22 September, 2011

Two are Better than One When Garrard Meets Well-Tempered

Home Visit: Two are Better than One When JBL Meets Altec
Vinyl Talk: When Garrard Meets Well-Tempered

Serendipity! Sweet cheaptubeaudio! Only 2 days after the wonderful encounter with Bastanis my jaded ears scaled new heights with a horn system, no, make that a 2-horn system!

The host, Mr Ng, is a very friendly and humble man. The spacious loft in an industrial building has high ceilings. The speakers were placed against a partition front wall. Furnishing is spartan, but comfortable.

CAS Digital: Opera Audio Consonance D-Linear 7
Vinyl: Garrard 401 with custom 12" Well-Tempered Amadeus arm and with Koetsu Rosewood
Preamp with phono: Spectral DMC-12
Amp of the day: Welborne Labs Laurel IIX
Loudspeakers: JBL 2-way professional horn system + Altec 2-way horn (DIY cabinet)

First I must mention that, the system drives 2 pairs of horns at the same time! This is highly unusual to say the least. I'd think the Altec would be faster in response than the JBL, and would that not smear things? But proof is in the listening!

From the first note, I was captivated, indeed salivated. The sound was so panoramic and fulsome as to even give CAS a good show. Have you noticed that most CAS people (including reviewers) obsessed themselves over bits and computer software, but have too little experience with the system as a whole, and even less experience listening to good systems?

pic of the stock Well-Tempered Amadeus 9" on the Amadeus turntable (from the internet). The host's arm is somewhat different.

Mr Ng soon switched to vinyl. And what a difference the source makes! I'd say his is amongst the most enchanting vinyl replay I have heard since NYC's master AL, and from a modest, even ad-hoc setup! Why ad-hoc? Well, look at the pic below: the "arm board" is just a piece of wood nailed to the perimeter of the equally humble wood plinth!!!

The reasonably priced Well-Tempered Amadeus turntable, manufactured by Opera Audio, has brought the company back into the lime light and universal praise (TAS review here). Mr Ng apparently has close ties to Opera Audio, and his one-of-a-kind custom 12" arm is mounted in an Opera Audio base well filled with thin silicon fluid (not the usual kind used by Well-Tempered; supplied by analog guru Condefly2).

Not to mince words, the setup plays everything beautifully. Mr Ng, a veteran of vinyl and hifi, has a beautiful collection. Leopold Mozart's Toy Symphony (ASMF/Marriner/EMI; pic here) had plenty of joie de vivre, what it was written for indeed, whereas Copland's Fanfare for a Common Man was appropriately solemn and powerful. I shall pay him more visits and shall write more then. Suffice to say, this simple and not expensive vinyl gig puts all of the Clearaudio Statements I have heard to shame (actually many turntables could do that).

I talked a little with Mr Ng about the Garrard. Contrary to prevailing views, he believes a good light wooden plinth works best for the Garrard. He thinks heavy material like slate and granite only kills the sound. Judging from the excellent result and my own experience, I am with him.

Gratuitous Advice to CAS people: Get your system into shape before even thinking of complicated CAS! And listen to vinyl before you think your CAS is even close to perfection! Better yet, better than self-delusion, better than being slave to the latest upgrades and unscrupulous providers, not to mention salvaging your own journey in audio, get into vinyl before big talk!

剛聼完了很好的 Bastanis, 以爲短期内不會再有什麽驚奇,卻讓我在兩天後,一個偶然的機會,耳朵更上了一層樓。

吳先生非常友善低調,工業大廈單位佈置簡單,卻感覺舒服。當然,舒服的另一原因是因爲聲音一級棒。我待的時間不久,但打從第一個音符開始就被深深地吸引了。

留意喇叭是 JBL 和 Altec 兩對一起開聲,沒有半點不協調。高手!

吳先生是黑膠迷,有很多天牒。唱盤是優秀但不貴的 Garrad 401。唱臂是 Well-Tempered Amadeus, 但是生産商 Opera Audio 特別為他訂做的 12" 版本。看看那臂版,就一片木頭釘在木框上, 居然能行!唱頭是個用了好久的 Koetsu Rosewood, 出的是天籟之聲。Clearaudio Statement 用家,換盤吧!

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