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Hana SL Cartridge Review

Posted 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.



Dynaudio Contour 20 Review

Posted on May 20, 2017 at 11:20 AM Comments comments (1)



The component that sets the performance ceiling in an audio system is the speakers. It doesn’t matter how good an amp or source you get, once you reach your speakers performance limit, you are done, creating the need to upgrade to better speakers.


I happened to reach that point a few months ago, and concluded I wanted; a fast, neutral, transparent, non fatiguing speaker that let me enjoy any kind of music, and do not excite the problematic low frequency in my small room.


But how we know what speakers to look for?


It all depends in the room acoustics, system electronics components and the listener music taste. Probably, the time to start looking for better speakers is once audio distortions and frequency response imbalances become noticeable and they are not easily resolved with room acoustics or different electronics components.


I recomend to start the search, asking local shop’s representatives for suggestion based on needs, desires and budget. To narrow down the list you can read customer’s and expert’s reviews. Based on their opinions you can get a general idea of the speakers sound. Is important to stay away from brand fanatics, their recommendations may be bias.


At last, try to demo speakers at home. Unfortunately, speaker’s demos at audio stores do not tell you the whole story, due to the fact that the acoustic environment and electronics are probably different to the system at home.


I was unable to try out any of the speakers I was interested; the Focal Supra N1, Sonus Faber Olympica 1 and Dynaudio Contour 20. But after reviewing the Dynaudio Excite X18, I knew I liked the Dynaudio sound.


So I took the chance on the Contour 20’s hoping they will have; better tonal balance, higher resolution and transparency, in a more mature, and elegant enclosure. Thankfully, the Dynaudio Contour 20 bookshelf speakers ($5,000 USD) managed to be all of that, and more!


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Construction


The Contour 20 is part of the completely redesign Contour family of speakers from Dynaudio, probably their most recognizable speaker line. It has gone through an extensive update to incorporate all the technology and knowledge the company has acquire in the 10 years since their last revision of this speaker.


A two way bookshelf design, the Contour 20 incorporates their top of the line Esotar2 soft-dome tweeter, commonly regarded as one of the world best drivers. It is a high resolution driver that poses the non fatiguing top end we have come to expect from Dynaudio without the neutral shift associated to soft-dome tweeters.



The woofer is a completely new MSP (a proprietary Dynaudio material) seven inch ( 7” ) driver, with an extended-excursion aluminum voice-coil and vented dual-ferrite magnets. The driver diaphragm’s thickness varies across its surface, for better resonance control. This driver is a deviation from Dynaudio’s wide voice-coil’s to a long-excursion design, claiming cleaner and better low frequencies.


The Contours signature front baffle has also undergone major changes. Now, made of 14 mm solid aluminum, it curves around the MDF cabinet, providing a solid and inert foundation for the drivers. The new design is said to reduce undesirable high-frequency diffraction.


The speaker cabinet is a multi-layer MDF design with very thick layers: a 38mm back plate, 26 mm fronts and 16 mm side plates. The design is an extremely stiff and stable construction reducing any unwanted vibrations that could color sound.


The audio crossover is a 2nd order, 2 way design, matched to the new drivers. Constructed with high quality parts, the use of Mundorf components is supposed to reduce the detrimental effect of crossover parts in the audio signal. There is only a single pair of high quality binding post on the rear base of the speaker.


Speaker Placement


These are big bookshelf speakers, (dimensions (W x H x D): 8.5 x 17.3 x 14.2in), but once mounted on their matching stands (Dynaudio Model 6 Stands) and top plate, they are easy to position in the room. Their rear ported bass reflex designs has 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 in a half (1-1/2’ feet) of distance between the rear and side walls. If space is a premium, Dynaudio provides tunable port plugs, to help control the speakers low frequency output. The speaker ports do not exhibit any distortion, noise or sound coloration, commonly associated with ported designs.



I didn’t use the port plugs in my room, but I did experiment with them. They have a removable cylinder inside, for less or more dampening as needed. You can easily go crazy just playing with the speaker ports.


The Contour 20 need at least six (6) feet of space between them to provide 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


And sharp it is! Don't get me wrong, these are not edgy speakers. Resolution and speed are their biggest strength. Their response is so fast, they can tilt to the analytic side, but their sound is never harsh. Thanks in part to the tweeter, which provides a clean, rounded and extended top end.


