Sep 072017

Last weekend was a rough one. I was felled by a kidney stone on Sunday, which earned me a ride in an ambulance to the emergency room. The little bugger hasn’t passed through yet, and still has some fight left in it, which it has been keen to remind me of from time to time. Ugh. I’ve been singing the kidney stone blues!

Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement Short Base turntable.

But on to more fun topics, like the Thorens TD124 restoration project that Christopher Thornton is building up for me in the form of his no-holds-barred Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement “Long Base’ turntable, which I am very excited about. It’s getting close to being done and I am thrilled about it!

That’s the short base version of the Artisan Fidelity Thorens TD124 Statement turntable in the photo above, and my long base version will be similar, but about 3-inches wider to accommodate the 12-inch tonearms that I prefer.

Swiss Precision by Joachim Bung!

One of you recommended that I should study up on the history of the Thorens TD124 turntable by reading Joachim Bung’s excellent book Swiss Precision, which incidentally just arrived.

I’ve started reading Swiss Precision while I’m working through the kidney stone blues and it is a wonderful read! If you have a TD124 you owe it to yourself to get a copy of this book!

Quite a few of you have asked me which one I thought was better, the Garrard 301 or the Thorens TD124.

Guys, what kind of crazy question is that? It’s like asking, “Which is more fun to drive, a 1957 Chevrolet Corvette C1 convertible or a 1957 Ford Thunderbird convertible?”

The answer is obvious! The best one is whichever one you’re driving at the moment!

In fact, one of my fondest automotive memories was driving a restored ’57 T-Bird convertible with the music blaring and the wind blowing through my hair! (Yeah, it was a while ago!)

Sophia Electric Aqua 274B rectifiers in my vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers.

I’d like to say a big “Thank you!” to Richard and Sue at Sophia Electric for leaving the Sophia Electric EL34-ST and Aqua 274B vacuum tubes with me on long-term loan after the review of them at Positive Feedback that was just published.

I know a lot of you are interested in these particular Sophia Electric tubes, and it was really nice of Richard and Sue to leave them with me so I could report to you on their long-term performance.

As I said in their review, there’s nothing in my NOS and new production tube stash that is in the same league as the new Sophia Electric EL34-ST and Aqua 274B vacuum tubes, they are in a whole ‘nother league musically and sonically from anything in my experience.

I’ll tell you what, when it comes to voicing vacuum tubes, Richard and Sue have particularly good taste, and early feedback to me from users in the field has been very positive.

Duelund DCA26GA IC’s with Switchcraft RCA’s.

I made a little bit of a mistake. After reporting on the positive performance of the Duelund DCA26GA IC’s in my main system, I put them on my FryBaby2 for a little bit of voltage conditioning of the dielectric.

Duelund DCA26GA IC”s on the vintage McIntosh MC30 monaural amplifiers.

I was thinking I’d do some voltage conditioning for about 12-hours, then give them another try. Well, I got distracted by the kidney stone thing and let them cook quite a long time. I actually lost track of how long.

I pulled them off the FB2 and gave them a listen and they were very laid back sounding. That could be a good thing depending on what you’re trying to do with system voicing, but I overdid it.

So I pulled them out of the Westminster system and put them on my OPPO UDP-203 Blu-ray player in my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre based AV system for a little cool-off time, and put a pair of Duelund DCA20GA interconnects that I had cooked for about 20 hours with voltage conditioning into my Westminster music system between my MX110Z preamp and MC30 monaural amps.

Whoa! The DCA20GA with 20 hours of FB2 voltage conditioning is stunning! Musicality to the heavens, as well as superb sonic performance!

Duelund DCA20GA interconnects.

This whole Duelund DCA tinned-copper cable experience has been so illuminating! It’s amazing what you can do with system voicing using different DCA gauge sizes and a little voltage conditioning with a FryBaby2.

It’s really been fun, and being able to experiment and dial in voicing just the way I want it has been really liberating and exciting for me.

Maybe the best part of it all is that the Duelund DCA is inexpensive as high-performance audio goes, so you can experiment and have fun without sweating about the cost.

Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer.

Assuming I’m able to write this weekend, my plan is to get started writing the Positive Feedback article about the Arai Lab MT-1 step-up transformer. It’s exotic, it’s expensive, it’s ridiculously good, and I’ll tell you all about it in the near future.

