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Thread: A Visit to phonomac ( Angus )

  1. #1
    Join Date: Jun 2018

    Location: Mildenhall, Suffolk

    Posts: 207
    I'm John.

    Default A Visit to phonomac ( Angus )

    On Friday the 4/1/19, a outstanding appointment to visit to Angus at his home took place.
    Angus very kindly extended his offer of a visit, to two more participants and a day of exploration into the unknown was arranged.
    The fundamental curiosity to be satisfied on the agenda was to mount the recently rebuilt by Holistic Audio, 'Ortofon K'b' and A/B compare it to the Vienna.
    Mixed in with the above curiosity, was taking the opportunity to listen to a few different Home Built Phonostages with the,
    phonomac SP10 MkII > PMAT -1010 MkVI > Holistic Audio rebuilt 'Ortofon Vienna'.
    Apart from using Angus's system as a reference, all the other devices included were untried in a front end of this quality and any prediction on the outcome was a unknown commodity.
    I was not my usual, calm, composed person, under the surface, I was on tenterhooks,
    awaiting the A/B Comparison of the Vienna/K'b.
    After listening to a few varied tracks on Angus's system and getting the attention of the additional visitors, the smiles said it all. The exchange of Phonostages commenced.
    First up was 'Stoyan's' work, what I refer to as the 'VAS II', a full valve design with a Purpose Built Stand Alone Power Supply. This was used with the Ortofon SUT.
    It is no secret that I am familiar with this model and have gathered a good measure of how it performs in the system of the Builder/Owner, using it as a MM only and MC with a few different SUT's.
    For the first session of the listening I sat in the wings, letting Angus and the other visitors get the measure of how it performed in Angus's system.
    When I took up the offer to sit in the sweet spot, I could define lots of detail exactly as I remembered it , with a slight less forward projection in relation to previous listening sessions, whether the micro detail was as present as I remember it, was questionable, as the small amount of bass bloom I was detecting when sitting in the wings was still perceivable in the sweet spot.
    My personal feelings on a Bass Bloom was a detractor, and even though this perceived bloom was minimal, my sensitivity to it masked my overall impression.
    Angus's expressed impression was, it was a Phonostage which delivers a lot of detail, the type of detail that has a believable presentation, he made a point of how you could feel the finger sliding along a rough surface of a guitar string, but for Angus these were valves, and the coloration he was perceiving was not for him, he is Solid State through and through.
    Next up a Pete Millet design Solid State MM, with a purpose made Standalone Power Supply. ( Produced at approx 400 ).This was used with the Ortofon SUT.
    The owner 'Clive' gave a brief introduction as to how he ended up with it as a project and the design being a Capacitor free RIAA stage, as well as informing of a couple of the foibles he was aware of, which were confirmed during the audition.
    This has a emphasis on the Mids and Highs (it was not bright when being played through Angus's Speakers) it suited the Stringed instruments in the Benchmark Track being used 'Wish You were Here', immediately it was felt by myself it was a good value phonostage.
    Further listening showed the Bass as being a little unrealistic, the bass notes did not have a believable presentation, they rolled of a little to quickly, and there was not a reverb or decay being perceived.
    The Bass was discussed after the audition, and it was agreed, that if the correct components were selected to enhance the bass performance, the phonostage would be more than adequate in a system, especially due to the cost, and could easily be a end game phonostage for those not pursuing the finest.
    Angus expressed, he could easily live with the Pete Millet, and with the Bass issue resolved, it would be a very nice Phonostage.
    Now for my favorite subject ( we stopped for lunch )
    During lunch we chewed the cud on the general HiFi topics, but then Angus ventured off into the world of Astronomy and had us captivated with his descriptions, he isn't as Pretty as Brian Cox, but He Ho, we can't have it all.
    Back to the schedule, bring on the K'b.
    Angus mounted it in a MS-9 Head Shell. I was getting more nervous, sweaty palms.
    The system was returned to Angus's set up, the Benchmark Track was put on, and away we went. Beautiful Performance, all were smiling in their own way at the quality.
    Then Angus went of to exchange Head Shells and put the K'b in the front line,
    I couldn't take it, I was wrecked with nerves, horrid thoughts of utter embarrassment at the outcome.
    From the very first note to be delivered out of the Speakers, it was clear to all that this thing delivers.
    The K'b presented itself in a slight different manner to the Vienna, a slight lift in the treble, a little more air in there maybe. Then something happened that got my attention,
    a backing vocal came through from the rear of the soundstage, hit a similar volume as the lead singer and decayed out, with such clarity, spooky.
    "Did you hear that" I exclaimed
    There is no point me trying to pinpoint the differences between the two MC's,
    In my simplistic view, they are definitely Siblings, maybe either Brother/Sister Twins.
    Either one will be a gem of a Cartridge to use if ones ambition is to go to the
    Vienna/Mimic Vienna Route.
    Angus Expressed impression was, "I had nailed it",
    I expressed back " he had nailed it, as all in front of him was his work and recommendations".
    We were getting short on time, but I had wanted to let Angus hear the DIGNA Phonostage, and I was now keen to hear the K'b through it, as this is my intended pairing.
    The DIGNA lifted the airiness of the K'b further, and really let the guitar strings sound believable, there was a encouragement to tap a finger, rock a foot, and smile.
    The Vienna was played through the DIGNA, and again, the Vienna sounded a little lighter footed, and was a encouragement to move to the music.
    I am very much looking forward to this new vinyl replay experience, and very grateful to Angus for his Help, Hospitality, and Commitment to realize his dream.

