Friday, April 29, 2011

The used table market

I know I should be less idealistic but it's just plain frustrating to me to see what happens over on A'gon. I started a post there about purchasing a table direct from the UK, through a legitimate dealer, since the list price there was less than half the MSRP here, and even with shipping and some imagined import duty, the buyer would come out ahead. The thread garnered lots of constructive comments, the end of which confirmed that under current US law, you can buy a turntable from overseas without incurring import tax. Thus, assuming you are not liable for the VAT and related other taxes the folks in Europe pay,  you can end up paying a lot less for a new item shipped than you can for a used item on A'gon. After a couple of weeks, the thread was deleted in the dark of night. Don't ask, they don't tell.

Well since then I've been watching the used table market closely. What I cannot fathom is how one well-ranked seller can keep listing the same tables over and over again at great prices but whenever anyone (not just me) asks about it, the table is always sold, about to be sold or spoken for by another customer. This is so noticeable that the seller's listings were mentioned on other audio forums where disgruntled potential buyers recognized each other from the shared complaints. One hopeful poster suggested we report this to A'gon. Doubt anyone did as today that little old table we all noticed came back on the market again, but guess what, if you try to buy it, it's gone!  And this from an apparent bricks and mortar store (though the recent name change might be a warning sign).

Now add in the use of current prices to describe the original cost of a 5 year old piece, third-hand passed around kit for which seller's expect to get 60% of current list price from you, the potential fourth owner,  or the estimates of use that suggest the table or cartridge has been sitting idle for years so it's really pristine, and you have a selling structure that is riddled with the potential for deception. I have to ask, why, given all these problems, you cannot find decent dealers willing to demonstrate new turntables......are we in the last throes of the turntable era or is there some inflexion point coming which will change the game? 

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The 'father of the CD' dies

Just learned of the passing of Noria Ohga, the so-called 'father of the cd' who led SONY for many years. It's claimed he made many of the decisions that resulted in the technology we all subsequently experienced in audio-land and it's hard to argue with some of the facts. Whatever the motivations, he shaped the audiophile landscape and it's fitting his efforts be acknowledged. I never knew the man nor read much about him but you can find a fitting intro here.

The delights of a small system

Since I have the Harbeth P3ESRs in for review I've been warming them up in my second system while they wait their turn in the review cycle. They are so simple and elegant looking that I had to clear a space and set up a dedicated small system just for them. Running them with my Naim Nait II with the Harbeths on old QED tristands, I find myself drawn night after night to local NPR jazz broadcasts via my $70 Sony HD tuner, using my home made 4ft speaker cables. Via my trust old Denon 2900 CD, the sounds are sufficiently pleasing to make me think about finding a new DAC to give myself a serious second system, rather than a break-in rig which is all this setup really provides right now.  There is a lot to be said for scaling the speakers to the room, and it's easy to just be in my spare room now with the music playing, never dominating. The Harbeths are the most costly component here (at $2k for this little pair) but they work superbly. Looking forward to seeing how well they co-exist when the cost-relationship is inverted.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The $1m turntable cannot be far away....

You think the $150k Clearaudio table, or the Caliburn Continuum that S'phile love so much, would mark the upper end of turntable crazy prices but you would be wrong. AV Design Haus of Germany have a table with a built in microscope that now lists at $650,000.  It's April.....but we're far beyond Fool's Day...maybe. Good luck to anyone who can afford it but you have to ask why....

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chesky does guitar

Apart from running Chesky Records, David Chesky is a keen musician and has launched an interesting challenge to fellow guitarists as part of his Urbancity release containing the  Concerto for Electric Guitar and Orchestra. A version is  available as a reduced price special edition download with full score and accompanying materials allowing the buyer to study the guitar parts and play along with the concerto’s movements. The price of participation includes you agreeing to upload a YouTube video of your know this is going to be worth following! I've not heard the full music yet but I will report back when I know more. No, I won't be submitting a video, I have enough trouble working through the catalog of jazz standards I'm trying to master to engage in neck pyrotechnics, but it's great to have musicians as audiophiles, no?

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

New gear in for review

Just received a new integrated from NZ-based company, Perreaux. Their Audient 80i is, yes, an 80w, DAC-carrying, MM-phono stage bearing integrated amp that is aimed to give you a contemporary one box solution. Add speakers and you can run your laptop, cd player, turntable etc. The remote control also works with iTunes via its USB input too (that same input automatically selects the internal 24/96 DAC too). This is an intriguing product which is currently running in on my second system but I am keen to let it loose in my main rig.

Also have a pair of the totally gorgeous Harbeth P3ESR in for review. I loved these when I heard them at RMAF, actually enjoying them more than the larger Harbeth 5s in the same room, but that's probably just show conditions and the fact that the 3s make a stronger impression given the sonics that spring forth from such a diminutive box. Thanks to Walter at Fidelity for the review samples of both components, my review schedule is filling up but who could complain with gear like this to enjoy for a while.