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George 47

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  1. Chord Huei (£995) – Side 1 Review by Mr Underhill Introduction Full details and manufacturer specifications for the Chord Huei can be found HERE. It is a moving magnet and moving coil phono stage with unbalanced RCA inputs and both balanced and unbalanced outputs. The Huei itself benefits from the robust construction techniques of all Chord HiFi. Its styling echoes that of the Chord Qutest. Like that unit, there is a clear window in the top, allowing you to see the internal electronics. At the front edge are four opaque, translucent balls that change colour as different settings are made; this means that a copy of the instruction book is essential on the rare occasions you wish to change the impedance or gain. Some colours are very close together and I found myself cycling through them a couple of times to ensure I had the right settings. In moving magnet (MM) mode the impedance is set to 47kohms. The gain can be varied for both MM and Moving Coil (MC). This review feels that it was a long time in the making. The unit arrived but when it was installed it hummmmmed like a hummy thing. To cut a long story short, make sure your unit has a small plate on the Phono Stage outputs. Not this: But this: I had spent twenty years with EAR pre-amps, first the 864 then the 868. These came equipped with excellent phono stages, however, these units are far from entry or mid-priced. Having enjoyed Chord on the digital front, I was interested to hear their analogue efforts. I recently bought a box and power supply from Les Wolstenholme of Avondale audio to make use of my aged Naim phono cards as my mid-price reference. The Avondale box, PSU and Naim Cards were chosen by me as I suspect many people will have bought or at least heard these cards. My LP12 has been regularly serviced but was at the bleeding edge thirty years ago. Cirkus bearing with a Mober SSP12 inner platter, installed six months ago, and a ‘Geddon PSU. The arm is a Naim ARO holding a Dynavector DV20x2H. Test Tracks My intention was to use a few albums to warm up the system before testing with a few tracks from three albums. The warm-up albums were: Laboratorium Project – The Blue Light Pilot; Irakere – Bailando Asi; and Pink Floyd – The Wall. The review albums were: Billy Joel – Songs in the Attic, Miami 2017; Rush – Moving Pictures, Red Barchetta; Michael Jackson – Thriller, Beat It; and John Williams & Cleo Laine - Best Friends, Feelings. In the event, FAR more albums were used, including: Main System Having installed the Chord Huei I turned it on. Not being a neophyte, I muted the pre-amp and turned the input to something other than the Huei. This did not prevent some audio thumps, squeaks and squeals from emanating from the speakers. This was a consistent issue when turning the unit on and off as well as altering the impedance or gain …….until, well more anon. The plan was to warm up the system with the albums listed above before working my way through the review tracks. I started with the Avondale box containing my pair of Naim NA523 boards. The sound that emanated was akin to slipping into a warm bath. This was very familiar territory. Not the most detailed picture but a solid, dynamic and entertaining one. I considered this a stiff challenge for the Huei, and so it proved …..initially. I started listening to Laboratorium Project’s, ‘The Blue Light Pilot’. It was immediately evident that the sound stage was narrower than the Naim boards, the bass was lighter and there was an upward tilt to the frequency response. I moved on to ‘Bailando Asi’ and ‘The Wall’, but things failed to improve. Whilst trying to solve the initial hum problem, Chord had asked what cartridge I was using. They recommended NOT using the Huei set to MM but MC, with the impedance wound up as high as possible and the gain minimised. Always willing to experiment I endured a few thumps and clicks while resetting the Huei and had a degree of trepidation as I lowered the stylus. Now THIS WAS MUCH BETTER. The sound balance was immediately improved with the bass being fully present and correct. Over the next half an hour, the Chord Huei blossomed. Having moved on to side one of ‘The Wall’ ‘The Happiest Days of Their Lives’ started. As the track progressed Nick Mason’s drumming and his use of the cymbals was superb, moving from punctuation to an insistent rhythm. Having listened to these albums many times over the decades on a wide variety of systems it is hard to unhear musical lines. This means that I find my mind filling in the missing details even when they are not supplied, but when they ARE it is so much better. This phono stage is good at resolving detail. Billy Joel’s Miami 2017 has a couple of entrances by the band where the drums kick in, and that dynamic was rendered very well by the Huei. The opening with the sweeping electronic bass tone bought a big grin to my face. The excitement and energy of the track was improved with the crowd enthusiastically encouraging Joel over the Avondale/Naim. This is an interesting track to try with better phono stages, the crowd’s presence improves