Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Atlas Analogue Terminators - review

We are always on the look out for effective accessories that will improve sound quality, preferably for not a lot of money. Atlas Terminators are quite new, though the idea has been around for a while, we had actually dismissed the whole principle as a being a bit far fetched. Yes, possibly an unused input may be susceptible to RF ... but surely not enough to effect the sound ... and how can this be eliminated by use of a plug?. Well hearing that Atlas had added just such a product to it's portfolio made us sit up and take notice. Atlas are a company run by proper enthusiasts ... if they think it's worth investing in, then be assured, it's going to be good!

Atlas Terminators come in two types, for analogue input and digital output. We ordered an analogue set to try.

The Analogue set includes four terminators, which are, as with all Atlas products, nicely packaged and beautifully made.

Connecting up couldn't be simpler .. though care needs to be taken not to plug the terminators into an output as damage may be done, so be sure you know which is which, as some amplifiers can have a tape output nestling amongst their inputs.

With our usual lack of foresight we didn't quite have enough terminators to plug into all our inputs .. but went ahead anyway. The pre amplifier used in the testing was a Tom Evans 'Vibe Plus' and using a Naim 555CD and Michel Orbe/SME IV/Lyra Skala as sources.

Normally when we do a testing session like this, products are swapped in and out a few times before we start to zero in on where the improvements are.. not in this case, the Terminators were fitted first and a few tracks played, it was obvious right away that something was radically different, taking them out immediately closed in the top end and somehow slowed the dynamics. With them back in, it was similar to adding a really high end mains lead or a very well sorted mains conditioner.

These simple little devices exhibited all that you would ever want from an upgrade, extra clarity and definition, more of what you like about your system already, but better detail and more convincing musicality.

A total bargain at £80 a set of four and we can't wait to try a full complement

If you would like to try a set yourself, give us a call on 01270 580734

To buy, give us a call, or go to the website : Atlas Terminators


Tuesday, 10 November 2015

NAD 3020A in for service

Had a lovely NAD 3020A on the bench for service this week. I used to sell these and the original 3020 when they were new, they were always exceptional performers for the money. After a good clean up and check over we had it working like new. Surprising for a 30+ year old amplifier it was in very good shape, all caps etc in good condition ... the distortion and crackling it came in with cured with a generous dose of switch cleaner.

After putting it back together we gave it a listen ... these early NADs are quite superb, that renowned warmth adds real drive to the sound and makes the little 25ish Watt unit sound far bigger than it actually is.

An interesting comparison was against our Rega Brio-R, another 'budget' giant killer, the two were actually very similar in presentation. The Rega much more refined, but the scale and balance almost identical to the NAD. Both include an excellent Phonostage (though the NAD also has an MC switch) so ideal for a little vinyl based system. The Rega feels much better built and although half the size of the 3020 feels like it weighs more. The NAD only shows it's late 70s heritage with its use of spring terminals for the speaker cables, this caused us a few issues as in this case 4mm plugs didn't fit (some types will take them) so adapters needed to be made.

So we liked the NAD 3020A, possibly the first proper Audiophile budget amplifier .. and most customers we meet who love their music and now use High End equipment, started their hobby with a Rega 2 / NAD 3020 / Kef Coda system

..... and oh yes.. the dancing lights :-)


Wednesday, 28 October 2015

What Hifi Awards 2015

Quite an interesting Awards this year, Rega have done very well with four products winning their respective categories. The Rega Fono Phonostage wins again, and who can argue? excellent value and well made, certainly our favourite under £400. Two of Rega's Amplifiers gained awards this year .. the Elex-R and the Elicit-R which also won last year. Finally the Rega RP3/ Elys scooped Product of the Year (again) which proves that Rega's philosophy of simple lightweight design still rules over 40 years on!

More info on the Rega Fono here

Rega Fono
Another winner from our portfolio was the popular Pro-Ject Essentials II turntable, which won 'Best Turntable under £400' a simple robust design, which sounds great and is available in three colours.

More info on the Project Essentials II here

Pro-Ject Essentials II
In the Headphones category Grado have, with well deserved, but monotonous predictability, won again! The SR325e this time ... I was going to say how long the unbroken string of awards was, but just can't remember back that far.

More info on the Grado SR325e here

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Project DACs now listed on the website

We have just listed Projects range of DACs. These are from the new range of small Hifi Components made by Project, which also includes amplifiers, CD players and streamers.

