All entries for Sunday 04 January 2009

January 04, 2009

Chord, Van den Hul or Nordost Hi–fi Interconnects

Chord, Van den Hul or Nordost Hi-fi Interconnects?


In a previous posting I discussed my decision to choose an Arcam FMJ T21 FM tuner over a DAB model. As I pointed out there this has left me with a subsidiary issue of what intrconnects to use which I will run to my Quad 77 Integrated Amp. Choosing cables seems very boring compared with choosing nice bright new components which can give a sense of pride of ownership but cables are only seen by you and rarely at that. Yet trialling a few rapidly shows up differences in fine musical detail and soundstaging. Another problem is finding cables right for your current set up.

Currently my best analogue interconnects are Chord Chameleon IIs which are now no longer available. Chord do an updated Chord Chamelon Silver Plus. They seem to be much cheaper from this supplier who happens to be my local dealer than most internet prices. 


Chord Chamelon Silver Plus

Chord Chamelon Silver Plus Interconnects


Another couple of candidates for the short list include the Van den Hul Integration. I was particularly attracted towards these as a review available through the Van den Hul website from Hi-Fi News had compared these cables very favourably with the reviewers own Chord Signatures which are approximatly three times the price and well out of my price range.

VdH Integration cable


Van den Hul Integration Interconnects


Another cable which came up in the course of research was from the Nordost company whose prices go into the stratospere and are not for th like of normal mortals who struggle to put together th bst systems they can on very limited budgets. One does need to b able to purchase music and go to live events as well after all. Anyway Nordost do a budget cable which is in the budget of about £120. Going through a couple of fora and review sites is changing my mind about ths cables. I listen to mainly classical / contmporary classical as well as a good range of Jazz and crossover types of music. These are often delicate and detailed and have a wide dynamic range. reports are signifying that the Nordost is rather lean and whilst 'fast' sacrificees the sublety.


nordost_blue_heaven_interconnect.jpg


Nordost Blue Heaven Interconncts


I thought I would check out Kimber cables next. I quickly noted in one review that the insulation wasn't great. Even though it didn't seem to create a problem why leave yourself open to the risk? following that I checked out Ixos but nothing attractive there. I have Ixos video cabling but my gear isn't good and isn't a major intrest from the upgrade perspective. I thn chckd out Audioqeust as I have Indigo + biwire speaker cables. It was difficult to get good information and pricing and I could find no useful reports at the affordabl end of the market.  I trawled around BADA dealers on the web to see whether there wereany other makes worth considering within the price range. I discovered Atlantic cables but some discussion fora comments gave them bad comparisons with Chord Chamelon Silver + which is on my shortlist.Of more interest is the .Ecosse Maestro MA2 but at around £160 it breaks the budget and I would be comparing it with the next upgrade in the Chord line the Chord Chorus. This is an interesting independent review of those cables from the TNT site which is a good discovery if you are into audio.


Conclusion

Well it has taken me a considerable part of the day tracking down information, going through fora etc. however is was quite fun. I know that the Chord Chamelon Silver + would be a safe bet and a cheaper option than the Van den Hul Integration. Some would argue that having th sam cable throughout the system in a 'loom' would bring about system synergies but it ain't going to happen. Money would better spent on cleaning up the mains more efficiently. Pure inquisitiveness has dcided me upon The Integration in fact apart from the Chord Van den Hul's own products seem to provide the closest competition. This link to The Van den Hul blurb also has several influential reviews.  I'll report back when all the gear is in place and do a bit of cable comparison.


Arcam FMJ T21: FM/AM Tuner

Arcam FMJ T21: FM/AM Tuner

Arcam FMJ T21





Introduction FM or DAB?

I have been wanting to get another tuner for my hi-fi for a while ever since my old beloved Trio finally broke down. I had already installed a good aerial for analogue which seemed rather a waste. I have been surviving by running a signal from my Nokia Freeview box to my TAG-Mclaren DAC. The trouble is that the signal is ropey and the TAG spends most of its time muting the signal.  A key question for anyone purchasing a tuner at the moment is should it be a digital one? There is crtainly a lot of pressure to go this way as continuous ads on the BBC for pople to get them as presents indicates. However glancing through various mags from Hi-Fi News through Gramophone and BBC Music shows that most afficionados prefer high quality analogue broadcasts such as BBC live concerts on Radio 3. As I only listen to the BBC anyway that has been one reason  for keeping an eye out for end of line high quality analogue tuners. Another thing is that is is by no means certain when analogue switch-off for radio will occur. There are simply too many car radios that are analogue to make this easy. There is certainly no rush to go for DAB unless you want a myriad of not very good commercial stations broadcasting on a low bit-rate. As DAB chips are also very power hungry there is an ecological issue as well here.

Trawling for Bargains

Of course a big advantagane of the internet is that one can easily check out hi-fi shops around the country to see if they are getting rid of their analogue tuners.  I found one Midlands shop with an Arcam FMJ T21 demo model now half-price. This seemed preferable to another ARCAM bargain FM tuner the DiVA T61 which can be found around half-price in a few places right now. The FMJ is part of their premium range with better specifications and sound circuitry. Usefully the ARCAM site provides information on discontinued products and info about the FMJ T21 is readily available.

Arcam T61 tuner


Arcam T61 Tuner



Naturally I'm looking forward to the arrival of the equipment however it creates another consumer problem which is what interconncts to use. My current interconnects are Chord Chameleon IIs which are now no longer made. This has led to research some other potential cables within an affordable category but which go well beyond the nominal 10% which som suggest should be allotted to cabling. My ruminations on this are contained in another posting but suffice it to say I have become convinced that cabling is important in terms of resolving fine detail etc.

Do remember that a good quality aerial is essential if you want to get good quality radio broadcasts whether in analogue or in digital.


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