capacitors combined with the pure copper foil Duelund CAST capacitors.

Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO in C1 (lower left).

Currently I’m using the pure silver foil Duelund CAST capacitors (above) in the C1 position and they are absolutely amazing. Nothing has been able to displace them as my favorite capacitors in C1.

How will the Duelund CAST tinned-copper hybrid capacitors compare in C1 to the Duelund CAST silver-copper hybrid capacitors, the pure copper foil Duelund CAST capacitors, and the exotic pure silver foil Duelund CAST capacitors?

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

First I decided I would put together a pair of Duelund CAST tinned-copper “hybrid” capacitors using the 6.8uF Duelund CAST pure copper foil capacitors and the 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper bypass capacitors.

Duelund 6.8uF CAST Sn-Cu “hybrid” (bottom) and 6.8uF Duelund CAST pure silver foil (top) capacitors for C1.

The leads for the Duelund bypass capacitors aren’t quite long enough to span the distance between the jumbo-sized 6.8uF Duelund CAST pure copper foil capacitors, so I used a short length of Duelund DCA26GA wire to bridge the gap.

Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu caps installed into C1.

Below is the Duelund CAST crossover for one Westminster Royal SE, with the Duelund CAST Sn-Cu “hybrid” in the upper left-hand corner of the crossover.

Duelund hybrid Sn-Cu caps installed into C1 (upper left in crossover).

Before I do any comparative listening between capacitors at C1, I want to give the 6.8uF Duelund Sn-Cu “hybrid” a listen for a while to get a feel for its general presentation, overall musicality, and sonics.

The Harrow & The Harvest

I put on Gillian Welch’s The Harrow & The Harvest to start my listening, and even though I just said I wasn’t comparing the Duelund CAST hybrid Sn-Cu caps to the Duelund CAST pure silver caps I have been happily listening to in C1, I couldn’t help but be caught by surprise how dramatically different the two capacitors sound in C1.

My immediate impression of the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu caps in C1 is that they are vivid, colorful, dramatic, visceral, and exciting to listen to music with.

They do a beautiful job of portraying tempos, dynamic nuance, melodic flow, and the “touch” of Gillian and David upon their instruments in The Harrow & The Harvest.

Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitor in C1 of the HF circuit of the WRSE crossover.

The Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu caps also unravel harmonies extremely well, so I could easily hear the contributions of David’s harmony to Gillian’s vocals, which sometimes can be difficult to do because they blend together so seamlessly.

For those of you who have been enchanted with using Duelund DCA tinned-copper cables, you’ll hear a lot of familiar tinned-copper conductor characteristics from adding a Duelund tinned-copper coupling cap.

It’ll take a while for Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu caps to settle in properly to the crossover’s C1 position, but I’ll report back.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

It’s early Sunday morning, and I let the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu caps play music all day Saturday in the WRSE’s crossovers’ C1 positions.

The Tannoy Westminster Royal SE’s high-frequency horns are extremely sensitive to system changes, and provide an “x-ray vision” level of transparency into the effects of even subtle system changes, making them very useful for reviewing.

At the end of the day yesterday my aural observations about the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors in C1 were almost identically analogous to my first listening sessions way back when with the Duelund DCA16GA tinned-copper cable (or WE16GA).

Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitor in C1 of the HF circuit of the WRSE crossover.

For example, with the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors in C1, I would say that the timbre of instruments sounds more accurate and ‘real’ to me, with lots of meaningful natural nuance resolved.

There is also that remarkable tinned-copper resolution of tone color, those chordal variations resulting from adding additional pitches to three tone triads, that give different styles of music their ‘sound’ and emotional feel.

The Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors in C1 are transparent and resolving, much like the Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors, but with more vivid timbral textures, a greater sense of the recorded space, and there is an information rich nuance to the presentation of the music both harmonically and dynamically that sounds very realistic and satisfying.

I think that the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors provide a very large serving of the sound, feel, and emotional impact of live music, in terms of timbre, melody, harmony, rhythm, dynamics, tempo, tone color, beat, and the ability to play naturally at live-like volume levels, which makes exciting, emotionally engaging, and very satisfying to listen to music with.

Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO in the C1 position of the HF crossover circuit.

I put the Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors back into C1 this Sunday morning for a little more listening.

The Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors I have been listening to in C1 have four years of listening time on them now, and sound amazing both musically and sonically.

The Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors are smoother and more refined sounding, there’s less sibilance on Gillian’s vocals in The Harrow & The Harvest, for example, than with the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors.

The Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors display a relaxed natural musicality that allows me to to immerse myself into the music nicely.

They also put me as a listener a few “rows” further back from the musicians than the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors do. At identical volume settings the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors sounded louder to me than the Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors.

The Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors sound more direct and forward in comparison to the Duelund CAST pure silver foil capacitors, and have a little bit of that initial “acoustic roughness” that I heard with the Duelund DCA16GA and Western Electric WE16GA cables before they were fully run-in, yet overall they have a very beguiling and enchanting presentation musically & sonically.

I’m thinking that the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors might benefit from a little voltage-only conditioning in the same way that the 16GA tinned-copper cables do, so I’ll report back on that after I try it.

What’s remarkable to me is how much audible influence that tiny 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper coupling capacitor exerts on the performance Duelund CAST pure copper foil PIO capacitors.

If I were blindfolded and had listened to the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors followed by the Duelund CAST pure copper foil PIO capacitors, I would not have suspected that they had anything in common, the transformation is that dramatic.

Certainly the tiny 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper coupling capacitors are an intriguing voicing option, and the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors that I made using them combined with the Duelund CAST pure copper foil PIO capacitors are elevated to a new level by using them.

Before, when I compared the Duelund CAST pure copper foil PIO capacitors and the Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors, for my tastes it was a dramatic “no contest” comparison.

While both the Duelund CAST copper and silver capacitors are amazing performers, the Duelund CAST silver capacitors pretty significantly showed the Duelund CAST copper capacitors their heels musically & sonically.

0.01 uF Duelund tinned-copper bypass capacitors.

The big performance disparity between the Duelund CAST pure copper foil PIO capacitors and the Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors in C1 pretty much vanishes with the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors.

That’s pretty amazing to me when I think about the fact that the addition of the 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper coupling capacitors had that dramatic of an effect on the overall performance I was hearing.

In fact, if the bit of acoustic roughness I hear with the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors smooths out a bit, I may actually prefer the combination to the Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors.

I’m not quite ready to declare that yet, but the fact that I’m even thinking about that is pretty shocking to me given how much I preferred the Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors in C1 previously.

I’m still really early in this comparison of the Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors and the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors in C1, so I’ve got a lot of varied music to listen to yet to make sure I understand what is happening across the broader musical & sonic spectrum.

The initial implications of the tiny 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper coupling capacitors are rather staggering, which may turn out to be very good news for those of us who can’t afford the ultra-expensive & ultra-performing Duelund CAST pure silver foil PIO capacitors.

Duelund 0.01 uF tinned-copper bypass capacitors.

Many thanks to Frederik for sending these tiny 0.01uF Duelund CAST tinned-copper coupling capacitors for me to experiment with, they are illuminating!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

The Alternate Blues

I’ve been listening to The Alternate Blues to check out how well the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors handle muted trumpet, a tough instrument to get just right, and the Duelund’s acquitted themselves excellently, sounding piquantly natural, just like they should. A happy result!

I’ve also noticed that the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors are continuing to settle down, losing some of that initial tinned-copper acoustic roughness, so I might not even need to run them in with a little voltage-only conditioning. I’ll see how they continue to progress and then decide about the voltage-only conditioning.

Anouar Brahem’s “Blue Maqams” double LP set.

After the muted trumpet reality check, next I put on my new double LP set of Tunisian jazz oudist Anouar Brahem’s Blue Maqams.

Blue Maqams is both impressive music and beautifully recorded, and it sounds gorgeous with the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors.

Anouar Brahem is joined by Dave Holland (double bass), Jack DeJohnette (drums), and Django Bates (piano), with the result being a sensational album. You’ll definitely want to get a copy of this one!

Stay tuned for more!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Check back throughout the weekend as I continue to explore and report on the results of the Duelund CAST “hybrid” Sn-Cu capacitors in C1!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 6:28 am
Nov 122017
 

I’ve been enjoying listening to and experimenting with the voicing of Guy Pelletier’s “tunable” Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge on my restored and “hot-rodded” vintage Thorens TD-124.

As is my custom, I like to blog about my “getting acquainted” stage with new audio products, offering first impressions about the quality, ease of use, sonic & musical performance, value, and practicality of a product.

Then, after I feel I am fully acquainted with the product, I delve into the full detailed review process, and ultimately write up my results for Positive Feedback.

I think that offers you transparency into my growing level of understanding of a product’s performance and overall value, giving you glimpses into how I optimized its performance in my system over time, telling you new things I’ve learned about it, and sharing my growing understanding of a product’s strengths and weaknesses.

While I’m still solidly in the get acquainted stage with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, I have positive first impressions of it.

As you know, I’m a big fan of carefully voicing my hifi systems to dial-in the musical & sonic performance just the way I like it.

