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www.okkinokki.co.uk

Essential Accessories
www.quadraspire.co.uk

This shortlist has been compiled after stringent testing and viewer feedback.
We believe the improvement they make to hi-fi system and listening pleasure makes each accessory worthy of its price tag.

Your feedback is important!
If you believe there is an accessory that should be included here let us know and we will check it out.

Click an image to reach each company website.

Interconnects

Kimber Select KS-1116

Kimber Select KS-1116
As mentioned below. With any cable, interconnect or component, transparency and neutrality is the key!
Testing large components for the above traits is more difficult as you will possibly never get the opportunity to test more than half a dozen amplifiers or turntables (for example)?

Cables and interconnects can be delivered on a trial basis from many reputable companies.

The Kimber Select KS-1116 XLR balanced cable was delivered to us on a 60 day trial basis. We slotted them in between our Whest PS.40RDT Special Edition phono stage and Musical Fidelity M8 PRE preamplifier. At the time we were testing various amplifiers such as the Musical Fidelity M6 PRX, the revered Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 800 integrated amplifier and the Luxman M700-u amplifier. No matter what the combination of amplifier used, the KS-1116 came out on top. Within a few hours of listening (even before the cable had run in) we were confident we would not be returning it. Clarity and transparency on a level not heard before. Yes this is more expensive than any XLR balanced interconnect on our essential accessory list, but it is now the interconnect we use as our reference.
Russ Andrews offer a 60 day money back guarantee.
The Kimber Select KS-1116 starts from £890.

   
Cambridge Audio 300 Series XLR interconnects

Cambridge Audio 300 Series XLR interconnects
We have used various balanced interconnect cables between our Whest PS40RDT phono stage and Musical Fidelity M8 preamplifier. This is the cheapest and most remarkable cable so far. This plain looking grey cable is by far one of the most transparent cables we have ever used. AND it is cheap. I have seen pristine used 300 Series cables going for as little as £25 online. A real bargain!

   
Audioquest Red River XLR interconnects
Audioquest Red River XLR interconnects
A high specification high performance cable. Many music lovers have used this interconnect (including us). The 0.5M length is priced at around £50.

   

Mains cables

 

www.russandrews.com

www.russandrews.com

www.russandrews.com

www.russandrews.com

Russ Andrews PowerKord-300™ UK mains & W350 EVO Gold + SC
A controversial upgrade area to discuss!
Like many chosen accessories (or upgrades), the improvements specific power cables can make to any system can be can be subjective and will depend upon a variety of factors such as the quality of your existing mains cables, quality of the mains itself, your individual components etc. We have been using our existing mains cables for many years with no noticeable problems, however, we were curious to see (and hear) were this upgrade path would take us. Would we stick with our existing cables, or would we be convinced to upgrade?

Upgrade cables use a variety of metals proven to be superior conductors (such as silver). Some cables (or rather, the metals used within the cables) boast ‘Deep Cryogenic Treatment’! Special weaving of cables and specific materials are used for the outer sheaves. All of the above is used (or done) to improve conductivity and reduce radio frequency interference, also known as electromagnetic interference (EMI).

You may have never thought about RFI - EMI polluting your hi-fi. I never gave such issues much thought. I confess to have considered those who were concerned about such level of refinement could benefit from getting out more often, or perhaps regular exercise? Well, I do both, so here goes…

Yes, there are a variety of mains cables on offer with a variety of price tags. We tested cables ranging in price from £60 to £450 over a two month period. We first experimented with upgraded mains cables to our main source (AMG Viella V12 turntable) and phono stage (Whest Audio PS40RDT), however, we found no, or little change in what we heard so continued to use our standard supplied cables with these units. We moved down the chain to our power and preamplifier (M8-500S power amplifier with the M8PRE preamplifier). We quickly discovered using specific upgrade mains cables for each of these units resulted in the most sizable audible change.