The crossover from tweeter to midrange is natural and transparent, no obvious coloration of male or female voices. Rebecca Pidgeon voice, on her debut album The Raven (Chesky Records - LP115), sounds pure, and is velvety smooth with lots of layers of dynamic transients and resolution, with no sibilance.




The bass is taut and crisp, more than you would expect from a bookshelf speaker. There is a lot of texture and instrument note’s definition. The speakers definitely don’t go as low as tower speaker, but room boundaries help them deliver the goods.


The sound enjoys a non congested effortless sense of space and depth. The speakers easily disappear in the room, leaving only music behind. Tonal balance seems correct, with no deviation toward warm or cold.


Opinion


As their marketing brochure says, the Contour 20 is pure, honest and compact. Personally, I could not think of a better way to describe them. Others, had gone as far to say these are reference monitor speaker, this is a matter of personal taste, that I leave you to decide.


But there is a catch, at 4ohms and 86db, these are not efficient speakers. They do like lots of current. I’m impress that my electronics can handle them with such ease, but I’m sure they would benefit from more power. In the long run an amplifier upgrade may be needed.



If you liked this article you may be interested on our review of the Monitor Audio Bronze 2.

 

 

Specifications:

Dynaudio Contour 20 (Bookshelf Speaker)

www.dynaudio.com

Estimated Price: $5,000 (Reviewed model is a premium finish with a higher cost, ask dealer for price)

Sensitivity: 86db (2.83V/ 1m)

Impedance: 4 Ohms

Frequency Response: 39 Hz – 23kHz (+/-3db)

Crossover: 2 way, 2nd order (2,200 Hz)

Woofer: 7” MSP cone

Tweeter: 1.1” Esotar2

Weight: 34lb (each speaker)

Dimensions (W x H x D): 8.5 x 17.3 x 14.2in

 

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


FormatoAnalgo.com bought the reviewed product from:



Audio Degenerate

Audio visual equipment store (New & Used)

f. @audiodegenerate

t. (787) 405-5529

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

Guaynabo, Puerto Rico



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.


Turntable Set-Up Guide

Posted on April 30, 2017 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (1)



Learn how to setup your own turntable following this seven (7) simple steps, to extract maximum performance from your equipment. At FormatoAnalogo.com we think that anyone serious about analog audio should know how to configure his or her turntable.

 

#1 Install the Cartridge on the Tonearm

 

Probably the most tedious part of the process is fixing the cartridge to the tonearm. You must be very care full not to damage or bend your cartridge cantilever and stylus, this is the part of the cartridge that gets in contact with the vinyl record. Correct installation and alignment is critical to reduce distortion, tracking error and record ware.


Before starting to work on your turntable, remove any arm and hand jewelry. As well, avoid long sleeves.


Mount the cartridge on your tonearm head shell with the manufacture provided hardware. If your tonearm has a removable head shell, mount your cartridge with the head shell uninstalled. This will reduce the stress on the tonearm pivot points and the chance of damages.


To fine tune your turntable sound you may try different mounting hardware material. This may have an effect in your cartridge and tonearm resonance point, resulting in a variation in sound.


Remember to check for your cartridge and tonearm compatibility before installing. You need to look for your cartridge and tonearm total mass and cartridge compliance to assure proper operation.


When connecting your tonearm leads to the cartridge be cautious not to stress the connections as they may break. Correspondingly, you need to make sure they are firm and secure, loose connection may cause noise and distortion.


Follow your manufacture instruction for correct cartridge leads connection color coding and order, this are the colors denotations:


Right Channel:

Red = Positive

Green = Neutral


Left Channel:

White = Positive

Blue = Neutral


 


#2 Vertical Tracking Force “VTF” Adjustment




VTF is the amount of force or pressure the cartridge places on the vinyl record. It needs to be set correctly to ensure proper compression of the cartridge suspension. Failure to do so will reduce the sound dynamic range. To adjust, simply balance your tonearm with the supplied balance weight and then moved inward or outward to obtain desired force. Always start with the manufacture recommended weight and slightly tune as you like. Consider buying a commercially available digital stylus force gauge for a precise adjustment.


