Begin typing your search above and press return to search. Press Esc to cancel.

Accuphase DP-570 CD/SACD Player

A few years ago, I heard a remarkable jazz harpist, Edmar Casteneda, perform live at a festival. Imagine if Stanley Clarke played the harp instead of the bass, and you’ll have some idea. He’s recently done an album of duets Live in Montreal [Telarc], with Hiromi, the tiny-but-awesome Japanese jazz pianist. What becomes apparent, after a short while, is the similarity between the piano and the harp. Both hugely dynamic, somewhat percussive, full-range stringed instruments. And this lack of variety could be a problem, except that the Accuphase brings out layers of extra colour and tonal shading that keep you interested beyond the musical fireworks that this duo conjure up. It’s not an album I listen to often, being used more as a crash-test for lesser equipment, but the Accuphase has shown me that, actually, there’s more to it than just crazy levels of energy and dynamics and yes, I can quite easily sit through this for the sheer pleasure of it.

When you attend live performances (assuming we ever get to do that again) there is always a tiny moment at the start of every classical concert, when the conductor raises the baton but before the performance starts. Total silence. And that feeling of living, breathing, expectant souls in the room, about to share in something remarkable. The way the Accuphase goes about its business reminds me of that moment. It’s in the way the music is brought forth from a place of untroubled calmness. I think there’s something special in their low noise approach. The noise floor on most digital audio is, of course, well below accepted thresholds of audibility, and it’s certainly never intrusive in an audible sense. But I reckon noise is parasitic in nature. Even inaudible noise robs music of vitality and colour, at a subliminal level, and at its most intrusive, it can add an unwelcome edginess to a performance. We’re all used to it, we accept it, and it’s only when a remarkable performer comes along that we realise there might be another way. The Accuphase seems to take the precision and exactitude we should expect from top-flight players, and overlays that with still deeper layers of colour and texture, coherence and timing. Beautiful music is simply more beautiful; not airbrushed or soft-focus, rather it’s that what makes it beautiful is shown more clearly. We get a layer of flesh and blood, a sense of humanity that, at its heart, is what gives music its compelling interest and character.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Type: One box CD/SACD player

Disc types: CD; SACD; CD-R/-RW; DVD‑R/-RW/+R/+RW

Digital inputs: HS-Link (proprietary standard); USB; Toslink Optical; Coaxial S/PDIF

Digital outputs: HS-Link; Toslink Optical; Coaxial S/PDIF

Analogue outputs: Line level; Balanced (with switchable phase selector)

D/A converter: 4 per channel, parallel, MDS+ (delta-sigma)

Frequency response: 0.5Hz–50kHz (+0, -3.0dB)

THD + noise: 0.0006% (20-20,000Hz)

Signal to noise ratio: 120dB

Dynamic range: 117dB

Output level control: 0dB to -80dB (1dB steps, digital)

Size: 465 × 151 × 393mm (W×H×D)

Weight: 19Kg

Price: £10,200

Manufacturer: Accuphase Laboratory Inc.

URL: accuphase.com 

UK Distributor: MusicWorks (UK) Ltd

URL: musicworks-hifi.com

Tel: +44 (0)161 491 2932

Norma Audio Revo IPA-140 Integrated Amplifier

A shortcoming in the previous iterations of the Revo IPA-140 still holds, but not to the same extent. Although the amplifier features a balanced input, the Norma integrated is best used in single-ended operation. The balanced input should no longer be considered ‘vestigial’ or something to be avoided at all costs, and the Revo IPA-140 now deals with XLR as a reasonable analogue audio pathway, but if you can go single-ended, do so. XLR offers no advantages over single-ended with the Revo IPA-140.

The audio industry is broadly divided into two main camps; ‘change for change’s sake’ companies that revise every product in their line-ups on a regular basis, and ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ brands who keep their products developmentally frozen for years. Norma is one of the rare exceptions, that keeps making ever better products, but doesn’t shout about it. Looking back on our review from 90 issues ago, Norma didn’t reinvent the wheel here and the sound of the Revo IPA-140 is tonally unchanged, but it builds on its strengths and strips back on its few vices still further. In other words, it’s every bit as damn good as it ever was; “if it ain’t broke, make it better!” This integrated amplifier is one of the audio world’s best-kept secrets.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Inputs: 4 RCA, 1 XLR Balanced, optional Phono, 1 USB DAC optional

Input impedance: 47Kohm (not selected input) / 10 Kohm (selected input)

