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Dr. Feickert Universal Protractor

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on June 17, 2018 at 4:05 PM Comments comments (0)



The vinyl record master is cut horizontally, meaning there will always be distortion when using a pivoted tonearm. The trick to reduce this problem is to adjusting phono cartridge offset (cartridge alignment on the tonearm head shell). If done correctly, groove and surface noise will be reduced, and music will have a greater sense of space and dynamics.

 

Correct cartridge geometry is primordial for maximum sound performance. This geometry is dictated by the effective arm length (the distance between the platter spindle and the tonearm pivot point, plus the tonearm overhang). Most manufacturers provide a protractor with their turntable to set your cartridge offset, if not, you may look for a template online or buy a commercially available one, like Dr. Feickert Protractor.


What is the science behind it?


A pivoted tone arm in contrast to the tangential tone arm tracks the record in an arc, it cannot follow the exact path of the cutter head, but it can be set to track two null points throughout that path. Aligning the cartridge to these points, which are generally near the beginning and end of the disc, will eliminate all errors at this point and greatly decrease distortion across the disc. If this is not done correctly, even by a couple of degrees, the null point will move away of the record surface and distortion will increase.


Can you tell me more about the null points?


There are three generally use equations to establish the null points:


Baer Wald - minimizes and equalizes distortion across the record.

 

Lofgren - minimizes distortion between the inner and outer grooves resulting in the lowest average distortion, but there is slightly higher distortion close to the inner and outer grooves.


Stevenson - optimized for lower distortion at the inner groove, but there is increased distortion elsewhere.


Dr. Feickert Protractor offers the parameters to set up the offset using any of the three equations, so the user can experiment.


How do I use the Protractor?


First, we need to make sure that the effective length (distance from de spindle to the tonearm pivot) is set to the manufacturers recommendation. This protractor should work with most tone arms from 9” to 14” with minimal error. To measure the length, adjust the ruler to slide down the pointer over the tonearm pivot. Tables with an adjustable tonearm base may need adjustment. While tables with a fix tonearm should have the correct length from the factory. Anyhow, I always check these parameters as any deviation will affect the geometer and positioning of the null points. If the effective length is correct proceed to the next step.


Now adjust the cartridge body until the stylus drops exactly over the markings of your desired alignment, in the center of the protractor. Then move to the outside markings to set the cartridge offset. Make sure the cantilever rather than the body is in line with the markings.


Last step, move to the inner markings to confirm your alignment. If everything matches you are finished. If it is not aligned with the markings repeat the procedure from the start.


Opinion


This is not a cheap accessory, but it is effective at simplifying the phono cartridge mounting process. It improves accuracy and repetition, while providing flexibility to try different alignments. Also, it would last a life time! If you are serious about turntable set up or a dealer that provides this kind of service, it is well worth the investment.



If you liked this article you may be interested in our Turntable Set-Up Guide.

 

 

Specifications:

Dr. Feickert Universal Protractor

www.feickert.org

Estimated Price: $259




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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate our entire old article as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Dynaudio Special Forty

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on January 3, 2018 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)



It seems, lately I only review Dynaudio speakers, and this is the third pair of Dynaudio speakers I review this year. I admit I have developed a strong connection to this brand’s signature sound. After all, I bought the Dynaudio Contour 20, sight unseen, after reviewing the Dynaudio Excite X18 bookshelf speakers.


Last summer the Special Forty was introduced to the world, as a celebration of Dynaudio 40th anniversary and early on I knew I had to get a pair in for review. Thankfully, a site member was kind enough to lend me his brand new speakers for review.


Highlight features of these speakers include some of the brand’s best technologies, like a special designed Esotar Tweeter, called Esotar Forty, which better handles air movement. Also, the woofer uses their proprietary MSP (Magnesium Silicate Polymer) material. Combined with a phase and impedance aligned first order crossover, all housed in a beautifully finished cabinet.


Construction


Designed to fit nicely between the Excite and the Contour line up, the Special Forty is more mature and elegant than the X18, while not as refined as the Contour 20. They are an interesting proposition for the buyer that values performance as well as pride of ownership.


Also, at 6 ohms this speaker is easier to drive than the other two referenced models. Exclusively designed for the Special Forty, the Esotar Forty soft-dome tweeter is based on the Esotar2 tweeter, commonly regarded as one of the world best drivers. It draws in the same non-fatiguing top end we have come to expect from Dynaudio, without the neutral shift associated to soft-dome tweeters.




Mid to low frequencies are handled by an MSP driver, with an extended-excursion aluminum voice-coil, optimized for the improved cabinet and crossover design, that provide cleaner and better low frequencies than the X18.


I love the beautifully terminated rear ported cabinet; our review came with the red Birchwood high gloss veneers. They are also available in a grey high gloss veneer finish. Unfortunately, the red veneers finish is not as strong as it looks in the pictures. Actually; it is more of a burgundy color but with the right lighting it will visually pop out as red.


