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When Nat King Cole sings from Just One Of Those Things for example, he sings as though he had a very good day; as though this particular recording session was something he waited for and now his dreams came true. The same happened with Depeche Mode's Violator. This is a completely different aesthetic and recording (Cole - a few tracks, no dubs, short sessions; DM - many tracks, plenty of dubs, almost a year in the works) but the interactive communication with the listener was the same by telling us "this is it". It creates an unusual emotional tension that is felt with every nerve. I need to mention that this is not completely natural since some recordings are in fact much quieter and more relaxed. Let me just call upon the debut from Carol Kidd re-issued by Linn some time ago or the splendid discs issued by the chief editor of Image Hi-Fi: Live At The Domicle with the Klaus Weiss Orchestra and Live In Weinheim by Greetje Kauffeld. In all instances, the German turntable added something to the vibe so that those mostly lazy sounds gained some extra verve...

This was a departure from neutrality. I remembered perfectly well how those discs sounded over the Kuzma Reference, the master of showing exactly what was carved into each disc without editorializing. Although it occasionally lacked fill and emotion -- those are the domain of the SME 10A -- neutrality was almost perfect. The Twin sat on the other side of this equation. It was not neutral in the Kuzma's sense. Its live sound became a departure from the straight line we call reality (though it was no brighter). Alas, its action was no distortion per se as it was constant and as such, in the very fibers and core of this device as constructed by Dr. Feickert. He emphasizes communication and emotion. This is no romantic communication by emphasizing the midrange to suggest an intimate relationship with the event -- which can be nice and likeable but fatiguing on the long run -- but a slight increase of dynamics, microdynamics and anything else responsible for the immediacy and beat of the recordings. It works like a hidden internal flywheel that drives everything on the surface. Interesting then is the fact that the Twin never exaggerated. Listening to any record, we would recognize everything I just described but it would not be the center stage of our attention. It's simply a sort of musicality amplification.

Perhaps in contrast to what I just wrote (but I will explain myself shortly) this comes closer to a live event than a neutral sound which adds nothing. I just returned from a Monday concert by Patricia Barber in the Katowice Club Hipnoza. This was a fantastic concert in a small club where I sat in the fifth row. It confirmed again what we deal with when working to approach the sound of a concert. The dynamics of 99% of audiophile systems are so compressed that we cannot talk about a 'live' sound. There is good reason for that. We simply cannot transfer the scale of the live event to our listening room. The microdynamics responsible for the impression of immediacy however - those should be better than they are most of the time. And the Twin goes down that path in the direction of being as unconstrained as the 'live' sound. I missed that element in the otherwise brilliant sound of the Kuzma Reference. Even the SME 10A, though good in that respect, could not do it.

But we need to set the main hi-fi coordinates and call about the 'High Fidelity' standard of reviewing. The tonal balance was very even. With the Benz, the emphasis was on the bass-midrange transition, with the Sumiko on the midrange-treble band and with Denon on the midrange. This points to at least good transparency with the Feickert+Jelco combo for the cartridge element. If I was to point at an aberration, it would not be in the area of tonal balance -- this will really depend on the cartridge -- but a kind of rough treatment of micro information. I do not want to offend anybody but this is not the most expensive combination after all and Feickert himself offers the Twin with two more expensive Kuzma tone arms. This was not the summit of how the three-dimensionality of Nat King Cole, David Gahan or the singers from the phenomenal disc Händel Messiah (Dublin Version, 1742) with the Dunedin Consort & Players can sound. With this album it also became audible that perhaps a heavier Kuzma tonearm would be advisable since during the tutti, there was a slight clipping in singers' voices as though the cartridge would not follow the groove as well as it did during quieter segments. But I must also confess that this was the only record where I noticed that.

What more can I add? Bass goes down low and is well controlled even although it lacks the defined precision of the Transrotor La Roccia Super Seven TMD. The midrange is full and saturated, very nice. The treble depends mostly on the cartridge. The Benz presents it in a slightly warm and rounded fashion similar to the Koetsu and Denon but is less resolved and not as detailed as the new Sumiko. The Benz SL sounded best with the RCM Audio Sensor Prelude IC set to 200Ω load and 0.4mV sensitivity.