Hifi is never static but a continuous journey towards our very own audio nirvana, hence I named my blog as such: finetone …an audio odyssey (meaning a continuous audio journey). I enjoy my journey thus far and am not obsessed with its final destination (if there is any in the first instance) as the invaluable experience gained with affluence of time has further enhanced my music enjoyment and reshaped many of my beliefs. Many a time, I do rave and heap high praises on a select few of audio gears but never resort to black mouthing others not of my flavour either in my blog articles or forum discussions. Hifi, to me, is much about attaining the correct blend of neutrality, definition and musicality through 'mix-n-match' exercise. And I subscribe to belief that there are no bad audio equipments per se!
I had recently brought home 2 pairs of vdH interconnects for evaluation in my main system with the intention to assess their compatibility and to replace the vdH First Classic (beige colour) between my CD player and integrated amplifier. A pair subsequently ended up replacing the vdH Source (orange) interconnects from my phono stage to integrated amplifier instead. These are a pair of NOS vdH Thunderline (red) which I preferred over the other newer model of vdH Integration (apple green) that Martin Colloms raves highly in its review in UK's HiFi News as the interconnects to have finally beaten his all-time favourite of vdH First Ultimate. The improvements which vdH Thunderline brought to the sound of my vinyl playback are a more refined and extended treble, total elimination of midrange coarseness and a much more powerful bass. With vdH Integration, the sound is fairly identical but generates a far wider and spacious soundstage, a little brighter balance to the extent of inducing some sibilance and a more modern and hifi-ish sound overall. As my system is already pretty well endowed in such areas, I perceive vdH Thunderline as being more musical and presence of vocalists is felt more. Some folks may label vdH cables as van den Blur and compressed-sounding cables but I really thought otherwise after having owned and used many other cables in the past, some pretty exotic and others more affordable ones, which include amongst others XLO Electric Reference Series (Type 1 analogue interconnects, Type 4 digital coaxial cables, Type 6a speaker cables and Type 10 power cords), Kimberkable (Silver Streak interconnects and 8TC speaker cables), Chord Cables (Cobra 3 interconnects and Carnival SilverPlus speaker cables), Monster Cable Interlink 400 and Audio Note AN-C interconnects. Fact is, I find vdH cables extremely balanced and good in PRaT although they may not be the last word in transparency.
As for interconnects between CD player to integrated amplifier in my main system, I am still using the vdH First (full carbon) Classic. Extremely natural sounding but I do complain of a slight lack of absolute airiness and ultimate transparency and being a little too laidback at times. vdH Thunderline may again be the answer but I would have to try them out first. Later.
I have been listening to quite a fair bit of Cheer Chen 陈绮贞's songs over the radio lately. Great style. I also owned her highly acclaimed and original Taiwan-pressed Adventure 华丽的冒险 CD mastered by Doug Sax of the former Sheffield Lab, USA where total album sales in Taiwan alone for this particular CD exceeds 300,000 copies. I tried very hard to like the CD but in the end concluded that the sound although extremely clean and spacious, is in fact sterile and clinical sounding.
I have tweaked my recently acquired Rega P5 turntable by adding a Michell tecnoweight, acrylic platter and several record clamps. Another new addition, a Musical Fidelity V-LPS phono stage shall be arriving from HTFR of Birmingham, UK any moment now after having waited for more than 6 weeks for their stocks to be replenished. More update in due course.
With my analogue source quite adequately setup for the time being, I went out and procured several mint copies of audiophile-grade classical records recently, albeit more selectively now than before. 2 records which stand out and I thought sound great both in musical delivery and sonics are Tchaikovsky 1812 Overture and Debussy Iberia (reissues by Speaker Corner Label). The whole piece of 1812 Overture symphony is so listenable and very unlike my former Telarc CD which was more meant for listening to the digital encoded Canons. I gave away the said CD to a hifi buddy many years ago. After a long day at work in the office, I look forward to listening to a record in the comfortable home environment in the evenings.