• 12-06-2013, 12:34 PM
    JohnMichael
    Funk Firm Achroplat in a new light
    After updating my digital player I was enjoying more detail and was happy to be away from the warm and smooth. Now I began to notice a little too much warmth with my ttable. I first thought about changing cartridges or phono preamps of which I have several. Then it dawned on me to switch to the Achroplat platter since I had not listened to it since all the system changes.

    The Focal 806V's have been in continuous play since their arrival. The Sony XA5400ES in the balanced mode to the Krell has been incredible. I did make a mistake with the Transparent cables but now I am all Audioquest.

    I recently checked both the tracking weight, offset angle and overhang and all was well. Yet there was something missing but plenty of warmth and a certain vagueness I had not noticed before. I removed the glass platter and Ringmat mat and replaced the two with the Achroplat that does not require a mat. The sound was now detailed and focused. Bass is tight and firm with better depth.

    One improvement can certainly drive another. I have tried the Achroplat before with mixed results. The Focal's more easily let me hear what it is doing right. Having time off from work I have been listening many hours to my system. I am pleased with the overall sound quality and the lack of listener fatigue. I am pleased to be at a place where I am hearing music and not moving speakers.
  • 12-08-2013, 01:17 PM
    JohnMichael
    I have been bored lately and started thinking about the phono cartridges and preamps I own. I have enjoyed the Grado but since my interest in warmth and golden glows are gone I decided to pull out the Audio Technica F7. It had been a while since I mounted a cartridge. It had been a while since I listened to some of my phono preamps. Today seemed like a perfect day to get started.

    I decided on the F7 since it had the least amount of play time. The Ortofon OM20, Benz Micro Gold and previously mounted Grado Statement Sonata all have several years of play a piece. If I was going with the F7 I decided to try the Graham Slee Fanfare 3 with PSU1. The F7 calls for a minimum of 100 ohms load impedance and the Fanfare loads at 475 ohms. The Rotel RQ 970BX, Cambridge Audio 640P and Moon 110LP all load at 100. The Moon 110 can be used at 47,000 ohms but I though that might be too much. So the AT F7 and Fanfare 3 are now partnered.

    The sound is good. I would say the F7 is on the cool side of neutral. The sound is very focused and the whole band showed up to perform. The Grado was making nice sounds but not always sure what was making the sounds. I am wondering about a worn stylus. The F7 presents everything on the record. This cartridge was too cool with the MA RS6's but the warmth of the Focal's midrange may make this a nice combination. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings "One Hundred Days, One Hundred Nights" is creating quite a groove.
  • 12-08-2013, 05:55 PM
    JohnMichael
    Owning a Rega means having to be clever about VTA. The F7 was sounding fine but with emphasis on upper frequencies. I installed the cartridge with the 2MM spacer under the arm which is how I used it with the Grado. I thought this might be too much so I remembered the 1MM washer that came with the 24V motor. So I raised the bearing well 1MM so the 2MM spacer now was just 1MM. So far this sounds very good.

    I now have just 1MM of tonearm elevation. I will be listening to this combo for several days but I think I have it. I wonder how quick I could break down a Rega with all the times I have done it. Maybe even with blindfolds.
  • 12-09-2013, 12:56 PM
    JohnMichael
    One other change for the AT F7 and Fanfare combination was using the smaller weight of the Michell Technoweight. Due to the low weight of the F7 I used the weight for cartridges from 3-6 grams. The larger weight used with the Grado was for cartridges 6 grams or more.

    The Technoweight is a nicely engineered counterweight. The metal end stub replaced the stock plastic Rega stub. The slide tube carries the chosen weight and slides back and forth on the end stub. The weight fits in a scallop of the slide tube and is fastened down with a set screw. Then the micrometer style finger adjustment screws on the end stub. You can turn the adjuster to add weight. Once you have the desired VTF you can lock down the carrier with it's set screw. The set tracking force will not change due to a bump or someone touching the counterweight who does not know what they are doing.

    I double checked overhang and offset angle with the MoFi Geodisc. I still use the pencil lead attached in this cartridge's case to the flat side. The length of the pencil lead allows you to see even the slightest of errors in the offset angle.

    The sound is more balanced with the change in VTA. Still very detailed and focused. I would never call the F7 a lush cartridge and now that I have adjusted VTA it is not thin sounding. Certainly a nice low cost, low output MC phono cartridge.
  • 12-09-2013, 05:49 PM
    JohnMichael
    I should mention that the AT F7 and Gram Amp 3 are a more dynamic combination. Drums are more percussive. I will try it with the Moon 110LP but for now a great combination. Lots of stuff in storage so it is fun bringing it out and trying it at random times.

