Talk Vinyl: Versa Dynamics galore, Garrard, Ikeda and more
(article completed in HK)
Click on pics to enlarge
Just before I left NYC recently I was fortunate to have made the acquaintance of a new friend, AL. Andy is a vinyl connoisseur, said to own more than 20 turntables. I didn't see quite that many, but certainly I saw enough to turn my heads several times around, including SEVERAL rare and legendary Versa Dynamics.
As soon as we entered the very nice old house, my attention was held by the lovely sound made by a pair of Quad ESL-63, driven by ARC SP-8 and a rare Futterman OTL using EL509 (no doubt in place of the rare-as-hen's teeth 6LF6). Mercifully, I heard none of the frequently abnormal, even bizarre, sound obtained by some HK ESL users, just great music. On the table were placed an a Technics SP-10 and an old AR fitted with Decca arm. AL jokingly said any TT coming in has to pass muster by comparison with the latter first; not as easy as it seems, he said.
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New World, Old World
Then we ascended the wood staircase to literally a new world. The large room was laden with audio classics. Besides the TTs, the collection of cartridges was even more astonishing, literally strewn all over the place. We marveled at the fabled Ribbon cartridge. From the point of equipment, AL is a man after my own heart. There were more than one stations, though we listened only to one. Like me, AL uses long cables. I asked him whether he worries about loss, he said not at all. Well, it's the sound that counts, and the sound was exemplary. Brief list of equipment used during the visit:
TT2 - Garrard 301 with Ikeda Rex Kiwami on IT-407
Phonostage 2 - Conrad-Johnson Premier 15, Nagatron Z Coupler X'former (for Garrad)
Preamp - Audio Research Reference II Mk I.
Amp for Tweeter/Midrange column - VTL MB-450 monoblocks (8 x 6550 each)
Amp for Bass column - McIntosh MC-2500 (for bass column)
Loudspeakers - Infinity IRS Beta
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The Best for Last, 2010
AL first played for us an old Vanguard LP of Varese' Ameriques (now available as a re-issue) on the Versa Dynamics TT. I was instantly drawn to the holographic sound of the Infinity. AL must have done a tremendous amount of work on the system as it is one of utter refinement, no easy task with the array of ribbon tweeters. In comparison, many of the Maggies I heard in HK would be at least a little coarse in comparison. The uncanny imaging have the right sizes, unlike many of the HK Maggies which have exaggerated (and highly artificial) imaging. Mind you, this is with the Decca cartridge, famous for its upfront (hot) tendencies. Then we asked to hear AL's Garrard. The sound was more meaty, less refined, but quite musical. It was hard to decide which TT was the better one.
As we had to meet other people, we didn't stay long, but it was definitely the best sound I have heard in a long time. I think we would have to visit many more times to sample some of the other treasures.
More pics (see how many TT and arm can you identify)