CONNECTED t o M u s i c & M ov i e s
Issue No.25 Summer 2013
Kimber Select USB cables page 10
New mains extension Celebrating 30 years of Torlyte New style speaker stands
special Torlyte Feature
PowerBar page 8
Adventures in collecting Modern Jazz - page 12
Stop listening to your Hi-Fi and start listening to your music
With Musicality Built In™, Russ Andrews products will have you listening to your music, not your Hi-Fi system. Buy online at Exclusive UK distributor
www.russandrews.com 01539 797300
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International Tel +44 (0)1539 797300
Mail Order Direct • 60 Day Cable Home Trial • Cable Upgrade Scheme • Free Delivery (orders over £100 within UK Mainland)
Welcome Russ’s recommended discs in Connected issue 24 included a couple of choices that whetted my appetite and has seen me expand my collection of CDs from the ‘Golden Age of Stereo’ (the mid 1950s to mid 1960s). The first, Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances recorded with the Dallas Symphony orchestra and conducted by Donald Johanos in 1967 was, according to Russ, a musthave on Analogue Production’s SACD release and was duly ordered.
or high-resolution download. Cue more purchases: now I had the Mercury Living Presence label to explore: I missed out on Volume 1 of the box set (it’s now out of print and commanding prices beyond my reach) but Volume 2 contains 55 discs of superb recordings. It also got me reaching for the couple of Living Stereo SACDs in my existing collection and re-listening to them; originally recorded with three discrete channels, the SACDs allow you to play back each of the three The second was The Decca Sound. The channels on a multi-channel set up, Decca Sound is a 50-CD box set giving a betterwhich Russ described as ‘virtually a classical “ The recordings I was presented, more focussed soundstage. A music collection in a listening to were, in the recording made by box’, incorporating most part 50 years old Arthur Rubinstein of recordings from the or older, yet they were as Chopin’s piano early days of stereo dynamic, clear, and concertos has become up to more recent a new favourite. above all musical as digital recordings. I
anything I’d heard.” found myself picking I was consistently out the earlier impressed by the recordings – those from the 1950s quality of many of these early stereo and early 1960s particularly – and, recordings. The recordings I was along with Symphonic Dances was listening to were in the most part 50 wowed by the depth of sound and years old or older, yet they were as musicality inherent in the dynamic, clear, and above all musical performances. The Decca box set as anything I’d heard. I learned from contains a disc of highlights from the booklets accompanying the boxGeorge Solti’s recordings of the sets that part of the success of the Wagner’s Ring cycle which was new best ones comes from the simplicity to me and an amazing experience; with which they were mic’d and the but there were many others, too: skill of the engineers, where there Falla’s The Three Cornered Hat wasn’t a were SACD versions they sounded piece of music I’d heard before but even better than the CD versions – was delightful to listen to. I was and some of them were in three and hooked! four channel sound too, which gave my surround sound system a real Luckily for me (and unluckily for my workout. Best of all, I had discovered bank balance), this was about the a previously untapped (by me!) time we received our copy of the source of great music and fine May/June 2013 issue of The Absolute recordings that I can continue to Sound. In it, Arthur B. Lintgen gives a collect and enjoy. If you haven’t, I comprehensive account of more of urge you to find some of those I’ve those vintage recordings I’d been mentioned and have a listen – and I enjoying – and details how welcome any of your suggestions too. ■ successfully (or not so successfully) they’d been transferred to CD, SACD John Armer, Editor email@example.com
Contents Regulars Editorial
Russ’s First Words
Features It’s all about the music
Products New Products Recent Reviews
Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2b Moreland Court, Westmorland Business Park, Shap Road, Kendal LA9 6NS, UK. © Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2013. E & OE. Any views expressed are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views of the company.
Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 3
Getting emotional about music Your response to our articles discussing musicality have been overwhelmingly positive. I am heartened that most of you ‘get it’. I suppose you wouldn’t be enthusiastic users of our products if you didn’t! Your responses have confirmed to me that you too have found the discovery of musicality to be a life-changing experience. Two letters received recently reveal the extremes; the gulf between the before and after experience. Tony Williams (see Your Letters page 26) says “I thought I partly understood what you meant by the term [musicality], but after reading your follow-up article in Connected 24 I’m increasingly doubtful.” In his next paragraph he says the term ‘visceral’ conveys to him images of crudity and instinct, separating any emotional aspects from ‘skills and artistry of the composers and of the performers’. I think we have a real problem with the word ‘emotion’. To the repressed Brit, it conjures up images of irrational and hysterical women, lust, sex and jungle. Yuk! We civilised, rational males need none of that! I wish I could think of another word to use that isn’t so burdened with such an emotional (sorry!) response but I’m stuck with it. Emotion comes in all strengths from mild to extreme and ALL our first reactions are ‘instinctive’ and emotional. My response to a painting, a piece of music, or a flavour is instantaneous. Why do I like the colour blue? Who knows, who cares? I just do. Live with it! The concept of musicality is fundamental to the appreciation and enjoyment of music. It is not some ‘aspect’, as Tony Williams asserts, that is 4 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
separate from compositional and interpretive skills. Several professional classical musicians (and most recently violinists in two different string quartets) have talked to me about using their learned skills and techniques to express the emotional meaning in the compositions they were playing. Their practice and rehearsal was focussed on expressing that emotion. They judged a concert’s success on how well they communicated it to their audience and how the audience responded to it. They could ‘feel’ the audience reactions as they were playing just as they could feel their fellow players responding to them.
“Musicality is not a sound, not an academic analysis of its structure, it’s an emotion al message...“ Sometime in the early 1970s I remember listening to a Maurizio Pollini recording of Chopin études and nocturnes. His performance was a technical tour de force I thought – fully justifying his prize-winning reputation, but I was left wondering why Chopin was so popular. It was, to me, just a cleverly arranged series of notes with no musical emotional content I could respond to. Later, I heard a recording of Arthur Rubinstein playing the same music. Wow, a couple of bars in and I was hooked for life! Rubinstein communicated to me the full emotional musical meaning that Chopin had written and wanted me to understand. That may have been the moment that I understood the fundamental importance of musicality. It’s not a sound, not an academic analysis of its structure. It’s an emotional message with emotional meaning.
That realisation changes everything; the way you listen to music, appreciate music, judge a composer, musician, orchestra, band and (funnily enough) a Hi-Fi system. You discover that it is the underlying reason you don’t like some kinds of music or some kinds of Hi-Fi! The London Jazz Collector (page 12) expresses that revelation extremely well: “Instead of
my nice new hi-fi simply making the music I already knew sound better, it opened new doors: to music I didn’t know, didn’t know I liked, and some I knew I didn’t like - or so I thought.”. That’s exactly right and I have seen it happen many times. I remember an elderly couple I demonstrated a system to at Russ Andrews High Fidelity in Edinburgh in about 1976. They listened only to classical music, and that’s what I used until they had made their purchase. Once they had, I said “Listen to this for a moment” and I played a few minutes of “School Days” by Stanley Clarke. Very modern jazz. They loved it and bought a copy from our record shop upstairs! They knew that they didn’t like the sound of modern jazz, but the system let them hear the music in it rather than just the sound. The London Jazz Collector ably describes the importance and benefits of getting closer to the music itself: “you engage with it, much as you would if you were present at its creation – musicians in the room!” Sadly, however, many famous musicians, bands, and orchestras don’t communicate musical emotion and most Hi-Fi systems drain the music out of those that do. Once you can hear that difference you can do something about it. Once you have had that revelatory moment, everything is different. ■ Russ Andrews
News New Spears & Munsil 2nd edition Blu-ray set-up disc available The new version of Spears & Munsil’s Blu-ray set up disc is even easier to use to ensure you are enjoying the best picture quality. It also additionally includes new 3D set-up patterns for optimising 3D images. • Calibration and evaluation patterns for all major display controls • 3D stereoscopic calibration and evaluation patterns • Clips to test deinterlacing performance • Samples of different video and audio codecs • All patterns created at 1080p in native color space using proprietary software • Disc is region free and can be played on any Blu-ray player
Own a Panasonic TV? We’ve had several enquiries from owners of Panasonic TVs that connect to the mains supply with a mains cable fitted with a right1. angle IEC with latches (picture 1). They want to know whether they can replace the cable with one of our mains cables for better performance. The IEC socket on the Panasonic TV is recessed meaning almost all normal IEC plugs (and our Wattgates) won’t fit. The easiest way to upgrade the mains cable is with one of our PowerMax Plus™ mains cables. The IEC connector on the PowerMax Plus™ is a very slim design which is perfect for the recessed socket on the Panasonic TVs (and indeed any other situation where the IEC socket is recessed). It’s a snug fit and latches aren’t necessary to hold it in place (picture 2).