Input Configuration: Phono MM/MC, Line, Direct AV, Balanced

Output Signal: Passive Pre Out, Active Pre Out, Tape out, Subwoofer out

Output Impedance (Pre-Out): 200 ohm

Output Power: 1 Binding Post pairs, accept 4mm banana plugs and fork

Frequency Response: 0 Hz–1.8 MHz (-3dB, non filtered)

Output Power: 140 W RMS / 8 Ohm–280 W RMS / 4 Ohm (each channel)

Gain: 34 dB

Configuration: Dual Mono

Power devices: MosFet, 3 pairs for each channel

Output current available: 36 A continuous, 150 A peak (per channel)

Ability to filter: 72.000µF, 12 electrical capacitor for each channel

Electric transformers: 2 toroidal special audio use, 400 VA per channel

Supply: 230 V AC / 50 Hz, (100V AC or 115 VAC / 50–60Hz in some country)

Dimensions (H×W×D): 110 × 430 × 365 mm, (excluding feet, knob and rear jacks)

Weight: 25 Kg

Price: from £5,695

Manufacturer: Norma Audio

URL: normaaudio.com

UK Distributor: Hi-Fidelity UK

Tel: +44(0)7787 056723

URL: hifidelityuk.co.uk

Melco S100 Network Switch

One quality that I look for in audio components is a sense of calm, it’s an indication that all forms of noise are being kept at bay and that means there is less distortion being added to the music signal. The S100 is very calm, managing to sound more relaxed and effortless than everything I compared it with, the difference wasn’t huge and some systems will make more of it than others, but it was clear enough. It’s worth mentioning that a switch upgrade like many others will be more obvious in a high resolution system. There are many who will think it’s mad to spend so much on something that isn’t necessarily in the signal path, and that such things can’t have any real bearing on the result. But in a revealing system the benefits of a barrier to electrical noise are easy to hear and even easier to enjoy, so much so that I may have to start negotiating with Melco so that I can keep the S100, it’s going to be a difficult transition back to real world data switches.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

Type: Streaming audio network switch

LAN Ethernet ports: four 100Mb, four 1GB (via RJ45)

Fibre optic ports: two (via SFP)

Clock: not specified

Packet data buffer: 1.5MB

Features: external SMPS with upgrade option

Finish: Silver/black

Dimensions (H×W×D): 61 × 215 × 269mm

Weight: 2.5kg

Price: £2,099

Manufacurer: Melco Syncrets Inc.

URL: melco-audio-masters.com

UK Distributor: ADMM

Tel: +44(0)1252 784525

URL: audiophiledigital.co.uk

Monitor Audio Bronze 200 Floorstanding Loudspeakers

Taken in isolation, there’s next-to nothing to take serious issue with here. But, of course, nothing is ever heard in isolation – and by the standards of seriously affordable floorstanding loudspeakers, the Bronze 200 are just a little hazy and indecisive where the details are concerned. Oh, it’s not as if they’re giving a huge amount of information away – but listen to Roots Manuva’s Sinny Sin Sins [Big Dada] and some of the intricacies and tiny harmonic details go astray. There’s virtually no impact on the musicality of the Monitor Audio presentation, and consequently virtually no impact and how enjoyably listenable these speakers are – but if you audition price-comparable rivals from other entry-level heroes like Q Acoustics or DALI you may find the Bronze 200 lack a little insight.

They make up for it in other areas, though. Those alternative designs have to acknowledge Monitor Audio supremacy where control is concerned, and no rival describes a more coherent or better organised soundstage. But if the devil (or, more accurately in this instance, the last soupçon of sonic enjoyment) is in the details, it’s possible to be left a little frustrated by the Bronze 200 delivery.

But – at the risk of labouring the point – context is everything. Given that a floorstander at this sort of money is, by definition, compromised, Monitor Audio has minimised and disguised the compromises it’s made to an almost laughable degree. If your system justifies this sort of outlay, you need to hear the Bronze 200.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Type: 2.5-way; 2 × bass reflex port
  • Driver complement: 1 × 25mm C-CAM gold dome tweeter; 2 × 140mm C-CAM mid/bass driver
  • Frequency response: 35Hz–30kHz
  • Crossover frequency: 700Hz; 2.4kHz
  • Impedance: 8 Ohms nominal; 4.4 Ohms minimum
  • Sensitivity: 88dB/W/m
  • Dimensions (H×W×D): 909 × 229 × 304mm
  • Weight: 13kg/each
  • Finishes: White; Black; Walnut; Urban Grey
  • Price: £570 per pair

Manufacturer: Monitor Audio Ltd

URL: monitoraudio.com

Distributor: Monitor Audio Ltd

Tel: +44(0)1268 740580

Music Interview: Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio

What kind of gear did you use on the album?

