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Soundsmith Aida Ebony Phono Cartridge: Looking For Your Last Best Cartridge? This Could Be It, At A Decent Price!

Soundsmith Aida Ebony Moving Iron Phono Cartridge“This seemed to me what Shure, with all their in-house engineering skill and experience could never quite achieve. That elusive combination of low mass, high compliance, and supertracking (a phrase they coined, I think), was accompanied by the seeming necessity of removable stylus assemblies, and cleaning brushes, which, I discovered, not only compromised the intimate groove interface, but also were quite audibly microphonic in truly revealing phono systems, adding a chatter of their own to the record-reproducing conversation.”

HRS M3X Platform Makes Life (or at least Listening) More Stable

HRS isolation platform “The M3X Isolation Base is available in four standard sizes, with three different load ranges to optimize component matching. Our review sample was 21 x 19 x 3″ (53.3 x 48.3 x 7.6 cm), optimized for a load of up to 52 lbs (23.5 KG), a couple of inches all around more than we actually needed. This was, in fact, better than it being too small…”

Origin Live Calypso Turntable and Encounter Tonearm

Origin Live Calypso Turtable“The Calypso is second from bottom in Origin Live’s stable of turntables, a belt-driven, non-suspended design with an outboard motor pod. In keeping with OL’s design philosophy (which can be read in detail here) the Calypso’s plinth and sub-chassis are a careful combination of several different materials, sized, shaped, positioned and joined together just so to minimize resonance….”

Dual CS-455-1M Automatic Turntable - A True “Turnkey Turntable”

Dual CS-455-1M Automatic Turntable
“Now, Dual has been making turntables longer than just about anybody else in the world, (since 1928), so they must have got it right by now. If you opt for a special additional phono stylus, it will even play 78 rpm discs. The other speeds are 33 1/3 and 45 rpm. The unit has an internal suspension that isolates it quite well, and no problems with feedback were encountered during the testing process. It comes in 5 versions, our review sample in piano black, the most luxurious of the range…”

Clearaudio Concept Turntable, Classic Cartridge and Verify Tonearm

Clearaudio Concept Turntable“The Clearaudio Concept is a solid chassis design, with spiked feet, an attractive brushed aluminum band surrounding the black chassis. The tonearm is called the Verify, and is a unipivot with a magnetic bearing for very low friction, while the Classic cartridge is a quite high-output moving magnet type with a very naked, seemingly non-replaceable stylus…”

Firestone Audio Korora MC/MM Phono Preamp

Korora Small“Nothing terribly shocking in the basic description department, the Korora being a small metal box made in China, with RCA ins and outs, a light on the front to tell you it’s on and a small outboard power supply. What is a little more interesting, however, is the fact that the Korora can run off an internal rechargeable battery and/or off the power supply. Simply yank the plug and any AC power noise is history, at least for eight to ten hours, which is how long the charge is said to last…”

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Phono Cartridge [AIG Archives]

Dynavector DV-20X H Moving Coil Cartridge

“I installed the DV-20X H in a SAEC headshell, and with its real weight and tracking weight being very close to that of both the Ortofon MC-3000II and the Kontrapunkt b, I could easily swap it in and out of the arm for comparisons, though its much higher output than the former necessitated substantial level reduction to match. The cartridge comes in a clear plastic box, with a set of colour-coded leads, a nice broad white-bristle stylus brush, and screws and bolts…”

Phono Accessories: Sonic Bliss Turntable Mat, High End Disc Stabilizer, HRS Analog Disk Record Clamp

HRS Record Clamp

“I was intrigued by the listing, and though there are many mats out there, most DJ slip types, this one looked interesting. Its technological hook seemed to be a crochet-like pattern that exposed at least as much air between the LP and platter as rubber, an integral part of the design of the RingMat I have used for close to 20 years. By providing this space, vinyl/stylus resonances and platter/motor noise are dissipated in the air, while the record is firmly supported…”

Analog Recorder Feature - Nagra IV-S TC, Stellavox SP8, Uher Report Monitor

Nagra IV-S“These three classic recorders epitomize the European approach to high quality portable recording, and all have been used extensively as professional tools, each finding its level of quality and individual expertise. The Nagra has been the acknowledged giant of the film business where high audio quality is concerned, and its ruggedness and reliability are legend, no matter what the temperature or other weather conditions. All this came at a considerable cost in its heyday, a fully tricked out IV-S running to 6 or 7 thousand dollars. And that time period lasted longer than that of any other portable professional recorder except the Uher, and rivaled that of the great studio Studer and Ampex machines.”

The Marantz PMD430: The Best Tape Deck Ever Made?

