Marantz MCR 610 – A Review

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As mentioned in my introduction to the review of the of the B&W 686 S2’s, a separate review of the  Marantz MCR651 would follow.

The Marantz unit was a replacement for the incredibly talented Yamaha A-S700 and CD-N500pairing that had served me well for around 12 months. There was nothing wrong with their performance – I simply had an itch to downsize my system and not sacrifice on sound quality.

When I was looking around at options under a budget of £500 there were a number of options from the likes of Teac, Onkyo, Yamaha and Denon to name but a few. Most of them had an iPod dock built into the top which, to me, made the system less appealing. I also wanted a CD Player built in which excluded a number of options.

The system that really caught my eye was the Marantz MCR 651. In terms of features it seemed to cater for virtually every eventuality (and more): CD, DAB, FM, Internet Radio, Wireless/Wired Network Streaming, Two Analogue inputs, Two sets of Speaker Outputs (for Bi-Amping as well as multiroom, optical digital input, Spotify and Last FM capabilities – the list went on.

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The dealer I discussed the unit with suggested that the performance of the CD Player and built in amp rivalled that of an entry level Marantz separates system and I was therefore intrigued as to how this box of tricks would perform and duly bought one.

Once I got the unit home I was truly surprised by how small it was. I set it up on a wooden unit and, at first, it looked truly lost.

I connected the speaker cables, ethernet cable and power chord and switched the unit on. I was stunned to find that within a few seconds it had synched with my home network and recognised my NAS drive. From the Marantz App I put in my user name and password for Spotify and I was good to go. It all seemed too straightforward.

As an aside I tried the Marantz in wireless mode and again all was good. It found the wifi signal with no problems and worked well.

So, 10 minutes after unboxing the MCR 610 I was listening to a Spotfy playlist and thoroughly enjoying the sound and convenience of having millions of songs at my fingertips.

I then access the music on my NAS drive and played some hi-res FLAC files. Again no problems. In fact all the functions on the unit worked flawlessly and I could not be happier with the performance.

I have read that it has a typical “Marantz” sound but having not owned any Marantz products previously I had nothing to compare it too.

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For a full description of the quality of the sound please look at my B&W 686 S2 review as my thoughts on sound quality are pretty much summed up there.

So all is great? Actually no. Here are the gripes:

· First of all the app is slow. Really slow. Whether it is selecting a new track or going between functions it seems to take an age. The Yamaha network player was far quicker as was the Squeezebox touch.

· And if it isn’t being slow the app crashes more than it should. Two or three times over a 2 hour period which I find unacceptable whilst using the app. If for some reason you come out of the app and restart it (especially when using a music server)  the music stops and you have to start again selecting the Marantz through the app and finding your music again. Very frustrating. To my mind Marantz need to put this at the top of their list to sort or it will put customers off.

Other than the above issues with software I am delighted with this little unit. Whether in the long run the app  drives me to distraction remains to be seen but for now I will simply enjoy it’s music making capabilities.

 

Bowers and Wilkins 686 S2 – Small is Big

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I have long been a huge fan of standmount speakers and have owned and, or, reviewed speakers from mainstream companies such as Wharfedale, and Kef to more esoteric brands like Sonus Faber, Harbeth and Totem.

It was change again this last week with the at home with the Yamaha set up I have been enjoying thoroughly for the last 12 months being sold and shipped to pastures new for me to enter into the 21st Century with (takes a deep breath) a one box system from Marantz.

A Marantz MCR610 to be precise and this will be the subject of another review where I will cover off my findings with this little unit.

The subject of this review as the introduction alluded to is a pair of standmount speakers: the new B&W 686 S2’s.

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The motivation for getting these speakers was the same as purchasing the Marantz – to downsize the hi-fi system and try and replicate something that would cater for my audiophile sensibilities without dominating my lounge.

I auditioned a number of speakers and for one reason or another these were discounted due to the fact they didn’t have the musical balance or performance I was looking for. So what did I have on my wish list?

Basically, I was looking for a musical hybrid which would offer something close to the performance of two of my favourite speakers of all time – the midrange and vocal capabilities of the Harbeth P3ESR’s and soundstaging and the stupendous bass from a small box capabilities of the Totem Model One’s.

Oh, and all for less than £350. Or at a quarter of the price of the above two speakers.

A tall order and to be honest I was not holding out much hope of achieving anywhere near my goal.

