суббота, 10 августа 2013 г.

Stereophile - список рекомендованных компонентов 2013. Проигрыватели, тонармы, картриджи и др. Часть 3.

Class B
Clearaudio Clarify: $1600
A perfect partner for Clearaudio's Ovation turntable, the Clarify has a machined aluminum headshell with azimuth adjustment, a carbon-fiber armtube, a magnetic bearing, and a low-center-of-gravity counterweight with an integral mechanism for adjusting VTF. It uses Clearaudio's proprietary Direct Wire, a five-conductor configuration of copper with Teflon insulation, implemented as a direct run from the cartridge clips to a 1.2m tonearm cable terminated with RCA plugs. The Ovation-Clarify combo had a resolving, nuanced, musical sound, said EL. See listing for Clearaudio Ovation in "Turntables." (Vol.35 No.10 Read Review Online)
Ortofon TA-210: $1899
The 12" TA-210 is a pivoting tonearm with traditional gimbaled bearings for lateral and vertical movement, and a curved, damped aluminum-alloy armtube. Versatile and user-friendly, it comes with a removable cable, a plug-in headshell for use with standard-mount phono cartridges, and a simple, accurate installation jig. Compared to the EMT 997 and Schick Tonearm, the Ortofon lacked some scale, presence, and impact, but sounded consistently smooth, serene, and uncolored, with no apparent stressing on dynamic peaks, said AD. "A wise choice for a newcomer to the world of vintage-style phonography," he concluded. (Vol.35 No.10 Read Review Online)
Rega RB303: $595 $$$
Latest version of Rega's classic tonearm. See the Rega RP3 entry in "Turntables." (Vol.34 No.12)
VPI JMW-9: $1000 ✩
The newest and shortest of Harry Weisfeld's JMW tonearm line, the JMW-9 comes standard with the Aries Scout turntable. (AD enthused about the combination's sound.) It uses a reverse-missionary bearing with a hardened tungsten-carbide point and a machined and hardened-steel set-screw for a cup. A quick-connect plug makes for easy removal and easy cartridge swapping, but as with all Harry Weisfeld designs, there is no antiskating mechanism. MF auditioned the 9" version of the JMW Memorial tonearm with VPI's Scoutmaster turntable. Unlike the original JMW Memorial, the 9" arm's main bearing is directly grounded to the plinth and the stabilizing ring surrounding the arm's bearing housing is fixed. The lack of a damping well results in a "Parkinson's-like trembling of the JMW when you use the finger lift or lower the arm via the cueing mechanism," which MF found disconcerting. Nevertheless, the arm appeared to be extremely stable: "The taut, focused, remarkably coherent performance of this "table-arm combo is testament to a fundamentally solid, well-grounded system that deals effectively with energy created at the stylus/groove interface." Some disagreement between AD and MF over the overall rating, but Class B seems appropriate. (Vol.26 No.2, Vol.27 No.9 Read Review Online)

Phono Cartridges
Class A
Benz-Micro LP S: $5000 ✩
Weighing a relatively heavy 16.4gm and with an open-construction body of aged ebony on a brass frame, the LP S moving-coil cartridge is ideal for use in tonearms of medium to high mass. Its generating system includes a 0.28mm-diameter cantilever of solid boron; a nude, mirror-polished, line-contact stylus; and a square plate-coil system of jewel-grade ruby. The LP S offered smooth treble, a supple bottom end, and "profoundly well-developed instrumental textures," for a sound that leaned toward romance, said MF. It lacked, however, the tightly drawn images, sharp transients, and exceptional transparency of the Ortofon MC A90. (Vol.32 No.12)
Brinkmann Pi: $2699
The Pi moving-coil cartridge uses a motor built to Brinkmann's specifications by Benz-Micro, includes a Micro-Ridge stylus, and has a body of machined aluminum designed to control the dissipation of resonant energy. Though its tonal balance was slightly lean, the Pi's overall frequency extension and tracking ability were impressive, said MF. "The Pi cartridge strikes me as very competitive at and above its price," he concluded. (Vol.34 No.5 Read Review Online)
Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement: $15,000
