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  1. I know it's not the usual practice of presenters, but I thought you would appreciate some forward knowledge of what is happening in the August meeting (still 3 meetings away) Unlike most of your meetings, the August meeting is not a presentation by a manufacturer, wholesaler or retailer of hi-fi components. Instead, it's a rare opportunity to look at my home system, and how I've chosen and mixed "relatively" modestly priced components to extract what I believe to be extreme, satisfying musical performance. That's not to suggest that my system is nickel-and-dime cheap. My complete turntable system, for instance, costs more than any of you would pay unless you were into vinyl records in a big way - but many of you have heard record playing systems which cost vastly more than mine and yet provide substantially less musical satisfaction. Two of the main components I'm presenting are absolutely brand new to the market - one is being publicly shown for the first time in the world, and another for the first time in Australia. Some others are vintage or 2nd hand components, rebuilt or re-engineered for extraordinary improvement in musical performance. Some parts of my system are only available (occasionally) 2nd-hand (but invariably at way below their intrinsic value). Others, such as my speakers, are available on the retail market, but at prices which make them extraordinary value for the sound quality they bring to the table. Here's a quick squiz at what you are going to see and hear: Speakers: My speakers are Totem Arro floor-standing speakers. These incredibly small $2600 speakers (13cm wide, 18cm deep, 90 cm high) are a wife-acceptance-factor dream, but who would have guessed that they could provide a 3D soundstage, bass down below 40 hertz, and male and female vocals to die for. So good in fact, that Diana Krall chose them for her New York studio apartment. To seamlessly integrate deep bass, I use a REL T-2 sub (current equivalent is the REL T7i) at slightly below realistic volume levels, crossing over at about 50 Hz. In an ingenious approach, the REL T-2 is attached to the same amplifier outputs as the speakers, but at a very high impedance, which allows them to electronically integrate with the main speakers, without imposing any current load on the amp or interfering with the main speaker crossovers. At the same time, the REL T-2 is connected independently to the 0.1 sub out of my Marantz AV receiver, and operates as an audio sub for my hi-fi and, independently, as an AV sub for the TV. The Totem Arros and the REL T-2 sit on Herbies Spike Decoupling Gliders, which do a phenomenal job of minimizing the effect of my carpeted wooden floors on the sound. The speaker wires are AntiCables Level 3.1 reference copper wires. On the basis of sound, these should cost hundreds of dollars per foot. They cost a small fraction of that. Switchable Power Amp/Integrated Amp: Joe Rasmussen takes modestly priced, musically compromised, beautifully built, Chinese integrated/power tube amps and turns them into tour-de-force pieces of musical heaven. The latest iteration of this process, the JLTi Yaqin Mk 5 and JLTi Line Magnetic Mk 1 are by far the most musically spectacular and electronically ambitious amp mods he's ever attempted. Mine was the first Mk5 in the world (since then he's built several more), and this is the first time it is being publicly auditioned in the world outside his own studio. For the first time, Joe has replaced the input and driver tube stages of these amps by a MOSFET-based solid state front end allowing him to supply the huge transconductance he needs to drive the output tubes. The result is an amplifier which sounds mind-blowingly good at any price let alone the modest price this costs. The design is quite revolutionary. The only amp I've found on the web, which uses a somewhat similar transconductance approach, is a German/South Korean $100K+ preamp! But their use of tubes in their input stage could never deliver the transconductance necessary for a power amp on the same principles, so their insanely expensive power amps and integrated amp do not use this approach. Which appears to makes Joe's new approach for power amps unique! It is hard to describe the improvement, going from this amp as a JLTi Mk 4, as fabulous as it was, to this Mk 5 complete redesign. Everything musical is more focused, faster, more dramatic, more clearly etched into the soundscape, demanding more of your attention, and yet more relaxed and listenable. One amazing aspect is that the musicality and impact even come through at well below realistic listening levels. If I get the room set up well enough on the day (a real task at the Epping Centre), you will be amazed. Even my wife has repeatedly commented on how beautiful it sounds. I use my JLTi Yaqin in power amp mode so that I can add a headphone amp and several