I like to combine careful choices of components, along with select modifications, the use of selected-by-ear capacitors, resistors, inductors, vacuum tubes, wire, etc., along with careful system setup, to achieve the system voicing I’m after.

In fact, in my primary music system (above), every single component is hot-rodded and voiced with select modifications, from source to speakers.

For my tastes, I think it sounds darn good.

I guess I should have said almost every single component has been hot-rodded, as I haven’t performed any modifications on my phonograph cartridges yet, although I have been contemplating it! 😉

Enter the hot-rodded and tunable Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, with its custom machined cartridge shell with multiple tunability features.

First of all, as you might imagine, I was impressed by the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s tunable nature, which allows the listener to voice it to accomodate their system’s needs, and their personal tastes.

The ability to voice the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 fits perfectly with my own personal sensibility of voicing my system to sound just the way I like it musically & sonically.

The Audio MusiKraft custom machined cartridge shell that replaces the Denon DL-103’s stock plastic cartridge shell is a work of audio art all by itself, and its level of quality, fit, and finish impressed me from the first moment I inspected it and held it in my hand.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

In my first preliminary listening session where I compared the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 to my stock Denon DL-103, I gained valuable insights into how important the quality of the cartridge shell is to overall performance of a cartridge, and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, with the custom machined aluminum cartridge shell, made short work of my stock Denon with its plastic shell.

Vintage Thorens TD-124 with the stock Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge.

I’ve always liked the Denon DL-103, as many of you do, and for good reason, as it’s got a great balance of musicality & sonics at an extremely friendly price point for its rather lofty level of performance.

While I’m a big fan of the stock Denon DL-103, it was no match for the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with its custom machined aluminum cartridge shell.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 was substantially better musically & sonically than my stock DL-103 in every way.

The stock Denon DL-103 has a somewhat tipped-up top-end and a slightly emasculated & unresolved bass response, which disappears with the aluminum cartridge shell equipped Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, which has a nicely balanced top-to-bottom presentation that I find a lot more musically & sonically pleasing than the stock Denon’s.

The Audio MusiKraft custom machined aluminum shell really gave me a sense of the substantial hidden potential of the Denon DL-103, but rather than reiterating it here, I’ll let you go back and read my first impressions post here, and of course I’ll go into much more depth in the coming review.

Even without considering any of the tunability features of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, the performance improvement yielded from adding the machined aluminum cartridge shell would alone make it an easy recommendation.

Hex wrench in the right-side rear tuning screw of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

My “first tune” foray into experimenting with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s rear tuning screws was illuminating.

As I mentioned in my last post, the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 comes without the rear tuning screws engaged, with the idea being that you should become familiar with its performance and establish a musical & sonic baseline, before you start experimenting with its voicing.

The first few times I adjusted the rear tuning screws I was very careful to adjust them in until they just touched the Denon DL-103’s plastic inner chassis, and then I tensioned them.

After I had practiced the tensioning procedure a couple of times and knew what to expect, it was just a few seconds on each side to adjust the rear tuning screws during listening trials.

Quick and easy.

Here’s the tensioning procedure I found to work well:

When the rear tuning screws are fully disengaged you can see a couple of threads visible outside of the aluminum cartridge shell, as above.

I inserted the long leg of the supplied hex wrench into the tuning screws, which turn freely when not engaged against the inner chassis. As I screwed them in I could feel a little bit of resistance on the hex wrench when they made first contact with the inner plastic chassis of the Denon DL-103.

From the point where the tuning screws make first contact with Denon’s inner chassis, you can adjust them up to a quarter of a turn to apply tension to the inner chassis.

I used the short leg of the hex wrench like a clock hand to indicate position, and then torqued the tuning screw down an additional quarter of turn to apply tension to the Denon’s inner chassis.

As you start to experiment, Guy recommends listening to the cartridge at three settings for the rear tuning screws: disengaged, engaged at the first contact point, and engaged with up to a quarter turn of tensioning applied to the inner chassis.

For my first tuning trial with the rear tuning screws I didn’t do that, I just listened to them disengaged, and then engaged with a full quarter turn of tensioning, so I could get an idea of the effect at each end of the adjustment range.

My preliminary impressions are that applying tension via the rear tuning screws is that it damps down the Denon’s inner chassis a bit, like a resonance control for the plastic inner chassis.

I thought engaging the rear tuning screws improved the overall tonality and musicality of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, presumably by subtly improving the signal-to-noise ratio.

I noticed that putting tension on the Denon’s inner chassis with the rear tuning screws emphasized the musical aspects of recordings, like timbre and tone color, for example, which in my system made the music sound more “real” and natural.

With the rear tuning screws disengaged from the Denon’s inner chassis, the recording artifacts had more emphasis (e.g. soundspace), and overall the Denon sounded more spacious and resonant, giving more of an audiophile-style balance.

I think the additional spaciousness and resonance I heard with rear tuning screws disengaged was actually representative of an increased level of noise in the signal-to-noise ratio, as it also subtly decreased tonal & timbral nuance by blurring it. Those who prefer a greater sense of space may wish to leave the rear tuning screws disengaged.

Presumably, by fine tuning between the two extremes of having the rear tuning screws disengaged, and engaged with a full quarter turn of tensioning, allows the listener to dial in a favored balance of musicality and sonics.

As my listening and familiarity with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 grows, I’ll explore more of the fine tuning aspects of the rear tuning screws.

The magnitude of change I heard from adjusting the rear tuning screws was much more subtle than the large improvement realized by replacing the stock plastic Denon cartridge shell with the machined aluminum Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell, however, I did find the rear tuning screws to be a useful and desirable way to adjust the cartridge’s voicing.

You can read more details about the result of my first impressions for adjusting the rear tuning screws here.

Ok, with that little recap concluded, let’s go on to my “second tune” adventure with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, adjusting the front tuning screw that tensions the front pole piece of the Denon DL-103.

Second Tune: Adjustment of the Front Tuning Screw that Contacts the Pole Piece of the Denon DL-103

If you look at the cartoon below from my Denon DL-103’s owner’s manual, you can see the pole pieces positioned at each end of the magnet.

The front tuning screw (below) can be adjusted to apply tension to the front pole piece of the Denon DL-103.

Front tuning screw that contacts the front pole piece of the Denon DL-103.

Guy recommends a similar sort of adjustment / listening regimen for the front tuning screw as he does with rear tuning screws: disengaged, engaged but just touching the pole piece, and engaged with up to an eighth turn of tensioning on the pole piece.

Guy suggests very tiny and careful adjustments to the front tuning screw up to its eighth turn maximum, and he says that even very small tensioning adjustments make a dramatic difference to the cartridge’s sound.

Equipped with that knowledge about the front tuning screw, I thought I’d begin my “second tune” adventure with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

Hex wrench inserted into the front tuning screw that tensions the front pole piece of the Denon DL-103.

I thought the Chester & Lester album (RCA, 1976) with Chet Atkins and Les Paul would be a fun place to start.

Chester & Lester

To start my adventure I listened to Chester & Lester with both the front & rear tuning screws disengaged to establish a baseline.

Chet Atkins’ and Les Paul’s guitar playing is fantastic, and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 let’s their virtuosic playing, interplay, and technique come through beautifully.

Overall tone was gorgeous, the music was extraordinary, and really I found nothing to criticize with the way the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 rendered the performances of these two great guitarists.

When the front adjustment screw is disengaged, with a couple threads showing outside the cartridge shell (as in a couple phots above), you have to screw it quite a ways in before it touches the pole piece.

While wearing my Bausch & Lomb Magnifying Visor, when I looked in at an angle through the right front opening in the cartridge shell, I could actually see when the tuning screw made first contact the pole piece.

Bausch & Lomb magnifying visor.

I could feel it in the hex wrench too, as the metal pole piece pretty much brings the hex wrench to a stop when the tuning screw contacts it.

In some ways, adding tension to the front pole piece via the front tuning screw is similar to the effect of tensioning the Denon’s plastic inner chassis with the rear tuning screws, but the magnitude of the effect is quite a lot greater with the front tuning screw.

I you look through the right window in the front of the cartridge, you can see tuning screw in contact with the pole piece.

At the first contact point of the tuning screw on the pole piece, I heard the music become more present in the room, and the tone of the notes was rounder and more of a whole than with the front tuning screw disengaged, where in contrast the leading edge of the notes was somewhat emphasized, and with notes sounding a little more direct and crisp.

I also heard additional nuance in the fine timbral detail, and the tone sounded more saturated and vibrant. The bass response also became more resolved, detailed, and realistic sounding.

The overall effect was that it brought the instruments into the room more, charging the room with more presence, excitement of musicians playing.

Also, the contrast between the musical notes and the “black space” around them was greater, with the notes having more presence and dynamic “pop”, which helped emphasize beat and melodic dynamcs.

I like what I heard at the first contact point of the tuning screw on the front pole piece, it made the music sound more real, present, more tonally saturated and vibrant, with better rendition of low and mid-level dynamics, which helped beat become more distinct, and bass lines more resolved and nuanced.

Satisfied with the result at the first contact point, I thought I would apply an eighth turn of tensioning to hear where that would take me.

I heard additional gains in presence, resolution, tonal saturation, and bass definition with an eighth turn of tension applied to the front pole piece.