As previously mentioned, I listened to a number of speakers and compared them to the existing Wharfedale Denton 80th Anniversary speakers at home including Dali’s Zensor 1 and 3’s, Monitor Audio’s BX2 and Q Acoustic’s 2020’s.

They all sounded fine – the Dali Zensor 3’s being the best of the bunch (albeit the biggest) – but were not as good as the Wharfedale never mind the Harbeth and Totem’s. I could never have lived with them over the longer term.

The dealer then suggested I push the budget slightly from the £200-£300 range to try the B&W 686’s S2’s. At just £50 more than the Dali Zensor 3’s I did not have much hope.

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These speakers are the latest incarnation of B&W’s entry level offering and have a number of changes from the previous model including improved tweeter, woofer and a smaller cabinet. Specifications taken from B&W website are:

Technical features: Decoupled Double Dome aluminium tweeter with Nautilus™ tube loading
Flowport™
Description 2-way vented-box system
Drive units 1x ø25mm (1 in) aluminium dome high-frequency
1x ø130mm (5 in) woven Kevlar® cone bass/midrange
Frequency range -6dB at 54Hz and 50kHz
Frequency response 62Hz – 22kHz ±3dB on reference axis
Dispersion Within 2dB of reference response
Horizontal: over 60º arc
Vertical: over 10º arc
Sensitivity (84)85dB spl (2.83V, 1m)
Harmonic distortion 2nd and 3rd harmonics (90dB, 1m)
<1% 110Hz – 22kHz
<0.5% 180Hz – 20kHz
Nominal impedance 8Ω (minimum 5.2Ω)
Crossover frequencies 4kHz
Recommended amplifier power 25W – 100W into 8Ω on unclipped programme
Max. recommended cable impedance 0.1Ω
Dimensions Height: 315mm (12.4 in)
Width: 160mm (6.3 in)
Depth: 229mm (9.0 in) cabinet, grille and terminals
Net weight 4.6kg (10.1 lb)
Finishes Black
White

The star of the above show is arguably the Decoupled Double Dome tweeter. Full technical details are on B&W’s website but it seems clear that the application of this technology works amazingly well.

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So how do they sound?

Set up on their dedicated stands in my lounge I connected them to the Marantz MCR610 one word truly sums them up: remarkable.

It is hard not to start each sentence with: for their size they are…… and then insert a description relating to an element of their performance which simply stuns you with it’s scale or clarity or soundstaging. Considering their diminutive stature they simply sound significantly bigger than they have a right to. My lounge is not exactly small (20ft by 13ft) yet the 686’s filled the room with music.

The way that they can three dimensionally portray a singer between the speakers is spooky. And there is height to the image which adds to the sense of realism. Turn the volume up and the image get’s bigger and bigger.

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I started my listening session in earnest once the speakers had been running for a few hours with one of my favourite test tracks that I have used dozens of times before: Broken Wings by Dougie MacLean from his Marching Mystery album. The track though the 686’s starts wonderfully with a fantastic ring and resonance to the acoustic guitar.

The bodrhan providing the beat, though, was the initial surprise. It was deep and authoritative and maintained it’s rhythm beautifully. The bass performance was easily the equal of the larger Wharfedale Denton’s.

The next surprise was when MacLean started singing. His vocals were startlingly real and set clearly and precisely in their own space. I was genuinely taken aback.

I tried track after track and the speakers simply disappeared leaving performers perfectly placed in my living room. From blues to classical and folk to heavy metal these speakers continued to astound.

Admittedly, they are unable to move air on rock tracks in the same was a bigger speaker can but the bass performance always carried a significant punch and stunning weight for the size of the speakers.

Suffice it to say that they totally fit the bill in terms of the original brief. Are they as good as the Harbeth’s? No, they lack a some of that’s speakers refinement and midrange warmth and they way the P3ESR’s portray vocals is uncanny in it’s realism – more so than the 686’s.

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If I had one slight criticism with the little B&W’s it would be that, just occasionally, the treble would stand out slightly but this was mainly at lower volumes. Not a problem in the slightest but a noticeable difference with comparing with the Harbeths.

But the Harbeth’s retail at nearly £1,500!

How about the Totems? These, to me, are the soundstage kings. Width, depth, height. They have it all. They are remarkable in terms of bass too (for their size!). But they have a new contender.

The 686 S2’s.