and the sound stage grows. Moving Pictures has always been a great favourite of mine and ‘Red Barchetta’ is the stand-out track for me. The Chord Huei produced this very well. The bass drives the melody forward with great lead guitar flourishes and percussive sweeps of the drums. But, what I think makes this a stand-out track for me are the quieter passages between the audio pyrotechnics. The Chord Huei set to MC stepped up the detail and dynamics. At this point I just wanted to work my way through as many albums as possible. Now, most of my vinyl has been owned for maaaany years. I do have an Oki Nokki however, I have still to use it in anger, therefore many of my albums are not as quiet as they might be. The Chord Huei was better at allowing me to listen into the music whilst ignoring any accompanying distractions. At the end of that first listening session, I played the whole of John Williams & Cleo Laine’s ‘Best Friends’ album. Inherited this from my parents and it sat unused for forty years, my memory being that as excellent a vocalist as Laine is there was nothing much here for me; wrong. This is a superb recording, with John Williams weaving his guitar work in and around Cleo Laine’s superb voice. I put the needle on the record and only removed it at the end of each side. In fact, I found this with most of the albums I played. There were a few that were such bad recordings that I just had to stop, but if it got beyond the first minute then the whole side was played. So, was there any way to improve on this showing? As it happens, there is. I power my Chord M-Scaler with a Krisdonia battery set to 12volts, which is also the voltage needed by the Huei. When using a battery supply or a better Linear PSU I find the effect is pretty consistent, IF there is any difference at all, which isn’t always the case. That is, the bass tightens up and the higher frequencies clean up. This proved the case here, although not to the same extent as with the digital front end, it was a minor improvement, but in my case was a freebie. I felt that the battery-powered unit allowed through a tad more detail as the noise floor dropped, which also gave a bit more dynamically. Additionally, all the thumps and whistles that had been occurring when turning the unit on or off stopped, as they did when adjusting the unit settings. Conclusion This review had me cogitating on the old vinyl vs digital saw. Slotting in the Chord Huei invariably gave me a deep and engrossing sound stage that digital finds it hard to equal. That said digital bass can be linear and subterranean in a way that requires enormous attention to detail to equal with a turntable, and by attention to detail I do not just mean setup. Why? That is the million-dollar question. In part it may be that we have been refining analogue playback for over a hundred years. The progress made in improving digital playback over a few decades has been impressive. The quality of digital playback you can achieve today for relatively small amounts of money is remarkable, but drop a needle on some vinyl in a reasonable system and I find myself relaxing into the music. The Chord Huei is a good entry point to give you a taste of what high-end vinyl delivers. As you can tell, I was quite taken with this phono stage. It is a definite step-up on the Avondale box, PSU and Naim cards, as familiar as that sound is. If you are using this phono stage in MM mode have a listen via MC, I think you may be pleasantly surprised, do make sure you lower the volume first! Having put this unit through its paces using the Dynavector DV20x2H I will be installing a Goldring serviced Linn Troika in the not too distant future. Side 2 will use this classic cartridge in my LP12/ARO/Geddon, this will be played through my Naim SBLs; should be interesting, the SBLs were released in 1986 and updated to MkII in 1989. I suspect the LP12/ARO/Troika will have been a big part in the development of the speakers.
  2. Getting back to the OP and the question asked. Coax cables give some clues to the answers. In a coax cable there is a central copper solid wire, surrounded by an insulator and then an outer conductor, usually a braided sheath. What happens with this cable is the solid core copper cable generates an electric field that is contained within the outer braided sheath. There is a minimal electric field outside the cable, unlike other cables. The advantage of coax is the signal transmission is efficient as the electric field is contained in the cable and interactions are minimal. These cables are used to transmit small signals huge distances. So geometry is very important in cables. The insulator used can have a significant effect on the electric field/signal. So the geometry of cables is important, the insulator (dielectric) is also very important (some say more than the quality of copper). And there are a wide range of effects that impact the electric field. The advantage of knowing about these fields is that it changes your perspective about what is important, and what is not. As shown in the clip, adding an outer metal braid for mechanical strength actually interacted with the electric field and significantly attenuated the signal.