At this point I can’t really say that I preferred the tuning screw’s first contact point over what it sounded like with an eighth turn of tensioning applied, as I need to do some additional listening, but I definitely preferred both of those settings to having the front tuning screw disengaged.

One thing is abundantly apparent is that the stock Denon DL-103 is capable of a rather remarkable level of performance if you optimize its performance with the addition of a tunable Audio MusiKraft shell.

I posit that with both the front & rear tuning screws, when they are engaged they provide a damping effect that reduces vibration in the metal pole piece and the plastic inner chassis, respectively, with the effect of improving the signal-to-noise ratio somewhat.

I also posit that the rigidity of the machined cartridge shell over the stock plastic shell provides for a more stable mount for the cartridge, with its greater mass acting to minimize vibration, improving the performance of the Denon commensurably.

For example, as a young scientist, many years ago now, when I was preparing very accurate samples for analysis during research, I would place the ultra-sensitive Mettler balance atop a big pile of lead bricks to isolate it from vibration. Adding lots of mass under the Mettler definitely lowered the vibration and allowed it to weigh smaller mass amounts much more accurately.

These days you would probably use a Terra Universal vibration isolation table, or something similar, but back before they were available, mass loading with lead bricks worked very well.

I will further speculate and say that I would expect that the atomic mass of the material used to machine the cartridge shell out of would also effect vibrational characteristics and the voicing of the cartridge, which no doubt is why Guy offers cartridge shells machined from aluminum (11.4 grams), aluminum-lithium (11.2 grams), and magnesium (10.0 grams).

Aluminum has an atomic mass of 26.982, lithium has an atomic mass of 6.94, and magnesium has an atomic mass of 24.305. All of these elements are relatively light as elements go.

For example, as additional reference points, titanium has an atomic mass of 47.867, iron has an atomic mass of 55.845, copper has an atomic mass of 63.546, silver has an atomic mass of 107.87, and lead has an atomic mass of 207.2.

The Murasakino Sumile phonograph cartridge, for reasons of mass and rigidity, for example, uses a gold-plated machined stainless steel base for the cartridge’s inner chassis, and a machined aluminum cartridge shell.

Rigidity and mass matter, because rigidity and mass isolation provides a more stable platform for the the cartridge’s motor assembly to accurately trace the signal recorded on the disc, the result being a more accurate signal. Less rigidity and less mass raises the signal-to-noise ratio of the signal, which degrades performance.

I think Guy Pelletier’s approach with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 is brilliant. It utilizes a rigid and relatively high-mass machined shell, along with the ability to tension both the Denon’s inner plastic shell and its front pole piece, as well as being able to do additional voicing with top and side panel wood inserts.

All that quality machining and adjustability probably sounds like it is going to make for an expensive cartridge, but the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 that Guy sent me sells for the astonishingly affordable price of $579, making it one of the highest value audio products that I have ever written about, from a cost-to-performance standpoint.

I’m just getting started on exploring the performance envelope and adjustability of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge, so I’ll have a lot more to say about it as we get better acquainted.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 12:10 pm
Nov 102017
 

Sometimes the best laid plans just don’t pan out the way you think they will.

Last weekend I had fully intended to do a little experimenting with the micro-tuning screws of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge.

Between the need to tear down turntables, get them put back together and adjusted, as well as having an enjoyable afternoon listening session with buddies Pete and George, I just ran out of time.

So I’m now back at it.

Let me recap a little from my last post so you’ll have the relevant background for this post about adjusting the fine-tuning screws of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge.

Guy Pelletier’s Torquing the MusiKraft’s Shell Fine-Tuning Micro Setscrews Video

Guy has a very helpful instructional YouTube video titled Torquing the MusiKraft’s Shell Fine-Tuning Micro Setscrews, which I watched before trying to adjust the micro-tuning screws myself, to make sure I completely understood how to proceed.

Let me mention a few of the salient points from Guy’s instructional video.

Firstly, when an Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 cartridge is shipped to its new owner the micro-tuning screws are not engaged, which gives the new owner a listening baseline to start from that reflects only the improvement wrought by CNC’d Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell.

This is how I’ve listened to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 since its arrival, and it is very apparent that replacing the Denon DL-103’s stock plastic cartridge shell with the Audio MusiKraft CNC’d aluminum cartridge shell makes for a very significant difference in the Denon’s performance.

Truly, if the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 aluminum cartridge shell wasn’t tunable at all, it would still be an easy recommendation for the big improvement it brings musically & sonically to the classic Denon DL-103 over the stock plastic cartridge shell.

Secondly, Guy says the Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell’s rear tuning screws’ threads limit the range of motion of the tuning screws in order to protect the cartridge’s internals from damage due overzealous tightening.

The rear tuning screws allow for up to a quarter turn of adjustment.

Thirdly, Guy describes adjustment of the front tuning screw that contacts the pole piece of the Denon DL-103, which can be done while the cartridge is installed on the tonearm.

In the video Guy demonstrates lightly screwing in the front tuning screw until it contacts the pole piece.

Once the tuning screw lightly contacts the pole piece, Guy recommends no more than an additional eighth turn of the tuning screw, which puts quite a lot of tension on the pole piece.

Guy suggests very tiny careful adjustments to the front tuning screw up to its eighth turn maximum to adjust the sound, as very small adjustments make a dramatic difference to the cartridge’s sound.

Finally, Guy emphasizes that the tuning screws are not there to hold the Denon DL-103 in place in the aluminum cartridge shell, rather their only purpose is to allow the listener to fine tune the sound of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

That’s a summary of the major points in Guy’s video, but I encourage you to watch the video a few times to make sure you understand how it all works before attempting to adjust your own Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

For my first tune I wanted to experiment with the Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell’s rear tuning screws, which allow for up to a quarter turn of adjustment.

Vintage Thorens TD-124 restored by Christopher Thornton of Artisan Fidelity.

I’m going to do a little listening with the cartridge without the rear tuning screws engaged, then I’m going to do some listening with various levels of tensioning.

Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103. You can see the right-side micro-tuning screw at the rear of the cartridge shell.

First up for a listen is the Gillian Welch and David Rawlings LP The Harrow & The Harvest (Acony).

The Harrow & The Harvest by Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Initially I was cautious adjusting the rear tuning screws, as I wanted to get a feel for where the screws just contact the cartridge. Once I felt like I understood the first contact position, then I applied a quarter turn of tensioning, per Guy’s instructions.

Hex wrench in the right-side rear tuning screw of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

My first-tune listening impression with the cartridge shell’s rear tuning screws engaged for “Dark Turn of Mind” was that the musical & sonic differences the rear tuning screws made when engaged were not nearly as large in magnitude as going from the stock Denon DL-103 to the Denon DL-103 encased within the Audio MusiKraft aluminum cartridge shell.

The difference in sonics & musicality when going from the stock Denon DL-103 to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 were big, and they were easily audible improvements both sonically & musically.

I found the rear tuning screws to have a more subtle effect than the new cartridge shell as I experimented with listening to them when engaged or not engaged, and it took me a little while to understand exactly what I was hearing.

So what did I hear when the rear tuning screws were engaged? With the rear tuning screws engaged it sounded like distortion was reduced, which made the natural tone of the instruments become more “real” and obvious, more direct, and it was easier to hear the individual harmony and overtones aspects of the music that contributed to the larger musical fabric.

The music & sonics sounded a little less resonant, a little less spacious, and a touch damped down, with the tuning screws engaged.

On first listen I thought information had gone missing with the rear tuning screws engaged, but then it dawned on me that I was actually hearing more musical information, and what I thought was additional resonant qualities and spaciousness were actually distortions that were subtly blurring musical information, resulting in a loss of nuance in the music.

My old film Leica MP with a fast Voigtlander Nokton 1.1 50mm lens. It’s long gone now, and I miss it!

Here’s an analogy for my fellow camera enthusiasts: When the rear tuning screws are engaged the effects on the sonics & music are like when you’re using a fast lens that puts the subject in perfect focus while everything else recedes into a dreamy bokeh that enhances the visual experience. However, with a really fast lens like the 1.1 above, the range of focus is very narrow, so if your focal point isn’t perfectly adjusted the subject can look a little fuzzy and unresolved.

That’s sort of what’s going on when the tuning screws are engaged (or not). When the rear tuning screws are not engaged, the music & sonics sound a little “out of focus”, but when they are engaged the tone sounds more “in focus”, natural, more tonally distinct, and more naturally “even” and “real” across the frequency range of Gillian’s vocals and the guitars.

I liked the music on The Harrow & The Harvest the best when the rear tuning screws were engaged, which I thought made the music sound more natural, realistic, nuanced, and with better tone-color resolution of the notes added to triads.

Ok, there’s some brief first impressions for you of what I heard listening to The Harrow & The Harvest, and as I get more experience across a wider variety of albums and musical styles I’ll report back on what I’m hearing.

Once I got a feel for where the first contact point was as I adjusted the rear tuning screws, adjustments became quick and easy for doing comparisons.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Like usual, I was an early-bird this morning. I fixed a nice hot Americano to warm up on this chilly morning, and listened to jazz on Northwest Public Radio.

