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Thread: A Review of Croft Epoch and Sondex S100 modifications by Firebottle Audio

  1. #1
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 7,902
    I'm AnDreW.

    Default A Review of Croft Epoch and Sondex S100 modifications by Firebottle Audio

    Croft Epoch pre amplifier and Sondex S100 power amplifier modifications.

    I've been going to get these modifications done now for over a year. It all started when I wanted to push the Croft pre-amp as far as it could go in it's
    current iteration. I'd done the usual thing of asking other forum members for suggestions of how the Croft could be improved upon. There were two spheres
    of thought. The first was based around sending the machine to Glenn Croft and having another box added to my ever expanding of shelf racks. Two whacking
    great big transformers and a load of wires. I'd also wanted the Croft modding to accept 5691 valves and variants. These valves are rather special and widely
    sought after but they do place an additional strain in the Croft. You will need your Croft modding to accept them and you still have the added bonus of
    being able to use all the various 6SL7's out there as well. The second sphere of thought was provided by Alan at Firebottle audio which consisted of having
    improved valve regulation alongside carrying out the 5691 valve modifications. So the Croft went to Alan. The full extent of what Alan has done is still a little
    unknown!! The Croft is still a one box affair so my rack stays the same and there is no additional cost for a new tier to accommodate yet another box.

    The Sondex is another kettle of fish altogether. It's a dumbed down Radford STA100. My specimen bummed around South London before I found it and had it
    shipped, up North! The Sondex has remained stock apart from the fact I fitted top of the range WBT silver RCA's and speaker binding posts. I also rewired the RCA's with silver instead of tinned copper and removed the flimsy RCA coupling mechanisms. The Sondex had never been checked bias drift during my ownership. The Sondex had previously had a snubber fitted to lessen speaker thump when it's turned off. The Sondex also suffered from quite bad mechanical transformer hum which could be easily heard through my sensitive Tannoy 15" Monitor Golds. The Sondex is now virtually silent through the big Tannoy's and boy can you tell the noise floor has been dropped by quite some way. Low level listening is now silent. No hum through the speakers. Alan sorted all these problems out alongside recapping and changing resistors where needed.

    Overall about 300 was spent on the following components for the Croft and Sondex.

    0.1uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    0.22uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    1uF 800Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    47uF 450V Mundorf M-Lytic HV Radial Capacitor
    470uF 25V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    1000uF 10V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    33uF 35V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    10K 10W Ohmite Audio Gold AG10 Resistor
    270R 5W Ohmite Audio Gold AG5 Resistor
    560R 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    2K7 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    15K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    39K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor

    Alan kindly wrote back to me explaining what he'd done.

    THE CROFT PRE-AMP

    The Croft recieved and Earth lift.
    The Croft line stages have been converted to a hybrid 'mu' circuit.
    This has given individual supply regulation to L and R channels, much improved supply rejection of noise (PSRR),
    lowering of the output impedance and providing greater output drive, linearisation of the valve characteristics and frequency response,
    increased open loop gain (helps with the above).
    The additional circuit complexity used a Z foil resistor plus Jantzen silver Z Cap.
    Correction of the RIAA eq, was down on the treble end,
    The regulated voltage was low, should have been 250V but was reading 236V. An out of spec resistor was changed to raise the voltage to 276V for better performance.


    THE SONDEX POWER AMP

    All secondary power supply capacitors, electrolytic plus the film bypass caps.
    (I didn't replace the main 4 caps on the output supply as they are quality and tested perfect).
    Input and valve grid foil coupling caps,
    Feedback bypass electrolytic caps,
    Cathode bypass caps and cathode resistors on output valves,
    Screen resistors on output valves,
    Gain and feedback resistors to Z foils.
    Plus lastly the supply resistors to the driver transistors as they were running hot.


