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  1. #1
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    It had to be done - treated the PL71 to its 35th birthday present (yes the old girl's 35 years old this month). The SPU's running in at the moment but already showing itself to be something just a wee bit special...



    I just love the look of these things - will report more when it's got a few more hours on its stylus.

  2. #2
    Sceptical Wammer
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    Post imported post

    Ooer, which model SPU is it and how does it compare to the dread 103?

  3. #3
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Uncle Ants wrote:
    Ooer, which model SPU is it and how does it compare to the dread 103?
    It's the basic GM model (spherical tip) which Noteworthy Audio had in a while ago to try - the guys didn't get round to mounting it in anything but have had a lot of experience with the Royal N (1/2" mount 'naked' version). Was lucky - this one's the last one available at the old price. It's around 600 quid now.

    Compared to the 103? To be fair it's running in at the moment (at 4g downforce!) but is throwing up a lot more detail. Doesn't kick as hard as the Denon but it's much more extended at both ends with greater clarity/speed. Similar musical portrayal though - big, ballsy, fabulous on vocals & tenor saxophone for example.

  4. #4
    Sceptical Wammer
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    Post imported post

    Gromit wrote:
    but is throwing up a lot more detail. Doesn't kick as hard as the Denon but it's much more extended at both ends with greater clarity/speed. Similar musical portrayal though - big, ballsy, fabulous on vocals & tenor saxophone for example.
    From your description it sounds like it keeps most of the Denon's upside whilst addressing all of it's downsides.

  5. #5
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Uncle Ants wrote:
    From your description it sounds like it keeps most of the Denon's upside whilst addressing all of it's downsides.
    It would seem that way Tony - in fact I've just put the 103 back on for a couple of mins which has been a bit of an eye-opener. Never thought I'd say this but the 103 sounds somewhat pinched & nasal by comparison, bleached even - and I love the 103 for its richness and colour. The SPU is colourful, yet not coloured if that makes sense. It also seems to unravel lots more rhythmc information - listening in this instance to Chick Corea 'Akoustic Band' (a total bitch to reproduce convincingly) there are patterns in terms of phrase and interplay being unearthed which I've truly never noticed before. I've heard CC live many times and this just sounds more like him.

    Dynamics are more explosive, especially in the bass, and those bass instruments are now more separated from the mix, yet not artificially detached.

  6. #6
    Super Wammer dudywoxer's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    That is just porn on a stick, even if the stick is bent. Why the hell do we have to backwards to get good vinyl reproduction.

    Given your previous fave rave, just how different is that to its alter ego, Doris, sorry Dorian.
    Music is an outburst of the soul

  7. #7
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    dudywoxer wrote:
    That is just porn on a stick, even if the stick is bent. Why the hell do we have to backwards to get good vinyl reproduction.

    Given your previous fave rave, just how different is that to its alter ego, Doris, sorry Dorian.
    Compared to the Doris? Sheesh...couldn't really say Colin. To be fair to the Lyra, I really don't think the 71's arm is ideal for it - it's probably too lossy, heavy (it's 16g eff mass without headshell) and not rigid enough to keep its energy output in check.

    Only downside to the SPU so far is that it's not over-generous in terms of output (it's only something like 0.19mV) which means running the volume control another 'hour' on the dial for the same volume at the speeks.

  8. #8
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    The SPU's running in nicely - it's smoothed out quite considerably, and now I've managed to fix the bias adjuster on the PL71 (it could be a bit hit & miss before) the tracking has improved markedly.

    The downsides? I'm beginning to thing the SPU's asking just a little too much of the Pioneer's arm. Sure it sounds good from a balance point of view, but there's a sense that certain resonances are creeping through somewhere. I feel it needs an arm which is heavier, not necessarily in terms of effective mass, but in terms of bulk and general construction. The SPU tracks all first 3 bands on the test record ok but band 4 it really doesn't like at all (although tbh the only cartridge I've owned which will handle band 4 is the 103).

    I'm not 100% sure it's a keeper to be honest, which is something of a shame as it's a cartridge I've wanted to try for a long time. Will give it a few more days and see how we go.

  9. #9
    Founding Wammer jonjin's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Hmmm... been tempted to try on my Audio Technica as well.

    JJ

  10. #10
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Strewth - I've never known a cartridge take so long to run-in. I left it running in a closed groove on an old copy of HFS75 overnight last night and today it's sounding a fair bit better. Bass is more nimble and less diffuse (it tended to sound very slightly out of phase before) and vocals have gained a bit more presence and position in the stereo soundstage. Background noise is also less; it's not that quiet a cartridge but it doesn't pick up cracks and pops like some - I think it just flattens them into submission to be honest.

    Had a play with packing the headshell with some Blu-Tak (added approx 5g worth) but it just lost the cartridge all its sense of bounce and dynamic energy, making it sound flat and small, so I duly removed it after 10 mins of 'naah...that's just wrong'

    Quick pic...



  11. #11
    Founding Wammer jonjin's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Nice one... I have a SPU GM-E on it's way...

