:: Late, but here...
I know, I know...those who chose to read the last page at the end of 2020 were kept under belief that further contributions would be more frequent. And, the best intention to do just that, never faded. Alas, even I cannot escape the global pathetic excuse called COVID-19 for every single failure to do anything...
First three months of 2021 were another chapter of what is seriously threatening to become "same old, same old". After 12 months of, more or less uninterrupted, lockdowns and restrictions, the world's populus has reached a point where short fuses of one's temper(ament) could not get much or any shorter. Consumers' expectations and demands from their providers have become more and more impossible to meet. Suppliers, most of them not that busy not to be more efficient in delivering, started facing objective difficulties in buiding products due to shortages of raw materials and, consequently. long lead times from their subcontracted partners... and then...
...then we also had to overcome the infamous 1st Jauary 2021. The D-day of modern EU vs. UK (and vice versa) times. Some said it was "D for Death", while others jubilated. Leaving politics aside as a textbook example of wasting one's life, I can only say that it is becoming more and more "Death" in terms of importing or exporting from or into the EU. The whole process looks as if deliberately created to cause havoc, obstacles, hindrances and whatever else could be mustered to make every aspect of one's commercial life (both in the UK and the EU) as miserable and hopeless as possible. While, on paper, the process should be exactly the same as if one was importing/exporting from/to any other part of the world, factual reality is diametrically different. Bureaucracy, tons of ridiculous documents, certificates and declarations, long delays in anything being processed...an exponentially growing number of justifiably disgruntled manufacturers, distributors, retailers and - above all and most importantly - customers.
Unless somerthing quickly and radically changes for the better (and I very much doubt it will), business with the EU will soon become something alike DonMcLean's verse from 'American Pie" tellling us about the Last Bus For The Coast and The Day The Music Died.
:: ZANDEN ODC-1 Optical Disc Cleaner
Kazutoshi Yamada's Zanden Audio Systems is a frequently mentioned "houshold name of ultimate desire" among the most discriminated music lovers and audio buffs. And, for a good reason, dare I say. So, why would somelike like Yamada-san, choose to create a magic potion which would rejuvenate the performance of not just your Compact Discs, but that of any optical disc (sound and/or vision)? I would not really know, but I do know something - IT WORKS.
It will cost you £35 incl. VAT to become a proud owner of 50ml (I think) of the Zanden ODC-1 Optical Disc Cleaner in a fine spray container. Instructions for use as simple as they could be: Spray the ODC-1 several times onto the reading side of the optical disc (CD, DVD, BlueRay, etc) and wipe off the liquid gently with a soft, disposable tissue or cloth. Most importantly, do listen to one track from your current favourite disc before and after the treatment.
Before I tried the effects of the ODC-1 on one of my most frequently played CDs, I momentarily wondered if the product should, perhaps, have been called OCD-1 instead. Silly thought, as Yamada-san never does or gives anything to others that does not work and works well. Like it or not, the ODC-1 does work and does remove another "curtain layer" from the sound of every single CD I have treated so far. How, why? No idea. Nor do I need to know. All that matters is that I truly appreciated the positive results registered by my ears. and, equally so, that the effect did not diminish a couple of weeks later.
Voodoo, snake oil or mumbo jumbo it may be, but if they all did what Zanden ODC-1 did to my CDs, I would not mind at all. And would wish there were more of the kind for all and sundry true sonic enhancement purposes.
:: CARDAS CLEAR BEYOND PHONO X2 (DOUBLE) + GROUND CABLE
Good friends from Oregon may keep a seemingly low profile when bringing new products into life (read: understated supremacy is usually the best), but that does not mean that, as and when felt it would be appropriate to do so, interesting and sonically rewarding new things do not happen.
So far this year I have seen two new creations from Cardas Audio. While quite far away in function from each other, they are another solid piece of evidence how good and intuitive George Cardas and his team always are. CLEAR BEYOND PHONO X2 (called "Double") happened on the back of a personal request from an exhibitor at Munich's High End 2019 who wanted much more than the, already truly remarkable, "regular" Clear Beyond Phono cable offered in terms of sonic performance. So, how about using a Clear Beyond Interconect as a starting point, leaving either RCA or Cardas Gold XLR connectors at one end and then...then, instead of the same at the other end, you add a Phono Interface Box with a 6-inch long "tail" finished off with a tonearm 5-pin DIN straight or 90deg connector (or any other your tonearm may require). Such a final product looks mighty, sounds grossly better than what it de-throned at the top of the Cardas Phono Cable pyramid and has a no less serious cost - £5000 incl. VAT for a 1.25m length and terminations of your choice.
Grounding of any audio component is, theoretically, a relatively simple and straightforward task. In practice, however, this subject has been shrouded in quite a bit of mystery over the decades garnished with a number of, less rationally explicable, manners and modes of conduct. One thing, however, became very much of a fact within the past few years - ground (earth) wires can and do influence the overall sound of an audio system to quite a serious extent. The more capable and resolving the system happens to be, the more audible those differences will be. It has also become known that a quality ground cable connected to any unused input on a preamplifier and amplifier without the other end being connected can substantially reduce the overall noise levels within the system.
Welcome the new Cardas GROUND CABLE (or Ground Wire as printed on the outer insulator of the product). Following the legendary Golden Ratio pattern within the conductors, it is meant to be used between any two components in need of a good, solid ground connection. And, can also be had with an audio connector on one end and used as a noise reduction cable with the opposite end left "open". The new Ground Cable standard termination is spade or banana and a 1m set costs £135 incl. VAT.