Other fancy stuff includes five way single wire binding post and the magnetic grill.


Speaker Placement


Once mounted on their stands (Dynaudio Model 6), the Special Forty’s where easy to position in the room. Their rear ported bass reflex designs have no unusual or extraordinary positioning demands.

 

As expected the ports are sensitive to back wall distance. For the best tonal balance I’ll recommend leaving more than a foot and a half (1-1/2’ feet) of distance between the rear and side walls. If space is at a premium, Dynaudio provides tunable port plugs, to help control the speakers’ low frequency output.




In my room it did benefit partially blocking the speaker ports, due to some distortion and sound coloration, associated with my room resonant frequencies. The plugs have a removable cylinder inside, for less or more dampening as needed. You can easily go crazy just playing with the speaker ports.


I recommend at least six (6) feet of space between the speakers for a convincing soundstage. A bit of tilting toward the listener is all that’s needed to get a sharp rendition of instruments edges and positioning.


Sound


These speakers required a long break in period for they sound to stabilize. Firstly, it strikes me how similar the mid to high frequency balance was to the big Contour 20’s, with a clean, rounded and extended top end. The crossover from tweeter to midrange is natural and transparent, with no obvious coloration of male or female voices.


What a wonderful word plaid by the Tsuyoshi Yamamoto Trio (Venus Records - VHJD-85) shows the speakers ability to handle low frequencies. Bass is taut, with good; rhythm and pace, and has enjoyable detail and textures. However, the minute transient that help with presence, atmosphere and depth, can sometimes be obscure by the bass extension. Otherwise, focus and holographic imaging are superb.


Opinion


The Special Forty is a great looking and sounding speaker. Still, probably not the best value proposition. Considering that for this amount of money, spending a few thousand dollars more could get you even better performance. However, I did like this speaker and maybe, just maybe, spending more will not necessarily get you more music enjoyment.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our review of the Dynaudio Contour 20

 

 

Specifications:

Special Forty (Bookshelf Speaker)

www.dynaudio.com

Estimated Price: $3,000

Sensitivity: 86db (2.83V/ 1m)

Impedance: 6 Ohms

Frequency Response: 41 Hz – 23hHz (+/-3db)

Crossover: 2 way, 1st order (2,000 Hz)

Woofer: 6.5” MSP cone

Tweeter: 1.1” Esotar Forty

Weight: 17.9lb (each speaker)

Dimensions (W x H x D): 7.8 x 14.2 x 12.1in

 


Associate Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Cantilever Version)

Phono Stage: Roksan Caspian M Series DX-2 Reference

CD player: Marantz SA-15s2 Limited

Integrated amplifier: Marantz PM-15s2 Limited

Power conditioner: Furman Elite-15 PFi

Interconnect cables: Nordost – Red Dawn (0.6m) (RCA)

Speaker cables: Nordost - Red Dawn LS (2.5m)

Power cables: Nordost - Red Dawn (1m)

Acoustic materials: MioCulture, Auralex and Vicoustic



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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate our entire old article as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Cambridge Audio CP2 (Phono Preamp) Review

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on November 25, 2017 at 1:05 PM Comments comments (1)



When a friend of mine started complaining about the sound he was getting out of the built-in phono stage of his hi-end multichannel receiver, I told him it was time to start looking for a quality external phono preamp.


As a matter of fact, most phono stages included on integrated amplifiers and receivers are an extra feature to attract more buyers, they are not designed to maximize the sound performance of vinyl records.

 

Even, when on a budget, a phono preamp as the Cambridge Audio CP2 could be a great solution to a built-in phono section. As described by Cambridge Audio, to make the most of any turntable, you need a good phono preamplifier; it must be capable of amplifying the very small signal from the cartridge to a level powerful enough for the main preamplifier to work with. The hard part is getting the job done without adding noise and distortion to the signal.


Construction


Cambridge is a budget conscious audio brand, and they have not failed to deliver a suitable replacement to their acclaimed 551p and 651p Phono preamp (MM only and MM/MC versions respectably) with the new CP1 and CP2 phono preamp ($169 and $250 respectably). Changes to the new CP2 model, we are reviewing, include but are not limited to; better internal parts and a new balance channel control for fine correction of cartridge imbalance.


I have never been disappointed with the fit and finish of Cambridge products. Even on a budget this feels like a higher quality product. The clean, elegant lines of the thick aluminium front panel are designed to match the new CX series of components and are available in black and silver finishes.



The amplification stage is based on a class A design with separate MM and MC input stages. While the RIAA equalization is completely passive and uses multi-parallel filter capacitors to achieve better performance. As common in this price rage, power supply is an external wall wart unit, which is supposed to lower internal circuit noise.


Input impedance is fixed at 47k Ohms (MM) / 100 Ohms (MC), compatible with most cartridges. Meanwhile, capacitance is fixed at 220pf, some people wine about this capacitance not being optimal for most main stream MM cartridges. I’ll say that the variances you may hear from a change in capacitance at this performance level are not worry worthy.