#3 Leveling the Turntable

 

The turntable should be place on a solid and rigid surface, that helps avoid feedback due to ambient and music vibrations that may reach the cartridge, and negatively affect sound. Leveling the turntable will reduce the effect of gravity on the platter rotation speed and tonearm bias.

 

(Incorrect)


(Correct)


#4 Use a protractor design for your tonearm to correctly align your cartridge.

 

The vinyl record master is cut horizontally this means there is always distortion with a cartridge mounted on a tangential tonearm. The trick is to reduce this distortion with correct alignment and offset. If done right, 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 manufactures provide a protractor with their turntable, if not, you may look for a template online or buy a commercially available one.


If uncomfortable performing this procedure please contact a dealer or professional for help.


Remember to recheck the VTF as it may change due to cartridge adjustment.




#5 Azimuth Adjustment

 

Azimuth is the stylus horizontal angle, as seen from the front, in relation to the vinyl record surface. Without a correct azimuth setting, the electrical output from the cartridge’s two generators will be unequal (when reproducing a signal with equal amplitude in both channels). This will result in a channel imbalance and a shift of the soundstage to either the left or right.


Please note that not all tonearms provide for azimuth adjustment, Rega tonearms is an example. Please refer to your tonearm manufacture instructions before doing any adjustments.


The basic way to adjusting azimuth is to visually estimate if the cartridge body is parallel to vinyl record, and adjust as necessary. This procedure may get you in the ballpark, but it will not account for manufacturing tolerance deviations which can affect channel balance.

 

(Incorrect)


(Correct)


A more advance and reliable way to adjust your azimuth is to use an artefact like the Fozgometer made by Musical Surroundings. It lets you measure channel output on the fly, for easy adjustment and optimization.


You will need a test record with discrete (right and left) test signal, and out of face, or null test signal, such as The Ultimate Analogue Test LP (AAPT / Analogue Productions) Using the Fozgometer to measure, you will adjust your azimuth until the same output is attain from both channels. You can confirm proper balance with the null test signal, when measured there should be no output, as both channel should cancel out.


Make sure to properly calibrate the Fozgomiter (Refer to the manufacture provided instructions) before your first use, or you may obtain incorrect results. In addition, remember to recheck the VTF as it may change due to cartridge adjustment.




 

#6 Vertical Tracking Angel “VTA”

 

VTA is the stylus vertical angel, as seen from the side, in relation to the vinyl record. This parameter may be adjusted by raising or lowering your tonearm base. As with azimuth some tonearms don’t provide for VTA adjustment, again, Rega tonearms is an example. Please refer to your tonearm manufacture instructions before doing any adjustments.


The idea is to set the angle of the cantilever relative to the record surface to closely approximate that of the original cutter head. As with all other parameters you need to keep in mind that lowering or raising your tonearm will change the physical interaction between cartridge and record, equally, changing the sound.



 

A starting point, is to set your arm tube parallel to the platter, while resting on the record surface. This may be hard to accomplish with tempered arms, but do your best. If the cartridge manufacturer angled the cantilever at approximately 22 degrees to the horizontal, then setting the arm tube parallel to the record surface should be adequate. Unfortunately, cantilevers are not always angled correctly, so setting the arm tube parallel to the record surface may not result in the correct setting. Adding to the complexity, not all records are the same height, resulting in a VTA variation from record to record.


Setting VTA is a compromise, it is best set by experimenting with different settings and settle on the one that sounds best to the ear. If you want to experiment with various VTA settings, keep in mind that setting the VTA too high will cause the high frequencies to be accentuated, resulting in a bright sound. Whereas, setting the VTA too low will cause the low frequencies to be accentuated, resulting in a bass heavy sound. A correct setting will reduce groove and surface noise, and music will have a balance presentation.


Now is an appropriate time to recheck all your previous settings, to make sure they have not change, and readjust as necessary

 

#7 Anti-Skate Adjustment

 

Anti-skate 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.


Unfortunately, this setting is another compromise as this force varies continuously across the surface of the record. Most tonearms contain some sort of mechanism that applies a force in the opposite direction of the skating force with approximately equal magnitude. Please refer to your tonearm manufacture instructions before doing any adjustments.


(Spring Mechanism)


(Weight Mechanism)




Undestanding turntable anti-skate is not easy, a basic recommendation is to set anti-skate equal to your VTF. As example if you VTF is 1.5 grams you will set your anti skate accordingly.


