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Greetings From Idaho!

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rochdale3 View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05 Nov 2019 at 1:53am
Hello Everyone,

I've been lurking here for a few weeks and am now able to contribute to the Forum!

How did I get here and to this point? 

For the last 2 years I've had a Parks Audio Budgie Phono Stage with Amperex tubes from 1968.  I was also using an old 1978 Technics SL-1950 direct drive turntable.  I knew I had to upgrade and decided to start with the turntable.  A couple of months ago I got a Gem Dandy Polytable.  This certainly gave me a much better sound than the SL-1950 but I knew it could get a lot better, or could it? 

I've never heard a different phono stage in my system and didn't want to buy a few of them only to return them.  I also wanted to get one with more than one set of outputs.  I was tired of constantly changing cables every time I wanted to switch between listening to a record and making a needledrop.  This is apparently a rare feature to come across in a phono stage, for some reason!

Additionally, I have a HOMC Hana SH cartridge and have no plans to get an MC cartridge.  If possible, a MM only phono stage (which handle HOMC's) would be ideal.  I didn't want an MM/MC phono stage unless that was the only option.

So, that brought me to the Accession.  I read many topics in this forum, including the one that detailed the development of the Accession before it even had a name.  Most of those posts were by Graham himself, of course, and it really helped to hear the requirements, methods and theories that want into the entire process.

All of my requirements in a phono stage were also satisfied, including getting a chance to compare it in my system to my Budgie.  I utilized the US Loaner program and received an Accession just a few days ago.  Special thanks to Bruce K (BAK) for making that possible!!!  Bruce is awesome and I really appreciate what he does with the loaner program.

I will further detail my comparisons in more posts hopefully, though I must say it's like a highly hyped boxing match that is pretty much over in the 1st round! I was really curious at what point would a phono stage be than the Budgie, which is highly revered in some circles.  Would I have to go to the $3000-$4000 level which would be a bit out of my league or closer to $1000-$1500 to see a major improvement.

Stay tuned, Todd




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patientot View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote patientot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2019 at 6:46pm
Originally posted by rochdale3 rochdale3 wrote:

Hello Everyone,

I've been lurking here for a few weeks and am now able to contribute to the Forum!

How did I get here and to this point? 

For the last 2 years I've had a Parks Audio Budgie Phono Stage with Amperex tubes from 1968.  I was also using an old 1978 Technics SL-1950 direct drive turntable.  I knew I had to upgrade and decided to start with the turntable.  A couple of months ago I got a Gem Dandy Polytable.  This certainly gave me a much better sound than the SL-1950 but I knew it could get a lot better, or could it? 

I've never heard a different phono stage in my system and didn't want to buy a few of them only to return them.  I also wanted to get one with more than one set of outputs.  I was tired of constantly changing cables every time I wanted to switch between listening to a record and making a needledrop.  This is apparently a rare feature to come across in a phono stage, for some reason!

Additionally, I have a HOMC Hana SH cartridge and have no plans to get an MC cartridge.  If possible, a MM only phono stage (which handle HOMC's) would be ideal.  I didn't want an MM/MC phono stage unless that was the only option.

So, that brought me to the Accession.  I read many topics in this forum, including the one that detailed the development of the Accession before it even had a name.  Most of those posts were by Graham himself, of course, and it really helped to hear the requirements, methods and theories that want into the entire process.

All of my requirements in a phono stage were also satisfied, including getting a chance to compare it in my system to my Budgie.  I utilized the US Loaner program and received an Accession just a few days ago.  Special thanks to Bruce K (BAK) for making that possible!!!  Bruce is awesome and I really appreciate what he does with the loaner program.

I will further detail my comparisons in more posts hopefully, though I must say it's like a highly hyped boxing match that is pretty much over in the 1st round! I was really curious at what point would a phono stage be than the Budgie, which is highly revered in some circles.  Would I have to go to the $3000-$4000 level which would be a bit out of my league or closer to $1000-$1500 to see a major improvement.

Stay tuned, Todd








I hope your trial of the Accession is going well. I have heard the Budgie and can't say I prefer it over my GS Reflex M. 

Anything with tube output stage (the Budgie is a hybrid tube/SS unit) like that is going to add coloration and distortion to the sound. Some people like that sort of thing, but it's not my cup of tea. If you are accustomed to it, it may take some time to appreciate the sound of a more neutral/accurate piece of equipment. Also be aware there is a 3.5dB difference in gain between the two units, so if you attempt to do some sort of A/B comparison, you'll need to level match.

I also don't think spending more money is necessarily going to net you higher performance. Awhile back I looked at some reviews and measurements of a $7,000 phono stage. I would never buy such a thing but was curious. It actually performed much worse on the test bench than a budget phono preamp you could buy for $50. The "secret sauce" the maker was selling was just spikes of distortion and noise. One reviewer noted they could actually hear the noise get worse when a loud or busy musical section came on. That's not good. 
Reflex M + PSU-1 used with AT VM95ML, Stanton 680mkII + Jico Shibata, and Shure M35X cartridges.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rochdale3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2019 at 7:39pm
Thanks for your response, patientot.

I "was" accustomed to the Budgie!  I spent the first hour or two comparing the Budgie with the Accession.  I had the volume slightly lower with the Assession to get an accurate comparison.  Almost without exception, the Accession was a huge improvement.  There were only a couple of not so great recordings that were only about 10% better. 

The Budgie only has about a 2-3 foot tall soundstage, whereas the Asssession was easily double that.  The Assession was also wider.  Also the clarity was night and day.  Plus, the soundstage it self was amazing, I can't even describe it.  Well recorded bass and drums blew me away.

It's fascinating how you can think something sounds great until you hear the next level.  This goes way back to when I had way lesser equipment!


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rochdale3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2019 at 8:13pm
I should list what I currently do have before asking some questions about interconnects.  I do have a pair of Lautus cables for one of the below connections on loan.

Gem Dandy Polytable w/ Jelco TK-850S tonearm and Hana SH (HOMC 2.0mv) cartridge --->
*Audioquest Wildcat tonearm cable (came w/ the turntable and retails for about $100) --->
Rothwell Headspace headamp (purchased due to the 38db Gain of the Budgie to add 10db) --->
*This is where i currently have the Lautus cable --->
Accession ---> Fixed Output --->
*Blue Jeans LC-1 Cable --->
Cambridge CXA60 Integrated amp ---> Polk LSiM703 speakers (via Blue Jeans cable speaker wire)

My assumption was that having one pair of Lautus cables in the chain wouldn't change the sound if I still had Blue Jeans cables for at least one other part of the chain.  I was wrong.  When I switched out the Lautus cables for another pair of Blue Jeans cables, the sound quality went down. 

I will also be using a pair of interconnects for the vaiable output connection to my DAC (Korg DS-DAC-10R) from the Accession.

I'm all ready to purchase the Accession but need to know the best path for interconnects.  I've read the CuSat50 cable would be best for the tonearm cable.  If so, would I also need to get 3 Lautus cables?? or?? 

Will Lautus cables from the headamp to the Accession and then Lautus cables to my amp be another big increase?

Yes, I could get a loan on another pair, but I'd rather just see what people's experiences have been and then pull the trigger!

Thanks, Todd

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (1) Thanks(1)   Quote patientot Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 06 Nov 2019 at 8:51pm
Originally posted by rochdale3 rochdale3 wrote:

I should list what I currently do have before asking some questions about interconnects.  I do have a pair of Lautus cables for one of the below connections on loan.

Gem Dandy Polytable w/ Jelco TK-850S tonearm and Hana SH (HOMC 2.0mv) cartridge --->
*Audioquest Wildcat tonearm cable (came w/ the turntable and retails for about $100) --->
Rothwell Headspace headamp (purchased due to the 38db Gain of the Budgie to add 10db) --->
*This is where i currently have the Lautus cable --->
Accession ---> Fixed Output --->
*Blue Jeans LC-1 Cable --->
Cambridge CXA60 Integrated amp ---> Polk LSiM703 speakers (via Blue Jeans cable speaker wire)

My assumption was that having one pair of Lautus cables in the chain wouldn't change the sound if I still had Blue Jeans cables for at least one other part of the chain.  I was wrong.  When I switched out the Lautus cables for another pair of Blue Jeans cables, the sound quality went down. 

I will also be using a pair of interconnects for the vaiable output connection to my DAC (Korg DS-DAC-10R) from the Accession.

I'm all ready to purchase the Accession but need to know the best path for interconnects.  I've read the CuSat50 cable would be best for the tonearm cable.  If so, would I also need to get 3 Lautus cables?? or?? 

Will Lautus cables from the headamp to the Accession and then Lautus cables to my amp be another big increase?

Yes, I could get a loan on another pair, but I'd rather just see what people's experiences have been and then pull the trigger!

Thanks, Todd


I will let someone else chime in on cables. 

Just to be clear, you are still using the MC headamp with the Accession M in your trial? I realize the output of the Hana is a bit low at 2mV but I would try removing the headamp from the system and using the AccM + volume control to adjust things and see what the results are. The minimum input for the AccM is listed as 1.6mV. 

If you must use the headamp, I'd want a shorter cable between the phono pre and headamp probably, not a 1M cable. Perhaps you can request this as a special order if necessary. 
Reflex M + PSU-1 used with AT VM95ML, Stanton 680mkII + Jico Shibata, and Shure M35X cartridges.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rochdale3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:04am
Yes, I have been using the headamp in my trial. 

That was a very intriguing idea about taking out the headamp and using the variable output (volume control) to my amp.  Unfortunately that was much quieter even when the volume knob was at full blast. 

I'm assuming the variable output is designed mainly for using with a DAC which can use normalization in it's software to boost the overall sound of a recording.  I can still use the volume knob as well for the initial recording to get it to -6db or so.


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote rochdale3 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 07 Nov 2019 at 1:10am
I also tried putting the Lautus cables from the Accession into my integrated amp and my Blue Jeans cables from the headamp to the Accession.  That didn't sound anywhere near as good the Blue Jeans cables from the Accession into my integrated amp and the Lautus cables from the headamp to the Accession. 

I'm certainly sold on the Lautus cables, though!
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