Installation


The MM input was tested using an Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB with an Ortofon 2M Red on a site member’s system, on the other hand, the review of the MC input was conducted using my Clearaudio Champion turntable and Ortofon Quintet Black.




Sound


Unfortunately, the review was conducted on two different systems, to be fair; I will limit myself to describing only the sound characteristics that were noticeably related to the phono on both systems.

First off, even though there is not a lot of regulation of the power signal, Cambridge has managed to make an extremely silent phono stage, very impressive at this price range. The silent background helped with instrument note separation and perceived resolution of details.


Meanwhile, the sound tuning is all Cambridge, a bit aggressive at high frequencies, getting leaner as frequencies drops. Still, on Pat Matheny’s album Orchestrion (Nonesuch - 516668-1) high frequencies are never fatiguing and have good dynamic and reach. Be aware that lower frequency dynamic lacks a bit of speed and transients, making the sound a little flat.


Conclusion


The Cambridge Audio CP2 is not a Swiss knife, it has no loading or gain adjustments limiting long term cartridge upgrades. Also, its sound can lean on the colder side for some people. But at $250 it's definitely an upgrade over most integrated phono stage solutions.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our Pro-Ject Phono Box S phono preamplifier review.



Specifications:

Cambridge Audio CP2

www.cambridgeaudio.com

Estimated price: $250.00

Frequency response: 20 - 50 kHz (MM +/- 0.3 dB)

Gain settings: 39dB (MM) / 55dB (MC)

Loading settings: 47kOhm (MM) / 10/100/1000Ohm (MC)

Capacitance: 220pF

Dimensions: 8.5” (W) x 1.8” (H) x 5.2” (D)

Weight: 2.00 lbs.

 

Associated Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion / Unify Tonearm 9”

Phono Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Version)

CD Player: Marantz SA-15s2 Limited

Integrated amplifier: Marantz PM-15s2 Limited

Speakers: Dynaudio Contour 20 / Stands Dynaudio Model 6

Power Conditioner: Furman Elite-15 PFi

Interconnect cables: Nordost – Red Dawn (0.6m) (RCA)

Speaker cables: Nordost - Red Dawn LS (2.5m)

Power cables: Nordost - Red Dawn (1m)

Acoustic materials: MioCulture & Vicoustic



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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate our entire old article as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Custom Vinyl Storage Rack

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on August 20, 2017 at 1:25 PM Comments comments (0)


A few months ago I ran out space to store my records and you all know that having too many records is never enough. So, I started looking for a safe and stylish way to store my vinyl.


After doing some research, I quickly realized that there are not many vinyl storage options available on the market. All I could found was either the classic crate box or the IKEA type cubes. Those were not an alternative for me, as I’m running short on space on my listening room, at the end I had to go the custom route in order to get what I wanted.


I envisioned a classy and architectural design, which also needed to be safe for the albums. Records should always be stored in a vertical position, to avoid grove damage or bending do to the weight of other records. Also, vinyl records weight a lot, so, a strong support base had to be used to avoid the possibility of everything falling over to the side.


Having all this in mind, I made a sketch of what I wanted. The design was based on a 2” X 8” x 18” solid piece of mahogany wood, with two slots carved to hold the 1/2” acrylic pieces that would serve as support for the records. After all the cuts were made we stained the wood for a darker finish and sealed. The gap tolerances turned out to be good enough to firmly hold the acrylics plates without the need of glue.




I did play around with the acrylics tilt angle and it turns out I got the desired support at 90 degrees. Initially, I had the big acrylic at -8 degree and the small one at exactly 90 degrees, but this design was not effective at holding the records and avoiding them from sliding to the side under their own weight. A quick switch of the acrylic plates fixed the problem, with the records now standing up perfectly. They even survive a small 4.8 seism last week and none of the records fell or slide off.


I was going to do the wood work myself, but I didn’t have the necessary tools. Thankfully, a friend of mine loves working with wood and was eager to help me with the project. Actually, without his experience and knowledge probably the end product would have not turned so well.


I’m very happy with the finish product and it turned out better than what I envision. If anyone is interested we may get around making more custom vinyl storage rack for a fair price.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our review of the Talpalo - “La Tablillita”.



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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate our entire old article as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Rogue Audio RP-5 Preamplifier Review

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on July 21, 2017 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)



Audio separates are the audiophile’s weapon of choice, having a different enclosures and power supplies for each unit results in better performance. More importantly, unlike a receiver or integrated amplifier, were you are stuck with whatever configuration the manufacturer chose, with separates there are endless combination of preamplifiers and amplifiers to choose from.


I know you can add an external amplifier to a receiver or integrated and in essence they will become audio separates, but that’s not the point here. I’m want to discuss what happen when you combine a solid state amp with a tube preamplifier like the Rogue Audio RP-5.


Construction


The RP-5 preamplifier is classic Rogue Audio, excellent performance to value ratio. As expected internal components and construction layout is top notch. The case is sturdy and elegant, but high end esthetics is not Rogue’s main priority.




