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In the Forum: Analog Playback
In the Thread: The K&K SE hybrid phono stage: a report
Post Subject: Settling in; settling downPosted by Paul S on: 6/15/2008

As a weekend-only listener, it can take me eons to break in some of my most stubborn components.  In the case of the K&K, things seem to have reached +/- tonic equalibrium.

I may have have mentioned it in passing, but at some point a while back I changed IC, putting shielded Placette cables from the tranny to the K&K, and I put a DIY "twisted pair" of cotton wrapped 26 ga. soild OCC silver from the K&K to the TAP.  I didn't discuss it in this context because I thought I had this stuff aurally sorted out, at least with respect to the K&K.  But, maybe it was more of a factor than I'd thought...

The last few listening sessions have been notable in that I have had a substantial increase in downward-developing harmonics, along with far less in the way of HF noise passing itself off as as upwardly-mobile harmonics and up-tilted balance.  The net effect of this "downward" trend in balance has been that I find myself more and more comfortable listening to music that "should" be loud at previously-for-me absurdly loud volumes, well up into the 90s.  No, this is not really loud, but remember what I'm using for speakers and amps.  The amazing thing here is that with the cleaner, better balanced signal, the music is still MUSIC at these much higher volumes, and (oddly?) the quietest passages and pauses are actually musically enhanced with the increase in volume.

Another great thing is that I have found a lot more life in my "fading" cartridge since I discovered it (and its arm) had mysteriously sprung all loose (see A Cautionary Tale).  I am also pleased to report that although VTA is as audible as ever, it has become less of an "issue", per se since "The Settling", at least when the AC is OK

One great "test" of a cartridge/system is the best recordings of the best operatic tenors.  If you ever socialize with opera singers, you know that it takes very little in the way of wine and encouragement to get them going.  And you also know how astoundingly LOUD they can sing, with the top tenors 1/2 again as loud as the rest.  Anyway, I am pleased indeed to report that my present system tracks Jussi Bjoerling at close to full tilt.

Once again, I do not use the stock 6N1P tubes in my unit, so I cannot say how the stock unit might develop with respect to pitch and/or harmonics, etc.  I am not recommending the 6DJ8s, especially since the good ones are getting so scarce, and it has taken a lot of work to put to good use their typically over-analytical rendering.  I am pleased to say, however, that the MOSFET/JFET "tails" seem to have quieted the usual-for-these-tubes lower treble noise and sonic "implosion" with loud signals, meaning there is none that I can tie to this source.

Paul S

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