Home Listening Improvements 2014

We have been in Outer Space a while, now it’s time to come down to Earth

earth-cable-saturnplus-earth
An occasional post for the hi-fi enthusiast. Devotees of music through hand-held multi-tasking devices may wish to look away at this point. This post assumes an interest in mains electricity, custom components, cabling infrastructure, and exciting ways of spending seemingly large sums on what appear to many to be simply voodoo. However, with astonishing results.

2014 Hi-Fi Upgrades

It’s a fact of hi-fi life: no matter how much you improve things, there is always room for more improvement. After a while you take the performance new level for granted, and you hanker for more. I haven’t written much on the Hi-Fi of late, but there has been a lot of activity in the background. With the new year in prospect, it seems timely to look back on all the upgrades over the last year or so, and the huge improvement in the quality of listening they have brought.

Surprisingly, this year’s biggest improvement turned out to be the cheapest, though the most difficult to implement: the installation of an electricity spur dedicated exclusively to the hi-fi. If you haven’t already done it, you must. In order of magnitude, it resulted in the most massive audio improvement I have ever experienced, brought tears to my eyes, and just one  recrimination – why didn’t I do this sooner?

Why? Because I had been avoiding it. In normal circumstances, tinkering with  electricity supply could result in major domestic disruption . However my domestic circumstances were massively disrupted anyway, by months of building renovation. An extra half-day’s work in the midst of chaos is a problem? This was the ideal opportunity to give the whole hi-fi dedicated electricity supply.

ElectricityCapture

Old-mains-socket_MG_4635

For shame – old mains socket

How electricity gets from your domestic distribution fuseboard to your hi-fi is crucially important. If it is  simply plugged into a wall socket on a ring-main circuit as mine was (right), you don’t really know what your hi-fi is capable of. Mostly we upgrade components, but it is the quality of mains electricity that most affects how your components work. Though some insist it is all just “electricity”, like “wire is just wire”, experience tells a different story.

Lessons learned

I have no special understanding why, but there are two things this experience has taught me:

the importance of isolating your hifi from the “choir” of appliances that otherwise share and pollute the same domestic ring-main circuit

the quality of domestic earthing, particularly that of your hi-fi supply circuit

The process –

1. Installing a dedicated spur for the Hi-Fi

From the newly installed micro-switched consumer unit, one channel was assigned to a spur to power the hifi and nothing else. (You can go further and install a unique consumer unit just for the hifi, but a step too far at this time)

circuit-dedicated-to-HiFi-from-consumer-unit

Getting that dedicated spur from the consumer unit, under the stairs, to the wall behind the hi-fi 15-20 metres away, was traumatic. Floorboards needed to be lifted, holes drilled below floor level through walls, to allow cables to be passed from room to room, avoiding proximity to other domestic cable infrastructure, a difficult couple of hours work for two persons versed in the black arts of fish-wires.

2. Earth enhancement

You can’t have enough earth. Previously the domestic earth was merely a domestic earth wire clamped to the plumbing. As part of this power source upgrade, the previous level of earthing was at least tripled.

Earthing-x3-increaseA new copper earth spike was driven into the ground under the house,  below floor level, and connected by heavy duty copper earth cable to a new earth block beside the consumer unit. This block was selected to allow heavy duty cables to be terminated

Earth Reinforcement

An additional earth connection was made to the earth of the  incoming  domestic mains cable from the street into the house.

A further earth cable was run  to the domestic plumbing and pipes.

All the earth wires were run to a common earthing block, which was then wired into the consumer unit earth terminal.

Any competent electrician can do this work for you, if you tell them what you want. It was merely fortuitous that my electrician also happened to be a vinyl collector, and jazz fan…

3. Connection of hi-fi to the dedicated spur

Two audio-grade double sockets (high pressure terminals, anti-oxidisation treated)  were sunk in the wall behind the hi-fi, making redundant the previous flimsy single skirting-mounted socket. All contacts were made to give firm tight cable connections.

sockets-two-doubles

 

Additional bonus: the additional power sockets freed up allowed several components such as purifiers  to be relocated on the dedicated mains circuit itself, instead of on the distribution block with all the other components.

