Playback Accessory Reviews

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jan 08, 2016 17 comments
The Sugarcube from Musical Surroundings, shown at CES 2016 in prototypical form represents a brand new product category in the vinyl world according to SweetVinyl's Leo Hoarty and he's not spewing hyperbole.

Michael Fremer Posted: Dec 27, 2015 Published: Dec 26, 2015 32 comments
About a decade ago my friend and fellow audio writer Ken Kessler flew over from the U.K. to review the Continuum Caliburn turntable. At the end of a day’s listening it occurred to me that I had on hand not one but two “record demagnetizers"—both in unopened boxes. One was from Furutech, the other from Acoustic Revive.

Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 19, 2015 Published: Sep 18, 2015 10 comments
Electronic stylus cleaners have been around for decades. Though very popular in the 1970s and 1980s, these vibrating devices rapidly fell out of favor for a very good reason.

Michael Fremer Posted: Sep 23, 2014 22 comments
Phoenix Engineering’s $379 Falcon PSU is a remarkably compact but high-resolution motor controller designed to be used with A.C. synchronous motor turntables drawing 5 or fewer watts.

Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 18, 2014 Published: Jul 17, 2014 66 comments
This is hardly a scientific comparison, but I spent a few days comparing, in order of price, the Audioquest carbon fiber brush ($24.99), the AcousTech The Big Record Brush ($36.95) ($52.95 with grounding wire) and the Levin Design ($335 appx.).

Michael Fremer Posted: Jul 11, 2014 56 comments
Here are eight excerpts of Vivaldi's "Concerto for 2 Mandolins" from the audiophile sampler record Chasing the Dragon (VAL007) produced and engineered by Mike Valentine. Also find the entire 96k/24 bit file generously provided by Mr. Valentine that you can enjoy as well as use as a "control" in helping you determine which mat (if any) helped produce the most accurate vinyl rendering of the file.

The original 96/24 Nagra digital recording used three Neumann M50 tube microphones in the classic "Decca tree" configuration.

The turntable/tonearm used was the recently reviewed Zorin Audio combo fitted with a Lyra Titan i feeding a feeding the recently reviewed Swan Song Audio Cygnet MC phono preamplifier. The A/D converter was the Ayre QA-9 currently under review. The files are 16 bit/44.1K WAV.

The mats were: 1) the stock carbon fiber one supplied with the Zorin 2) a Boston Audio Graphite mat 3) "The Simple Mat" made from synthetic cork 4) a now discontinued one of what feels like ultra-thin 1/16th of an inch cork from a fellow who shall remain nameless and whose mat was nameless so I'll call it the Brooklyn mat 5) the Hideinthesound suede mat 6) the Hideinthesound split mat with suede on one side and a smooth hide on the other side, 7) The Music Hall cork mat with the raised discs 8) the Moo mat made of cow hair and hide.

There are dozens of other mats worthy or coverage but we'll start with these.

Please download the files and listen. The plucked, percussive mandolin is an ideal instrument to demonstrate differences (if there are any) among the mats in terms of transient speed and clarity, sustain and decay—especially given the recording technique, which produces stable, three-dimensional images.

There's no "best" or "worst" (assuming you hear any difference at all). It will just be interesting to see if a consensus develops around one or two of them.

After voting, please leave a comment about what you heard and why you voted as you did.

File "1"

File "2"

File "3"

File "4"

File "5"

File "6"

File "7"

File "8"

Master File

Master File "redbook"

A "gift" for you

Do Record Mats Really Make a Sonic Difference? And if So, Which of These Do You Prefer.
Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 07, 2012 1 comments
So you've got a Rega turntable and you love the sound and the performance bang you get for the buck, but you don't like that you can't easily adjust VTA/SRA because the rear of the arm is bolted down?