The audacious Goldfinger Statement has a diamond embedded in the front panel of its 14K-gold body, and features EMF shielding and a resonance-damping, gold-fingered top plate. It uses 12 magnets, a 24K-gold coil assembly, and a boron cantilever with a Micro HD stylus. The unusual specs include a high weight of 17gm and a high output of 0.9mV; tracking force is 2.8gm. Though it lacked ultimate soundstage width, the Goldfinger Statement produced a "generous, voluminous midrange" and had outstanding dynamics, bottom-end extension and authority, and transient speed and clarity, said MF. (Vol.35 No.9)
EMT TSD 15: $1950 $$$
The EMT TSD 15 is an A-style pickup head weighing just over 17.5gm and available with either EMT's proprietary diamond-shaped output-pin pattern or the more common SME square pattern. It has a high impedance of 24 ohms, a high output of 1.05mV, and a moderate recommended downforce of 2.5gm. The EMT's overall sound was open, clear, and transparent, with above-average presence, body, and color, and an outstanding sense of momentum and flow. "A fine all-arounder, combining starkly honest music-making with the sorts of refined sonic attributes most audiophiles cherish," said Art. Examining the EMT with a microscope revealed its distinctly small, sharp, spherical tip, which, AD conjectured, may be the reason for the stylus's exceptionally low groove noise. For special systems only, as it is a complete pickup head, not just a cartridge. (Vol.34 Nos.5 & 9 Read Review Online)
EMT OFD 65: $1850 ✩
Expressly designed for playing 78s, the moving-coil OFD 65 has a recommended downforce of 9gm and a spherical stylus tip. Its aluminum-alloy headshell has a built-in magnifying loupe at one end and an SME-style four-pin plug at the other. While Art's small collection of 78s lacked the sonic presence of the best modern recordings, the OFD 65 conveyed "an extraordinary kind of musical presence." Despite a backcurrent of shellac hash, the overall sound was "extremely dramatic, with clean peaks and a superior sense of scale." For special systems only, as it is a complete pickup head, not just a cartridge. (Vol.31 No.9 Read Review Online)
Haniwa Audio System HCTR01: $5000
Designed in Japan by Tetsuo Kubo and built by Y. Matsudaira of My Sonic Lab, the beautifully made HCTR01 moving-coil cartridge has a super-low internal impedance of 0.8 ohm and can track at an astonishingly low 0.6–1.0gm when used with Haniwa's HEQA01 Phono Equalizer. It uses a boron cantilever and a line-contact stylus assembly. While it lacked midrange warmth and texture, the Haniwa produced "a fully extended, ultraclean, remarkably transparent sound," said MF. Sold direct from Kubotek USA with a money-back guarantee. (Vol.34 No.11)
Lyra Atlas: $9500
With its off-center motor-retaining screw and asymmetrical design, Lyra's new top model represents designer Jonathan Carr's latest ideas on minimizing resonances. It has a body machined from a solid billet of aluminum, a diamond-coated boron cantilever, and a nude diamond stylus. The Atlas combined the Titan i's detail and transient speed with the Kleos's warmth and smoothness, said MF. "The Lyra Atlas is a complete success." (Vol.35 No.5)
Lyra Titan i: $5995 ✩
The Titan's body is machined from a single piece of titanium alloy to minimize standing waves, internal reflections, and resonances. Two symmetrical disc magnets create a symmetrical magnetic field that is said to eliminate distortions common to conventional pole-piece designs. MF: "The Titan is the least 'mechanical"-sounding Lyra I've heard, and one of the most lyrical and liquid-sounding cartridges I've heard from anyone at any price. And it delivered that musical ease without sounding dull or closed-in....[Its] dynamics, soundstaging, depth, detail resolution, bass definition, and all other parameters of cartridge performance were the state of the art or close enough....The Lyra Titan seemed to sail through the grooves, ignoring or minimizing wear, scratches, and other defects, while retrieving and delivering a level of musical nuance that set it apart from any other cartridge I've heard." BD seconds the Class A rating. Current i version one of MF's references. Using a digital USB microscope to achieve proper SRA, Mikey found that the Titan i did not sound tipped-up on top, but was "superbly balanced." (Vol.26 No.6, Vol.30 No.3, Vol.35 No.5)