Additional drawback: every part of the hi-fi –  component circuit-boards, interconnects, valves, everything – needs time to burn in all over again to allow it to adjust to the new quality of power source, before it blossomed. I reckon 4-500 hours continuous play under reasonable load. A complex hi-fi is “organic”, it gets upset if important parameters change.

Result

The immediate result was a massive uplift in audio quality, by an order of magnitude x3 to x5  over your typical component upgrade, your jaw will drop, followed by further subtle refinement over the following weeks.

Soundstage was enlarged exponentially, three feet either side of the speakers, bass floor octaves lower and a metre higher to the ceiling.

Second rate records were promoted to the hallowed status of originals, whilst originals moved beyond this world.

I am seriously going to have to revaluate my opinion on the quality of some lesser pressings. The first under the cosh, the Blue Note blue label/black note/ (van Gelder stamp), which on a few trials emerged with surprising newly-discovered fluency.

The much over-used word in hi-fi tinkering is “astonishing” but in this case it describes quite accurately the impact.

 OK. Now what about the toys LJC?

Yeah, we had toys too. Lots, summed up in one picture that covers all the changes (click  picture to view full screen).

After the power source, the biggest improvements were yielded by the new SME tonearm,  Dynavector TKR cartridge and valve-phono amp, and replacing the previous solid state Linn Akurate pre-amp with a custom-component valve pre-amp.

Three core components remain unchanged:  tt (Avid Volvere Sequel), main power amp (Linn four-channel C4200), and speakers (Linn 242 five-horn floor uprights)

GrowingPains-HiFi-2013-and-2015

Other highlights:

1960’s Valves:

Telefunken-ECC82--1800-_MG_1943

Telefunken new old stock ECC82,  manufactured in Berlin in mid ’60s – valves made at the same time as most of the analog recordings, sympathetically matching technology. Made for jazz.

4645m[1]The ultimate voodoo: Clarity-8 mains enhancer, “coherence technology” which generates electromagnetic fields which deep-clean signals, increasing volume and acuity. Do I understand how it works? Absolutely not. Can I hear the difference? Unequivocally, yes. Am I under a voodoo spell? Quite possibly.

SKSigdetail[1]Sawyers Disc power cable upgrade. Don’t ask. They take a braided multi-wire power cable,  chop it in two at one end, then join it back together again, re-terminating each wire through a disc. They do the same thing again, at the other end. Finally, the joints are each encased in a wooden pod. Entirely mad, but improves the acuity of transients and micro-detail in the sound image. Yeah, yeah, of course it does. Next time more water with it.

To sum up…

What a different experience listening to music at this level of physical intensity.  In situ, not quite as neat as Linn’s matching symmetrical components, a little more busy, but an overwhelmingly superior listening experience. It’s like upgrading your entire record collection by a level, enormously satisfying.

final-home-hifi20141226

The future? More improvements wanted!

Disclaimer: I have no financial interest nor am in receipt of any inducement related to any products mentioned here. But as Groucho famously said: “These are my principles. If you don’t like them, I have others”. Cheques should be made payable to…

Out of curiosity, what has been your most significant hi-fi upgrade in the last year? I’m interested, do tell. Or if you reckon you are a hi-fi guru, where would you go from here? (on a sensible budget of course)

LJC

 

 

 

 

.

Advertisements

51 thoughts on “Home Listening Improvements 2014

  1. Hi, I just stumbled upon this post from a few years ago whilst looking for information in a dedicated audio ring main. Can I ask who it was you used to install the circuit? I’m also based in London, and would much prefer an electrician who understands what I’m trying to acheive 🙂

    Thanks

    PJ

    • I had a general builder doing a mix of everything, kitchen, bathroom, floors walls ceilings, decorating, everything. I asked him to put in a separate spur for the Hi Fi, which he did, no special understanding of hifi, which was my role. Like many builders, he doesn’t answer his phone unless he needs more work, Honestly I would go Check aTrade for a competent electrician in your area, see who is interested.