We've used a few of the DACbox E model now where a customer wants to feed his TV signal into a stereo amplifier, but his TV only has an optical out, which is fairly common. Aside from that even this budget E model is a vary capable unit.

To have a look at the range, click here

or ring us on 01270 580734

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Isotek Mains cables

See the new Isotek range of power cables here


Give us a call for more information on 01270 580734

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Rega Planar 3 with Elys in for service

We see more Rega Planar 3 turntables for service than pretty much all the others that we do put together .... not because they are unreliable, quite the opposite, they are so indestructible that virtually all of the 40year production run are still out there. So we see them for cartridge changes and rare situations where they have speed issues (easily fixed)

The Planar 3 on the Jig today is sounding pretty poor ... speed issue now sorted, but very distorted sound. A good stint on our Electronic Stylus cleaner improved thing by a huge margin .. but performance was still only 90% of what we know is achievable. The Elys is quite old now and age (not use) takes it's toll on a cartridges suspension ... so out with the old and in with the new, a new Elys2 is going on and will have the 3 sounding better than it ever has before.

To see a modern Electronic Stylus Cleaner (not our 25year old one) click here

Cheshire Audio Website

Friday, 28 August 2015

Trichord Dino secondhand

We have just taken in an absolutely immaculate Trichord Dino

See more details on our Ebay listing :-

Link to Trichord Dino listing

See our site at www.cheshireaudio.co.uk

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Synergistic RED fuses back in stock

At last, back in stock! The Synergistic RED fuses have taken us and the importers a little by surprise .. yes, they are amazingly good, but the rate they are selling at is quite remarkable

You must try at least one in your system. It may be the biggest upgrade you have ever made!

Call us to arrange a home loan


Friday, 10 July 2015

New Website

After a shaky start, you may have noticed we were 'off air' for a couple of days, our new Website is now up and running

The new layout is much easier to navigate now and will adapt itself to work on hand held devices.

We are still adding products, but 98% are already on ... though we will be introducing more actual Hifi components, but only a select few.

Have a look around and tell us what you think


Friday, 15 May 2015

On the Jig today - Linn Sondek LP12 / Akito

Been a little quiet on here due to the massive amount of time needed to build the new Website ... 350 products on at the moment!

Meanwhile.... we are still seeing a lot turntables in for repair/ setup etc with all the exposure that Record Store Day produced ... exciting times!

On the Jig today is an LP12 in Black .. not our favourite finish in some ways as the black stain wears off over time to reveal the white ash underneath. This one is in quite good condition though and looks quite smart. The customer bought this and an Akito on Ebay and wanted a cartridge fitting, it all putting together and setting up. The deck looked like it had spent a bit of time in somebodies loft, the chassis is quite rusty (not actually an issue) and there were a few bits missing ... though nothing we didn't have to hand. The Linn Akito tonearm was bought separately ... this is in good condition, but as it quite common with Akitos it seems to have been overtightened in it's arm base at some point and this has damaged the main bearings a little. The result of this is a notchy movement as it arcs across the record. This is very visible with the weight set to zero and a little side force dialed in on the bias control ... the arm actually lurches as it passes over the flat spot on the bearing. We'll have to see how this plays .... not actually repairable unfortunately, the customer may just need to live with it, or find another arm. It's always worth checking this out with Akitos before you buy, around 75% of the ones we see here suffer from this issue.

We've opted for a Rega Bias2 cartridge, which matches the Linn well. The Bias2 is a good replacement for a Linn K5 or K9 cartridge as it has a similar balance ... and excellent value at £79

If you want to ask about having your turntable serviced, ring us on 01270 580734

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Cheshire Audio new Website

Work on the new Website has begun!

.... easier navigation, Paypal payments etc coming soon

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Ortofon Quintet Bronze cartridge review - full test

Ortofon have always been one of the most active manufactures in the analogue world. Frequent new ranges keep things fresh and yet they will reincarnate models or keep favourites on if the demand is there.

The Quintet replaces the Rondo range, which was a force to be reckoned with in it's own right .. but the Quintet has certainly moved things forward a couple of notches. It's body is made from a special ABS material  (Acrylonitrile/Butadiene/Styrene) which is extremely light and durable and perfect for the purpose. Neodymium magnets are used due to their small size to power ratio which allows excellent output.

