Tuesday, September 30, 2014

No better than this...

25th album from John Mellencamp, an American singer-songwriter (2010) is a self produced with minimalist setup. A modern day mono recording on vintage ampex reel to reel recorder and single ribbon microphone. 

3 different venue of recording including a hotel room. Mr Mellencamp rich tone of voice is clearly projected in the mix. It's musical storytelling and Mellencamp has never sounded looser or easier on a record.

This isn't a perfectly honed set but what I can tell you, it is warm...inviting...awesome..addictive...almost being there experience. It was easy to get into the music with no need to focus for separation, sound staging etc....it's naturally there.

No better than this, is a haunted record.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Frank Power Bank - PB-15000Ws

This is my first ever investment in power supply related equipment. I always wanted a proper power filtration, regulated power supply or balanced trans to feed my audio rig. Good design power supply are normally expensive and that makes me always put on hold for the purchase. As the substantial amount of money needed, I've always made a diversion upgrading into other components. By the way PB15000Ws is not a regulator or filtration device, it works differently. But i always believed since day one...good clean power is everything.

Frank is the designer of the Power Bank PB15000Ws and few other products as well. With rave review from users, I've made a decision to purchase from him without an audition. He is a busy man and I put trust on him in this...after all we are known to each other years before. It was a deal and he got it delivered.

The unit need to be charged for 6 hours before initial use and half an hour for installation, that's a swift. Connected directly to my dedicated audio power grid which drawn from mcb and here's how it works:

"The shunt reactor is an absorber of reactive power, thus increasing the energy efficiency of the system. It is the most compact device commonly used for reactive power compensation in long high-voltage transmission lines and in cable system. Frank Acoustics has modified this system using a proprietary system for domestic abodes. The Frank Power Bank Storage component is essentially a scaled down version of this unique system for maintaining AC power to your Hi-fi system" - Frank.

After 7 hours of charging, I started to power up my setup and ready for the first spin of vinyl. First on the platter was Eric Clapton MTV unplugged and queue for Tears in Heaven as it is my most familiar track in the album. 

Starting from cold start up (my setup), I noticed there is an increase in image density to the whole band. The musicians are in ample space between them, thus gives musical instruments more air around them with good decay. Mr. Clapton's foot tapping during the song are position very well in the sound stage.  

This is a live recording, so the musicians aesthetic parlance are clearly picked up during the session...lively!.

Next on the platter was my long time favorite "test" record, Norah Jones - Come away with me. Since the noise floor is reduced, you can almost feel like listening to entirely different pressing of LP. The dark sound staging with better depth of image and great spatial information is what I have encountered. The bass flow are consistent and kick bass with greater presence than before.

The voice projection from Norah Jones seem to sound more freely. Ok, let me try to differentiate how it sound before installing the PB (with some exaggeration). Her voice without PB is like someone hold her neck while singing (not choking) and with PB installed her voices are in full expression and sweet little vibrato to add. It is all great even without PB but when PB came in...it is excellent!.

As mentioned like listening to different pressing of LP, this is like analog master copy being remastered by Bernie Grundman and pressing done by Quality Record or ORG.RTI. It is not hard to notice if you familiar with your favorite track or record. If you looking for a sound change like moving from a night in vietnam jungle to a night in 5 stars hotel, you might have to change the whole setup with expensive line up. With no doubt this going to stay in my system and you should too.

Garbage in garbage out...that is how important power supply to your system, It just like drinking water filter in your house.

The unit still in running in process and I'm sure more significant improvement in my next listening session.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

PTP5 - A Lenco Base Turntable...

I first started this hobby way back 23 years ago and for the past 15 years I have been changing multiple turntables through out the period. A total of 9 consists of Michell Gyrodec, Thorens TD124MKII, Clearaudio Champion and Roksan to name a few. Between all these, the Thorens TD124MKII has given me the sweetness in musicality and Clearaudio with its precision with soul in musicality

In early 2013, I acquired NOS Lenco L75 with an upgraded multilayer plinth. After replacing the v block from Desmos, which is a must thing to do after getting a Lenco. The V blocks are made from rubber like silicone and you will not getting correct azimuth as the worn out blocks doesn't wears out symmetrically. I put on the first record and I was immediately struck by its tone, musicality and sweetness. In 2001, 2002 or even 2003 the price of L75 was a paltry RM400-500 and they were easily available and nobody wants it because of being vintage, old and its look. For the past one and a half years I was listening to L75 multilayer plinth with no complaint, it just great.

Lenco arm completely not in service as the rega came in and removed all the accessories for rega clearance.

