Description

Long story, used to have a

Technics SLB2 with Kef Coda 3 and Rotel RA840 - fun
Dual 501/AT95 - fun in a splish splashy way
Thorens TD318/Miltec Aurora - not much fun - dull, rolled off and plodding - what do you expect with a hunk of MDF and leaf springs?
Linn LP12/K9 with Cambridge Audio integrated - better but not great.
Added a Cyrus 2 which was dreadful - brash and dry, sibilant and colored.
Added a Audiolab 8000C/P - no fun - dull and plodding.
Added Monitor Audio 352 speakers - lots of fun - lovely woody sound - captured the emotion in the music.
Swapped the preamp for a first model Croft Micro - utterly transformed. Replaced resistors with Holcos and doubled up power supply and changed the ECC83s to Telefunkens. Replaced ECC82 with a Brimar CV5042 black plate.
Added a Croft Series 4 Power Amp - better.. until...
I added a Michaelson and Austin TVA1 with MO/GEC KT88s which blew the Series 4 away.
Added a Decca Super Gold - great when it was in the mood but the Ittok combo was in pain.
Added Ortofon X3 Turbo - better but lost something. At least it played without jumping off the table.
Added Quad ESL 57 - removed many veils but creaked and vibrated.
Added Leak Stereo 20 - I rebuilt this lovely but under-powered amp.
Added Spendor SP2s - put some veils back up but at least I could listen without torment.
TVA blew up a KT88 - replaced precious MOs with a quad of GE 6550 - better bass, lost something in midband.
Went abroad, packed it all away for 10 years.
Added Garrard 401/Jelco 750L and old the Decca that I was going to throw away. - amazing sound.
Added new Croft Micro 25 - swapped JJs for The Telefunkens that were in the old Croft - better - and then GE JG5751 black plates - way better. The sound came forward and the soundstage flattened a little but... the timbre/detail/color and blackness improved dramatically and the speakers disappeared.
TVA went dead. It's up on blocks waiting for a late night attempt to fix it... but the HT is dangerous on this beast. If anyone wants it, contact me.
Added rebuilt EICO HF35s - better - wonderful amps - fabulous.
Added black Quad ESL57s - added home-made 20" solid oak stands - no vibrations, no weirdness - just fantastic. Matching serial #s. 
I use $12 Belkin Gold interconnects (thrashed a number of $200+ cables) and 12 gauge UP-OCC for speaker wire.
Garrard - pros - rock solid stability, image, rhythm, foot tapping, delicacy - bells shimmer, speed - you can see the snares shake on the drum and see the color of the different notes.

UPDATE 10/13 - Got a John Wright paratrace re-tip and the Decca is transformed. See post below 10/28/2013.

Replaced Croft Micro 25 phono preamp with the R version. While not a huge difference, there is a lower noise floor, better bass, more tonal color and a snapping into focus of the imaging. If you are running these amps with stock JJ tubes, you are not hearing them at their potential.

Update 12/2017 - Added Audio Grail Sable Garrard 401 and Jim Campbell slate plinth. Replaced oat table with metal and maple stand. See pics. AudioSilente idler - just do it - best $100 spent. Transformed. 

Update 5/18 - Upgraded Jelco 750 to TK-850L 12inch with Ammonite collar. Essential.

Update 10/18 - Upgraded the aluminum Audiosilente idler to the twice-as-heavy stainless steel Artisan Fidelity idler. Just do it. New heights. You will thank me.

Update 12/21 - Replaced platter with Classic Turntable Company 20mm oversized aluminum platter. Excellent improvement to bass - gone is the plummy boom, now tight and colorful. Increased focus all round and better speed stability is noticeable.

Update 6/19 - Replaced metal rack with 4 concrete blocks. I've never been happy with the metal stand. I had it lying around and it was better than the old oak table. The concrete is a huge improvement in sound quality. Huge soundstage, improved stability of images, tighter and more tuneful bass. 

Update 7/19 - Added JW rebuilt (with extended line contact) Garrott Bros Decca Gold Microscanner

Read more...

Room Details

Dimensions: 40’ × 25’  X large
Ceiling: 8’


Components Toggle details

    • Garrard 401
    Refurbished Audio Grail Sable in 22"x17"x2" slate plinth. Precision Audio Components platter, Artisan Fidelity idler, SPH bearing
    • Jelco TK-850L 12inch
    12" with Ammonite collar.
    • Jelco Tonearm TK850S 9"
    Added this for second cartridge.
    • Decca London Gold Garrott Brothers "Microscanner" Decapod
    Rebuilt by JW with line contact.
    • Decca Super Gold with JW Paratrace
    I almost tossed this away once.
    • Audio Technica VM750SH
    • Croft Micro 25R
    Shuguang Custom 12AX7 LS in phono stage. 3 x Telefunken ECC83 in buffer and regulator. BLE Design OFC power cable.
    • EICO HF35 monoblocs
    2 sets of these. The set I use in my primary rig were rebuilt by Stu Remmington with 3 chokes/PIO caps/triode stage running Shuguang Black Treasure 12AX7LS and new Tung Sol 7581A which are fantastic. Psvane 6SN7 globes are illuminating. The other is recapped/7581A, Mullard 10M /Bugle-Boy EF86
    • Quad ESL 57
    Original pair of black Quad ESL 57. Consecutive #s. I have them on home-made 18" stands. I'm running them with the grills off.