sources via my separate preamp. The Yaqin, as an integrated amp, is limited to 4 inputs and no tape or headphone output. All the tubes use Herbies tube dampers, and the amp sits on Herbies Tenderfoot component isolators. Preamp: The Chinese Doge 8 Clarity (2019 Edition) is extraordinary. It's available by direct sale only so there's no retail mark-up, which I would guess reduces the expected price by more than half. A previous (lesser) version has been described on http://www.high-endaudio.com (they are NOT a seller) as the "best sounding preamp under US$5000" and rated by Arthur Salvatore as "Class B" above several $10,000+ preamps - yet it sells for under US$1500 delivered from China! This will be the first public audition of the Doge 8 Clarity (2019 Edition) in Australia. I've used four NOS Siemens 1982 ECC081S tubes in place of the standard Chinese 12AT7s for the line stage, and four new Russian copy Genalex Gold Lion B759 tubes in place of the standard Chinese 12AX7s for the MC/MM phono stage. With the fabulous Siemens and Telefunken NOS 12AX7 tubes now selling for hundreds of dollars each, these superb gold-pin Russian copy tubes (not the cheaper Chinese copies) are generally regarded as the best 12AX7 tubes available at affordable prices. The Doge 8 comes with an extremely solid remote control, which does everything available on the front panel of the preamp. With the Siemens tubes in place, the line stage preamp is about as close as I'm ever likely to get to zero degradation in the system's performance - the legendary "straight wire with gain". It's easy to tell for me, because I can connect the JLTi Oppo straight into the power amp instead of through the preamp, to compare. This Doge 8 is a fabulous preamp and completely insane value, even before the discount available through me! All the tubes use Herbies tube dampers, and the preamp sits on Herbies Tenderfoot component isolators. The interconnects into the Doge and from it to the JLTi power amp are Anticables Level 5.2 Pure Reference Interconnects. These interconnects use a proprietary solid-core gold-silver alloy ACElectrum™ . The RCA connectors are Australia's own Keith Louis Eichmann Innovations Pure Harmony plugs. Turntable System: The turntable system is, of course, made up of several discreet source components which work together as a single unit. The turntable itself is a Once Analog Mk 2 turntable, taken up to the highest specification a little while before Vince Hamilton, on the NSW south coast, stopped producing his phenomenal-sounding turntables. Musicality ranks among the very best turntables money can buy. There was a quote on Vince's website by an American hi-fi systems consultant who sold his La Platine Verdier (no change from US$25K) and bought a Once, commenting that "This is the only playback platform that I have heard that does dynamic scale correctly". Well I've heard one or two which do scale even better, but I couldn't even afford the price of entry to the audition! The arm is an Audio Origami PU7 arm from the legendary Johnny Nilsen in Glasgow, Scotland. It's an unassuming arm which simply does its job better than any arm I've heard near its price range. The cartridge is a Lyra Kleos medium-low output (0.5mV) moving coil, designed by Jonathan Carr and crafted by Yoshinori Mishima. Lyra's more expensive cartridges are better than the Kleos by far. But nothing cheaper that I've heard gets close to it. I think of it as a Shelter 501 Mk2 on steroids (I think the Shelter 501 is one of the best value cartridges on the planet) - everything that is good about the Shelter 501 is as good or much much better in the Kleos. Its rendition of male and female voices is sublime. Compared to the $14,000 Lyra Atlas you can immediately hear that thundering detailed bass is somewhat lacking (relatively speaking). And the most emotionally compelling cartridges such as the top Koetsus have it over the Kleos in that regard. But, wow, it's a stupendous performer and a bargain for the (considerable) money. The platter mat is a Herbies Way Excellent II mat. See my review of this mat below. It is a masterpiece. For the modest price, you would be crazy not to give it a go. I also use a TTWeights TTMega 1.2 Kg peripheral ring weight and Once Analog 1.4 Kg "Nugget" centre weight with every record. TTWeights no longer manufactures turntables or ring weights. Functionally similar weights are available from Sound Foundations in India and Waynes Audio in the USA. A word to owners of suspended sub-chassis turntables such as the Linn LP12. Using any weight at all requires you to adjust the suspension for the extra weight. LP12s comfortably cope with about 700g or more of weight, as long as they are properly adjusted for it (assuming the later stronger suspension springs). However, if you use a weight with a suspended sub-chassis turntable, then, without exception, you must always use that weight. The three