    What are you are you loading the cart at?

    JJ

  12. #12
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    jonjin wrote:
    Nice one... I have a SPU GM-E on it's way...

    What are you are you loading the cart at?

    JJ
    Hi JJ - oooh...will be interested to hear what you think of it. Did you source it from the UK?

    Loading? The Phono2's circuit is load-rejecting so doesn't need matching to the cartridge.

  13. #13
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    I just love a plug'n'play cartridge...



    The SPU's pretty much run-in now, and I've finally got it set up how I like it. Running slightly tail down, it prevents what can sometimes be a slightly spitty delivery (the 103 tends to do this aswell). It wears its heart on its sleeve this cartridge - perhaps the total opposite to that which one usually gets from an Ortofon - but bless its little heart I love it all the more for it. Vocals are stunning - rich, full of body and projection. Bass is fast and has real force and speed, and never gets tripped up. In many ways it takes what the Lyra does so well (its whipcrack speed) and adds the balls and full-fat portrayal of a well set-up (and armed) 103.

    All the tiny dynamics which make up the musical phrase (ie the commas, full stops, sentences if you like) are held intact here. At the risk of sounding slightly abstract, the SPU has the knack of holding together song-structure. Think of it as ABABACA (C being the guitar solo ) which on a couple of occasions has made me sit up and think 'well b*gger me that song makes sense now - it's not groping around in the dark anymore'. The SPU of course doesn't just pull this off with songs, but with all material. That which seemed to have little or no direction before, now has conviction. As Sodders put when describing the bass on his 1210, the SPU has the same effect with music - with the 103 (wonderful as it is), I was getting most of the music's message. Now, I'm swimming in it - it is all-enveloping and uttely addictive.

    If you have a heavy, SME-fit headshelled tonearm, you owe it to yourself to try one of these.

  14. #14
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    My work here is done (or words to that effect)...

    The SPU really seems settled-in now. Had an old (hifi and motorcycling nut) friend staying for a couple of days and with Mrs G being away we've spent the time indulging in a total listening fest. Amps have been compared, as have speakers and cartridges, and some pretty conclusive conclusions have been reached - as much as confirming my own results it's good fun to have a 2nd opinion on things.

    It's hard to overstate what the SPU does - it has, quite simply, made me re-calibrate what I thought a cartridge should do. I sometimes think I tend to listen to music, on hifi equipment, in a very different fashion to when I'm listening, or in fact playing, live. The Ortofon has in some way galvanised these 2 approaches into one, in that I'm now listening to records and pretty much forgetting any of the hifi aspects of what I'm hearing, so intense is the musical presentation of this cartridge. It unearths so much relevant information - inflection, dynamics, pitch coherence (and the subtle changes brought about when musicians re-adjust their intonation) I've simply never heard before on records I've been familiar with for donkeys' years.

    The most staggering thing about all this, and I still find it a little hard to believe, is that the design of the SPU is something like 50 years old...and it's sat in a turntable that's now 35 years old. How far have we come? I'd say on this evidence some equipment has been stuck in reverse for quite some time.

  15. #15
    Wammer Hornucopia's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    " I'm now listening to records and pretty much forgetting any of the hifi aspects of what I'm hearing, so intense is the musical presentation"
    This comment sums up our 'hobby' in a nutshell!
    Just what I'm thinking currently.
    But, please stop posting pics of lovely Bakelite!! I'm trying to cut my drug usage!
    Tolerance is not a Sapiens characteristic.

  16. #16
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    Hornucopia wrote:
    But, please stop posting pics of lovely Bakelite!! I'm trying to cut my drug usage!
    Sorry Chris - although to be honest the latest SPU's aren't bakelite any more, they're made from a wood/resin composite.

    Still sounds bloomin' marvellous though.

    Anyone want to buy a half(ish) worn Lyra Dorian - for a really good price?

  17. #17
    Super Dooper Wammer rockmeister's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    great write up...I can see your'e smitten and I think I need to hear one for myself now to see if the naked version will outperform my ZYX choice for the re-emergent rock...ta!
    still just watching clouds

  18. #18
    Founding Wammer jonjin's Avatar
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    Playing as we speak. Grommmit, did you settle on 4g in the end?



    JJ

  19. #19
    Super Wammer Gromit's Avatar
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    Post imported post

    jonjin wrote:
    Playing as we speak. Grommmit, did you settle on 4g in the end?



    JJ
    Very nice JJ

    I'm running mine at around 4.3g which is where it seems happiest in the Pioneer's arm. Running it in (which took ages) it sat at just above 4.5g which seemed to help. VTA is slightly tail down, pretty much eliminating the SPU's tendency to spit and sound bright.

  20. #20
    Founding Wammer jonjin's Avatar
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    I must admit, at the moment, I'm prefering my ZYX. It has a more even lucid sound. The SPU sounds abit rough in comparison. It's not spitty or bright though. Might be that my arms not heavy enough.

    How long did you have to run in yours?

    JJ

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