Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Nordost Valhalla for sale

Just added to Ebay one very nice set of Nordost Valhalla speaker cables ... 2m pair, Spade connectors and 'Shotgun' configuration

Have a look and put a bid ( or two ) on

Cost new £6300 ... and probably the best there is

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Stax SR009

There have been rumours for a while of a Stax model ABOVE the SR007 Omega... first we saw some blurred jpgs floating about on the internet, then dealers in Japan showing them on their websites. Now we have some more concrete information about them. They do exist, should be in the UK around September, price possibly 3800 pounds for the headset only.

A newly developed sound element (drive unit) has been adopted in the SR-009. New high polymer ultra-thin film material is employed for the diaphragm.

As soon as we have a pair we'll report back

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Stax offer

Just a little 'Blog only' offer

Anybody ordering a set of Stax headphones before the end of July 2011, will get a free ISOL-8 Isolink mains lead worth over a hundred pounds to go with it. The Isolink works exceptionally well with the Stax energisers ... you could try it elsewhere in the system too ... they work very well on source components as long as they have the appropriate IEC socket

When you order, just send a follow up email with the order number mentioning the 'Blog offer' and I will make sure you get your free lead

Thursday, 23 June 2011


The quality of mains plugs can be quite important. Obviously it goes hand in hand with decent mains cable, but even quite high end cables sometimes only come with mediocre plugs.

A good upgrade choice is the Furatech range. They do a series of mains plugs and IEC mains sockets. We can get the UK and Schuko European variants if necessary and we can even supply chassis mounted IEC sockets to upgrade components with ( give us a call if you want us to do this for you ... fitting prices are fairly reasonable )

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Mains filtering

Mains filters are an interesting and quite recent Hifi tweek. The reason for their existence is quite easy to understand, most domestic mains supplies are fairly poor. Most Hifi systems sound better at certain times of the day due to demand on the supply from other areas. 6pm tends to be the worst time; everybody is just getting in from work, kettle goes on, TV goes on etc.

Another factor with mains supply is local contamination, clicks and pops through the speakers are quite often caused by fridges and central heating systems with noisy relays, this all feeds back into the mains. A more recent problem is caused by mains distributed network systems and X10 systems that use the mains to transmit data.

There are various solutions to this, PS Audio ( and others ) try to regenerate the mains ... the theory of this is good, but the results can be a little patchy .... the most common is filtration, this can be as simple as a good quality mains lead, which will protect against RF and ensure a good connection .. or much more complex like some of the units from Isol-8 and Isotek.

Filtration has to be matched to the system. Aim too low in price and you can end up with a worse sound. Small mains filters can limit current draw and make the sound more detailed but undynamic. get it right though and the results can be quite breathtaking!

More on this another day, two glasses of wine dont help the thought processes.

Isol-8 Minisub

Monday, 20 June 2011


Call me a Ludite but I'm not very confinced by the various 'Streaming products' that are available. The idea that something being 'more convenient' is a step forward whether it sounds better or not seems to me to be a little strange. Hifi is about recreating a realistic and enjoyable performance from a recording ... I actually quite enjoy sitting in front of my LPs having a sift through to find something I havent played for a while. Most streamers have a quite clunky interface that will go straight to whatever artist comes to mind ... I find I tend to play the same things this way as I've lost that randomness that comes with trying to find an album ... but coming across another that you had forgotten about. It's all a bit sterile.
The other SLIGHT issue I have is that I have yet to hear anything streamed that sounds acceptable ...OK you wouldn't expect real hifidelity from an iPod, but I'm talking 3k+ units. It's all a bit reminiscent of the early days of CD ... people were so bowled over by the fact that they could track select, they failed to notice that the reason they were flicking through the tracks in the first place, wasn't due to their new found control over the medium, but that CD was boring ... it had no soul! I also have a suspicion that early CD caused the big drop off in recorded music sales too ... the amount of customers I had in the late 80s who said they had lost interest in Hifi or didn't listen to music anymore. Its only since players have improved and a large proportion of people have gone back to vinyl that the rot seems to have stopped....It worries me more than a little now that I'm hearing the same reasoning about Streamers as I did about CD...convenient, storage issues, new tech so it must be better!

Lets wait and see ... I dont think CD is dead just yet ... look at Vinyl

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Icon Audio

We have just been approached by Icon Audio to stock their products ... just mulling this over at the moment, but I suspect we will take it on. Icon have slowly been building an admirable range of products over the last few years ... generally the problem with valve amplifiers is that they are either extremely expensive or cheap and very unreliable .. Icon have bucked the trend by creating a class leading range of equipment which is neither expensive or unreliable. Although we have not directly delt with them before We have never heard anything but praise.
Icon Valve Phonostage

Icon are a British company based in Leicester and designed by David Shaw. They own their own manufacturing plant in China which keeps the pricing competitive .. and sad to say, the quality up, compared to the option of a UK plant. This isn't a particularly unusual approach, Rotel and NAD have both always done this.