turntable cone feet sit on Herbies Cone/Spike Puckies which make an instant improvement in isolation. Again, check the review below. I had hoped that AntiCables would lend me a state-of-the-art AC Level 6.2 ABSOLUTE Analogue Phono Interconnect in place of my existing excellent Cardas phono cable, but that did not eventuate. To isolate the turntable from footfall at the Epping Centre (the floorboards there are justly notorious), it will sit on an MDF board which itself sits on magnetic levitation feet above a trestle table. This is the only way I have been able to fully isolate turntables from footfall in the Epping Centre in the past. Magnetic levitation feet carry a risk for low output moving coil cartridges like mine - the extremely strong magnetic field can affect the cartridge if they are too close. By placing them under an MDF board far away from the cartridge, the magnetic field is vanishingly small at that distance (magnetic force decreases by a square of the distance between two objects). Neither the Australian distributor nor the German manufacturer of these feet bothered to respond to my several requests for a discount for you, so I haven't bothered to mention the product by name. There are Chinese levitation feet which cost much less, so I recommend you buy those if you need this technology. Last Record Preservative is used to radically reduce wear on record grooves. Last Stylus Cleaner and StyLast Stylus Treatment are used to minimise wear on my record stylus. Separate Phono Preamp: Although the Doge has a superb MC/MM phono stage, I still prefer my standalone phono preamp. I was smitten by the wonderful vocal renditions, subtlety and impact of the hand-wired Eastern Electric MiniMax tube phono preamp, but found it had some problems such as an intermittent hum and high noise floor. I brought it to Joe Rasmussen and he traced out the circuit with me looking on in awe. He recognised several opportunities for improvement as he went, while retaining the outstanding musical characteristics it already had. Joe re-engineered the MiniMax, effectively removing every significant compromise in the circuitry and components. A few years later, it is still among the best sounding phono stages I've ever heard at any price. Digital Server / Player: Another glorious piece of Joe Rasmussen electronics. Joe takes Oppo 105/D and 205 Universal Digital Players (now only available 2nd hand), and reengineers large swags of the internals, to produce a digital server which sounds as good or better than digital sources costing many times as much! His top-of-line modification is described as JLTi Oppo Level 4.2 + ACB "Signature". At $3500 it is hardly a trivial upgrade, but I think once you hear it, even in the compromised acoustic of the Epping Centre, you will recognise that you are listening to something very special indeed. In this open view of a fully upgraded JLTi Oppo UDP-205, you can see the 5 additional Level 4.2 +ACB "Signature" circuit boards, similar to what has been added to my BDP-105D. Centre left is the ACB (Analog Clock Booster) board which is Joe's most significant new innovation, resolving recognised but only recently understood jitter problems specific to Sabre DAC and similar technology. Theoretical benefits of ladder DAC technologies are thus overcome, with all all the ancillary benefits of Delta Sigma DAC technology. Directly south of that board is the Terra Firma clock module, which started where "DAC super-clocks" ended, and has been enhanced several times since, to be perhaps the most advanced DAC clock in the world. The huge power supply improvements are not so obvious but are critical to the performance of both these modules and the player as a whole. And there are a wealth of additional performance enhancements which I couldn't explain if I wanted to. The bottom line is that this JLTi-modified Oppo is one of the best sounding digital players you will ever hear, regardless of price. FM Tuner: Sydney has two world-class classical FM music stations in ABC Classic FM 92.9 and Fine Music FM 102.5 but few FM tuners are of a quality which takes full advantage of these uncompressed FM sources. Thankfully there are a number of electronic enthusiasts who are prepared to take good vintage tuners and transform them into giant-killers for a modest fee. My tuner is a Sansui TU-X711 (extremely rare varactor-based supertuner) which very occasionally turns up on German eBay or other European sites for a few hundred dollars (here's one: https://sprzedajemy.pl/tuner-sansui-tu-x711-piotrkow-trybunalski-2-0010c9-nr58524272). I arranged for mine to be enhanced to well-documented specs by Stereo Net member Skippy124, who did a truly superb job. This year I replaced the op-amp in it by a Burson Audio v6 Classic discreet op-amp which made it even better. The Burson v6 Classic and v6 Vivid discreet op-amps are a stunning improvement over even the best chip op-amps. Some