July 4, 2021 § Leave a comment
The higher output XI cartridge was no problem. If I held my ear right up to the speaker, I could hear a little preamp noise, but at a significantly lower level. The gain difference needed to make up for the lower output of the XA over the XI is 8 dB, so my preamp was right on the edge in terms of noise for the lower output unit. Ideally, I think you’d want something with closer to 70 dB gain for the XA and 60 dB for the XI. I set loading to 1 kohm. A-T recommends loading of at least 100 ohms. I did a little experimenting but decided to limit variables and just leave the loading at 1k for the test as I was happy with what I got. But you can experiment to your heart’s content.
July 1, 2021 § Leave a comment
For one last hurrah, I connected my PC to Cambridge Audio’s DacMagic XS USB digital-to-analog converter (DAC) and ran a cable to the Crescent’s analog input to enjoy a wide-reaching selection of 24/96 hi-res downloads, stopping to rock out to “Lone Star” by Supertramp guitarist Carl Verheyen. His squeaky clean Strat was appropriately twangy or fat and raucous when he hit the distortion pedal, punctuated by the powerful (and realistic) crack of the snare drum. On the whole, the character of the sound wasn’t perfect—it could be boomy and a bit strident a times—but it was still darn good for a single-speaker solution.
June 26, 2021 § Leave a comment
When operated within its operational limit, the Ground Zero brings no compromise to the musical signal. Like a good doctor, we want power products to do no harm to the audio waveform. Running through a long playlist of both dynamic rock and classical music, along with a number of delicate acoustic pieces, it’s clear that neither dynamics nor tonality are affected by inserting the Ground Zero.
The Ground Zero works as promised, solves the problems it was designed to address, and is reasonably priced. Right now, Underwood HiFi is offering an intro price of $399 – even better. There’s no point in buying exotic four and five figure power conditioning products for an $800 vintage component, or a budget tube amplifier. For that, we are happy to award the Ground Zero one of our Exceptional Value Awards for 2021. If you’re having this problem, you need one.
June 15, 2021 § Leave a comment
It measures 455 x 45 x 380mm, and consists of a solid ‘butcher block’ maple wood platform, designed to eliminate interference from external and structural vibrations and offer a stable platform for the equipment with a low noise floor. It can support equipment weighing up to 29.5kg.
When in use under my record deck, there’s an immediate tightening up of the bass, which suddenly has more attack and punch. Listening to a half-speed mastered LP of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side Of The Moon, the somewhat menacing heartbeat that precedes Speak To Me ramps in from nowhere and builds to a climax. The bass is noticeably firmer and tighter, while the vocals of Breathe are more clearly positioned and the complexities of the music flow more effortlessly.