|The Eichmann Bullet plugs just being attached to my Linn phono leads. The whole tone arm assembly was un-installed from the turn table so that it's easier to work.|
I've said earlier this year that most of my hifi focus would be on tweaks and accessories. Here's one unforeseen change required recently. If you've been reading my review of the PMC TLE-1 sub woofer, which I mentioned it was picking up the turn table rumble randomly. I finally found the culprit responsible, and it's NOT the PMC sub woofer. It turn out that a bad/cold joint was developing inside the left chanel phono plug of the phono cable leading out from the Linn Sondek LP 12. One day, the cold joint had totally silenced the left chanel of my turn table.
With that, I set about looking for a pair of reliable branded after market RCA plugs. I short listed the ultra expensive WBT Nextgen, the QED after market plug and finally the Eichmann Bullet plug. The price of the WBT Nextgen totally horrified me in the context that it was probably an overkill to be used with the original Linn T cable anyway. Next, the QED after market plugs had the right price and seemed to be of good quality, but my favorite hifi supermarket, CMY Audio & Visual had sold them out with no stock arriving anytime soon. That left me with the very unlikely candidate of the Eichmann Bullet plug. On my previous encounters with the Bullet plug, I kinda disliked the light weight build, finished in cheap looking plastic bodies. The contact pins however, looked fairly well finished in a rather unusual matt gold coating. A browse thru the Internet found that they were designed specifically for phono cable application based on a probable theory of optimum hot signal to ground contact ratio which results in excellent signal to noise ratio, when connecting between tone arm and phono stage. Eichmann also claims that the conductivity of the matt gold contact pins out performs the usually shinny audio jewelery variety. Various international reviews seems to confirm the Eichmann Bullet plug's effectiveness in transmitting the ultra low signal generated by an MC cartridge, with minimum noise. I headed to PJ area's DIY den called Octave Electronics which stocked the plugs, costing RM$49.00/pair.
|Another look at the very professional looking soldering skills, thanks to a certain DIY-er guru.|
I brought the plugs home and started the un-ceremonial task of dis-assembling the Linn Ittok out of the LP12 turn table, in order to do a once over check all over the signal route, from the Benz Micro LP cartridge, all the way to the phono plugs at the other end. With the final confirmation that a cold joint had developed on the left chanel RCA plug, the change over could begin. The sight of soft plastics surrounding the two contact pins of Bullet plug was enough for me to call a DIY-er friend, one is equipped with a temperature controlled solder gun, and more importantly an experienced pair of steady hands(Big E's fat fingers just wasn't cut for this job!). He said "I be there in half an hour if tea time is on you", I was glad he only asked for a cuppa. Ha! Ha!
As anticipated, that soft plastic surrounding the two small contact pins with miniaturised soldering point on the Eichmann Bullet plug made soldering possible only in the most expert of steady hands. The re-termination work on both left and right chanels took my friend about twenty five minutes or so, including completing the heat shrinking sleeves for the complete and professional look. After the cuppa, I rushed home to re-connect and set up my tone arm again. The cartridge alignment and tracking force was also re-checked to ensure proper calibration.
|A cross section of the Eichmann Bullet plug. A case of less is certainly more, based on a research theory of contact ratio between the hot signal and the ground.|
With all the setting up checked and double checked, just to be sure, I begin to spin some vinyl disc. The first LP that went in was a recent re-issued Bad Company's self titled debut album, on 180gsm vinyl. The moment the stylus hit the vinyl, the silence of surface noise was astounding. I've never heard me LP12, or any other any LP12 in fact sound this silent, just like a modern high end Clearaudio turn table. Then the first track, I Can't Get Enough Of Your Love plays with such gutso and slamming dynamics, I was so blown away, all I wanna do is to turn the volume up, louder and louder! The bass cleared up considerably, it now had certain rhythmic propulsive quality that suited rock music. Hiss.... was vanishingly low, despite the high gain phono setting, and higher playback volume. The overall lack of surface noise and hiss... made music flow more freely, and I get more musical details, previously obscured. I could hear more in to the sound stage mix, including ambiance of recording or concert venue. Needless to say, I quickly finished both sides of the said LP and then continued with other LPs till late night. It's been a long time, since I've suspected that the Linn was short changing my Benz Micro LP cartridge. I am glad that I've finally found the culprit that strangled the fragile low level signal from the Benz Micro.
I've never been more pleased with my analog source at any other time but now, all thanks to the Eichmann Bullet plugs. I now recommend these plugs to all turn table owners as a minimal cost up grade with absolute confidence. If it could do all that with a low level signal such as those inside a phono cable, imaging what benefits it could bring to other line level signals?
Oh! By the way, if you ain't got no soldering skills, or just plain lazy, then bring your phono leads or interconnect, and let Yap of Octave Electronics do the work for a small fee.
Eichmann is sold by Octave Electronics, contact Helen or Yap at 03-79555755.