ATRAX PHOTO by Clifton Beard | It's all been a bit quiet on here!

It's all been a bit quiet on here!

May 24, 2017  •  Leave a Comment

Yes it has!


Firstly, I have been busy with various jobs I do and haven't had so much time to think about photography.  There are a couple of weddings coming along, so best I get back in the groove!


Secondly, inspired by the opportunity to upgrade my Hi Fi amplifier on an exceptional deal, there was a bit of a chain reaction and I spent considerable time (and money!) upgrading my 2 channel audio kit, which hadn't had much done to it for 15-20 years.  Here is the new beast that almost gave me a hernia moving it about (35kg); the Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 600 with its little glowing valves in the preamp stage.  Wonderful amplifier.

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I find that many photography enthusiasts seem to be equally enthusiastic about listening to music on a good home system.   It's probably the common aspects of tech and art in both that tweaks our curiosity, fascination and love of beautiful things....who knows?


I love playing music on vinyl LP and always have is no fad.  I have had record players since setting up my own home in the mid 80's and pretty good ones too.  Sure, it is an old format and on the face of it, it appears rather crude and primitive, but when you hear a half-decent mastering and pressing played on a half-decent set, the sound is amazing and truly engaging.  Take it up a notch to high end and wow again!  We hear in analogue sound waves and the source is analogue, which kind of makes sense.  It has taken a couple of decades for the sound of CD and digital sources to sound truly good, probably because we have been trying to make what is fundamentally a "stepped" source sound analogue.  It is only recently that the best CD players got good enough to really challenge vinyl IMHO and ironically when the CD medium is probably in its twilight years.  However, CD will never challenge the tactile feel of an LP and its artwork, or the ritual of playing a record.  Playing LPs has another great advantage;  You tend to listen to a whole album as the artist intended, rather than skipping through tracks.  I think it inspires a deeper listening experience because of this.


It still intrigues me how the tiny movements of the diamond stylus are transmitted up the cantilever where they move magnets or coils to generate a tiny electronic signal.  This then passes to a phono stage which greatly amplifies and applies an equalisation profile, whereby it goes to the line level input of an amplifier. In principal a relatively simple process that would seem to have no right to sound amazing, but the finesse involved and the sheer result is mind-blowing.


I have always been a fan of the design principles behind the Roksan Xerxes record player and in fact owned the original version for many years before upgrading to the X (10) model.  It skilfully avoided existing design ideologies of either mass loading or sprung chassis. Instead it used a relatively rigid rubber blob type suspension between the various layers of base, sub plinth and outer plinth, with carefully placed cuts in the structure, to isolate the key components from external and internal sources of noise/vibration, while allowing them to best read the record. It has design finesse and interesting solutions to the engineering problems, which means that parts are neither over large or over heavy, but do their jobs superbly.  A good example is the beautifully engineered aluminium, 2 part platter.  A large part of the mass is concentrated at the outer circumference where it is best placed to aid inertia and speed stability, rather than making the whole thing simply heavy.  This in turn means the bearing can be much finer and smaller than on many turntables.  The design has a fast, punchy musicality with tight reproduction of notes and no lazy hang-over or bloom.  It has long been very highly regarded by the HiFi press and those that love the way it plays.  


I recently had mine upgraded by Roksan to close to 20 plus spec, and had a new Pug tonearm and Shiraz cartridge fitted.  It is a superb record player that makes me want to listen for hours.  I have the Caspian DX2 chassis which houses the motor power supply and Roksan reference phono stage, both powered by their own power supplies.

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My original speakers served me very well for nearly 20 years but went on Gumtree and were replaced by PMC's fantastic Twenty Five.24, which deliver masses of clout but with real finesse.  The bass delivery technology on these speakers is incredible.


If I can I try to fit in an hour of listening a is my default relaxation, rather than TV.


So now you know my other vice!


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