Comments 64

222222&text=ro
No romance, thanks for all the notes about your system changes. It's a great read. I am very interested to read about your experience of changing from a conventional metal rack to concrete blocks. This is a move I am considering and it has been recommended top me by someone else.

rothwea

222222&text=no
Owner
@jond Yes, they've settled down somewhat. However, I think if you think they're bright, they don't lose that attribute, the frequency response evens out.
@tzh21y - Thanks!


noromance

222222&text=tz
great job.  great setup.

tzh21y

222222&text=jo
@noromance  Interesting you say you find the Psvane 6SN7 bright I had a quad of their Philips reproduction metal base EL34s and found them unacceptably bright. I sold them after just a few weeks. Have those 6SN7's gotten warmer?

jond

222222&text=no
Owner
Added a black aluminum 20mm oversized platter to the slate plinth 401. Beautifully made. I did some listening tests before and after swapping out on a number of tracks (after all the tubes were warmed up for an hour.) Definite increase in bass control. I've been having some issues with a little bloom in the low end which have been tamed. Color, speed and focus -especially in the mid bass- is improved by a considerable margin. The sound stage narrowed a little for the first few tracks but seemed to be result of improved focus and increased stability of image placement. An upgrade, at around $750 inc s/h that puts a smile on the face.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Swapped out AudioSilente idler wheel (c. $120 shipped) for an Artisan Fidelity idler ($394 shipped). See review in forum.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
I have been lucky to have obtained over the years a collection of 50s to 70s jazz and blues records. The recordings are wonderful (pre-digital) and full of life. Huge dynamics, see- thru transparency, colorful, detailed, quiet.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
@jond Thanks for the feedback.  
The Croft is outstanding. I just wish it was tweakable but it is so tightly built, it is very difficult to swap caps etc. An OFC mains cord and Shuguang black 12AX7LS tubes elevated its performance far beyond stock.
I just added Psvane globe 6SN7 to the EICOs. Tremendous increase in detail and transparency. They are a little bright but not run in yet. 

noromance

222222&text=jo
Was inspired to come take a look from the "What do you like about your system" thread. Great looking system very well balanced, love the Garrard in that slate plinth. I know the Croft by rep is a great preamp and look at that power supply. Love the mods on the Eico too I have Aerovox caps in my amp and they really pushed it over the edge into great musicality. Well done!

jond

222222&text=no
Owner
Took the grills off the Quads.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Xposted from Analog forum.
Definitely reduces surface noise in my set-up. One thing that has become increasingly apparent is that older analog recordings are simply amazing. Much increased detail throughout the frequency range. I can hear plucked bass strings vibrating against each other where they are innocuous on the lesser arm. Tiny details like the metallic shimmer of a percussion bell are exquisite. For a relatively low-budget level phono rig like mine ($12k), this arm is transformative. If you are in the market for a Jelco 750 or 550, or indeed, a Rega, I implore you; spend the extra and get the 850. It is that good.
The cons:
1. The arm rest clamp is not great. It doesn’t grab the arm like a friction type. It simply rests on it unless you close it and the hard plastic feels cheap.
2. There is a very mild and barely detectable upper bass/lower mid dip in the response more like a slight veiling of that portion of the spectrum. After swapping out the arm stub and counterweight on my 750L for an Expressimo Audio brass substitute, and experiencing the improvement wrought by that, I believe the same rubber stub on the 850 is causing this coloration (note 3). Again, it is minor. I will follow up if EA bring out a brass replacement for the 850. I spoke to Brian there and at this time there is none available.
NOTES
1. It may also be not broken in yet as I only used it for 4 hours.
2. I have not played with VTA - too busy listening to my albums all over again.
3. I also have a standard 750L with which comparisons were made.
5. The arm looks better and bigger in the flesh than in pictures.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Xposted from Analog forum. Just received the new Jelco TK850L.
It is a drop in replacement for the previous model 750L. It retails for around $1100 from a few online retailers. However I got it from GEM Dandy's George Merrill who retails it for $895. I used the headshell from the 750. It looks like it’s the same one. I am running a Decca Super Gold with Paratrace stylus on an Audiograil early model 401 with an Audiosilente idler (just buy it) in a slate and maple plinth. Initial impression is that it is a solid improvement on the 750. Listening to Buddy Tate and Walt Davenport in Nice, France 1974. An improvement in soundstaging is immediately obvious as is speed of attack, or rise-time. Depth and width are improved. The music is more colorful. Trombone sounds more golden than I recall while the guy playing tuba sounds like he is huffing and puffing into the instrument. An added realism. Rim shots are faster and snares portray more insight into the rattles -the metal has color and feel...a mechanical quality. Percussion is much improved. Surface noise seems reduced, supressed even. Now playing Jay McShann and Janis Siegel, Ain’t Misbehavin’. Wonderful vocals and very dynamic with jump out of the stage piano fortissimo that I have never heard before. Highs better with oodles of detail but no harshness. More black space between notes... all of that. 
I could go on about the minutiae but I’ll stop. This thing makes music like I’ve never heard. It is a taste of the high end which is lacking in the 750.