  2. When we put new 200 amp service in our house, I reserved two circuit breaker panels for dedicated A/C lines for audio and very glad that I did.
    If I were to pick the MOST significant upgrade to my system (even if it has been a few years), I would say the Pete Riggle Woody tonearm has exponentially trounced everything, transforming my meager analog setup into my only listening source (99% of the time). I had previously listened to CD’s and was happy, but I really wanted to improve my analog setup. I decided to “pimp out” my AR ES-1 table that I purchased new when I was 18 yrs old. I delved into the George Merrill and Vinyl Nirvana mods and slapped a Rega/Moth arm on it. I was impressed with the upgrade but was still very happy with my digital gear, and would bounce back and forth between sources. I stumbled on Pete Riggle when I embarked on a project to build a cabinet/crossover for my Altec 604’s. I purchased the plans for a nominal fee, and Pete was always happy to offer guidance and motivation during the construction of these coffin size cabinets! He is one of the nicest, most sincere, and knowledgeable people I have known in the world of audio snobs and self proclaimed gurus.
    He told me about a new project he was tinkering with, and said he was offering it to his customers at a one time first offering price that would cover the cost of making them. I procrastinated, but was able to lock in at a close to intro price of about 60% of the current price ($1,900 USD). The tonearm is made to spec for your turntable and cartridge (my transformed AR and a Dynavector DV-20×2). He made the tonearms to order, using a piece of hand selected vintage Mahogany. Here is the link to his website:
    http://www.vtaf.com/id83.html
    Rather than describe all of the subjective details regarding this amazing tonearm, I will simply say this. I had been listening to primarily CD’s for years, even with the improvements yielded with the Merrill upgrades and Rega arm. Once I had the Woody set up properly, I have listened to perhaps 5 or 6 compact discs in the last few years. It was that drastic and definitive an improvement.

    • How does it compare to this?

      http://www.tonearmaudio.com/

      Interesting but at that price range ($1900), I’m saving my pennies for a Thomas schick tonearm. I find it very entertaining that we have all different likes and dislikes which makes this a wonderful hobby! I’ve listened to almost every SME Tonearm including LJC’s Gozilla and I would picked the 3012R over it anyday. It all comes down to the sound we are after. We are as unique as snowflakes!!

      • Carts are like wives: there may be a “better” one out there, but it is too costly by far to go ’round sampling different ones to find out. When my Dynavector TKR reaches the end of its useful life, thats when I will think about its replacement. For now I stick with what’s home.

  3. I, too, bought a house in 2014, and as it is in SE England its very small. As I had not much money and a tiny front room I bought a pair of B&W 686 S2’s (from an actual shop!), and some Chord Comp festival speaker cable, and a chord power plug for my amp (a Rega Brio r, as you’re asking). My record player is a modified 1210 with a Rega RB300, Shure/Jico combo MM through the Brio’s MM pre-amp. Sounds great. I’ll wait until I retire in 30 years to upgrade to the Avid/valve level. I may even have a house with a big enough room to use them then.

    PS – down side is I can now hear what the fuss is about Van Gelder/Playiste pressings, and I’ve learned I prefer the stereo versions. Don’t hate me.

  4. I was fortunate enough to purchase a home this year formerly owned by a professional musician. A separate, small recording studio with dedicated mains is now my listening room. What I was able to do with speaker placement, since it is a dedicated room, has made a bigger improvement to soundstage, dynamics, balance and drive than any component upgrade I can remember. For the first time I feel like the speakers are driving the room. That said, the front of my Spendor monitors sit about a meter and a half out from the wall behind them. This would have been domestically unacceptable before the dedicated room.
    I had a friend work with me to move the speakers and stands as we listened and when the “right” spot was found it was dramatic, like sharp focus in a camera lens. This operation definitely requires two people, but hearing is believing.
    The next investment this year was additional bass traps and free standing panels from GIK acoustics. They are quite reasonably priced and soak up excess bass and reflections making the higher frequencies clearer and providing more spatial clues and “air”.
    The rest of the system is a LP12 with Ekos arm and Dynavector Karat 17D3, Dynavector phono stage, Sugden A21SE integrated amp, Spendor SP2/3e speakers and Harmonic Technology cabling throughout. LJC, your writing on the World Audio Designs phono stage has me seriously considering taking the plunge in 2015. Happy New Year and thanks for the great read!

