jahknob

Funk Firm Houdini

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I don't normally post to these forums, just browse occasionally for specific information.

I've been inspired to stick my head above the parapet as I have found myself to be an accidental early adopter of the Funk Firm's Houdini - it's an isolator/decoupler that separates the cartridge from any sonic effects from the arm and it works with pretty much any arm/cartridge combination. There's been a fair bit of discussion on a couple of other forums, so I thought I'd just pass on a few notes, given my experience to date.

I'm a Pink Triangle owner since the 1980s, and, several upgrades along, my PT Too is effectively Anniversary spec (fitted with SME V/Koetsu Urushi). I rarely change components; my current system is about my third iteration in almost 40 years, it all dates from the 80s/90s, but has undergone refurbishment in the past five years. I like to think that I'm pretty immune to the snake oil and exhortations to make eye-wateringly expensive "upgrades". I haven't got unlimited funds and I (mostly) like what I hear. 

I contacted Arthur at the Funk Firm to get a broken TT bearing fixed and, while my main turntable has been out of action, have been fortunate enough to get some early experience of the Houdini on my "other" turntable, a PT Tarantella (Origin Live Silver/Ortofon Kontrapunkt B). I was initially sceptical, but I've always thought that my back-up TT was a bit lacking compared to the PT/SME V/Urushi combo, and this was still the case after a few weeks settling in to listen with the Tarantella again, so I relented.

With Houdini fitted, I'm noticing a lot more depth, space and resolution. I'm hearing improved bite/attack and firmness in the bass, without any harshness. A very laid-back and somewhat "meh" sound is much more dynamic and engaging. It's tranformed the sound, and I am a very happy listener indeed.

There have already been attacks on Houdini that relate to its price, but these are coming from people who haven't tried it. Given what many hifi enthusiasts are prepared to pay over and over again to "improve" what they're hearing, it seems odd to carp about a few hundred quid without trying it out - just how many significant upgrades can be had at that price? And I understand that the Funk Firm are offering a full refund to buyers who decide, after auditioning, that it's not worth the price.

I'd say to anyone who is considering an upgrade, whose vinyl-based system sound is almost, but not quite there, that this is an upgrade worth investigating. Even owners of a budget turntable/arm/cartridge should benefit (and for them, despite the price being significant compared to their overall system cost, it will be the most worthwhile, based on my understanding of how Houdini works). With the offer of a refund if not satisfied, what is there to lose?

I've also heard been fortunate to listen to another new Funk Firm product, the Akutrak, which, although of a completely different order price-wise, pushes the sonic results that can be achieved by lower-cost MM cartridges into besting the sound of very high-end MC cartridges. There's more to it than that, but I'm thinking that it could be a one-off outlay that saves enthusiasts a lot of money on cartridges over the years!

Hope that this is of interest.

j.

PT Too (Anniversary Spec)/SME V/Koetsu Urushi ( currently PT Tarantella/Origin Live Silver/Ortofon Kontrapunkt B/Houdini)
Audio Research SP9 mk3
Micromega Solo
Albarry M1008 Monoblocks
Pro-Ac EBT
(VdH/Kimber/Cardas cables, Woodblock/Red Rollers RF inhibitors)

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OK. I'll bite.

I've seen this item being spammed across many forums and even more Facebook user groups. Sometimes the text (I don't normally post to these forums) is virtually the same. That doesn't necessarily make it a bad product but it does set my alarm bells ringing. I've seen a lot of 'flavour of the month' products being wildly praised in the past. Most are debunked and forgotten, now.

£300 for a metal shim? To me, it fits in a similar category to the £130 mains fuses, in that the material value is so shockingly poor compared to the price that I simply don't need to hear it. I guess it's made of unobtainium, though?

The 'benefit' value is always an interesting one. If your turntable were badly set up and I set it up properly for you, it might take me 30 minutes, tops...but you would experience a dramatic improvement for the rest of time. Would £30 for 30 minutes work be fair? Or should I charge £500 for the dramatic benefit?

I expect manufacturers to make a worthwhile multiple - around 4 times the build cost (dealers will add their 40% on to that), and more for items that have required extensive R&D. I certainly don't expect stuff to be given away. At £100? I'm giving it a try. At £300? Not a chance. 

Edited by savvypaul
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I notice the same thing with the ISOLATOR not a metal shim from Len Gregory aka The Cartridgeman when I was his willing guinea pig  20 years ago I still use the latest version on my Cartridgman Musicmaster.