  2. #2
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,456
    I'm James.

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    Thanks for sharing your experience John. I have heard the Kb on a number of occasions and indeed owned a Kb which I believe came from Angus. It is a beautiful cartridge no doubt but maybe needs sympathetic pairings to get the best out of it otherwise it can be a little too smooth and balanced. This is not a bad thing but it all depends on what you are looking for. It does excel in natural realism especially vocals and its tonal texture is exemplary.

    I would have another in my system anyday but need to get suitable amplification . My experience with SUTs has not bought out the best from the Kb and I think it would be better suited to a head amp or suitable phono stage.

    I would like to hear a Vienna. What would you say were the most noticeable differences between it and the Kb?
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  3. #3
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: The Black Country

    Posts: 4,733
    I'm Alan.

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    Great to hear John, thanks for posting

  4. #4
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,169
    I'm Oliver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Thanks for sharing your experience John. I have heard the Kb on a number of occasions and indeed owned a Kb which I believe came from Angus. It is a beautiful cartridge no doubt but maybe needs sympathetic pairings to get the best out of it otherwise it can be a little too smooth and balanced. This is not a bad thing but it all depends on what you are looking for. It does excel in natural realism especially vocals and its tonal texture is exemplary.

    I would have another in my system anyday but need to get suitable amplification . My experience with SUTs has not bought out the best from the Kb and I think it would be better suited to a head amp or suitable phono stage.

    I would like to hear a Vienna. What would you say were the most noticeable differences between it and the Kb?
    Remember, John's isn't a standard kB. It's been rebuilt and modded by Killian Bakker. Its no longer a Kb as we know it. Obviously better lol

    Good writeup John.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  5. #5
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,456
    I'm James.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post
    Remember, John's isn't a standard kB. It's been rebuilt and modded by Killian Bakker. Its no longer a Kb as we know it. Obviously better lol

    Good writeup John.
    Ah I see, then that probably makes it something very special indeed. I presume the Holistic audio mods include a FG stylus?
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,169
    I'm Oliver.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Ah I see, then that probably makes it something very special indeed. I presume the Holistic audio mods include a FG stylus?
    No, he had a beryllium cantilever and AG stylus.
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  7. #7
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,456
    I'm James.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bigman80 View Post
    No, he had a beryllium cantilever and AG stylus.
    Not heard of a beryllium cantilever, they must be kinda rare?
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  8. #8
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 8,169
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Not heard of a beryllium cantilever, they must be kinda rare?
    They are rare but due to the dust being poisonous during manufacture. Looks like there is a safer way these days.

    Reports are the Cartridge sounded very good
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage (Telefunken Valves)
    Digital: Raspberry Pi 3+ With Allo Boss.
    Amplification: Nelson Pass DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator & Krell KSA100 MK2 Amplifier
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & NEW SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Pioneer CS-77A

  9. #9
    Join Date: Jun 2018

    Location: Mildenhall, Suffolk

    Posts: 207
    I'm John.

    Default

    Apologies for my late return to the post, I've been helping my Daughter move to a new home.
    The Holistic Audio rebuilt K'b (HArK'b) was a proposal first recommended to me by Angus.
    Kilian and Angus had discussed the options on a Kontrapunkt Cartridge to mimic a Vienna, and the K'b was identified as being the model to work on.
    The design discussed between Kilian and Angus was based on using as many parts from a Vienna design, that could be put into a K'b. The projection was that a Cartridge would be produced that could mimic the Vienna, but to a unknown degree.
    My intention to use this design for a rebuild was rigid, and I was also informed of another who was considering it.
    Contained in my first reply from Holistic Audio, was a design for a rebuild, that had not been discussed in the past.
    It entailed the use of Ogura Beryllium Cantilever and Ogura Vital SA+ Diamond Tip, with the dampers replaced to a higher Spec than the ones in use in the standard K'b.
    This was a curve ball, but got my attention, as it was a proposal from a very knowledgeable person.
    I included Angus in the discussion and away we went on a journey into the unknown.
    I think it is fair to say a Cartridge returned from Kilian after a rebuild requires a recommended run in time of 14 hours. So 30 minutes of this time in our evaluation.
    With the Cartridge having a full run in period, I think it will be a better time to further evaluate it.
    What is unanimous, from the initial evaluation, is that there is a Cartridge that sits closer to the Hoilstic Audio Modified Vienna, either cartridge presents impressively, each with their own slight variation in the way they present the information, but from this initial comparison, each cartridge can be referred to as equally pleasing.
    The real star of the day, is Angus, he has put endless thought and time into this concept of a Vinyl replay front end, he has now eked out a option and made a awareness of a service that will produce a design created from a commonly available Cartridge to mimic his much desired set up.
    It was a pleasure to be able to hear how the vinyl front end interfaced with the Phonostages brought along for the day, all their strengths and weakness laid bare.
    The follow on discussions on the strengths and weaknesses were for me top drawer, and I could see very motivational for the two builders in the room.
    I am in the fortunate position to be updated on the progression of each design and hopefully hear them in a slight different incarnation.

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