  3. RIP Joolz. Condolences to his family and friends. If when the family have got over the shock they could let us know his favourite charity, I will make a contribution in his memory and say farewell. Gone but not forgotten.
  4. Apart from what I have now, then it was a great no-holds-barred system. It was an Esoteric P03 and D03 transport/DAC, Krell 202 preamplifier, Krell 600 monoblocks and Wilson Watt 6 speakers with Transparent Audio cables throughout. A system that did power, dynamics without boundaries yet still did the delicate music. But when no one was at home on went Beethovens Ninth Finale with no limit to the volume and the bass.....
  5. Very sad news. My thoughts go out to him and to his family.
  6. That does look interesting with the new GaN modules with higher sampling rates. When I spoke to Bruno Putzeys he was less impressed with ultra-fast sampling rates as they bring bigger problems and as a designer you have to be really, really careful of circuit layout with 0.1mm being crucial. However, this design may have overcome those problems. Maybe time to talk to Colin again. Chris, the cable you have is a good one, ignore the cost. If you want to go a small step forward, the Puritan mains cables are very good as they have excellent shielding without damping the sound. They are also not too expensive.
  7. Bad news. I will let the dealers in the area know and my industry contacts.
  8. And to confuse things there is always the Icon 4 which uses David Slagle autoformers and has a remote control and it is at a reasonable price. Mr Colloms said he could just hear a difference but only in a £100K system but changing one of the cables for one that was one grade lower made more of a significant difference.
  9. Qobuz charges £13 a month or less if you buy a years worth. Tidal is at £10. But they were both at £20 a month, not too long ago and then Qobuz started reducing prices, both are faced with serious competition from Apple and Amazon. So Tidal reduce prices to £10 for CD. Qobuz is still at £13 but does offer high-res. I suspect Qobuz enjoyed its financial lead and will respond and also try to remain competitive again the big boys before Spotify joins in. And hopefully, Tidal's move to offer musicians a tiny bit more money may also encourage others. And the fun bit in all this is, most are making a loss.
  10. The Audio Show De Vere Hotel, Daventry 9/10 Oct 2021 by George Sallit This was the first Audio Show in the UK since Covid. It was well attended when I went on Saturday and well organised observing all the Covid rules. The overall sound quality of the rooms was good. And there were some stand out rooms which I mention below. I was able to re-make contacts with people from industry and the whole atmosphere was very friendly. It was also good to meet Wam acquaintances and exchange stories of great and less good sounding audio. Anyway, onto the rooms. Starting at the Audionote room, which was, as usual, making some great sounds. They had an interesting item on display that I do not believe is for sale any longer. The main Audionote system Audionote Es in their favourite corner position The new super valve for the Ongaku!!! No, just an interesting light that is no longer for sale. The Fink room had a Pass Labs amplifier powering their speakers, The sounds from the Fink speaker had excellent high frequencies from the ribbon tweeter and the bass was well integrated, making for a good sound. One of the best sounding rooms at the Show, the room from Audio Consultants. I must revisit them as they are local to me. A Luxman D-10X CD/SACD/DAC player feeding the AVM amplifier A6.2 Master Editions amplifier (and a Luxman 590 AX Mk 2 Class A amplifier used later) and Kudos Titan T707 speakers. Nice natural sound with a real 3D sound-stage. Closer view of the AVM amplifier. An interesting amplifier from Germany. And the Luxman amplifier with a great feel to all the controls and a super smooth full 3D soundstage. This system played the Doug MacLeod Reference Recording with realism and in the room presence. I have since bought the CD. Unusual speakers from BayZ Audio, the Courante 2.0 in the Chord Electronics room. The Bay-Z speakers were powered by Chord Electronics with a Dave DAC, this was some serious electronics. And here is the beast. So good, I returned later on in the day after the public had gone home. And Accuphase were showing what they could do and making some really smooth, easy to listen to sounds. Accuphase and Luxman amplifiers within a few rooms of each other. And to complete the magic trio, of course Leben... A real Audio oasis in the Music First Audio room with a Nagra reel to reel playing through the LongDog amplifier into some great LS3/5as. It was easy to just relax into this great sounding system. Ideally suited to the room. Small and perfectly formed. These speakers do not do thunderous bass or ripping treble, fortunately. Only music. Silbatone amplifiers with TAD speakers. I have not seen or heard Silbatone