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About TheLastMan

  • Rank
    Junior Wammer
  • Birthday 16/02/1960

Personal Info

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  • Real Name

Wigwam Info

  • Turn Table
  • Tone Arm & Cartridge
    Ekos, AT OC9
  • Digital Source 1
    3 x Squeezeboxes
  • Digital Source 2
    Synology DS214 NAS
  • Pre-Amp
    Naim 72 Hicap
  • Power Amp/s
    Naim NAP140
  • My Speakers
    B&W CM2
  • Headphones
    Sennheiser HD 600 (stunning!)
  • Trade Status
    I am not in the Hi-Fi trade

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  1. I had a very similar experience, although in my case I was coming from an early Cirkus bearing and sub-chassis to the Karousel and Kore. After a couple of weeks of listening now I totally concur with what you say. As others have said I think the dynamic range of the system has subtly improved, possibly a quieter background combined with sharper transients. I have digitised most of my LPs over the years so have been able to compare the FLAC recording with listening to the LP directly. Now it may just be losses in the recording / reproduction chain but the recordings sound good, but slightly "flatter". Instruments blur together slightly and there is less what I would call "micro-dynamics" in the recordings. Listening to the LP direct it is easier to separate instruments and voices. The effect is most obvious with percussion, drums, piano, plucked strings. Instruments stand out from the mix better. It might be a quieter background or some kind of psycho-acoustic effect. Although the difference is objectively subtle, it makes a big difference to my perception of the music. Listening to the recording and LP side by side and flipping between the two, the newly noticeable instruments are there in the FLAC file, but just slightly clearer and better defined in the upgraded LP12. Not a scientific experiment but possibly a little more evidence that this is not simply "confirmation bias" tricking my brain into avoiding "buyer's remorse"! I had been debating to myself whether to sell the LP12 and add the £2k upgrade cash to the sale price and buy myself something more modern - perhaps a top of the range Rega. So glad I didn't. Whether it is a real effect or just psychological, it has got me listening to my LP collection again which, of course, is the whole point! And a great way to enjoy music while there are no gigs and concerts. I had tickets to an Elbow concert which has been cancelled So I bought "Build a Rocket Boys" on LP instead Am also getting into Jazz and folk a bit at the moment, so no more second hand CDs and downloads for me - it is LPs from now on. I can see my music / LP budget being blown out of the water this year!
  2. My LP12 was bought in 1992 with an original Ekos arm and Cirkus bearing. I am afraid to confess, I have never even had it serviced in the meantime! Things started to go awry about 5 years ago when the cartridge was clearly on its last legs - replace with the spectacularly good value AT-OC9ML/II. Then three years ago the Valhalla power supply died, which I replaced myself with a third party Hercules power supply which is a drop-in replacement for the Valhalla. About two years ago while recording from the LP12 to FLAC for streaming purposes I became aware of some bearing noise. Having removed and replaced the inner platter a couple of times for transportation over the years, I suspected there was less lubricant in the bearing than there should have been. I topped up the oil and after about a month of regular use the bearing noise had gone. However I have been worried since that there may have been some permanent damage. When I read about the Karousel I thought this is finally the moment, after 28 years, to give the old girl a bit of love and affection. So when lock-down lifted and my local dealer opened again I ordered the bearing and, after some discussion and pondering, also went for a new Kore subchassis. Unfortunately, the size of the new bearing means it is incompatible with either the Valhalla or the Hercules. I could not afford a Lingo 4 as well as the other two upgrades so was in a bit of bind. Luckily I found out there is an external box available for the Hercules which meant I could go ahead. So I delivered my LP12 to Infidelity in Kingston last Saturday to do the Karousel, Kore, a full service and reinstall the Hercules in it's external box. Picked it up this lunchtime. Wow guys, just wow! Obviously impossible to pin down exactly what made the difference, but the combination of new springs, grommets, subchassis and bearing - and its first proper set up in 28 years was just astonishing. A dramatic difference. My 60yo hearing aint what it was, and audio memory is a fickle thing, but when you sit down and trawl through your record collection for six hours straight, breaking only for cups of tea and skipping supper, you know that something has changed! In one word? "Clarity" Most obvious in classical music. Instruments just sound more real, in their own space and it all hangs together so well. The orchestra is bigger, there is space between notes and the players. Percussion and plucked strings (harp particularly) stand out like they should. Everything has benefited, jazz, rock, electronic - you name it. Bass is more controlled and tuneful, and the dynamics are awesome. So, all up it cost nearly 2 grand, but I now have a turntable that will last another 30 years, even though I probably won't! Linn and Infidelity have one chuffed punter, thanks gents. By the way, I will get it serviced again before I die...
  3. Mrs TLM just does not get the HiFi aesthetic at all, it is all clutter to her and so "last century". She says that none of our friends have a HiFi any longer. True, most have crappy mono bluetooth speakers. Although one has an expensive Sonos setup, it is played through ceiling speakers. It's like playing your music through an airport public address system! Joking aside, this is actually a serious marital issue. She likes music, but does not listen to recorded music seriously in any way so simply does not understand my hobby or why I need an amplifier and speakers, let alone an LP player. She wants it all gone, or banished to a small study in the loft. I resist, but she is positively bitter about it and I may eventually have to concede to restore marital harmony. We had a dinner party recently and a friend, whose opinion she usually respects, noticed the Linn Sondek and Naim amps "cluttering up" the living room, was deeply impressed and recalled that he had always wanted a similar setup. The confusion on Mrs TLM's face was priceless!
  4. Just to let you know I broke all my original specifications and got quite a large amp, a Cambridge Audio Azure 340A, with tone controls (and "defeat" button), lots of inputs and a remote control! It did, however, only cost £50 and is in immaculate condition (no scratches or dings) - so truly a bargain. It actually sounds rather nice, and more than adequate for its current role as telly amp and occasional party monster. It has yet to be used for the latter, but it does have protection circuits and certainly goes loud enough with the little B&Ws. It is also very black. I am not sure the interior decor monitor has actually noticed it yet!
  5. I seem to have caused some controversy! When the Topping blew up I temporarily replaced it with my daughter's NAD 302 (obtained second hand), which went back into her room afterwards - so I know that would work. However it was not sufficiently "black" and had rather too many buttons and knobs to go unnoticed by those in charge of interior decor. Personally I am not a great fan of the NAD sound either, to my ears it sounds rather vague, so will probably look into the others suggested. Again thanks all for the suggestions.
