Our Top Nine “UN Awards”January 5, 2013
The end of the year always brings award mania.
It’s like the end of your kids soccer season, everyone wants a trophy. Now that our awards have been spoken for, there are still a few things that keep gnawing at me. But we can’t give everything an award, can we? While my hope is always that you read every page of every issue of TONEAudio, I know you’re busy, or you don’t care.
But here’s nine more things that I spent time with this year that I just enjoyed the hell out of. Are they the best in class? I don’t know. But I had a ton of fun listening to them, and even wrote a check for a few of them. I suggest they are worthy of your time.
-Jeff Dorgay, Publisher
1. Thorens TD-125 Turntable, rebuilt by Vinyl Nirvana. (www.vinylnirvana.com)
Proprietor Dave Archambault’s home page says “Your internet resource for AR Turntables,” but he does a cracking job on the Thorens TD-125 as well. I selfishly wish he’d start working on the LP-12, but I digress. While I’m not quite finished with a full review of the TD-125, this thing is beautiful. Archambault does amazing work and offers a true alternative to the analog enthusiast wanting something different than the popular choices from Rega, et. al. in the $1000 – $2000 range. The model pictured here was fitted with an SME 3009 tonearm and a price tag of about $1600. Vinyl Nirvana also works carefully with a custom plinth maker to really take these these tables to the next level of restoration, should you so desire. Standard woods are about $375 each, and you can order more exotic wood at an additional cost. Should you be motivated to either purchase a table from VN, or just have him restore yours, I can’t suggest the new plinth highly enough.
2. Thorens TD-124 Turntable, rebuilt by Swissonor. (www.swissonor.ch)
Forget everything you think you know about the Thorens TD-124 turntable. Rebuilt by Swiss craftspeople, with a handful of improvements that will turn your head as well as your ear, including a non magnetic cast iron platter that sounds straight out of a Bond film, this turntable delivers an amazing sound that has one foot firmly planted in the past, with the other in today. Capitalizing on the precision these tables were originally built with, Swissonor tastefully updates this turntable in a manner that reveals more music, yet doesn’t hide the true character of this classic. If you love vinyl, you owe it to yourself to experience this turntable.
3. Goldpoint SW2X Input Switcher. (www.goldpnt.com)
Those needing to add an extra balanced input, switch between amplifiers, or perform quick cable comparisons, look no further. This is the droid you need. Well made and reasonably priced. There is a balanced version (currently in-house) with two inputs and a single ended RCA version with four.
4. Apple iPad Mini (www.apple.com)
Apple haters, sod off. I know it doesn’t have the Retina display and it will probably be replaced with a new model by the time you read this, but the Mini is the best way to control a music server that I’ve ever encounter, whether you use iTunes or a proprietary music server from Sooloos/Meridian, Aurender, Naim or one of the others. The screen size is just big enough to see easily, yet small and light enough to fit comfortably in one paw, where the standard iPad does not.
5. Omega Headphone Stand (www.musicdirect.com)
These cost way more money than they should, but they are just so damn cool, they prove irresistible.
6. Solidsteel WS-5 Turntable Shelf (www.musicdirect.com)
Much like real estate in Manhattan or Tokyo, sometimes the only way to go is up. If you’re adding turntables and out of rack space, this is the way to roll. Properly installed, it will support up to 130 pounds, so it’s perfect for a reel to reel tape deck too.
7. Furutech DeMag (www.furutech.com)
Sure to get you crucified on any audiophile forum by merely mentioning it, the Furutech DeMag works brilliantly on LP’s, removing the last layer of grain and grunge from the presentation. How does it really work? Who knows? Yet it does and every skeptic I’ve given a proper demonstration walks away admitting defeat while they scratch their head. If you’ve taken your system as far as it can go and you still crave more, the Furutech DeMag will give it to you.
8. Ikea Expedit Shelves (www.ikea.com) Though a few internet pundits have circulated photos of collapsed Expedit shelving units showing catastrophic results, a bit of 1/4-inch plywood, a few strategically placed brads and a bit of heavy duty glue makes the Expedit a stylish and robust record shelf. Just don’t put a heavy amplifier or turntable on the shelf with spikes.
9. EAT ECC88 and ECC803 Tubes (www.musicdirect.com) Another expensive accessory, these precision crafted small signal tubes deliver sound quality that rivals any vintage tube you’ll get your hands on.