    • One more thing… Wiremold star grounded power strip some time back, in a former house, made a huge difference in noise floor and was quite inexpensive.

  5. I’m impressed no doubt by all the revealing’s of sonic improvements and intelligence here. Being a luddite, I follow little of the electrical nuances, however they seem to do something, if only to make an electrician’s wallet swell. Here in Florida, with our hurricanes and such, we are lucky to have electricity at all.
    I have made some strides also this year, by in the opposite manner, by selling off 25% of my collection. I am also ordering an under $100.00 cartridge to be my upgrade for 2015. Also have been shopping thrift stores for a cd player as current one needs a good whack on the top to get going. A lot like me in my old age.
    Thanks LJC for a great year of reading and for your explorations of the Impulse label and outer space via Sun Ra and his ilk.

  6. third system in the house: Icon Audio phono stage with vintage valves, Quad II power amps, Siemens Eurodyne cinema speakers, Lenco L70 with GE VRII and Denon DL102 for mono’s and 78’s and Garrard 401 with SME3012 and Denon DL103 for stereos. Bliss, these old cinema speakers sound unbelievable with tiny power amps. Great for jazz

  7. i actually DID just get a nice new pair of speakers for my :gasp: DIGITAL LISTENING which happens about the apartment when i am busy…

  8. Thanks LJC, there’s much to ponder here. The power supply upgrade looks quite easy to achieve at my place and I think I have a spare link from my consumer unit just waiting for it.

    Your blog inspired a big HiFi upgrade in 2013, although the route I took was a Naim WAV streamer and server with my ancient mid-fi Sony turntable attached via a new phono amp. The next hardware upgrade will probably be a Rega RP6 & cartridge, although an add on linear power supply for the server has been suggested and is tempting.

    Your suggestion re purchase after a 60 day approval period sounds like something to try for with the linear power supply.

  9. Congrats on upgrading the power and lines. People don’t realize garbage in/garbage out.

    Bought a pair of Reference 3A DeCapo speakers and stands and had to replace by Dynavector 20X cartridge after a coil died. Also bought an Furutech ADL box that let’s me do vinyl rips.

  10. After reading your post, I’m seriously considering upgrading to electricity. This old steam hi-fi is OK but the exhaust curls the LP covers.

  11. i am not a hi-fi enthusiast, just a jazz fan and collector. i did upgrade my record storage system: nicer, newer outer and inner sleeves. a new expedit shelf, too!

    i don’t doubt that you get great enjoyment out of your upgrades. i would be interested to see you double-blind test them. mostly for my own curiosity. i always wonder about how that would go down.

    in any case: congrats on the upgrades! enjoy them!

      • Here we believe in the Magic of Ju Ju.

        In truth, very “upgrade” gets A:B’s to death if necessary, until I’m confident that it is a significant improvement, otherwise it goes back under its 60-day trial guarantee, something I have done several times. (I buy only from a firm that operates a no-quibble 60 day refund)

        If you can’t tell blind which sounds better, the before or after, then its not made a significant difference. The incentive is to get your money back. Why spend money on something that makes little difference? It’s not like you have anything to prove. It either sounds better or it doesn’t.

        • Re: “If you can’t tell blind which sounds better…”

          Let’s try this:

          1. If you can’t tell blind whether it’s different at all, don’t try to persuade yourself into hearing a difference.

          2. If there is a difference, which can easily happen if you add a new component to your equipment, ask yourself if you’re ready to call it a significant improvement – or just a difference.

          3. And, of course, the crucial question: Is the difference worth $$$$?

        • what is your A:B method? do you have someone else do them or do you do them yourself?

          no offense to eduard, but he seems to be a bit grumpy about all of this. again, i’m just trying to get inside the head of an audiophile for my own curiosity. little else.

          • Grumpy or not – I think what I’ve always been trying is to keep rational about audiophile myths and claims.

            • I am a skeptic as well – about most things in fact, but I typically like to reserve my intense skepticism for when things affect others. LJC is just sharing his experiences and opinions. No harm in that.

