17 January, 2009

Home Visit:: Robin's Nest

Home Visit: Robin's Nest
(click on pic to see full-size. Note gears on window bay)

(17-10-09) System Update here.

Actually a return visit for me, but a first visit for Lascalawong and sokps. We worked towards a common goal and had a grand time.

Robin the Scot is the husband of an old friend. I have known them for almost 20 years, from NYC. Robin is a Scot and an avid music lover, heavily into early music, classical music and classic jazz. For the longest time, he was completely overworked and underpaid. Now, finally with better pay and more time, as the saying goes, 饱暖思音愉, he has slowly but surely upgraded his hifi.

Robin's HiFi journey is rather typical of a UK music lover. He stuck with his GBP 150 pair of Rogers LS7 until they recently gave up the ghost. He had things like an old Naim preamp. The biggest change came a few years ago, when he was in Mumbai, India (scene of recent carnage), where he chanced upon a pair of (UGLY!) McIntosh C-20 preamp and MC-275 amp, with real GEC KT88s! He soon ditched the preamp for an ARC SP-11, acquired an Arcam 73 CD player and got into various tweaks. Yes, a trusty old Rega P3 too.

My Last Visit
I first visited him some weeks ago, when he still had the Rogers LS7. We worked all afternoon with speaker placement and alignment. The gears were on a big old wood chest then in the center front wall . After moving the stuff to the window bay sound improved quite a bit, and so the chest was removed. The most amazing moment came when we filled the center void with a the much smaller and lower red chest you see in the pic, and the sound really snapped into focus. This tells us not to neglect damping the front wall, even if the corners are likely more important. When I left I asked Robin to get a better step-down (than the over-spec'ed "Super") for his MC275. As a footnote, in case you don't know, SP-11/MC275 is a 黄金组合, and the weakest link then was deemed to be the aging speakers.

In the interim, Robin did upgrade the step-down with a Bo Shu special, which made the sound of the MC275 quite a bit more powerful. He also had the MC-275 serviced, and acquired new gears (none recommended by me!) with a speed that alarmed me a little.

pic: Stello with top REMOVED

Now his setup is as follows:

--Stello Transport/I2S/DAC -> Audioquest Diamond (in lieu of Arcam 73)
--Rega P3/RB300 end-stub modified and anti-skating spring removed/Audio Technica OC-9
--ARC SP-11 - > AQ Diamond
--McIntosh MC275 - Supra OFC
--JM Lab Micro Utopia Beryllium Signature with dedicated stands

This Visit
The first thing I noticed when I got into the apartment was how different the sound of the current JM Lab is from the venerable Rogers LS7. Transducers from 2 different generations! The Focal obviously had a lot more air yet was just a little aloof at the start. So we animated the proceedings by "turning over every stone in the chain". Over the course of the afternoon we made the following changes that improved the sound:

1. Removal of most of the tweaking devices from underneath the equipment. Robin is a tweaker, so it was ironic he ran into sokps and lascalawong, both tweakers par excellence! We all frowned at his non-LP related Ringmat devices. We cleared away most of them and sound became snappier.

2. The digital setup was moved from a spread-out position ontop of the preamp to beside it stacked. Cleaner focus.

3. Removal of the acrylic cover during CD playback. More easeful and dynamic sound.

4. Removal of the strange anti-RFI clamps on his phono cables. More life.

5.Re-arranging gears to have the phono section of the SP-11 to be further away from the MC275's MASSIVE transformers. A foot further away resulted in less hum but more is needed to completely eliminate the hum.

6. Re-claibration of tracking weight resulted in less distorted sound, but I think the over-hang may need a just a little more work.

Due to household constraints and time limitation, we actually did not spend too much time with speaker placement. We did try moving them back-and forth and a little with toe-in. Effect was relatively small at this visit.

Sight and Sound
Did I forget to mention the sound? Perhaps there's no need to. In my hifi journey it has always occured to me that the few people who REALLY listen to music, and are passionate about music, and who believe in music's curative powers, usually get good sound out of their systems. Robin is not really your typical neurotic hifi guy, but he pays great attention to his music and knows whether he is satisfied or not. His sound was good to begin with, and just got better by us all working together. In many ways, he is a demanding but not pretentious audiophile, a refreshing change from the usual non-demanding but pretentious species. As an example, he knows what he wants for bass, and in this respect he still finds the system a little lacking (I agree).

I mean it, yesterday afternoon was one of the best time I've had recently. I think I can boil things down to totally uncensored, unbirdled passion (captured on youtbe! :-))). Everyone was enthusiastic. It was real. We were genuinely happy that progress was made. The host was totally open and had no pretense, but yet knew exactly what he wanted, and we not so much gave advice as gave our opinions. 没有大佬,没有肉麻,没有前辈,没有奉承, 没有作状

No comments:

Post a Comment