“Clearaudio’s Maestro positions itself as an intentional disruption to shake most shoppers from lurching around with ‘MC tunnel vision’ and have them stop for a moment to consider what a carefully crafted moving magnet product can bring to the table,” writes Buzz Hughes in the October issue of Hi-Fi Plus. So does it succeed?
“Clearaudio’s Maestro has no intention of playing second fiddle to the MC crowd,” says Hughes: “from the first look and touch of the cartridge the Maestro is effectively drawing a line in the sand saying ‘I dare you to find a better value at my price point…’”
Hughes takes up the dare and dives straight in with some testing tracks. First up, Roy Ayres’ Change up the Groove album, whose vibrant vibraphone will clearly reveal just how much an MM cartridge can “intrude onto a moving coil’s holy ground sound signature, the treble.”
The results are immediate. “The clarity and depth of the notes coming through the Maestro is unmistakably impressive… there is no stretch or reach to produce the sweet highs and breathtakingly long decay… overlapping and rapid vibraphone strikes take flight and hover in the ether with enough space and time to take them all individually, examine them, and let them float away into a spaciously dark background.”
Hughes puts the bass to the test with Mad Season’s track ‘Wake Up’ on the album Above. “The bass extension was one of the lowest I have heard come through my system.” Not only did it dive Hughes lower than he had been prepared to expect, but the Maestro also “opened up the texture on the bass as well as revealing quivers and shimmers of low frequency sound that simply were not there before.”
In his evident enjoyment of the Maestro, Hughes confesses to being very much a fan of a “front row and centre of aisle” style of musical presentation, appreciating the way that the cartridge “pushed me right up into the act and let me feel like I was holding the bands’ microphones and amps.”
Does this mean that the Maestro lacks a certain subtlety? Not at all. “While [it] excels with driving, pumping music like MM cartridges are reputed to do, I found that the real strength of the Maestro cartridge is the ability to control its power and still achieve a neutral canvas for the other aspects of my music regardless of genre.”
“One of those special cartridges that is smart enough to do it all and makes you want to buy more LPs instead of more equipment.”
Read Hughes’ full review in the October 2017 issue of Hi-Fi Plus.
Following rave reviews in the Japanese press, initial production runs of Furutech’s new NCF Booster sold out to industry insiders before even making it as far as audio retailers’ shelves. Fortunately, the company has since increased production and now the NCF Booster is ready for international release.
The September issue of US-based audio magazine The Absolute Sound is out now, revealing winners of the Golden Ear Awards for 2017. Published annually, the Awards give The Absolute Sound’s staff and freelance writers the opportunity to choose those components that are “truly great” and “that stand out from the competition”.
Clearaudio’s Concept MC and Essence MC are the most affordable entry points to the brand’s range of moving coil cartridges, priced at £650 and £960 respectively. The former was recently pitted against five higher-priced rivals in a Hi-Fi Choice group text, while the latter was reviewed by Adam Smith for Hi-Fi News. How did the pair fare?
Japanese cable and accessories experts Furutech continue their assault on the various unwanted ‘intruders’ that can get in the way of peak hi-fi performance. The new destat III effortlessly eliminates dust and static from analogue and digital media, from audio and video components and, well, from pretty much anything….