We dont, as a rule stock Hifi kit (only accessories) , and will only, perhaps, take the Phonostages ... but watch this space!!

Thursday, 16 June 2011

System maintenance

You would have thought that a Hifi system would be fairly stable and unaffected by time and use. But just a few simple maintenance jobs can keep it sounding as good as new.

All connections whether copper, silver tin or gold plated are susceptable to dirt and/or oxidation ... so, every six months or so it is worth simply unplugging everything and plugging it back in again ... this cleans the contact point and restores low resistance. If you want to spend time with contact cleaners or even sandpaper ( works well on mains plugs ) this is very worthwhile.

Speaker spikes can work loose ... stability of the speakers is paramount. A speaker is a device that works by transmitting complex resonance, so any contra movement will blur the resonance by reducing certain frequencies and accentuating others.

In a similar vain, speaker drive units will work loose .. again every six months check their tightness ... it is not unusual for a speaker bolt to need a half or even a full turn ( take care not to use excessive force ) .. the improvement after tweeking in this way can be quite spectacular.

I had a customer ring to say his system was sounding awful recently and couldn't get on with it ... when I when around to check, it certainly was ... the reason turned out to be loose speaker units .. the mid/bass units were so loose they were a quarter of an inch adrift at the top.

Make sure all signal cables are fairly separate from mains cables ... this isn't always easy, but if they have to cross, try and do it at 90 degrees as this lessens the effect.

More on this in later posts

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


We are going to start supplying Isotek again.... the new distributer seems to be doing a good job and offering excellent back up service, so we feel the time is right to add them back onto our listings.

The Minisub at one point was our best selling product by far .... hopefully the new models will generate lots of interest too.

Monday, 13 June 2011

WBT Silver solder

Now that the excitement of the Canadian F1 Grand Prix behind us, more thoughts on Hifi....

I have always put great importance on connection quality ... not just the plugs and sockets themselves, but the plug to cable connection. Metal to metal is always best, but particularly with copper cables oxidation is quite a major problem and the connection quality can deteriorate quite severly over time. The best solution is to tin the ends of the cable with a minimal amount of solder to seal the copper. Solder varies hugely in quality and some of the better types have high silver content. The best of these is WBTs own silver solder....available in various reel sizes. All our own terminated or reterminated cable is soldered with WBT and the differences more than make up for the cost!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Stax SRS2170 Basic System

We should be receiving our first demonstration set of the new Stax range early next week... first in will be the SRS2170 Basic System. Cheapest in the range, but as with all Stax, way ahead of the competition and excellent value!

.... Also shortly we will be taking in part exchange a set of old Lambda Pros and a SRDx Energiser, be interesting to make a comparison.

Our Ebay session is going well ... quite a surprise is that the AR Legend far as I was concerned a fairly unheard of , though classic, turntable is going really well .... 8 bids in a very short time and about 50 followers. had all the typical questions though ... 'Whats your Buy it Now price??' .. there isn't one, that's why I didn't do it 'Buy it Now'..... 'If I give you £90 cash can we do the deal outside Ebay' ... no! .... 'How much to send to Australia?' about £150 which is why it says Europe only! :-)

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Ebay, Nordost, Stax etc

Just put a few bits onto Ebay

The AR Legend record Player - really good condition ... all original packaging

A brand new ( or at least minimal use ) Nordost Blue Heaven 0.6m interconnect ( the old version )

Another minimal use .. again just a couple of hours..New type Nordost Red Dawn LF 1.5m interconnect

Also just in, a Stax SRM252II energiser ... mint condition with box

Have a look and put some bids on :-)

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Memories 3

Some years ago I went to the Linn Products factory at Castle Milk in Glasgow for a two day course on product set up ... Had a great time there, amazing factory and the renowned 'Linn demonstrations' ...amplifier volume at threequarters ... stylus hits record ... 4 seconds of music .... stylus lifted manualy usually with accompanying 'brrrrrrt' ... process repeated ...change made to improve system and then same four seconds again ... this time with all the Linn staff dancing around the room! We had the 'why you shouldn't wear a digital watch' dem ... the 'only one set of speakers in the room' dem  etc. etc....all very interesting.

I was quite amazed to hear that, if they came across any old 'inferior' versions of their equipment they would quite often destroy it ... while I was there a fairly good condition pair of early 'chipboard cabinet' Isobariks were being modified with a sledgehammer .... I can see the logic of this as the Iso's develeloped a lot over the years and they wouldn't want prospective customers views to be blurred by inferior examples ... still thought it was a shame though.