If you want to benefit from increased performance by using our 3. PowerKords with the larger Wattgate IEC connectors, you will need to make an adaptor, using the original mains lead and wiring one of our Male IEC plugs (£6.20, order code 1855) to a short length of the original cable (picture 3).
SPEARS & MUNSIL Code:4539 2ND EDITION BLU-RAY SET UP DISC £29.99
While the PowerMax Plus™ mains lead gives a big improvement to sound and picture quality, the woven PowerKords™ will give even greater improvements – sharper images, better colours and smoother motion (picture 4).
Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 5
News We have taken delivery of a demo set of Kimber Select KS-3033 speaker cables. They are available for loan to try in your system at home on payment of a deposit and are the best way of finding out just how much of a transformation these cables can bring to the performance of your system.
Audition the best! Select KS-3033 is the first in Kimber’s range of Select speaker cables. KS-3033 uses Kimber’s purest VariStrand copper, finest V-Teflon insulation and an enhanced braided design. The cables use an inner core – a proprietary material called ‘X38R’, around which the cable is woven; the core acts as ‘sink’ to absorb vibration built up within the cable.
The precise manufacture and care over the selection of materials means that the Select cables are a huge upgrade over the Kimber speaker cables lower down in the range. Expensive? Yes, but you need to think about them as components in their own right, such is the degree of improvement they can bring.
Who should try the Select KS-3033 loudspeaker cables? Kimber Select KS-3033 loudspeaker cables are very revealing and very musical. So to get the very best performance from them you should follow our upgrade path and upgrade your mains and interconnects first! KS-3033 speaker cables are a big upgrade over the cables lower in the Kimber range. In particular, existing users of Kimber 4TC, Kimber 8TC, Russ Andrews Crystal-24 and the Kimber Monocle-X and -XL cables should seriously consider an audition!
Auditioning the KS-3033 We have a 4.5m pair of KS-3033 available for loan. The cables are fully burned-in but will need a few days to settle in once connected to your system. They are terminated with 4mm bananas as standard, but we can fit 6mm or 8mm spades if you require. The cables can be auditioned for 14 days.
Organising loan of the KS-3033 speaker cables. Organising the loan of the KS-3033 speaker cable is extremely easy. Call us on 01539 797300, pay a fully refundable deposit and we’ll organise the rest. We’ll even deliver and collect the cables for free. The loan period lasts for 14 days from when you receive the cables. We’ll contact you towards the end of the period to see how you’re getting on and to arrange collection. The loan service is currently only available to UK Mainland customers. Remember, we only have one pair of loan cables available, so there may be a delay in receiving the cables if they are already on loan. We reserve the right to amend the terms of loan at any time. 6 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
Torlyte® is 30! - and we’ve updated Torlyte® speaker stands! 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of the original design and the first manufacture of our unique system support – TORLYTE. During the anniversary year, all new Torlyte® that we send out will be sporting special-edition 30th anniversary badges. Keep a look out for them! We’ve also taken the opportunity to make improvements to our Torlyte® speaker stands. We have rationalised the design (there is now only one size of top plate and bottom plate), but there are still two heights. The best news is that the speaker stands are now supplied with a Torlyte® top plate as well as a Torlyte® bottom plate (previously only the bottom had been Torlyte®) for even better performance. The new Torlyte® top plate has small countersunk indentations for locating the points of our Cone Feet for increased stability too. The previous incarnation of the Torlyte® speaker stands were What Hi-Fi Sound and Vision magazine five star award winners, and were the recipient of the prestigious ‘Editor’s Choice’ award from Hi-Fi Choice magazine. Our listening tests have confirmed that the new Torlyte® speaker stands sound even cleaner, clear, open and musical and are just the thing for supporting your bookshelf speakers. If you are interested in reading more about Torlyte’s® unique design and approach to system support, have a read of our Torlyte® feature on page 15. Size A
(Dimensions same except height)
550mm (excluding spikes & feet)
660mm (excluding spikes & feet)
Torlyte® speaker stands are fitted with spiked feet as standard, or Jumbo Cone Feet on request at the extra cost of the Cone Feet. The stands include two sets of small cone feet to support your speakers on top of the stands. Torlyte® speaker stands are supplied flat packed for ease of shipping, and are very easy to assemble at home.
Torlyte® Speaker Stands Code: 4077 per pair £695
Want to know more? Contact us on 01539 797300 Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE
New products Upgrade your system with our new mains extension! For some time we’ve been investigating ways in which we could improve the first mains extension in our range. Our new PowerBar mains extension features new sockets, new wiring and mains filtering option, and a newly-developed version of our Super Burn-in process, to bring better performance to your Hi-Fi or Home Cinema system.
3 Optional SuperClamp helps to protect your system from mains spikes and surges and improve sound quality. SuperClamp components are fitted internally and should be replaced every five years to maintain their effectiveness.
3 Sockets and robust extruded aluminium casework finished in black means that the extension ‘disappears’ visually behind your equipment rack.
3 Sockets are individually wired with high performance cable. No cheap busbars which can compromise the connection
3 Sockets and cabling benefit from a newlydeveloped, simpler version of our Super Burnin process for increased block performance.
3 Brackets fitted to PowerBar mean that the extension can be wall-mounted, if required.
3 Your choice of 4, 6 or 8 high-performance UK sockets for a low impedance connection to the mains supply. Sockets have a tight grip and a positive ‘click’ when a mains plug is inserted. Dimensions: (WHD)
8 way: 60mm x 48mm x 540mm
3 IEC mains input allows your choice of mains cable for connecting the PowerBar to the wall socket. We recommend the PowerMax Plus as a minimum, or use a Classic PowerKord – or better – for even greater performance 8 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
6 way: 60mm x 48mm x 415mm
4 way: 60mm x 48mm x 290mm
Where can I use it? PowerBar is an ideal starter mains extension for any level of system. Its high performance sockets mean that it is equally at home powering a high end system as it is an entry-level Hi-Fi or Home Cinema.
Russ on PowerBar “A good quality extension block will use high quality components both in the wiring and the sockets to ensure that the current flows as efficiently as possible. The music benefits by becoming more musical, more dynamic with better bass and a wider, deeper soundstage. The PowerBar is a perfect choice if you’ve yet to upgrade a basic, DIY-store extension – partnered with a PowerMax Plus, it’s a great way to improve your system’s performance”
Upgrading Being the first in the range, you cannot upgrade the earlier PowerLink or PowerLink Plus mains extensions to the new PowerBar. However, buyers of the new PowerBar can upgrade it to any extension higher in the range – the SilencerBlock and the Power/ Ultra PurifierBlock – and the full upgrade trade-in values will apply.