A few of the lower priced mains cables tested (£60 - £100) made no audible difference to the musical presentation. Some had a brightening effect to the top end while somehow muting the midrange, giving the impression of a lower noise floor. One mains cable priced at just over £450 did increase bass resonance, however, again we noticed compression of the midrange area, as well as an unnatural ‘steely like compressed’ top end.

Throughout this ‘testing time’ we switched back to our existing standard mains cables to insure we were judging each new cable against the same starting point (from ground zero so to speak).

Introducing the Russ Andrews PowerKord-300™ UK mains & W350 EVO Gold + SC
Using the PowerKord-300 & W350 EVO Gold + SC cables with our power and preamplifier was a revelation. From the outset it was ‘clear’ we were dealing with a completely different type of cable!

With the two PowerKord-300 & W350 EVO Gold + SC cables in-line, the sonic picture laid before us became more musically sculptured. Piano key strikes became more percussive with individual keys, symbol, brush and drum strokes being more defined. Soaking up the soul / gospel harmonies of the Ojay’s with the sad but soothing “Brandy” or the uplifting “Stairway to Heaven” emphasised the effortless, rich voices of this celebrated trio like never before. Herbie Hancock’s signature piano from his 1963 Blue Note “Inventions & Dimensions recording (Blue Note 84147 Music Matters 2 disc 45rpm) feeling more percussive than ever before. Willie Bobo’s drum and timbales together with Osvaldo “Chihuahau” Martinez’s congas & bongos noticeably more defined with a greater sense of ‘in the room’ presence. Bass was also noticeably leaner (less boom). We appreciated the faster, tighter presentation. (Though this might not be to everybody’s taste). Whatever album we chose to spin, we were compelled to listen and somehow feel more involved.

Yet another invisible vale has been removed from our system thanks to Russ Andrews’ PowerKord-300™ UK mains & W350 EVO Gold + SC. This is without doubt the most effective non ‘main component’ improvement upgrade we have made to date!

Russ Andrews offer a 60 day money back guarantee.
The Powerkord range starts from around £160.

   

Room treatment

 

 

www.studiospares.com

Acousticspares by Studiospares
Acoustic panels, acoustic tiles and acoustic bass traps by
Studiospares in London
After experiencing the substantial improvement room treatment will make to the overall listening experience, I am shocked and horrified it took so long to sort this out!

“…There are several professional companies who can do this for you, but if you want to do this yourself there are very simple rules when it comes to treatment. You need a mix of reflection, absorption and diffusion. But you need to start at your 1st reflection points. Side walls, ceiling, front and rear wall. Your ears need to deal with these first and their path lengths are long enough to confuse the brain when it’s processing the direct sound from the speakers…”

The cost of this treatment will vary depending on the size of your room, your equipment, soft furnishings etc. Experimentation is key. There are also various online outlets you can use to purchase acoustic panels, bass traps etc. However, you will not benefit from valuable advice.

   

Speaker cables

 

 

www.russandrews.com

Kimber 8TC speaker cable
Speaker cable is the final hurdle before the signal from your components reaches the speakers!
There are various technical explanations on speaker cables (and other interconnect) properties on the net explaining impedance, capacitance and inductance, so feel free to search for bed time reading. Owners of older Naim amplifiers are especially encouraged to read (or contact Naim) for advice on speaker cables!

Chord Legend bi-wire speaker cable has been my staple cable for over twenty years. Though this cable received a lukewarm response from hi-fi critics (ignored by me) when first introduced in the 90’s, it stood the test of time through my various source, component, interconnect and speaker upgrades over the years. It was first connected to my stand-mounted Castle Tay speakers (hence the requirement for bi-wire cable). My MartinLogan Scenario electrostatic speakers (purchased in the early 00’s) do not have bi-wire capabilities, so all the copper strand ends of this cable were twisted together to enable use of all available strands. Music loving colleagues have tempted me with various replacement speaker cables at various price ranges with promises of ‘more & better’ over the years, however, no speaker cable has ever come close to the transparency and smoothness of the Chord Legend, up until now!