Edited by John (big)
phone call
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Just now, John (big) said:

I notice the same thing with the ISOLATOR from Len Gregory aka The Cartridgeman when I was his willing guinea pig  20 years ago I still use the latest version on my Cartridgman Musicmaster.

What does that one cost?

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I don't know the current cost I believe still around £98... should be on one of Len's dealers sites...   I can confirm they work there are write ups.

https://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/isolator_e.html

https://hifipig.com/the-cartridge-man-isolator/

Edited by John (big)
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5 minutes ago, John (big) said:

I don't know the current cost I believe still around £98... should be on one of Len's dealers sites...   I can confirm they work there are write ups.

https://www.tnt-audio.com/accessories/isolator_e.html

https://hifipig.com/the-cartridge-man-isolator/

Yeah, I found it at £90 on his site. Given R&D, costs of manufacturing in small quantities, dealer commission etc, that sounds about right.

I'm open to the idea that the 'houdini' can have a positive effect, but the price vs material value is too far out of kilter for me.

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46 minutes ago, savvypaul said:

What does that one cost?

I have just spoken to Len apparently if you buy one of his cartridges  there is 50% discount for an ISOLATOR...    

Edited by John (big)
syntax
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Looking around, I see that Origin Live have a 'Cartridge Enabler' that decouples the cart from the headshell...£25.

That also has rave reviews...

“I would never have imagined that such a tiny piece of material could – albeit placed in a critical position – make so much difference”
Hi Fi World

“Origin Live’s Enabler is highly effective and makes a great deal of sense as a simple fit-and-forget upgrade”
Hi Fi Choice

“I couldn’t believe all the detail, clarity and timbre that I was hearing for the first time. Like looking at a street lamp in the dark with smudged specs, then cleaning them with a microfibre cloth and seeing the difference! 

Edited by savvypaul
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Super Wammer

I have the OL Enabler on my Conqueror and it is a very worthwhile upgrade, its very effective. 

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16 minutes ago, Lurch said:

I have the OL Enabler on my Conqueror and it is a very worthwhile upgrade, its very effective. 

I believe that with the OL Enabler  the screws go from cartridge to head shell through the Enabler allowing some minute vibrations to be transmitted from one to the other, with the Cartridge Man Isolator the top plate bolts to the head shell the bottom plate to the cartridge with an isolating substance in-between.

I  must add that over the past 25+ years I have become a friend of Len Gregory. 

Edited by John (big)
accuracy

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Super Wammer

Yeah true but must be pretty minimal as there is also black (enabler material) washers and nylon washer between screw head and headshell. Anyway it works for me and for £19 try or return was a no brainer experiment. 

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4 minutes ago, Lurch said:

Yeah true but must be pretty minimal as there is also black (enabler material) washers and nylon washer between screw head and headshell. Anyway it works for me and for £19 try or return was a no brainer experiment. 

If it works for you that is all that anyone can ask for,  I have not heard either the OL Enabler or the Funk firm Houdini so I  can't comment on the differences  needless to say since I  was involved in the development of the Isolator they have worked for me the latest on the Musicmaster is thinner than previous incarnations with different  isolation material.

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1 hour ago, savvypaul said:

Looking around, I see that Origin Live have a 'Cartridge Enabler' that decouples the cart from the headshell...£25.

That also has rave reviews...

“I would never have imagined that such a tiny piece of material could – albeit placed in a critical position – make so much difference”
Hi Fi World

“Origin Live’s Enabler is highly effective and makes a great deal of sense as a simple fit-and-forget upgrade”
Hi Fi Choice

“I couldn’t believe all the detail, clarity and timbre that I was hearing for the first time. Like looking at a street lamp in the dark with smudged specs, then cleaning them with a microfibre cloth and seeing the difference! 

All of your posts on this thread have had me nodding my head with agreement. 

I am not a nay-sayer of anything in particular, but this sale pitch (OP) has been plastered on every bloody forum out there and in truth, it's put me right off this item. 

Well done for speaking up, Paul. 

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I just thought i would post this here, seeing as the Houdini is the topic.

I was contacted by an aspiring HiFI dealer about "trialing & Reviewing" the Houdini............I have rejected the opportunity.

Edited by Bigman80

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Pretty much posted word for word over at the NVA Forum. 
Ooor attempt to muster up interest in snake oil BS

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