Dimensions: 60mm W x 48mm H x 290mm long (4 way) 415mm long (6 way) 540mm long (8 way) Not including wall-mount brackets
3 60 Day Home Trial on standard cables & accessories
3 FREE delivery on orders over £100 within UK mainland
3 Cable Upgrade Scheme
Russ Andrews PowerBar 4 way 6 way 8 way
Code: 1168 £89.00 £114.00 £139.00
SAVE 10% on a PowerMax Plus™ mains cable when you buy a PowerBar Russ Andrews Code: 1168 PowerBar Pack with 1m PowerMax Plus™ 4 way 6 way 8 way
£135.75 £160.75 £185.75
SuperClamp Option Add a SuperClamp for spike and surge protection. Add £10.50 We recommend factory replacement of the SuperClamp components every five years to maintain their effectiveness.
Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 9
Signal and power conductors geometrically isolated
New Kimber Select USB cables We were very excited to hear earlier in the year of the development of an entirely new range of Select interconnects from Kimber Kable. The new cables are USB cables, and they are available now!
Solid core signal conductors
Like other interconnects in the Kimber Select range, three versions are available. KS-2416-CU is an all-copper cable, using the very high-purity Kimber Select copper; KS-2426-HB is a hybrid cable employing a mix of Select copper and silver wire; and KS-2436-AG is the all-silver version using Kimber’s finest silver.
Large gauge VariStrand power conductors
Kimber’s approach to the production of the new USB cables (they are entirely hand-built at the Kimber factory in Utah, USA) ensures that – in our opinion – they deliver improvements in sound quality that cannot be achieved by mass produced machine-built cables. We believe they are the ultimate cables for connecting a computer to a USB audio device.
“The result is typical KIMBER SELECT, with a more open soundstage and increased realism. We have now conducted many cable listening comparisons and I can assure you that the copper version is more natural sounding than any other brand of cable I've come across. The hybrid and silver versions actually stay very true to the copper, hybrid, silver progression of all our other cables. Silver adds an openness and smoothness to the already spooky imaging of the lesser versions. I have a completely new appreciation for the difference a cable can make… and I was already an advocate!” Nate Mansfield, Kimber Kable
Custom Ebony headshell
Kimber KS-2416-Cu HDMI cable
3 60 Day Home Trial on standard cables & accessories
3 FREE delivery
Type B connector
on orders over £100 within UK mainland
3 Cable Upgrade Scheme Type A connector
Price KS-2416-Cu Code: 2416 0.5m £371 0.75m £398 1.0m £425
Kimber braided geometry Dual-layer frequency optimised shielding
Kimber KS-2436-Ag HDMI cable 10 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
KS-2426-HB Code: 2426 0.5m £499 0.75m £590 1.0m £681
KS-2436-Ag Code: 2436 0.5m £686 0.75m £847 1.0m £1008 Available in lengths up to 3.0m
New Ringmat products available to improve the performance of your turntable We’ve increased the number of Ringmat products that we have available to buy. The first are a pair of anti-static mats that are fitted above and below your record to reduce the problem of static charge that can build up when playing LPs. If you’ve ever noticed that the turntable mat sticks to the record when you lift an LP off it at the end of playing the side, these are just the products to help reduce the problem and improve sound quality to boot.
LP BLUE STATMAT & STATCAP
The second Ringmat product is the updated LP Ringcap. Ringcap is a lightweight paper disc designed to sit on top of a record when it is playing; Ringcap helps to reduce and absorb vibrations and resonance built up in a record when it is playing. The new Ringcap uses a darker-colour paper than the previous buff-coloured version.
Ringmat Anniversary Gold Spot
The Anniversary Gold Spot turntable mat is Ringmat’s bestperforming LP support mat. The Ringmat sits directly on your turntable platter and helps to support your LP and reduce vibration, so that there is the minimum possible error in the signal. Typically, you will hear a reduction in background noise, and a cleaner and more detailed sound; bass is deeper and more musical too.
Using the Ringmat products to upgrade your turntable We recommend using the Ringmat products in the following sequence to upgrade your turntable’s sound: 1. Replace your existing turntable felt or rubber mat with the Anniversary Gold Spot Ringmat. The Ringmat is the foundation of your record’s support and is the best place to start. 2. Then add the Ringcap followed by the LP Blue Statmat and Statcap (or, ideally, all of them for the best performance).
RINGMAT ANNIVERSARY Code: 5029 GOLD SPOT £78.00 Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 11
It’s all about the Music One of our customers runs a website devoted to his experiences in collecting – and listening to – modern jazz on vintage vinyl. We asked him to pen something for us about his website, and here in his own words is The London Jazz Collector.
12 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
It all started with a plan to improve were in the room with you. Your my hi-fi and to get more enjoyment armchair was transported to the from listening to music. New front table of the Bohemia equipment replaced the elderly nightclub, 1959, as Art Blakey’s Jazz Eighties units, and a friend Messengers roared into life; you are introduced me to the beneficial a guest diner at the Village effect of improving power and Vanguard as the sparkling cascade interconnects, something I didn’t of notes from Bill Evans’ piano understand but could certainly engaged telepathically with the hear. Things were sounding good, sonorous tones of Scott LaFaro’s but events took an unexpected turn acoustic bass and Paul Motian’s when these improvements revealed cymbal washes. A newlythere was another even more discovered passion for modern jazz significant took on greater opportunity to urgency, fuelled get closer to the by the power of ”it opened new doors: music – the music to music I didn’t know, very source experienced at didn’t know I liked, and itself. As this level of improvements some I knew I didn’t like - intensity. Different progressed, the artists, different or so I thought.“ quality of sound record labels, of vinyl easily probing at the overtook that from CD or CD ripped edges of modern jazz and its and played through a network evolution from Bop towards greater music player, but the real magic harmonic and rhythmic freedom, started to happen with vintage towards modal post-bop forms. The vinyl – pressed in the years before music as fresh today as fifty years digital, between the mid Fifties and ago, unlike much of what followed. early Seventies. During these years Instead of my nice new hi-fi simply entirely analogue equipment was making the music I already knew used at every stage of the record sound better, it opened new doors: creation, from acoustic instruments to music I didn’t know, didn’t know I moving air, captured by a new liked, and some I knew I didn’t like generation of studio engineers or so I thought. I became open to using revolutionary valve musicians I had previously wrestled microphones, recorded to tape, cut with. The articulation of the briefest into the lacquer on an analogue of individual notes in a run, instead lathe, and all that musical of a continuous messy flow, you information transferred deep in the suddenly grasped the musical groove of heavy vinyl. intelligence driving the fingers of The listening experience was John Coltrane. What before had transformed: now the musicians seemed like a cacophony started to
www.londonjazzcollector.wordpress.com Adventures in collecting "modern jazz": the classical music of America from the Fifties and Sixties, on original vinyl, on a budget, from England. And writing about it.
make sense, and to sound beautiful. That is what happens when the music evokes an emotional response, draws you in, makes you want to listen. You engage with it, much as you would if you were present at its creation: musicians in the room.
people who know probably more than is good for them.