The only area (and to be honest this is more from memory from when I had them) is in terms of soundstage width where the Model One’s have the 686’s beaten. Having said that I have not played around with positioning too much and so I may be to gain improvements in this area with some experimentation.

So the bottom line is at £350 these speakers are bargains. I would put my money on them being able to compete with speakers several times their price and show them a clean pair of heels in many areas. I am not familiar with the previous models and so could not offer an opinion here.

I would have loved to have pushed the budget for the 685’s but it wasn’t to be so. I suspect they would be even better in my lounge but for now I will enjoy the 686’s thoroughly.

It’s life Jim but not as we know it………

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So, following on from the initial Blog post…….

I returned home after work on a Friday afternoon to find a large box with Wharfedale and 80th Anniversary emblazoned on the side. The Denton’s had arrived.

I was naturally, eager to set them up and within no time at all had them had them connected to the new Yamaha A-S700 amplifier (where’s the Rega you may ask – that may be the subject of a separate post!).

But to back track I must mention the packaging. This is superb. The speakers were packed in their own cotton bag which was in turn packaged in heavy duty plastic bags. They were nestled firmly in Styrofoam inside a very well made cardboard box. There was also a plastic wallet in the box which contained a pair of cotton gloves, manual and a booklet detailing the history of Wharfedale. It may not sound like much but the way that a company cares for their products says a lot about their quality.

And in terms of build quality I was not disappointed. Every element from the veneer, to the binding posts and the way the 80th anniversary stickers are applied to the rear of the speakers oozed quality. They feel solid and have a reassuring heft to them. Very impressive.

And, so it was with hopes raised that I switched on the amplifier and started to put the speakers through their paces with some tracks that I am very familiar with. I didn’t have the Harbeth’s on hand for a direct comparison but their sound signature is so unmistakable to me differences in sound quality and presentation are straightforward to evaluate.

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The first song that I listened to was Broken Wings by Dougie Maclean from his Marching Mystery album. I must have listened to this song a hundred times or more over the years and never tire of it.

It is a simple track dominated by a bodrhan, acoustic guitar and Dougie Maclean’s voice. Even the most straightforward of tracks are easy to get wrong on some systems and this one is no exception.

Each of the instruments has their own part to play in moving the track forward. If the rhythmic, almost hypnotic drumming of the bodrhan becomes overblown or lost in the mix it loses it’s ability to act as the drive behind the song. The acoustic guitar needs to be clear and resonant, the chords should stand out from the mix with Dougie’s voice sounding plaintive with the burr of his beautiful Scottish accent coming through.

Needless to say the Harbeth’s get all of these elements to me perfectly balanced. The Denton’s offer a slightly different version of the truth so to speak. The first thing I noticed was that the bass response was deeper but this should be expected as the this is a ported design with a slightly bigger cabinet and bass driver.

The Bodrahn seemed bigger with more of a bass thud. It was also slightly “muddier” if that is a decent term to use and lost a little of it’s rhythm.

The acoustic guitar sounded warmer too with slightly less ring and resonance to the strings than I am used to. The Harbeths seem to hold onto the notes a little longer and the guitar comes across a little smaller but more akin to how a real acoustic guitar would sound. The Dentons offered a presentation where the guitar sounds slightly larger than life.

And so to the vocals. They came across with the Dentons as slightly more recessed. They didn’t get lost in the mix as I have heard them on some speakers but Dougie’s diction was slightly less clear. Not unpleasant. Just not as real as through the P3ESRs.

Denton rear

There’s a couple of things with the above – firstly I am comparing a speaker in the Denton’s that is a third of the price of the Harbeth’s. I am also comparing a “home” speaker with one that is essentially a “domesticated” studio monitor speaker which has to sound clear, precise and totally natural or it would be missing the designer’s brief by a wide margin.

Taken in isolation away from the “studio” presentation of the Harbeth and for the money the Dentons sound superb and are a wonderful loudspeaker.

I have tried them out on a wide range of material and at no time did they offend. They presentation of music is warm and graceful allowing the message of the music to come through.

Are they as good as the Harbeths? No – the Harbeth’s are significantly better and I cannot wait to be in a position to get my hands back on a pair of the P3ESRS. For other people though they could be just what they are looking for as you can listen to music for hours with no fatigue or irritation. If you listen to rock music then I would steer clear of them but then again I would say the same with the Harbeth’s.

