Unieke Akai vormgeving! Oudere generatie dan de GX-A5, zonder de beroemde GX-koppen en zelfs goedkoper, maar klankmatig beter: voller, muzikaler en meer open, subtielere hoge tonen.
Nakamich ZX-7 cassettedeck with double capstan
Extremely good cassettedeck. Even by today's standards. Although it doesn't have lp or cd dynamics, it's still well-detailed, smooth and very colourful. Because of the double capstan the transport is very stable and thanks to the double heads, on the record side with extra thin gap, recordings are excellent, but not very compatible with other decks. This goes of course for all Naks. But the one real downside of this deck lies in its advanced head adjustment system: meant to make for a perfect azymuth, ironically it deviates quickly from perfect azymuth and you have to keep adjusting it.
Although the CR1 (pictured) looks different from the DR3, it is in fact the same deck. Soundwise they are comparable to the RX202E. Good sound: better than most decks, but not their best. The azymuth of my CR1 kept becoming misaligned, even after repeated adjustments and re-sealing the screw. I've learned later that this deck doesn't have a real Nak transport but a bought-in Sankyo. Maybe this was the source of the problem or maybe I just had a faulty unit?
Incredibly spaceous, quite warm and full sounding, stable yet detailed. In its standardform on the MDF base too thick in the bass and too slow. When placed on Granite instead of the standard MDF base much quicker and agile. The standard arm is very good in the bass and very stable but this platter is capable of much better. Apply the Conductor Air Bearing arm and you'll be rewarded with a lot more air and detail while maintaining the colourful Nottingham trademark sound. Also the addition of the Wave Mechanic power supply makes for a large improvement in pace and brings even more spaceousness. This table is more suited to jazz and acoustical music than to electronic music. Reviewed elsewhere, not in the reference system.
Tascam 422 8 track recorder
Indertijd de mooiste 8-track recorder op compactcassette die er beschikbaar was. De tape werd aan beide kanten tegelijk gebruikt en op dubbele snelheid gedraaid. Het geluid was vrijwel Nak-kwaliteit. Helaas voor mij kwamen binnen een jaar na aanschaf betaalbare HD-recorders beschikbaar...
In spite of the absence of auto-reverse this deck has problems keeping perfect azymuth. I had two and both were unstable. Nice head bridge, beautiful display with real time/remaining time etc and excellent handling overall, but it cannot keep up with the simplest Nakamichi in terms of sound, or stability.
Yamaha K-720 Autoreverse Cassettedeck
Uitstekende azimuth, ook op termijn stabiel en redelijk geluid, in zekere zin vergelijkbaar met de KX530, maar wat minder geraffineerd.
Yamaha KX-960 Cassettedeck
Dit deck kwam akelig dicht bij mijn referentie, de Nakamichi ZX-7, in de buurt, zowel qua loopwerk als klank, ware het niet dat de servoregeling van de capstanmotor niet stabiel wilde blijven. Soms ging het loopwerk dan geleidelijk steeds sneller of langzamer lopen.
Akai GX-52 Cassettedeck
Een van de laatste cassettedecks die Akai maakte. Het loopwerk is fenomenaal. Stil, supersnel en akkuraat. Enkel Nakamichi maakt nog betere loopwerken. Helaas is het geluid wat minder indrukwekkend; zeker bovengemiddeld maar minder dan de HX-2, wat aan de magere, dunne kant.
Letterlijk 2 losse decks onder 1 kap. Alles is gescheiden, tot en met de aansluitingen op de achterkant, maar dan met het gemak van de mogelijkheid om intern te kopieren op dubbele snelheid. Het geluid wordt dan wel minder open, vooral in het hoog. Tevens verliep de azimuth van beide loopwerken continu. Klankmatig onder het gemiddelde.
Akai GX-A5 Cassettedeck
Mooi cassettedeck met uitstekende prestaties, zeker gezien de prijs. Mechanisch een beetje luidruchtig maar betrouwbaar en degelijk.
Zelfs nu, na 20 jaar, duiken er uitstekend werkende exemplaren op!
Benz MC Gold - MC element
Na vergelijk met de Benz Ace en Denon DL304 blijkt dat de MC Gold niet bijzonder is. Voor het geld ok, maar het kan stukken beter. Vooral de aftasting kan zuiverder, scherpe s-jes; de zogenaamde sibilants, zijn naar mijn smaak iets te prominent. Daarbij is de detailweergave een stuk minder dan de Ace en de DL304 van Denon, die daarmee voor deze prijs allround een stuk beter is. De MC gold wordt ook helemaal niet door Benz gemaakt maar in opdracht gefabriceerd door een derde. Mijn advies: spaar door voor de Ace of neem iets heel anders.
Clearaudio Matrix - Reference record cleaner
A beautiful machine that I bought after the Double Smart Matrix didn't meet my expectations. The Double didn't wash the underside as wet as the upper side and if you pushed the fluid-bottle too hard to get it to wash the underside well enough, the upper side would overflow. The Matrix is another story: it washes better, is more silent and is also more reliable. A washing brings a more natural and open sound that is at the same time (depending on the grade of dirt) a lot better detailed. But also new records sound more open after a washing.
Clearaudio Double Smart Matrix - double sided record cleaner
Even though the reviews are excelent for this cleaner and this one has been bases partially on the top washer, the Matrix, the Double didn't match my expectations. Although the idea is brilliant, the application of fluid is different for the underside and the upper side. When you use just enough fluid for the topside, the bottom remains largely dry. When you apply more pressure to the fluid-bottle to get the underside wet, the upper side overflows. This may just have been my unit but I'm not counting on it. I bought the top of the line Matrix.