The Alternate Blues

Then after a little breakfast, I put on my cherished copy of The Alternate Blues to get in some early listening today before the hustle & bustle of the day starts.

Thorens TD-124 and The Alternate Blues

Besides being an incredibly good jazz album chock full of ultra-talented musicians, it’s fun to listen to, and the The Alternate Blues is a terrific album for evaluating how well a component – in this case, the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 – does on reproducing the muted trumpet.

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with rear tuning screws engaged.

I started with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s rear tuning screws engaged, which gave me the best performance on The Harrow & The Harvest in my “first tune” listening session yesterday.

I am impressed by the horn tone I’m hearing, which sounds both timbrally correct and with natural tonality, and a sense of dynamic ease.

In the lower frequencies, I was impressed by how timbrally natural and articulate Ray Brown’s bass playing sounded, and how much nuance came through in the lower registers of Oscar Peterson’s piano.

Closeup of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with the rear tuning screws disengaged.

I heard the same thing as I heard on The Harrow & The Harvest when the rear tuning screws were disengaged, that there was a greater sense of space and acoustic resonance, but it came across as a more pleasant effect with The Alternate Blues. 

I noticed that muted trumpets had picked up a slightly unnatural shrill edge to them with the rear tuning screws disengaged, that I didn’t hear when they were engaged.

I still preferred the presentation with tuning screws engaged for the more natural (and timbrally realistic) presentation of the horns.

Just to maintain the frame of reference, the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 is heads and shoulders above the stock Denon DL-103 both musically and sonically, and my discussion of what I liked best should be understood in that context.

Even when the rear tuning screws are disengaged the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 easily bests the stock Denon DL-103, I just preferred the presentation when the rear tuning screws were engaged because I thought the presentation sounded more “real” and natural, but I could understand those who place a high emphasis on a sense of space might prefer the rear tuning screws to not be engaged.

The beauty of the easy adjustability of the rear tuning screws, is that it takes all of a few seconds, so you could easily fine-tune them to get the preferred presentation from each album if you were so inclined.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Ok, up next will be my initial impressions of adjusting the front tuning screw of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 9:10 am
Nov 042017
 

In my blog post about the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 phonograph cartridge last weekend, I described its performance in comparison to my stock Denon DL-103 on my vintage Thorens TD-124, that was restored and hot-rodded by Christopher Thornton at Artisan Fidelity.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with an aluminum cartridge shell – it’s good!

I listened to the two Denon’s with identical Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshells and identical sets of Art of Tone 22GA headshell leads to make sure the Denon’s were on a level playing field.

My stock Denon DL-103.

Direct comparison of the stock Denon DL-103 to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 revealed that the Audio MusiKraft version is in a completely different league musically & sonically.

I’ve always liked the Denon DL-103, and for good reason, as it’s got a great balance of musicality & sonics at an extremely friendly price point for its rather lofty level of performance.

Listening to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with its CNC’d aluminum cartridge shell replacing the stock Denon’s plastic cartridge was revelatory, and those attributes that I thought were endemic to the DL-103’s design – a somewhat tipped-up top-end and slightly emasculated bass response – disappeared with the aluminum cartridge shell of the Audio MusiKraft equipped Denon DL-103.

However, it’s not what disappeared that was the real story with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, it’s what emerged that really impressed me.

Besides the now well-balanced top-to-bottom frequency response courtesy of the aluminum cartridge shell equipped Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, what emerged was a whole new level of rich natural musicality and impressive sonics that I had not realized the humble Denon DL-103 was capable of.

That delightful sense of spooky “real” presence of musicians in the room increased considerably, as did the sense of space, depth, and layering of the soundstage.

There was also more musically relevant nuance and detail present, in tone color resolution, in dynamics, in timbral realism, and just an overall better articulation and presentation of real musicians playing real instruments.

The tonal balance of the instruments sounded more natural to me, and I thought the tonal balance in the high-frequencies was far superior.

Dynamics – and particularly dynamic nuance – was improved in a way that brought vivacious life to melodies, which gave me more insight and appreciation for what the musicians were accenting as they played.

Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103.

I also thought images had more body, with a greater sense of space around them, and the whole of the string tone was represented rather than just the leading edge of the treble, which gave the music a more organic and realistic feel.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 has articulate tone color resolution, a beautiful overall tonal balance, a realistic timbral signature, and an excellent portrayal of tempos, rhythm, melody, and beat that I found made music listening very satisfying.

Overall it gives the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 a natural, colorful, lively, and articulate presentation that makes music exciting and fun to listen to.

If I stopped right there the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 would be an easy recommendation, but there’s a lot more to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 than an aluminum cartridge shell.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 also has a sophisticated ability to be fine tuned via three micro-tuning screws in the aluminum cartridge shell, and by installing a variety of wood species inserts into the top and side receptacles of the cartridge shell.

I had earlier asked Guy Pelletier, proprietor of Audio MusiKraft, for a recommendation about implementing the tunability features of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

Guy recommended I first start by listening to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with its aluminum cartridge shell in its nude state, without the wood voicing inserts, nor the tuning screws engaged, which is what I reported upon last weekend in comparing it to the stock Denon DL-103.

Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103.

Next Guy advised me to listen to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with its aluminum cartridge shell in its nude state, without the wood voicing inserts, but with the tuning screws engaged.

Here’s what Guy suggested for my first adventure engaging the aluminum cartridge shell’s tuning screws:

First, engage the rear tuning screws with very slight contact on the cartridge, and then give the cartridge a listen. Then disengage the rear tuning screws and give it another listen.

Second, engage the front tuning screw with very slight contact on the pole piece, and then give it a listen.

Ok, that’s it for tonight!

Check back with me tomorrow and I’ll tell you about my first experience adjusting the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s aluminum cartridge shell’s fine-tuning screws.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Good morning!

It’s Sunday morning and I’m up early like usual, have had my first cup of coffee, and have been already thinking about my adventure of adjusting the tuning screws in the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 phono cartridge.

Guy has some really helpful setup and tuning videos about the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 on his web site’s Instructions page.

Guy’s Torquing the MusiKraft’s Shell Fine-Tuning Micro Setscrews Video

I’ve put the link to Guy’s instructional YouTube video Torquing the MusiKraft’s Shell Fine-Tuning Micro Setscrews below, which I wanted to watch before trying to adjust the micro-tuning screws myself, to make sure I completely understood how to proceed.

Let me mention a few of the salient points from Guy’s instructional video.

Firstly, when an Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 cartridge is shipped to its new owner the micro-tuning screws are not engaged, which gives the new owner a listening baseline to start from that reflects only the improvement wrought by CNC’d Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell.

This is how I’ve listened to the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 since its arrival, and it is very apparent that replacing the Denon DL-103’s stock plastic cartridge shell with the Audio MusiKraft CNC’d aluminum cartridge shell makes for a very significant difference in the Denon’s performance.

Truly, if the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 aluminum cartridge shell wasn’t tunable at all, it would still be an easy recommendation for the big improvement it brings musically & sonically to the classic Denon DL-103 over the stock plastic cartridge shell.

Secondly, Guy says the Audio MusiKraft cartridge shell’s rear tuning screws’ threads limit the range of motion of the tuning screws in order to protect the cartridge’s internals from damage due overzealous tightening.

The rear tuning screws allow for up to a quarter turn of adjustment.

If you try to turn the tuning screws more than that you risk damaging the threads in the cartridge shell.

Thirdly, Guy describes adjustment of the front tuning screw that contacts the pole piece of the Denon DL-103, which can be done while the cartridge is installed on the tonearm.

In the video Guy demonstrates lightly screwing in the front tuning screw until it contacts the pole piece.

Once the tuning screw lightly contacts the pole piece, Guy recommends no more than an additional eighth turn of the tuning screw, which puts quite a lot of tension on the pole piece.

Guy suggests very tiny careful adjustments to the front tuning screw up to its eighth turn maximum to adjust the sound, as very small adjustments make a dramatic difference to the cartridge’s sound.

Finally, Guy emphasizes that the tuning screws are not there to hold the Denon DL-103 in place in the aluminum cartridge shell, rather their only purpose is to allow the listener to fine tune the sound of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

That’s a summary of the major points in Guy’s video, but I encourage you to watch the video a few times to make sure you understand how it all works before attempting to adjust your own Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

Ok, that’s it for now, as my stomach has started growling, so I’m going to go eat a little breakfast, and then I’ll resume my audio adventure with the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103.

Check back a little later for more!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Alas, the best laid plans … Sunday didn’t go as expected, so experimenting with tuning screws of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 didn’t happen.

With a little luck, I’m hoping to begin my experimentation with the tuning screws tonight (Monday evening), so check back tonight.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 6:50 pm
Nov 042017
 

My first Garrard Project that I wrote about for you at 6Moons in 2004.

In my original “Garrard Project” back in 2004, I started with a nice old original 301 in a simple plinth, and built it up into a music-making machine – the results were superb!

Those vintage Garrard 301’s (and 401’s) are really wonderful classics of turntable design, and they have endeared themselves to generations of music lovers with their robust and no-nonsense design, and their superb balance of musicality & sonic performance, which puts many current production turntables to shame.