An alternative is to use a test record. By adjusting the amount of anti-skate until the Bias Setting tracks on The Ultimate Analogue Test LP 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. 


Now you may recheck all your previous settings for the last time, to make sure they have not change and readjust as necessary. You may have notice that each step influences the previous one, making this a trial and error process. With time practice and experience will improve your results.


Congratulations! If you had correctly follow all the steps, you now have a good sounding turntable were to enjoy your records for a long time. As you continue listening to your set up make minor adjustment until satisfied with the result, remember there is not a perfect setting so try not to stress it too much. You may periodically recheck your settings to make sure everything is in order. Then sit back, relax and enjoy your vinyl record collection.



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


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.


AXPONA 2017 System Gallery

Posted on April 29, 2017 at 12:40 AM Comments comments (0)


FormatoAnalogo.com has prepared a photo gallery of audio systems at AXPONA 2017.

 

We took hundred of photos of the exhibitor’s rooms, during the tree day show. Unfortunately, time was not enough to see and heard them all, and some rooms may be missing. It was a lot of work to edit and upload all of the pictures to the site, but I feelt, is the least I can do for those that were not able to make it to the show.

 

Hope you enjoy!

















































Last: AXPONA 2017 (New Products)


Follow us on Facebook and help FormatoAnalogo.com propagate the passion for analog audio. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our website and community. Register 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.



AXPONA 2017 New Products

Posted on April 28, 2017 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Part of the fun of attending AXPONA 2017 was finding out what new products manufactures came out with. Here are a few of the highlights of the show.

 

Clearaudio had their new flag ship moving magnet cartridge call the Charisma ($2,000 USD). Features include the same diamond-coated Boron cantilever found in the Goldfinger Statement MC cartridge and the use of highly efficient magnets. Clearaudio said the result is a quality of sound that, until now, seemed unachievable from MM cartridges. Pictured below at the Needle Doctor Room, mounted on a Universal Tonearm and Clearaudio Innovation Wood turntable.


At the same room was the new Musical Surrounding Super Nova III phono preamplifier ($5,000 USD). It is a Mike Yee design with a fully discrete dual-mono circuit with a stand-alone Linear Charging power supply. The SuperNova III utilizes a bank of power supply capacitors in conjunction with custom dual-mono rechargeable NiMH battery packs.





We got to see the new VPI Scout turntable. It has redesigned new look, JMW 9 Tonearm, and 300 rpm motor. Also, we got a sneak peek of the new VPI Prime Signature with a wood plinth.




Mr. Ron Sutherland present us his new KC Vibe phono stage ($895 USD), It uses an 48 volts external power supply filtered down to 30 volts through capacitors and resistors, greatly reducing unwanted power supply ripple and noice. This phono preamp promises top notch performance at a relatively affordable price. We are looking forward to trying one.



Both the Technics SL1200G ($4,000 USD) and the new SL1200GR ($2,000 USD) were at display in the show. This turntables are completely new designs based on the regarded SL1200 from 80’s and 90’s, the later one being and step down from last year more expensive table. Technics new SB-G90 Floor standing speakers (left of picture) and SU-G700 integrated amplifier were also unveiled at the show.




The new Caliber bookshelf speaker was one of the main attractions at the Legacy Audio room. A full tree way design in a small enclosure, offers dynamics and resolution associated with bigger speakers.



The guy’s at Fern & Roby have a new entry into the phono stage arena with the Maverick Phono Preamplifier 2.0. This is a fully configurable phono preamplifier for $625 USD, it even has a switchable gain daughter board to chose between moving magnet (MM) and moving coil (MC) cartridge.





Last: AXPONA 2017 (The Marketplace)                                                                                      Next: AXPONA 2017 (System Gallery)



Follow us on Facebook and help FormatoAnalogo.com propagate the passion for analog audio. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our website and community. Register 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.



AXPONA 2017 The Marketplace

Posted on April 25, 2017 at 6:20 PM Comments comments (1)


The team of FormatoAnalogo.com was at the Audio Expo North America 2017 (AXPONA) this last weekend. The activity was held at the Westin O’Hare at Rosemont, IL. Our journey at AXPONA started at the marketplace, and here is what we found.


