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Jeff Checking In: Acoustic Revive, Audio Note (UK), A-V, Duelund, Leben Hi-Fi, and Music!

02-12-2024 | By Jeff Day |

Greetings friends, I hope you are doing well!

The dark winter months of January and February are tough for a lot of us. The winter weather where I live means I can't get outside much for my bicycling and motorcycling attitude adjustments due to cold temperatures and dangerous icy roads. Getting in a workout with the free weights helps, but it's not like getting outside.

There's nothing like a good romp outside on two wheels to get my endorphins flowing and for putting a smile on my face. 

Well almost nothing, that is. One of the brightest sides of the winter months for me is spending more time stimulating the brain's dopamine circuit with music & hi-fi games, which also puts a big smile on my face.  

It's fun and uplifting to have those late night listening sessions when the musicians magically appear in the listening room in an awe inspiring and emotionally charged way, or when inviting some buddies over for merrymaking and hi-fi & music games. 

The hi-fi hobby can be endlessly entertaining. Listening to old favorite albums, or new music one hasn't heard before, or when fiddling around with tweaking the audio system, or when trying out a new component.  I enjoy all of those activities a lot.

It's not a bad way to live!

The Divas: Digital Ambisonic transfers from 78rpm discs that are recorded, mastered, and manufactured in England by Nimbus Records.

I am fascinated by the history of the recording arts, and the albums recorded during the different eras of the recording arts. 

I've been particularly enjoying listening to albums sourced from 78 records from the acoustic & electric eras of recording, like those on CD from Nimbus Records Prima Voce series, for example.

For more information on the Prima Voce approach to 78 transfers go HERE

Prima Voce recording horn.

The nice thing about listening to 78 transfers on CDs  is that you don't have to worry about the multitude of equalization curves that were used in those eras, as they're already optimized for you on the CDs. 

The Divas: Hempel, Galli-Curci, Farrar, Kurz, Garrison, Gluck, and many more!

All you have to do is put the CD in the transport, hit play, and enjoy the music.

I've been getting enjoyably lost in the music while listening to my latest acquisitions, Volumes 1 & 2 of the Divas, and Volumes 1 & 2 of The Golden Age of Singing.

Absolutely sublime! 

The Golden Age of Singing: 2 CDs in each volume of some of the greatest singers of the 78 era of recording.

78 records (or their digital transfers) don't have the high or low-frequency extension of the best records of the stereo magnetic era of recording, and sometimes they can be noisier, so they're not "high-fidelity" in contemporary terms. 

The upside is the musical performances documented on those ancient recordings are often musically transcendent in a way that even the best of the magnetic era recordings can't match, so you might call them "transcendental-fidelity" in terms of musical performances. 

Digital Ambisonic transfers from the original 78rpm discs by Nimbus Records.

On my big Westminster loudspeakers, or my vintage Altec loudspeakers, particularly with vacuum tube amplification, those old 78 records can be mind blowing. 

I'll kick back on my couch and let myself be swept up and transported through time to an earlier and simpler age, and be spellbound by the incredible musical performances. I'm transported to their time, deliciously taking part in a history I haven't lived in myself, and it's an intoxicating experience.   

I'm impressed by how many incredible musical talents there have been over the history of the recording arts.

I'm also impressed by those incredible talents in the recording arts who have documented those musical performances so we can enjoy them in our own homes today. 

A big thank you to Nimbus Records for making those great musical performances of the past available to us today in such an accessible & affordable way. 

There are so many musical riches from our recorded music canon to hear. I encourage you to build a music library that includes albums from each of the recording eras, as it'll give you a broader appreciation for our musical and hi-fi heritage. 

Now it is time to talk about the time honored activity of tweaking our audio systems performance with different cables, vacuum tubes, components, or accessories. 

Sometimes we just want to change things up for fun to hear what will happen. Other times we are trying to address things that are bugging us: room issues, component interactions, or perhaps to optimize our audio systems so they can better accommodate the album-to-album variations in recording quality.  

Sometimes our audio systems' sound quality changes from brilliant to less than brilliant for no apparent reason.

Maybe the decline in sound quality is due to the influence of sunspots, solar flares, coronal mass ejections, gravitational waves, phases of the moon, orientation of the planets, allergies, or our emotional states ... who knows?

The mighty Audio Note (UK) CD 5.1x.

Example: Recently I was enjoying listening to some CDs on the mighty Audio Note (UK) CD 5.1x CD player. 

Then I put in an old CD of mine and the CD 5.1x couldn't read it. What to do?

I looked at the CD and it looked fine, brand new in fact, with no scuffs, scratches, or smears of pizza sauce.

Well, my first step in getting a fussy CD/DVD/SACD/Blu-ray Disc to play is to clean it with some Mo-Fi Shine-Ola optical disc cleaner and a microfiber cloth. That usually works.

Mo-Fi Shine-Ola optical disc cleaner (foreground), RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer (left) & RIO-5II Negative Ion Generator (right).

The Shine-Ola didn't help this time. Then I remembered the Acoustic Revive RD-3 Disc Demagnetizer and RIO-5II Negative Ion Generator that I wrote about in Positive Feedback Issue 45, and thought I'd give them a try on my unplayable CD.

First I placed my CD in the RD-3 and ran it through its demagnetization cycle. Then I placed the CD in the RIO-5II negative ion generator and ran it through its cycle.