Recent Ortofons ... (2M and Rondo I'm looking at you!) have been tricky to fit to some headshells, due mainly to large size and curved edges which are tricky to align. The Quintet is much easier as it is slab sided, but still large and unusually deep.

Listening was done on a Linn Sondek with Ittok arm as this is a common home for mid range Ortofons. We also briefly tried it in a Rega RP6 .. and more of this later

In the Ittok the Bronze is easy to align (as described earlier) but did require a little manipulation of the cartridge tags to allow it to sit far enough back in the headshell. Once in we set the tracking force to the recommended 2.3g for starters and played a few albums. First impression were very good, fairly quiet surface noise on even some quite old vinyl, Ortofon have used this 'Nude Fine Line' tip before and it always impresses with it's tracking ability.

Ortofons of old could be a little brittle at the top end, some customers of ours seem to still remember this and keep clear of them for that reason ...but the range hasn't had a bright sounding model for a lot of years, so it's a shame that they can get overlooked.

The Bronze has a much more expansive sound than the lesser models in the range, treble is sweeter and bass much more extended. Generally the Bronze performs above the level you would expect at this price, not actually too far behind a Lyra Delos which was next up for evaluation ... The Bronze was equally as detailed and had similar scale .. but lost out to the Lyra on pure musicality, the Bronze gives you everything on the record .. but not quite the 'soul'  ... but at half of the price this is excellent value!

VTA doesn't seem to be too much of an issue .. unlike some designs.. but due to it's tall body it does only just fit a Rega arm without bottoming out on the record .. so you may prefer to add some spacers to compensate for this.

We've always been big fans of Ortofon and it seems that the Quintet Bronze is another absolute gem

To see the range - click here

or ring us on 01270 580734

Technical Data:

Output Voltage (at 1kHz, 5cm/sec):
Channel Balance at 1kHz: <1.2dB
Channel Separation at 1kHz: >23dB
Channel Separation at 15kHz: >15dB
Frequency Range (at -3dB): 20 Hz - 25 kHz
Frequency Response 20Hz - 20kHz:
± 1.5dB
Tracking Ability at 315Hz:
Compliance, Dynamic, Lateral: 15μm / mN
Stylus Type: Nude Fine Line
Stylus Tip Radius r / R: 8 / 40μm
Tracking Force Range: 2.1 - 2.5g (21 - 25mN)
Recommended Tracking Force: 2.3g (23mN)
Tracking Angle: 20º
Internal Impedance / DC Resistance:
Recommended Load Impedance:
Cartridge Body Material:
Cartridge Colour: Bronze
Cartridge Weight: 9g

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Atlas cable with Naim Audio

We visited a good customer of ours recently to have a listen to his system.... The set up is all Naim, playing into Focal 937Be with two Sunfire subs. The slight difference to the norm here is that the all the interconnects and speaker cable are sourced from Atlas. Originally the supplied Naim leads were used, then the interconnects were swapped for Chord, which were then swapped again for Naim Hi-Line....and ultimately after some intensive listening are now all Atlas .. even the speaker cable. The Atlas cable has a much more natural presentation without losing the raw energy that the Naim cables have.

For more information on Atlas interconnects click here

For more information on Atlas Speaker cables click here

Or call us on 01270 580734

Monday, 9 March 2015

Lyra Delos now in stock

If you have ever tried to order a Lyra cartridge, you will be aware of the incredibly long waiting lists!

Well here's a newsflash... we have stock of Lyra Delos!

Ask about trading in your old cartridge

But you'll have to be quick!

Link to Lyra prices


Thursday, 5 March 2015

Van Den Hul First Ultimate - for sale

Van Den Hul First Ultimate Mk2 interconnect

Finishing on Ebay today




Thursday, 26 February 2015

REL 212SE Subwoofer

A new model from REL

Not much information yet, but watch this space

The 212SE heads the S series and we can't wait to hear it

REL Pricelist



Friday, 13 February 2015

Rega RP6 / Rega Exact and Trichord Dino install

Another very satisfying install yesterday, customer upgrading from a Project Carbon / 2M with a Project Phonobox USB to Rega RP6 / Exact and the recently vastly reworked Trichord Dino Mk3. All connected up to his active AVI speakers which were on Kudos speaker stands (filled with the obligatory cat litter)

This install emphasises the degree that running in and warming up of components can effect the sound. Initially the sound was quite blurred and the top end almost entirely absent. It took us by surprise a bit, even to the extent that we rechecked some of the settings on the Dino .. but all was correct. Halfway through the second track things started to snap into focus, the slightly lumpy bass started to even out allowing the vocals to clear up. We then removed some of the customers isolation from under the Rega (which had worked under the Project) this cleared things up even more and brought more of a sparkle to the treble. By the end of the afternoon the whole set up was sounding amazing.... but still improving!. The AVI speakers are very revealing, so exaggerated the effect, but this is no bad thing, it means they will never stand in the way when things are improved further at the front end.