  6. Hi folks, not the normal high-end question I am afraid, but you are all knowledgeable guys so can hopefully help. I had a little Topping TP2020 one input 20w per channel "D class" amp which was fine used as an amplifier for a pair of telly speakers. However my daughter decided to use it for a party and cranked it up to maximum volume and fried the power supply, which was a mere 56w output so clearly inadequate for the job. The speakers are a very easy load (B&W DM686) so I doubt they were to blame. Anyway, before she plans her next party, I need to replace it with a second hand integrated amp with a volume control, balance control, 3+ RCA line level inputs and a better specified power supply with a bit more headroom. No need for tone controls, remote control or any of that nonsense. I have looked at the Cambridge Audio Topaz AM1 which is £70 new, but presume I can get much better value from a second hand amp. I am prepared to spend around £100. The only other requirement is that it is black to fit in with the rest of the system! All suggestions gratefully received.
  7. Hi Uzzy, after similar experiences to you I ended up ripping all my CDs to FLAC and now stream them which does away with the transport altogether - I don't miss it one bit! I have an extensive classical collection which is exclusively digital and generally sounds great through the Receiver which has a pretty capable built-in DAC. Vinyl for pop and rock is still fun from time to time but I would say 80% of my listening is digital, through phone when on the move or Squeezebox streamers at home. My turntable setup is very "vintage" early 1990s and the only change since 2001 was the installation of the ATOC9 about 5 years ago. It sounds great but, if I am honest, not quite as good as the digital files most of the time. I still have all the CDs in boxes in the loft and I still buy new music in CD format and then rip it to FLAC as it is nearly always (much) cheaper than downloading FLAC files direct.
  8. Very interesting, thanks for that Serge. I wonder if the record companies are now cutting discs for the lowest common denominator (Crosley?) as it was clear from listening to some LPs that separation of the channels was restricted more generally and not just at low frequencies. Inner grooves are always a problem, so perhaps that is why I picked up the problem most obviously on the last track on a side where they might be cutting the disc most conservatively. I am pretty sure it is not my cartridge. One of the joys of the ATOC9ML is its amazing tracking, inner grooves in particular don't suffer from distorted high frequencies I found with my previous cartridges. The immediately previous one was an ATOC5 and before that a Rega cartridge taken from my 1986 vintage RP3 both of which suffered to some extent.
  9. Interesting experience this weekend listening to some vinyl recordings. It was clear that some recent pressing sound very different from their CD / Digital counterparts and would be interested in some views as to why. One track really showed this up, so I did a couple more comparisons and found the same situation on some other recordings, but not all. The track that prompted me to do the comparisons was "A Certain Romance" the last track on the B side of the Arctic Monkeys debut album "Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not". I have listened to this album most often on my phone - a 320kbps MP3 rip of the CD, and less often a FLAC rip of the same CD played through my Squeezebox "Receiver". My daughter is a total Arctic Monkeys nut and has now bought all their studio albums on Vinyl. I decided to listen to the vinyl album and was struck by the fact that it sounded less 'expansive' than I was used to. Instruments seemed to come much more from the central space between the speakers and less from the sides - so much so I suspected that I had the amp switched to mono. A quick check made it clear that was not the case. The sound was similar using headphones, so I set up an A-B comparison using headphones and switching between the LP and Squeezebox. This took a lot of careful "level matching", but once this was done the differences were starkly obvious. The digital file sounded much more dynamic and '3D'. Instruments were spread much more widely across the soundstage and popped out of the mix much more obviously. On headphones the effect was of greater clarity, but also of more artificiality. The digital file sounded more realistic on speakers than it did on headphones with the opposite the case with the Vinyl, which sounded slightly flat, compressed and mono on speakers but more natural on headphones. I suspect that much of this was down to the "loudness wars" and clearly the digital file had been processed to make everything in the mix sound equally loud. However, it was also clear that the stereo effect and instrument separation was much more enhanced on the digital file making it much clearer and easier to listen to - particularly via speakers. A further check found similar effects on Bowie's Black Star album. However, I tried listening to some older recordings and the effect was much less pronounced. Genesis "Selling England by the Pound" was actually clearer, dynamic and more realistic sounding on the Vinyl than the FLAC ripped from the CD I also own. Another Genesis album, "And then there were three" actually sounded almost identical on LP and CD. This has been a real ear-opener for me. I had previously assumed that the main differences between LP and digital were down to the reproduction equipment. I now realise that the mixing of the recording for each medium can be dramatically different and makes a real difference to the listening experience. I have to say I generally did not like the way more recently cut vinyl sounded - I wonder if we have lost some of the expertise in mastering and cutting disks for vinyl? I have read articles in the past that talked about it being a real "black art" to cut a vinyl LP. Presumably in the 30 or so years between the decline of LP and rise of CD many of the most experienced vinyl engineers in the industry will have retired or found other work. Views and experiences? [Testing was with Linn Sondek - Ekos - ATOC9ML/II disk spinner, Naim NAC72 / HiCap / NAP140 / Headline amplification, B&W CM2 speakers and Sennheiser HD600 headphones. Digital source was Squeezebox Receiver playing FLACs ripped from CD through the same amp and speakers]
  10. Thanks for all the suggestions guys. If I thought she was remotely interested in sound quality I would definitely go for a Rega or Pro-Ject TT in a snap, but I think she would value convenience and auto operation more. Having owned two Regas in the past (Planar 2 and 3) I know that you have to be a bit careful with the handling. Three legs is less stable than four and manual tone-arm operation is prone to "user error". If you saw the state of her bedroom you would realise that taking care of her possessions is not a major priority! I looked at the AT turntables (thanks Killie) and they are more substantial, automatic and have a detachable cartridge but are double the price - will consider them carefully though as AT are generally a quality outfit. Really my only worry about buying the Lenco is whether the fixed headshell and cartridge is a risk. Lenco do a £180 model with a user-replaceable cartridge so I might consider that.
  11. My daughter is currently "into vinyls" (to use the modern parlance) and I need to keep her clear of "my preciousssss...". So, her B'day is coming up and I was looking at kitting out her bedroom with an appropriately disposable record player to plug into a pair of powered speakers I have available. Looking up What Hi-Fi the obvious candidates are the Lenco-85 at a wallet friendly £120 with phono-preamp and automatic operation, or the bare-bones Pro-Ject Essential II at £200. The latter is a lot more stylish but will need some kind of phono equalisation which will be an extra cost. Sound quality is not the main concern, my principle worry is what the stylus is and what it will do to her growing LP collection. The Pro-Ject looks like a decent deck with a proper Ortofon cartridge so no worries there. However the Lenco looks like a fixed headshell and I am concerned that it has a poor quality stylus that might damage her records? I would rather not spend the cash if I find my worries are unfounded. Any views?
  12. TheLastMan