I don’t know a whole lot about the studio gear used for the sessions, but do I know a couple of things: Jason used an old CBS Laboratories 411 Volumax audio limiter, a couple of Chandler compressors and some other vintage and modern gear.

He also used an audio interface that I had personally never heard of. It was a Metric Halo. I’m not sure of the model but it sounds great.

I used my 1971 Hammond B3 with a Leslie 21H, Jimmy James used his 1964 Silverstone guitar with a 1×15 old Peavey Delta Blues amp, and Grant Schroff used a bunch of vintage and modern drums pieced together.

Every drum Grant used was from a different manufacturer. He had about three-plus drum kits to choose from, so we went through each drum and found the best sounding ones then got to work.

What prompted the cover version of George Michael’s ‘Careless Whisper?’ It sticks out on the album… 

We were doing a show in Seattle at the start of the band and Jimmy, in-between songs, kind of quoted a piece of ‘Careless Whisper.’ I’ve never played that song before, but I just went for it, slashing and hacking my way through it.

It started out as a little snippet that we just threw in every now and then, but then the crowds went nuts every time we played it, so eventually we decided to do the full song. At the request of my wife, and manager, Amy Novo, we recorded it. It’s her number one requested song.

Some of the album has a cinematic feel. Would you like to write a film soundtrack and, if so, what kind of movie would appeal to you?

I’d love to write a score for an old school, Blaxploitation-style flick, like Across 110th Street, Black Caesar or Foxy Brown – car chases, police sirens and ‘70s hustling. That would be dope!

I grew up watching those movies. Again it goes back to the music being raw and dirty.

Are you hoping to play live again when things get back to normal? 

Absolutely! As soon as they say the word we’re running to the stage. We plan to continue where we left off and do all the US and European shows we had planned on doing in 2020.

We also want to some countries we’ve never been to. I miss the stage a lot. I hope to be back on the road in 2021, playing music and possibly bringing some joy back to the lives of people. We all need that, including myself, and I want to do the best I can to make people find peace in their lives.

Last year was very productive for me, apart from taking a financial hit for not being able to tour, but I’m getting by for now.

Since March 2020, I’ve written and recorded roughly 70 new songs in a few different genres.

I’ve also been working with Novo Productions, which is owned by my wife, on a recording project called DLO3 and Friends. It’s going to be based on the Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, but we will collaborate with artists from around the world, as well as recording albums as a trio.

What are your fears for the future?

Not being able to go back to work and losing everything we’ve been striving for all our lives.

We can only hang in there for so long before everything comes to a complete halt. And if it gets to that point can we pick up from where we left off or do we have to start all over? Only time can answer that one.

 

Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio’s I Told You So is out now on Colemine Records. It’s available on pink or black vinyl, cassette and CD, as well as across digital/streaming platformswww.delvonlamarrorgantrio.com

Main Image by Frances Willey

Rocky Mountain Audio Fest will be no more

The following is a press release issued by Rocky Mountain Audio Fest.

September 2, 2021 – A year and a half ago, our hearts were aching as we made the hard decision to cancel our 2020 show. Back then, we somehow imagined that as a country, we could band together and transcend COVID-19, and our lives could return to normal. We hoped we could ride out a year in isolation and emerge healthy and ready to gather again. Here at RMAF, we spent the year improving our business by producing new room layouts with all the outlets marked, and created a handbook to guide exhibitors as they learned yet again to navigate their exhibitor accounts. We imagined ourselves enthusiastically greeting our audio industry friends in a few weeks, and we’ve held onto that dream in spite of our nervous fears and scary news reports.

Even though some parts of the United States are fully open, the number of people contracting the virus, and the number of deaths attributed to it are still rising, and the CDC is projecting an even more deadly Lambda wave this fall. We are frightened on behalf of our friends in the audio industry on many levels. The very worst thing that we can envision is for someone to fall ill because they came to our show, whether as an exhibitor, a journalist, an attendee, or a volunteer. Good health is a precious gift, and we are learning that although recovery is possible, the residual effects of COVID-19 and its variants can be profound, and we are unwilling to risk even one case. Up until now, we have held onto the possibility that our October show could be produced as planned. After reading and listening to the news concerning the Coronavirus pandemic, and watching the cancellation of numerous other shows, we no longer hold that hope. In spite of our initial optimism, we have read and listened to all of your thoughtful comments and then looked at the numbers and made the difficult decision to cancel RMAF 2021.