    Alan was giving complete free range for parts selection. Several weeks later both myself and a good friend of mine spent a pleasent couple of hours travelling
    down to Alan's house where he and his wife Shirley put up with us for 45 minutes or so whilst we heard the partnership of the Croft and the Sondex go through their paces. Alan has an amazing system of suspended Quad ESL 57's, Supertweeters, an immaculate replinthed Lenco L75 partnered with a Lyra Clavis and finally his amazing Vivant valve/hybrid phonostage. I was staggered by what I heard and also a little saddened because I realised that I probably needed to go down the route of Supertweeters for my Tannoys and my Quad ESL 57's, and because my journey is still not over! Alan's system has an extremely impressive mid band. The Supertweeters extend the ESL 57's soundstage wider than I've heard before. Accordians and Saxophones were so solid and fulsome with exsquisite timbral decay. The whole system throw out a very immersive, ambient soundstage. Overall extremely impressive. So, if the Croft and Sondex sounded that good on Alan's system how would they sound back home with a Garrard 301 and freshly modded Paradise phonostage? Well here goes.

    The Croft and Sondex need to be heard together and synergistically, they just work together. My system had decent resolution before the modifications but now we can add another layer. The treble is a little brighter than before but that's no bad thing as the Tannoy's can sound a little muffled with some recordings. I now have a smidge more bite and this really opens up the clarity in the detail with Saxophone and such instruments. The treble has a little more resolution,definition and timbral decay has been improved no end. Listening to the Mobile Fidelity 45RPM pressing of Kind of Blue reveals more detail than ever. The snare drums on Nefertiti have more snap and attack than before the modifications. The soundstage on this partnership appears to gel better than before with more cohesion than before. I get the eerie sense of hearing greater echo and reverb whenever I hear saxophone solo's in fact the Tannoy's are to some extent reproducing some of the magic I heard in Alan's 57's, I'm hearing a fuller, richer tone.

    Switching over to some 45rpm recordings of The Planets and Ride of the Valkyries revealed more pomp and drama than ever before. I would have to say that
    the greatest attribute of this pairing has to be resolution. Virtually every recording has yielded fresh detail that previously remained hidden or lost in the mix.
    Listening to The beautiful voices of Chris Connor and Ernistine Anderson on Cal Tjaders Session's Live album reveals more soul in their voices than I've heard before.This record is a warts 'n all recording of a live presentation and as such you can hear individuals talking to each other and squeaking floors as people walk between tables. I have never heard the squeaky shoes bit and I've played the records hundreds of times.

    The acoustic guitar on Here Comes the Sun on Abbey road are so fresh and crisp that it's a delight to hear. My interest was piqued so I decided to dig out my Classic Records Super 200g Quiex SV-P pressing of Leo Kottke of 6 and 12 string guitars. WOW o WOW I was
    treated to a cascade of timbrel sonic attack I'd never heard this pressing sound so good and it's been played in some pretty high end systems. The transient attack was immediate and it was extremely easy to pick out ever single guitar pick and strum as Kottke played. Slow tunes just oozed timbral decay, he could have been sat no more than six feet away playing, such was the resolution. I came to a startling conclusion when listening to Kottke's music in that the Tannoy's all 800 litres of speaker cabinet (or two very small wardrobes) just buggered off into thin air, they did a disappearing act worthy of Houdini. This must be because of the improved soundstage width and stereo imaging. So the addiction continued for a wee while longer and I decided to try some rock music, traditionally this system's

    failure. I could go on but my general consensus of opinion is that the Croft and Sondex have been massively improved.

    Some Thoughts....

    I originally chose the Jantzen silvercaps after assessing their effects in an old pair Celestion Ditton 15 XR speakers that I recapped. They gave a slight
    bite and edge to the presentation which would hopefully counter the slightly muffled presentation of the Tannoy Monitor Golds. Initially I thought the improved
    treble could be down to the Jantzen's but Alan's description of his modifications tallies with what I now hear through the Tannoys and why heavy rock sounds better through the Tannoys. The RIAA eq was out on the Croft which meant treble sounded a little muffled, which is exactly what I heard and instantly picked up when I listened to treble heavy tracks. This whole exercise has taught me that you really need to get any second hand equipment full checked out. Both the Croft and Sondex worked very well without Alan's work but now they work exceptionally well and to their full potential.