going on in Thelonious Monk, and how can Bud Powell play the same instrument so fundamentally Slowly, an idea began to take differently? Which of all the tracks shape. I knew what I was looking on this record is the standout track, for, but it wasn’t there. Why not and why? Writing about music is a start your own “place for everything different experience from just musical” on the web? So around listening to it. Writing stretches you eighteen months ago, with no in different ways, sharpens your None of this is, of itself, remarkable - experience in web design but the critical faculties, in the same way as a journey I am sure made by many help of the Wordpress blogging active listening. Writing takes you music enthusiasts. What followed platform, I started my first ever places merely listening doesn’t, it however was even more blog/website, Londonjazzcollector. demands you expand your unexpected. I was struggling to knowledge and horizons, buy vintage vinyl over the pulling yourself up by your “Writing takes you places merely internet but mistakes proved own bootstraps. expensive and I lacked the listening doesn’t, it demands you essential knowledge to be sure Often I had to research to fill in expand your knowledge and of buying the real thing. gaps in my own knowledge, and horizons, pulling yourself up by realised that other people had a Looking around the internet I kept coming across sites and lot greater depth of knowledge your own bootstraps.” blogs about music which all too than me, on just about often consisted of links to fileeverything. The quickest way to sharing sites for a “free” pirate attract a comment on the internet This gave me the freedom to write, is to say something wrong. They download, a list of the track titles use graphics and multimedia to come raining down on you. Soon and a cut and paste three share and accumulate knowledge people around the world with paragraph review from AllMusic. about collecting modern jazz on common interest in some aspect of The comments consisted of “Wow, authentic vintage vinyl. From a music and hi-fi were visiting the thanks, man!” What it is to be shaky start I discovered that blog and comments, suggestions, popular. With little interest in MP3 original writing was hard, and that I advice and opinion started flowing downloads and hungry for had to look within as to why I like a in. Having started by handing out knowledge, there seemed very little piece, not to just say “I like this” or knowledge, it was now coming original writing of interest, apart press a ‘like’ button. Why is Bill back in, in spades. >> from the “train spotter” forums, for Evans such a great pianist? What’s Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 13
“Among new friends and followers, I have encountered musicians, DJs, studio engineers, erudite lifetime collectors” The standing pages about the great jazz record labels like Blue Note, Prestige and Impulse were attracting hundreds of visitors a day. I added pages about adventures in hi-fi, including equipment, interconnects and tweakery, even a recipe for record cleaning fluid. As a competent photographer, the website allowed me to show everything off life-size including those all-important engravings found in the dead-wax of vinyl, show off the beauty of retro cover design, read liner notes at full screen. Something was being done right - my first year online attracted a quarter million page views. With feedback and comments, more features have been added to regular posts: short biographies of artists, snippets of discography, contemporary cultural events from the year of recording, a look behind the curtain at eBay auctions, and most recently, online polls, for example, favourite musicians, all interactive. Among new friends and followers, I have encountered musicians, DJs, studio engineers, erudite lifetime
14 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
collectors, not a few First Pressing Fundamentalists, Nostalgists still living in the Sixties, young record collectors just starting out, retro Dandies, the surviving wives of some of the great jazz musicians, and jazz lovers from all over the world. On the way I have learned about mono from stereo folddowns, condenser microphones, the finer points of matrix codes, and still carry scars from encounters with record trophy hunters to whom money is unimportant and possession is everything. I am still waiting for a blue plaque to go up on the wall above my favourite London record store: “Londonjazzcollector shops here”. Perhaps one day. The adventure is about music, not hi-fi or records, though both are a necessary means to an end. It is an adventure which has no end point, no destination, just a journey to be enjoyed along the way. You can read more about “Adventures in collecting modern jazz, the classical music of America, on original vinyl, from England, and writing about it” at www.londonjazzcollector.wordpress .com ■
Revisiting Torlyte® Why bother with your system’s support? 2013 marks the thirtieth anniversary of the original development of our equipment support system – Torlyte. Although the appearance has changed a little over the years, the basic concept – an ultra-light, rigid support for Hi-Fi and Home Cinema equipment – remains the same. On the following pages, Russ goes into more detail about the development of the Torlyte and precisely why you should be ‘coupling’ your system with low mass supports if you want to achieve the most natural, musical sound from your system.
Why should you care what your system sits on? The reason is that ‘acoustic feedback’ from loudspeakers can seriously degrade the sound quality – regardless of how good or expensive your system is. The usual choice of high mass (usually metal and glass but even solid timber) stands, racks and cabinets make the problem worse, not better. If you’re in the camp that thinks equipment supports can’t possibly make a difference to the sound quality, try this: slip a cushion between your CD player and the surface it stands on. Play a few seconds of music. Then take the cushion away and play the same music again. You should hear a big difference between the ‘cushion in’ and
‘cushion out’. Don’t worry about which is ‘better’ or ‘worse’, we’re just proving that there is a difference.
About acoustic feedback A Hi-Fi system is not a simple chain with a source component at the start (CD player, turntable) and a pair of loudspeakers at the end. The two ends are connected together acoustically by the sound from the loudspeakers passing through the air, the floor, and through the system support stands. As the acoustic feedback enters each piece of equipment it becomes ‘electrical feedback’. How? Well, the electronic components inside your Hi-Fi equipment (eg capacitors, diodes and resistors) are ‘microphonic’. That means that they produce >>
The Acoustic Feedback Cycle
Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 15
"Having set up my new Torlyte rack, I couldn't understand why the music was so quiet and I had to turn up the volume. It took a while but the penny eventually dropped - it was no longer shouting at me! I had all the detail and none of the glare. As a result I was able to listen to my music over extended periods for the first time. The biggest improvement I could possibly have hoped for. Vive le Torlyte!" D Johnson, W. Sussex
Diagram 1: Long delay, as in church acoustics Diagram 2: Short delay as in your Hi-Fi system
small electrical signals in response to mechanical vibrations such as this acoustic feedback. These electrical signals are not in themselves very large but in relation to the audio signals being processed they are very significant indeed. They mix with the audio signal and pollute it audibly.
because it causes ‘time smear’ that destroys musicality. Time smear ‘bleaches out’ the strength of the rhythm and destroys the timing subtlety of the playing. After taking steps to reduce timing smear in a system, it’s quite common to hear comments such as “I didn’t know he could play that well” and “I was bored by that piece of music before, but now “I didn’t know he could I really get what it’s play that well... I was bored about!”
To make matters worse, the feedback effect is by that piece of music cumulative: the It’s important, before, but now I really get therefore, to control energy content what it’s about!” and frequency time smear because it balance of the doesn’t just affect the feedback signal is added to the sound quality – it has a direct effect music signal passing through the on our musical enjoyment too. system and modifies it cumulatively. The effect is a classic vicious circle Dealing with acoustic where the system sounds worse feedback energy and worse as you play it louder and We can’t stop acoustic feedback louder. energy getting into the system, but the energy itself isn’t really the What does acoustic problem, it’s the effect that the feedback do to the sound? energy has – time delays – that are The first thing you may notice is the the real problem. The time delays effect feedback has on the tonal occur because the feedback energy is slowed down and stored as it colour of the music (colouration). However, the worst and most passes through the system stands, destructive effect supports (and even the feet) and into each part of the system. It is that feedback the weight (mass) of each object has on the music that dictates how much energy is is to cause ‘time stored. The higher the mass of an smear’. object, the lower the frequency at which it resonates. (Every object has The feedback its own ‘natural resonant signal is like an frequency’; the frequency it vibrates echo; it is a delayed repeat of at when you knock it.) The lower the frequency then the more an earlier sound (see diagram left). energy is stored and the more the The confusing effect of this can be energy is slowed down. This heard in its most extreme form in a ‘slowing down’ means that the large church or cathedral. In this object will continue to vibrate (or situation an experienced speaker resonate) for longer, thereby adding will pace his delivery to allow for to time smear. the echo and so maintain intelligibility. If high mass increases time delay, In a Hi-Fi system, however, even a small amount of echo visible in the lower diagram is a very big problem
CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
then lighter, lower mass items decrease time delay. Lower mass items store less energy, they ring
less and they delay feedback energy less. If we could make the system support materials very light, we would have a system that stores little energy as acoustic feedback passes through it and delays it for less time. Proponents of the conventional high mass support system make the problems even worse by saying that equipment should be’ isolated’ from the shelves with soft ‘squidgy’ rubber feet. This has the unfortunate effect of trapping the feedback energy in the piece of equipment, thereby increasing the storage and delay!
