Saturday, August 28, 2021




Thursday, August 26, 2021

Nasotec Swing Headshell

The Swing Headshell is an interesting device from the South Korean company Nasotec. Conceptually, the headsell adds another layer of damping with its embedded springs, working along the damping effects within the installed cartridge to absorb side force exerting on the cartridge. This approach is claimed to achieve near zero side force on the stylus during playback, an ideal situation. On the downside, the "swing" may incur unpredictable tracking errors.

My test data obtained with a low-compliance MC cartridge does not show any noticeable difference compared to the case of installing the same cartridge on a regular headshell. Similar amount of anti-skating force is still necessary to approach balanced THD on both channels. And with insufficient anti-skating force, significant distortions appear in the right-channel waveform. 

In tests using the same cartridge sample, the Swing Headshell demonstrates two key areas of measurable differences from a conventional headshell. 1) The natural resonance frequency of the cartridge/tonearm combo is broken up into two bumps, one at lower frequency with smaller magnitude and one larger magnitude at higher frequency near the 20Hz mark, significantly higher than the ideal 8 to 12Hz range. 2) Channel separation numbers are lower, along with wider phase differences between the channels, possibly due to the "swinging" actions during play when side force is present.

In A/B listening comparisons using two cartridges of the same make/model, the Swing Headshell is found to alter the sonic characteristics of the installed cartridge, turn the overall presentation toward the softer side, consequently hiding the sharp edges. Such forgiving attributes can be pleasant to the ears when the cartridge is not precisely installed/tuned. The price paid though, is perceived in the somewhat dulled transients, less focused bass notes, and shallower/narrower sound stages. The overall effect is in some way akin to softening the cartridge's damping mechanism, or swapping a line-contact stylus with the elliptical or conical variety.





iFi iPhono 3


The iFi iPhono 3 phono preamp builds on the strengths of its predecessor, the iPhono 2, and improves in several key aspects. Firstly, the background noise level is further reduced in subjective perception as well as measurements, partly due to the new power supply unit, the iPower X. Consequently, out of a darker background, low-level information in recording becomes more abundant. Secondly, the overall texture is further refined with minimized electronic glare, vocals and string tone can now compete with phono stages at a much higher price point. With careful component matching and proper vibration control, no doubt the iPhono 3 can be part of an affordable, enjoyable, high-resolution system.

Thales Simplicity唱臂的抗滑



Tuesday, August 24, 2021



玩音響的人士,其隱含的真正最終動機(ulterior motive),不見得是「追求音質」本身,或甚至與「聲音」並無關連性。雖然不會承認,但行為上顯示這只是他們次要動機,真正動機在其它方面。


Benz Micro LP-S Cartridge


The Benz Micro LP-S is exemplary in its build quality, with every critical parameter matching or surpassing specifications. This is also reflected in lab measurements, showing nearly 40dB of channel separation and ruler-flat high-frequency response. Its sonic characteristics lean slightly toward the direction of being mellow and subdued, and are less demanding on the associated equipment and setup precision. Though it is not quite state of the art in terms of transient speed and extracting low-level details, the LP-S is perfect for users who prefer to spend time listening to music rather than tweaking their systems.

Saturday, August 21, 2021

AMG 12J2 Tonearm


AMG adheres to the engineering approach in designing their products, with straightforward functionality and understated style which clearly deviate from the current trend of the vinyl playback business, where extravagant and sometimes bizarre features are becoming prevalent.  Their 12J2 tonearm is an indisputably successful product. It can be installed with ease, and is highly adjustable with very few usability quirks. In terms of sonic performance, the 12J2’s ability to extract high-frequency harmonic details is exemplary. Its sound-stage delineation can compete with any arm on the market, assuming the use of a cartridge with softer suspension hence requiring less anti-skating force. Overall, it is without doubt a front runner for the best tonearm in its price range.




Friday, August 20, 2021

首刻版 ED1 黑膠音效必然最好?