As we entered the market doors, there were the exhibitors of the three main retailers of high quality vinyl recordings (Acoustic Sounds, Music Direct and lusive Disc). Other than vinyl records, there were accessories, CD's, SACD's and Reel to Reel tapes available for sale.  





Mr. Todd Garfinkle from MA Recordings show us some of his recordings from varios generes. This records add variety to a market flood with Rock, Jazz and Classical music. Also, the production of this records is first class. We look forward to review the records pictured below. For more information pleas visit www.marecordings.com.



At the left end of the salon we found Dr. Vinyl (www.drvinyl.net), a puerto rican stablished in Maryland (USA) how offers; turntable calibration services and sell respected and well regarded audio products. We talked about the new HANA SL cartridge ($750), which in a short time had acquired legendary status among audiophiles, mainly due to his performance to price ratio. We are arranging to receive a sample for review in the weeks to come.




Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab was displaying his new entry into the turntable and phono preamp market at AXPONA. They hope to capture the interest of the newcomers to the “formato análogo” at an affordable price.



Mitch Anderson of Twelve-inch.com surprise us with a $12 dollars ingenios device which let you easily display your favorite vinyl records on the wall without a frame. We invite you to access their web site to see how it works. I definitely want one!



In case you thought you has seen everything, Mr. Ben Bennett was exhibiting the Mooo Mat (www.mooomat.com). A turntable mat which main feature is his good looks and uniqueness. Due to the nature of the animal skin used no mat is identical. Did I forget to say that it is also supposed to improve your turntable audio performance?





NEXT: AXPONA 2017 (New Products)



Follow us on Facebook and help FormatoAnalogo.com propagate the passion for analog audio. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to our website and community. Register 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.






Rega Planar 3 Turntable Review

Posted on April 19, 2017 at 6:40 PM Comments comments (1)

 


The Rega turntable philosophy favor lightweight design and a rigid tonearm over greater adjustability. This way of thinking had led a Rega to be a highly respected turntable manufacture.


While other companies add more mass and complexity to their tables, Rega remains firm in his belief that the perfect player has; a vibration less motors, an infinitely rigid platform without mass and a friction less bearing without any vertical movement.

 

These requirements are impossible to achieve, even so, Rega continues to innovate their products in search of perfection. The Rega Planar 3, is the latest version of the legendary 3 series and it incorporates the latest advances in the company technology, while staying at the $1,000 price range.


Construction

 

If you have ever held a carbon fiber bike you will understand what I initially felt lifting the Planar 3 (weighs 13lbs), It’s lightness presents a huge contrast in a world fill with heavyweight turntables, but this doesn’t mean it fells cheap. The high quality MDF and acrylic covered platform combined with the aluminum bracket results in a, simple and good looking, light and stiff base.

 

The player rubber feet’s have been optimized for better vibration insulation. I must note, that the platform can’t be level by means of the feet’s, is important to install the table in a level and rigid stand or table to ensure best operation and lessen the likelihood of any vibration associated feedback.




Our review example came with Rega Elys2 moving magnet cartridge pre-installed on an RB330 tone arm. This arm is also a newly optimized design that reduces resonances, meanwhile, it increases stiffness and strength, through technology that redistributes the mass of the arm strategically, as well, it contains improvements in the bearing assembly, tracking force and anti-skate mechanism. I must highlight that this arm does not have a dedicated grounding cable, it ground to earth thru the neutral conductor of the left channel connector.

 

The motor too has seen improvements in terms of its quality and durability. The platter is constructed of glass and rests on a polycarbonate sub-platter, optimized to increase contact and reduce vibration transfer. These improves the interaction of weight to rotating mass, to maintain a constant and accurate speed.

 

In few words, the Planar 3 is a brand-new turntable, developed on proven technology and experience acquired with the brand more upscale products.




Instalation


This player doesn’t require any complex tuning or adjustments. The only settings to be performed are the tracking force and anti-skate, all other parameters are fixed. The instruction manual makes available a method to adjust this parameters without the need of additional tools.

 

The Rega cartridge mounting system results in proper alignment. It does not allow any adjustment, so I trusted the supplied alignment. I adjusted the weight of the cartridge to 1.75 g according to owner’s manual recommendation. The method supplied by the manufacturer proved to be accurate, as confirmed with an external scale. The anti-skate was also adjusted to 1.75 as a starting point.

