“The short and the sweet of it is, if I use a metaphor, is that it’s like a camera operator has tweaked the focus on the image in a movie, and now I suddenly the image is incredibly sharp and I see fine details, textures etc. that previously were slightly indistinct. So it’s not that the image before was blurred, just that it was not as sharp as it could be.
First I listened to two jazz albums that I know very well – ones that are true analogue recordings: the Analogue Productions 45 RPM version of Dave Brubeck’s Time Out, and MoFi’s 45 RPM remaster of Miles Davis “Kind of blue”. In both cases what really struck me is that the bass is now incredibly tight, and it’s almost as though it’s going an octave lower, with a real impact and solidity whereas before this was less marked. Any percussive instrument (including a piano) seems to have a heightened sense attack, and rhythmically complex passages now just sound so clear where I can hear the individual elements of rhythm very clearly, and the sense of timing now seems incredibly precise. For the midrange, this not even a hint of congestion (I already had a major cleanup of the midrange when I fitted your top-plate, cross brace and base board). Brass or woodwind instruments (esp. saxophone) now sound wonderfully clear, with a vibrancy that simply wasn’t there before, and there is a complete absence of glare or brightness to their sounds. Particularly on the Dave Brubeck, esp. the “Blue Rondo” track this was a bit of a problem (limitation of the recording I think), where the saxophone sounded slightly sharp and a bit think, with a bit of a diffuse sound image, where now it sounds, well, just like a saxophone, with a nice warmth but also I can hear the texture of the breath on the reed in the mouthpiece. On Kind of Blue, Miles Davis’ trumpet just sounds amazingly vibrant and realistic now. For the treble, this is where I had the biggest surprise – I always thought the treble was OK before, but now there is just so much more detail and crispness, and particularly I can clearly hear the metallic “cling” of a cymbal strike, but the harmonics are there and the sound is not bright or harsh, just totally realistic with heightened sense of the instrument position. In fact using the “focus” analogy a bit further, I would say the overall effect is that instruments can now be much more precisely located L to R in the stereo image, but also their sonic image itself is sharper, more 3D and precisely located front to back. As an overall impression, I would also say that the sound has more energy, right across the frequency spectrum, which manifests itself as it being much easier to imagine the instruments are being played in my living room, and I get an uncanny sense of the real, live musician playing the instrument, as sometimes I can clearly hear their breath, or the “air pressure” from the instrument itself, especially the trumpet or a kick-drum.
As for vocals, I listened to an early 70’s original pressing of Roberta Flack’s “Killing me softly” album, which simply blew me away. I had not really appreciated before how well this album was recorded – the clarity of the instrumentation and bass impact is impressive and it has a surprising dynamic rage, that had not really struck me before. Most of all. though, her voice had so much energy, soaring out of the mix, and giving that uncanny impression of her actually being in the room. I also listened to Nora Jones “come away with me” – although a digital recording, it’s been well mastered for vinyl, and again the sense of “performance in the room” with her voice having a heightened sense of presence (I could actually hear each intake of breath before a new phrase) and for the instruments I could clearly hear the decay/reverb around each of them which has the affect of convincingly reproducing the recording acoustic environment. Amazingly, when I listen to my 192kHz/24bit HD digital version of this same album (which really is very good), I actually prefer the vinyl which just seems to have more presence and vitality – which is somewhat surprising considering the source for the vinyl is digital….
As a general impression, there is clearly an an abundance of micro-detail now (which I simply wasn’t aware of before), and the backgrounds seem much “blacker”. Then last, but not least, I listened to my Analogue Productions version of Hugh Masekela’s “Hope” album, which as you probably know was recorded live. With the new chassis/armboard it simply makes the experience of listening so much more immersive, with a heightened sense of being being in the acoustic space of the live event, and the realism and impact imparted on this amazing performance is wonderful. I just didn’t want to stop listening!
So, overall an unqualified success I would say – a big step up from the standard Majik chassis, and I find it hard to imagine how much more improvement could be further be achieved within the confines of my existing set-up. – Just FYI, I have a Hana ML cartridge, Audio Origami PU7 arm and Origin Live DC motor drive fitted to my Linn. For my electronics, I use a Musical Fidelity MX-VINYL phono pre-amp in fully balanced mode, a Lyngdorf TDAI-2700 amp with the audiophile analogue input module (has the XLR inputs) fitted, driving Kudos Cardea C30 floor-standing speakers via AudioQuest solid core cables (I forget the model). XLR Interconnects are silver star-quad cables custom made by Yannis Tome.
Thanks for the great product – it was definitely worth the wait!”