The importance of materials There is, however, another problem caused by the feedback energy. The tonal character of the music (frequency response) is changed by the materials the feedback travels through. In other words you can ‘hear’ the support materials in the feedback signal and it changes the sound of the music. You can hear the metallic rings of metal stands, the ‘dong’ and ring of glass shelves, the thick heavy thump of MDF and solid timber stands and so on.
Did you know? ‘Coupling the masses’ is a technique used by cinematographers filming microscopic single cell marine organisms. The camera has a motor that vibrates it so much that the organisms in the water tank would be invisible. The solution?... They clamp the water tank to the camera so that it all vibrates together and so the vibration itself doesn’t matter.
We know we A further and equally If high mass increases time can’t stop the music-destroying delay, then lighter, lower mass effect of all this energy items decrease time delay. moving, but if weight and stored Lower mass items store less we ensure energy is to reduce that it moves energy, they ring less and the the dynamic range of as fast as the music. It delay feedback energy less. possible concentrates all the through the energy in a narrower support system, and that all parts of band, delivering a sound that is the system vibrate together and very louder, punchier and more up-front. fast, then the vibrating ceases to Mid-bass is forward and dominant, matter. To do this, we must couple all and the treble grabs you by the the light-weight parts of the system throat! Unfortunately this is the together – in such a way that we sound most people associate with a allow the energy to pass freely from Hi-Fi system these days and that is a one to another, without coupling tragedy for enthusiast and for the their masses together to create one industry. It’s unnatural and fatiguing: big high (slow) mass. your system should deliver a clean, clear, relaxed and musical sound with We do this by coupling the system natural and believable dynamics. >> rack and the speakers together via the one thing that they are both connected to – the floor.
Issue 25 Summer 2013 17 CONNECTED MAGAZINE
Torlyte Feature So if high-mass metal and glass stands and rubber feet aren’t the answer to equipment cabinets and supports – what is?
The real solution Now we know what won’t work, what approach will succeed? We know we can’t absorb the energy without penalty and that we want it to get back without storage and delay. That is, we want to couple the system and the speakers to floor rather than de-couple it. We obviously need some kind of rigid low mass device to support the CD player and amplifier because rigidity and low mass together means that little energy is stored and the system sounds more musical. What about materials? Metal is out; although it can form a rigid structure its mass is too high and so is its ‘Q’. Its ‘Q’ is its willingness to resonate cleanly at one frequency, and metal is good at it, that’s why bells are made of it. It’s no good to us, however, because it concentrates the feedback energy into a narrow band at its resonance that then distorts the frequency response of the entire system. This compresses the dynamic range as well as pushing one narrow band of music forward. Steel also has nasty high frequency harmonics that further distort the feedback signal. Marble, slate and concrete slabs have their own unacceptable problems: huge mass and therefore huge energy storage plus ringing resonances. These materials are out! The most obvious material to make Hi-Fi furniture out of is wood. But not just any old wood! Certain woods have low mass, low ‘Q’ and an attractive
18 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
acoustic signature. Used correctly, they can be made into a rigid structure. So if we choose a wood with the right combination of lightness and strength and then use it to make a honeycomb structure which has more fresh air in it than wood, what have we got? TORLYTE. Torlyte® is ultra light, very rigid and it has good acoustic properties. Its appearance hides a complex ‘sandwich’ containing the honeycomb-inspired internal structure. Torlyte® is all handmade – an expensive process these days – and can be used to create stiff, low
own character in the process. But we now have another problem in that the equipment casework is acting as a reservoir for the feedback energy – together with any vibration from equipment transformers, the CD drive spinning a disc, a turntable motor and so on – and we need to ‘channel’ this out of harm’s way, into the floor. Luckily, energy – like water – always takes the path of least resistance, and in this case least resistance equals low mass, high rigidity and low storage; already provided by Torlyte®.
"Right away I knew this Torlyte rack really lived up to its reputation for getting to the heart of the music, everything seems so right. This product is so neat and well made I am really delighted with it." Mr G Greenham, Somerset mass structures like equipment racks and speaker stands. A Torlyte® Platform is available which allows you to gain some of the benefits of Torlyte® if you are unable to replace an existing metal or wood stand with a full Torlyte® Rack system. Because of its construction, Torlyte® has a low ‘Q’ broadband response, which is exactly suited to our requirements. When made into an equipment stand we have a device that correctly couples the feedback energy back to the CD player and amplifier, and introduces little of its
Torlyte® has a distinctive, original and functional beauty all of its own. Torlyte’s unique design enables it to minimise degrading acoustic feedback and thus bring substantial sound improvements. It offers clean, extended, tuneful bass; a more realistic midrange especially on voices; less ‘splash’ and more information in the treble; and improvements in the threedimensional stereo image. The front-to-back depth snaps into focus, the recording acoustic becomes much easier to discern and those subtle, mysterious sounds made by musicians can be identified with ease.
Internal construction of Torlyte®
Torlyte® at a glance
3 Torlyte is a unique Hi-Fi support system designed to improve your system’s sound quality
3 Its approach differs from other supports as it is based around the concepts of low mass and high rigidity
3 It works by reducing the sounddegrading effects of acoustic feedback
3 Torlyte allows your system to sound more musical, enhancing its qualities of rhythm and timing
TORLYTE® SHELF from
TORLYTE® BASE from
£250.00 Code: 4024
Don’t forget the feet! There’s one more aspect to equipment support that is needed to correctly ‘couple’ the system and speakers together via the floor: the equipment and support system’s feet. Each piece of equipment needs feet and those feet play an important part in the energy ‘coupling’ process. Fitted with the usual rubber feet (felt and cork arte also used) the equipment acts as a reservoir, storing the feedback energy – and stored energy is just what we don’t want! We need to ‘channel’ the energy out of the equipment and into the floor. A hard material with a highish resonant frequency will perform better at ‘coupling’ equipment, so that energy flows quickly and easily from one thing into another and finds its way to the floor as fast as possible. The natural material to make equipment feet out of is, once again, wood. I have tested many other materials – the obvious ones are aluminium, titanium, stainless steel and brass – but found that hardwood distorted the sound the least and its sonic character was the most natural.
From my research I have found that the cone shape is the most effective for dumping energy out of equipment, and that the larger the diameter of the cone the better it works. We have chosen to make our equipment feet from oak, a suitably hard wood and one which is commonly grown locally.
Use three feet! We are often asked why we recommend using three feet. The answer is simple: stability is vital and whilst four feet may look more solid, they allow micro-rocking. Even if the rocking action is very small, in this situation – channelling energy – it is very significant. Three points of contact give one stable, balanced triangulation of vector forces. No rocking will occur, even if one point is higher or lower than the others. This is why camera tripods have three legs – stability is as crucial for taking a photo as for reproducing music!