前面所說還是用同一工作母帶的情況,像現在一些專業出發燒級重刻片的廠牌,如Analog Productions,Speakers Corner等,拿到原始錄音母帶而非已經使用過多次的工作母帶來製作。除非母帶本身已經嚴重衰老,否則用現階段最佳硬體,像刻片機(至少轉速就準確多了)與刻片頭就比幾十年前進步很多,加上專業刻片師又不必擔心一般消費者的唱頭無法播放刻得「太兇」的音軌,然後用高級塑料壓得的唱片成品,比首版得到更好音效的可能性是相當高的。但就像器材系統是否「好聽」是主觀意識的判定,這些優質重刻片或者是首版比較「好聽」,又會牽涉到是否使用音質中性的系統來聆聽,及上述「催眠效應」等心理因素。

我自己的情況,以前在美國追求稀有名盤的時期,也花了很多錢買首版唱片。當重刻片開始出現時,用當時的系統聽,覺得還是原版比較順耳甜美。然而隨著音響經驗的增長,器材系統及唱頭唱臂調整的技能進步,逐漸的就越來越少去聽原來的首版片,覺得Classic Records等高品質重刻片,會比較接近錄音的原始樣貌,而不是舊時首版常見的,隔了一層朦朧甜美的薄紗。不過,還是有許多人認定原版聽起來最好。從邏輯上來說,如果心態上已經定義了什麼是最高典範,任何與之有所不同之處都當作是缺點,那當然就無話可說了。 不過近年來,從事重刻的廠家很多,多數拿不到原始類比母帶,只能用拷貝過,或甚至數位化的版本來發行,最後得到的唱片音質往往令人失望。這讓許多剛入門的新手為之卻步,也使重刻片蒙上壞名聲。因此我在挑選重刻片時,與多年友人/前輩的黑膠教主L先生一樣,一定會確認所使用的刻片母帶來源。除了上述的這些有名望的廠家之外,其它牌子的就必須有標註音源是來自於原始類比母帶的,才會購買。

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Ortofon SPU#1S Cartridge


Ortofon’s SPU series of cartridges have been available on the market for many decades, and even today still enjoy many dedicated followers. Listening to the affordably priced SPU#1S on my system quickly dispels any doubt why the model has been successful for so long. It has an uncanny ability in engaging listeners by generating authoritative bass, full-bodied midrange, and transparent, airy highs. Meanwhile, there’s diminishing amount of euphonic colorations or unpleasant distortions. The slightly reduced resolution in minute spatial details is only noticeable when directly compared to other mid to high-priced MC cartridges. Otherwise by itself the SPU#1S is an excellent value as a versatile tool facilitating long-term music enjoyment.

Surprise Best Cartridge Match with SME V Arm


In my experience, even though other sonic attributes are excellent, most cartridges tend to sound somewhat lifeless with the SME V tonearm. Of all the cartridges I've tried on the arm, this one below is the best match, regardless of price range. All the measurement data is quite good, including low THD, IMD, and the resonance frequencies in both planes are near the ideal 10Hz. It also needs very little antiskating to track properly. Though it still needs about 2.8 on the scale to eliminate side force and achieve fully symmetrical soundstage.The sound is definitely hi-end, no doubt. Vividness with great resolution, transparency, clean and fast.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021






一般所謂喇叭的大與小的分別, 主要是外型給人的感覺為主。體積大的喇叭,容易給人有價值感,自然可以訂出較高的價位。所以,從前面的討論,可以自然的推導出,各廠都要想法做出更高大的喇叭,來得到多方面的利益。而大型喇叭之可以賣得貴,主要是「硬體為上」,「船堅炮利」的思維在主導的價值觀。從外箱的成本看來,大喇叭是會用比較多的材料與做工。從發聲單體來看,主要是比較大,數目比較多,分頻線路可能複雜一些。但相對於較小型的喇叭,其售價究竟是否等比例而且合理地反應這些成本差異,是值得思考的問題。