The power button has a “slow-start” turn-on sequence and automatic muting when powering on or off the unit. The volume control is a stepped-attenuator with 60 steps in 1dB increments. The gain section uses four 12AU7/ECC82 tubes. The preamplifier has four (4) analog input connections and a head phone amplifier that feeds directly from the tube section.


The onboard MM/MC phono has fully adjustable gain settings, ranging from 40 to 60 dB. There are a wide variety of loading options, which makes possible to configure almost any cartridge.




Rogue Audio will test, burned-in, and audition every RP-5 prior to shipment. Our example is a store demo unit with ample burned-in, so no additional procedures was required.


Installation


For amplifier I switched between my references Marantz PM-15s2 integrated (Used as an amplifier, bypassing the preamp section) and the ModWright KWA 100SE reviewed last month. All connections where Nordost Red Dawn interconnect, power cables and speakers wires. All listening was done using an analog source, connected to the RP-5 internal phono.


Sound


First off, the internal phono stage of the RP-5 is excellent; I had no problem configuring it to my Ortofon Quintet Black (the boron cantilever version). Initially, I configured the phono to 55db gain and 100 ohm loading, but there was a bit of hiss noise due to all the gain being applied in the tube preamp section. I bumped the gain to 60db and the problem was solve, other than I could completely forget I was using a tube based preamp.




Audiophiles seeking to take advantage of solid-state amps without giving up the sonic qualities of tubes often resort to a tube preamp and transistor amp combination. The tubes help soothe the behavior of the amp, while, adding the bloom and warmth that most solid-state lack.

 

The RP-5 manages to do this without the tube sound characteristics I dislike, but it did completely redefine the sonic signature of my system. It presents music naturally and truthfully, I did not notice any high frequency roll off or over sweetening. I experienced an enhance level of detail and texture, enveloped in layer after layer of micro harmonics.

 

Frank Sinatra’s album Nice ’n’ easy (Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab - MFSL 1-317) sounded spectacular, with Frank’s voice firmly placed mid way between my speakers and with a resolving sense of dimension and space.

 

Changing from the laid back and polish sound of the Marantz amplifier to the more brute force revealing ModWright KWA 100SE increased the sheer impact of my system to I level I had not experience at home. The sharp transients and detail retrieval made the system fell so much real and in your face. While, the RP-5 managed to conduct the show brilliantly, never reveling his tube based design downsides.

 

Conclusion

 

If there is something I have learn from experimenting with Hi FI equipment, is that every design has pros and cons. I like the control and power that solid state amplifiers provide, but I recognize their lack of musicality and pure enjoyment, that’s were adding a tube based preamplifier like the Rogue Audio RP-5 can’t hurt.

 

 

If you liked this article you may be interested on our Hana SL Cartridge Review.

 

 

Specifications:

Rogue Audio RP-5 (Preamplifier)

www.rogueaudio.com

Estimated Price: $3,495

Typology: Four tube mu-follower design

Frequency response: 1Hz – 100KHz +/- 1 dB
THD: <0.1%


Gain line stage: 10 dB
Rated output: 1V


Maximum output: 27V RMS


Output impedance: 500 Ohms


Dimensions: 18.5 ”W X 4.5 ”H X 14.5” D


Weight 30 pounds


Associated Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Cantilever Version)

CD player: Marantz SA-15s2 Limited

Integrated amplifier: Marantz PM-15s2 Limited

Speakers: Dynaudio Contour 20 / Stands Dynaudio Model 6

Power conditioner: Furman Elite-15 PFi

Interconnect cables: Nordost – Red Dawn (0.6m) (RCA)

Speaker cables: Nordost - Red Dawn LS (2.5m)

Power cables: Nordost - Red Dawn (1m)

Acoustic materials: MioCulture


 

 

The reviewed product was provided to FormatoAnalogo.com by:

 

 

Audio visual equipment store (New & Used)

f. @audiodegenerate

t. (787) 405-5529

Wednesday to Sunday, 12:00pm - 7:00pm

Guaynabo, Puerto Rico


 

Follow us on Facebook, your all in one online analog and high-end audio information resource. Also, don't forget to subscribe to FormatoAnalogo.com.

 

Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate our entire old article as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Understanding Turntable Anti-Skate

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on July 8, 2017 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)



Turntable calibration by itself can be an art form. The fact that one can alter the sound to taste by making tiny adjustments to different parameters is physics magic. But the Anti-Skate mechanism in many turntables is so full of mysticism, that most people don’t understand what it actually does. In these article I’ll do my best to explain how it works, keeping in mind that this problem has hunted audiophiles for decades and no perfect solution exist.


Anti-skate, as defined in our turntable set-up guide, is an effort to counteract the skating force that tends to draw the tonearm/cartridge towards the center of the record when the cartridge is mounted in an offset head shell. This force can produce distortion and, uneven, and premature, wear of the walls of the record groove and stylus. But what causes this problem?