Then in Issue 79 of Positive Feedback, almost 2½ years ago now, I told you about my then new “Garrard Project” for 2015.

The Garrard Project 2015.

I wanted to be a little more ambitious with my Garrard project for 2015, and incorporate the decades of learned wisdom about how to get the maximum performance out of a Garrard 301, which meant addressing its weak points of a flexible chassis, a vibration-prone platter, a somewhat noisy motor, and a less than ideal bearing thrust pad, which in fact were all identified as weakness clear back in 1967 by Garrard’s Chief Engineer, E.W. Mortimer, in his publication Design of Transcription Turntables.

So my vision for my Garrard project in 2015 was a Garrard 301 with the upgrade of the quieter Garrard 401 motor, and to address the issues of the flexible chassis, vibration-prone platter, and a better spindle & bearing design.

I wondered how I might accomplish all of that with a vintage Garrard 301, and while doing research on the topic I became aware of Ray Clark at Classic Turntable Company in the UK, who had been refurbishing vintage Garrard’s, producing replacement parts, hot-rod parts, and had even come out with his own version of the classic Garrard 301 addressing all of the performance issues I had identified during my research phase for the project.

The underside of a Classic 301 in Hammertone.

Ray fittingly called his creation the Classic 301 (above) and it incorporates an impeccably CNC’d aluminum chassis that addresses all of the original 301’s chassis issues, utilizes a restored low-noise 401 motor, and utilizes an uprated custom stainless steel oil-bearing spindle assembly to accommodate a heavier CNC machined platter.

Essentially Ray’s Classic 301 was my dream come true for a Garrard 301, and I made arrangements with Ray to purchase a Classic 301 in Hammertone, along with the optional high-mass 20 mm oversized CNC’d brass platter that Ray offers.

I decided I didn’t like the simple skeletal plinth of my original Garrard 301 project, as the Garrard 301’s that I heard with high-mass plinths (i.e the Shindo plinth), sounded a lot better to my ears.

Artisan Fidelity dual-tonearm Statement plinth.

I wanted a beautifully finished high-mass plinth for my new Classic 301 with its high-mass & oversize brass platter, so I commissioned Christopher Thornton to build me a custom-fitted high-mass, two-tonearm Artisan Fidelity Statement plinth, which would allow for the use of one tonearm with a stereo cartridge, and a second tonearm with a mono cartridge. Christopher fitted the Statement plinth with Stillpoints Ultra SS isolation devices as the plinth’s footers.

Now my project was down to deciding which tonearms & phonograph cartridges to use. I chose two of Thomas Schick’s simple and elegant 12-inch tonearms, an Ortofon SPU Mono CG 25 Di MkII mono phono cartridge, and an Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge.

The Garrard Project 2015 player system.

Ray and Thomas sent all the hardware to Christopher, and Christoper integrated everything and turned it into a gorgeous turntable creation!

I was delighted with my Garrard project for 2015, and its level of performance exceeded all of my expectations both musically and sonically, and it was many performance levels above my vintage Garrard 301 project.

The Garrard Project in 2017.

So now it’s 2½ years later, so what’s my long term assessment of my Garrard Project for 2015?

Well, to put it simply, I love it!

I’m so glad I did the Garrard Project in 2015, as I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the impressive musicality & sonics I’ve been hearing from it over the last 2½ years.

I’ve made a few changes from the original project, the first being the addition of a Pete Riggle Audio Engineering Woody SPU tonearm that is absolutely magic with my Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII stereo phono cartridge.

I also added an Spec Corporation AP-UD1 platter mat, and just yesterday I added some GPDS damping spacers from The Soundcoat Company between the mounting points of my Classic 301 and my Artisan Fidelity Statement plinth.

My Garrard Project rests upon Acoustic Revive RIQ-5010W pure quartz insulators underneath its Stillpoints Ultra SS isolation footers, and underneath the quartz insulators are Soundcoat GPDS pads.

The Acoustic Revive RAS-14 power stabilizer on the Garrard Project.

Finally, I am using an Acoustic Revive RAS-14 power stabilizer on the AC power cord for the turntable.

I have had a couple of minor issues with my Classic 301.

The first has been an ongoing issue from the first moment it arrived, which is that if I’m not really careful and deliberate when turning on the power power switch, it pops back to the “off” position.

Certainly not a deal-breaker, but it is annoying. The culprit is the lever assembly that you can see in the lower right of the photo above.

When you engage the power switch the arm moves a pin over a rise in a plate to a detent, where it stops, engaging the AC power. The problem is that the slope of the rise from the detent position back to the “off” position is too shallow, which allows the pin to slide back over the rise to the “off” position, shutting the AC off.

A bit of shaping to make the rise steeper on its way back to the “off” position with a Dremel tool would probably fix the issue, but you shouldn’t have to fix it, it should come “fixed” from Classic Turntable Company. It’s not just my Classic 301 either, my buddy Leo has exactly the same issue with his Classic 301, so it’s something that needs to be addressed at some point. Ok, enough about that.

The only other issue I’ve had is that the handle for the on-off switch snapped off. Ray sent me a new one to replace it at no charge, so I appreciated that. However, I suspect the reason it snapped off is due to the issue I described above, which puts extra stress on the lever.

Other than those two minor issues, my Garrard Project 2015 has worked perfectly, and has been a joy to use and listen to music with!

My Garrard Project 2015 as it is in 2017.

Overall, I am absolutely thrilled with my Garrard Project from 2015. The quality of the Classic 301 and the Artisan Fidelity Statement plinth are extremely high, and the fit & finish are impeccable.

Would I do it all over again? You bet, in an instant!

The Garrard Project from 2015 is one of my most treasured musical possessions, and I enjoy using it for music listening at every listening session.

Ok, that’s it for now.

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 2:37 pm
Nov 032017
 

The other day I was thinking about what Mark Coles (Sablon Audio) had told me about how a quality AC power cord noticeably improved the sound of a turntable.

Improving a system’s sound by using a high-performance AC power cord on the turntable wasn’t an intuitive hot-rod mod for me, and I sort of wondered if I added a high-performance power cord if I would even be able to hear an audible difference, given it was just providing AC to the turntable motor.

It was a bit of a moot point for me anyways, because I really didn’t have enough room behind my turntable to fit a jumbo-sized high-performance power cord.

The Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF Power Conditioner.

Then I got to thinking about the Acoustic Revive RAS-14-TripleC NCF Power Stabilizer that I reviewed back in Positive Feedback Issue 91.

The RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner is an interesting device, as it looks a bit like a short high-performance power cord, but it is really a hybrid device that melds the performance concepts of the Acoustic Revive RTP Absolute NCF power distributors, which use a combination of vibrational dissipation and passive AC filtration that is achieved through clever applications of materials science, and the Power Reference TripleC NCF AC power cables, which are ultra-performance AC power cables.

Unlike a jumbo-sized high-performance AC power cord, while ogling the space behind my turntables I realized the RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner was small enough to fit.

Generic AC power cord that came with my Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD-124 Statement turntable.

Also, after I reviewed the RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner Ken Ishiguro told me I should try it with a generic power cord, he thought I’d be impressed with how it could transform a generic power cord into a high-performance power cord, like the one that came with my Artisan Fidelity TD-124 Statement turntable (above).

Trying the Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner seemed like the perfect opportunity to put both Mark Coles and Ken Ishiguro’s suggestions to the test!

Johnny Cash’s Solitary Man.

I put Johnny Cash’s Solitary Man on the Thorens and gave it a listen.

Then I added the Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner to the generic power cord of the Thorens and gave it another listen.

The Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner on the Thoren’s generic power cord.

Well, it turns out that both Mark and Ken were exactly right, as adding the Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner yielded an easily audible difference.

Overall, it’s like a veil was removed from the music of Solitary Man. There’s more clarity and apparent detail, more of a sense of space, better dynamics, and Johnny Cash’s voice sounds more present and “real” in the room.

Timbral textures are more apparent, and there’s more musically meaningful nuance in timbre, tone color, dynamics, melodies, and interestingly, the music even sounds a little louder.

I was impressed enough with the result that I grabbed my previous version of the RAS-14 and putt it on my Garrard, which you can see in the photo above, but it’s a little blurry.

I’ll cut to the chase and tell you the result was much the same on the Garrard, with everything improving musically & sonically, in the same sort of way a high-performance power cord does for a preamplifier or amplifier.

Acoustic Revive RAS-14-TripleC NCF Power Conditioner.

Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF plug end.

Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF plug end.

If you want to read more about the Acoustic Revive RAS-14 TripleC NCF AC power conditioner, you can read my article in Positive Feedback Issue 91.

I’m rather impressed how well the RAS-14’s worked to improve overall sonics & musicality of my turntables, it was much more than what I was expecting!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 12:29 pm
Oct 292017
 

I’ve really been looking forward to listening to and experimenting with the voicing of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 tunable phonograph cartridge from Guy Pelletier.

Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103.

The idea behind the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 is that it offers a Denon DL-103 enthusiast, like myself, the potential of an almost unlimited amount of voicing options through the choice of three different cartridge shell materials (aluminum, aluminum-lithium, or magnesium), the ability to install a variety of wood species inserts into the cartridge shell, and by adjusting the three micro-tuning screws in the cartridge shell (shown below).