Miyajima Labs Kansui: $3600
Like the Miyajima Shilabe, the Kansui uses a cross-ring motor design, weighs 10.4gm, has an internal impedance of 16 ohms, is fitted with a Shibata stylus, and has a curvaceous body of African Blackwood. Because it has a higher compliance, however, the Kansui can track at a significantly lower tracking force for greater speed and resolution. Though it lacked the Haniwa HCTR01's resolution of spatial information, the Shilabe offered a meatier and more intimate sound, with forceful bass, rich textures, and solid images, said MF. (Vol.34 No.11)
Miyajima Labs Shilabe: $2995 ✩
The Shilabe is a low-output (0.23mV), low-compliance design with an unusually high recommended tracking force of 2.5–3.2gm. Its Shibata stylus is attached to a large-diameter, old-fashioned–looking cantilever. Like Miyajima's Premium Mono, the Shilabe uses a patented "cross-ring" construction that centers the generator's fulcrum within the coil. Though it lacked the soundstaging and imaging of the Shun Mook Signature, the Shilabe had a sound that was "full-bodied, deep, and extremely well-defined," and offered "superbly coherent transient and harmonic presentation from top to bottom," said MF. AD also enjoyed the Shilabe's "consistently present, colorful, and downright chunky" sound. "It was the closest I've heard a stereo cartridge come to delivering the meat, the force, the sheer solidity of mono," he said. (Vol.32 No.9, Vol.33 No.10 Read Review Online)
Miyajima Labs Zero Mono: $1995
The Zero Mono cartridge has an output of 0.4mV, making it compatible with a wide range of moving-coil phono preamps. Compared to Miyajima Lab's Premium BE, the Zero produced a similarly big, rich, meaty sound, but offered improvements in image focus, clarity, transient detail, and bass control, said MF. "If you treasure your mono albums, get a Zero. It's infinitely better than any other mono cartridge I've heard," he summed up. (Vol.36 No.3)
My Sonic Lab Eminent EX: $7600
The Eminent EX features an ultralow internal impedance of 1 ohm and a relatively high output of 0.4mV. It weighs 9.5gm, has a semi–line-contact stylus, and is designed to track at a vertical tracking force of 1.9–2.2gm. The Eminent EX sacrificed resolution of detail, speed, and snap in favor of a more "groove-friendly, real-world performance," said Mikey. It combined deep, powerful bass with rich mids and refined highs that, while lacking air and sparkle, made bright recordings sound ideal. "Among the finest, most skillfully balanced cartridges I've heard," concluded MF. (Vol.33 No.6)
Ortofon Xpression: $5399
A unique blend of new and old technologies, the Xpression derives from Ortofon's cutting-edge MC A90, but is designed as a drop-in replacement for any G-style pickup head. It uses a Replicant 100 stylus, has a recommended downforce of 2.6gm, an impedance of 4 ohms, and a low 0.3mV output. Compared to AD's original Ortofon SPU, the Xpression sounded just as solid, colorful, and forceful, but was more detailed, open, tactile, and revealing of nuance and technique. "The difference was real: Love my older Ortofon though I do, the Xpression was clearly more dramatic, with no penalty in texture or color," said Art. (Vol.35 No.2 Read Review Online)
Ortofon MC A90: $4200 ✩
Ortofon's "revolutionary" MC A90 moving-coil cartridge is built up of layer on layer of laser-fused microparticles, in a process called Selective Laser Melting, resulting in a dense but lightweight and nonresonant structure. Like Ortofon's Windfeld, the MC A90 uses the Wide Range Damping system, said to produce ideal damping throughout and beyond the audioband, and has a Replicant 100 diamond stylus and a boron cantilever. The MC A90 offered a clean, tight sound with "unsurpassed rhythmic swagger, dynamic exuberance, transparency, and three-dimensionality." Not a cartridge for those looking for a "lush" sound, Mikey warned: "It's very literal." (Vol.32 No.11)