As is our policy, RMAF will be issuing refunds to those exhibitors who have made payments for their rooms. We understand that in times such as these, finances can be a delicate balance, so you may expect to see your refund within the next 7 to 10 business days.

This has been a wrenching decision, and along with it comes the added impact of deciding that we are no longer able to envision RMAF as our hearts delight. RMAF was our founder Al Stiefel’s dream, and we’ve done our best to nurture his vision for 12 years, along with help from the Colorado Audio Society and all our volunteers from around the world. Now, we are off to new adventures! And so it is with both sadness and anticipation for the future, we announce that the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest as we have all known it will be no more. It has been our very great pleasure to have served this community of audio professionals. We have learned so much from you! Thank you for 17 years of friendship and support. It has meant more than you can possibly imagine.

We offer you our heartiest wishes for good health and great happiness.

Your Friends,
Marjorie and Marcie

Marjorie Baumert and Marcie Miller
Rocky Mountain International Audio Fest
October 8-10, 2021

Audio Enthusiasts Get Together in London – Sunday September 19th

German Physiks will be demonstrating their HRS-130 omnidirectional loudspeakers at an audio get-together organised by the Audio Enthusiasts Facebook group. Also participating will be Gekko cables, Funk Firm turntables and our London dealer Ajay Verma of Art+Sound, who will be supporting us with electronics from Pass Labs, Canor Audio and Matrix Audio.

The venue is:

The Bedford Pub

First Floor Private Dining Room

77 Bedford Hill

London SW12 9HD

Doors open at 3 pm and close at 8 pm. The Bedford Pub is 2 minutes walk from Balham station.

If you would like to attend, please register your interest on the Events section of the Art+Sound Facebook page at https://fb.me/e/Ztb77mfQ.

Copland CSA-150 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

But, don’t get the impression that the Copland can’t kick its generous power through the speaker drivers. If you survive on a diet of heavy metal then perhaps it might not be your first choice but it can swing a transient with considerable force and it can get down and dirty too. It’s just that it does this with a certain degree of tonal finesse and shading. The new album by Steve Lukather, (ex-Toto and just about everyone else for the past decades),  I Found The Sun Again[Mascot] shows that that tube isn’t just there for show. Pulsing bass, charging drums and high tempos are all handled well, albeit with a nod of politeness, with surprising transient delivery and recovery. A quick word for Steve’s take on the old Robin Trower classic ‘Bridge Of Sighs’ here too. A swirling wall of sound with a Hammond organ in there to congeal the mix alongside fat bass and busy drums. Lukather plays a real dirty killer solo too, if that’s your kind of thing. It is mine. Great job by the CSA-150 here as it peels back the layers to reveal another side to its nature.

Copland CSA-150 Hybrid Integrated Amplifier

So, what we have here is a musically focussed and serious integrated amplifier, with a difference. That difference being its tonal subtlety and the interesting way it conjures up sonic landscapes and paints pictures between your speakers. The tube input stage brings a sense of colour and added variation for sure but it doesn’t intrude on the solid-state output devices ability to really drive and deliver transients. I’d say that the recipe is just interestingly balanced, helped in no small way by the pure speed of the solid state and the considerable wallop and weight that it packs. But, perhaps its real strength is the tonal contrasts and harmonic subtleties it constantly surprises you with. The DAC too is very good and enhances the amplifier’s attraction enormously and I found the HD Bluetooth module the review sample came fitted with, to be a lot better than I expected and although I never tried the phono stage, I imagine that it is going to be up to scratch. I haven’t heard the whole CSA range but I would encourage you to seek it out for a listen if you are in the market for a do-it-all integrated amplifier. Few people complain about having too much power but perhaps you might not need the considerable output of the 150 and the CSA-70 starts at a very reasonable price of under £3k. The Copland amps are a bit different for sure but, from what I’ve heard, they are always on the side of the music and that’s not a bad place to be. This is a very strong segment of the market with some notable performers but I think that if you seek it out, the Copland, is very well worth a serious audition.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Type: Integrated amplifier with DAC and phono stage
  • Power: 2 × 150 watts into 8 ohms
  • Analog Inputs: 1 × balanced (XLR),
    3 × unbalanced (RCA)
  • Digital Inputs: 1 × coaxial S/PDIF,
    2 × optical S/PDIF, 1 × USB, 1 × aptX HD Bluetooth (optional)
  • Line Output: 1 × unbalanced (RCA),
    1 × pre-out unbalanced variable (RCA)
  • Phono Input Impedance: 47K ohms (MM)
  • Frequency Response: 10 Hz- 150 kHz -3dB
  • Headphone Amp Gain: 22 dB @ 100 ohm load impedance
  • Vacuum Tubes: 1 × 6922
  • Remote: Yes
  • Dimensions: 164 × 435 × 370mm (H×W×D)
  • Shipping Weight: 15 Kg
  • Finishes Available: Silver or Black
  • Price: £4,988
  • Bluetooth Module: £198

