Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Adjustments, abuse, and a few additions

Well, that review of the Harbeth's I wrote for the Dec issue of HiFi'Zine seems to have generated more traffic than one might think such a niche product warrants. I've had several personal notes from people about the review, mostly positive (thank you) but have been called a 'retard' and a 'sycophant' on one forum so clearly there are strong feelings out there about small speakers. Regardless, I stand by my assessment, the P3ESRs are exceptional.

It being the time for a few days off work I managed to catch up with some system adjustments that I'd put off. First, a new PS Audio P5 power plant was finally installed. I blew up my PPP somehow a few months back and was suitably put off by the cost of repair so I pounced on an offer from PS Audio to take that unit as trade on a new P5 for a decent allowance. Being in the middle of a lengthy cable review at the time I put the P5 to one side when it arrived and only got around to putting it in this week. It's certainly a classier looking unit than the PPP and seems a bit heavier, at least in memory, but the main impact has been on background. Either I'd forgotten how the PPP impacted my system in the intervening months or the P5 really does seem to drop the noise floor noticeably. That said, I think it took a few days for me to really feel I was getting the improvements I'd so enjoyed with the PPP. Today, listening to a few old familiars in a warmed up system, I hear the sort of details and space that only really clean power provides. PS Audio are a bit vague on exactly how they've improved their regenerators (it's no mere 'conditioner', ok?)  but I think the have taken them a step forward with this new line.

I'd also been on the search for a new phono cable for my SME 20/2 which I picked up used this year. Owners have innumerable recommendations to make on appropriate cables for this table but most agree the stock Van den Hul is a limiter. I plumped for a Harmonic Technology Crystal Silver cable given the great experience I had with their HDMI 1.4a cable in my digital front-end. Great service from Craig over at CJ Audio in Arizona who took my order on this one and got it to me quickly (yes, I do buy my own gear!). I was surprised that the cable comes with a ground wire that is shorter than the cable length, which is fine for some but required me to adjust my phono stage (which is where I connect the ground in my rig) to fit -- I do think this should be made clear to purchasers though I am going to just add a short length myself to make this work more easily in my set up later.  Just fitted yesterday, I've been spinning vinyl on top of my new P5 installation too so it's not easy to give more than a passing comment here that yes, this phono cable improves on the stock one but not in any specific way that I'd feel confident stating so far. More later as this cable apparently does require some time to settle in properly.

A new (used) cartridge installation is next on the agenda (once that new phono cable is run in) and then (oh please no!) a re-installation of my original system wiring (speaker cable, interconnects, power cords) so as to return the loom sent for review by Wywires (review forthcoming), a task I particularly loath and one for which I have 'previous', as we say, due to impatience. By the time this is all done, I'll be back at work and wondering just what I did with my vacation --maybe I am retarded after all!

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