03 January, 2011

Editor's Note: 2010 in Retrospective

Editor's Note: 2010 in Retrospective

Just a few thoughts to tie up 2010, a relatively eventful year in terms of hifi for me.

Most Important Acquisitions
1. New hifi room in NYC. Heading this year's list shall not be any hardware, but rather my new room, which makes every speaker I have sound splendid. Discovery of the benefits of thick wall-to-wall carpeting was also enlightening.

2. Air Tight PC-1 MC cartridge. Review to come for this marvelous cartridge.

3. New Horn Speakers in NYC, the identity of which I shall withhold for a while.

4. Wavac MD-300B. This simply has to be the best SET amp I have heard, one which needs not fear even if compared to the Kondo Ongaku (believe me, I know...). Review to come.

Best Buys of the Year
1. Sony DVP-PR50P and its twin DVP-SR200P (previously reviewed here). These ridiculously cheap players surprisingly play CDs really well. The DVP-PR50P is no longer available, so grab the SR-200P while you still can. Some people use these as transports, but I think they are missing the point. The analogue outputs are the real stars here, an uncanny mixture of detail and musicality that is missed by the majority of expensive digital products. If the analogue outs don't sound good in your system, question the balance of your system first.

My friend princetonsound thought so highly of these players that he did a detailed comparison between the two using his small system of Wavelength EL84 SE amp driving a fullrange speaker. His conclusions: (a) the two sound virtually identical; (b) he prefers the Sony's to Philips LHH-1000 and Revox 225 (now, THAT is a tall statement!!!).

2. Ortofon Cartridges. I have previously written on the Kontrapunkts C and H, but have yet to report on the older MC-3000MkII and MC5000. I shall be brief here. The first things about the 1000 series to note is the very low output, which presented no difficulty to me, as I have the EAR912 preamp as well as various step-ups, but many people may have difficulty. If you can cope with the low outputs, the sound is worth every penny. Reviews to come.

3. Clearaudio Concept. Ongoing reviews (Part I and Part II). What a bargain in HK! For your information, I brought it back to NYC, and used it with the Ortofon MC5000, report to come.

4. Pro-Ject RPM1.3 Genie. The perfect starter turntable! Read my review.

IRS Beta still reigns! (click on pic to enlarge)

Best Sound of 2010

This came very late, in NYC, Infinity IRS Beta no less! Report to come.

Greatest Disappointment
This has to be the Clearaudio Statement, a turntable that severely lacks PRaT, and hence musicality (previous write-up). I hope one day I get to hear it with a cartridge other than the Goldfinger. And would it be too much to hope for, pairing with another arm?

Looking Forward
What's to look forward to in 2011? I'd think more focus on vinyl. My acquisition of the bargain TTs and cartridges have paradoxically brought vinyl back to my life in HK. I think you will hear a lot of Vinyl Talk. there will be less and less home visits, and more reviews of equipment that I already have and deserve closer scrutiny.

Some of the things lining up: Denon-103 with the Midas Touch; restoring Garrad 301...

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