of you may know that I have previously owned two enhanced Sansui TU-X1 tuners, which many regard as the best sounding tuner ever built. I must admit, that this Sansui TU-X711 probably just fails to reach the heady stratospheric heights of those enhanced Sansui TU-X1 tuners, but the differences are so slight that I do not miss the TU-X1s at all! Come have a listen. I won't be spending much time playing the tuner, but I expect you will instantly appreciate the sound quality. My thanks to Joseph Attalla who has graciously offered to bring his Magnum Dynalab ST-2 indoor/outdoor antenna on the day. Headphone Amp: During the break, a few of you may want to listen to my AKG 701 or Senn HD650 headphones (or bring your own headphones for a listen) through my G&W T-2.6F headphone amp. It's been described as the best sounding Chinese tube headphone amp, which I doubt. But it certainly holds its own against far more expensive head amps out there, once you replace the tepid Electro Harmonix 6922 tubes by vintage Russian Reflektor 6N23P tubes or similar. Music: Still working that out but here's what I tentatively have so far [timings include setup time] On vinyl: Jennifer Warne - Famous Blue Raincoat, off the Famous Blue Raincoat 20th Anniversary remaster album, Cisco, 45RPM (I'm comparing it to the 20th Anniversary remaster Cisco, CD) [12 minutes (6 minutes * 2)] Beatles - Because, off my UK 1st stamper, Abbey Road album (every other pressing or digital remaster I've heard is forgettable after this one) [3 minutes] Stravinsky - Firebird Suite: Infernal Dance - Philadelphia Orchestra/Riccardo Muti EMI off the incredible MFSL recording [4 minutes] Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong - Summertime off the Ella & Louis Porgy & Bess album, NotNow 180g reissue 2015 [6 minutes] Dave Brubeck Quartet - Blue Rondo a la Turk off Time Out album, Analogue Productions, 45RPM [7 minutes] OR Take Five [6 minutes] So much more to choose from... On CD or hard drive: Jennifer Warne - Famous Blue Raincoat (see above) The Idea of North - Straight To My Heart (Australian a capella quartet) off The Sum Of Us CD (16/44.1) [5 minutes] Cat Stevens - Matthew And Son off The Very Best of Cat Stevens CD (16/44.1) [5 minutes] So many choices! I'll choose closer to the date. I shall also be bringing a few spectacular records, and my 4GB hard drive, in case attendees want to choose from my material rather than their own after the break. AntiCables speaker wires, interconnects and power cords AntiCables Level 2 and Level 3 Power Cords I have many heavy gauge power cables, including Chinese unbranded cords, a couple of Chinese knock-offs of ultra-expensive American cords, a couple of power cords I've put together from US-made cable and Chinese high quality plugs and one US-made power cord. They all sound better than the crappy molded power cords. I think. And they are all incredibly bulky and impossible to bend around corners or use in tight spaces. Some are so bulky and stiff, they continuously threaten to pull their plugs out of their respective sockets! The US cables have, perhaps surprisingly, relatively small gauge copper cables (3 x 14-AWG). The Chinese ones are heavier but the copper quality is suspect. The AntiCables Power Cords are in a different league on so many levels. Even the Level 2 cord has massive amounts of copper. The Level 3 cord has the equivalent of three 8-gauge copper cables (Level 2 is equal to three 11-AWG copper cores), woven in such a way that they will easily bend in any direction you need them, yet stand vertically if required. Performance-wise they have been compared favourably against power cords costing 5 times as much and more. Do they make an audible difference? My word they do! Even without the requisite say 200 hours burn-in, the improvement in sound is striking and immediate - darker backgrounds, deeper bass, more precise and deeper sound stage. Why does this work? I have no idea! But it does. How much do they cost? Way less than they should. Australian-plug Level-2 cords start at US$265 for a 1.5m cord (after the Sydney Audio Club 20% discount that's about AU$310). The Australian-plug Level-3 cords start at US$365 (which ends up being about AU$430 after discount). Here is a quote at the end of a long in-depth review by Doug Schoeder, who builds extreme sound systems costing $100K-$500K and more: "There is no other way to praise the [AntiCables Level 3] Power Cords than to conclude they were outstanding and a bargain. For good reasons the Level 3 Power Cord is Anticables’ best selling product – it’s superb as a means to liven up a system. I recommend it without reservation. If it is good enough to plug into a top line speaker well north of $50K, then it’s good enough for most systems." AntiCables Level 5.2 and Level 6.2 ACElectrum™ Interconnects with solid-core gold/silver alloy conductors and Australian KLEI Pure Harmony (level 5.2) and Absolute