To me the Harbeth’s present the truth albeit a smaller scale version. The Dentons are slightly bigger and warmer version of that truth that I can live with and not be constantly looking over my shoulder to a time when the Harbeth’s were in place which, to be honest, I never thought I would find at this price level. Throw in the fact that they are beautifully veneered and made and you have a speaker that you would struggle to significantly better for less than £1,000.

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Is there life after Harbeth?

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Harbeth P3ESR – in a league of their own.

If you read my previous review of the Harbeth P3ESR’s you can easily establish that I am huge admirer of these loudspeakers. In fact having owned dozens of pairs of speakers over the last 20 years including brands such as Proac, Linn, Living Voice, Tannoy, Gamut and Reference 3A to name but a few I have found that the little P3ESRS are the head and shoulders above the rest.

It was with some regret recently, then, that I had to sell my treasured Harbeth’s and opt for a cheaper speaker. The reasoning and detail behind this decision are no particualroy interesting so I won’t go into that here.

Bottom line is that with the Harbeth’s sold I had a budget of around £500 for a new pair of speakers. A considerable amount of money to some – friends wouldn’t dream of spending that on a whole system. But coming from such lofty heights I was concerned at what I would find at a price point almost exactly one third that of the P3ESR’s.

I also had a fairly simple and short criteria for the new speakers – somewhere between what I wanted and what my wife would accept.

Ideally the new entrants would be a stand mount and a similar size to the Harbeth’s and have an attractive real wood veneer.

I looked at many brands from Tannoy, Kef, Dali and Mission but couldn’t get excited by the looks nor the sound of any of them. Not a great start!

Doing some more research I came across a couple of reviews of the Wharfedale Denton. A limited edition update of a classic Wharfedale speaker.

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The Wharfedale Denton

They seem to have everything – decent wood veneer, not much bigger than the Harbeth’s and they also had an excellent heritage not only from the manufacturer but also the speaker itself. At £500 they were also within my budget.

As a bonus, having done some more research into the brand it seemed that they take a cradle to grave approach to manufacturing their speakers – designing and manufacturing their own cabinets, drive units and wiring themselves to retain control over every step of the process. They also, apparently, manufacture their own packaging to ensure that their products arrive in the condition they would expect.

Some more web trawling though unearthed a company in Bristol selling the speaker at a special offer price of £350 for a brand new pair. Despite the fact that hadn’t seen the speaker or heard it this seemed to be a bargain too good to miss. I don’t put too much faith in magazine reviews and star ratings but the one’s I read seemed to be consistent with describing the musical presentation of the Dentons and this suggested to me I would enjoy the speaker and so I ordered a pair and awaited their arrival with anticipation.
Part two to follow………..

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Harbeth P3ESR Review

Harbeth

Harbeth P3ESR on Stands

I can honestly say that I have lost count of the number of speakers that I have owned over the last 20 years. Of all the elements of my hifi system they seem to be the part that has changed the most.

What I do know is that I have owned, including the P3ESR’s, four different pairs of Harbeth Speakers: P3ES, Compact 7ES and Super HL5. I loved the each of them but, for various reasons which have nothing to do with sound quality I had to move them on.

In the meantime I have owned several mini-monitor speakers from Proac, Totem, Sonus Faber, Gamut and Reference 3A to name but a few. A few months ago an opportunity to acquire a pair of the P3ESR’s came up and despite me loving the musical capabilities of the Reference 3A Dulcet I just knew that I had to get my hands on the Harbeths and so the Dulcets were quickly moved on.

The change in speakers also coincided with a system overhaul. I decided that it was time to downgrade my system to something much more simple and affordable and out went the Consonance CD Player and Amplifier for a Rega CD and Ampliffier pairing of the Apollo R and Brio R.

Rega

Rega Brio R and Apollo R

Both are unassuming half width components and despite their budget price tag of £500 per unit they certainly punch above their weight and would offer an excellent foundation for the Harbeth’s to show what they could do. Their build quality is excellent and have operated flawlessly since the day I bought them.

So, how do the Harbeth’s sound?

Well putting to one side the limitations of their size and the fact that they are never going to defy the laws of physics and produce lower registers they are captivating, drawing you into the music like few other speakers I have heard. They are warm but with enough bite to strings for example to retain a realism that makes you want to keep listening long into the night. They can project large scale music better than they have a right to but really score well on smaller scale acoustic music where they just carry you away communicating the emotion of the music.