              I believe in the placebo effect, but I don’t know if it is so strong as to last through all of the time and money needed to make some of these upgrades. Skepticism about skepticism. I know; it’s crazy.

              But sometimes you get surprised. I double-blinded some speakers to two audiophile friends and they knew which were which purely by listening. They even noticed that I crossed them left-to-right. But they didn’t have any clue when I played a mono Coltrane and a stereo Coltrane through a mono setup. I would have expected them to get that one.

              • No objection, Greg. I’m always open towards accepting anything that can be proved, or even made seem plausible to me. So your loudspeaker test makes perfect sense to me. I wasn’t even contradicting LJC, I was just pondering about what should be considered a “better” sounding constellation. This is where it gets really, really subjective.
                You like to reserve your skepticism for when things affect others. Well, there are people who are selling completely useless but overly expensive speaker cables to those who believe in that kind of voodoo. OK, no harm in that as long as the believer can afford paying for his habit…

          • I have a partner-in-crime, Man-in-a-Shed, with whom I do a lot of my comparative equipment listening . He’s not especially a jazz fan, more drum and bass, and his system has a radically different presentation, so the focus is in the sound dimension.

            He does the plugging and unplugging while I try to form a view on the changes. He’s been tinkering with hi-fi for 35 years, so he’s very efficient at the mechanics, I’m hopeless, so I do the needle drop while it’s still fresh in memory. We compare notes, check if we are identifying the same changes.

            Its useful to have a second opinion but if its my upgrade , at my expense, I am the first to express an opinion, I don’t want to be lead to a conclusion I haven’t reached for myself. I’m a lot more confident with comparisons than I was a few years ago.

            “Better” to me means drawing me into the music, makes me want to listen, more emotion, musicality. Initially it was in the obvious dimensions, more/less bass/ brighter top end, but those were left behind long ago. I’m reaching for the scale of emotional engagement. The only thing I “believe” is my own ears.

            • As for the top end, we’re all, hmm… middle-aged men with our top ends more or less impaired. (Oh by the way – I wonder if there has been any research concerning the average age of audiophiles!)
              So if I’m getting you right, LJC, “better” means customized, taylor-made, to meet the listener’s own needs and to add to his enjoyment. Nothing wrong with that either. Add to that, we all know you’re not the type of audiophile who listens to his equipment instead of listening to the music. What I find most interesting about your blog is indeed the way you are describing and evaluating the music. Mileages may vary on occasion, but please keep on going.

            • to parrot eduard’s reply: sometimes i think people listen for static behind the music, let’s say, rather than listen to the music itself. sad. After all, a record of pure tones would probably be a great test record. but you clearly don’t treat music that way, which I think is a good thing. Although, all that being said: if there exists an audiophile for whom sound recreation is more enjoyable and fun that the sound itself that is BEING recreated, I find no real fault in that. It just isn’t what I’m about. i find it interesting that most of the qualities you ascribe to good hi-hi are qualities that I also know you ascribe to good music. I know I do. And that is how differentiate from audiophiles (yuck) and lovers of good music who like it to be faithfully reproduced (yay!)

              As for being middle-aged men: I’m not sure what qualifies as such anymore but I’m just a few days shy of 27. Hardly young, but I still have just about all of my hair and as yet I do not own a home. In any case, I’ve noticed myself caring more and more about faithful sound reproduction as I get older, but I wonder if that’s simply because there’s so much to learn. In my first year of college I used to listen to music through built-in laptop speakers. Now I can’t STAND doing that. VBR mp3’s are about as low-quality as I can stand, and no matter the source I require a minimum of an adjustable low end. But is that because I am aging, and so need “better” technology to hear everything, or is that because I have been to the “other side” and can’t go back? Interesting stuff. Many opinions I’m sure. I don’t know.

              Over the holiday break I picked up several nice records, many jazz, some other things, and had the chance to listen to them on a relative’s extremely high-end setup. While cataloging and unpacking, I listened to one of them again on my set-up: something I consider a decent middle-of-the-road affair, and I did not feel the experience was too different. Subjective. Only one data point, but still.