In the meantime you can get a glimpse of its performance by reading the Positive Feedback article I wrote about the Murasakino Musique Analogue Sumile MC phonograph cartridge in Issue 92 (below).


I’ve also really been enjoying my preliminary listening with the highly adjustable Audio MusiKraft hot-rodded Denon DL-103 MC phonograph cartridge.

I’ve been having fun building up Duelund DCA26GA and Art of Tone 24GA headshell leads to try with it, and I’m impressed with what I’m hearing.

Audio Musikraft hot-rodded Denon DL-103 moving coil cartridge.

I’ve also got something really exciting to tell you about that will be coming in the next few months. It’s a secret for now, but stay tuned, as it’s something really cool and coming soon!

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

 Posted by at 7:10 pm

  24 Responses to “Jeff checking in: Thorens TD124, Sophia Electric, Duelund DCA … and more!”

  1. Wishing you a speedy recovery Jeff!

  2. Hope you are done soon with the stone

  3. Wishing you a speedy and safe recovery as well

  4. I could empathize, had kidney stones myself many years ago. I’d rather not remember .. Get well soon.

    Anyway, I’ve had a TD-124 for the past 18 years. And it’s been in storage for the past 6 years due to life changes.. It needs a thorough overhaul soon. New parts from Simone Luchetti (sp) and a new more robust main platter bearing from someone else. I plan just to clean the exterior and keep the “patina” of the original fading paint, but the proper operation / performance in tip top shape.

    • Hi Rick,

      That’s great about your TD124, and it sounds like fun getting it overhauled and hot-rodded. I was really impressed with Simone’s Audiosilente cartridge clips, they’re the nicest ones I’ve come across to date.

      I’m really looking forward to the arrival of my TD124, and Christopher just sent me a couple of update photos of the long base plinth he’s made for it. It’s going through the final fishing and polishing now, so not too much longer!

      Let me know how your TD124 adventure turns out!

      Kind regards,


  5. All the best to you Jeff!

  6. I live not far from Richard and Sue. I have met Richard on a number of occasions, including at the Capital Audiofest, local record stores, and I have also been to his house dropping and or picking Sophia Electric amps or tubes – a fine guy to know and incredible wealth of knowledge in hifi stuff!!

    FYI: I have a Thorens TD 124 and the Garrard 301 for turntable and Rogue Audio and Sophia Electric amps. The two are different turntable and amps are different, but like the Sophia Amp and either turntable combination. However, the turntable difference does not make one better than the other – the two turntables’ musical output seems refined and complex! I find Thorens TD 124 more laid back and very rounded in its musical output. However, the Garrard sounds more aggressive and upfront and both styles suits my musical taste. Both extract significant detail, with a different musical texture. For tonearms I use the Denon 103R with mounted on SPU headshell in a 12 inch arm (Ortofon and Audiotechnic). All I can say, both turntables in combination with Sophia Electric amp heavenly!

    • Hi Tautatis,

      Richard really does have a wealth of knowledge about vacuum tubes and amplification, and the way he voices his products really hits my sweet-spot of musicality and sonics.

      I’m looking forward to giving the TD124 a listen, and getting a feel for it compared to the Garrard. It shouldn’t be long now until my TD124 arrives!

      Kind regards,


  7. Hope you are feeling better! Thank you for taking time to write about all these audio goodies!


  8. Get well soon, Jeff.

  9. Dear Jeff,

    I hope you’re recovering well, and would like to thank you for the fantastic work you’re doing on DUELUND and WE wires.

    On the matter of audio cables, you’re among the sole handful of writers I trust now before spending time doing my own investigations. You enabled me to save MUCH money, and get back some by selling big brands cables that are a joke if rated by ear towards the ones you’re writing about.

    Being an audio lover for more than 35 years, some spent in this very business, I can say by experience you’re now the number one source of infos online on musical audio cables matters.

    I don’t forget the manufacturers you are recommending, I’m just aware you’re the one giving the “real life” infos, sharing listening experiences, pics and suggestions.

    Keep up the good work


    • Thank you, Jeff for the kind words.

      The Duelund DCA line of cables has been a real revelation musically & sonically for me, and that they’re so inexpensive is a treat!