Guy can help you choose which cartridge shell material to choose based on the current sound of your system and the sound you desire of it, as each different shell material lends a different tonal signature to the overall sound you will experience. Ditto for the wood inserts.

Given that my primary music system changes continually as a reviewer, I asked Guy to pick a shell material that would serve as a flexible starting point from which I can try a number of voicing options as I go.

Guy sent me the entry level aluminum cartridge shell version, and I’ll tell you what, it’s beautifully made, and has the feel of a precision instrument.

Hopefully, I’ll have time to try the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 in number of different contexts, like with the Thomas Schick and Woody SPU tonearms mounted on my Garrard 301, or the Thomas Schick tonearm mounted on my Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable, which incidentally all sound completely different from each other.

Guy suggests starting one’s listening with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 without any wood inserts in the cartridge shell, and no applied tension on the three micro-tuning screws.

As the listener gets more familiar with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s performance, Guy suggests experimenting with adjusting the tension of the three micro-tuning screws to hear how that affects voicing, and finding what you prefer.

After getting familiar with the three micro-turning screws’ affects on voicing, then Guy suggests trying different species of wood inserts to see how that affects voicing, and what you prefer.

Finally, after picking the preferred combination of micro-tuning screw tensioning and wood inserts, Guy suggests finalizing the voicing with the oil dampening treatment of the wood inserts.

I’ve been listening to the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 on my Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable for about a week now, as Guy suggested, without any tension on the three micro-tuning screws or wood inserts.

For a step-up transformer, I’m using my Auditorium 23 SUT designed for Denon DL-103, and I’m using shielded Duelund DCA20GA interconnects from the A23 SUT to my vintage McIntosh MX110Z preamplifier.

The resulting combination is extremely satisfying, and I’ve enjoyed every minute of my listening, with the music sounding tonally colorful, timbrally natural, and very engaging from a beat and melody standpoint.

If I were to stop right there, I’d say the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 is a brilliant match in my system, even without adjustment, and I could easily be satisfied with its musical & sonic performance for the long haul.

Of course, you know I’m not going to stop there, as I’m just getting started with exploring the voicing possibilities the Audio MusiKraft tunable Denon DL-103 offers, but it’s always a good start when you like what you’re hearing from the get-go.

Gibson Advanced Jumbo (left), Collings OM2C (middle), and Collings Waterloo WL-14L (right).

This morning I got up early (like usual), and played my Collings Waterloo guitar (far right, above) for awhile, working on my fingerstyle playing.

Then I wanted to work on some crosspicking and bass lines, which got me to thinking about Doc Watson, and led me to get out my 1995 Analogue Productions test pressing of Doc and Merle Watson’s Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues, which is a mighty fine record!

If you don’t have a copy of Sittin’ Here and Pickin’ the Blues, I urge you to get a copy, I think you’ll find it to be wonderful. You’ll get to hear Doc Watson playing guitar, singing, and playing harmonica, joined by Merle Watson playing guitar & slide guitar, with T. Michael Coleman playing bass & singing harmony, with Sam Bush playing fiddle & mandolin, and Joe Smothers singing background vocals on “Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues”.

The music is wonderful, and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 makes it sound that way, wonderful, with beautiful tone color, a beautiful overall tonal balance, a realistic timbral signature, as well as really highlighting their technique as they play.

Ok, I’m going to take a break and have a little bit of lunch, and then I’ll be back and tell you how the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 compares to my stock Denon DL-103.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

I grilled a tasty burger on the BBQ while enjoying the Fall colors, and had a glass of very nice Church & State “State of the Union” Pinot Gris, that Chris picked up in Victoria, B.C., which made for a very nice lunch – thanks, Chris!

Let’s see, before I go much further, in case you haven’t read through the earlier blog posts, I should say that I used identical headshells and headshell leads to make comparisons between the stock Denon DL-103 and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

I used two Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshells, and two sets of Art of Tone 22GA headshell leads that I built up earlier, in an effort to level the playing field.

My Thomas Schick headshell is vastly better than the Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshells I’m using for comparison, but I only had one Schick headshell available, and its got the very spendy Murasakino “Sumile” phonograph cartridge mounted to it at the moment.

Maybe when I wrap up the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 review, I’ll describe the fully voiced Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103’s performance with the Thomas Schick headshell to give you a better idea of its ultimate level of performance.

As an aside, Duelund DCA26GA, Art of Tone 22GA, and vintage Western Electric WE24GA (from Yazaki-san) represent my winner’s podium of high-performance & high-musicality headshell leads. They’re all fantastic headshell leads with that vivacious tinned-copper “vintage tone” going for them, and better ordinary headshell leads in every way, and I recommend you give all three a listen if you get the chance.

Ok, let me get back on topic, which is listening to Doc and Merle Watson’s Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, and my stock Denon DL-103.

Please consider these to be very preliminary first listening impressions.

Stock Denon DL-103

The stock Denon DL-103 sounded just like you would expect it to, being musically vivid, with lots of natural detail articulation that really brought Merle’s slide guitar to life, lots of interesting overtones present, nice rosiny fiddle tone, a really articulate sense of “touch” to Doc’s guitar playing, and an overall exciting presentation to music.

The stock Denon DL-103 emphasizes the higher frequencies more, is more forward, and has a leaner tonal balance, than does the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103. The stock Denon DL-103 also has an excellent portrayal of tempos, rhythm, melody, and beat that makes it exciting and fun to listen to, making the music sound lively and energetic.

Stock Denon DL-103 on the Thorens TD124.

It’s pretty obvious switching back and forth between the stock Denon DL-103 and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103, that the Audio MusiKraft’s aluminum cartridge shell puts it in a different league from the stock Denon’s plastic cartridge shell.

Doc’s vocals were more present and dynamic, in fact the presence of all the musicians in the room increased considerably, and there was a much greater sense of space, depth, and layering to soundstage.

There was also more nuance and detail present, and a better articulation of the musicians playing their instruments

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 with aluminum cartridge shell – it’s good!

The tonal balance of the instruments sounded more natural top-to-bottom. The tonal balance in the high-frequencies was far superior, and was presented as much more musically natural and realistic. The high-frequencies of the stock Denon DL-103 sound somewhat distorted in comparison to the smoothly detailed and natural presentation of the Audio MusiKraft.

The Audio MusiKraft aluminum cartridge shell gave more even response from the low to high-frequencies, with a richer and more realistic presentation of bass lines.

Images had more body with a greater sense of space around them, and the whole of the string tone was represented rather than just the leading edge of the treble, which gives the music a more organic and realistic feel.

Thorens TD-124 with Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

The stock Denon DL-103 weighs 8.5 grams, and the weight of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 is 11.38 grams.

The extra mass and rigidity of the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 aluminum cartridge shell is immediately audible, and it improves upon the musicality & sonics of my stock Denon DL-103 with its plastic cartridge shell rather dramatically.

So those are some very preliminary impressions of the stock versus the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

It was pretty much a no contest situation, with Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 being better in every way musically & sonically than the stock Denon DL-103. That’s quite a compliment actually, as the stock Denon DL-103 is a very fine phonograph cartridge that I like quite a lot.

Before the sun goes down tonight, I think I’ll try the same thing with the Schick tonearm on my Garrard 301, so stay tuned for more impressions tonight!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 on the Classic Audio Garrard 301.

I didn’t get a chance tonight to try both my stock Denon DL-103 and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 on my Garrard 301, but I was able to get some listening time in with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

I mounted the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 on the Schick tonearm on my Garrard 301, and used the same Auditorium 23 SUT and shielded Duelund DCA20GA interconnect to connect the SUT to my vintage McIntosh MX110Z preamplifier.

The setup was slightly different for the Schick tonearm, as Pete Riggle rewired my second Schick tonearm with the same wire setup he uses for the Woody SPU when we were comparing the two tonearms way back when. It turned out that the tonearm wiring Pete uses in the Woody SPU tonearms sounded almost identical to the wire Thomas Schick uses in his tonearms, so it was pretty much a draw on the tonearm wire front.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 on the Classic Audio Garrard 301.

I listened to Doc and Merle’s Sittin’ Here Pickin’ the Blues again, and I was reminded how different the same setup can sound on two different turntables, but I was very pleased with how the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 performed on both.

The Thorens TD124 sounds more laid back, warmer, and less resolving than the Garrard 301, but is very musical and enjoyable to listen to music with. The Garrard has more “drive” in the way it portrays beat, rhythm, and tempos, and is more resolving of harmonies, different instrumental lines, and musical nuance. The Garrard is the more dynamic of the two turntables, and it infuses melody lines with vibrancy as a result.

I must say that I wouldn’t want to do without either the Thorens TD124 or the Garrard 301, they are both wonderful turntables with completely different personalities.

Classic Audio Garrard 301 with Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103.

I suppose by analogy that the Garrard 301 is the turntable you want to have playing when you are dancing with your girlfriend in front of the loudspeakers, but the Thorens TD124 is the one you want to have playing when you’re smooching with your sweetie on the couch.

The two turntables have completely different musical and sonic personalities, but they’re both very compelling and enjoyable to listen to music with, and the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 performed beautifully on both of them.

