Near-Field Nirvana Upcoming – Corner Industry News Update

by | Aug 20, 2020 | Component Reviews | 0 comments

Near-Field Nirvana Upcoming – Corner Industry News Update

Well, Fall is almost upon us and my sound space is starting to cool off a bit from the Dog Days of Summer. There has been somewhat of a drought of acquiring new gear to review, because of COVID 19.  I have spoken with many manufacturers who say that demand is high for products, but there are difficulties with their supply chains to purchase materials to manufacture goods.  Also, retrofitting work place environments to accommodate safety and the health of their workforce has been time consuming.  

Coming Soon   

The Near-Field Nirvana expects to shortly have in his hands the new ELAC/Audio Alchemy stack, Amp, Preamp/DAC and Phono-Preamp.  Also, the now classic Mahi-Mahi EL 84 tube mono-blocks. Praying for the arrival of the Zu Audio bookshelf speakers utilizing there unique horn like technology.  It will be fun pairing those 97 dB efficient speakers up with the Manley amps. Maybe even pair up the Rogue Audio Sphinx 3 with them, which was recently reviewed?  

Manley EL84 Preamp

Manley MAHI Amplifier

Turntable on the Cheap

I recently had a chance to listen to a vintage Hegeman HAPI 2 preamp, circa late 1970’s. This piece was designed by the late and great audio designer, Stu Hegeman of Harmon/Kardon Citation tube fame.  Rare as hen’s teeth to see or even hear on of those! My buddy, Dick McConser loaned me the piece.  I did not have a MM cartridge handy, so I plugged in my low output Ortofon MC into the preamp via my Rega 3 TT, and I could hear the potential how good it might sound with my Shure V15 type 3 cartridge. I just detest changing cartridges on the Rega, because of the fixed head shell and VTA issues.  

So, I thought I would call my quality used Vintage Audio shop here in town and ask what was on the menu for cool old turntables?  Doug said, ”NONE!” What, but you always have a half a dozen on hand? He said with the C-19 pandemic people were staying home listening to their old vinyl collections, or shopping for used LP’s.  He told me a turntable only lasts one day in the shop. Prices were up too.  Craigslist was no bargain to shop for used.

Audio-Technica AT-120XUSB Turntable

Audio-Technica AT-120XUSB Turntable

Ok, I wanted to spend only around $200.  So, I remembered that Audio-Technica was still making a bunch of turntables.  I called them and spoke with the order desk, they informed me they were back ordered up to nine months on most of the models! Their parts suppliers were affected by the virus.  Wow!  Plan C.  I called a local dealer here and asked if they had any stock on hand of the AT tables.  Curt said they had only ONE unit of the model I wanted.  The AT-120XUSB direct drive with removable head shell.  Wrap it up Curt, I’m coming to pick it up and I’ll take two extra head shells to go. Total $250.  I picked it up yesterday at the drive-thru masked window.  Terrific and thank you Echo Audio!

I rolled the car up the driveway and expected  a box resembling an overweight pizza box. NOT! The box was big and rather heavy.  I always equate poundage with quality. I must say, always been a fan of a good direct drive heavy table. More on that and the un-boxing of the unit.

Stay Tuned for Things to Come

Keep Listening and Be Safe,

—Ric Mancuso

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