Friction between the stylus tip and the record produces tangential forces, which pushes the tip toward the inner record grove and create a tracking force imbalance. People tend to confuse this phenomenon with centrifugal force, which is not the case, because centrifugal force would pull the stylus tip to the outer record groves and not the inward.


Most tonearms provide some kind of skating force compensation mechanism. The idea is to provide a compensatory torque by means of a weight, spring or magnet. This torque counteracts the skating force, perfectly balancing the tracking weight between the record groves. Makes sense right?


Not so easy, the geometry of the arm and record will affect the amount of skating force. Such factors as; tonearm length, pivot to spindle distance and the stylus distance to the center of the record, will all have an effect in skating force. Thankfully, the first two factors will always be fixed. Unfortunately, the last one will not. Meaning, the skating force magnitude will vary as the stylus rides across the record.


Sorry, did I forget to mention that modulations velocity in the record also affect the skating force. By now, it would seem impossible to compensate for all this variables; it may seem easier to have the stars line up in the sky.


The reality is that to be practical we are only expected to counterbalance the effects of skating force at an average modulation level across the record surface. Skating force variations while playing the record will have negligible effect on sound performance, as long as the counterbalance is well set up.


As mentioned before, there is no magic formula to solve the skating problem. Each tonearm and cartridge combination will have different setting and there will always be a compromise. So how do I know I have the correct setting?




If something is clear, is that some sort of anti-skating force needs to be apply to obtain a respectable tracking force balance. Some turntable manufactures believe that anti-skate is not that important and simply bypass it all together from their design. This may be a tactic to simplify their product for the end user, but it doesn’t mean is correct.


A basic recommendation is to set anti-skate equal to the cartridge vertical tracking force (VTF), then adjust to taste. Studies have shown there is a linear relation between skating force and VTF. Although, this relation can change depending by stylus profile and vinyl quality, it still is a good starting point. As example if you VTF is 1.5 grams you will set your anti skate accordingly.


Other option is using a test record like The Ultimate Analogue Test LP (Analogue Productions - AAPT 1). Good result can be obtain by adjusting the amount of anti-skate until the Bias Setting tracks produce a clean, undistorted signal in both channels. Buzzing in the right channel indicates that more anti-skating force is required, whereas buzzing in the left channel indicates that less anti-skating force is required.


Although, is true that due to the fact that most test record use a modulation velocity set to high, like big crescendo music passages, the anti-skate may end up being set to high for the habitual music genre. This can be easily fixed by lowering down the setting until good results are obtained with a variety of music.


I have heard of a lot of different methods to set up anti-skate and all of them require some kind of tuning by ear. Just remember, there will be compromises, set it were it sound good and forget it. Enjoy the music!



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Due to readers popular demand, we are changing the site main language to english. We would try to translate all of our old article as soon as posible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


ModWright KWA 100SE Review

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on June 20, 2017 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)


There is a common misconception that all audio amplifiers should sound the same, this is only true of ideally perfect amplifiers. In the real word, there are always compromises in the design due to budget constraints.


Also, not all speakers respond the same way to amplifiers, due to their frequency response resistance signature and efficiency. Maybe a $500 USD receiver would be enough to drive 8 ohms speakers, but it would certainly not have the same control over the speaker as a well build separate audio amplifier.


Power hungry speakers, as my Dynaudio Contour 20, like power. But not any kind of power, they prefer the brute, undistorted power you get from big amps with huge power reserves.


When a friend of mine offered to lend me his ModWright KWA 100SE for review, I immediately accepted the offer. My Marantz PM-15s2, with its modest output of 140w at 4 Ohms, makes a decent job driving my speakers, but the ModWright made the Contour 20 sing.


Construction


ModWright started as a company producing modifications to digital products, their successes lead them to start building their own equipment in 2003. Their trend of creating high performance audio, with an emphasis on quality and value, has won them worldwide recognition by audiophiles.



The KWA 100SE at 17.75 (w) x 17.5 (d) x 6.5 (h) is no small box. The case is clean and simple, the covers have milled slots for cooling reasons. For my taste, the outside is a bit strong on branding; with the company name and logo, drawing all the attention on the top and front of the unit. Otherwise, it’s rock solid with a high-end feel, but certainly not in the sense of audio jewelry.


On the back of the amplifier there are two pairs of loudspeaker terminals and inputs (RCA or XLR). Also in the back, is the main power switch. While, the standby power switch is oddly placed underneath the front left side of the amp (when see from the front).


There are two switches in the back panel, one turns on and off blue LEDs, to illuminate the top of the unit from the inside, the second switch let you play with the amp grounding scheme.



Looking inside you find a lot of high quality components, a large toroidal transformer and minimal wiring. The KWA 100SE Amplifier has a single voltage gain stage and uses no global feedback, the amplifier is direct-coupled and fully differential. It delivers 120 Watts at 8 Ohm and 210 Watts into 4 Ohm per channel, the first watts are class A. All this should translate to an authoritarian control of even the most demanding speaker drivers.