I’ve run out of steam to talk more about audio tonight, but I am very pleased with how my listening adventures with the Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 have started out.

The Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 is an impressive phono cartridge even without using its voicing options, so if you’re thinking about pulling the trigger and buying one, I’d say it’s a pretty safe bet.

Much more to come!

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 12:00 pm
Oct 292017
 

It sure was nice to have my nephew Chris and his daughter Chloe come to visit us this weekend!

My nephew Chris and his daughter Chloe visiting Jeff’s Place!

Chris and Chloe came all the way from Washington, D.C. to visit Washington State, and had some fun adventures in Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and visiting Grandma Jaine and Uncle Jeff here at Jeff’s Place.

Grandma Jaine was thrilled with her new purse!

Chris checking out Ken Kessler’s history of McIntosh book. Chris has been into vacuum tubes since he was a kid, collecting vintage radios.

We took Grandma Jaine out for a nice lunch and some shopping. Grandma Jaine was excited about the new purse she found on sale, and she was really thrilled to visit with Chris and Chloe!

We had music playing, and Grandma was up dancing to Tony Bennett, walker and all!

We also had some Nirvana playing for a little vintage Washington State music vibe!

My great-niece, Chloe, with one of my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.

The photo above is from Chris and Chloe’s previous visit, with Chloe standing next the vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.

We decided we would do a photo of Chloe with the jumbo speakers here at Jeff’s Place each visit to chart her growth – Chloe sure has grown up since the last visit!

It sure was nice to visit with Chris and Chloe, and to have four generations of Day’s all together at once!

Thanks for coming to visit, Chris and Chloe, it was great to see you and catch up with you!

Uncle Jeff wishing you the best!

From our family to yours, may your favorite music be playing and the happiness flowing like a river!

 Posted by at 8:33 am
Oct 212017
 

The Editors of Positive Feedback, Mr. Dave Clark and Dr. David Robinson, just sent out a message calling for the writers to turn in their three Writers Choice Awards for 2017. Every year Dave and David’s message results in my going back and reflecting on my year in audio, the products I’ve written about for Positive Feedback, and my long-term impressions about them.

Having a limited amount of time to write about audio, I only want to tell you about audio products that I think are truly exceptional, and that creates a personal drama for me as I down-select to three from a group of artisanal audio products that I have written about, that each deserve the recognition a Writers Choice Award brings.

In no particular order, I’ll recap my 2017 Positive Feedback review adventures for you:

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Lefson of France. Xavier Lefebvre’s custom resistors are really something special and deserve recognition for their lofty level of performance.

In my Positive Feedback review, I described the superb results I experienced after installing the Lefson Premium, Supra, and Ultra resistors into the custom crossovers that I built for my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers adventure.

The Premium (35€), Supra (55€), and Ultra (90€) product lines of Lefson resistors all possess carbon resistive elements, silver leads, silver end caps, and are potted in plastic enclosures, with a level of quality, fit, and finish that is absolutely impeccable.

The Lefson Ultra resistors with their double carbon resistive elements and their gold-coated two-times 0.8mm double-wound pure silver leads get my vote for the finest crossover resistors available on Planet Earth today – highly recommended!

The Lefson Ultra Resistor.

Lefson is an up-and-coming artisanal audio company that you’ll want to keep your eye on, and as word gets out more and more, I believe we’ll hear a lot more about Xavier’s ultra-quality Lefson audio components in the future.

Lefson resistors are available direct from Lefson via their website.

If you have any questions about applications for Lefson products, you can email Xavier directly for guidance.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Mr. Toshio Arai’s Arai Lab MT-1 SUT!

Arai Lab of Japan. Mr. Toshio Arai has done something remarkable in creating the Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer (SUT), and it truly deserves recognition for its extreme level of quality and remarkable performance.

Expensive and wonderful, I almost wept when I returned the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT (unfortunately, out of my price range), and I already miss its presence in my life.

In my review for Positive Feedback, I described the remarkable performance of the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT combined with the 1.2 Ohm Murasakino Musique Analogue Sumile MC phonograph cartridge.

As I said in my Positive Feedback review, “If I could afford it, I’d unhesitatingly have an Arai Lab MT-1 SUT for every single moving cartridge I love, but alas, that’s a dream, as it’s out of my price range! If you’re able to fit an Arai Lab MT-1 into your budget for your favorite moving coil phonograph cartridge, I fully expect you will have a very happy future together! Highly recommended!”

The Arai Lab MT-1 SUT is an ultra-quality and impeccably handmade SUT that is custom designed to get the very best out of your favorite moving coil phonograph cartridge.

The pricing of the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT varies depending on the internal impedance of the cartridge it is designed for, as the materials costs and the difficulty of building an MT-1 increase with decreasing impedance of the phonograph cartridge.

An Arai Lab MT-1 SUT for cartridges with a 21 Ohm or higher internal impedance is $10,995 USD, for cartridges with internal impedances of 20 Ohms to 11 Ohms an MT-1 is $11,995 USD, for cartridges with 2.1 Ohms to 10 Ohms internal impedance an MT-1 is $12,995 USD, and for cartridges with an internal impedance that is 2 Ohms or lower an MT-1 is $13,995 USD.

In North America, the Arai Lab MT-1 SUT is available from Mr. Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports on a custom order basis.

In other parts of the world, please contact Mr. Yoshi Hontani at Muson Pro directly for information about ordering an Arai Lab MT-1 SUT of your own.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Richard and Sue’s Sophia Electric™ Aqua 274B rectifier tube.

Sophia Electric of the USA. Richard and Sue’s Sophia Electric EL34-ST and Aqua 274B vacuum tubes are a significant accomplishment in their new “ST Blue” line of vacuum tubes, and I am very impressed with the superb balance of musicality of sonics they have achieved.

Richard and Sue’s new Sophia Electric™ EL-34-ST power tube.

In my review for Positive Feedback I described my results using the Sophia Electric™ Aqua 274B rectifier tubes in my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers, and the Sophia Electric™ EL-34-ST power tubes in my trusty Leben CS-600 integrated amplifier.

Both the Sophia Electric™ Aqua 274B rectifier tubes and the Sophia Electric™ EL-34-ST power tubes performed admirably, and Richard and Sue have left them with me on long-term loan so I could provide you my continued impressions over time as I gain more experience with them.

In my review I said, “I don’t know if it’s the ST bottle shape, or the noise reducing blue glass, the design & materials of their internal structure, or Richard’s prowess in voicing tubes, but the Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifiers and the Sophia Electric EL34-ST power tubes are both home runs by Richard, and they are simply superb both musically and sonically.”

Both are highly recommended!

The Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifier tubes are $159.99 USD per tube with a 30 day warranty, and $199.99 USD per tube with a one year warranty.

The Sophia Electric EL34-ST power tubes are priced as follows:

Grade A (top 10%): $125 USD per tube with 30 days warranty, $25 extra for one year warranty.
Grade B (top 25%): $100 USD per tube with 30 days warranty, $25 extra for one year warranty.

You can visit the Sophia Electric website for more information, or contact Richard and Sue directly to make arrangements to purchase Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifiers or Sophia Electric EL34-ST power tubes of your own.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Duelund Coherent Audio of Denmark. Frederik Carøe’s new line of DCA tinned-copper cables are a remarkable accomplishment, and have received critical acclaim around the world for their unique combination of intensity of tone color, dynamic prowess, timbral realism, vivid presence, and a compelling portrayal of beat and tempos, that distinguishes them from copper or silver cables, and makes them immensely satisfying to listen to music with.

DCA16GA (left), DCA26GA (right).

The Duelund DCA line of tinned-copper cables are purist versions of vintage tinned-copper cables, and are all made similarly, where the tinned-copper conductors are wrapped in a baked oil-impregnated cotton dielectric to maximize the amount of musicality & sonics that the tinned-copper conductors are capable of.

Frederik started his DCA cable line with the nuevo vintage-tone DCA16GA tinned-copper cable, patterned after the vintage Western Electric WE16GA cable, and has expanded his DCA tinned-copper line to include other gauges like the DCA20GA, DCA12GA, and DCA26GA.

Duelund DCA26GA tinned-copper headshell leads with the Sumile phono cartridge and Schick headshell.

This variety of DCA tinned-copper wire gauges makes it possible to wire up an entire system with an optimized choice of DCA tinned-copper cables from source to speakers.

Duelund DCA12GA connecting to the LF connections on my Duelund CAST crossovers, with DCA12GA jumpers connecting to the HF connections.

Not only does Frederik deserve special recognition for his accomplishments with the DCA tinned-copper cable line, but also for his sustained accomplishments with his remarkable CAST components, including the prototype Duelund CAST tinned-copper capacitors and Duelund CAST tinned-copper resistors that I have written about here at Jeff’s Place, and which I hope to say more about in the future.

In my review of the DCA line of Duelund cables, I said “If you’ll take a little time in selecting the best matching Duelund DCA tinned-copper cables for your various connection points … you’ll begin to understand what the guitar and audio guys are talking about with regards to the wonderful tonal characteristics of tinned-copper cables … Frederik, thank you for resurrecting the magic of tinned-copper in contemporary high-performance audio cables that we can all afford to enjoy, well done!”