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Fitted AudioSilente idler.
See post.
https://forum.audiogon.com/discussions/new-idler-for-garrard-401

noromance

222222&text=do
Congratulations. A great example of less is more. Removal of coloration and resonances can be more powerful and rewarding than a component upgrade in many instances. The slate plinth looks great.

dover

222222&text=no
Owner
After a few weeks with the slate plinth / "new" 401 (and new Jelco 750L with Expressimo Audio brass weight and stub), it's time to report back. First off, it looks great. After power up, out of the box, the slate version was a little 'cooler' sounding than the birch plinth version but not as much as I'd expected. It was also a little more monochromatic than I'd hoped, removing some bloom and color from the music.
I'd wanted to remove the big oak table from the system for some time, so, in a fit of gung-ho, did precisely that. I had the preamp on an old metal stand with spikes so I re-purposed it as a table for the turntable. Sitting it on the steel table directly (on cones), the sound was a lot cleaner and tighter (esp in the mid bass-bass) with darker silences but it was still a little colorless. Remember, it only had about 4 hours on it at this point. I had a 24" square of 4" maple lying around so I added that on top of the steel framed table with aluminum cones supporting the slate. Wow! The color returned. I love a neutral sound -I can detect systemic color in music as a coloration, smearing, dirtying... whatever, and can't stand it. This is not like that. It simply allows the color of the instruments to shine. Over the next 100 hours, the sound has opened up even more. Detail has increased on my test records. Bass is superb. It is amazing how good the bass is on old Quad ESL 57s. Instruments pop out of the sound-stage to a much greater degree than the old 401 rig. 

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Update 12/2017 - Added Audio Grail Sable Garrard 401 and Jim Campbell slate plinth. Replaced heavy oak table with metal and maple stand. See pics.

noromance

222222&text=is
Hello Noromance,

I had to look to see if I had posted to your thread (I had, some time ago). It seems things have improved a great deal for you (by the way, I enjoyed the audio timeline you laid out).

I see you had a Paratrace stylus put on your Decca. I had ESCCO mod my Zu Denon 103R with a white sapphire cantilever and Paratrace stylus, and oh, my! 

My Garrard 401 is performing beautifully, with the afore-mentioned cartridge and Dynavector 501 arm. I've also completely redone the exterior on the plinth, with some inlay. Really enjoying it these days.

I'm glad to see how much you're enjoying your system, it's nice that it's not all off-the-shelf stuff, it's stuff you had to take time to learn about, and work yourself up to. Very well done.

Regards,
Dan

islandmandan

222222&text=no
Owner
I thought I'd add that my other pair of Eico HF35s monoblocs power the Spendor SP2/2 speakers on the end of a Sony DVD player. The sound is quite remarkable since I swapped out a Japanese sand amp. Tubes, man!

noromance

222222&text=no
Owner
Hi. Yes, 12AX7. Fixed bias, 3 chokes, redone from ground up. Ground busbar, oil caps etc.

noromance

222222&text=sa
I have a couple questions concerning the mods to your HF-35. Did Stuart change the input tube to a 12AX7 instead of EF-86? And did he change the amps to fixed bias, i.e. adjustable bias, as opposed to the self-bias mode of a stock HF-35? Both of these mods are mentioned on Stuart's website. I was just curious whether yours has them or not.

salectric

222222&text=sa
Excellent! I am sure you will be very pleased with them.

salectric

222222&text=no
Owner
Ha! EICO HF35s rebuilt from the chassis up by Stuart Remington of Eicobuilders. It is the first time my rig has portrayed such holophonic imaging. The old amps portrayed good imaging from left to right-stage width- and decent depth and modest speaker disappearing tricks. These new amps have increased the perception of depth to fill the room. Instruments exhibit front to back presence as if they were in the room. I don't think I have ever heard so much information retrival before including shows. It was one of those rare "listen to my records all over again" moments. I do have some nice black plate tube installed.

noromance

222222&text=sa
Don't keep us in suspense! What amps replaced the EICOs?

salectric

222222&text=no
Owner
Just swapped out my EICO HF35s for new power amps.

noromance

222222&text=dk
The black and the blue versions I'm thinking of are about the same vintage, both were called Gold and no longer made. The current ones are silver colored and not the same. The black Gold had more body than the blue Gold which I find more neutral and more to my taste.

Its not just the copper type that influences the sound, its the design, the shield the connections, etc. all affect the sound quality. its not gong to be easy to find high quality basic copper interconnects these days, most of them are very heavily tweaked. Let me know if you find anything.

david

dkarmeli

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