Michell Gyro SE turntable with Orbe platter upgrade,
Technoarm and Benz ACE L MC element
The Gyro is even in its standard form already a remarkable player with stunning looks. The weights under the platter are not there for the looks, even though they are quite an attentiongrabber. Rather they make for weight without adding colorations and prone-ness to vibration. But for me the turning of these weights was too distracting so I ordered the Orbe Platter Upgrade. The solid platter made for a leap-forward in stability, detail and focus. The bass became more robust but it also made for less fluidity and arguably the standard platter is more musical. The Gyro itself is a chameleon. Coloration it has never heard of. It is forever neutral.
According to the reviews, this arm has the tight bass, calmness and control of the SME V! I wouldn't know for sure, as I haven't tested the latter. I do know however that this modified Rega RB250 arm is pretty good in these areas. It is very much a bass champ: full, deep yet controlled. The original RB250 arm is modified with perforation, internal damping, extra flat headshell, resonance-damping coating, better cable and of course a Tecnoweight. Compared to other turntables, this arm sound very much in control, with a full and weighty bass but a somewhat dry presentation and not much air in the highs. More for rhythm than for smooth fluidity.
This powersupply is used instead of the standard adapter and outputs the same 12volts direct current but regulated by rhe "never connected" technology. By that Mitchell means that 2 capacitors are one after the other connected and disconnected to and from the mains where the unconnected capacitor feeds the output into the turntable motor. Believe it or not but this makes a large difference. With HR the sound is more stable, more relaxed and at the same time more fluid and more silky in the highs. Also perceived speed is lowered making for a more relaxed presentation. (actual speed is the same) Going back to the regular adapter makes you notice how raw and threadbare the sound was before.
Dit kastje kost erg weinig, ziet er goed uit en presteert aan de prijs zondermeer prima en beter gaat voor dit geld dan ook niet. In absolute zin echter mist hij raffinement, zijdigheid, laag en hoog. Wat overblijft is een enthousisast en positief geladen geluid waarin het middengebied eruitspringt als behoorlijk open maar het laag en hoog te vroeg afgekapt worden. Ook ruimtelijkheid en focus zijn minder dan bijvoorbeeld bij de Benz Lukaschek PP1
Benz Lukaschek PP1 T9 MC phonostage
Small but grand in performance! Very musical prepre with a round and fluid character but at the same time very detailed, dynamic and refined. Its highs are very airy and fluid as well as finely textured. Glabally it reminds of the classic Jeff Rowland sound but ultimately cannot keep up with the Jeff Rowland Cadence phono stage. Which is not surtprising given Rowland's much higher price tag.
The LX5 is ZX7's little brother, meant for people who valued the ZX7 for its quality, but didn't want to bother with its complexity. The LX5 only has 2 heads and no double capstan and is very reliable. Ironically though, it's compatible with a wider range of tapes and while it doesn't sound completely like a ZX7, it has excellent sound. Recordings lag behind the ZX7, playback is almost comparable.
Nakamich Dragon auto reverse cassettedeck with direct drive and auto azymuth
An icon. Not their best deck, which is the 1000ZXL, but certainly the most impressive one. In practice however the ZX9 has better sound and is also more reliable. The auto azymth system, which makes it possible to play foreign cassettes perfectly, even if they have been recorded with wrong azymuth, is ingenious but sadly often a source of problems. Apparently this is the most heard complaint when the decks were brought in for repairs and in my case also this was just what was wrong with it. So, a beautifully engineered, but unreliable deck.
Pictured above, on top of the Synergy preamp. What the synergy and Cadence both do best is to sound utterly natural. It's not like they are without character because of that they have plenty. There is absolutely no artificiality, no hardness, no shouting, no coloration, no noise. Yet they're absolutely not bland sounding. There's an anormous soundstage with super-layering, so many small details have their own place in the soundfield and no matter how complex the passage, it is always clear. But never analytical of clinical. Microdynamics remain a Rowland strong suit. There's just this complete absence of any electronic signature. Maybe you could compare it best to a very good tube preamp except that the Synergy and Cadence are much more quiet.
One of my favorite Technics Linear Trackers, the SL7 is the successor to the SL10 and it is in no way similar. Also, given the exact same cartridge and stylus it has quite a different character: more airy, agile, open and fluid.
The SL10 is the forebear of the SL7 and is a little bit heavier in build of some parts, but not in total weight. Given the exact same cartridge and stylus as the SL10, it still has a different tonality: fuller, more grounded, with more solid bass.
Quite a different animal compared to the MC Gold. More detail, better clarity, tighther bass, while avoiding any sharpness. Tracking is excellent. While never agressive, the ACE can be overly clinical every now and then, showing you without mercy if your record doesn't sound very well. Conversely well produced records can sound really stellar. The combination Tecnoarm and Michell Gyro is not a very good one, nor is using it in an SME309 and Avid Volvere, and in spite of claims that the cartridge works with almost any arm, the wrong combination can make the ACE sound dynamically restrained, which it really isn't in itself. A combination that works surprisingly well is with a Technics SL1200, but of course that doesn't make sense financially. I have yet to find the best combination though.
Michell Orbe Platter Upgrade
This upgrade was done initially because I had enough of the carrousel effect of the standard gyro elements and wanted a more calm prestentation. It turned out to maker a large difference to the sound too. More detail, stability and a much tighter bass but also the sound in general becomes more controlled. Everything is more pronounced but this also makes for a drier, less fluid presentation. I find the sound somewhat dry and less involving that with the original platter.
What an invention. And it works flawlessly. Time after time, year after year. For this reason this deck was used often at fairs and conventions. Its sound is very good, comparable to that of the entrylevel CR1. The ZX-7 however is much more fluid and subtle and also richer sounding.