CONE FEET IN SETS OF THREE
TORLYTE LOUDSPEAKER STANDS Code: 4077 PER PAIR £695.00
MINI Code: 4210 SMALL Code: 4215 BIG Code: 4220 JUMBO Code: 4225
£16.65 £18.70 £25.00 £31.15 Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE
True Blue? Forgive me, but I’m going to go all philosophical on you. I’m intrigued by the meaning of the question “What am I listening for?”, for within it lies an ambiguity which strikes at the very heart of what we do when we sit down and listen to our Hi-Fi. The question can have at least two meanings: 1. The first can be restated as “What am I listening out for?” 2. The second can be restated as “Why am I listening?” The distinction is an important one. Let’s tease this out a bit more. If we sit down to compare a new cable upgrade or piece of hardware, we may often ask ourselves the question “What am I listening for?”, but depending on whether we ask it in the form of meaning 1 or meaning 2 the results can be tellingly different. If we sit and listen according to the first meaning – “What am I listening out for?” – we can easily become trapped in the details of other questions such as “Is the bass tighter on that one?”, “Is the treble sweeter?”, etc, etc. In fact, it is so easy to become over-focussed on the details that we miss what we are really looking for, and that’s the answer to the question “Which sounds best?” How do we answer this then? If we follow the meaning of the second question – “Why am I listening?” – we come closer to a solution. “I am listening to hear which component, cable, etc, sounds best”. And how do we judge this? The only way we can; by listening to the music and noticing, almost subconsciously, which engages us the most, which is 20 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
the most musical. It all comes back to musicality. I was reminded of all this when I recently listened to Russ’s system. The initial intention was to compare three different versions of ‘Kind of Blue’ by Miles Davis. I had just purchased another copy as part of a box set and we wondered how the different versions compared. So I sat there, ready and prepared to listen for any clues or subtle changes in the presentation that would differentiate the recordings. And I listened. And I was completely engrossed. So engrossed, in fact, that I forgot that I was there to make comparisons.
The irony was that in ‘forgetting to listen’ I had discovered what I should really have been listening for all along: musicality. The irony was that in ‘forgetting to listen’ I had discovered what I should really have been listening for all along: musicality. The very fact that I had been so engrossed in the performance told me all I needed to know. There was another lesson I learned from this experience too. If you asked me to judge how accurately a system reproduces the music, I would have said that the answer lies in how close it gets to the original performance you have to judge whether it makes the music sound more, or less, like the real thing. In a recent edition of Stereophile magazine, John Atkinson argues that this theory doesn’t “hold together with two-channel reproduction, in which the ambient sound at the original
event is folded into the front channels”. This argument, he suggests, “is based on a fallacious assumption: that an accurate representation of the original recorded event is encoded in the grooves, pits or bits”. And, of course, he’s right. You cannot achieve a perfect recording of the original piece any more than a photograph of a Van Gough can be an exact simulacra of the original painting. But this shouldn’t necessarily be cause for concern. Sat there, listening to Miles Davis, it struck me. I wasn’t taken away by this performance because I could imagine that he was there in the room. No. I was transported by the music, by this recording. The beauty lay in the performance itself. Russ’s system conveys the recording in such a way that all comparisons to other performances of the piece – whether in the studio or the concert hall – seem irrelevant. This was the performance. And it was wonderful. Perhaps I can clarify this by going back to the analogy with painting. It’s like the difference between a reproduction print of a painting and an etching. We need to think of the music we listen to on our Hi-Fi like the latter. An etching is the work or art. It’s not a compromised reproduction of an original. The etching was intended right from the start to be the work of art. In the same way, a musical recording is produced specifically to be enjoyed in the home. Taking enjoyment from the experience itself rather than being distracted by comparisons with an unachievable ideal of ‘the band in the room’ helps to focus the listener on the inherent musicality – or not – of the recorded piece. And that is no compromise. ■
Keep up to date with new reviews in our news section at www.russandrews.com/news
Reviews Kimber 8TC speaker cable The April 2013 edition of Hi-Fi World carried reviews of a number of our cables, including 8TC speaker cable. After a detailed description, the review continues by stating that “the 8TC presented a well-structured sound stage with everything in its place”. Instrument placement was coherent and “there was never a sense of muddle or insecurity in terms of the stereo image”. The strong bass presence was also seen to provide a firm foundation for “vocals and the rhythmic support”. In conclusion, the reviewer states that the cable is “strong in the lower frequency areas” whilst “the upper frequencies are sharpened, with added emphasis to detail, spotlighting hidden areas of the mix”.
KIMBER 8TC speaker cable Verdict: Price: Magazine: Issue:
2.5m terminated pr £373 Hi-Fi World April 2013
Kimber 4PR speaker cable Second on the list of reviewed cables from Hi-Fi World is 4PR, the start of the Kimber range. The cable was tested in a high end system using an Avid Acutus turntable as the source, yet this budget cable still managed to perform well. Listening to a couple of Jazz albums first, “the often-intrusive vocal reverb was handled well while backing instruments, including John Dankworth’s sax accompaniment, was integrated within the soundstage”. Distortion too was appreciably low and, moving onto a Prog Rock album, he notes how “the meticulous production on this album encouraged the Kimber to new heights”. The review concludes with the overall observation that “the Kimber 4PR offered a warming presentation that removed a large swathe of distortion to reveal new detail”. Not bad for a budget cable on a high-end system!
KIMBER 4PR speaker cable Verdict: Price: 2.5m cut & stripped pr £67 Magazine: Hi-Fi World Issue: April 2013 Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 21
Reference PowerKord™ Connected to the reviewer’s reference CD player, a Densen B-475, the Reference certainly impresses: “the PowerKord™ showed a remarkable ability to grab hold of potentially wayward frequencies and bring them, largely, into line”. An impressive start. And the plaudits continue as the reviewer plays a CD of Frank Sinatra’s ‘Only the Lonely’. “The vocal delivery was intimate and rich in tone” he writes, and “the PowerKord™ was able to focus on Sinatra’s ability to expose his emotions, interpreting the lyric with almost heart-rending clarity”. We say of our PowerKords™ that they have ‘Musicality Built In’ and this is certainly recognised here, when, in conclusion, he says that the Reference PowerKord “plugs into the soul of the performance, presenting it to you on a silver platter”.
Reference PowerKord™ Verdict: Price: 1m from £196 Magazine: Hi-Fi World Issue: April 2013
PowerMax Plus™ Another introductory product, this time in the mains cable category, the PowerMax Plus™ impresses even on the author’s high-end kit: “playing the Ennio Morricone track, ‘La Bambola’... the PowerMax Plus was successful in diving into the track to drag out the finer elements of the mix”. When moving on to the Sinatra track ‘Only the Lonely’, he observes that the PowerMax Plus™ “shone a light on the texture of the vocal that emphasised the maestro’s deep, grain-filled and many layered delivery that was a lesson in interpretation”. As for the overall verdict, Paul Rigby was happy to conclude that the cable “provides an ideal pick-meup” and “makes a real effort to carefully examine the mix in all its facets”.
PowerMax Plus™ Verdict: Price: 1m £51.95 Magazine: Hi-Fi World Issue: April 2013
Kimber USB cable Next up on the review list was Kimber’s copper USB cable. The first test track used was a pared back vocal and piano piece, ideal for testing the clarity and accuracy of the cable. In comparison to a standard USB connection, “the Kimber offered an immediate injection of clarity into the piano introduction that was quickly followed by a lowering of distortion around the vocal performance”. Moving onto the more complex ‘Don’t Waste Your Time’ by ‘Yarborough & People’, he noticed that, “whereas the basic USB filled the space with extraneous noise, the Kimber provided far more focus and attention to detail”. In addition to the lowering of the noise floor, which brought more clarity to the proceedings, the reviewer also noted that “additional filigree elements now moved into view” and “bass was also tighter and more musical”. In summing up, his overall assessment is quite emphatic: “A no brainer of an upgrade from your basic USB, the Kimber USB adds focus and clarity”. 22 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
Kimber USB cable Verdict: Price: 0.5m £43 Magazine: Hi-Fi World Issue: April 2013
Kimber USB-Ag cable
The last of the reviews from the Hi-Fi World feature covers the second Kimber USB cable, the USB-Ag. Using the same two tracks as for the review of the standard Kimber USB cable, the most significant improvements show themselves in the form of improved musicality. Speaking of the first track by Gerald Finzi, he writes: “The melancholy aspect of this classical piece infused my ear to a great degree. The piano sounded portentous while a lament to loss was heard to cascade around the vocal, acting as a supportive series of sensations. Despite the piano accompaniment, the vocal sounded singular, delicate and expressive”. Moving on to the Yarborough & Company track, the results were equally as impressive. The first “track was introduced by a searing synth introduction that, via the USB-Ag, was almost textural in its presentation, such was the extra detail that was produced”. In conclusion, he emphasises the highly competent nature of the cable across all genres of music: “Tackling classical and up-tempo recordings equally well, the Kimber USB-Ag provides high performance results over all frequencies”.