 

The tone arm and the cartridge resonance is good, with a resonance between 9 Hz to 11Hz point. The cartridge factory alignment performance was excellent with no noticeable, friction, miss tracking or background noise.

 

The azimuth balance tests did show a slight deviation to the right channel, there was no easy solution for these with the RB330 tonearm. A slight pan to the right of the soundstage was apparent during regular operation.


  


Correspondingly, the platter rotation speed was on the quicker side, producing a minor deviation of all frequencies. Rega sells a speed controller (TT-PSU) which could help to correct this situation. However, the stability of the rotational speed was acceptable.


 


Sound

 

Despite the noted set up deficiencies, the sound produced by this table is excellent. There is good resolution, focus, and body to the instruments. The voice of Jack Johnson, in his album "Here to Now to You" (Brushfire Records - 0602537455270), stands out naturally from a dark background and without any congestion.

 

This is a musical turntable and by no means analytical. It excels in the emotional involvement department, the impact and dynamism of the music are superbly rendered, but it would fail to break down all the minute details in the musical.

 

Conclusion

 

The Rega Planar 3 produces a sensational sound. The ease of setup of this table will make it desirable to the analog novice. Is as simple as, take it out of the box, place it on a solid and level surface, adjust the cartridge weight and anti-skate following the owner instructions and you are ready to enjoy the magic of vinyl.

 

 

If you liked this article you may be interested on our Audio Technica AT-LP120-USB turntable review.



 

Specifications:

Rega Planar 3

www.rega.co.uk

Estimated price: $1,145.99 (as reviewed)

Tonearm: RB330

Cartridge: Elys 2 (Moving Magnet)

Motor: 24v (Polea)

Dimensions: 18.0” (W) x 4.5” (H) x 14.2” (D)

Weight: 13.23 lbs.

 

Associated Equipment:

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

f. @AudiovisionariesLLC

t. (787) 728-6969

Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm

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.


Pro-Ject Phono Box S Review

Posted on April 4, 2017 at 7:05 PM Comments comments (0)



The Pro-Ject Phono Box S is designed to fulfill the amplification needs of budget minded vinyl lover, without sacrificing adjustability and compatibility. But do this likeminded phono pre-amp compromises performance to meet its $199.99 price point.

 

Construction

 

The Phono Box S is confined in a small case, allowing for easy positioning beneath a turntable. Its weight of 1.25 lb, which helps with the perception of quality. Although, most of this weight is due to its robust chassis and not its internal components. The front plate is available in black or silver to ease the integration in any system.




There are input, output and ground connectors in the back. Also, there’s a button to trigger the subsonic filter. This filter helps control excessive movement of the "Woofer", movement caused occasionally by the ripples in the vinyl discs. It uses an external power transformer, common at this price point, with a variety of adapters to fulfill the power needs anywhere in the world.

 

On the inside, we discovery a small circuit board, with discrete “dual mono" configuration and three small WIMA polypropylene capacitors. All in accordance with the marketing material. However, the assertion that the components are audiophile-grade are a bit overstated and are focused to the uninformed buyer.




All the magic happens down below, were we find dip switches that allow for gain, loading and capacitance adjustments. Making the Phono Box S compatible with a considerable sum of phono cartridges, whether Moving Magnet (MM) or Moving Coil (MC).

 

Signal gain settings are 40, 43, 60 and 63 dB’s. Moving Coil Cartridge (MC) loading can be adjusted to 10, 100 and 1,000ohms. Even, the moving magnet cartridge (MM) capacitance can be switched between 100, 200, 320, and 420pf. This is the most adjustability I have seen in a phono pre-amp at this price.




Sound

 

The Ortofon 2 M Red is one of my favorite entry level (MM) cartridges, so I gave it a try for this review. With the phono gain set to 40db, the sound I got from the 2M red is energetic and with lot of presence. The extension of high and low frequencies is appropriate. However, the bass is a bit wobbly and booming. Likewise, resolution, analysis and transparency are traded for a warmer more lay back presentation. Attempts to adjust capacitance seemed to have no effect on this cartridge.


Let be fair, this phono pre-amp is designed to work with entry level cartridges and be pleasing to the ear, but I wanted to grasp what it could do with a more expensive cartridge, like the Ortofon Quintet Black. To use the Quintet Black (MC) I changed the gain to 60db and adjusted the loading until I settled at 100ohms were I got the best performance on my system, even though Ortofon recommends 20ohms.