Marantz PMD 430

“I realized at the time, mid-89, that buying this tape recorder and selling my Nakamichi CR7 would be viewed by readers and other audiophiles as sheer insanity. Now, more than 15 years later, I still have my 430, and yet another one to last me through my dotage. Don’t see many CR7s coming up on eBay any more, if any are still in use…”

Tom Evans Microgroove Phono Preamp

Graham Slee Era Gold V

“Finally we come to the second product named after its designer, and the most visually unassuming of the bunch. Like most Tom Evans gear the Microgroove is housed in an enclosure of shiny black plastic, Tom’s belief being that non-metallic enclosures do a better job of resisting electro-magnetic interference…”

Pro-Ject Tube Box Phono Preamp

Graham Slee Era Gold V

“In comparison to the Graham Slee the Tube Box, from Austrian turntable giant Pro-Ject, is more of a switch hitter, as it’s configurable for both low output and high output cartridges. In MM mode (40 dB of gain) the Tube Box, like the Era Gold, is setup for standard 47k Ohm impedance. In MC mode (60 dB of gain) it can be configured, via a set of DIP switches, for 100, 220, or 1000 Ohms…”

Graham Slee Era Gold V Phono Preamp

Graham Slee Era Gold V

“Of the two eponymous British phono preamps on review here the Graham Slee Era Gold Mk 5 is the prettier little box, a simple, silver-faced brick with no lights or controls whatsoever. On its rear you’ll find gold-plated RCA inputs and outputs, a grounding post, and an input for the 24 volt outboard power supply…”

Clearaudio Emotion Turntable, Satisfy Tonearm, Aurum Classiscs Cartridge

Clearaudio Emotion Turntable with Satisfy Tonearm

“I suppose this, the least expensive Clearaudio phono reproduction package, could be said to epitomize the company’s approach. Everything is acrylic except for tonearm, cartridge, and platter bearing. If not completely clear, the turntable is definitely translucent, and mechanically very simple for a record reproducer…”

Rega Turntable Tweaks - Rega Planar 3 Turntable Motor Upgrade

Rega Turntable Tweaks

“When the Planar 3 evolved into the P3 a couple of years back the biggest change was a new motor and motor mounting arrangement. Whereas the motor on the Planar 3 was suspended below the plinth on a pair of elastics, the P3’s new motor can be rigidly mounted to the plinth, owing to its much lower levels of vibration. The new motor also does away with active, electronic trimming, apparently enhancing its smoothness even further…”

Rega Turntable Tweaks - Iron Audio Rega Acrylic Platter Upgrade

Rega Turntable Tweaks

“Perhaps an odd name for a company making products out of acrylic, Iron Audio was, until recently, called Sheer Audio and you may have seen their platters marketed under this name in the past. As with the Origin Live upgrade this one is for Rega users only, Iron Audio’s acrylic platter designed to fit the Planar 3, P3 and the P25. The company also makes a model for the Planar 2, P2 and NAD turntable…”

Rega Turntable Tweaks - Aural Thrills Turntable Isolation Box

Rega Turntable Tweaks

“A few months back I was trolling around Ebay looking for bargains in phono stages and cartridges and stumbled upon a turntable isolation box made by a small company in Texas called Aural Thrills Audio. I’d been having good results running my Rega on the top shelf of a Vantage Point four shelf rack with the help of a slab of granite and some Black Diamond Racing cones and “those things” (carbon fibre squares used with the cones). Keeping the thing perfectly level, however, was an exercise in frustration…”

Rega Turntable Tweaks - Origin Live Tonearm Modification

Rega Turntable Tweaks

“In business since 1986 this British company is starting to gain more and more recognition in North America for its Rega arm modifications as well as for its own arms and turntables. It’s easy to tell that the owners are audio fanatics themselves and their excellent website offers a wealth of information and advice for the turntable tweaker and plenty of detail about their products…”

Rega Turntable Tweaks (Introduction)

Rega Turntable Tweaks

“As for analog hardware I’ve been steadily working on trying to wring ever more performance from my Rega Planar 3. One of the best things about owning such a popular product, produced in great number over a period of many years, is that more people will inevitably dream up ways of improving it…”

Ortofon Kontrapunkt b Moving Coil Cartridge

Ortofon Kontrapunkt b

“The first series of cartridges named after a Bach theme, that of the Contrapunctus XIX where the composer’s name appears in the upper voice at one point, the Kontrapunkt a and b kartridges (If Linn can do it, so can I!) are based on the previous Jubilee series of more expensive models, and before that the MC-3000 to MC-7500 top models…”


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