Manufacturer: Copland

URL: copland.dk

UK Distributor: Absolute Sounds

URL: absolutesounds.com 

Tel: +44(0)20 8971 3909

Cary Audio DMS-700 Network Audio Player

Moving on The Police’s third album, Zenyatta Mondatta [1980 A&M] and on ‘Driven to Tears’ I was struck by the exceptional clarity of Andy Summers chime like guitar chord progressions. There was nothing harsh. Clean and precise they floated between Sting’s roving bass line and the ultra-precise drum work of Stewart Copeland. Continuing to ‘Shadows in the Rain’ the DMS-700 conveyed the depth and space of this song’s lesser played version with great definition. The front and centre bass line had a lifelike timbre that showcased fingers on strings in an almost visual way. Speaking of bass lines Lou Reed’s Transformer album’s [1972 RCA] ‘Walk on the Wild Side’ in a 24/96 file without upscaling via SD Card was superb. The rasp of the upright bass and the incredible realism of the backup singers was spot on. Lou’s voice was front and centre with terrific soul and clarity. The DMS-700 delivers even when it is not asked to do more than pass on a direct file read. Regardless of how a file was delivered to the DMS-700 it was treated with care and delivered to your ears as you would want.

Cary Audio DMS-700 Network Audio Player

Cary’s DMS-700 is less than half the price of many streaming devices currently available, but it is a fully featured flagship unit. The good news is the Cary Audio DMS-700 delivers. Not just in the expected sound quality, which is exceptional, but in its execution of its tasks. This is a very well thought out unit. Software works both in process as well as in elegant function. It is easy to get around despite a diverse selection of tasks to address. Upgrades will keep it relevant for years and are made in a direct and simple way by an easy-to-use app. The front screen is easy to read from a distance, the remote is simple to use, I can place it anywhere in the room because I can connect via WIFI or Ethernet and, by the way it looks great on the rack. What is not to like? Cary Audio sells through a network of brick-and-mortar dealers and via direct if you are not close to one. They have the expertise in analogue to pass that DNA through to their digital children. This device is the best of both worlds. An audition is suggested with one caveat; Make sure you have funds in your bank account before you bring it home. I doubt you will return it.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Digital Inputs: USB × 3, SD Card × 1; Bluetooth ×1; AES/EBU ×1, Coaxial ×2, Toslink ×1, Ethernet RJ45 full remote configuration interface; Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac support MU-MIMO, Trigger input 12VDC ×1; IR control ×1
  • Bluetooth: CSR Bluetooth v 4.0 with aptX® HD for 24 Bit/48 kHz high
  • definition audio decoder
  • Digital Outputs: Coaxial, Toslink operating at Sample Frequency (Fs) from
  • 44.1 kHz to 384 kHz, 16 bit to 24 bit, DSD64, DSD128
  • Analogue Outputs: Balanced XLR, Single – Ended RCA
  • System Clock: Frequency 22.5792 MHz
  • Signal System: 16, 20, 24, & 32 bit PCM and 1 bit DSD
  • Sampling Frequency: 44.1 kHz to 384 kHz PCM and 2.822MHz–
  • 22.5792 MHz DSD
  • Playback Format Supply: .dsf, .dff (DSD64, 128, 256, 512), .aif, .aiff, .alac,
  • .flac, .m4a, .mp4, .wav, .ape, .mp3, .aac, .wma, .ogg, .asf
  • Digital/Analog Converters: 1–4 channel AK4499EQ for true balanced
  • output
  • Digital Filter: 32-Bit  8x Oversampling Digital Filter
  • Analogue Filter: 3rd Order Bessel
  • Digital Input Sample Rate: USB operating at Sample Frequency (Fs) from
  • 44.1 kHz to 705.6 kHz, 16 bit to 32 bit, DSD 64, 128, 256 and 512 Communication:
  • Frequency Range: 2 Hz–100kHz
  • Amplitude Linearity: 0.1 dB (20 Hz–20 kHz)
  • Phase Linearity: 3 degrees (20 Hz–20 kHz)
  • Dynamic Range: 124 dB (1 kHz)
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 127 dB (1 kHz)
  • Channel Separation: 107 dB (1 kHz)
  • Total Harmonic Distortion: 0.0001% (1 kHz)
  • Audio Output Level: 2.0V RMS (220 Ω output impedance) for Volume at
  • 0.0dB; 3.0V RMS (220 Ω output impedance) for Volume at +8.0dB Balanced XLR Output: +/- 2.0V RMS (440 Ω output impedance) for
  • Volume at 0.0dB; +/- 3.0V RMS (440 Ω output impedance) for Volume at +8.0dB
  • Finish: Faceplate available in either Silver or Black anodised finish Dimensions: 3.75″ H × 17.25″ W × 16.25″ D
  • Weight: 28 lbs
  • Price: €8,900

