I’ve been having a lot of fun listening to music this weekend while making a few blog posts and doing some review writing. My Hi-Fi rig is sounding really good right now, and I thought you might like to see what’s making it sound so good today. First up is my EMT TSD-15 MC cartridge that I bought from Jonathan at Tone Imports, which has been happily surfing the vinyl grooves on record after record, and sounding wonderfully mesmerizing doing it. It’s no wonder this cartridge has such a cult following, it really gets the music right!
I continue to be impressed with the musical and easy-going nature of my VPI 30th Anniversary Classic I turntable & JMW 10.5i arm combo that I bought from the Weisfields. It plays music really well, is totally unfussy to use, I love its classical good looks, and it is reliable as a rock! It’s no wonder the Classic has won a ton of awards and audio critics are falling all over themselves singing their praise for it – it deserves it! If you’ll look closely in the photo below you’ll see the Sablon Audio Panatela interconnects that I reviewed for PFO doing signal duties. Mark has been kind enough to let me keep listening to the Panatelas a while longer – thanks Mark!
I’ve been working on the review of the NVO SPA-II phono preamplifier from Cyprus. It is a wondrous sight to behold with twenty-something glowing vacuum tubes! It’s a really nicely designed phono stage, with separate power supply, both MC and MM stages, and a mono switch. I’ll have a lot more to tell you about the SPA-II soon.
I’m using the Leben RS100 (non-‘u’ version) for a preamplifier at the moment. Mr. Hyodo told me he thought the RS100 was his greatest achievement, and it really is terrific sounding, and a great match to the NVO SPA-II phono stage. A pair of Acoustic Revive Single Core interconnects the NVO to the Leben. All the front end components are using a mix of Sablon Audio Robusto and Gran Corona (in for review) power cords, plugged into an Acoustic Revive RPT-4 Ultimate Power Conditioner.
For amplification I’m running the Sophia Electric 91-01 300B mono amplifiers with SE Princess Mesh-Plate 300B tubes that I purchased after the review. My left 91-01 literally went up in smoke a couple of weekends ago when a coupling capacitor took a nosedive. When coupling caps let go it always scares me, and I leaped out of my listening chair to shut the amp down. The same thing happened with my Cary 805C amps years ago when a Cetron 300B tube let go, smoking the cap. When I pulled the amp apart I noticed that the TRW grid resistor had also failed, and I’m guessing that’s what took out the Panasonic coupling capacitor, as the 300B tube looks to be fine. Richard (Sophia Electric) sent me a couple of hard to come by Black Gate capacitors and a couple of equally hard to come by Allen Bradley resistors to replace the stock items in both amps. After soldering in the new parts I fired up the amps and let them warm up for a while to make sure all was well, then played a little music. The Black Gates bypass capacitors plus the Allen Bradley grid resistors resulted in a major sonic improvement to the 91-01s musical and sonic performance. Richard told me the Black Gates can make quite an improvement if used judiciously, but they have to be used judiciously or they will actually degrade the sound, making it sterile and solid-state like. In my case it was an enormous improvement that took the amplifiers to a new level. If you have 91-01 amplifiers it’s a simple upgrade that is really worthwhile.
Oh, before I forget: Last weekend I finished up my review of the Sophia Electric Royal Princess carbon-plate 300B tubes. They are stunning. The full review will be in the next issue of Positive Feedback Online that will be live shortly.
I’ve been using the Sablon Audio ‘The Robusto’ power cords to connect the SE 91-01 300B monos to the AC, plugged straight into the wall. Keith Aschenbrenner’s Auditorium 23 ‘Green’ speaker cables connect my SE 91-01 300B monos to my Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers. Now that I’ve made a switch to mono amps I did a little surgery on my A23 cables and chopped them in half, and re-terminated them so that I could bi-wire the Westminsters. The A23 cables are very complimentary to the 300B amplifiers and the Westminsters, it’s a really nice combination.
So that’s my ‘State of the System’ message for the moment, and it’s sounding wonderful, making it a joy to listen to music over the weekend.
Thanks for stopping by!