A loan pair of Kimber 8TC speaker cable was kindly provided by a website viewer who insisted I should try his long-time owned blue / brown coloured 5m pair while he enjoyed a two week holiday. I consistently declined the offer until he presented the cables to me in a plastic bag one evening. I reluctantly lay the cables crudely across the floor believing it would be an easy quick ‘thanks, but no thanks’ decision. Within a few minutes I realised Kimber 8TC was a different kind of speaker cable!

Even before settling back into my listening chair, I noticed a change in the musical presentation in the form of greater depth (especially with the lower octaves) as well as the change in the noise floor (which as far as I was concerned was already dark). It had now dropped away to an even darker beguiling inky black. If anyone had suggested the noise floor could have been lowered any further than it already was, I would have strongly disagreed.

Once I settled into my listening chair (sweet spot) I began to take full stock of changes and determine whether these changes were actual improvements without detriment to other areas of listening? Thankfully, I was able to switch back and forth between the Kimber 8TC and Chord Legend within seconds, so I could actually hear the difference with each speaker cable on individual recordings and passages on sections of music on vinyl and CD. There was no doubt; with the Kimber 8TC in-line my system components simply became more transparent (I did not believe this to be possible) but I could hear (and feel) a greater sense of freedom of expression and musicality overall.

I continued to listen with the Kimber 8TC in-line (occasionally swapping back to the Chord Legend). I definitely felt a sense of loss when I was ‘forced’ to hand back the Kimber 8TC after my two week greater musical discovery.

Just before ordering my required 7m lengths of Kimber 8TC, I spoke to another website viewer regarding his recent Kimber 12TC speaker experience and decided to explore further…
Russ Andrews offer a 60 day money back guarantee
Kimber 8TC speaker cable starts at £205 for 2.5m pair

   

 

 

 

www.russandrews.com

Kimber 12TC speaker cable
‘Building on the quality and reputation of 4TC and 8TC, this latest addition to our range sees Kimber introduce 12TC with its 24 individual VariStrand™ conductors. It’s like 8TC on steroids! Everything we like about 8TC is lifted up another level – we found it a significant upgrade, especially in terms of musical involvement and an overall lift in performance right across the frequency range.’
Russ Andrews

After two weeks of musical discovery with the Kimber 8TC, I was given the opportunity to explore Kimber 12TC via yet another generous viewer. Just as with the 8TC cable, it was immediately clear the 12TC was special. Obviously, at this price range £823 for 2.5m pair with Kimber banana plugs, this cable would have to prove itself especially worthy of being added to the Essential Accessories page.

Kimber 12TC displayed similar characteristics as 8TC, but with extra oomph. It is important to note that the ‘extra’ this cable gives is not forced or exaggerated in any way. Just as with Kimber 8TC speaker cable, 12TC simply allowed my system components and interconnects to ‘almost not exist’. There appeared to be greater space and air around musicians and instrumentation allowing music and artistic intent just to flow. The multi-layered, multi textured sax’s of John Handy and Booker Ervin on Charles Mingus “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat” (for example) being more distinguishable than ever before.

I have used MartinLogan Scenario hybrid electrostatic speakers for nearly twenty years now. I have always loved the transparency and three-dimensionality such speakers offer. Using both 8TC and 12TC, I could sense a greater level of depth afforded with both speaker cables.

To insure I was not falling foul of the ‘this is new so it must be better’ psychological trick, I continued to swap between my original Chord Legend and the Kimber 12TC periodically…

As I have stated in the 8TC experience review, I have been tempted to change my Chord Legend speaker cable before with various offers from friends, colleagues and cable companies. Some speaker cables have proved to be quite good. However, on occasions I have been tricked (excited) by the increase in ‘brightness’ offered by a few cables. Sometimes a brighter presentation can give the illusion of greater clarity, however, closer listening to individual instruments and reflecting on recent live unamplified performances by my favourite musicians allows me to return back to ‘realism earth’.