      There’s a few manufacturers that understand that offering a product line that is very high-performing, and also a true value, will create a lot of enthusiasm and appreciation from audio enthusiasts.

      Frederik has done this with high-performance cables with nuevo-vintage twist in the DCA, and his efforts are appreciated by many.

      In audio electronics Nelson Pass has done a similar thing with his First Watt electronics, creating commercial products that offer huge performance for a modest investment.

      In the acoustic guitar world Collings has done this with his wildly popular Waterloo HL-14 and other guitars.

      I respect and appreciate the good things from those who care about the customer getting a fun, high-performing, and value priced product, like Frederik with his DCA cables, Nelson with his First Watt electronics, and Collings with his Waterloo guitars – winners one and all!

      Kind regards,


  10. Thanks for your answer Jeff,

    I appreciate your reply with further interesting infos on other brands linked to audio electronics or musical instruments.

    Will investigate in due time further about Mr PASS line of amps, never heard one yet, but often read about them.

    If I may too share something with you and your readers, try to listen to a Lavardin amplifier from my country, France. This is revelatory, this said without pretending to have found the perfect one. 🙂

    As an ex retailer, agent , and now just audio enthusiast, I have listened to tubes, mosfets, more classical transistors and of course class D circuits, but Lavardin is in its very own upper class of amps.

    If anyone here has compared their costly cables against the DUELUND ones or any WE ones, i’m interested to share experience !

    Have a nice day !

    • Hi Jeff,

      I listened extensively to the Lavardin Model IT integrated amplifier when I reviewed it for Positive Feedback way back in 2009, and it was indeed a very fine amplifier, although it was also quite expensive, so it doesn’t really fall into the category of great performance at a modest price.

      It’s is always nice to run into those products that are both modestly priced and have extraordinary performance, it just doesn’t happen very often.

      I think that is part of what makes products like Nelson Pass’ First Watt amplifiers, Collings’ Waterloo guitars, and the Duelund DCA line of cables so wildly popular with enthusiasts, as it’s so rare to get such phenomenal performance at such modest prices.

      I’ll keep reporting on the great finds that I come across!

      Kind regards,


  11. Hi Jeff

    Just a thumbs up on your recommendations that have contributed to my system in a very positive manner. I have just received a quad set of the Sophia EL 34 ST tubes. These sound very promising from even the few hours that I have run them.
    As I have a Leben SC600 integrated, ( which I purchased thanks to your posts ) it should be a marriage of sonic beauty in the days to come. I had also recently changed to an all Duelund speaker and interconnect configuration and am somewhat overwhelmed by their ability to create “real music”. They all fall into my mantra of tone, timbre, texture and transparency.
    Appreciate your efforts and sensible style of reviewing and passing on quality and not quantity.

    Cheers, Larry

    • Hi Larry,

      I can attest that the Leben CS600 and the SE EL34-ST tubes are a fine combination, I have really been enjoying their charms myself! It took a little while for the SE’s to settle in, but once they did, they were superb!

      I’m glad you’re also able to give the Duelund DCA cables a try too, they really are remarkable, and I’m so glad that Frederik embarked upon the project to make these vintage-style DCA tinned-copper cables available to enthusiasts – definitely a home run!

      Thanks for your great message, Larry, you made my day!

      Kind regards,


  12. Hello Jeff,

    How do you twist Duelund cable into a twisted pair?
    I try to twist DCA20GA cable with electrical screwdriver. But it didn’t work well.
    This cable is too springy.

    • Hi Alex,

      I twisted my DCA20GA by hand, but after further use I found that I thought the Duelund DCA20GA sounds better if you don’t twist it. Easier too!

      On your speaker cable question I’m not sure I can answer your question, as it will depend on your tastes, and the voicing of components in your system.

      For example, on my Altec A5’s and my Harbeth Super HL5’s I’m using Duelund DCA16GA as speaker cables. For my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers I use DCA12GA for the low-frequency speaker cables, and DCA20GA as the high-frequency speaker cables.

      I hope that helps!

      Kind regards,


  13. Hi Jeff,

    Thank you for your blog.
    I have other question. I have Altec 604E speakers and 300B amp.
    Which Dueland cable will work better with my speakers? 16GA or 12GA?

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