Installation


With the Marantz serving as pre-amplifier, the KWA 100SE was connected using hybrid silver and copper Vampire Interconnect cables, as my Nordost Red Dawn interconnect were not long enough to reach the amplifier. For power cord, I use a Pangea AC14se. All listening was done using an analog source.



Sound


I can describe this amplifier in a few words; transparent, neutral, fast and reveling. Its presentation is honest but not as composed and sophisticated as other amps, it would unquestionably expose some speakers designs as inferior. But correctly paired it will deliver mind blowing dynamics, it has broad control over the speaker execution.


The high frequencies are extended and full of air and space. In Yo-Yo Ma new album, Bach Trios (Nonesuch 558933-1) the intimacy of the recording, ambiance around the instruments and decay of instruments is rendered beautifully. The midrange has good weight and apparent natural tone.


To see how good this amp would pair with a separate pre-amplifier, I use the Rogue Audio RP-5 (soon to be reviewed at formatoanalogo.com). As expected, this tube based pre-amplifier embroidered the good sound characteristics of the ModWright. At the same time, imparted his own sound signature. It helped dampen the high frequencies and provide a more profound musical soundstage. Combined with a good tube front end this amplifier can deliver exceptionally good sound.


Conclusion


Coming back to my Marantz integrated; the sound coming out of my speakers was kind of weak, compared to de ModWright, the dynamic reach and perception of reality was reduced. Unquestionably having the KWA 100SE was an upgrade in my system, I endorse any one looking for an amp to give it a listen.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our review of the Rogue Audio Sphinx V2.

 

 

Specifications:

ModWright KWA 100SE (Power Amplifier)

www.modwright.com

Estimated Price: $5,250

Typology: Class AB operation

Power Rating: 120w @ 8ohms / 210w @4ohms

Power Transformer: 500VA

Bandwidth: 10 Hz – 100kHz (+/-1db)

Noise Floor: -97db

Gain: 26db

Weight: 40lb

Dimensions (W x H x D): 17.5 x 6.5 x 17.5in

 

Associate Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Cantilever Version)

Step up transformer: Ortofon ST-7

CD player: Marantz SA-15s2 Limited

Integrated amplifier: Marantz PM-15s2 Limited

Power conditioner: Furman Elite-15 PFi

Interconnect cables: Nordost – Red Dawn (0.6m) (RCA)

Speaker cables: Nordost - Red Dawn LS (2.5m)

Power cables: Nordost - Red Dawn (1m)

Acoustic materials: MioCulture



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Speaker Placement

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on June 20, 2017 at 6:25 PM Comments comments (4)


 

The quality of a sound system depends largely on the choice of speakers. It’s important to understand how the size and positioning of the speaker in relation to room boundaries affects the sound.  


The functioning of a loudspeaker is not complex, but the execution of a good design, capable of reproducing sound with absolute transparency and low distortion poses many challenges. A speaker enclosure stiffness and mass must be high, the crossover filter must ensure the time domain coherence of the sound reproduction and the drivers must be able to capture and restore every nuance with maximum precision.


A speaker placed in a small space, result in exaggerated and difficult to control lower frequencies. Similarly, a small speaker in a large room would not be optimal.


What many enthusiasts are unaware of, is that the location of the speaker inside the room, and especially the distance to the walls, is crucial for adequate performance. Mainly due to the interaction of the walls and the sound waves created by the movement of the speaker diaphragm. These waves move in all directions and reflect on the walls, causing them to reach the listener in different periods of time.


Wave reflections within a time frame of less than 20 milliseconds from the moment we perceive the first reflection, which is usually known as the direct sound, will affect the who we perceive sound. Our hearing and brains are not capable of processing this reflection correctly, which causes the perceived sound to be congested and unnatural.


Frequently, acoustic panels and diffusers are used to manage this problem, effectively controlling the time and strength at which these reflections reach the listener, but optimization of loudspeaker positioning within a room can go a long way toward reducing unwanted boundary anomalies, especially in the low frequencies, that are easily affected by adjacent walls and corners.


Adjustment in positioning provide substantial changes in the behavior of the sound waves. The closer the speaker placement to a wall or corner the stronger the bass frequencies will be, but the less detail and separation of notes there’ll be. At greater distance, the bass diminishes and resolution improves.


It is clever idea to start with large adjustments and gradually decrease until a good balance is reach. Also, the distance between the right and left speaker should not be excessive or diminutive since it will negatively affect the music soundstage presentation. A starting guide is to position the speakers at a distance equal to 3/4 that of the distance between the listener and the speakers.


Remember to avoid extremes, always look at you speaker manufacture manual for suggested distances. It’s also recommended to experiment with seat position in relation to the walls. If successful, there will be a notable improvement in low frequency balance and consistency of the stereo image.


Speaker positioning optimization is one of the most effective tweak to any system and the results can be astonishing. Best of all, it costs nothing, but there is a learning process envolve.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our turntable set-up guide. 


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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate all of our old articles as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.