 

Again, I wasn't expecting exceptional performance with a cartridge of this level. However, the Phono Box S amplified the signal at a reasonable quality. Nevertheless, it was clear it could not keep pace with the minor changes in volume and detail that the Quintet Black extracts from vinyl records.

 

Conclusion

 

Pro-Ject Phono Box S flexibility makes it appropriate for an evolving analog set up, its sound quality is correspondent to its price. Moreover, it is a decent replacement for the mediocre solutions found on most turntables, receivers and integrated amplifiers.

 

If you liked this article you may be interested on our Vincent Audio PHO-8 phono preamplifier review.


 

 

Specifications:

Pro-Ject Phono Box S

www.project-audio.com

Estimated price: $199.99

Frequency response: 20 - 20kHZ (+/- 0.4 dB)

Gain settings: 40/43dB (MM) / 60/63dB (MC)

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

Capacitance: 100/200/320/420pf

Dimensions: 4.0” (W) x 1.4” (H) x 4.0” (D)

Weight: 1.25 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


The reviewed product was provided to FormatoAnalogo.com by:




Audio visual equipment store

f. @Audioworkspr

t. (787) 765-8188

Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm

San Juan, 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.


Rogue Audio Sphinx v2. Review

Posted on March 27, 2017 at 12:35 AM Comments comments (0)


 

Some weeks ago, while at a vinyl listening session at Audio Degenerate (a local Hi-Fi shop), the Rogue Audio Sphinx v2 came to my attention. Since we had just made an unboxing of the Sphinx, the subject of the current integrated market design trends came up.

 

The current manufactures fashion is to include digital conversion to analog converters “DAC” on their integrated amplifiers. That may not be a problem if they were not sourced from mediocre home theater receivers. I dread that with passage of time these converters will become obsolete. That’s why I still believe a fully analog integrated like the Sphinx is a better long term investment. But wait a minute! Is the Rogue Audio Sphinx V2 all analog inside?

 

At first hearing, I had to agree with all the good reviews this integrated amplifier has received. Yes, it is good and sounds spectacular, so don’t read any more. But if you what to know what makes it so especial, go on.




Construction


When I took the Sphinx home for review, all I knew was; it $1,400 price and that it was a hybrid tube preamp and solid state amp design.  It is not until I see inside that I realized it was a class D amplifier and myself not being a fan of this amplifier typology, was very impressed by it sound performance..


Its exterior is: simple, robust and solid; nothing luxurious. Its dimensions are 15.5 "(W) x 5.00" (H) x 17.00 "(D) and weighs 25 lbs. It has three line inputs and nice sounding moving magnet (MM) only phono preamplifier; it also has outputs to add an external amplifier or a subwoofer.

 

The Sphinx uses a linear power supply, with a 375VA power toroidal transformer and a hefty capacitor reserve bank. The pre-amplifier stage uses two 12AU7 tubes, whereas, the class D amplifiers are based on the Hypex UCD180 modules. Everything is mounted on a thick circuit board and uses all discrete parts.

 

This poppy produces 100 watts at 8 ohms and has the ability to double the power into 4 ohms, easily handling power hungry speakers.

 

I was also impressed by the internal phono stage. It has better resolution, texture and dynamism than separate units costing upward of $500. Signal gain is 40db with a load of 47kohms, suitable for the majority of (MM) cartridges.




Installation


I used the Rogue Audio Sphinx with my Dynaudio Countour 20 Speakers, although, I had to use the Ortofon ST-7 step up transformer to increase the signal level from my Ortofon Quintet Black to be compatible with the Sphinx phono stage. Everything was connected using Nordost Red Dawn wiring.


Sound

 

You can definitely feel a little of the air and tone associated with the tubes on this integrated amplifier, but it has excellent dynamics thanks to the class D amplification combination. The tubes help maintain the musicality but by no means the sound get to sophisticate or refined, it has an immediate and harsh characteristic.

 

The Sphinx will not soften an aggressive system; it is transparent and reproduces the information as is. In the complex passages of Paco de Lucia’s live album One Summer Night (Philips - 822 540 1Q) It remains consistent, speed and transients of the guitar notes are easily differentiated from the rest of the instruments, adding to sense of transparence and realism.