I then placed the troublesome CD back in the transport of the CD 5.1x and hit 'play'.

Voilà! The CD now played perfectly in the CD 5.1x. Acoustic Revive to the rescue!  

Audio accessories come in handy, and I was reminded of how effective the Acoustic Revive RD-3 and RIO-5II can be in resolving issues with optical media. They work. 

Acoustic Revive headshell (left), Soundsmith Wooden headshell (right).

Acoustic Revive RHS-1 headshell (left), Soundsmith Wooden headshell (right).

Another example: I've been playing headshell games of late, checking out the performance of the Acoustic Revive RHS-1 headshell that is in for review (first listen HERE), and comparing it to my tried & true Soundsmith Wooden headshell & Schick graphite headshell that I've been using for years. 

Here's the thing: nearly every change can make a difference in sound quality when tweaking an audio system. 

For headshells the material the headshell is made of affects its sound quality. Different kinds of wood sound different from each other (guitar players know this well), as do graphite and metals, or any other material you choose to make a headshell out of.   

A few of Masuda-san's Fibonasound wooden headshells.

Check out the beautiful artisanal wooden headshells by Masuda-san at Fibonasound for inspiration. 

Schick graphite headshell with Acoustic Revive PC-TripleC/EX silver-copper leads.

The type of wire, its gauge, and the insulation used in headshell leads has a major effect on sound quality, just as it does for interconnects, speaker cables, and power cords.

Silver, copper, tinned-copper, and hybrids like the Acoustic Revive PC-TripleC/EX leads all have their own unique sound quality.

If you want a nice surprise at a relatively affordable cost, try experimenting with different headshell leads, as they can have a dramatic effect on overall sound quality and musicality. 

Audio MusiKraft headshell lead sets.

For inspiration take a look at the different headshell lead sets that Audio MusiKraft offers (HERE). There's lead wire sets with oxygen free copper wire and tinned-copper, and a variety of insulators, to try.   

Tadasawa-san's KS-REMASTA headshell lead sets.

Did you know there are specialized lead wire artisans? There are. Check out Tadasawa-san's KS-REMASTA website for more lead wire exotica.  

RHS-1 headshell

Acoustic Revive RHS-1 headshell's SME 4-pin connector with silver-copper alloy pins.

For headshells, the materials used in the SME 4-pin connector also makes a difference. 

You get the idea, nearly everything makes a difference in the performance of an audio system.

Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat on CTC 301

Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat on my CTC 301.

It shouldn't come as a surprise that the composition of a turntable mat also affects sound quality. You can read my "first listen" report of the Acoustic Revive RTS-30 turntable mat HERE

RHR-21 room tuning devices

Acoustic Revive RHR-21 room tuning devices. 

I'll be listening to some more of Acoustic Revive's line of accessories in the near future as well (more HERE). 

There's endless possibilities for tweaking that will keep you entertained while fine tuning the sound quality and musicality of your audio system. 

Audio Note (UK) Tomei 211 integrated amplifier with the M3 RIAA phono stage.

Before too much longer I'll be writing a "first listen" report about the Audio Note (UK) Tomei 211 integrated amplifier. The Tomei is an amazing integrated amplifier, and is capable of otherworldly performance. 

After I get some more run-in time on the Audio Note (UK) M3 RIAA phono stage, I'll provide a "first listen" report on it as well. It's also really good, and a Level above the very fine phono stage incorporated in the Audio Note (UK) Meishu Phono Silver Tonmeister 300B SET integrated amplifier that I wrote about in Positive Feedback Issue 122

The Meishu was a big favorite with quite a number of listeners during its stay at Jeff's Place, and its phono stage provided a lofty level of performance when spinning vinyl. The M3 RIAA raises the performance bar significantly.

My vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers based AV system.

I absolutely adore my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers based AV system. There's just something special about using actual movie theater loudspeakers like the A5s in an AV system. It takes a bit of work to get the A5s crossovers sorted for home use, but once you do they are amazing! 

I've been using an ancient Phillips TV in my AV system and it finally croaked. I am in the process of replacing it with a 77" LG OLED C3 TV that will fit nicely between the big Altec A5s.

It's been so long since I've looked at TVs I wasn't even aware that RCA analog outs weren't even a thing for TVs anymore.  So how do you get the sound to a 2-channel audio system? I didn't know.

It turns out the LG - like other new TVs - has a Toslink audio out connection, which will allow me to hook it up to an Mhdt vacuum tube DAC. Then RCA interconnects will go from the DAC to the beautiful little 15 watt Leben CS300F integrated amplifier that I wrote about in Positive Feedback Issue 118

Leben CS-300F integrated amplifier.

My intent with placing the Leben CS-300F integrated amplifier in my audio-visual system is to honor the "A Motion Sound" movie theater background of Leben Hi-Fi owner & designer Mr. Taku Hyodo.  

The LG is just sitting in the hallway waiting to be installed, and hopefully I'll be able to get that done this week. 

Duelund DCA10GA tinned-copper cable.

Quite a few of you have been asking me for an update on the Duelund DCA10GA speaker cables. Sorry, I kind of dropped the ball on that as I got busy on multiple fronts and it fell to the wayside, but I will get back to it. I promise! 

That's what I've been up to lately. Nothing like some audio & music games to liven up a dreary winter February. 

As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

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