We've found that generally, the better the equipment, the more time it needs to run in



Call us on 01270 580734

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Updated Ortofon Prices

We've just updated our Ortofon price list ... .added some new models and removed some now deleted ones

Ortofon's range has always been up there with the best, but sometimes seems to get a little overlooked as more obscure exotic sounding brands come and go

But actually Ortofon, though perceived as 'main stream by a lot of people, have always been great innovators and never been afraid to be radical. Many large jumps forward in the use of materials etc came from this clever Danish brand.

See the range here : Ortofon

Email us at mail@cheshireaudio.co.uk


Thursday, 5 February 2015

...and another Chord Chorus 2 for sale

We have yet another Chord Chorus 2 for sale ... this time a half metre one

Link to Ebay listing

Any queries - phone 01270 580734

or email : mail@cheshireaudio.co.uk


Wednesday, 4 February 2015

On the Jig today - Systemdek IIX 900 / Rega RB250 / Ortofon 510

Lovely Systemdek in for service today

Came in for a service and investigation of a noisy motor

Systemdek had quite a diverse range of record players over the years, from quite high end players down to the 'biscuit tin' circular bodied players like the Systemdek II. The round models never really sold a lot, which was a shame as they actually sounded really good ... especially the uprated IIS which had performance way above its price level. The big sellers were the IIX and the IIX 900 as above .. stylish good looks, the ability to take a range of arms and three point suspension (like a Linn Sondek) gave it high perceived value.

After finishing off the service we had a bit of a listening session  ... apart from a slightly tired sounding Ortofon (which the customer wants to run a little longer), the XII was remarkably punchy and open, not quite in the league of a new Rega RP3 whose earlier incarnation would have been a direct competitor, but considering it's age, very impressive. I could have happily sat all afternoon playing albums .. and nearly did

For more information on our turntable servicing and repair work

Call 01270 582154

or email mail@cheshireaudio.co.uk


Thursday, 29 January 2015

Chord Chorus 2 for sale secondhand

Traded in this week

Chord Chorus 2 RCA interconnect 1m pair

See the Ebay link here

Or call us for more information on 01270 580734


Thursday, 22 January 2015

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

On the Jig today - Garrard LAB 80

Interesting turntable in for repair today .... just needs a bit of a service and a rewire

Very nice condition  ... features a wooden tonearm, which is an interesting design idea. We'll see how it sounds when it is finished and report back!

Saturday, 17 January 2015

Our Favourite Classic Speakers #3 - Sonus Faber Electa

This series documents particular loudspeakers gems from our last 30 years in the Hifi industry. Not in any particular order, just as they come to mind.

If you have never listened to, or owned a pair of Sonus Faber speakers, then you have certainly missed out. It would be easy to dismiss them as purely an exercise in style over function, but the range sounds even better than it looks.

Sonus Faber Electa - circa 1990
Sonus Faber's trade mark sculpted real wood cabinets with their leather covered front baffle are quite beautiful pieces of furniture. The Electas, which are our featured model, are almost surprisingly conservative for SF and for a stand mount speaker they are actually a bit of an odd size, almost dumpy and oversized looking.

So why choose the Electas out of such a revered range? Well the main issue with SF as a brand is that they are built to such extreme tolerances that they only really give their all with really high end equipment. They are not difficult to drive as such, but do need an impeccable source. Properly matched, Sonus Faber produce some of the best speakers in the world ..... With the Electas though, whether though chance or a quirk of design, they don't seem to be quite so demanding. I've heard Electas sound amazing with Arcam, Audiolab and bottom range Meridian equipment ... but then if you put them with something really High End they just stepp up a gear. I remember building a system at a customers house in quite a compromised listening room ... Linn Sondek/Ekos/Koetsu Rsig with a SP15 Audio Research and Krell KSA80 into Electas and for many years after I always remembered it as the best system I had ever heard ... and in this business you get to play with some really exotic kit, so that is quite a statement. It was the first time I had heard Hifi create such a live sound from even quite dubious recordings. Some systems do Hifi well, so do music well ... there is a difference.  SF are one of a select few that do both.

