Thursday, 25 April 2013

Revolving discs

In what might be the final post in the current series I recently changed another part of my stereo system recently.
I'll save the long story of how this system got put together but as far as amplification went I was having problems going loud with my loud speakers with a Tubed power amplifier and control unit (the bit that selects what you play from) so it was replaced by a much powerful solid state integrated one (in plain speak the control unit bit and power amplifier in one unit)  made by Rotel. The thing about this unit was it didn't have an input designed for a record deck to plugged straight in.
Currently it has a Stanton 681EEE cartridge in it and it need something to make its output much bigger and adjust the sound from the cartridge so it matches that the record was cut with (when you cut a record you reduce the low notes and increase the high ones to reduce surface noise and increase playing time). I had such a unit by Hart Electronics but the output was too high causing distortion and even putting reducers in the output leads didn't quite cure it all as I think it was getting a little distorted in its internal circuits.
As it happened Rotel made a unit specifically for my integrated amplifier and a few similar products whose output matched exactly the sort it's input stage was designed for.

 It needless to say is a perfect visual match for my integrated amplifier.
The unit can handle standard Moving magnet as well as dearer Moving Coil cartridges selected using a switch at the rear. Its previous owner was only selling it cos he had another similar unit so it was spare.
After quickly plugging the wires in and connecting the grounding tag on the record deck to a special connector on the unit, I tried a few records I know well. The obvious thing was the loss of a niggling feeling of harshness in the louder passages where the other unit was close to overloading, sweeter high notes and a better sense of where in a stereo mix the different instruments are located in space.
To be honest, had I of planned to have gotten this amplifier first I'd of gotten this unit straightaway.
It makes listening to records old or new ones such as David Bowie's recent The Next Day that I have on vinyl so much more enjoyable.
I did notice a little hum but that's due to a lead in my head-shell being a bit worn having swapped it out for another one so I've ordered a new headshell and will get cartridge remounted to it.

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Unwanted guests

I'm a pretty cautious kind of a person all round and that transfers over to my internet habits pretty much but today's admittedly brief entry is about what can fox even the best of us.
I am usually super careful regarding sites I visit and especially programs that rely on what are called executionals to be installed directly to your computer, checking for unwanted things but I was caught out by a nasty trick.
In essence, the downloaded program give me two runs with customizing options  where you can opt not to install things but it seems on the second when it asked about installing a toolbar when I decline it, rather than springing back and instead of saying in effect "you don't want to play to my conditions so go away and think again" it decided to install them even though I'd unchecked them and trying to reset this wasn't an option as it kept reinstalling itself.
In the end I googled the toolbar concerned and found instructions on how to be rid of it which worked although it took up a lot of time as it attached itself to the three internet browsers and in the end I imported all my Firefox bookmarks Excluding search engine options into Google Chrome (which needed properly synching anyway) deleted Firefox and then installed a clean version after removing the programs filed from Windows programs reimporting my bookmarks.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Enter the RCD 965LE discrete!

Following on from last weeks bad news, eventually I should be getting all being well tomorrow, a replacement cd player, having looked closely into what was available and what my own needs are.
All the SACD discs I own are of the sort that have a layer that plays on a regular cd player and while the format is popular for specialty re-issues, you'd be hard pressed to find a single new release by a mainstream artist in sacd.
Equally while for a small propotion of HDCD discs there are some advantages to being played via a player with the HDCD digital to analogue convertor chips featured, a good number of manufacturers who had championed it such as Rotel have themselves discontinued support for brand new players.
This would mean that even if I were to buy new, I would be looking at cd players that are designed very much around regular discs and I spend an increasing amount of my time listening to either downloads via the laptop or vinyl for the finest sound.
The odds it seemed to me to be good for looking at a quality used player to enjoy my disc collection on.
Enter this:
This is an upgraded and highly sought after version of a classic player from the 90's that had better quality components fitted and instead of an inexpensive integrated circuit taking the final audio out, it has a high quality transistorized one instead.
It has the longwinded product name of Rotel RCD 965LE Discrete and features a co-axial digital output for my MiniDisc recorder. It comes with remote, a 3 month warranty and has been fully tested.

Friday, 5 April 2013

No sound!

Just as the going was good with a couple of 24kt Gold Searchers cd reissues that were part of a series of two discs containing their first four UK albums remastered arriving here, disaster struck.
I went to put the disc in the player and it made a few noises , said "No Disc" and stopped. Cleaning the lens that reads the disc didn't do nothing so my I thought the laser unit has gone upon a brief check by a service man was proved correct plus a display board low voltage rail issue causing overheating and the display to take ages to come on.
You see, the last time I bought a cd player for my stereo - a set of Hifi separates - was apparently March 13th 2003 which is ten years and  two weeks ago and apart from a celebrate instance when the drawer you place your cd on jammed once, this £350 NAD player had performed extremely well on regular and HDCD encoded discs, for once sounding close to my record playing systems quality on a decent disc (a rare thing to find on mainstream releases today but that's a whole other issue).
It had been a fit and forget feature of my stereo not being subject to irritating software upgrades of the sort you find with computers and blu-ray players. You just powered up, shoved a disc in and pressed play.
In the mean time I plugged an ancient cd player I had since the middle of 1986 that although getting rather long in the tooth, sounds rather sweet in to spin discs with while I consider looking for either a nice sounding used player or taking some money out of my savings for a new one. I'm also experimenting with a co-axial digital lead between the digital output of a dvd player and the digital input of my MiniDisc recorder using that to convert the naught and ones to analogue sound.