    Now that I am happy with everything in my system it is time to focus on analog. I am concerned about the change in audio quality of the Grado. All of a sudden the imaging and soundstaging were blurred. I am going to have the stylus checked under a scope. I am also concerned about the suspension of the cantilever. Of course it could be the phono preamp but I doubt it.
  • 12-10-2013, 08:54 PM
    02audionoob
    I sometimes wonder how you've been getting along with the F7. I'm tempted occasionally to point someone in that direction if they're looking for a thrifty LOMC cartridge.
  • 12-10-2013, 09:12 PM
    JohnMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by 02audionoob View Post
    I sometimes wonder how you've been getting along with the F7. I'm tempted occasionally to point someone in that direction if they're looking for a thrifty LOMC cartridge.



    I am finding a different perspective now that I am enjoying my Focal speakers. The AT F7 is even better than I first thought when hearing it through the Monitor Audio RS6 speakers. The F7 sounded a little thin at first but with the Focal speakers it sounds more neutral with great detail. Tracking is excellent and noise is low. Currently I am using the Fanfare 3 which mates very well.

    As previously stated the AT F7 and Fanfare are a great combo and the sound should be very pleasing. The AT F7 deserves recognition for all the music it creates.
  • 12-11-2013, 12:34 PM
    Mr Peabody
    JM, sounds like you have been having fun. Do you remember the Benz enough to describe the sound?
  • 12-11-2013, 03:44 PM
    JohnMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Mr Peabody View Post
    JM, sounds like you have been having fun. Do you remember the Benz enough to describe the sound?


    Yes and no. Between the time I had the Benz Gold mounted I made two very audible improvements to my turntable. The new 24V motor with TTPSU and Michael Lim's top and bottom braces. Now that I think about it this may be the reason I am so impressed by the F7 today.

    I remember the Benz as having a smooth character and being not very dynamic. Even after moving to the Fanfare 3 preamp. The F7 is very dynamic and very much alive in it's sound. Since adjusting the VTA for the F7 the slight thinness to the sound is gone. Now one aspect of performance is the F7 is a better tracker.

    When I had the Sumiko Blue Point mounted there was good depth to the soundstage. A Telarc recording of "The Rite Of Spring" had on one side of the center stage the kettle drums and and to the left was the bass drum. The Blue Point displayed the drums in the rear of the hall. The F7 is a little more focused in the rear of the soundstage and does a very nice job with instrument placement. The Benz could not do as well as the Blue or F7.

    Well that is about all I remember.
  • 12-15-2013, 12:46 PM
    JohnMichael
    Well the Simaudio Moon 110LP is back in the system. The cartridge which sounded very exciting at first through the Fanfare began to fatigue. The Moon 110LP is doing a better job with the AT F7. There was an edge to high frequencies on some records with the Fanfare that is gone with the Moon 110LP. I am talking more about peaks in frequencies and not groove distortions.

    The F7 is loaded with 100 ohms using the Moon 110LP and was loaded with 470 ohms by the Fanfare. I am not sure it was the loading or a difference in quality between the phono preamps. My Rotel and Cambridge Audio phono pre's never had enough gain for this low an output cartridge so I will not be comparing them.
  • 12-15-2013, 04:57 PM
    JohnMichael
    The AT F7 really benefits from the better phono stage.
  • 12-16-2013, 11:43 AM
    frenchmon
    JM...I hear Soundsmith has an excellent repair/upgrade on that Grado cart of yours for $350. They say that upgrade brings it into the class of that $3k Grado cart. They will install a RUBY Single Crystal.....At least thats the word on the street.
  • 12-16-2013, 02:42 PM
    JohnMichael
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by frenchmon View Post
    JM...I hear Soundsmith has an excellent repair/upgrade on that Grado cart of yours for $350. They say that upgrade brings it into the class of that $3k Grado cart. They will install a RUBY Single Crystal.....At least thats the word on the street.

    It is odd but now that I am enjoying the Focal's so much like the SA8001 and now the Grado cartridge I am not enjoying smooth and warm. The Focal's have a lot of body to the midrange unlike the RS6's that sounded thin. The speed of the AT F7 is more enjoyable.

    I wish I understood cartridge loading better. Judging by the sound of the F7 and Fanfare combination I heard what can happen with an MC cartridge if it is not loaded properly. I think I heard ringing and treble peakiness. The Moon is a much better match.
  • 01-02-2014, 11:58 AM
    JohnMichael
    The snow is coming down and I have no place I have to be. While spinning some vinyl I am doing laundry. Just finished listening to Willie Nelson's "American Classic". Damn that was good. Too bad it was not a two record set. I would have enjoyed more. Hearing the age and hard living in his voice really brought the songs home to me. I do have a slight issue with Willie singing "Baby It's Cold Outside" to Norah Jones. Kind of sounds like a grandfather hitting on his grandson's date.

    The AT F7 and the Moon 110LP are making magic. Visually and audibly I am convinced I have the correct VTA. I am glad I tried the cartridge again and it was obvious that it sounds better with the Moon 110LP than with the Fanfare 3. A good budget LO MC that is worth and will benefit from some extra set-up care.