Last night I had one of those truly jaw dropping moments in this strange hobby. Partly engineered to happen that way, but also quite unexpected.
A couple of months ago, I purchased a Technics 1210 from Alcarmichael (a lovely chap), with a MNB and a Timestep PSU. I also later purchased his Micro Seiki MA-202 as he was shifting everything on for a house move. I set it up with my Denon DL-109D (also purchased from a forummer – Montesquieu) and a basic lead and cork mat. The rest of the system was a Firebottle, a Pioneer SA-9500 and Cura CA21.
Whilst an improvement on the Michell focus One it replaced, I didn’t feel like it was as good as could be and was certainly not up to the ‘hype’ that others’ results had me expecting. It felt like there just wasn’t the detail or depth that I had heard in other good set ups. I tried a new mat – not much change. Also tried an AT95e (my go to cart) with no joy.
Was it the cart? Maybe, I fiddled and changed and tweaked, until I had a go with the Dr Feickert gadget that Al lent me (I told you he was a nice guy). This showed me that the mount of the arm was 4-5mm out. This lead me to contact Speedy Steve (another nice chap), to try an armboard at the correct mounting distance. I couldn’t quite get my head around the trigonometry of it all, but I figured that it was not a huge amount of money to have peace of mind at the very least.
Rambling on, but bear with me.
I split my time between my penthouse apartment* in south London and my massive country estate in the West Country**, so the process of taking the deck apart/ordering the armboard/getting back to fit it/etc etc etc was quite a drawn out process. I have a modest second set up down at the west country abode and purchased Petrat’s Sony PS-6750 to replace the Michell. This was such a simple, yet solid machine. I screwed an AT95e into it, plugged it in and it was singing away for 12 or so hours on Sunday. This really got me thinking – do I need to be tooling around with something that has cost me 3 or 4 times the Sony, for what feels like 20% more performance? I was giving serious consideration to shifting the 1210 and just being happy with the Sony.
During all of this, I managed to pick up some Tannoy Eatons, as well as some Isonoes, an Achromat and an AO tonearm lead, which was accumulating as I was SW for work. I got back in the afternoon yesterday and had it in my head to put everything back together piece by piece to observe the changes in sound that went with each bit. I then thought – f%&k that, I am just going to put it all together and listen to it.
Well, I have to say, the change in sound is absolutely incredible. Pretty much everything has improved. I made my way through heavy rock, funk soul, jazz – you name it. I’m crap at describing what I hear, so I won’t bother, but I was properly excited like a schoolboy at the detail and the quality coming out of my fairly modest set up.
Obviously I can’t tell if there was one crucial element that was the main contributor to the change as I did it all at once, but I am glad I did it that way. The phono/amp is the same, and I can hear the change from the Tannoys, so whether or not it was something as simple as the cart now being properly aligned, or the combination as a whole is now something truly magnificent and I can say that I am genuinely happy with the main rig and will be freezing it all as is and just listening to music.
I have been swapping mainly turntables (and speakers) a bit (through the main and 2nd system) to try and get it right. Through some helpful forum dudes and some clever used purchases, I am pretty happy with what I have for the amount I have spent. The best bit is that I can probably recoup most of what I have spent on the bits I don’t want, but feeding them back into others that are on the same journey.
Anyway, that is my ‘cool story bro’. I am happy a pig in poo at the moment and thought I would tell you. And say thanks to a few guys for their assistance.
*it is on the top floor…
**an annexe at my in-laws…