Harmony (level 6.2) RCAs Doug Schroeder was also very enthusiastic regarding the AntiCables level 6.2 (top-of-line) interconnects, although he regards them as only reaching maximum potential if doubled up via an Audioquest Hard RCA Splitter or similar at each end (see the EXTREME CAVEAT below). That would mean paying US$870 retail for a 1/2 metre interconnect! For those of use who have never paid anywhere near that for an IC, that sounds pretty crazy. But, comparing it to an IC costing US$5000 or more that he has regularly used, he describes this dual-6.2 as "sensational" and "phenomenal value". Here is a quote regarding his overall impression of the interconnects and what he thinks of the AntiCables top-of-line Level 6.2 doubled in what he modestly describes as the 'Schroeder Method': "The interconnects are good performers and pragmatic. They are not the last word in any particular attributes of sound quality, but they are good enough in all attributes that they are worthy of consideration in systems [with speakers of] up to $25K. When doubled, as per the Schroeder Method, they become something altogether different, conferring a decidedly upper end character to the system. Consider also that these doubled interconnects have been in use with upper end systems for some time as I review it [note that Mr Schroeder considers a system as 'upper end' if it includes speakers costing more than US$50K - (WM)]. If it’s good enough for those upper end rigs it’s good enough for you. In that configuration no other Anticables product touches their level of performance, not even the power cords. The few who elect to pursue that option will be very richly rewarded, and will hear Anticables as never before." EXTREME CAVEAT regarding the "Schroeder Method": Do NOT implement the Schroeder Method as described, as a tight hard unyielding Y connector might damage the RCA sockets of your expensive equipment and/or the KLEI RCAs of your interconnects. On request, AntiCables will now make up Schroeder Method doubled ICs for you, eliminating this risk and also eliminating this added Y-connector which will, of itself, degrade the music! My own experience of the AntiCables Level 5.2 ACElectrum™ ICs is all positive. They replaced my older Level 5.0 silver ICs, and even without burn-in provided a marked increase in detail and a slightly warmer but very natural tone over the fully burnt-in Level 5.0 ICs. Now that they have had several days of burn-in, they are sounding really involving and emotionally compelling. Clearly the Silver-Gold alloy is a big part of this, as are the KLEI Pure Harmony RCAs (replacing the old extensively plagiarised Eichmann Bullets which AntiCables stopped using as soon as they discovered Keith was being ripped off). For the price, starting at US$208 after the exclusive SAC discount, I reckon these ICs are unbeatable! If the price is still too high, then for US$48 less you can get the same cable but drop down to the still outstanding KLEI Copper Harmony RCAs. Herbie's Audio Lab isolation and vibration control products Way Excellent II turntable platter mat The first Herbies product I ever used was the Way Excellent II turntable platter mat. I've tried heaps of different mats over time, including many of the most famous ones: some bought, some borrowed, some offered for testing. A few were good. A few were diabolically bad. Most added much more colouration than they took away, and extremely few were missed when I removed them and put back my default mat (e.g. the Linn felt mat on my LP12). The Herbie's Way Excellent II was an entirely new experience. Various veils were immediately lifted off the music. More subtlety, more detail, less noise, greater drama, in short, more music! It was I expected, of course, a psycho-acoustic trick my mind was playing on me. But after a few weeks, the effect didn't wear off. So I went back to my default Linn felt mat. OMG, I couldn't listen to it! The Linn matt remained on for an hour of torture, and never went back on until I was ready to trade the LP12 in on the Once Analog I now own. Vince Hamilton convinced me that his Once mat was the perfect mat for the Once Analog turntable, and I wanted to believe him. But it didn't take me long to try the Way Excellent II mat on it. The Herbie's mat replaced the Once mat several years ago - I don't even know where the original mat is any more! Once in a while, I throw on a different mat, for instance, the fairly decent Origin Live mat, just to check my sanity. And on goes the Way Excellent II mat again! Herbie's Tube Dampers Tubes vibrate and ring and produce noise - all of them - to a lesser and greater extent. It matters because any vibration, any ringing, any noise smears musical reproduction. So in my attempts to rid my system of such impediments, I tried various dampers on my tubes. I still have a whole gamut of silicone O-rings which lessened noise, ...and dynamics! I tried a