    Positives
    ---------
    + Cost. Alan charges sensible prices for his time, advice, experience, and skills
    + The Croft remaining a one box solution.
    + Resolution, resolution and more resolution. Lots of new detail heard from lots of old vinyl!
    + Soundstage. Opened up the Tannoys no end. Soundstage now fills the full width of my listening room. Better depth in some recordings.
    + Improved timbrel decay, echo, and reverb.
    + Improved stereo imaging.


    Negatives
    ---------
    - Why didn't I do this earlier?
    - Takes an hour or so before the Croft/Sondex come "on song", but then again they always have taken that amount of time.
    - Errr, nowt else.

    The Future
    ----------
    There are still a couple of things that I think need to be done with this combination and some of the ancillaries which make up the system. Firstly I need to fettle

    the cartridge alignment and loading. I've built a special platform to ensure that the tracking weight is properly set on the Royal N SPU that I use. I'm borrowing a

    paradise phonostage at the moment. The borrowed paradise has several differences to my own, mainly :-

    Mine Borrowed
    Hardwired screened mains cable with gold plated MS HD plugs Unscreened umbilical cables between PSU and phonostage boxes.
    No IEC's IEC's in PSU
    PCB resistor loading for cartridge (Charcroft resistor loading) External RCA loading plugs for cartridge loading (not sure what brand resistor)
    Silver WBT RCA's Audionote silver plated RCA's (I think)
    Improved PSU modifications Improved PSU modifications


    So I presume I should get a further lift up the sonic ladder when my Paradise arrives. I've ordered some Belden 19364 so I can make a couple of mains leads for the Croft and Sondex which will be going into the back of the PS Audio P10.Lastly my Garrard 401 will be fully tricked out with Martin Bastin mods and plinth, which will be coupled up to a Phoenix Engineering PSU/Tachometer. I intend to do a Part II listening session to see if these further mods improve things further. Stay tuned....
    SS

    CD Teac VRDS25X(Audiotuned) DAC Caiman SEG+15V PSU+Dorado DECK 1210 Mat SPH SSS Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony armboard Feet Isonoe/Ebony PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/3 Stage Regs/Recap PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MC Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    VALVE

    PRE
    Croft Epoch(Modified) AMP Sondex S100 (Modified) SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECKS Garrard301/401 (Bastin) Mat Teunto Bearing 401 Plinth Moldovan Arms 3009/3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSU Eagle+Tachometer MC Ag Meister v2 / Royall N SPU's CABLES Arm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker 10mm Cu + WBT-0681 Ag IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage Paradise(4 Box Modded) / EAR 834 Clone (modded)

    REAL SOUND


    PRE Radford SC25 (Mullard ECC83/82) POWER RADFORD STA25 Renaissance (Electroharmonix EL34) SPEAKERS Celestion Ditton 15 (Duelund Rewired/Jantzen Recapped) CABLES Speaker - Duelund AWG 12IC - Belden 8402+Switchcraft RCA

    WEBSITE - WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/WAKEFIELDAUDIO

  2. #2
    Join Date: Jan 2013

    Location: Birmingham

    Posts: 4,875
    I'm James.

    Default

    Great review and write up Andy. I am sure the Croft now has a new lease of life courtesy of Mr Firebottles skilful additions. I expect it will sound even better once all is run in. It is interesting that some of the values were down or out of spec, just shows amps are like old cars, they could do with a service and MOT to get the best out of them.

    Some pics would be nice.
    VPI Scout 1.1 - Ortofon 2M Black FGS - Croft 25R+ - Croft Series 7 - Spendor SP2

  3. #3
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 7,902
    I'm AnDreW.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    Great review and write up Andy. I am sure the Croft now has a new lease of life courtesy of Mr Firebottles skilful additions. I expect it will sound even better once all is run in. It is interesting that some of the values were down or out of spec, just shows amps are like old cars, they could do with a service and MOT to get the best out of them.