One of the most exciting aspects of the Duelund Coherent Audio line of DCA tinned-copper cables is that you get uber performance at an affordable price:

  • DCA26GA: The Duelund DCA26GA wire uses 1 strand of 0.40mm diameter tinned-copper wire. Price is approximately $5.50 USD per meter.
  • DCA20GA: The Duelund DCA20GA cable uses 26 strands of 0.15mm diameter tinned-copper wires, which you might note is the same count and diameter of conductors contained in the Belden 8402 microphone cable. Price is approximately $6.75 USD per meter.
  • DCA16GA: The Duelund DCA16GA cable uses 26 strands of 0.25mm diameter tinned-copper wires, just like the vintage WE16GA wire does, but with a musically and sonically better sounding oil-soaked and baked cotton dielectric. Price is approximately $9.99 USD per meter.
  • DCA12GA: The Duelund DCA12GA cable uses 65 strands of 0.25mm diameter tinned-copper wires, and it is a massive cable that is well suited for use as speaker cables. Price is approximately $16.99 USD per meter.

The Duelund DCA tinned-copper cable/wire is available in the UK from HiFi Collective, in North America from Parts ConneXion, and in other parts of Planet Earth by contacting Frederik Carøe at Duelund directly.

¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Murasakino Musique Analogue from Japan. Mr. Daisuke Asai has created a state-of-art moving-coil phonograph cartridge in the 1.2 Ohm Sumile that is meticulously hand-crafted down to the finest details, and exudes a sense of quality and refinement.

As I said in my Positive Feedback review, “Of the various phono cartridges I’ve listened to over the years, the Sumile MC phonograph cartridge is my favorite by quite a large margin, and I am very impressed with what designer Mr. Daisuke Asai has accomplished with the Sumile … I found the Sumile’s balance of musicality and sonics to be utterly enchanting, and I found the Sumile to be absolutely thrilling to listen to and explore music with, as such I heartily recommend the Sumile to those who can fit it into their budget!”

Nothing in my experience has excelled like the Sumile does with that important triad of tone, dynamics, and presence, that makes recorded music feel ‘real’ and ‘live’ in one’s listening room.

The Sumile allows a lot of subtle tonal, timbral, and dynamic nuance to emerge that is meaningful from a musical standpoint, making the Sumile particularly satisfying to listen to music with.

The Sumile has an information rich and vivid presence, with great tone color resolution, a high degree of transparency, and with a high degree of dynamic agility that makes beat, tempos, and rhythm feel very ‘live’, which I found made the Sumile very emotionally engaging and exciting to listen to.

The Sumile has an impressively transparent yet natural sounding presentation, rich in timbral & tonal nuance, with a vivid presence of images on the soundstage, a huge sense of spaciousness in recordings, and a deeply layered soundstage, that made for very immersive and exciting musical performances.

I found the Sumile’s balance of musicality and sonics to be utterly enchanting, and I found the Sumile to be absolutely thrilling to listen to and explore music with, as such I heartily recommend the Sumile to those who can fit it into their budget!

The Sumile MC phono cartridge is imported/distributed in North America by Jonathan Halpern at Tone Imports, and is priced at $8500 USD.

For information about getting a Sumile of your own in other parts of the world, please contact exporter Yoshi Hontani directly.

 ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

Acoustic Revive RPC-1 Power Conditioner.

Acoustic Revive of Japan. Mr. Ken Ishiguro’s RPC-1 Power Conditioner, RPT-6 Absolute NCF Power Distributor, and Power Reference TripleC NCF AC Power Cords, are all exceptionally fine products that I reviewed for Positive Feedback this year and are deserving of a Writers Choice Award.

The Acoustic Revive RPT-6 Absolute NCF power distributor.

This last article in Issue 91 of Positive Feedback was my fourteenth article about the superb Acoustic Revive products from Mr. Ken Ishiguro, and Mr. Ken still has the ability to surprise me with the quality, creativity, and sheer performance improvements that his designs offer an music and audio enthusiast like yours truly.

The Power Reference TripleC NCF AC power cord.

If you’ve never had the opportunity to experience how quality AC products like the RPT-6 Absolute NCF Power Distributor ($3975 USD), the Power Reference TripleC NCF AC Power Cords ($5750 USD for a 2-meter power cord), and the RAS-14-TripleC NCF Power Stabilizer ($2025 USD), can improve the quality of your systems’ audio and video performance, you’re in for quite a treat one of these days!

Acoustic Revive RAS-14-TripleC NCF Power Conditioner.

That’s the RAS-14-TripleC NCF on my new Artisan Fidelity Thorens TDA124 Statement Long-Base turntable below.

In North America, Acoustic Revive products are available from Mr. Joe Cohen of The Lotus Group.

In other parts of the world, please contact Mr. Yoshi Hontani directly for information about availability of Acoustic Revive products in your country.

 ¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪¸¸.•*¨*•♫♪

This year’s reviews have yielded an impressive line-up of artisanal audio products, and I can recommend each and every one of them.

Whether it’s Xavier’s custom Lefson resistors (France), Arai-san’s Arai Lab MT-1 SUT (Japan), Richard and Sue’s new blue ST Sophia Electric vacuum tubes (USA), Frederik’s Duelund Coherent Audio DCA line of tinned-copper cables (Denmark), Asai-san’s Murasakino Musique Analogue Sumile MC phono cartridge (Japan), or Mr. Ken’s new Acoustic Revive products (Japan), I’d say the world of artisanal audio is vibrant and exciting! 

Stay tuned for the announcement of the Positive Feedback Writers Choice Awards for 2017!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!
 Posted by at 6:37 pm
Oct 202017
 

The Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement long-base turntable that I commissioned is here!

The packing containers from Christopher Thornton at Artisan Fidelity were extremely well done, with the TD-124 and plinth arriving in the large wooden crate you see on the above left, and the two platters, extra armboard, and other miscellaneous supplies packed in the cardboard shipping container on the upper right.

I slipped the Thorens TD124 out of its packing materials to take a look. The restored Thorens TD124 was installed into its Artisan Fidelity cocobolo / panzerholz plinth with Stillpoints Ultra SS isolation feet attached to the bottom of the plinth.

The fit and finish of the Artisan Fidelity restored Thorens TD124 and Artisan Fidelity long-base plinth is impeccable. Very nicely done, Christopher!

Gentleman engineer Pete Riggle (Pete Riggle Audio Engineering) helped me get my Schick 12-inch tonearm correctly mounted on the solid cocobolo armboard. Many thanks, Pete!

Pete was also the inspiration for my desire to have a Thorens TD124 of my own, as I’ve always enjoyed listening to music with Pete’s Thorens TD124, which is a long-time favorite of Pete’s.

I mounted the Schick tonearm with the Audio MusiKraft hot-rodded and tunable Denon 103 phono cartridge, installed onto an Audio-Technica AT-HS1 headshell, and fitted with a set of Art of Tone 22GA headshell leads I had already built up.

After getting everything put together for the first listening session, my buddy Chad and I, who stopped by for a visit, sat down to give it a listen!

Well it turns out we couldn’t give it a listen, as consistent with the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement’s Friday the 13th arrival date, the long journey from Chicago via UPS jiggled the TD124’s internals out of adjustment enough that it was unplayable, even with the extreme care in packaging that Christopher had used. Bummer!

I contacted Christopher and told him what happened, and asked him for his advice on where to start with adjustments to get the TD124 up and running.

Christopher offered to fly out and get the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable adjusted and setup for me, which was very gracious, but I have demurred for the moment on Christopher’s offer.

Rather, I wanted to try to work through the adjustments and setup myself with Christopher’s expert guidance, as I figured it would be valuable knowledge for the future to understand more completely what makes the Thorens TD124 tick.

I figured if I can’t get it sorted out and setup on my own, then I’ll take Christopher up on his offer of a visit and setup, which would be a lot of fun in its own right, and I’m sure I’d learn a lot!

It turns out the needed adjustments appear to be fairly minor, albeit a bit tedious to do, and I’ve got the Thorens TD124 in pretty good shape now.

I still need to do some additional fine tuning, but overall the adjustments have progressed nicely, and I’m very pleased with what I’m hearing from the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement.

The Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable is very musical, sonically astute, and it’s a very nice match to my Westminster Royal SE and vintage McIntosh based main music system.

I’m hearing rich, colorful, gorgeous tone from the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement long-base turntable, and I’m very excited to have it up and playing music here at Jeff’s Place!

Above you can see the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement long-base turntable sitting to the left of my Garrard 301, the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement looks almost petite compared to the massive Garrard!

My first impressions of the vintage Thorens TD124 turntable are very positive. On the practical side, I enjoy using the built in strobe to fine-tune the speed, and the platter lift that allows you to change records without shutting off the motor is really a nice feature.

On the musical side I’m really liking what I’m hearing, it’s very musically natural, and sonically adept, and I’m looking forward to further dialing in its adjustments, and doing a careful voicing with the Audio MusiKraft Denon 103.

I’ll have much more to say as I get the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement long-base turntable dialed in and voiced the way I want it, and in spite of a little UPS shipping kerfuffle we’re off to a good start!

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 11:41 am