Interestingly though we were told about a prototype model speaker which had been intended to fit between the Sara and the Kan ... this was basically a none Isobarik Sara ... it was referred to by the staff as the Linn Tin ... probably due to the sound it produced. The few examples that were made were not destroyed, but given to local restaurants and pubs to use... an early example of product placement I suppose .. and a few free meals for the guys at Linn


Monday, 6 June 2011

Memories 2

One of the most dedicated customers I've had, lived in a fairly large Bungalow .. and as his Hifi started to outgrow his listening room decided to redesign the house to accommodate it better ... I turned up after the 'modifications' to find that he had knocked down all the internal walls to create a huge room in the middle of the house and had created four small box rooms at the end of the house for the family to live in ... the only 'normal' room left was the kitchen. His system grew so large that even the new room started to struggle with it ... the last set up I saw there included four Krell reference Monoblock amplifiers which he had to switch on (very carefully) in sequence, leaving a gap of a minute or so for the mains to recover from the start up surge .. the lights of the house dimmed as each amp was switched on .. and if he rushed things the main circuit breaker would trip!!... Strangely considering his obsessive love of Hifi, he only had three LPs ... A madonna album, a Chinese Pop album and a BBC sound effects record!

Sunday, 5 June 2011


I was speaking to an ex collegue recently and started to realise what an accumilation of memories we had between us, funny or otherwise ... Hifi tends to attract the eccentrics (including myself) sometimes the obsessive lengths that people will go to in pursuit of better sound is quite astonishing... I remember a chap in Liverpool who had one side of his Naim NAC12 preamp balanced on matchboxes because it sounded better sitting at 45 degrees .. another ( in Liverpool again strangely)... who experimented with all sorts materials underneath a huge pair of Infinity Kappa 9 speakers ... and settled in the end on 4 inch thick foam squares ... he underestimated the stability issues somewhat and I got a frantic phonecall one morning to say that one of the speakers had fallen in the night and smashed his fireplace!

Slightly more dangerous .. my collegue had a customer who could no longer accomodate a pair of Quad Electrostatics ... and came in a picked up a pair of conventional Monitor Audios to replace them. Later in the day he got a phone call to say that the guy thought his amplifier had gone faulty as it wouldn't switch on ....When he went round he was a little disturbed to see rather a lot of cables around the back of the speakers .. and after having a closer look found that the guy had connected the speaker cable correctly to the amplifier .. but also cut the IEC plug off the old Quad mains leads and connected them as well ( to the mains!!!) the resulting jolt had blown all the drive units in the new speakers .. including the crossovers and also taken out the amp! ... which is why we generally prefer to install equipment ourselves! ..

I might have a think and come up with some more of these ... however old it makes me feel

Friday, 3 June 2011

Transfiguration Cartridges

I may have a new favourite range of cartridges ... up to now I have swayed between the high end Lyras and the mid to high end Ortofon series ( Ortofon are often overlooked due to their more 'mass market' range... but there are some real gems further up the catalogue)

I came across Transfiguration a number of years ago ... probably 20 when I think about it ...!. At the time I heard them mainly used on slightly obscure combinations such as Oracle Delphis or Sondek/Zeta, so it was quite difficult to make a true evaluation. Something special was obviously going on. There didnt seem to be any of the thickness of sound presented by lower end Koetsus or the unrelenting top end of Kisekis and MC5000s .. just a naturalness and presence that made you want to sift more deeply into your record collection.

After disappearing from the markerplace in the UK for a number of years they have again got distribution here ... and by all accounts are doing extremely well!

I've had chance now to properly play with a couple of models and I must say, the memory from all those years ago was correct....clear and natural, with an extended but unflustered top end, rhythm and weight without bloom...excellent!

Best of all, all models are pretty much available of the shelf .. no more 12+ week waits for a Lyra

We will also part exchange your old Moving Coil if it's in good working order!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Nordost Speaker cables

We have for some time offered bespoke termination of speaker cables. I think we may be fairly unique in offering this with Nordost cable. Most dealers shy away from the fiddly nature of the coating, but we have been reterminating their cable for years ... even in the early days when Nordost was sold in the UK with a Chord badge.

We can offer configuration changes ... e.g. Biwire to single wire ... or shortening and retermination using Nordost 'Z' plugs. Recently we have been asked to reterminate using upgraded plugs such as WBT and had some really good results.

Give us a call for a quote ... if you are shortening a longer length we may even buy the excess from you.

email here

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

End of line and secondhand stock

Just been having a sift through our stock, we have a small number of bits that could be sold off to make space for new stock:

1. Nordost Valhalla Speaker cable 2x2m Shotgun singlewire config w/spades ( secondhand ) - £2500 (was £6300)

2. Acoustic Research Legend / Linn Basik / Basik turntable - classic design, superb (secondhand) - £200

3. Isol-8 Minisub2 Mains Filter (new) - £450 (was £595)

4. Nordost Red Dawn LF 1.5m RCA interconnect (demonstration model) - £349 (was £395)

5. Isol-8 VMC1080 video filter (new) £149 (was £169)

6. Stax SR507 headphones ( need Energiser to work) ( demonstration model ) - £675 ( was £745)

Email if you want more information

link to Shop