amplifiers before but they have a superb reputation by going to Munich with some serious horn loaded speakers. And the sound quality achieved showed why they have such a good reputation. TAD Speakers. Superb looks and sound, but expensive. Art Audio amplifiers. I had a great conversation with Tom Willis the manufacturer. He is making some great amplifiers (SET) with distinctive looks. Tasteful glitz. The amplifier was playing through these solid wood loudspeakers that were there to showcase the cables. The wood came from the trees lost during the Sevenoaks Storm in the UK. They sounded really interesting and the synergy with the amplifier made for great sound quality. The source was a great turntable. In the second Audionote room, AN Ks in the corners powered by the sublime Cobra EL34 integrated amplifier with a built-in DAC and it is fully remotely controlled. Unusual for Audionote and great value for money. Here is the all in one Cobra. It is aimed at people who want to have taste of a good valve amplifier but without all the hassle of multiple boxes and cables. Another view of the Cobra and not the unique stand under the table. Icon Audio were there with a whole room of lovely valves including these KT 150 monoblocks. I like the copper tops. And more even valve amplifiers from Icon. And this is what was feeding the system. In conclusion, a great show that had an interesting range of audio to see and enjoy. It was great to meet old and new acquaintances and maybe, just maybe, things are getting back to some form of normality.
  11. Of course, what you should do is narrow down what you want to hear and then go out and buy a lot of cakes. And pizzas and nice food. And then have a grand bake-off and ask people to come along with their favourite preamps and have a grand listening session at home. Based on that, you will hear the best preamps for your set-up in your room with no high-pressure salesmen, apart from some proud owners. And then you will know what you want to borrow at home for a final decision. Everyone wins.
  12. Good comments and discussion here. I went to CanJam 2019 in London and there were a large number of young people there. Whilst I was playing with expensive headphones, a young guy (25?) came up and asked to buy the Woo Audio valve amplifier and electrostatic headphones. They were about £5K. The demonstrator said they were not selling, but just showing, and offered him contact details of his distributor in France. Rob Watts gave a great talk, with a full audience, and there were a large number of questions afterwards. There is still a strong interest in music and a newer, livelier interest in headphones that fits the lifestyle of 20-30 year old. But they do not come here because of their perception of what happens here. At the moment, there is an enormous interest in expensive headphones and headphone amplifiers.
  13. As heard at every election......."I speak on behalf of the majority of the Wammers when I say......"
  14. Turntables are considered the best sounding source. What an astute lot Wammers are, I can only agree.
  15. In the early days, local streaming looked as though it would provide better sound quality by ripping the audio until it was bit-perfect. CD transport would be worse as it works on the fly. Ripping allows you to re-read the data until you get it bit perfect, which can be done by comparing the data sum-checks of your rips to those kept in a library of checks. If an error is found, you just re-rip the track. It therefore provides perfect digital data compared to the potentially, error ridden CD reads. But now even the Jays CD Transport puts the CD data into high-speed RAM and reads it using a local clock. But when you listen, there is a difference and a preference.
  16. Feel the music young Skywalker.......Trust your ears......if it sounds better it is better....
  17. Well it has been sometime, and my review was 'frozen' and not available for issue. The issue has been resolved and I have finished writing the review. I am just waiting for any factual errors seen by the distributor. Once I get a response, I will upload it. It is fairly positive (understatement). And a few amps have now been sold.
  18. Looking at the age data, are they still alive?
  19. I am amazed we did not have too many people analysing the questions. But we still have the answers to work on......now let me see, 300 answers from a population of 65,000 is....
  20. Be careful with insurance. Some policies will say Insured up to £1,000. But if you send a £3,000 item and claim £1,000 they refuse to pay as it was under-insured.
  21. Good, all that is left is to enjoy the music.
  22. I spoke to James at AN today and he said send him the serial number and he can correctly identify the valves. My understanding is that the DAC came with 6DJ8s or 6992 and some people then went mad and added the Cv 2493. The gold pin 6992 are selling at £30 and Cv 2493 from Langrex are currently £75.
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