For audiophiles and music lovers who love to read...
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Reviewer: Marja & Henk
Financial Interests: click here
Sources: PS Audio PWT; Dr. Feickert Blackbird MKII/DFA 1o5/Zu DL-103; Takumi TT Level 2.1 [in for review]; Holbo Air Bearing Turntable System [in for review]
DAC: Mytek Brooklyn; T+A DAC8 [loaner]
Streaming sources: Devialet AIR; La Rosita Beta; Qobuz Desktop, Tidal Desktop; Sound Galleries SGM 2015 [loaner]
Preamp/integrated/power: Audio Note Meishu with WE 300B (or AVVT, JJ, KR Audio 300B output tubes); dual Devialet D-Premier; PTP Audio Blok 20; Hypex Ncore 1200 based monoblocks Trafomatic Kaivalya; Trafomatic Reference One; Trafomatic Reference Phono One; Music First Passive Magnetic; SPEC RPA-MG1000 [in for review]
Speakers: Avantgarde Acoustic Duo Omega; Arcadian Audio Pnoe; Podium Sound One; WLM Sub 12; Sounddeco Alpha F3; dual Zu Submisson MKI; Soltanus Virtuoso ESL; Audio Alto AA LA17 [in for review]
Cables: complete loom of ASI LiveLine cables; full loom of Crystal Cable cables; full loom of Nanotec Golden Strada; Audiomica Pearl Consequence interconnect; Audiomica Pebble Consequence
Power line conditioning: PS Audio Powerplant Premier; PS Audio Humbuster III; IsoTek Evo 3 Syncro; AudioMica Allbit Consequence
Equipment racks: Solid Tech and ASI amplifier and TT shelf
Indispensable accessories: Furutech DeMag; ClearAudio Double Matrix; Franc Audio Ceramic Disc Classic; Shakti Stones; Kemp polarity checker; Akiko Audio Corelli,Costello and Phono Booster; Pink Faun LAN Isolator
Online music purveyors: qobuz.com, tidal.com, bandcamp.com, amazon.co.uk
Room treatment: Acoustic System International resonators, sugar cubes, diffusers
Room size: ca. 14.50 x 7.50m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls, wooden flooring upstairs, ca 7 x 5m with a ceiling height of 3.50m, brick walls and concrete floor downstairs
Price of review item: €1'349 for PH-10, €890 for PSU-10
Playing vinyl is all about delicacy. LPs have to be handled with utmost care to not damage or spoil the groove on each side. Dust and the tendency of the LP to be become statically charged is a fine combination that leads to ticks or accumulation of dust at the needle tip. The latter creates distortion. In order to have the needle move just enough horizontally and with enough resistance while following the groove, the arm carrying the cartridge needs to be set up with delicate precision. Said groove is only about 0.030mm wide—at 0.16mm, a blonde hair is much thicker—and a needle tracking that groove exercises tremendous force. Literature states that a needle with a vertical tracking force or VTF of 1.5 grams exerts no less than 23.9kgf/cm² of pressure on the contact area. It's a true wonder that the groove doesn't cave under this load. Now one can imagine what a misalignment, however small, can do to a record.
Next to tracking force, there is overhang. Ideally the needle is fully tangential to the groove. But with the majority of tone arms being of the radial kind, there are only a few points during the arch movement of the needle which are actually tangent. These so-called zero points remain subject to debate as to where exactly they are. Therefore protractors for cartridge setup offer multiple geometry options.
But with VTF and overhang dialed in, we are not done yet. There is also the vertical tracking angle or VTA as the rake of the needle relative to the groove. Setting correct VTA is done by raising or lowering the tonearm where it mounts to the plinth. VTA has an influence on perceived soundstaging and tonality and its setting can be done with a software application in combination with a test record or in the old-fashioned way, by ear. In either case it is not a job done in a hurry.
The word azimuth sounds exotic but is just about channel separation. When the needle's tip doesn't sit exactly in the middle of the groove but tilts somewhat to one side, crosstalk from one stereo channel to the other occurs. Of course there are several ways to get azimuth right but they depend on the cartridge used. In many cases a small mirror will do the job.
Next in line is another exotic word, zenith. This is the alignment of the cantilever, the bar where the needle attaches to on one side and the magnets or coils depending on cartridge type (MM or MC) on the other. It often happens that the cantilever is not aligned properly to the cartridge body, hence that body cannot be used as reference to set up proper zenith or the angle the cantilever makes relative to the groove.
Adjustment is done by rotating the cartridge in relation to the head shell.
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