              Goodness, I went on a bit of a thing, there.

  12. Fun upgrades! The electrical work particularly intrigues me. We moved this Fall and I inmediately noticed in my new house that the sound on the system wasn’t nearly as good as before. It sounded muffled and dirty. I discussed it with the electrical guy, but he didn’t seem to fully grasp things. Luckily the sound seems to have improved (or am I used to it?) over time. I may show him this post.

    The big upgrade for me is a vintage system downstairs in the basement. It consists of the following:

    • McIntosh MX110 tube pre-amp
    • McIntosh MC2300 solid state power amp (this was famously the amp that Jerry Garcia used from 1973 – 1995 and 40+ of them powered the Wall of Sound)
    • Thorens TD MK II with SME M2-9R and Dynavector 20X2 high
    • Denon DCD1500 CD player
    • JBL 4312 speakers
    • Meyer Sound HD-1 speakers
    • I have sat the Clarity-8 next to the PSU for the turntable, which is just above the main solid state power amp. I tried a couple of positions but as all of my gear is close-packed onto one rack I didn’t find a great difference from the location. .

      This was one piece of kit I smirked at for years, until a friend bought and plugged one in, and instant hit, the smile was wiped off my face. Immediate increase in volume (wtf?) and detail. Un plug it, and you miss it immediately. (It is the top of the range as an 8-board, double the 4 and again the 2)

      Worse to come, I bought one and my friend plugged his in as a second, and yes, the same thing happened again. Further uplift.

      No-one appears to be able to explain how or why it works, but I have long concluded explanations are a poor second. The only thing that matters is does it sound better with and worse without. You have to be the judge, and decide whether the degree of improvement warrants the fairly high cost.

  13. I am using four turntables,all with seperate phono stages.A seperate electricity spur for my hifi was allready installed.This year I started playing my mono records with a MC mono cartridge(Benz Switzerland) on my Thorens TD 124(first model)and it ment a huge improvement.For my early stereo records I use a Van den Hul-Frog cartridge on a Thorens TD 124(second model)I play the more recent stereo records on my Garrard 301(grease bearing) with a Van den Hul-Colibri cartridge.For my 78’s I use a Garrard-4F.
    This year I replaced all cables(electricity,interlinks,and speakers) by special custom-made cables(QS Audio),wich again was a major improvement.I am almost 80,but it is never too late!

    • I forgot to mention that I have seperate units for my living room(Mark Levinson +SME 10 turntable+Frog) and study(Quad + Lenco 76 +Frog for LP’s and Braun for my 78’s)On all units there is a different sound production,but I prefer the early mentioned equipment in my music room.

          • I tried to explain that using seperate turntables,each with a different cartridge that fits the different groove caracteristics ment not only better sound production,but was more comfortable because you didn’t have to change headshells.Using a special cartridge for each groove profile makes records sound better.The extra advantage is that you don’t have to change the tonearm weight and tracking force.What is there to laugh?I just answered your question.

            • TSS (technical solution score) Kees, 100, but sadly, WAF (wife acceptance factor) in this household, zero.The fragrant Mrs LJC complains about the footprint of my one turntable, the hi-fi rack doesn’t match the furniture, oh, and my speakers are apparently “too big” , and I have “too many records”, which we all here know is a technical impossibility. As long as you can still get into the room, there is room for more.

              Perhaps a tt that can mount two tonearms, one mono, one stereo, that I can dream of. (sigh)

              • The WAF should not be dismissed too easily, unless you have taken the right precaution and earmarked one room in the house as “the common music room”: free for all music lovers, but you are calling the shots.
                Kees found the best solution for not changing tone arms and adapting weight every time. I could not cope with these changes either, so I installed two turntables on one sound system. The sound of each turntable with either the MC (monaural) or the MM (stereo) cartridge is channeled to a single ended class A phono preamplifier with a MM/MC switch. I switch on MM or MC according to the turntable I use. This preamplifier feeds the regular pre-amplifier. The advantage of this system is that one can do with one integrated sound system only.

  14. I took the leap this year and added a second arm (Origin Live Zephyr) to the Hanns T-30 fitted with a Miyajima Premium Be mono. Life is good.