 

Manufacturer: Cary Audio

URL: caryaudio.com

European distributor: MGY OU

URL: caryaudio.eu

Email: [email protected]

Tellurium Q Silver and Silver Diamond Power Cords

If cables are a controversial topic in audio, then power cables raise that controversy to the nth power. The idea that a signal cable can make a difference in audio is sometimes stretching the credulity-gland of some audiophiles, but the idea that a power cord makes a significant difference too is a struggle. Worse, when that power cord is backed up by almost no background information in support, and instead places reliance on ‘go out and listen to the damn thing!’, those who take an objective line on audio are fit to burst, screaming “it’s all subjective!”

Tellurium Q ultimately argues for an observational approach to audio and does so right across its ranges. Rather than back up its products with either ‘fluffy’ claims or controversial calls to materials and architecture, it posits that its Blue, Black, Silver and Diamond ranges represent a ‘good’, ‘better’, ‘best’, and, er, ‘bestest’ performance. It develops cables through observational listening, and those who do the same observational listening in demonstration will come to the same conclusions. Silver and Silver Diamond represent the ‘best’ and ‘bestest’ power cords in the Tellurium Q line, and in terms of things outside of direct observation, that’s about as much as there is to say here.

Those of us paid by the word might not take to kindly to that approach, in part because the “here comes the science bit” in a review begins to look very sparse. Moreover, it means we have to do the job instead of ‘phone it in’ and ‘pad it out.’ On the other hand, in an audio sector where objectivity often takes a back seat to a spot of Star Trek, having no “science bit” to speak of is something of a refreshing change. So, from a materials science perspective, the Silver Power uses conductors made of ‘metal’, surrounded by a dielectric made of ‘stuff’ and wrapped in a black braid made of ‘material’. Meanwhile, Silver Diamond is made of similar things and is slightly thicker. Both are terminated in robust Furutech connectors at both ends and have a white heat-shrink identifier telling you what the brand is at one end and what type of cable you are using at the other. The two power cords are more flexible than previous Tellurium Q power cords thanks to innovations by the company’s R&D team. However, the nature of those innovations, like all things Tellurium Q, remain a secret, and the company’s R&D team have all taken a vow of silence.

Tellurium Q Silver and Silver Diamond power cords

It might not be the most significant ‘sell’ in audio, but a power cable adds nothing to a system’s sound; it can only take from the overall performance. The better the power cord, the less it detracts from the component itelf. As you can only reduce compromises with a power cord goes some way to explain why so many place great importance on the power cord as core to a system’s sound. Tellurium Q’s Silver’s take on this ‘first do no harm’ approach focuses on the midrange clarity and drive. While frequency extension – particularly in the bass – is excellent, the first aspect you notice when listening with Silver is the clarity of voices, the expressiveness of midrange detail and a more pronounced ‘in the room’ energy to the sound. Tellurium Q could be hoist by its own petard here, as it tries to eschew the base notion that cables that use silver conductors sound bright, only then to call its cable ‘Silver’. But this Silver is neither bright nor tarnished.

The Gold Standard for midrange clarity tests are female voices, but instead, view Silver from a nuanced piano recording perspective. I’m usually reluctant to use ‘audiophile’ recordings, but Nojima Plays Liszt [Reference Recordings] highlighted what Silver does so well. It’s not just the playing dynamics (although these are impressive) or the accuracy of tone. It’s that it conveys the sense of an instrument as a complex musical entity in its own right; the sound of hammers hitting strings, of the resonance of the piano itself and the little taps of a nail on a key. Over-excited versions of a real piano are standard fare in audio, but here they join forces to make a gestalt piano sound.