Kimber 12TC speaker cable sent me deeper into recordings and opened a bigger, more realistic musical window (especially on vinyl). For me, any component, interconnect (or otherwise) that allows me to get even closer to the source (so to speak) will always be a winner.

I now use Kimber 12TC speaker cable in my system!

Other speaker cable considered: Chord Epic, Chord Epic XL & Chord Signature XL.

Kimber 12TC speaker cable starts at £823 for 2.5m pair with Kimber banana plugs

   

 

Tables & platforms

quadraspire.co.uk
Quadraspire racks & tables
We adore Quadraspire racks and tables! Way back in 2000 we spent months comparing at least seven different company racks utilising various materials. The difference each table made to the overall sound was staggering. Listening to music on each table was akin to changing individual components! Our challenges were featured within a very well-known hi-fi magazine (which included embarrassing photographs of a very inexperienced young man). Quadraspire racks easily came out on top for their build quality and neutrality. Quadraspire offer various options depending on taste and equipment size.

   

Turntable & record accessories

 

www.accutrak.us/

AccuTrak Arc Protractors
‘Few activities in audio are more frustrating, intimidating, or mind numbingly tedious than aligning a petite and delicate (and sometimes expensive) cartridge onto the headshell of a tonearm…’ Accutrak

Correct cartridge alignment is essential! I have looked at several protractors and used a few over the years. Prices range from as little as £15 upwards to £130. I found the AccuTrak protractor to be one of the most reliable (for accuracy) and ease of use. Each protractor is custom made for your specific turntable and tonearm. £60

   

 

www.okkinokki.co.uk

Okki Nokki record cleaning machine
I have been collecting records for nearly forty years. The only type of cleaner I possessed for most of those forty years is a single carbon brush!

After months of research into various record cleaners at prices from £40 to £2600, I am extremely happy with the Okki Nokki rcm at around £490 (including dust cover). In fact all of my friends and colleagues are happy with my Okki Nokki rcm as they tend to turn up with either new, second hand, or existing records from their collections asking for “a favour.” Perhaps I should consider starting a record cleaning service!

   

 

 

vinylclear.com

Vinyl Clear Stylus Cleaner
After using another respected and more expensive stylus cleaner for many years, it was difficult to change to a different (and cheaper) cleaner. We have always been very cautious with regards to using wet cleaners due to various reports of liquids ‘dissolving the glue that binds the stylus to the cantilever’. (ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR CARTRIDGE MAKER’S INSTRUCTIONS). We have been using Vinyl Clear Stylus Cleaner for eight months and can confirm we have had no problems whatsoever. In fact, we have found Stylus Clear to be more affective at removing stubborn dirt than our previous cleaner. We use a pair of glass magnifiers to thoroughly examine the stylus tip and cantilever. We use a soft dry brush as a well as Stylus Clear wet cleaner with a firmer brush periodically for optimal cleaning results.
£16 from Amazon

   

 

 

www.missinglinkcables.co.uk

Vinyl Passion Dust Buster
A firm viewer favourite & multi-award winner. The Dust Buster is widely used by many vinyl lovers!

‘The Vinyl Passion Dust Buster presents a radical new approach to stylus cleaning. The VP Dust Buster offers the finest protection for your stylus, increasing its life by up to 1000 hours. This makes it a superb investment which is very easy to use. The VP Dust Buster will give trouble free service and keep both your stylus and vinyl in pristine condition. All record collectors will know the importance of keeping vinyl clean to preserve the recording but even more important is the cleaning of the stylus. We inspect stylus and cantilever assemblies regularly and over the years the main culprits for premature failure and poor sonic results are often a direct result of improper cleaning & solvent based solutions. The Dust Buster removes the stress and makes it simple to keep your stylus pristine. Thousands of Dust Busters have been sold all over the world…’ £21

   
www.missinglinkcables.co.uk
Spin Care Ultra Premium 12" Inner Vinyl Record Poly Lined Sleeves
It is imperative you replace paper inner liners supplied with most records with a poly inner liner! Good quality poly inner liners will reduce the possibility of paper and dust scratches as well as reducing static. Priced competitively at £35 for 100 supplied by Vinyl Passion
   