Kimber USB-Ag cable Verdict: Price: 0.5m £86 Magazine: Hi-Fi World Issue: April 2013
Mobile Fidelity Geo-Disc The Mobile Fidelity Sound-Lab Geo-Disc cartridge alignment tool is a reasonably recent addition to our range. Being of a plastic moulded construction makes it easy to locate and position the tonearm accurately by the use of raised markings. Achieving a highly creditable 4.5 stars, the reviewer says of the Geo-Disc that it is “accurate and extremely easy to use”, and continues; “This is a reasonably priced gauge that does a great job with the minimum of fuss”. April’13
Mobile Fidelity Geo Disc Verdict:
Price: Magazine: Issue:
£44.95 Hi-Fi Choice April 2013
Torlyte® Platform The final review for this issue comes from Hi-Fi World again and is for one of our longest established products. The first surprise for the reviewer – though not for us – was the extent to which the platform improved the bass: “The Torlyte unit surprised me with a considerably more substantial bass sound than I had expected from a platform that, according to my kitchen scales, weighs in at a mere 750g”. For the first round of testing the platform was placed on a wall shelf and the effect was immediate and impressive; “it had a very beneficial effect upon the sound”, he said, continuing by noticing that he “had a greater awareness of details in the mid and higher bandwidths, almost as though a little sparkle had been added”. Next, it was placed under the reviewer’s CD player on his equipment rack where he found that the effect was to create a “smoother” and “more comprehensive” presentation of the music, leading him to say that it is an effective way of “wringing more Torlyte® Platform detail and shape from the sound”. Overall, an impressive experience rounded off by the emphatic statement: “I can thoroughly recommend this very effective product”.
Price: Magazine: Issue:
£184 Hi-Fi World April 2013
Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 23
Your Letters Want to share your experiences with our readers? Or simply want advice? Write to us! We’ll publish the best, funniest and most interesting in each issue of Connected. The writer of this issue’s Star Letter receives a Silencer, worth £52.00 Get in touch at: firstname.lastname@example.org or write to us at: Connected, Russ Andrews Accessories 2b Moreland Court, Westmorland Business Park Kendal, Cumbria, LA9 6NS, UK.
Ripping CDs – a journey I thought I would share with you my recent journey in converting from a CD based to FLAC based music collection. It has taken me three years in total and others might be interested in the pitfalls I found along the way. My first big decision was how to digitise my music. Previously I had copied most of my CDs onto iTunes but at a relatively low bitrate. This saved space and meant I could fit a lot on my iPod but did leave me feeling there was something missing in the music. So I decided to abandon that approach and start from scratch. I did not want to be tied into any one brand so the solution had to be as generic as possible. There seems to be a wide variety of solutions available but I decided to remove the PC from the equation entirely and go with a streamer and separate NAS on my home network. Having sourced the Yamaha NP-S2000 and a Western Digital 2Tb hard drive (with full RAID backup) I linked it up via Cat6 cable and was ready to go! I have also assembled a mobile music set up including your excellent Minilink cable between my players and portable amplifiers. The next decision was how to rip the CDs. I determined on FLAC in the end because various advice 24
CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
Silencer mains filter, worth £52.00
suggested that there was no My music tastes vary and I difference in sound quality and concentrated on the more popular that metadata capture was easier types of music first as I found the with FLAC. With over 1,200 CDs to online databases did not always rip I did not want to spend all the recognise the more obscure music time writing in the in my collection. This meant I details and cannot have had to add the metadata thousands of blank myself and this is a time tracks to sort through. I consuming task. By adding also decided to clean the popular music I was the CD before ripping most familiar with first I was and so bought the able to determine whether Ultrasonic CD cleaner the rips seemed accurate from you and a number Ultrasonic Cleaner £57 to my ears. The Yamaha of ReVeel boxes. This, I streamer has a different figured, would present sonic signature to my Marantz CD the CDs in the best possible light player which I needed to become before taking the information off accustomed to but it did not take and onto the hard drive. I long for me to be content that the downloaded dBpoweramp to do process was giving me at least as the ripping itself. good a copy of the music I started ripping the CDs on the hard drive as it was about two years ago on the CD player. As I say it now and have just has taken nearly two years finished the last one! I of ripping on and off to quickly found that complete the 1,300 CDs cleaning and ripping in my collection has grown batches of 10 CDs was to over the period. In the best and most ReVeel® CD enhancer wipes. addition to storing the manageable approach. £14.50 for box of 20. files on my NAS I have I also quickly found that an external also copied the files to MicroSD CD reader was a better option than cards and hard drive portable the internal one in the laptop I use. players so I now have my complete The internal reader would often collection at my fingertips on the process a CD unbearably slowly and train, in work or wherever else I find I never found the cause of this but myself. Something I could only have the external drive was far more dreamed about in the past. reliable. I would clean the CD using To anyone about to embark on a ReVeel, wash in the Ultrasonic similar journey I would recommend cleaner, dry using microfibre cloths the following to be decided on up and then immediately rip.
Letters front: 1. How are you going to access the files in future? What upgrade path do you want to leave yourself? Are you prepared to be tied to one brand or do you want to be able to pick and mix in future? 2. Will you be using the music just at home or on the move? This may help determine the way you digitise. 3. How important is it to have complete metadata? Do you need a full set of information or are more generic track names sufficient? If you have some more obscure music you will want to set aside some time to input this yourself as the online databases may not have them. Album art may also be missing and be prepared to search online for images should you need to. There is nothing easier to search by than album art as it is what we are all used to with CD and vinyl collections. 4. Once you have decided on the level of metadata then use a set of standard naming conventions for certain fields. This will help you find your music again once it is stored. For example some CDs will come up with the full band name (Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark as an example) whilst others may show an abbreviation (OMD or O.M.D.). In order to store all the music together you may want to standardise on one approach so that you are not forever swapping between two or more folders to find a particular album. This sounds obvious but you only have to rename a couple of CDs to realise it is time consuming to fix after the event. 5. Apply this standardisation to tracks as well. Albums that are multi-CD will automatically rip as Track 1 on both CDs so if you store
in one folder you will have two Track 1s which your player may play in number order. You may want to start the second and later CDs as consecutive track numbers so that the album plays in order. 6. Make sure you update files in order on the CD if you want to preserve the playing order. Some portable players will list tracks in date and time order and this can be annoying when you expect one track to play and another starts. There are free software programmes online that can help you order tracks should they become confused. Each disk will also have a Disk 1 or Disk 2 after the name and you may want to hold the tracks together in one place so need to remove this suffix. 7. Various albums are a nightmare! I use Twonky as my file manager and it does not order Artists into compilations. The track Artist is listed (fine for playing one off tracks) but despite using a convention of “Various” for the Album Artist field in the metadata I cannot get the listings to recognise it. Therefore artists on the compilation albums appear all over the place in the file folders. This does my OCD no good at all and I can only hope there is a solution to this in future versions of the software. 8. Remember that ripping SACDs seems to be impossible at the moment. You can rip the CD layer of a Hybrid disk but I have not found a way of ripping the SACD layer. Perhaps I will be able to replicate these files with high res downloads in time.