Vinyl Records Buying Guide

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on June 13, 2017 at 6:50 PM Comments comments (0)


When people start getting into vinyl record collecting, they quickly realize that not all pressings of the same album sound the same. As with everything in life, when you buy records you normally get what you pay for. But aren’t all vinyl records the same?


A cheap pressing of Miles Davis - Kind of Blue Album is going to be significantly different to a quality oriented audiophile pressing. There are a lot of things that can affect the quality of vinyl records. Here are the basics, on what to look for when on the hunt for good records.


Record Weight


The typical 12 inch record weight is between 120 - 200 grams. The heavier the record the less it degrade from playing them, due to higher tolerance against deformation. Meaning, they are more durable and generally sound better for a longer time.


All things being equal, heavier vinyl pressings are usually preferred by audiophiles. If you’ve ever held a 180 gram record, you’ll know that it feels like a very high quality product. It doesn’t mean that because a record is 180 grams it’s going to be the best, I have heard light weight pressing sound better than the heavy weight counterpart of the same album.


Keep in mind, a good record mastering is going to sound as good in a 120 gram as in a 200 gram pressing, but a bad mastering is going to sound bad no matter the record weight.


Playback Speed


12 inch records commonly spin at 33 1/3 revolutions per minute, higher fidelity records as Jazz and classic reissues are available at 45 r.p.m. Songs occupy more real-estate in faster records, which results in higher quality recordings for the ultimate sound quality this is the best way to go.


Those pressings have their disadvantages, though. Only two to three songs fit per side, meaning you have to get up to change the record more often. Also, there is a cost premium; the average 45 r.p.m. two-disc sets cost $45+ USD.


Vinyl Quality


Most vinyl records are pressed from a mix of 70% virgin and 30% recycled vinyl. Recycled vinyl can accumulate impurities throughout its life and cause even brand new record to have audio artifacts such as clicks and pops.


High quality audiophile vinyl releases are commonly made of 100% virgin vinyl. Theoretically, since there is no recycle material the record will be devoid of any audible impurities.


Source of the Recording


Part of the reason there is people who still doubt about the sound quality of vinyl record is because of experiences hearing cheaply sourced albums. Good vinyl records come from the best analog source available.


The original master tapes of old recordings are always the first choice, but not all music is mastered in the analog domain. Modern recordings are mastered using high resolution digital files. Even thought, these files can be used and excellent results can be obtained when transferred to vinyl. The problem start when companies source their cheap reissues from a CD quality file, the result will sound probably worst than the CD.


Unfortunately, most popular music is sourced from mediocre files. Be careful when glancing records at your local shop. Just because it’s on vinyl, it doesn’t mean that it sound better.


Pressing Plant


Some pressing plants do a better job than others. Most record labels don’t publish what record plant they use for their new releases, but high quality reissues labels do. Look online for guidance of some of the most respected plants.


I would stay away from unknown overseas plants, as regularly there is some cost cutting strategy involved. This doesn’t mean there are no bad domestic pressing plants. Again, research is key.


If you liked this article you may be interested on our turntable set-up guide.



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Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate all of our old articles as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.


Hana SL Cartridge Review

Posted by "AudioAficionado" on June 1, 2017 at 5:40 PM Comments comments (0)



There is always a product that gets a lot of attention at an audio show. Last April at AXPONA 2017, the Hana cartridges were that product. A lot of system at the show where using this cartridges, and I keep hearing favorable comments about them. But who are this Hana guys?


Hana is a new brand that comes from Japan OEM manufacture Excel Sound Corporation. With forty (40) years of experience, Excel is not new to the cartridge world, and probably has more in house experience with cartridge manufacturing that most of the big names. They just decided to cut out the middle man and sell their own product directly to the costumer.


Their offerings are what they call high performance low cost moving coil cartridges, with four (4) options to choose from. There are two high output moving coil cartridges, (EH) with elliptical stylus and the (SH) with Shibata stylus. Both high output cartridges are compatible with moving magnet phono preamps, with a 47k ohms loading.


Their low output cartridge versions are call (EL) for elliptical stylus and (SL) for Shibata stylus. Cartridges equipped with the elliptical stylus have a green body; Shibata cartridges have a black body. Prices are the same for high or low output but vary by stylus type, $475 USD for elliptical and $750 USD for Shibata.


The subject of this review is the top of the line Hana SL (Shibata stylus and low output). 


Construction


All the Hana Models are based on alnico magnets, a less powerful magnet, that some people say is more musical. I think this could be due to the fact that a less powerful magnet will require more coil windings than a higher power one, to produce the same output level. Effectively, reducing the cartridge agility and maybe resulting in a musical but slower, less immediate sound presentation.


Otherwise, the Hana SL is still a low output (0.5mV) moving coil (MC) cartridge and requires a MC phono preamp. The high output versions will work with any standard (MM) phone preamp, making it easier for the novice.