Saturday, 10 January 2015

Our Favourite Classic Speakers #2 - Royd Audio A7mkII


This series documents particular loudspeakers gems from our last 30 years in the Hifi industry. Not in any particular order, just as they come to mind.

Royd Audios owner Joe Akroyd was one of the real characters of the British Hifi industry, always engulfed in a cloud of cigarette smoke, quite abrupt but very likeable,  he was very passionate about his products and never seemed interested in sales or profit .... he would bring up new models to the shop personally and his enthusiasm was infectious. Joe seemed to have a unique ability to make simple products which captured the essence of music ... which may be why Rega and Royd collaborated in the early years as Roy Gandy of Rega was making similar magic happen with Record Players.

All Joe's speakers could be listed here .. and I suspect some more will, but the real star must be the Royd A7 MkII. these were one of a series of 7 litre cabinet designs and in the mid to late 80s sold for £99 ... but such was their ability that they were not out of place in systems with Linn Sondek front ends and Naim amplification ... in some ways their only drawback was that they almost needed equipment of a higher perceived level to do their thing ... so were sometimes overlooked

They certainly didn't look much with their basic vinyl wrap cabinets and cheap 'off the shelf' Audax treble unit. But inside, there was some clever stuff going on .. The handbuilt Royd bass midrange unit was braced by an aluminum tube which exited out of the back. The tube had a slot in it to allow airflow and tuned in such a way that it reenforced the bass output ... the crossover was very simple and brought the treble in at 4khz

The A7 found a lot of  favour with the Linn/Naim customers and was often used as a budget alternative to the Linn Kan, which it sounded similar to in a lot of ways.

They were also quite rewarding to 'mod' ...sealing in the drivers with silicone sealant and damping the aluminium tube, livened them up quite a bit ... also rewiring and splitting the crossover to allow the addition of a second set of sockets for bi-amping was very popular ... I remember Naim NAC32/Hicap/ 2 x NAP140 into modified A7s being quite a combination!

Stax SRM006TII Valve Energiser for Electrostatic Headphones - For Sale

Also traded in recently, quite a rare unit in the UK now, a black SRM006TII. The UK importers now only offer the black option on the higher end 007 and 727 Energisers.

Very good condition and just over three years old

See it here Ebay Listing

Stax SR507 Headphones for sale

Traded in recently we have a very nice pair of SR507. About a year old in 'as new' condition.

The SR507 are the top of the present Lambda range and benefits from improved wiring and higher quality earpads than the SR407. Though quite a jump in price over the 407 the 507 is noticeably sweeter and more open sounding, the leather earpads are much more comfortable too for extended listening.

See them here : Ebay listing

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Our Favourite Classic Speakers - #1 Allison Six

This a new series we are going to run ...particular loudspeaker gems from our last 30 years in the Hifi industry. Not in any particular order, just as they come to mind.

#1 The Allison Six / CD6

Allison CD6
 Allison were an American manufacturer formed in the early 70s and were known for quite quirky designs, they didn't make much of an impression in the UK initially, some of the models were quite odd looking and the larger versions were renowned for being difficult to drive.

Roy Allison started out at Acoustic Research and you can see similarities in the use of drivers ...both used inverted paper cone treble units, which although not exactly the same did use very similar design principles.The bass units too, were almost identical.

Acoustic Research Treble Unit

Allison treble unit 

The Allison 6 (and later Allison CD6) were the smallest and cheapest models, roughly 12 inches cubed they seemed to break a lot of rules ... the treble was on the front and the bass unit on the top. Even their cuboid cabinet shouldn't have worked, equal dimensions always throw up all sorts of acoustic issues. But actually the Six was quite astonishing, huge soundstage and almost unnerving bass extension that gave a very realistic dynamic to recordings... they needed a high mass stand, lots of space around them and against convention again, worked better seated quite low, perhaps on a 12-15 inch stand, so you looked down on them.

Quite rare secondhand now as most suffered from denaturing of the bass unit surround, which is quite common on 70s era designs ... if you find a set, reconing is fairly straight forward and well worth doing.