Listening becomes a more interactive experience with little subtleties and details drawing you further into the music.From classical to rock and folk to blues they seem to be equally at home in any genre.

Alan Shaw will not thank me for saying this but I always felt with the bigger speakers – and this was very subtle and possibly a psychological effect of the size of these speakers – that there was a slight hollow sound to the reproduction. It was if you could “sense” those large, thin walled boxes adding something to the sound.

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The Beautiful Grain of the Eucalyptus Veneer

Maybe it was also the fact that the other larger Harbeth speakers are ported unlike the P3ESR’s. I don’t know. Magical as the C7’s and Super HL5’s sounded their smaller cousin just has the edge for me. And that is, I guess all that matters.

The bottom line with the P3ESR’s is that they seem to take the best bits of all of my favourite small speakers – the Reference 3A Dulcets and Totem Model One – and roll them into a perfectly sized box that would fit into any environment bar an aircraft hanger sized lounge. Much as I loved the bigger Harbeth speakers I feel that the P3ESR’s are perfectly balanced soundwise.

I don’t know enough about the company to really comment but from reading posts written on the Harbeth website Alan Shaw is clearly a dedicated and passionate designer of loudspeakers. He should be congratulated on designing a mini masterpiece. A number of people have suggested that the P3ESR’s will be their last speaker upgrade – I can honestly say that they will be for me.

Specifications:

Transducer system 2-way: Harbeth 110mm RADIAL2� mid/bass; 19mm Ferro-cooled tweeter with HexGrille.
Freq. response 75Hz – 20kHz +/-3dB free space, 1m with grille on with smooth off-axis response.
Impedance 6 ohms – easy to drive.
Sensitivity 83.5dB/1W/1m
Amp. suggestion Works with a wide range of amplifiers, ideally from 15W/channel.
Power handling 50W programme
Connector Two 4mm gold-plated binding posts for wires or plugs
Dimensions (hxwxd) 306 x 189 x 202 mm (inl. grille and terminals)
Finish Cherry, black ash, maple, rosewood, eucalyptus, gun grey, arctic white, jet black.
Space needs Ideally > 0.30m from rear wall
Stands Typically 24+ inches
Weight 6.3kg each (without packing)
Packing One matched pair per protective carton

Superspikes by Soundcare – Bargain Isolation

The Soundcare Superspikes 

I was having a clear out last weekend sorting through a box of old cables, cones and audiophile accessories when I came across two sets of these.

I had completely forgotten that I had them. The last time I recall using them was under a pair of Living Voice OBX’s and I have owned a several pairs of speakers since these went to their new owner.

The spikes are manufactured by Soundcare a company based in Norway. The packaging boldly suggests that they provide the some of the best isolation that money can buy. Quite a claim if a little pointless in light of the subjective nature of audiophile opinion.

In any case I was curious to hear what they could bring to my system. What I can say is that before I inserted these into the base plates of the Custom Design Reference stands I was more than happy with the systems balance and sound quality. I hadn’t, since installing the system in the lounge, thought about adding anything to try and improve what I had. The musical balance was just right to my ears and needed no tweaking.

So, spikes installed, I put one of my favourite CD’s in the Mini-Droplet: The Dougie Maclean Collection on the Putamayo label. As you might have guessed from the title this is a  compilation of some of Dougie’s best work from his first 5 or 6 solo albums.

One of the tracks I usually use for evaluating anything new in my system is called Broken Wings – a very simple track but easy for a system to get wrong. The song starts with an acoustic guitar and bodhran. So many systems gloss over the importance of the bodhran’s impact in moving the song forward.

Before I installed the spikes the deep thud of this musical instrument was clear and precise. What the spikes did was take things to a new level. The bass became even deeper and slightly more thunderous and insistent. Each bang upon the skin of the instrument was more defined and apparent. Very, very impressive.

The improvements continued with the greater vocal separation and projection and the timbre and tone of the acoustic guitar was more realistic.

I have alluded to the fact before that this not a system that is easy to sit and dissect. It sounds so right as to make specific, audiophile evaluation difficult as you are drawn into the music.

It says something then that the improvements wrought by the spikes were so apparent and positive that I could appreciate immediately the benefits of having them in under the Dulcets.

I have had them under the speaker stands for a few weeks now and feel that they are an essential and integral part of the system and highly recommended.