Ortofon SPU Synergy A: $1799 ✩
The Synergy A represents the final run of Ortofon's A-style pickup heads. It has an elliptical stylus tip and a body made from Ortofon's recently developed wood-and-resin mix. Recommended tracking force is 2.5–3.5gm, and output is rated at 0.5mV. Compared to Ortofon's SPU Classic A, the Synergy A was more extended in the bass and treble, with a better sense of scale. "$1850 for any cartridge this good would be reasonable; for the last of a historic breed, the SPU Synergy A is a bargain," said Art, but notes that this pickup head is for "special uses only." (Vol.32 No.2, Vol.34 No.4 Read Review Online)
Soundsmith SG-200 Strain Gauge: $6499.95
The SG-200 is a strain-gauge phono cartridge with six choices of interchangeable styli and a dedicated power supply and preamplifier. Two bright-blue tubular LEDs run vertically through the metal body’s horizontal slats, giving the cartridge a unique look. Also unlike most cartridges, the SG-200 provides controls for setting vertical tracking angle and azimuth. Though it could sound somewhat cool and lacking in physicality, with a lean midrange and stingy sustain, the SG-200 produced incredibly clean, fast top-to-bottom transient attack, deep bass, airy highs, and spectacular transparency. “The SG-200 is a unique game-changing product,” said MF. Price includes two SGS-5 styli; add $100 for the SGS-6, a nude line-contact stylus with a ruby cantilever. (Vol.34 No.3 Read Review Online)
Soundsmith Sussurro: $4799.95
Designed and built in the US by Soundsmith's Peter Ledermann, the Sussurro is a low-output (0.3mV), low-mass (8.79gm), moving-iron cartridge intended to be used with an MC phono stage that can provide 60dB of gain. It has a wood body, a ruby cantilever, and a line-contact diamond stylus; its unique construction allows for adjustment of azimuth, vertical tracking angle, and stylus rake angle, all from the cartridge body. Though it lacked some resolution and detail, the Sussurro was an exceptionally quiet and smooth tracker, and offered a slightly warm and lush overall sound, said MF. The Sussurro's stylus's severe profile mandates precise settings of overhang, zenith angle, and especially SRA and VTA. (Vol.35 No.3)
Soundsmith The Voice: $2799.95 ✩
Now only available with an ebony body, this moving-iron cartridge, hand-built by Peter Ledermann, has a nude Optimized Contour line-contact stylus, but lowers the mass of the moving-iron structure for faster response. Compared to the SMMC1, The Voice was "cleaner, smoother, more transparent, and seemingly free of peaks and valleys in the frequency response," said Mikey. "For romance, go elsewhere; for honesty, consider the Soundsmiths." (Vol.32 No.11 Read Review Online)
Sumiko Reference Palo Santos Presentation: $3999 ✩
The Palo Santos Presentation moving-coil cartridge has an open-construction body of tuned wood; a boron cantilever, a suspension of synthetic rubber, and an ultra-low-mass Vital PH diamond stylus. Compared to the Benz-Micro LP S, the Palo Santos Presentation sounded "brasher," with a shallower soundstage, leaner midbass, and sharper transients. "Its overall sound—smooth, sweet, but still sunny, and nicely detailed—makes it a great choice for the music lover with eclectic tastes who wants to bridge the gap between analytical and romantic sound," said MF. (Vol.32 No.12)
ZYX R-1000 Sigma 2-X: $11,990
The R-1000 Sigma 2-X has a MicroRidge stylus of solid diamond, a square cantilever of natural diamond, and uses what ZYX calls a Real Stereo generator system, in which the coils, armature, front and rear yokes, pole-piece, and output pins have all been cryogenically treated. While its tonal balance leaned toward the warm side of neutral, with a slightly polite top end and a slightly loose bottom, the ZYX produced clean, focused transients and a richly flowing midrange. "The R-1000 Sigma 2-X is one of the most effortless and natural-sounding cartridges I've yet encountered," said MF. (Vol.33 No.8)

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