While having the stock Lenco tonearm, I have added another tonearm, the Rega as my plinth can accommodate with 2 tonearms. The Rega is a better tracker compared to original Lenco tonearm, hands down and I wasn't stop there when I read about PTP project from LencoHeaven. A Lenco community forum which actively discussing about Lenco on how to bring out the best of its capability. Peter, the designer of the top plate for PTP is very friendly in answering questions. I ordered the plate package from him in Europe and the plinth need to be changed for sure as the design of the PTP is well out of Lenco's traditional look.

Why the plinth must be upgraded?....I let the pro answer for you and here it is...

The Lenco doesn't need a plinth in order to be Great, it is inherently Great. The plinth just brings it to a higher level. If you were to buy a Lenco, replace the rubber V-blocks with new ones, solder a better tonearm cable to the tags, put in some new oil for the bearing, apply some Dynamat here and there, and buy a Denon DL-103 which LOVES the high-mass Lenco tonearm, you would have several thousands of dollars worth of performance (and in terms of bass, dynamics and PRaT simply world class) for very little money. The trick with the original Lenco plinth is simply to defeat the suspension: remove the springs, torque down the Lenco to its own plinth via the provided screws, remove the bottom entirely as so many do with these "hollow-box" designs (like the Thorens and LP12s) and mount the corners up on rubber feet or Tiptoes. If you are fortunate and can find one, the Decca International tonearm fits with precise geometry into the tonearm-hole of both the Lenco L75 and L78. I once restored a Lenco in original plinth and fitted it with a Decca International and Grado Platinum for a fellow who had an Acoustic Signature Final Tool turntable with a SME 309/Benz Micro Ruby, and he MUCH preferred the Lenco/Decca/Platinum. He sold the Acoustic with no regrets, to put it mildly. Another fellow set up a Rega tonearm in the original hole despite improper geometry and VTA (as I did for a long while), set it up on bricks with no plinth whatsoever, and reported this combo easily beat his maxed-out Linn LP12. A friend of mine still, after 6 years, uses a Lenco with Rega RB-300 mounted in original hole, his system sounds glorious: true speed stability goes a looonnng way to reducing mistracking. Check under my "system" under my name on Audiogon to see the "Oak Lenco", which shows this set-up. Once the suspension is defeated, then a stable platform does a lot to further improve the sound. Johnnantais (System | Threads | Answers | This Thread)

The above text copied from Audiogon forum and John Nantais is one of the well known Lenco's guru.

From the above statement, even though he said that the Lenco doesn't need a plinth but he does mentioned that a plinth will brings it to a higher level. In this case the better the plinth, the higher the improvement and who want to use a naked Lenco without a plinth...so why not make the best. A good solid plinth, free from vibrations is a must. 

Remove the springs, direct coupling to the solid plinth, so that the platter and top plate will benefit from vibration free body and its mass.

Original L75's top plate has four point suspension spring and it has been improved with newer model L78 which using viscosity suspension spring. More solid and reliable springs in L78 has been a good effect in reducing top plate's vibration, ringing etc. This is due to the fact that the L75 using 2mm top plate with heavy platter. The improvement in L78 however still using the 2mm top plate but with better springs and it does not completely solved the problem, the top plate need to be rigid to withstand the torque of the motor and heavy platter. Hence, the resurrection of Lenco with multilayer plinth makes a huge success. The top plate are in contact with the plinth directly to benefits the heavy multilayer body mass. The platter spins with better speed stability and one thing to remember that the spring not only moves up and down, but it does sway when the motor/idler wheel is engaged. You wont notice, but there is.

and why PTP?...

The PTP5 uses 4mm high carbon stainless steel (hcss) plates which is double the thickness of original top plate. The PTP5 plates has been divided into 2 sections which isolates the motor and spindle altogether. I guess logically you'll know what kind of improvement like when these are separated...vibration free solution. The PTP still using the proven multilayer plinth as solid base is needed for better support, it just a new design, new cutting of plywood to fit the PTP plate. You like it or not...solid foundation support is a must.

How's the sound?...

Previously on L75/multilayer/RB300 I have no complaint and thought that's the best a Lenco can go. Not until I tried the PTP method...the whole presentation has changed with solid, agile, pronounce bassline. Highs that flow freely with no restriction and the separation of instruments were much better than before. Due to properly isolated motor and spindle on  different plate, detail retrieval is great and it sound huge. You never know until you tried and you never know that something "new" in the recording until you listen to it.

All the upgrades, installations was done by friend of mine, Az Rekod. Please take note the multilayer plinth is not a normal, ordinary stacking of plywood. It was a tedious one month job for a proper contact with special adhesive property.