The Factory Audio from Canberra, Australia has a really cool website, all black with white lettering and moody images. A music page isn’t surprising for an audio dealer / modifier /installer but it also has the big plus of a ‘Whisky of the Week’ page… (and we are not talking Johnnie Who here)
One of their customers, Walter has written an interesting blog about audio progress, this includes quite a few Wand Tonearm references. This may have something to do that he has Wand tonearms mounted on a Thorens TD160, Lenco, Orpheus and Garrard 401 turntables, with more for a Technics SL1500, and the mighty Commonwealth turntable.
The full blog is at http://www.thefactoryaudio.com/blog/ if you scroll down a bit.
But few extracts;
….speaking of retro, the ‘new releases’ featured in the article about the Munich show included amplifiers by Dynaco and Hafler, and turntables from Perpetuum-Ebner. Until recently all these brands were dead (though apparently not, to quote a recent head of state, buried and cremated). ……
Naturally enough it occurred to me that a magazine story involving similar products from these manufacturers might have been written about a Munich hi-fi show of 50 years ago or more. But how is this possible when there have been so many changes in hi-fi over the years, and when hi-fi itself, as a branch of science and technology, is predicated on ideas of innovation and progress? It seems that within hi-fi at the moment there are two contradictory historical visions: on the one hand, belief in technological progress surely remains most people’s default position; yet, on the other hand, it is difficult to make sense of the ‘new’ products at Munich without using metaphors of cycles, spirals, and even, to borrow an idea from Nietzsche, eternal return.
Is it even possible to answer this question? Strictly speaking, it is not, for to be able to do so would involve possessing a perspective that somehow transcends one’s immediate paradigm. But it is surely permissible to draw upon our own experiences in thinking about such questions. In my case, a comparison between a system I had around 1980 and the one I have now comes to mind. Simply put, is the one I have now better? If I were to answer ‘no’, it would be because of the magnificently wide and precisely positioned sound stage that my old Amcron electrostatic-conventional hybrid speakers presented when I played records on my AR turntable with its JH arm and Nakamichi moving-coil cartridge. I have been attempting to recapture that soundstage ever since, along the way making a virtue out of a necessity by trying to convince myself that musical coherence is more important than the clear separation of instruments, tracks, and channels.
There is, of course, also a ‘yes’ answer. I’m sure, for example, that my current Merlin-Naquadria amplifiers are much better than my 1980 Amcron-Dynaco combination and, for that matter, everything else I’ve ever had including the celebrated Naim 250 power amp. I also feel that a decent medium-priced modern tonearm represents a significant improvement on even state-of-the-art vintage arms. This opinion was confirmed recently when I replaced the early-model SME 3009 on my vintage Orpheus turntable with a 9” version of The Wand carbon-fibre tonearm from Design Build Listen in New Zealand. One reason for the huge improvement I perceived is the tonearm cabling involved, and I think that cabling in general is an area where one may well speak of progress; I shudder to think that in 1980 I was feeding my Amcron electrostatics with the sort of speaker wire that one buys at Bunnings these days. Cabling aside, though, current unipivot tonearms like The Wand still seem better than their antecedents such as the once highly regarded JH Formula 4 and even the legendary Naim Aro.
But, as I’ve said before, the thing to do is to put something like The Wand on a good vintage turntable. In fact, my two current favourite turntables, the Orpheus and a souped-up Thorens TD 160, both have Wands. The Orpheus is from the late 1950s and the Thorens the 1970s. The Orpheus has an Ortofon 2M Black cartridge, which is a – perhaps the – current cutting-edge moving-magnet design, while the Thorens has a Decca London cartridge, which, although new, is essentially the same design as its Decca predecessors from the 1950s. (contd)
Dr Walter Kudrycz