Conclusion

 

The Rogue Audio Sphinx v2 has changed my perception of class D amplifiers. The combination with tubes makes it one of the best integrated amplifiers I have heard at this price, that is why I recommend it.

 

 

If you liked this article you may be interested on our Cambridge Audio CXA80 review.

 

 


Specifications:

Rogue Audio Sphinx v2

www.rogueaudio.com

Estimated Price: $1,400 (Without remote) / $1,500 (With remote)

Typology: Hybrid tube class D design

Power: 100w @ 8 ohm / 200w @ 4 ohm

Phono stage: moving magnet (MM) / (gain 40 db) / (loading 47 kohm)

Dimensions: 15.5” (W) x 5.00” (H) x 17.00” (D)

Weight 25 pounds


Associated Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Cantilever Version)

CD player: Marantz SA-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.



 

Arcam FMJ A29 Review

Posted on March 17, 2017 at 5:50 PM Comments comments (0)


The Arcam FMJ A29 integrated amplifier is an interesting proposition in paper, because, it uses a Class G amplification typology, an amplifying circuit which exchanges between two power supply rails to provide more efficient power than a class a/b amplifier.

 

In few words, this relatively small integrated amplifier produces 80 watts at 8 Ohms and it can handle loads of 4 Ohms, moreover, it does so in an ecofriendly manner. But will it provide enough authority over power hungry loudspeakers?


Construction

 

The Arcam FMJ A29 feels like a high-end product, with a simple, compact and European design. It weighs a hefty 20 pounds, compressed into a 17.05 "(W) x 3.34" (H) x 10.82 "(D) box. The preamp section is completely analog, with no digital inputs. The speaker cable binding post are of exceptional quality and extremely accessible.


Included is a built-in moving magnet (MM) phono preamp. The phono input load is 47k ohm, suitable for most (MM) cartridges. As usual at this price point, it does not offer the flexibility of loading or capacitance adjustments.

 



Installation

 

I used the Arcam FMJ A29 with my Dynaudio Contour 20 Speakers, although, I had to use the Ortofon ST-7 step up transformer to increase the signal level from my Ortofon Quintet Black to be compatible with the Arcam phono stage. Everything was connected using Nordost Red Dawn wiring.


Sound


The phono performance of the Arcam was adequate, even so, the sound was less dynamic and expansive than other integrated amplifiers I've ever heard at this price point. I would have loved to use an external phono preamplifier for this review, but I did not have one on hand at the time. However, to be fair on the integrated performance review I had to complete the review using a digital source (CD player Marantz SA-15S2 Limited), on one of the line level inputs.

 



The Arcam is an integrated with lots bass control and articulation. The expansion and management of low frequencies is his greatest skill. Meanwhile, the musical presentation is somewhat relaxed in high frequencies. Subtle details could be darkened, in favor of a sound more romantic and warm. It did fail to extract all the definition and focus that a speaker as the Dynaudio Contour 20 had to offer.


However, this integrated will probably not be on the short list of people with speakers like the Dynaudios. Once, I changed to the lighter load of the Paradigm Studio 10 V.5 the Arcam performed flawlessly, controlling the aggressive personality of the speaker.

 

Conclusion


Even so, agility and transparency is not this integrated strong point, if not, its ability to reproduce sound with appropriate size and scale. In conclusion, Arcam FMJ offers a lot of power in a small package and fantastic low frequencies at the expense of a bit of musicality.

 

If you liked this article you may be interested on our Vincent Audio PHO-8 review .

 

 

Specifications:

Arcam FMJ A29

www.arcam.co.uk

Estimated Price: $1,200.00

Power: 80w @ 8 ohm (20hz -20khz, stereo) / 175w @ 4 ohm (1khz , one speaker)

Dimensions: 17.05” (W) x 3.34” (H) x 10.82” (D)

Weight: 19.10 lb


Associated Equipment:

Turntable: Clearaudio Champion w/ Unify Tonearm

Cartridge: Ortofon Quintet Black (Original Boron Cantilever Version)

CD player: Marantz SA-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

f. @AudiovisionariesLLC

t. (787) 728-6969

Tuesday to Saturday, 10:00am - 6:00pm

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.

 



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