Goldring Exstatic anti-static record inner sleeves
Goldring Exstatic anti-static record inner sleeves
Another favourite high quality inner sleeve normally sold in packs of 25. Very highly recommended for all who collect records. Available on Amazon, Ebay and other online hi-fi / record outlets. Around £20
   
Divine Audio 70GSM 12" Anti-Static White Inner Record Sleeves, Pack of 50
Divine Audio 70GSM 12" Anti-Static White Inner Record Sleeves, Pack of 50
Quality on a budget! Using premium 70GSM white paper, these sleeves are thicker than your usual paper sleeves but are still very flexible. The inside of the sleeve is fully encapsulated in a silky soft vinyl friendly anti-static plastic, with no lip on the sleeve. Ash & Acid Free Paper. 70GSM Unbleached Long Fibre Pulp Paper, from sustainable forests in Finland & Sweden. Fully encapsulated high density polyethylene lining by Nagaoka of Japan. Easy insertion of the LP into the record jacket. 200g records slide in and out of these sleeves with no problem. Manufactured in Germany. £13.95 for 50 sleeves.

   
www.keystrobe.co.uk
Keystrobe-duo + Reference Standard Disc combo
This KeyStrobe kit is a no fuss easy to use combo for turntables that require 33 / 45 speed adjustment. (An ideal partner for the Origin Live Ultra upgrade kit). £52.00.
   

 

 

www.amazon.co.uk

Neoteck Digital Turntable Stylus Force Scale
Accurate stylus force is important for ensuring the playback result and life of your valuable records and cartridge.

There are many digital stylus force gauges available. Not surprisingly many of them look remarkably similar. Prices range from as little as £9 to a staggering £250!
We have used the £25 manual Shure SFG-2 Stylus (or tonearm) Tracking Force Gauge for a while with various degrees of accuracy, however, even these cheaper digital stylus force gauges have a tried and tested precision accuracy rating of between ±0.01g, so why would you want to use a £25 manual gauge?

The accuracy of Neoteck Digital Turntable Stylus force scale has been thoroughly tested over a period of two years by us. The improved model (NTK002) is even more accurate and reliable. It is easy to use and we have found the company extremely prompt and helpful regarding any questions we have raised. Around £9

   

 

 

www.plasticonline.co.uk

Turntable covers by Plastic Online Ltd.

‘At Plastic Online we pride ourselves on quality. We offer broad industry knowledge and our professional team are able to assist with design and material selection for any project whether it be a one off or large quantity.’

After spending your hard earned cash on your dream ‘lid less’ turntable it can be a little daunting locating the right company to make and supply the lid (or cover). After much research and communication with various companies, we decided to put our trust in Plastic Online. With expert assistance from Plastic Online, we designed the acrylic cover all the way, from the size of the rear cable cut outs, through to the personalised ‘AMG logo on the front bottom. We were rewarded with a beautifully built bespoke plastic cover for our AMG Viella V12 turntable which covered the whole turntable. The cost of our cover came to a respectful £185.

   

Wall sockets

 

www.missinglinkcables.co.uk

Vinyl Passion 2 Gang Silver plated wall socket
I was extremely doubtful and even reluctant to try this double wall socket.
After making various substantial physical improvements to my system including turntable, amplifier and phono stage upgrades, a specialist wall socket was far from my list of priorities!

After a swift swap with my existing standard switched double socket for the A-B listening test, the difference was subtle, but CLEAR! A cleaner, more focused presentation. Yes I was surprised and really did not want to believe it. I continued to listen (and continued further A-B swaps). I will not be swapping back to the standard switched double socket!
Double wall socket price £38. (A small price to pay for greater clarity)!

   

Further
Recommended
Viewing

Use the link below to view the Ballerina Sweetspot Chair…

Ballerina Sweetspot Chair  (click to go to this page)

Go back to Hi-Fi Experience Main Page.

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