Tuner-tastic! New addition; Arcam Delta 80 AM/FM Stereo Tuner – Analogue

Just arrived today. It looks great, but slightly disapointed that the inter-station muting can not be defeated. I belieTuner collection; Technics GT650, ST-G90L, Arcam Delta 80, Rega Radio, Creek, T40, Denon 1500RDve that human ears can always pick out faint stations better than any circuit can and it’s for me to decide how weak a station I want to listen to, not a pre-set mute threshold.

Anyway, that said, it’s lovely playing about with a completely analogue tuner again. Been many a year. It’s also worth mentioning that this originally sold for around £400 in 1989 (just under £1k in today’s money according to an online inflation calculator).

I picked it up on feebay for £32 plus postage …

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Going through a major hifi tuner phase..

You see, they’re so damn cheap on ebay these days.. Tuners which originally sold for £2-300 can be had for as little as £10-30 and high-end ones which sold for around 1k are selling for around £100. So even though the choices of stations are limited where I live, the reception is generally poor and most of the stations I can receive well,2019-04-28 19.08.43 are of the highly compressed variety, I am just a sucker for well-made, expensive stuff, especially when it can be had for the cost of a couple of nights out or less.

Hopefully this phase of mine will pass soon.. oh I’ve got another 2 on the way; an old Arcam Delta 80 (analogue but with digital readout and analogue presets!) and another Technics, supposidly one of their best ever; the ST-G90L. I just lost out by £2 for another go at a Linn Pekin. First one I got had a strange issue where it was very reluctant to output stereo, even with strong stations..

FM tuners are, I think the best bargains in hifi-land at the mo. Most other things hold their value well; even quality tape decks are commanding a decent premium.

Sold B&W P7 Wireless and bought Beyerdynamic DT880

OK, so I bit the bullet and sold one headphone; my B&W P7 Wireless… If I had cash to spare I would’ve happily kept these in a drawer ‘just in case’ and for the occasional time I was in the mood for their sound signature. However I have been using them less and less, finding them uncomfortable and with all their benefits duplicated (and executed better) with another headphone; Sony MDR 1000x selling seemed the best option. Plus they have held their value well; they sold within a few hours and I got slightly more than I paid for them more than two years ago!

Initial impressions of the Beyer; Similar sonic signature to the AKG K712 but not quite as open and with slight sibilance evident on certain vocals. Bass is slightly more prominent though. Hmm- these may be sold in the future.. but that said, these are the most beautiful and luxurious feeling/looking headphones I have owned. Wearing them is like putting fluffy slippers on my head.

Bowers and Wilkins Headphones

P1200012I wonder what people’s opinions are on B&W headphones? Reason I ask is because my opinion on the sound quality of the P5 and P7 has changed from an initially negative one (1st listen to demo pairs in a shop) to an extremely positive one (once I owned them) and recently back again to negative (once I heard something better, but not more expensive).

There is no doubt that these models are mostly very well reviewed – all except for Which? reviews, which has had the audacity to award most B&W headphones ‘don’t buy’ status – well below 40% on their review scale. In fact I commented to Which? on this anomaly, very indignantly stressing how wrong they were and that their reviewers must have cloth ears and/or have the ‘phones plugged into a transistor radio, etc etc. This was during my middle, ‘positive’ opinion phase.

Now I’m starting to see Which?’s point.

Do we just get used to a sound and never be truly objective, or do we only hear the real worth of a hifi component when we compare it with something far superior?

Do headphone cables have sentience?

Or are they possessed? Either way, they have an uncanny ability to get trapped under feet, furniture, pets, chairs.. but mainly my own feet. No matter how careful I am, as soon as I stand up or move in any way, there’s that familiar tug (stop sniggering at the back there) against your head as the living cable tries to wrench the headphones off your head. Mind you, the AKG’s do have rather a long cable. But I swear the cable creeps under my feet of its own accord. DSC_1216Would somebody please invent a repellent cable which automatically moves away from objects ? Thanks awfully.

Does ‘ripping’ from a CD affect quality?

I may not have golden ears (they’re silver, remember?), but I have never been able to detect a difference in quality from a ripped CD. However just the other day I was listening an album recorded on my phone (from a CD), then ‘cast’ via google’s Chromecast Audio (which is supposed to transmit data be bit perfect and uncompressed). I was listening via my NAD pre-amp, Arcam power amp and Castle speakers – one of a variety of systems I have built over the years. I then put on the original CD and sent it via the same DAC (the mojo) via its co-ax connection and onwards through the same analogue chain.

The difference was actually quite stark. And that was allowing for gain differences (not always easy but with practice on the volume control and repetition I can learn to discount this factor).

Although the cast version continued to be perfectly pleasant and listenable, compared to the CD, the bass was flabby and the imaging was quite noticeably more 2D, confining layered female singing voices to left and right, whereas the CD brought them out in from of the speakers to a certain extent. I am quite surprised by the less than subtle results here.

I know that I am in fact comparing more than one change at a time (CD direct versus a rip copied to a phone and cast via another piece of hardwear, but that said, in theory the above all takes place in the digital domain and should be transparent.

Anyone have any comments on this? Feel free to say I’m imagining the differences – it’s all digital innit? or conversely, that what was I expecting- I’m comparing apples and oranges … discuss…..