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.
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each company website.
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!
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.
PowerKord-300™ UK mains & W350 EVO Gold
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
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.
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).
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.
Acoustic panels, acoustic tiles and acoustic bass traps
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!
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
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.
& record accessories
‘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
Okki Nokki record
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
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
Our first bottle of Last was supplied by The Cartridge Man
over two years ago. We had never used a liquid cleaner before
due to various reports of liquids ‘dissolving the
glue that binds the stylus to the cantilever’. (ALWAYS
FOLLOW YOUR CARTRIDGE MAKER’S INSTRUCTIONS). Over
two years later, we can confirm we have had no problems
whatsoever. 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 Last liquid cleaner with a firmer brush
periodically for optimal cleaning results.
Stylus Cleaner not only cleans your stylus of dirt and deposits,
it acts as a preventive against further damage to your records
caused by particle gunk that builds up on styli and gets
into LP grooves. Safe and effective for any cartridge assembly,
the treatment also reduces noise and distortion –
and guards against mis-tracking. Plus, Stylus Cleaner will
not spoil. Each bottle comes with an in-cap cleaning brunch
for simple, easy use.’ Around £30
A firm viewer favourite & multi-award winner. The Dust
Buster is widely used by many vinyl lovers!
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
Care Ultra Premium 12" Inner Vinyl Record Poly Lined
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
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
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.
+ 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.
Neoteck Digital Turntable Stylus
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
Turntable covers by Plastic
‘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.
sockets & mains cables
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
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)!
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