  15. For me a major development, but very modest indeed. I did a complete overhaul of my Lenco 75 turntable which I had kept just to play the six RvG 16 RPM Prestige albums (the famous six).
    I transferred the Rega ELYS MM cartridge from my Rega P5 turntable to the Lenco 75 and said goodbye to the Shure element.
    On the Rega turntable I installed a mono only MC cartridge Lyra Dorian.
    My monaural sound is excellent, stereo and 16 RPM mono on the Lenco also very much improved.
    To counter the irregular and unstable electricity supply I am using since many years an equalizer “Transfert”, made in Le Locle, Switzerland by Hologram’.

    • Most of us have parallel walls, but I take huge comfort from the (perfect shoebox) shape of the Konzertverein in Vienna. If your tuner is good enough, catch The New Year’s Day Concert tomorrow morning. I use a 16 year old Magnum Dynalab FT101A driven by a 22 year old Ron Smith Galaxie 17 and am in no hurry to go digital. Long live FM Radio 3! RIP Ron.

  16. Ugh. I’ve been meaning to get my dedicated line installed, but I haven’t gotten around to it. Perhaps this will send me over the edge. My biggest upgrade, and I think only one, was a used Pass Labs X250 amp. I finally have all of the power I need (insert Dr. Frankenstein laugh here).

  17. Two more things to bring a tear to your eye. A dedicated ring main sounds even better than a dedicated spur, and RA does a higher grade socket than the one in your photograph. Changing to this at the main inlet and on the (RA) power block made a dramatic improvement, which I now take for granted, but with no intention of going back.
    This year’s improvement has been a change from (Len Gregory) Cartridgeman Musicmaker Classic to Cartridgeman Musicmaster. Ever so good to ever so brilliant. This was backed up by a phonostage upgrade to GSP Revelation M (with variable EQ curves and A MONO SWITCH). These two steps redefine value for money. My recital discs for local big band clubs have taken a very big step up in quality. Surface noise? What surface noise? Soundstage is much more focussed while being simultaneously wider and deeper. Noise floor? It must be in there somewhere, but I can’t hear it. To sum up, I am listening to music, not the system. Basically moving iron compares very well with rather more expensive moving coils. Len’s Isolator and mat make a very big contribution to a very stable soundstage, and the Michell Gyro SE with DC motor, Orbe upgrade and HR PSU is an already very stable platform. BTW the arm is a GH 242 Integra which has been upgraded with Len’s silver leads from arm to ‘stage and ‘stage to (Croft) pre-amp. I am a very happy bunny, although I am hoping to upgrade to len’s “Coductor” parallel tonearm. You’re quite right about the upgrade bug..

    • To my own post – should have said “from cartridge to phonostage” and Len’s parallel tracking arm is “The Conductor”, not what I said. Expensive for me, but still incredible value for money.

      • To my own post on things Cartridge Man – I now have “The Conductor” and wonder why everyone doesn’t have a parallel tracking arm with air bearing. On the downside I found that The Conductor and bouncy decks are not an ideal mix, so I now have a Nottingham Analogue Hyperspace with Wave Mechanic PSU (marriage made in heaven). Incidentally I have also installed RA Torlite stands (four shelf unit) and RA Torlite shelves so all units are now on Torlite. For me this is the way to go, The very real improvements – briefly, bigger in all directions, much more precise imaging, a big step towards real sounding acoustic instruments, bigger dynamic range, you name it – have not reached the taken for granted stage, and I am astonished. I have also added Cartridge Man silver interconnects from all sources to preamp, and that has been a positive step forward, especially as they have replaced more expensive leads (no names…). Icing on cake, I have now got round to buying a bottle of L’Art Du Son for my Moth RCM, and that is a whole ‘nuther set of improvements. The odd click others had left behind have disappeared completely and the general improvement is a simple enhancement to all that I have said about improvements from upgrades. All of this has cost a bit, but I have avoided the no real improvement at high cost trap. Now spending far too much time listening to music (vinyl particularly) but…. life is too short to fit everything in, so my view is that I should make maximum use of my hearing while I’ve still got it. Happy days.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s