Florida Audio Expo 2020 Show
Musical Surroundings made an appearance at the 2020 Florida Audio Expo with products from AMG, DS Audio, Rogue Audio, Magnepan, and Clearaudio. To start, we have a pair of Magnepan .7 quasi ribbon loudspeakers ($1400) that are widely known to be one of the greatest performers within their price range. Powering the .7's was Rogue Audio's very special Cronus Magnum III integrated vacuum tube amplifier ($2995 as reviewed here), which I was excited to see. At the time of the Florida Audio Expo 2020, I had a Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum on loan from my local dealer, and I'd say it's an impressive amplifier and I very much enjoyed giving it a thorough listen. The Cronus Magnum also seemed to power the Magnepan .7's quite well.
The Musical Surroundings room was purely analog, spinning vinyl LP records on a AMG Giro turntable with a 9WT tonearm and outboard power supply ($14,240). The DS Audio DS E1 cartridge system ($2750) is an optical phono cartridge with separate equalizer that pairs with the cartridge. Like any other MC/MM cartridge, the DS E1 reads the record groove via a needle and uses an aluminum cantilever with an elliptical stylus that glides through the grooves. The real difference is how the cartridge detects the musical signal. A typical MC/MM cartridge detects the music signal via vibrations of the magnet or coil within the magnetic field, while the DS E1 cartridge detects music by capturing the shadow or brightness changes using LEDs and photocells.
There is virtually no moving mass besides the light shading plate. And since there is no magnetic resistance like in a traditional MM/MC cartridge, the tip of the stylus can move smoothly throughout the grooves of a record. Of course, all the records played were thoroughly cleaned by the Clearaudio Double Matrix Professional Sonic Record Cleaner ($6000).
It's great to see new technology being utilized in an otherwise ancient (to me) medium.