Readers have asked us to review the confusing new flood of budget record decks now hitting the market. That, I thought, could be a problem, if they damage both invaluable test records as well as the music LPs we use for review purposes. Happily, budget pickup cartridges in particular have improved over the years, to a point where they track well and don't damage records. This has allowed budget decks from Pro-Ject, Audio Technica and Reloop we've tested to date to deliver superb results. Now Lenco have pitched into the market with their L-3808 Direct Drive turntable package we feature this month on p83. It shows just how competitive the vinyl market is becoming. Ironic that in its revival the LP is performing better than it ever has done in the past.
Music streaming is now eclipsing all else. You can hear as much as you want – and anything you want – for a small monthly fee. Yet listening like this is even more retro than playing LP. Before recorded sound (circa 1880) you'd throw a few coins at a traveling musician to hear his worth – and streaming is much the same. Hear it, pay for it – and then it is gone, only remaining in your memory, possibly to haunt you. You may be wanting to pay again then.
Such easy appreciation isn't now so simple. You have to get your network and comms sorted first, then get a streamer. When you've done this the world of music is yours to enjoy, providing you've got all your addresses right on the sub-net! No travelling musicians here; you're dealing with networks instead. Read about trials, tribulations and solutions to streaming in our Letters pages, starting p28.
Measuring the mains is a dangerous thing to do, but we have had to face this issue and what we are finding is interesting – perhaps alarming. The waveform is very distorted and this will find its way into the hi-fi through mains transformer leakage generating ground current noise. It suggests we will get better sound from cleaner mains and that's exactly what the IsoTek Evo3 mains regenerator offers – see our review on p51. It's a fascinating adjunct to the hi-fi.
The world of hi-fi gets ever more complex and expansive as decades roll by, new technologies arrive whilst old ones remain and are honed. I hope you find our coverage of old and new interesting.