Archive for December, 2009

Spiral Groove Turntable Impresses Digital Audiophile(s)

BAAS membership reflects the current trends of audiophiles worldwide. As such, the majority (including myself) listen to digital these days. So it was interesting to see how our first “analog event” in several years would be received.

About 30 BAAS members gathered at Jason Victor Serinus’ home yesterday to listen to the latest in analog source technology, delivered by Allen Perkins of local manufacturer Spiral Groove (SG).

The system featured the following gear from SG:sg.jpg

  • Spiral Groove SG 2 Turntable ($15,000)
  • Spiral Groove SG Tonearm ($6,000)
  • Lyra Cartridge ($6,000)
  • Lehmann Audio Decade phono section ($2,400)
  • Spiral Groove preamplifier (projected $15,000)

An impressive array, to be sure!

I am quite familiar with Jason’s system and listening environment, at least for digital sources. Here are my impression of yesterday’s sights and sounds:

  • The SG gear is beautiful to look at, and even better to listen to. Furthermore, it’s practical. For example, it can be set up by one person in 30 minutes (!). Simple elegance.
  • All told, I listened to the system for five hours. I heard fewer than a dozen tics or pops. This is a new record for me <g>. Especially notable: not a single record was treated in any way during the event. No rituals – just load & play. (Sorta like a CD…) [One member told me that the sound was clean because only vintage older "virgin" vinyl was used.]
  • Allen’s description of the engineering design choices that guided him made a lot of sense to me.
  • The sound in the second session was a bit tighter than the first. (This is not unusual. I think it’s caused simply by the gear being more fully warmed up.)
  • Nordost Odin cables are the real deal. At one point we substituted the preamp’s power cable with a Odin. Wow.
  • For the first time in a very long while, I was thinking “…maybe I do need a turntable…”

We also conducted several listening tests on digital sources. These allowed us to compare several digital exemplars to state-of-the-art analog. I’ll say here that two things were apparent:

  • Analog rocks. There’s a reason why so many audiophiles are driven to turntables (see this article from today’s NYT). – they can sound great!
  • PS Audio’s(PSA’s) new “Perfect Wave” stack combines outstanding ease-of-use with media flexibility and great sonics. That’s a tough combo to beat! Very nice kit, especially for audiophiles wishing to get into high-resolution without going to a computer. (Digital sources that I consider “reference quality” generally have price tags beginning at 2X the PSA tariff.)
  • I preferred the sound of the Wavelength Wavelink USB audio interface to that of the the transport (many members agreed). I don’t think it yet matches the best in firewire converters, but it sounded quite detailed and transparent to me (especially on hires material).

Note that Jason’s description of the event – and activities leading up to it – can be found on the Home secrets Blog.

Sunday, December 6th, 2009 Analog, Audiophile, Bob, Equipment, Events, Jason 2 Comments
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