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Analog Orgasm (Read 2261 times)
Steve Deckert
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Analog Orgasm
06/03/17 at 07:05:25
 
Midnight, and it just doesn't get any better than this....  



I was fortunate to get my hands on an incredible source... one that's better than anything I've had so far other than tape... and tape actually doesn't have this kind of surreal magic but in fairness, I don't have a pure silver tape head where the internal coils are solid silver so that's probably part of the difference... the other part being the cartridge's magical ability to recreate 3D space with a more vivid and lucid result.  Compared to tape it should be a joke, but when everything is right, it's a real eye opener.

I got a rare old school moving coil cartridge for my Japanese Fidelity Research silver wired tonearm.  An FR7 custom made with pure silver coils.



It is the most humbling night I have had since I got into this hobby in about 1976.  With all the amazing master tapes I spin, you would think a vinyl rig wouldn't stand much of a chance...  

Tonight's combination of top secret full range crossover-less prototype speakers, a ZMA, ZP3 with TJ Full Music Tubes, a ZSTAGE following the ZP3... I've never heard anything so good before...

It's a very humbling experience to hear 45 RPM Direct to Disk LP's that you've used for reference since 1979 for the very first time... and I mean the very first time.  Unbelievable!  And just when I was warming up to digital after 35 years of struggle this had to happen.  I just don't know what to say...

Many have said these silver wired FR7's were the holy grail of cartridges and I have never heard anything even close to this good, not even at all the hifi shows. This has a dark side. To surpass it with tape, I'm going to have to have custom silver wire tape heads made.  Sadly I probably will too, even though I can by albums for 10X less, I just have to see if I can achieve tape playback that's 10 times better than this.  I can't imagine how, but I will follow the science and ignore the math.

The poor, poor DACs which I liked so well just got their asses handed to them in the most completely rude and overwhelming way words just aren't adequate to describe it.  Think Hiroshima.

Again, I am STUNNED at how good the recordings actually were.  STUNNED. This proves that the recording process be it digital or analogue is stronger than we realize by a rather huge amount.  It is the playback that is so pitifully weak by comparison.  When you get the playback signal path to this level to where it begins to match the recording process, i.e.., mass of a microphone diaphragm, the results are ....   sorry there is just not a word. I just feel like the only way to really communicate what I just heard is to use a lot of holy f-bombs and exclamation points.

Another completely unexpected surprise is my top secret speakers...  I thought they were a touch dry, their only fault.   I was wrong.  And this replacing what was the equivalent today of about a $5000.00 cartridge with one that costs almost 4 times that much.  Guess what... it actually is 4X better.  Who would of thought we weren't actually at the point of diminishing returns at 5K.

This hobby never gets old.  Whoever made this cartridge should become KING of the world.  
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Tripwr1964
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #1 - 06/03/17 at 14:17:39
 
little off topic...

steve how do you stay up all night listening?  i find if the music sounds great and i've had a couple of beers, i fight to stay awake after 10pm.  maybe it's my drone corporate schedule that's done this to me?  lol

i do better in the early am for listening Smiley
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stone_of_tone
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #2 - 06/03/17 at 15:48:49
 
I hear you Trip....morning is best for me too.

Steve, cool.  How did you get hold of that Cartridge and yes, I see the bulb-us Speaker's too.  

.....In the shadows....the Alien Omni-Pods opened and sprung forth....not an Alien?!......but sweet, sweet Music.   Grin Grin Grin
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #3 - 06/03/17 at 19:14:43
 
When music sounds like it did last evening... you can't turn it off.  It's forbidden.


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Archie
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #4 - 06/03/17 at 19:21:27
 
[quoteAnd this replacing what was the equivalent today of about a $5000.00 cartridge with one that costs almost 4 times that much.] [/quote]

Steve, you got my attention with your enthusiasm for this cart.  Searching around I'm seeing the FR-7 in the $800 range and the FR-7f in the $1300 range.  Is just the FR-7 silver?  While it might be a challenge to balance on my tonearm, it should be doable plus using a stylus force gage.  Any thoughts or recommendations if I try to get one of these?  People say the FR-7f is a superior cart but I'm generally swayed by your experience with the FR-7.  I'm using your ZMC1, ZP3 and CSP3 into a ZMA all fronted by a Technics 1200 TT.   Smiley
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #5 - 06/03/17 at 23:43:26
 
Yes,  I came close to getting a FR-7f but as a manufacture I reed between the lines that the 7f was probably easier to assemble and had greater consistency.  I could find no FR-7f that were solid silver so I gambled and got the silver edition of the FR-7.  My guess is that it's better.

Also, I noticed that the 5 digit cartridge club snubs their noses at it because it doesn't cost enough, but the real reason is more likely because it sounds better.  How could it not... study the design.

