Another new arrival, well, actually it's been here awhile, is the newish Helius turntable from Geoffrey Owen of HeliusDesigns in the UK. I've had it going for some time to sort out its qualities and to get its full measure. And this new Helius table, the Alexia, has proven itself to be a Haven keeper, and here's why. A bit different from the WTL's and Brinkmanns in makeup and music making, it's sonic character is one of clean and neutral, with very good rhythmic pacing. Think Linn LP12 yet without the big swamp bloat that comes with any Linn. I still like Linns, yet with even their $20K tricked out version they aren't as musically satisfying as the WTL's and now this Helius, certainly not the Brinkmanns. Geoffrey Owen had designed tables for Tangent Acoustics, back in the early 80's, then started designing his own tonearms, which have become quite famous on their own, and as of about two years ago launched this Alexia table. The table can be purchased without arm, or as shown here, purchased with a Helius arm, the Omega.
...or whatever that means.....My grandfather that lived in this house had a phrase for most everything. It's nice for the family to keep them going. Anyway, here are a few records that have recently been played here, all new reissues, all cleaned on that cleaner of cleaners, the KLAudio ultrasonic cleaner. More to come on that- needless to say, it's been a Stereo Haven runaway best seller. Not cheap by any means, yet would you stick your vitals into something that only keeps them filthy? Nay! All right then, on with the slideshow....
No, I didn't get another puppy. Tempting, but no. Enough hair around here to stuff a mattress already. What I do have is currently playing as I type/you read. They are a single driver speaker from Line Magnetic, the 755EX Field Coil with a matching set of W/PR-3 power supplies, 300B tube driven. They've been here for a while on loan from Jonathan Halpern of Tone Imports, and have seen a bit of action here and there. Yet before, I have to admit, I didn't quite have the right amp for them. They do not require much power, only the correct kind. I was using my beloved LM518, a 22 w 845 tube based amp. The sound was quite nice, easily showing why the original Western Electric 755 driver this replica is based on is so revered. This driver is current production and made by those zealots at Line Magnetic.
This time around things are more than a little different. I had been using a setup that consisted of the DeVore 0/93's driven by my other new love (one can never have enough love) the LM210 300B integrated. 8 watts of 300B magic. The amp was working wonders here with either Orangutan. The 0/93's disappeared for a quick local loan this past week, so I thought it might be the time to try the LM755's again with this new amp. Lo and behold, the 300B 8 watter is the key with these speakers. Detail in spades, that coherent human touch that you dream of. Now I have to say from the start, they're not for everyone. I've even talked to other dealers who say, no tweeter, not for me. The Orangutans are a bit warmer, can be played louder. This is after all a single driver speaker. And do not for a second, however, think Lowther....no Lowther will ever cross through this establishment's threshold, unless I intend to peel paint or wallpaper from these rooms. Okay, I'm being tongue in cheek here. Let's just say they're not my cup of tea, and leave it at that.
These Line Magnetic 755's, however, are sounding the bees knees here. I know it's finally a combination of having the right amp, in the right room. Remember the Haven motto, or one of them- a speaker can only due what an amp tells it to. And if you get the speaker and room combo right, then you've got a slice of heaven. Of course there are ways to manipulate things, which we'll cover later. Yet if one sticks to the aforementioned you'll be head and shoulders above the rest. Such is the case with these two Line Magnetic products, the LM755EX speakers and LM210 amp.
I just wanted to say I have been blessed with some of the nicest people coming in or doing business by phone/email.
Hobbyists that seem to be searching out something above and beyond the more standard, the more commercial fare that's out there. And after going to a hifi show or looking online or searching magazines, there's gear out there in spades, trust me. I think it very hard for a customer to know where to turn these days for advice, for knowledge. I would say that most people actually have very good hearing, and generally know what music should sound like. It's just that they don't trust themselves, or are easily steered from what's musically true by many so-called experts both in stores, magazines, and forums- especially forums. People with either horrific tastes or just plain ignorant of what a musical system should sound like. I've been entrenched in it since early childhood, and have been fortunate to have some real masters come along at different points in my life to listen with, to guide me. If someone comes here and doesn't get what I'm doing, that's fine, actually. Try and connect with someone you think is more to your liking. And if they're clued in, then you found what works for you. Yet if they're clueless, well, as I often say, you can learn from those that can't. Hopefully over time you'll be able to have the confidence to decide for yourself. My best advice is to seek those to listen with who know what music is, not just as sounds, like a snare in that corner or a bassoon dead left of the right speaker. That is not what my part of the hobby is about, or my business. A system should sing, make you sing, make you dance, make you laugh and cry. If yours doesn't do that give me a try, at least for a laugh or two. It's fun here. Anyway, most of you have really gotten the focus of this new shop, and I very much appreciate it. Very much.
Here's a listening friend of a customer who came down from Decatur the other day....my listening friend said it was okay since she usually vacates when customers come- mine likes to listen and lick...
Probably my favorite item in my hifi rooms, overall, is the Well Tempered Lab table. Oh don't get me wrong, I swoon at most everything I've chosen that's here, the Brinkmann table, the Dynavector big boy cartridge (and all the others), the new 300B (for me) amp from Line Magnetic, the racks, the cables, those Quatro speakers from Vandersteen (after hearing large speakers at the last Axpona show they only grow in my esteem at how wonderful a bargain they are), sheer gloriousness from the DeVore Orangutan speakers. Yet the WTL Amadeus, for all its quirkiness, delivers analog sound unlike most anything around. I've had more tables as a hobbyist than Roger Ebert had popcorn. Turntables still repeatedly satisfy me unlike any amp or speaker can. It's the foundation on which I play my old friends, records I've had since my childhood, my deceased sister's records we listened to in high school that bring smiles and tears, my grandfather's records he played on his huge console at dinner time at family gatherings. I have many great records given to me by customers, from their relative's collections or library sales. Records that have meaning to me or someone else who originally bought them. Nothing like a wav file that someone's copied and given me, this little bit of data that neither sounds that much like real music or has any tangible meaning in the long term.
No, I want tables, and records, and anything that will make the playing of such a wonderful medium more enjoyable.
Which brings me long-windedly to my initial reason for signing on tonight, to mention that I have in stock the near perfect mat for the WTL, and apparently some other brands out there, the Auditorium Turntable Mat.
The mat comes in two varieties, a thin mat that might remind one of a vinyl car top, which sells for $100, and a thicker wool mat, reminiscent of the felt mats of Linn, only stiffer. None of that whooshing around the way they and the Rega wool mats used to do. The wool mat sells for $250. Both offer tremendously better sound than the stock foam mat that comes with the WTL tables. It's a clear winner, no doubting Thomas's need worry. It's actually a toss up for me which I prefer. It seems to be a fair and honest trade off between the two. Both yield blacker blacks between the notes, better bass, quieter passages, and thank heavens no static cling like that blasted foam mat can yield. Nothing's worse than having your mat come off with the record, and double sided tape decidedly dries up over time. Anyway, I always have them in stock, ready to go. I do hear they do something of an improvement with Regas, if you haven't yet switched to an Amadeus. Nothing but heaven can help a Clearaudio or VPI.
So here they are: