January 15, 2012

Best Analogue Gear 2011.

Let us start with some analogue gears! Despite my conversion to CAS as my daily fuss free music source, the black vinyl curse still wears it's spell on me, especially when I am in the mood for some seriously audiophile numbing music, mostly jazz from 50's till the 60's.

Though we did not review much analogue stuff this year, making this three candidates appear by default, they are by no means turd sounding. Not at all. In the vinyl world, this three entries are considered real world enough for the aspiring audiophile and most of all that Rega RP-1 turn table set is likely going to be some newbie's entry point in to the black arts, and still not be ashamed about it's sonic potential, well at least with a cartridge up grade!

VPI Aries 3 & Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua MC cartridge, musically dynamic, with slam dunking bass response.

VPI Aries 3 & Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua Combo.

The VPI Aries 3 is the big brother to the successful Scout model we liked last year. When partnered with the Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua MC cartridge, sonically this mighty combo has what it takes to give the more up market tables from Clearaudio and Oracle a tough run for their money. The sound is highly transparent, with a hint of top end sweetness and slam dunking bass. It is also highly refined and ticks all the right audiophile boxes, performance wise. I have only two reservations about this table, first of which is the lack of an electronic speed change/control box(which is an extra cost option!). Second is the table's oversize plinth, which is great for stability, but will find it hard to fit on to standard sized racks. In my case, I had to review it, by setting it up on the floor. Not ideal, but ............

Parasound JC-3 is the our current RM$10k phono stage choice!

Parasound JC-3.

I was much impressed by the well rounded sonic performance of the Parasound JC-3. It does nothing wrong and everything well. It's strictly neutral tonal balance will allow the table, arm and cartridge's combo up stream to truly shine. The JC-3 is not particularly sensitive to cartridge loading, yet it's gain is high enough for use even with the lowest output of MC cartridges. It is noise free and is one of the quietest phono stage that I've tested, even with full gain setting. This Parasound is made to be partnered with turn table, arm and cartridge combo's a few rungs up it's own price! It's an over achiever and giant killer phono stage all rolled in to one!

Rega RP-1, a vinyl newbie's entry point.

Rega RP-1.

The sub RM$1k priced Rega RP-1 is possibly the cheapest and most cheerful bargain in the vinyl and perhaps the hifi world! It offers people a chance to experience the wonders of vinyl, without having to sell their mother or child! Sound wise, it's truly Rega centric, with it's exciting rhythm and pace, if a little grayish in the back ground. It's band width limited but still offers very decent musical dynamics. Best of all it's mid range is still unsullied yet offers enough body to be image rather convincingly. Which ever way one looks at it, it's still proudly made in England with pride and simplicity of engineering at it's best.

Next, we rate the best digital sources in 2011!

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