The cartridge has a cross-shaped armature and aluminum cantilever. On close inspection, the cantilever and Shibata stylus are similar to the one found on the Ortofon 2m Black, but I have no idea if this is just a coincidence.


At 5 grams, this is a light weight cartridge. Consideration most be taken to ensure proper vertical tracking force (VTF) can be obtain. In some tonearm an additional cartridge weight may be needed.


Installation


Lead connections are clearly marked on the cartridge for easier installation. But not so easy, is the use of bolts and nuts to fix the cartridge to the tonearm head shell, as there is no threaded insert on the cartridge body.



I had no problem correctly aligning the cartridge. Visibility was a bit of an issue, due to the cantilever and stylus being hidden below the cartridge body. But I accidentally destroyed a cartridge once, even when more work might be needed I prefere this configuration to a nude stylus.


The cartridge body rides low when spinning records, there should be no worries of it touching the surface with correct vertical tracking angle (VTA). VTF was set at the manufacturer recommended 2 grams.


This cartridge exhibits excellent groove tracking characteristics and I managed a perfect azimuth adjustment with my Clearaudio Unify tonearm, with a unipivot design, quite an accomplishment I would say. Arm and cartridge resonance was right in the ballpark, at around 9 - 11 Hz.


I did encounter an issue with the queuing lever not lowering correctly, due to the cartridge body low profile, but some tinkering with the VTA and the problem was fixed.


The cartridge was left to burn in for more than 100 hours and it did exhibit a big change in sound during that time, mainly in the high frequency balance and extension. To the point, that it required further VTA tuning before any serious listening was conducted.


Also, I have to point out that this cartridge is sensitive to resistive loading. The coil impedance is rated at 30 ohms at 1 kHz, a load impedance of >400 ohms is recommended. I still don't have a reference phono preamp with adjustable loadings, don't seem to find one I’m contented to introduce in to my system. Meaning, the review was conducted with and without my Ortofon ST-7 step up transformer, straight in to the phono stage of my Marantz PM-15s2 Limited.


Resulting in a resistive loading of between 30 - 100 ohms, way below recommendation. I did try an entry level phono with adjustable loading, but the little I gain in high frequency extension was lost in every other aspect of sound. I do fell comfortable describing the characteristics of this cartridge, just keep in mind it was not under preferable conditions.


Sound


As said before, this cartridge tracks the grooves like a champ. Surface noise is low and music comes out of a black background. It handles noise way better than the Ortofon 2M black, which is notorious to been picky in this matter.


Sound balance is on the neutral side, with a romantic roll of the high frequency. Mid’s are natural, transparent and pleasing. While, bass is punchy and detailed, with good dynamics. Soundstage is well defined, with pin point localization of instruments.


Every day music sound grate, I could not stop taping my feet at the rhythm of Sam Smith album In “The Lonely Hour” (Capitol Records - B001995301), a modern recording with dynamic music arrangements and Smith excellent voice. I can see why a lot of people like this cartridge sound, it is easy to introduce into a system and don’t end up with treble or low frequency issues.


But here is the catch; detail retrieval is better and faster than a moving magnet (MM) cartridge, but not in part with other MC cartridges, as the Ortofon Quintet Black. The Hana SL favors a musical presentation, meaning you will be hearing music for hours without thinking about what your system is doing. While, a cartridge like the Quintet allows you to hear into the music; with lots of details, textures and transients, which the Hana seems to overlook.


Opinion


The Hana SL turned out to be a capable contender, with a friendly personality. It is a good cartridge for the price, especially, if you like his musical character. After all, is not the music what this hobby is all about?

 


If you liked this article you may be interested on our review of the Ortofon 2m Red.

 


Specifications:

Hana SL (Moving Coil Cartridge)

www.musicalsurroundings.com/product/hana

Estimated Price: $750

Output Voltage: 0.5mv

Stylus shape: Shibata

Internal ohms: 30 ohms

Suggested Loading: >400 0hms

Recommended Tracking Force: 2 grams

Compliance: 10 µm/mN

Weight: 5.0 grams

 


Associate Equipment:

Speakers: Dynaudio Contour 20 (Bookshelf Speakers)

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Step up transformer: Ortofon ST-7

CD player: Marantz SA-15s2 Limited

Integrated amplifier: Marantz PM-15s2 Limited

Power conditioner: Furman Elite-15 PFi

Interconnect cables: Nordost – Red Dawn (0.6m) (RCA)

Speaker cables: Nordost - Red Dawn LS (2.5m)

Power cables: Nordost - Red Dawn (1m)

Acoustic materials: MioCulture

 

 

FormatoAnalgo.com got the reviewed product from:

 

 

Audio equipment store

www.drvinyl.net

t. (844) 378-4695

By Appointment Only

Fulton, MD 20759



Follow FormatoAnalogo.com on Facebook and be part of the high-end vinyl community. Also, don't forget to subscribe here…


Due to reader’s popular demand, we are changing the site main language to English. We would try to translate all of our old articles as soon as possible, but it would take time. As always we appreciate your patience and support.




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