Dilemas of the Modern Age – an occasional series

Occasional series highlighting Dilemas of the Modern Age.

No 1

What’s an aesthetically-sensitive serious HiFi and modern jazz  buff supposed to do?

It’s been a mixed few days. A vintage shrink-wrapped sealed record bought on ebay turns out to be damaged, concealed by the shrink. My laptop fails. I’ve heard some great music. Therapy needed. You are ready to settle down to some cool evening listening, a tumbler of your favourite single malt, maybe a live set on the turntable – Miles in Person at the Blackhawk on Six Eye, Mobley! – you settle back, you dim the lights, and… aaagh!  What could be worse? Colour clashing LEDs!!


Don’t designers of modern HiFi separates understand the principles of colour co-ordination? Red and Green Should Not Be Seen?  Three separate strengths of amber LED?  Miles Davis it’s Kind of Blue, not Kind of Cyan

Instead of a chilled laid back live club performance, I have disco-dancing mayhem on the HiFi staging.

LEDs. Is this today’s Big Issue LJC?

Not, not really. There is no sound to accompany this post because my laptop which briefly allowed me to make high quality rips from the big hifi  has died, repeating Blue Screen of Death. All blue. It’s gone in for repair, no high quality rips for a couple of weeks, it’s back to the Numark usb TT temporarily. Sorry. Tell Microsoft. Back with more posts soon, no rest at LJC in search of the good stuff..

More interesting, I have just spent a week auditioning a custom-build valve pre-amp, and it totally smokes. Simple analog design, minimum number of high quality components, blows away Linn’s  complex solid-state circuitry, at a quarter of the cost, and excitement comes fitted as standard. There is only one thing wrong with it.  LED mismatch! In a world focussed on appearances and being totally cool, is this something I can live with?

Back to the music soon, with the Numark.

auguste-renoir-demeerkatI’ll give LJC resident art-critic Auguste Renoir van Meerkat the final word:

Amber Red Green Blue Cyan?

Colourful. Personally, I like it.


13 thoughts on “Dilemas of the Modern Age – an occasional series

    • World Design’s “Pre3”
      Because they custom build, there are numerous bespoke component upgrades planned such as Audio Note paper in oils, Charcroft Z-foil resistors, Takman metal film, and Elna Cerafine capacitors (not one word of which I understand, but I know a man who does, and he assures me they do good things)

      I am listening to the basic “vanilla” Pre3 and it absolutely smokes – wipes the floor with my Linn Akurate pre-amp, I haven’t been so excited listening to music for some time.

      • One thing I don’t like about these designs is that you can’t tube roll without taking it apart. I would change those Audio Notes with some Mundorf silver/oil caps and the Cerafine with JJ’s. Its what I have in my Aikido. There are so few Preamps running OPT in their designs which is a reason why this preamp cost $800 more than mine! Whether that’s a good thing or not depends, Only a side by side comparison can judge that. Another part I would be concerned about is that Blue Alps Att. and Selector Switch. That blue alps is the most Counterfeited pot on the market, it even comes with a made in Japan Sticker. Easily found on ebay. I have Goldpoint’s attenuator and selector switch in Mine. My advice would be to keep looking around. Surely their has to be some type a Audio Society around.

        • I understand the bespoke components are sourced independent of the kit builder, from guys like these (not ebay) – http://www.hificollective.co.uk/index.html – sort of a thinking mans’ Maplins. Mundorf silver/oil caps? Eh? Of course, obviously.

          I’m afraid none of these components names mean anything to me at all, I’m the type who picks up the soldering iron by the wrong end, remember? But I will happily pass on your suggestions to my designer, and ask what he thinks. Mundorf indeed.

          Now the colour of the LED’s, that’s more my sort of level.

        • Hi migkiller

          Excellent points.

          To tube roll you only have to take the cover off. Simple enough to do. The cover also acts as a Farady cage.

          Interesting comment about the Mundorfs. They are silver plated copper, I think. The Audio Notes are a proven design, it seems worth staying with them rather than trying something new.

          The Alps blue and the selector switch? You are absolutely right on this. Both can seriously degrade the sound. The bespoke version will have a stepped attenuator built onto an Elma 24 way switch. The selector isn’t a problem. The design uses a relay, so the selector just sends DC to the relay to choose the source.

          Not sure about your comment on the price. This amp will cost about $(cost redacted, we don’t talk money here – LJC). Did yours really cost just $700? Nice one if it did!

          The OPTs are a good thing, IMHO. What OPT less amp do you have?

          • Forgot to say. The Cerafines are cathode bypass capacitors. Black gates would have been the first choice, but the Elna Cerafines are generally seen as a good alternative.

          • I don’t think we get the audio Notes on this side of the pond. The Mundorfs are oil impregnated metallized paper. When it comes to cost, that’s the Beauty of DIY. In reality I could have built my amp for way under $500 US with standard parts. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a preamp with OPT’s. Very interesting. I have top of the line Electra Prints OPT in my TubeSE Amp. I have an Aikido Octal Linestage seen here:

            My amp seen here:

  1. yeah, welcome to the valves world – 5th step to heaven! “…blows away Linn’s complex solid-state circuitry” made me smile. i’ve been there, too 😉
    maybe a very soft light near the turntable or anywhere else would warm up and tamper the spaceship syndrom

  2. I used an old pillow case to cover the flashing lights until I bought new components that have lights that can switched off. Nothing fancy, Sony and Onyko brand.

  3. Glad you are discovering the magic of tubes with our kind of music. My ‘budget’ tube amplification built by Glenn Croft has been my best audio gear investment. Especially the phono amp. I say, tubes close to the cartridge drip honey into the sound. If you are up to it, experiment with different tubes, especially old 50’s and 60’s input tubes. They make a hell of a difference. I am less of a fan of tube power stages, that’s where the system becomes more fragile.

  4. They sell mixed bags of different colour LED’s in Maplins, with a soldering iron and some well placed curse words it shouldn’t be too hard to get a nice matching display.

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