It’s Sunday morning here at Jeff’s Place, with the morning sun streaming in through the East windows, while I’m drinking a fine cup of coffee, and listening to an old Analogue Productions test pressing of Bill Evan’s Waltz for Debbie that is just blowing my mind. Those Analogue Productions test pressings are freaky good, and I feel lucky that I have them. They’re about 20 years old now, and ironically I bought them from Acoustic Sounds because they were dirt cheap back then, and money was in short supply after I got out of graduate school. Each one of those test pressings remain the best versions of those albums I’ve run across, but they’re pretty much one-off sorts of things, so you just can’t buy them. When they do pop up these days, they go for ungodly amounts of money, certainly more than I would/could pay for them. An irony.
As you’ll notice in the photos above, as an experiment I decided to move my equipment from the side wall where it usually sits to a central location between the Tannoy Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers. This is generally considered to be a no-no, but I thought it would be fun to see what my system sounded like with a complete signal chain of Sablon Audio Panatela interconnects versus my usual long run Tom Evans Audio Design shielded interconnects in the preamp to amplifiers position.
The unshielded Panatela ICs are dead quiet in the positions from the VPI Classic turntable to the superb New Valve Order SPA-II phono stage, and from the NVO to the Leben RS-100. By the way, I continue to be more and more impressed with the NVO SPA-II phono equalizer as time goes by, it really is something special.
It turned out that even with a 1-meter length from the Leben RS-100 preamplifier to the Fi 300B mono amplifiers, the Panatela ICs are quite a bit noisier than the long length of TEAD ICs, but not noisy enough to be a distraction with music playing. With a 1-meter length of shielded Acoustic Revive Single Core interconnects replacing the Panatela ICs the system was absolutely dead quiet, I even had to check to make sure I hadn’t forgot to turn the Fi 300Bs on. But the quietness of the Single Cores comes at a price, as they give up a lot of sense of space, detail, and overall musical presence to the Panatela ICs.
A full series of Panatela from turntable to amplifiers was quite an eye-opener, it way more than makes up for the benefit of having equipment on the side wall. The little Stickley Harvey Ellis end table is doing duty as an equipment rack, being just the right size for my Classic turntable, NVO SPA-II, and Leben RS-100 line amplifier. I’d like a shorter rack though, as it makes for a better situation between loudspeakers, and I’m intrigued by the McKinnon Furniture Hudson Media Stand as it’s only 20-inches high and 18-inches deep, so it would have minimal impact between my speakers I’m thinking. McKinnon allows you to choose the wood too, and some walnut to match my Westminster Royal SEs would be a nice touch.
Back to cables: I can’t help but wonder how much much of the performance advantage is due to the conditioning Mark Coles does with one of Alan Kafton’s Audioharma Cable Cooker devices, so I decided to purchase one and find out. My Cable Cooker is supposed to ship this coming week so you’ll hear more about it in the near future. My friend Stephaen Harrell (6Moons reviewer) loaned me his Hagerman ‘Fry Baby’ cable conditioning device a while back, and I was rather astonished at the performance increase that comes from giving cables a good fry. Stay tuned.
Also on the cable front, I’m being sent a couple of sets of interconnects for review at Positive Feedback Online that use a solid gold wire for the hot lead and a solid silver return, which some say makes for the ultimate combination of musicality and sonics. They are also modestly priced considering the spendy materials that make them up. I should have more information on these shortly, but for the moment their identity shall remain a secret (no they’re not from Mark Coles at Sablon Audio, in case you’re wondering).
I forgot to mention that part of the reason I am moving equipment off the side walls is to create room to put the Westminster Royal SEs on the sidewalls during the upcoming review of the new Tannoy statement loudspeakers, the Kingdom Royals. They’re building a pair now and should have an estimated time of arrival for me before too long. The Kingdom has a 15-inch bass driver, which is the same size as the concentric driver in my Westminster, but also has a dual concentric driver plus a supertweeter. They’re expensive loudspeakers at thirty-five thousand pounds in the UK. I expect they’ll come in somewhere around $60K USD.
That’s a quick update, with more cool stuff to come in the near future!