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Smoke and mirrors . . . ?

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CJSF's picture
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Joined: 25 May 2011
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Thinking, about my HiFi journy, the past couple years, started with a simple plug and play set up, Rega P5, Croft intigrated hybrid amp. A long drawn out perod of TT upgrade, then a move to a full valve amp. All sounded realy good but one had niggles, can it be better?

Well, as you will have seen in 'Rolling . . . etc', I turned my attention to upgrading the valves, this was to very good effect, and in very a short time.

In the early days, the changest to the TT were equaled by the rest of the system, ie, it simply stepped up to the plate and deliverd the goods for evaluation, I could hear the changes I had made. Then one got to a point where one felt the TT was being held back by the amplifier. Change amp, upgrade amp and the TT has continued to sing, moving on in SQ terms as each set of valves were installed. Extended bass, more air, more infomation, the sound has become more natural and easy . . . the turntable is simply digging out the infomation, the amplifier is presenting it . . . quite an exciting thought, just how much infomation is there that the amp is holding back?

Begs a question over turntables, just how good, is good . . . I mean, does money spent, ie, the recomended retail cost indicate how good a TT or for that fact, an amplifier is? . . . or does it come down to satisfaction level of the individual? . . . is it more important where, or on what you spend your 'hard earned'?

My turntable is not expensive by any means, the mechanical upgrades were very modestly priced, the upgraded arm can be added to any TT as can be the Sumiko cartridge, so I consider these items are options for any one. The mechanical changes on the other hand are bespoke to the Rega range, costing me £250, this plus the cost of the TT still make the whole about £1000 at the time. Not a lot compared to what is on offer in the market. The sound quality IMHO is fare in excess of the systems price point.

So is it the TT, the amp, the carfull matching of all components, even the sticking with items that in my opinion sound good and go to making the system sound the way it does. Speakers for instace, they are circa 1990, I like them, the cable, interconects and speaker, they sound good to me why change? Thinking about it a little more, my system still sounds the same as it did a couple of years ago . . . just 'more of it'!!!

Therefore, the source has to be the key to the sound, the LPs and CDs are the same as they were as far back as when I bought some of them are from the 60's and 70's . . . spend money wisley, audition carfully and dont chang what aint broke without very carfull consideration.

But I still have this question . . . how much does one actualy need to spend on the turntable, is it more about getting it to work right, at what point do we move into the relms of smoke and mirrors???

CJSF

Joined: 26 Jun 2009
Posts: 242
RE: Smoke and mirrors . . . ?

Hi, me again!

First question - why bother to spend more if you are happy? I had an interesting experience downgrading from a pair of B&W Nautilus 802's to my current Harbeth 7/2's. I have to say that while the 802's were obviously better my enjoyment of the music wasn't diminished. Although to be completely transparent I still have the upgrade bug. 

Secondly re turntables, just wondering if you've heard anything from 'our' vintage like a Thorens 124 or a Garrard 401. I used to have a 124, which sounded wonderful. They go for sillyish prices these days but in the scheme of things you get something that in many respects can't be bettered. Now a 124 with an Ortofon SPUGTE cartridge would get me salivating ( even if I have just sold all my LP's for the 2nd and final time)

phil

CJSF's picture
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RE: Smoke and mirrors . . . ?

philipjohnwright wrote:

Hi, me again!

First question - why bother to spend more if you are happy? I had an interesting experience downgrading from a pair of B&W Nautilus 802's to my current Harbeth 7/2's. I have to say that while the 802's were obviously better my enjoyment of the music wasn't diminished. Although to be completely transparent I still have the upgrade bug. 

Secondly re turntables, just wondering if you've heard anything from 'our' vintage like a Thorens 124 or a Garrard 401. I used to have a 124, which sounded wonderful. They go for sillyish prices these days but in the scheme of things you get something that in many respects can't be bettered. Now a 124 with an Ortofon SPUGTE cartridge would get me salivating ( even if I have just sold all my LP's for the 2nd and final time)

phil

Hi Phil, we realy are of the same vintage aint we, you mention the SPU, I used to have one back in the good old days.  I totaly de-nouded it, made a wedge shaped magnesium spacer and fitted it to my Townsend Rock, along with the 509's and 35a's I had that set up for many years, untill I bailed out of all this hifi mallarky in 95.

'Why bother to spend more if one is happy' . . . ?  I supose I have down graded, comparing the hifi that I had, to what I have now after the 15 year 'out of my head' break?  You are right, why bother, but you are also right, one has the 'upgrade bug'?  However, I do feel a bit 'why bother' at the moment as I am happy.

As one gets to this level, the amount spent does not retalt to the often minor changes perceived.

You mention Thorens and Garrard, I had the opertunity to listen to a slate based 401 in October last year, even better, I was able to compare my modefied P5 directly using the same cartridge and then with a Koetsu Rosewood Signature against my retiped Sumiko Pearwood.  The general concensus of those present was the P5 did a remarkable job, a bit like two well matched boxers, punch and counter punch, there was a winner, but by the narowest of margins to the 401.  The Rega gave a first rate account, considering the 401 slate is at least 3 or 4 times more expensive.  I think I have a bagin in my P5, new bearing and sub platter+whit belt, Audiomods Classic tone arm and Northwest Analogue retiped Sumiko.  Getting to that leval was, a long slog of audition and adjustment, adding the hard ware was the easy bit!

My curent thinking is as I wrote to open the thread, I feel I have crossed all the majour bridges at my price level, I have extracted 110% from the turntable, do I realy want to spent more . . . hifi is a hobby I enjoy, one I can with Hazel my partner, we will probably ease off now, I think summer is on its way?  There is lots of music to listen, a few albums to buy and a bathroom to refit!

Then next year, I might look at some new output valves . . . as I sait it a hobby, hobbies are like that, one does it for the hell of it . . . its not an 'up grade bug' its a 'what if' and all that, that is the hobby side, make me smile when I get it right? Smile

CJSF

 

 

 

 

respe's picture
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
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RE: Smoke and mirrors . . . ?

I had a tricked out P3, and P25, and all I can really say is if you think the P5 is as maxed out as you want to take your deck do not listen to you cart in a RP8 or P9.

CJSF's picture
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RE: Smoke and mirrors . . . ?

respe wrote:

I had a tricked out P3, and P25, and all I can really say is if you think the P5 is as maxed out as you want to take your deck do not listen to you cart in a RP8 or P9.

 

At their price point, I probably wont be.  My modefied P5 can and has proved its self happy holding its own in the company of TT's like the 'Garrard 401 slate' . . . its all about carfull mod., selection and sympathetic tuning to the sound I like.  If I was moving on, I'm not, but if I were, I'd be looking at Gyro Deck, Nottingham Analogue or Fletcher Audio. All hyperthetical, as I'm happy, plus, there is still room to upgrade the cartridge on my P5 and retain system synergy as well as its musicality.

CJSF