couple of tube-specific dampers. They lessened noise too. ...And lessened dynamics. Steve Herbelin of Herbie's Audio Lab promised me that his tube dampers were different - they cut noise and vibration and ringing WITHOUT damaging the dynamics. Gullible as I am, I tried them. And... wow! Dynamics increased. Different Herbie's dampers for different temperature tubes. Choose the right size and heat-appropriate Herbie's dampers and you never need to worry again about tube ringing and micro-vibrations. You can see the three different types of tube dampers on my component tubes, from the Ultrasonic SS tube dampers on most of my tubes, and Ultrasonic Rx tube dampers on rectifiers and other hot tubes, up to the top-of-line HAL-O III Titanium tube dampers on my extremely hot Power Amp output tubes. Cone/Spike Puckies My turntable has three metal cone feet. It sits on a reinforced glass shelf on a wall-mounted turntable rack. If you don't already know, glass is not the most musically forgiving of materials - harsh! So I put together a makeshift vibration damper between the shelf and my turntable. Much better. But recently, I discovered that Herbie's have the perfect product for this very issue. I now have three Cone/Spike Puckies. Just like with the Way Excellent II mat, the improvement, even over my own vibration dampers, was palpable, immediate, and obvious. And they look great as well! Cone/Spike Decoupling Gliders Your speakers have spiked feet right? Designed specifically to put holes in your wooden floors? Designed so that, once you plant them in one place, it will be next to impossible to move them? Mine too. The real reason is to tightly couple your speakers to your floor, which would be great if your floor was inert. Mine is not inert. It is just like the floor in the Epping Centre - carpet on loose floorboards! A couple of years ago I placed my speakers on Agora Magic Hexa acoustic dampers and the matching metal shoes. The improvement was substantial, but moving the speakers changed from being annoying to being positively scary. This year I switched from the Agora Acoustics dampers to Herbie's Decoupling Gliders. They glide! Even on carpet. A joy to move the speakers when you need to. But, even more important, going from the Agora dampers to the Herbie's Gliders was almost like upgrading to new speakers for say AU$100. Focus improved markedly. I'll give you a sample of the difference at Epping, by taking the sub off the gliders and putting it back on. It's a real WOW moment. Overwhelmingly impressed by this great product. Tenderfoot Decoupling Component Feet Every one of my input and amplification components now sits on Herbie's Tenderfeet (apart from my turntable on Herbie's Puckies). The reason is simple enough. They sound either slightly or decisively better on the Tenderfeet than off them. One important point to note: for best performance, Tenderfeet do NOT go under the existing component feet - they sit directly under the component's base, next to the now redundant feet. The Tenderfeet have not made as mind-blowing a difference as the Herbie's dampers already mentioned, but they are definitely an audible and worthwhile addition. The Last Factory record, tape and CD preservation products Last Record Preservative I've been using Last Record Preservative for many years. It's simple to apply, permanently embeds itself in the vinyl, with a single application, and dramatically lowers the impact of the stylus hitting the grooves. It leaves no visible residue, with the excess chemical and the delivery solution simply evaporating in a few seconds after treatment. The treatment is permanent, leaving the record unaffected by the repeated impact of a healthy stylus on the vinyl grooves. And there is no change to the music that I can hear or testers can detect. This is very different from other products designed to minimise wear on records: Gruv Glide is a spray-on product which has somewhat similar properties, but does result in a heightened treble playback. Many people like it. I've never used it. Groove Lube is a product designed to improve sound and minimise record wear. It leaves an oily residue in the grooves, which lowers friction levels. It definitely changes the frequency response - the manufacturers would argue for the better. I have used Groove Lube and like the sound but not the fact that Groove Lube visibly affects the record and tends to stick to the record sleeve. The unique Last brushes deliver the Last Record Preservative deep into each groove - these brushes are extremely effective - much better than many much more expensive brushes. Last Power Cleaner for Records This is an unusual record cleaning fluid, primarily designed to use on new records, although it also works well on old records too. Records have mold-release compounds and pressing residues on the groove walls, which are notoriously difficult to clean out. They can cause clicks and