Silver Diamond takes this midrange clarity and energy and builds significantly on it. There’s more than a touch of Tellurium Q’s ‘Statement’ cable to Silver Diamond, and that means more space around the instruments, more frequency extension (top and bottom, but with that, yet more of that energy and clarity of Silver), and more dynamic range let through. And with that comes a caveat of sorts; Silver is a little more forgiving toward what it feeds. Suppose your component isn’t quite as open-sounding at the top-end or as dynamic as its contemporaries. In that case, the Silver will be more accommodating, where Silver Diamond detracts less from the power feed, and that can show up inconsistencies in the source or amplifier. Interestingly, this is not just an exercise in expense; I used Silver Diamond to affect significantly a Leben integrated amplifier that cost only slightly more than the cable itself. But if all your audio ducks are in a row, Silver Diamond can make an already singing system sound like it just got Aretha and the Monteverdi Choir stepping up to the microphone.

These are top-flight power cords that are resolving and ‘get out of the way’ enough to let the music sound really good. Silver is perhaps the more universal of the two, but in places where Silver Diamond can shine. While that is dangerously close to using the name to define the product – something Tellurium Q is abjectly trying not to do – it’s hard not to make ‘diamond’ analogies when Silver Diamond makes a system sparkle.

Price and contact details

Silver Power 

  • Price: £1,200/1.5m
    (£200 per additional 0.5m)

Silver Diamond Power

  • Price: £2,200/1.5m
    (£387 per additional 0.5m)

Manufacturer: Tellurium Q

URL: telluriumq.com

UK Distributor: Kog Audio

Tel: +44 (0)24 7722 0650

URL: kogaudio.com

Leben CS 300F Integrated Amplifier

Relatively low output notwithstanding, the CS 300F passes most tests with flying colours. That creaminess can mean a little too much ‘shape’ in the upper bass; not tubby sounding, but just a little broader in the beam, especially when compared to the thin sound of many systems. Also, if you do push the CS 300F to its limits, those limits start to show with a little muddiness in the deepest bass, as if the last two keys on the piano were not playing. But these are more observations than criticisms, and you need to be playing the CS 300F well past its limits to hear these emerge.

Leben CS 300F integrated amplifier

Leben has made a beguiling amp in the CS 300F, but perhaps not in the way you might expect from its external appearance. The amplifier is extremely clean and accurate sounding, but not in the cold and stark way often associated with clean-sounding electronics. Yes, it’s a valve amplifier, but one that brings out many of the good things of both valve and solid-state audio. If you have efficient speakers, this is the Little Leben That Could!

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Inputs: 5x line input, 1x tape input/output (all RCA), earth tag for optional phono stage
  • Tubes used: 2x 17EW8, 4x JAN 6197
  • Power output: 2x 15W
  • Frequency Response: 15Hz–100kHz (-2dB)
  • THD: 0.7% (at 10W)
  • Input sensitivity: 600mV
  • Output Impedance: 4/6/8Ω (Selectable), 300Ω (headphones)
  • Headphone output: 1000mV
  • Dimensions (W×H×D): 38 × 14 × 27cm
  • Weight: 11kg
  • Price: £2,850

Manufacturer:

Leben Hi-Fi Stereo Company

URL: lebenhifi.com

UK Distributor:

Midland Audio xChange

URL: midlandaudiox-change.co.uk

Tel: +44 (0)1562 731100

Degritter record cleaning machine

Degritter is exceedingly gentle with your records. LP surfaces are untouched. There’s no chance of the machine leaving lines or marks as there are no internal pads or brushes that rub or scrape the surfaces. You can clean LPs more than once without the risk of cumulative damage as a result. Use the Degritter’s ‘Heavy’ setting to clean very dirty LPs. But, in some cases, even this might be insufficient. Therefore, you may need to do a second clean or even pre-wash the LP manually before putting it in Degritter. You can also a proprietary record cleaning fluid if desired, and this might be more effective with heavily soiled LPs. However, thus far I’m inclined to stick with plain distilled water and pre-wash very dirty LPs before putting them into the Degritter.

Notice the difference when you put a cleaned LP back in its sleeve (or better still, a new antistatic sleeve) – it slides in much more smoothly than before. As a result of cleaning, the stylus encounters less ‘drag’ from the groove. Cleaning also means a smoother, cleaner, and more effortlessly detailed sound. The vinyl looks ‘blacker’ too. You hear an increased focus and added stability that makes LPs sound more like master-tapes. Clean a record with wide/exaggerated stereo and the left/right channels sound much more independent and separated. The music sounds firmer and more solid. Quiet passages are more focused and present, while loud passages seem cleaner and less congested – as though the stylus has an easier time tracing the groove (which it is). Additionally, there should be a welcome reduction in surface noise – though not always.

