“Mike Valentine is to blame”: falling in love again or how I came to be a reel-to-reel rambler

In my previous ramble I introduced you to Mike Valentine. Then again, chances are you knew of him already. To some, he’s a renowned underwater film cameraman credited on an enviable list of A-list movies. To others, he’s the owner of the excellent UK audiophile record label, Chasing the Dragon, with quite a reputation for his stunning quality direct-cut vinyl albums. To me, however, he will always be the man who is to blame. Or, to put it another way, the man to whom I shall be eternally grateful. For what? For my near-religious conversion to open reel tape and the enormous amount of listening pleasure I’ve enjoyed since. Can I tell you the story? Go on, indulge me….

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Gamut amplifier and DS Audio phono cartridge scoop The Absolute Sound’s Golden Ear Awards 2017

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”.

Among the worthy winners in 2017 are Gamut Audio’s M250i mono power amp and DS Audio’s DS 002 optical phono cartridge.
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Open reel tape versus direct-cut vinyl: two versions of Chasing the Dragon’s superb ‘A Tribute to Ella Fitzgerald’ go head to head

Audiophile record label Chasing the Dragon has been causing quite a stir with its superb quality direct-cut vinyl albums. Earlier this year, the label also began to release master tape versions of those albums, taken from simultaneous recordings of the exact same live studio performances. As a lover of both vinyl and tape, I couldn’t wait to compare them – providing the perfect excuse for another reel-to-reel ramble….
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Beyond the ordinary: Clearaudio Ovation turntable in Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin

Red Bull’s monthly magazine The Red Bulletin features out-of-the-ordinary stories from “the world of Red Bull and its playgrounds” spanning sports, culture and lifestyle.

In home entertainment, the September 2017 issue includes an Inner Space photo shoot featuring “the best tech for kicking back in your pad.” For the audiophile, The Red Bulletin’s exclusive selection includes Clearaudio’s Ovation turntable with its timeless minimalist design.
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“Exceptional sound at an affordable price”: Hi-Fi World approves of Timestep’s EVO GR, an upgraded version of Technics’ SL-1210 GR deck

Devon-based Timestep has garnered something of a reputation (and bagged a number of awards) for its shrewd modifications of several iconic Technics turntables. The latest of these is the EVO GR, an upgraded version of Technics’ budget SL-1210 GR deck. Hi-Fi World editor Noel Keywood takes it for a spin.

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The Concept and the Essence: two sub-£1,000 Clearaudio MC cartridges are put to the test in Hi-Fi Choice and Hi-Fi News

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?

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Furutech’s new destat III effectively eliminates dust and static from analogue & digital media & components

PRESS RELEASE

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….

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“A fantastic solution”: Furutech’s SK-Filter among Hi-Fi Choice’s pick of six accessories for fine-tuning your sound

“Try before you buy” is the wise advice from Hi-Fi Choice when it comes to choosing from the “astonishing array” of hi-fi upgrades and accessories now available to the ardent audiophile. In the July issue, the magazine recommends six of the best add-ons “to take the performance of your system to the next level”.

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“Outstanding” van den Hul DDT II Special MC cartridge wins Hi-Fi Choice group test

In the latest group test by Hi-Fi Choice, six sub-£1,000 moving coil cartridges battle it out to discover which is “the king of spin.” Just nudging in at £999, van den Hul’s most affordable model, the DDT II Special, takes the prize.

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“Surely one of the finest pick-up cartridges around”: Hi-Fi News is struck by van den Hul’s new Crimson XGW Stradivarius

“Sometimes its difficult to enthuse about pick-up cartridges thanks to their workmanlike, matter-of-fact sound,” writes Nick Tate in the July issue of Hi-Fi News. But Tate has no trouble enthusing here. “Within seconds of its stylus hitting the groove, the Crimson XGW Stradivarius sings like a canary…. Suddenly you’re marvelling at the almost supernatural tightness of the syncopation between bass guitar and drum kit, and the soaring lyricism of the lead guitar.”

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