    Some pics would be nice.
    Thanks. I'm enjoying the amps so much I didn't bother with photo's. I'll see what I can do when I have some time.
    SS

    CD Teac VRDS25X(Audiotuned) DAC Caiman SEG+15V PSU+Dorado DECK 1210 Mat SPH SSS Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony armboard Feet Isonoe/Ebony PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/3 Stage Regs/Recap PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MC Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    VALVE

    PRE
    Croft Epoch(Modified) AMP Sondex S100 (Modified) SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECKS Garrard301/401 (Bastin) Mat Teunto Bearing 401 Plinth Moldovan Arms 3009/3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSU Eagle+Tachometer MC Ag Meister v2 / Royall N SPU's CABLES Arm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker 10mm Cu + WBT-0681 Ag IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage Paradise(4 Box Modded) / EAR 834 Clone (modded)

    REAL SOUND


    PRE Radford SC25 (Mullard ECC83/82) POWER RADFORD STA25 Renaissance (Electroharmonix EL34) SPEAKERS Celestion Ditton 15 (Duelund Rewired/Jantzen Recapped) CABLES Speaker - Duelund AWG 12IC - Belden 8402+Switchcraft RCA

    WEBSITE - WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/WAKEFIELDAUDIO

  4. #4
    Join Date: Mar 2017

    Location: London N2

    Posts: 1,641
    I'm Edward.

    Default

    Really enjoyed reading your write up Andrew. Resonates so much with me as I'm a Radford/Tannoy lover and really interested to see how you have moved things forward and gaining so much more from your setup. Alan's work (and costs) are hard to beat. His done various bits and pieces for me and all top notch.

    Years ago when I was in contact with John Widgery (and Mike Davis) at Woodside he mentioned his S100, kicking myself not getting one then.

    E
    Main: Tidal/Roon > MiniITX > Metrum Hex > LDR > either Radford STA25 V or Trilogy 968 > Tannoy (Eaton or Berkeley).
    2nd: Tidal/Roon > Roopio on Pi > Chevron Paradox > Firebottle Buffer > Sugden Masterclass IA-4 > Kudos Cardea


  5. #5
    Join Date: Nov 2010

    Location: Yorkshire

    Posts: 7,902
    I'm AnDreW.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward View Post
    Really enjoyed reading your write up Andrew. Resonates so much with me as I'm a Radford/Tannoy lover and really interested to see how you have moved things forward and gaining so much more from your setup. Alan's work (and costs) are hard to beat. His done various bits and pieces for me and all top notch.

    Years ago when I was in contact with John Widgery (and Mike Davis) at Woodside he mentioned his S100, kicking myself not getting one then.

    E
    Thanks. It'll be interesting to see how the modded paradise and running through the PS10 will affect the sound.
    SS

    CD Teac VRDS25X(Audiotuned) DAC Caiman SEG+15V PSU+Dorado DECK 1210 Mat SPH SSS Mods MN Base/Bearing/Platter+Ebony armboard Feet Isonoe/Ebony PSU Paul Hynes SR7EHD-27XL/DCSXL Ag DC lead/3 Stage Regs/Recap PCB+No Pitch/Strobe/Light ARM SME V(Kondo Ag Rewire&Tags) MC Cadenza Black CABLES Arm Yannis SPD-4 IC Yannis 222 Litz+Ag bullets Power WAR PRE ATC SCA2 SPEAKERS ATC 50ASL STANDS Atacama PHONO Sugden Masterclass PA4 SUT Ortofon ST80SE POWER PSAudio P10

    VALVE

    PRE
    Croft Epoch(Modified) AMP Sondex S100 (Modified) SPEAKERS Tannoy 15"MG+RFC Warwick cabs+ Reference XO DECKS Garrard301/401 (Bastin) Mat Teunto Bearing 401 Plinth Moldovan Arms 3009/3012(Ikeda Ag wired) PSU Eagle+Tachometer MC Ag Meister v2 / Royall N SPU's CABLES Arm Yannis 420.5 Litz+ Speaker 10mm Cu + WBT-0681 Ag IC Oyaide FTVS-510 AgWBT 0110Ag Phonostage Paradise(4 Box Modded) / EAR 834 Clone (modded)

    REAL SOUND


    PRE Radford SC25 (Mullard ECC83/82) POWER RADFORD STA25 Renaissance (Electroharmonix EL34) SPEAKERS Celestion Ditton 15 (Duelund Rewired/Jantzen Recapped) CABLES Speaker - Duelund AWG 12IC - Belden 8402+Switchcraft RCA

    WEBSITE - WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/WAKEFIELDAUDIO

  6. #6
    Join Date: Nov 2015

    Location: Wolverhampton

    Posts: 9,762
    I'm Oliver.

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by REXTON View Post
    Croft Epoch pre amplifier and Sondex S100 power amplifier modifications.

    I've been going to get these modifications done now for over a year. It all started when I wanted to push the Croft pre-amp as far as it could go in it's
    current iteration. I'd done the usual thing of asking other forum members for suggestions of how the Croft could be improved upon. There were two spheres
    of thought. The first was based around sending the machine to Glenn Croft and having another box added to my ever expanding of shelf racks. Two whacking
    great big transformers and a load of wires. I'd also wanted the Croft modding to accept 5691 valves and variants. These valves are rather special and widely
    sought after but they do place an additional strain in the Croft. You will need your Croft modding to accept them and you still have the added bonus of
    being able to use all the various 6SL7's out there as well. The second sphere of thought was provided by Alan at Firebottle audio which consisted of having
    improved valve regulation alongside carrying out the 5691 valve modifications. So the Croft went to Alan. The full extent of what Alan has done is still a little
    unknown!! The Croft is still a one box affair so my rack stays the same and there is no additional cost for a new tier to accommodate yet another box.

    The Sondex is another kettle of fish altogether. It's a dumbed down Radford STA100. My specimen bummed around South London before I found it and had it
    shipped, up North! The Sondex has remained stock apart from the fact I fitted top of the range WBT silver RCA's and speaker binding posts. I also rewired the RCA's with silver instead of tinned copper and removed the flimsy RCA coupling mechanisms. The Sondex had never been checked bias drift during my ownership. The Sondex had previously had a snubber fitted to lessen speaker thump when it's turned off. The Sondex also suffered from quite bad mechanical transformer hum which could be easily heard through my sensitive Tannoy 15" Monitor Golds. The Sondex is now virtually silent through the big Tannoy's and boy can you tell the noise floor has been dropped by quite some way. Low level listening is now silent. No hum through the speakers. Alan sorted all these problems out alongside recapping and changing resistors where needed.

    Overall about 300 was spent on the following components for the Croft and Sondex.

    0.1uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    0.22uF 1200Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    1uF 800Vdc Jantzen Silver Z-Cap
    47uF 450V Mundorf M-Lytic HV Radial Capacitor
    470uF 25V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    1000uF 10V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    33uF 35V Elna Silmic II Electrolytic Capacitor
    10K 10W Ohmite Audio Gold AG10 Resistor
    270R 5W Ohmite Audio Gold AG5 Resistor
    560R 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    2K7 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    15K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor
    39K 0.4W Charcroft Z-Foil Resistor

    Alan kindly wrote back to me explaining what he'd done.

    THE CROFT PRE-AMP

    The Croft recieved and Earth lift.
    The Croft line stages have been converted to a hybrid 'mu' circuit.
    This has given individual supply regulation to L and R channels, much improved supply rejection of noise (PSRR),
    lowering of the output impedance and providing greater output drive, linearisation of the valve characteristics and frequency response,
    increased open loop gain (helps with the above).
    The additional circuit complexity used a Z foil resistor plus Jantzen silver Z Cap.
    Correction of the RIAA eq, was down on the treble end,
    The regulated voltage was low, should have been 250V but was reading 236V. An out of spec resistor was changed to raise the voltage to 276V for better performance.


    THE SONDEX POWER AMP

    All secondary power supply capacitors, electrolytic plus the film bypass caps.
    (I didn't replace the main 4 caps on the output supply as they are quality and tested perfect).
    Input and valve grid foil coupling caps,
    Feedback bypass electrolytic caps,
    Cathode bypass caps and cathode resistors on output valves,
    Screen resistors on output valves,
    Gain and feedback resistors to Z foils.
    Plus lastly the supply resistors to the driver transistors as they were running hot.


    Alan was giving complete free range for parts selection. Several weeks later both myself and a good friend of mine spent a pleasent couple of hours travelling
    down to Alan's house where he and his wife Shirley put up with us for 45 minutes or so whilst we heard the partnership of the Croft and the Sondex go through their paces. Alan has an amazing system of suspended Quad ESL 57's, Supertweeters, an immaculate replinthed Lenco L75 partnered with a Lyra Clavis and finally his amazing Vivant valve/hybrid phonostage. I was staggered by what I heard and also a little saddened because I realised that I probably needed to go down the route of Supertweeters for my Tannoys and my Quad ESL 57's, and because my journey is still not over! Alan's system has an extremely impressive mid band. The Supertweeters extend the ESL 57's soundstage wider than I've heard before. Accordians and Saxophones were so solid and fulsome with exsquisite timbral decay. The whole system throw out a very immersive, ambient soundstage. Overall extremely impressive. So, if the Croft and Sondex sounded that good on Alan's system how would they sound back home with a Garrard 301 and freshly modded Paradise phonostage? Well here goes.

    The Croft and Sondex need to be heard together and synergistically, they just work together. My system had decent resolution before the modifications but now we can add another layer. The treble is a little brighter than before but that's no bad thing as the Tannoy's can sound a little muffled with some recordings. I now have a smidge more bite and this really opens up the clarity in the detail with Saxophone and such instruments. The treble has a little more resolution,definition and timbral decay has been improved no end. Listening to the Mobile Fidelity 45RPM pressing of Kind of Blue reveals more detail than ever. The snare drums on Nefertiti have more snap and attack than before the modifications. The soundstage on this partnership appears to gel better than before with more cohesion than before. I get the eerie sense of hearing greater echo and reverb whenever I hear saxophone solo's in fact the Tannoy's are to some extent reproducing some of the magic I heard in Alan's 57's, I'm hearing a fuller, richer tone.

    Switching over to some 45rpm recordings of The Planets and Ride of the Valkyries revealed more pomp and drama than ever before. I would have to say that
    the greatest attribute of this pairing has to be resolution. Virtually every recording has yielded fresh detail that previously remained hidden or lost in the mix.
    Listening to The beautiful voices of Chris Connor and Ernistine Anderson on Cal Tjaders Session's Live album reveals more soul in their voices than I've heard before.This record is a warts 'n all recording of a live presentation and as such you can hear individuals talking to each other and squeaking floors as people walk between tables. I have never heard the squeaky shoes bit and I've played the records hundreds of times.

    The acoustic guitar on Here Comes the Sun on Abbey road are so fresh and crisp that it's a delight to hear. My interest was piqued so I decided to dig out my Classic Records Super 200g Quiex SV-P pressing of Leo Kottke of 6 and 12 string guitars. WOW o WOW I was
    treated to a cascade of timbrel sonic attack I'd never heard this pressing sound so good and it's been played in some pretty high end systems. The transient attack was immediate and it was extremely easy to pick out ever single guitar pick and strum as Kottke played. Slow tunes just oozed timbral decay, he could have been sat no more than six feet away playing, such was the resolution. I came to a startling conclusion when listening to Kottke's music in that the Tannoy's all 800 litres of speaker cabinet (or two very small wardrobes) just buggered off into thin air, they did a disappearing act worthy of Houdini. This must be because of the improved soundstage width and stereo imaging. So the addiction continued for a wee while longer and I decided to try some rock music, traditionally this system's

    failure. I could go on but my general consensus of opinion is that the Croft and Sondex have been massively improved.