Trying Degritter with Grasshopper by J. J. Cale, [Japanese pressing, Mercury], I was impressed that an LP which had previously been cleaned and was in immaculate condition, could still be improved. Each track on this album has a distinct sound – as though each track uses a different studio and engineers. It was terrific to hear subtle differences of studio acoustic and tonal balance reproduced with such crisp effortless ease. Cale’s voice is rich and throaty on some tracks, while on others it sounds thin and edgy – for example, going from ‘Don’t Wait’ to ‘A Thing Going On’.

When sound quality varies like this, you often value engineering and production, concluding that some tracks were less well-recorded than others. But after cleaning, every track on Grasshopper sounded ‘good’, albeit different.

The sonic variations between tracks felt natural and intentional – and not the result of something that went wrong. For example, that dry slightly claustrophobic acoustic on ‘A Thing Going On’ creates a vaguely tense feeling, heightening the song’s surreal mood.

I need to ‘fess up to being an enthusiastic owner/user of the original Keith Monks cleaning machine. It does a great job. Of course, I wondered, would any additional audible benefit come from ultrasonic cleaning? I could hardly wait to find out.

The answer’s a definite – yes. True, the differences made by Degritter-cleaning over the KM were subtle rather than dramatic, but they’re there – small but significant improvements in fine detail, clarity, and stability. I feel the KM is more effective with filthy records. It’s like a laundry compared to dry cleaning. For maximum deep-cleansing, I start with a pre‑wash, followed by the Degritter, finishing off with the KM. However, this is a bit extreme – most times, the Degritter does fine on its own.

One LP I’d cleaned just a few weeks earlier on the KM sounded great. But after Degritter cleaning, the music gained extra poise and an effortless clarity that was truly exquisite. It felt like listening to the mastertape – it was that good.

It’s as if I’d suddenly upgraded my turntable/arm/cartridge to something far more capable. While cleaning doesn’t always deliver miracles, it’s possible even to salvage damaged vinyl. The result might not be 100% perfect, but it sounds a whole lot better.

Hi-Fi mags in the 1960s and 1970s were full of letters from people complaining about lousy LP pressings. There was a dip in LP pressing quality in the early ‘70s after oil prices spiked. The records themselves got thinner, and pressing plants even used recycled vinyl. A good cleaning can transform these LPs.

My ‘70s UK-pressed David Bowie LPs – from Space Oddity [Philips] through to Aladdin Sane [RCA] – improved very noticeably after cleaning. While not cut or pressed to audiophile standards, they sounded so much more like 180g ‘Audiophile’ pressings I could hardly believe it.

Sadly, Degritter is not cheap. But it offers serious-enthusiasts high-level performance with simple operation and low maintenance. It’s not large or heavy and looks clean and understated. It’s the easiest-ever serious record cleaner to use/maintain, and high-quality results are guaranteed. Having fan drying is a massive benefit. Some cheaper – and even some surprisingly expensive – ultrasonic cleaners forgo this feature; a considerable sacrifice, in my opinion. It’s like having a domestic washing machine without a dryer/spinner. Trust me; whether washing clothes or washing records, it’s worth paying extra for this feature. Just remember never to use washing powder on your LPs and don’t wash your underwear only in distilled water!

I appreciate how gentle it is and how simple to use. You can clean valuable, highly collectable discs secure in knowing they won’t get marked or damaged. It’s great just to press a button and have an LP cleaned/dried to a high standard with no fuss or drama in only a few minutes.

TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS

  • Type: Ultrasonic Record Cleaning Machine
  • Ultrasonic Cleaning: 120kHz/300W
  • Water tank: Removable 1.4ltr/0.37 gal
  • Noise levels: 50dB–70dB
  • Supported voltages: 100–240VAC
  • Finish: Black/Brushed aluminium
  • Optional extras: External water tank, 7” and 10” record adaptors
  • Available replacement parts: 100ml cleaning fluid, filters
  • Dimensions (W×H×D): 37 × 28 × 21cm
  • Price: £2,450

Manufacturer:

Degritter OÜ

URL: degritter.com

Tel: +372 5884 8839

UK Suppliers:

Analogue Seduction: analogueseduction.net

Audiobarn: www.theaudiobarn.co.uk

Audio Emotion: audioemotion.co.uk

Hard To Find Hi-Fi: hardtofindhifi.com

KJ West One: kjwestone.co.uk