pops and generally affect replay performance. Last Power Cleaner effectively removes these compounds, so that they don't interfere with your enjoyment of the music. It also does quite a good job of removing dirt embedded in the grooves of older records. I tend to use it prior to using Last Record Preservative. Again, the unique Last brushes do a great job of getting the liquid into the grooves and extracting dirt and residues from the groove walls. Last Stylus Cleaner I cannot tell if this stylus cleaner is any better than the Lyra stylus cleaner which came with my expensive Lyra Kleos cartridge. It seems to do a very similar, excellent job of removing all dirt, fluff, hairs and other gunk, from the stylus, without damaging the stylus or cantilever. Please never brush the stylus backwards toward the cartridge as you can easily destroy the cantilever that way. Always brush from rear to front. Even if you play several records a day, one bottle of Last Stylus Cleaner will last you more-or-less forever! StyLast Stylus Treatment StyLast does the same thing for the stylus, that Last Record Preservative does for the record - it reduces the friction and leading edge impact on the stylus so that stylus wear is minimised. You apply StyLast to the stylus before each record side. Like the Last Stylus Cleaner, one bottle lasts just about forever. Does it stop stylus wear altogether? I don't know, but my Kleos stylus looks the same as it did when I bought it. Last CD & DVD Cleaner and Treatment It's not a miracle cure, but Last CD & DVD Cleaner and Treatment really does breathe new life into slightly damaged CDs SACDs and DVDs. I have several CDs which were playable to a point, but then repeated/stuttered or simply came up as unplayable. Most of these now play cleanly thanks to Last CD & DVD Cleaner and Treatment. Simple as that. Relatively inexpensive. Works. Easy to use. Recommended! Doge 8 Clarity (2019 Edition) The Doge 8 Clarity (2019 Edition) is, by a VERY large margin, the BEST VALUE comprehensive preamp I have EVER heard! Incredible sound quality. Beautifully laid out. Exceptionally well built. Terrific remote control. Includes mute/unmute, volume control and on/off as well as source selection. Two variable outputs. I use one for my headphone amp. One fixed output for recording. When on phono, this actually fully bypasses the line stage – WOW that’s probably unique and an incredibly smart way to get as close to recording perfection from phono as possible. 5 inputs + inbuilt MM/MC phono. Variable capacitance and impedance on phono. You can raise the line output by 8dB, at the flick of a switch, if required. You can INDEPENDENTLY raise ("normal" sensitivity dip-switch on)/lower (dip-switch off) the phono output by 8dB. WOW. Fantastic if you have an ultra-low-output MC. Or a medium-output MC you want to run as if it were a MM with a 47KΩ impedance. Or simply to raise the output level by 8dB if you are recording and bypassing the line amplification altogether. SOUND QUALITY: There are line-only preamps out there which cost TEN TIMES as much and do not sound as good as the Doge 8 Clarity. And there are phono-only preamps out there which cost far more than this whole unit, and are spectacularly beaten in sound quality by the Doge 8 Clarity’s phono stage. If money was no object, with the ingenuity that has gone into this phenomenal preamp, I’m certain Mr Liu could have built an even MORE AMAZING preamp. But I could NEVER afford it and many of you couldn’t either. What he has done for the money is beyond amazing! We have here, a truly incredible preamp, which could EASILY justify a price tag 3 or 4 times what Doge is charging. I cannot shout loudly enough: This is an amazing buy! An important caveat: The Chinese 12AT7 and 12AX7 tubes which come standard with the Doge 8 Clarity do NOT do it justice. The Doge 8 Clarity deserves FAR better! I use Siemens NOS 1982 (Munich) ECC801S (12AT7) tubes in the line stage, which, after say 200 hours settling in, allow the line stage to absolutely excel with a deep wide holographic soundstage and exquisite vocals and truly lifelike realism! These spectacular tubes cost me a little over $50 each. In the phono stage, I have four Russian copy (gold pinned) Genalex Gold Lion B759 (12AX7) tubes which cost me under AU$50 per tube. These are spectacular tubes at any price. Once they have settled in (again say 200 hours), they transform this exceptional phono stage into a giant killer that puts many $3000+ phono preamps to shame. NOTE: With the US 25% tariff on Chinese-manufacture goods, and the resulting price rises of US-designed, Chinese-made electronics), the Doge products represent even more astounding value for money. And even allowing for GST and import duty, they are 10% cheaper here than in the USA. Then subtract the extra 6% discount you get when you buy quoting my voucher code!
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