Tarleton Micro bake-off II
Big thanks to Ian (SeasidersRock) for coming over this morning. Ian brought his Parasound Pre and Audio Analogue CD, the Parasound as I am thinking of buying it and the AA as a comparison to my Rotel.
Easy one first, the AA is a far better machine than the Rotel - more space and detail on everything. It is also significantly louder when hooked straight to the power amps.
The Pre is more difficult. I couldn't say whether it is better than no pre or not, however Ian has left it with me for a week or two so I might do some more comparisons. It is certainly a handsome machine and it most definitely didn't spoil the sound *unlike my old Trio/Kenwood on Pre duties).
All together both CDPs and with/without the Pre, the powers and Tannoys still give a great sound, a bit harsher with the Rotel than the AA but very listenable and a nice full range, plenty of speed and dynamics on any type of music.
Part 2 - The Return!
popped to Ian's last night to return his Parasound (still for sale for anyone interested).
After being nicely fed, we settled down to listen to Ian's setup - AA CDP, MF FBP Pre, Lyndorf Power and Audio Vector speakers. 'Hmm' thought I on first listen.. it is so different to my setup, and seemed to suffer the same 'disconnected' bass as Steve's (MVJ) Linn/B&W setup. The treble was much more pronounced and it is a much more forward/insistent presentation than mine. To be honest, at that point I wasn't overly impressed.... however.... after a couple of tracks using the Maestro CDP, we swapped to the Rossini Hybrid CDP. That helped a lot - more low-mid bass (reduced the disconnect to my ears) and a tamed treble. We listened to a few tunes on that - Ocean Colour Scene, Dave Matthews band (sorry Ian, still don't like it much), the KLF, a couple more 'guitar bands'.
Then the highlight - 'lets chuck a 12" on' says Ian... Iio 'Rapture'. Oh boy, THAT was more like it. Apart from being more to my musical taste, the performance of a fairly modest TT just blew away the two CDPs - much more involving, more balanced. I could say the 'analogue' TT balanced the very digital (Lyngdorf) amp, but I'd be spouting. I'll just say that it sounded very very good to my ears and we were all nodding away a bit.
We then took turns to be surprised and annoyed by firstly the poor production on Thriller on LP, then even more dismayed by the damage in the 25th anniversary version. Both were flat and lifeless - an unexpected and disappointing shock, I was expecting great things from MJ on vinyl.....
So we went back to the Rossini CDP - and both agreed it was now too polite! Switching to the Maestro was much better and we promptly played some up-to-date music (ho-ho) with Picture Book by Simply Red. I am not a Mick Hucknall fan, but I will say it sounded superb. A strange mix with Hucknalls voice almost overwhelmed by the musicians until he cut loose, but the dynamics! Some stabs and snare hits just leapt out (as they should) to shock and surprise the listener. As Ian says 'they don't make 'em like that anymore'... A quick listen to a track from Hats by the Blue Nile, and again, whilst not my normal taste, very engaging and dynamic. A quick spin of a track from Animals by Floyd (I'm still trying to find something other than Division Bell that I like by PF... Animals sounds promising).
Musically, the highlight of the evening was 'One Tree Less' by Judie Tzuke. We listened to practically the whole album and its definitely on my list to buy.
So thanks to Ian (and the boss for cooking tea!). A complete contrast to my system, and after settling in, one I'd be perfectly happy listening to.
I did finish the evening with my very childish party trick of 'Waterfall' by Pendulum in the car...... prob best not to talk about that or i'll be getting inducted into the Barry Car Club....
Thank you Paul, very enjoyable evening.