Steve
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Archie
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Reply #6 - 06/03/17 at 23:53:40
 
Any tips on what to look for in the FR-7?  I'm seeing a seller that implies not all FR-7s were silver wired.  How do I tell if one is silver?  I see a couple with four digit serial numbers that look pretty good.  Do you think $800 to $900 is a fair price?  I was never so nervous buying used, on line, as when I put down $1200 for  an Ortofon Cadenza Blue!

BYW, my tonearm wire is copper Cardas.  I don't know if this defeats the purpose at all since there are copper interconnects down stream too.
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hdrider
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #7 - 06/04/17 at 15:41:59
 
Very interesting read Steve and all. I have my FR64S on my SOTA table and have had a few crazy offers for the arm. Maybe I should look into this FR cartridge thing a little more. Keep up the posts and the designing Steve. Happy listening, Chris.
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jorgen
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #8 - 06/05/17 at 00:22:19
 
Could be a cool match for my all silver tonearm wire (rewired Mission 774)
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Archie
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Re: Steve/Decware & Company.....Developments?
Reply #9 - 06/05/17 at 00:45:40
 
Both of my Ortofon carts (Kontrapunkt b and Cadenza Blue) use silver wire windings.  I assume the real thing special about the FR-7 would be the internal geometry.  If not, I may just stick with what I have.  But I don't mind being convinced otherwise.  :)
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Analog Orgasm
Reply #10 - 06/05/17 at 03:17:00
 
OK, As a followup to my big night, I took a day off and then returned this evening to see what might happen if I tried to make it even better : )

I wanted to see if a higher ratio transformer of 30:1 would make it possible to delete the ZSTAGE so I set one up using a Jensen transformer of compatible specs and fired it up around 8:00 P.M.

The result on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the other night, I got about a 5.  It was fascinating because the FR7 didn't even sound as good as my MC202 which it replaced.

It makes me realize how easily it is to loose the magic with just a few variables... an I mean really loose it.  5 is not 10.

Of course it's never just one thing.  Without re-installing the ZSTAGE, I simply removed the 30:1 step up and restored the ZMC1 to get a side by side comparison of the two transformers.  Much of the magic returned, now a 7 out of 10.

Reinstalled the ZSTAGE and tested again, now a 8 out of 10.  There is nothing else I can do now but wait for night time. It's 9:00 P.M. now, I'll start spinning vinyl around 10:00 and if it's encouraging I'll listen for awhile, if not some other night when I'm not tired. 

I doubt I'll get much past an 8.5 because it really is about the midnight hour when the Sun is exactly blocked by the planet. From midnight to 2 A.M. is the magic window. Sadly it comes at a price unless you don't need sleep.

Point, is, the FR7 by itself is not likely to sound anything like my initial description unless you fall into the same incredible component synergy I did. This is obviously going to be true with any cartridge on any vinyl rig.

Fidelity Research had the right idea by making a tonearm and integrated removable head-shell / cartridge leaving nothing to chance.  It just seems to me that if a guy was to spend 10 or 20 grand on a cartridge at todays prices it should come with its own tonearm because at that price no one could afford to get it wrong.

1. step up transformer
2. cable between ZSTAGE and ZMA
3. ZStage
4. Time of night

Those are the variables that when changed in any way collapse the perfect 10 into a catastrophically lower number in my system.  Of course there are many more variables in total responsible for the sound, but they were not changed during this test.

-Steve

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Steve Deckert
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Re: Analog Orgasm
Reply #11 - 06/05/17 at 03:26:23
 
My tonearm is silver wired, so since the day I got it I have run silver teflon tone arm cable and always thought it sounded good until it broke one day and I needed a fast replacement. All I had handy that night was a tonearm cable made with Canare L-4E6S. It was planned to get me through a day until I could repair my original cable. It's still in there  a year later because it absolutely crushed my silver cable. Success in this hobby comes when you're willing to take out the variable of cost and willing to experiment endlessly because it's about the recipe.

Steve
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Steve Deckert
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Re: Analog Orgasm
Reply #12 - 06/05/17 at 04:18:43
 
As usual, I was wrong about the prediction of an 8.5. It's just after 10 P.M. and it's closer to a 9.0

The difference between a 5 and 9 is huge...  so huge. Where ever it lands before I go to bed, I'll try it at the same exact time tomorrow during the day and see what number we get. That will make the only variable the time of day or put another way, the SUN.  

Steve



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Archie
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Re: Analog Orgasm
Reply #13 - 06/06/17 at 01:52:13
 
While tempted by the FR-7, for not much more money, I went with more of a sure thing for me and bought a refurbished Ortofon Jubilee (by Ortofon with new motor, cantilever and diamond).  The Jubilee also has 6 nines silver windings, boron cantilever and a Shibata stylus.  It is considered to be quite a bit above my Kontrapunkt b and Cadenza Blue carts and I think closest to the Cadenza Black.  The Refurbished Ortofons are something that you need to catch when available but are potentially a steal!

If anyone is interested in the FR-7 there is a nice looking one on eBay right now.

http://www.ebay.com/itm/292102385845?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STR...
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