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UK loan programme

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discrete badger View Drop Down
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote discrete badger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2012 at 8:01pm

I borrowed the Elevator EXP and the Reflex M over the new year period. Due to unexpected problems with the MC cartridge I was intending to use, it was not possible to try the Elevator in any meaningful capacity.

I was, however, able to try the Reflex in place of my usual phono stage, which is inside my Denon AVR2310 home cinema receiver. My turntable is a 70s-tastic Pioneer PL-12D which is fitted with a Shure M24H cartridge - the total outlay was a princely £20 in 1992. It will now be obvious that unlike most members I am not a serious vinyl listener, which is purely due to my age and hence the timing of starting to collect recordings in the early 90's. But I do have about 60 or so LPs, some cherished, and I am an owner of Graham's excellent-sounding headphone amps, so I was curious to see what a good phono stage would do.

To me, the effects of higher and higher quality gear are different with digital versus analogue sources. With digital, I believe the "hi-fi" aspects such as superficial low noise, low distortion, good pitch stability etc. come relatively easily, and you pay to restore the deeper musicality which digital glare and interference sucks away. With LP, the musicality comes very easily, and you pay to improve the hi-fi aspects by such factors as increasing turntable mass and obtaining more refined cartridges.

Total enjoyment of the home listening experience is for me when both aspects are handled well by the equipment, and when the recording has enough good music and sound in the first place.

My impressions of the Reflex were very much in keeping with this view. Despite the phono stage in the Denon being an obvious afterthought (they deleted it in the 2011 update) it is very listenable. Poor digital recordings such as some early remasters of analogue recordings are no comparison in terms of involvement.

Moving up to the Reflex brought a great leap sonically. Surface noise dropped by a huge amount to the extent that it was no longer noticeable. The blacker noise background allowed the music to stand out in sharper relief. The honesty of the bass response caused the drivers in my subwoofer to work very hard in response to the subsonic rumble of the aging bearings in the Pioneer - the Denon must have a high-pass filter. Soundstaging did the "wider than the speakers" thing which I have discussed in previous postings. Another very recognisable "Slee house sound" aspect was the very open and clean treble, which, together with the bright Shure cartridge, sounded quite reminiscent of the Novo. 

I was left in no doubt that my turntable was not up the task of creating a clean signal for the Reflex and would need either reconditioning or replacement to do it justice.

Like many people who have their home cinema and 2-channel setup in one room, the front L + R pre-outs of my home cinema amp are connected to an auxiliary input in my digital-only 2 channel system, allowing the front speakers to be shared without any loss of 2 channel quality. This of course put the Reflex at a disadvantage, its output being ADCd, room-corrected and then DACd. So, I did try an all-analogue chain using the Reflex into the Novo as a stand-in analogue preamp driving my power amp directly. This added about another 10% to the depth and smoothness to the presentation, at an obvious cost of adding room boom due to the missing EQ. The best-sounding LPs in my collection now became mesmeric and comparison with anything other than exceptional digital recordings was now a huge let-down.

So, to add to my audio shopping list for "some stage in the future" - 1) a decent analogue preamp to switch between the Lavry and a Reflex 2) a better turntable and 3) trawling ebay and car boot sales for interesting LPs. Risk-free loan scheme? Yeah right.

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 08 Feb 2012 at 10:31pm
That is a very informative and insightful review Mr Badger. As the 'enabler' I do understand what you are saying about the risks of trying great gear, although it gives all of us something to look forward to.
 
Getting a decent phono preamp (wow!) and finding out how to align a cartridge got me trawling charity shops as well. I have had similar experiences to yours with some of the 1980's vinyl, mixed to sound digital aka trebly. And I found some great sounding bargains, wonderfully recorded and mastered LP's brought back to life by having better hi-fi.
 
Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo ULDE, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links, and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote discrete badger Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 6:37am
I was being more than a little tongue-in-cheek with my final remark. For me personally, knowing what's out there doesn't stop me enjoying what I have, it just puts everything in perspective in terms of the real gains that will result when the time comes. 

I'd much rather have it that way (i.e. deciding from a position of experience) than try to base expected future improvements off what a salesman says or random strangers from the web write - although both can supply useful hints.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Feb 2012 at 7:52pm
Well put.
Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo ULDE, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links, and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Fatmangolf Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 30 Apr 2012 at 8:44pm
I am away after this week so please PM asap if you want a loan!
Jon

Open mind and ears, whilst owning GSP Genera, Accession, Elevator EXP, Solo ULDE, Proprius amps, Cusat50 cables, Lautus digital cable, Spatia cables and links, and a Majestic DAC.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BB Wan Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2012 at 7:46pm
Ok, firstly a huge thanks to Fatmangolf and Graham for the UK loan programme, it truly is a fantastic idea!
Just plugged in the loan reflex c and psu1...now i gotta wait for it t....oh to hell with it, lets get some of the black stuff spinning, i've already opened the wine! Now, let the good times roll!
The story of life is quicker than the blink of an eye. The story of love is hello and goodbye. Until we meet again.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote morris_minor Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 17 Aug 2012 at 8:38pm
Originally posted by BB Wan BB Wan wrote:

Ok, firstly a huge thanks to Fatmangolf and Graham for the UK loan programme, it truly is a fantastic idea!
Just plugged in the loan reflex c and psu1...now i gotta wait for it t....oh to hell with it, lets get some of the black stuff spinning, i've already opened the wine! Now, let the good times roll!

Enjoy !
Bob

Majestic DAC/pre-amp
Accession MC/Enigma, Accession MM, Reflex M, Elevator EXP, Era Gold V
Solo ULDE, Novo, Lautus USB and digital, Libran balanced, CuSat50
2 x Proprius + Spatia/Spatia Links
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