9. Finally, don’t underestimate the time taken to rip a collection and the benefits of having good housekeeping up front. A large music collection can be difficult to navigate online, and is certainly not as enjoyable as flicking through a hard copy CD or vinyl collection. A bit of thought in advance can save hours of rework! I am now reverting to maintenance mode and will rip as I collect. I can recommend the use of ReVeel heartily and the Ultrasonic cleaner is perfect for the task. As a result of both I am entirely happy with my digitised collection and look forward to putting more and more of my CDs away in the loft permanently. P Counter, Kent Thank you for the feedback of your experiences in ripping your music collection. It’s extremely worthwhile cleaning your CDs before you rip them – we find the rip is faster the cleaner the disc is. Of course the whole process is faster with our CD ripping service – the price is 60p per disc ripped (the subsequent files are supplied with metadata and artwork) and saves an awful lot of time and trouble! JA
Our CD ripping service Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 25
Letters Experiencing the Mains Zapperator I have taken delivery of a Mains Zapperator and Jumbo Feet. Both have been added to my system and auditioned with well-loved and well-known CDs with marvellous results. I fully agree with your New Zealand client whose letter praising the Mains Zapperator you quote in your catalogues. Like him, I have only to unplug the Mains Zapperator to hear what I was missing without it. The Arcam CD37 player has a wide and deep soundstage anyway, but now it’s deeper and wider plus there’s more presence and clarity. Next on the shopping list will be another Mains Zapperator. I attach here details of my beloved system, and you will see that Russ Andrews is well represented. Good wishes to you all - you are a great crowd of enthusiasts, and you deserve all the plaudits. Hopefully there are never brickbats!
System: Thorens TD520 Professional record deck & Shure VST 5 moving magnet cartridge Arcam FMJ CD37 SACD/CD player Quad 99 pre amplifier Quad 909 amplifier ProAc Response 2.5 speakers Russ Andrews products in use: -16db inline attenuators Four Classic PowerKords Four-way Silencer Block Jumbo, large and mini cone feet Clarity Mains filter Mini Purifier Mains Zapperator F Moran, Co. Wicklow, Eire
Grasping Musicality? I emailed you in response to your article about Musicality in issue 23 of Connected, when I thought I partly understood what you meant by the term. But after reading your follow-up article in Connected 24 I’m increasingly doubtful.
Like distortion and the other hi fi terms you mentioned, “visceral” is also a term which is now fashionable in hi fi and music circles, but what it conveys to me is images of crudity and instinct rather than anything to do with artistry and refinement. It’s true that “emotion” is one aspect of the enjoyment of music, but others include the skills and artistry of the composer and of the performers. I think you’re wrong in what you say about the example of the King’s speech from Henry V. An unskilled reading compared with one by a great actor is like an amateur music performer compared with a great professional. If your ideas about “musicality” are correct we should perceive a positive difference when listening to Branagh of Olivier on a system with “musicality” compared with one without. It was a good idea to list some recordings which help to show “musicality” but I don’t possess any of them as they are not the kind of music I listen to. This leads me to think that “musicality” is a concept only applicable to pop and other music whose characteristics are principally “emotional” and in which compositional and interpretative skills don’t count for much. I have no doubt that many of the products you sell have improved my enjoyment of my hi fi system in the ways I described in my previous message, but I shall probably conclude that if the term “musicality” is difficult to grasp that’s because it doesn’t mean much. T Williams, Hants See Russ’s response on page 4.
Mr Moran’s system 26 CONNECTED MAGAZINE Issue 25 Summer 2013
A 0.5m p Timbre air of Kimber interco nnects wor
th £10 3
This is the 25th edition of Connected and over the past seven years of publication we have developed an enthusiastic and loyal following. It pleases us no end to get feedback from readers telling us how much they enjoy the magazine but we are also interested to hear criticism too. Connected is for you, our customers, and we’d like to hear what you think. So if you’ve any ideas for new regular features or an article, we’d like to hear from you. Likewise, if there’s something you think we could improve on or that the magazine is missing; let us know. All entries will be gratefully received and we will pick our favourite from all the entries. The winner will receive a free 0.5m pair of Kimber Timbre analogue interconnects worth over £100. Send your entries to... ‘Views’ competition Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2b Moreland Court Westmorland Business Park, Shap Rd, Kendal, LA9 6NS. Or email your entry to: email@example.com with the title ‘Views’ The last date for entries is Monday 29th July 2013. Our last competition asked you to tell us which specific type of interference the Mains Zapperator is designed to combat. Out of over 500 entries, the winner, picked out at random from the correct entries, was Susan Mackenzie of Edinburgh, who correctly answered ‘Wi-fi networks’.
The Timbre™ is the second in the range of Kimber’s analogue interconnects but its outstanding performance belies the price. Hi-Fi Choice said of the Kimber Timbre™ “this is one of the best interconnects we know of” and that it was “excellent in every way”. High praise indeed and well justified we think! The Timbre™ interconnect has three Hyper-pure copper conductors, Teflon™ insulation and custom Ultraplate™ phono plugs which combine to produce a sound which we heard as being far more natural and spacious with extra rhythm and musicality.
Terms and Conditions 1. The closing day for entries is 29th July 2013; 2. The rules of entry are given in the text of the competition; 3. No purchase necessary to enter; 4. The winner will picked by us and will be notified by email and/or post by 15th August 2013; 5. There is one prize of one 0.5m pair of Kimber Timbre interconnects; 6. The prize is not transferable, cannot be exchanged for cash nor will a cash alternative be offered; 7. Our decision is final and no correspondence will be entered into; 8. We reserve the right to feature photographs and the names and counties of all entrants in future publications and publicity; 9. This promotion is not open to employees of Russ Andrews Accessories or their families, or anyone connected with the promotion; 10. The promoter is Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2b Moreland Court, Westmorland Business Park, Shap Road, Kendal, LA9 6NS, UK.
OUT IN DECEMBER ’13
OUT IN MARCH ’14
Connected Magazine Issue 28
OUT IN JUNE ’14
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Advertising: Simon Dalton 01539 797301 firstname.lastname@example.org Sales: Peter Bevir email@example.com Issue 25 Summer 2013 CONNECTED MAGAZINE 27
The new Kimber KS-2400 range of USB cables is designed and built with one aim in mind: to extract the very best from your high-end USB DAC. To this end they have broken the mould for mass-produced machine built cables – every cable is individually handcrafted by Kimber’s own engineers using only the best materials. The result of these efforts is a range of cables which sets new standards for digital audio reproduction, giving an analogue-like insight into the music that you would not have thought possible from a digital source.
Features • VariStrand power conductors • Solid core signal conductors
KS-2416-Cu 0.5m 0.75m 1.0m 1.5m 2.0m 3.0m
KS-2426-HB Code: 2426
£371.00 £398.00 £425.00 £479.00 £533.00 £641.00
0.5m 0.75m 1.0m
• Dual layer frequency optimised shielding
£499.00 £590.00 £681.00
KS-2436-Ag Code: 2436
0.5m 0.75m 1.0m
• Braided geometry
Exclusive UK distributor
Return address: Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2b Moreland Court, Westmorland Business Park, Shap Road, Kendal LA9 6NS, UK.
Kimber KS2400 series
£686.00 £847.00 £1008.00
www.russandrews.com Call UK Orderline 01539 797300 Int Tel +44 (0)1539 797300 Buy online at
Russ Andrews Accessories Ltd, 2b Moreland Court, Westmorland Business Park, Shap Road, Kendal LA9 6NS, UK.
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