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Audiophile Analog and Digital Quickies

05-05-2017 | By Robert H. Levi | Issue 91

Stein Music The Perfect Interface,  Pi

Slip Stein Music's Pi Interface Sheet under your LP and prepare for sonic improvement most every time. Whether you have a mat or bare surface on your turntable, these superbly designed Japanese paper mats are a bell ringer for sure. Comes in two models:  the Signature White brings nuance and sweetness to the forefront, with increased definition. The Signature Black, containing carbon and other secret sauces, magnifies the performance of the White and adds drive and dynamics to the presentation.

Compatible with all cartridges I tried and all turntables as well, you really need to buy both models and tweak as you go. The White under a mono cart is very special, by the way. So thin you need no tonearm adjustments to use these. Amazing inventions from Holger Stein and his band of top German engineers! Phono just gets better and better! The Pi LP Mats finally achieve what LP mats should have done all along. Thank you Holger! Pricing in the USA is TBA, so check with your Stein Music dealer.

Kubala-Sosna Emotion USB Cable

Introduced in December, 2015, this $1200 USB cable makes digital, particularly high resolution sources, sound like the master tape. I have never heard tighter, more authentic imaging in digital. Images, particularly vocals, are rounded like the best analog. The space between images is blacker and I hear no phase distortion at all. I cannot imagine what the sound of the new Realization USB cable achieves, but the Emotion is my desert island USB selection. Whether you listen to Opera or Jazz, the Emotion transports you to the event in the room. Other top reference USB cables sound blurry and less neutral compared to this K-S winner. The Emotion is truly even sounding from the lowest bass to the most delicate super highs. Flexible and beautifully constructed, the USB connectors are perfection. Killer USB at an almost budget price! Try it, but do not expect to return it. Be aware that it needs about 30 hours of break-in.

Joe Kubala is a brilliant engineer that always satisfies the most picky audiophiles. The Emotion USB has my highest recommendation and is my current USB reference.

Audiomachina V8 Cartridge Vibration Absorber

This small wafer like device fits between the cartridge and tonearm. Made of exotic materials with a titanium core, it enhances imaging, reduces coloration, and generally improves every cartridge I tried. It even improves mono cartridges. Easy to install, it comes with simple instructions, lots of hardware, and an elegant screwdriver. This is not a toy, but a precision piece that sounds "broad spectrum," making your LP playback more neutral and tape-like. Even if you have a damped tonearm, the damping will likely be at the bearing, not cartridge.  The V8 is right up front, and just focuses the cartridge sound like I have never experienced. Another example of brilliant engineering for phono lovers I wish we had had twenty years ago. Price to be determined. Highly recommended!