    Naim Audio

    The flip side to that is their very impressive resale value. I bought a second hand NAC42 / NAP110 amp in 1992 for £250 from Studio 99 in Swiss Cottage. Reckon I could sell it for more today. Having owned four high priced integrated amps before then and not satisfied, the Naim just sounded right. I replaced it with a 72/140 in 1998 mainly for the extra inputs, better connection hardware, matching aesthetics and upgrade potential. The sound is essentially the same - and 18 years later (other than a hi-cap) have not upgraded or have any desire so to do! Never understood 'haters' of any kit, just a bit of fun after all.
  13. Have a look at Logitech Media Server. Can be installed on Mac, Windows and Linux - there are a couple of special distros for Raspberry Pi and Synology have an installation for their NAS drives. There is a plug-in to play through Chromecast. Almost any computing device can be a player. It is also a system that can grow to become multi-room. It has native apps for Iplayer Radio and Spotify. Basically it is Sonos on the cheap! Sent from my D5833 using Tapatalk
  14. I have bought two 128gb cards for my phone, mainly to carry more music, but both have failed within a couple of months - one a Kingston the other a Lexar - so have reverted to a 64gb SanDisk . I have obviously therefore have my doubts about how reliable these big capacity cards are. It might be my phone of course. Sent from my D5833 using Tapatalk
  15. Hmm... highly dubious. That is the sort of experiment that needs to be repeated and the results reproduced a few times. In what way was the EEG "affected"? How was "subjective rating" measured and what were people reporting as the difference? How was random variation eliminated from the results? Do we even know if it was a double blind test?
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