    Some Thoughts....

    I originally chose the Jantzen silvercaps after assessing their effects in an old pair Celestion Ditton 15 XR speakers that I recapped. They gave a slight
    bite and edge to the presentation which would hopefully counter the slightly muffled presentation of the Tannoy Monitor Golds. Initially I thought the improved
    treble could be down to the Jantzen's but Alan's description of his modifications tallies with what I now hear through the Tannoys and why heavy rock sounds better through the Tannoys. The RIAA eq was out on the Croft which meant treble sounded a little muffled, which is exactly what I heard and instantly picked up when I listened to treble heavy tracks. This whole exercise has taught me that you really need to get any second hand equipment full checked out. Both the Croft and Sondex worked very well without Alan's work but now they work exceptionally well and to their full potential.

    Positives
    ---------
    + Cost. Alan charges sensible prices for his time, advice, experience, and skills
    + The Croft remaining a one box solution.
    + Resolution, resolution and more resolution. Lots of new detail heard from lots of old vinyl!
    + Soundstage. Opened up the Tannoys no end. Soundstage now fills the full width of my listening room. Better depth in some recordings.
    + Improved timbrel decay, echo, and reverb.
    + Improved stereo imaging.


    Negatives
    ---------
    - Why didn't I do this earlier?
    - Takes an hour or so before the Croft/Sondex come "on song", but then again they always have taken that amount of time.
    - Errr, nowt else.

    The Future
    ----------
    There are still a couple of things that I think need to be done with this combination and some of the ancillaries which make up the system. Firstly I need to fettle

    the cartridge alignment and loading. I've built a special platform to ensure that the tracking weight is properly set on the Royal N SPU that I use. I'm borrowing a

    paradise phonostage at the moment. The borrowed paradise has several differences to my own, mainly :-

    Mine Borrowed
    Hardwired screened mains cable with gold plated MS HD plugs Unscreened umbilical cables between PSU and phonostage boxes.
    No IEC's IEC's in PSU
    PCB resistor loading for cartridge (Charcroft resistor loading) External RCA loading plugs for cartridge loading (not sure what brand resistor)
    Silver WBT RCA's Audionote silver plated RCA's (I think)
    Improved PSU modifications Improved PSU modifications


    So I presume I should get a further lift up the sonic ladder when my Paradise arrives. I've ordered some Belden 19364 so I can make a couple of mains leads for the Croft and Sondex which will be going into the back of the PS Audio P10.Lastly my Garrard 401 will be fully tricked out with Martin Bastin mods and plinth, which will be coupled up to a Phoenix Engineering PSU/Tachometer. I intend to do a Part II listening session to see if these further mods improve things further. Stay tuned....
    Told you that you'd be pleased
    Analogue: Technics SP10 MK2 > Phonomac AT-1010 MK6 tonearm > Ortofon Kontrapunkt b > Bigbottle Jfet MC Valve Phonostage
    Digital: Orchard Audio PecanPi with JRiver
    Preamplifier: DCB1 with Khozmo 48 Step Series Attenuator or Neurochrome Differential Preamp
    Amplification: Neurochrome Modulus 686
    Cables: SPOTFIRE Speaker Cable & SPOTFIRE IC Cables & SPOTFIRE Tonearm cable
    Speakers: Mordaunt Short Performance 880

    Price List For SPOTFIRE Cables here:https://bit.ly/2Uxiv3j

    Alternative reading: http://www.audioaddictsforum.com

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