They can be bought here if anyone wants a set: http://www.bkelec.com/HiFi/Sub_Woofers/Accessories.htm

I am tempted to try some of their other products out. They all seem to be reasonably priced and worth a shot.

Life After Linn

Consonance Mini Droplet CDP3.1

A few months ago I started with an itch that I knew I would just have to eventually scratch. Excellent though the Linn system was I missed the presentation that previous valve based systems had given me.

Also, whilst the Linn DS was a fantastic source, when I compared it to a “valved” Lector CD player that I had, I felt that on a good percentage of CD’s the music was put over in a slightly more organic way. One other aspect that pushed me over the edge were the once or twice a week system crashes that occurred which would only be resolved by a reset of the system – ostensibly switching off and then back on again!

The bottom line was I realised that a valve based system would be the one to satisfy my musical and hifi requirements.

So how would I facilitate this sea-change? I had backed myself into an audiophile corner in a way and felt that an all or nothing approach would be required as a mix and match system with some of the Linn components wouldn’t be all that practical. Certainly a valve CD player with Linn solid state amps didn’t seem right and I doubted it would provide the answers I was looking for.

After 20 years of buying hi-fi I have to confess to a certain amount of cynicism when it comes to dealers. There are very few hi-fi dealers in my opinion that actually talk any sense or understand the equipment they sell or the needs of the customer. This is a sad fact of faceless high street chains.

There are probably 3 or 4 dealers that I have come across that I would trust and respect. On of them is Jim Burke of audiolincs.com in Grantham.

The Consonance Cyber 10 Integrated Signature

In all of my dealings with Jim he has been nothing but a gentlemen – open and honest. His knowledge of the equipment he sells is exemplary. Co-incidentally we have very similar tastes in music and so when I have described the presentation that I was hoping to achieve he was able to very quickly recommend three components that would give me what I was looking for – or should that be hearing for?

So a few conversations later, Jim and I had pieced together a system of and Opera Consonance Droplet 3.1 CD Player, a Cyber 10 Integrated Amplifier and Reference 3A Dulcet speakers. Luckily I still had in the garage a pair of Custom Design Reference 300 stands on which to put the speakers on. Coincidentally they were also the stands that Jim recommends to get the best out of the Dulcet’s.

Over the next few weeks the Linn gear disappeared to new owners and the huge heavy boxes began appearing at my front door. Not something that SWMBO relishes.

Finally, I had unboxed everything and had it in situ and ready to go. In Jim’s opinion the CD Player, amplifier and speakers would be able to compete with equipment several times their price and he was confident that, wonderful as the Linn system was, the new trio would be able to exceed the performance of the Linn gear.

Whilst I have not had an opportunity to test each piece in a different scenarios what I can say is that as a system the three components gel perfectly producing easily some of the best music I have had at home.

The Consonance Cyber 10 Integrated Signature

To cut a long story short the new system simply sounds right. The Dulcet’s don’t go as low or loud as the Linn 140’s, they don’t produce the same cavernous soundstage as the Totem Model One’s but what they do which is to stop me continually evaluating what I am listening to. For example with the Model One’s the soundstage was so eerily huge I ended up listening and thinking wow I can hear the acoustic guitar solo on the opposite side of the room well outside the cabinet boundaries. Isn’t that amazing. And then forgetting about the song as a whole and the message and emotion conveyed.

I found myself just listening to music. It is just there filling the room. Natural, flowing, unforced. If I was to ask myself after listening to a song how wide the soundstage was or deep the bass was I couldn’t tell you. All I could say would be that I was totally captivated by the performance.

When listening back and being much more analytical you realise that all the audiophile building blocks are there. Wide soundstage, realistic timbre, great rhythm etc. It is just that no one area sticks out as being more impressive than another.

All the elements come together to create an emotionally captivating performance.

The amplifier belies it’s 11 WPC power output by sounding like a much bigger beast but still with the delicacy that valves are renowned for and the Droplet 3.1 simply looks stunning. Better in the flesh and than in the photographs. I suspect the rock solid build quality and filterless dac all play their part.

So all in all this is one hell of a system. The incredible thing is that all this can be had for less than half the price of the Linn system. Now I am not going to start knocking that system. It too, is superb. But for my ears the valves edge it. And by some margin.

Before you upgrade or if you are starting afresh with a reasonable budget give Jim a call and get a demonstration. I am sure you will be astounded at what this little set up can do.

Reference 3A Dulcet