Set the speakers in a triangle with your favourite chair, dim the lights and CarePack-2 is set to entertain with a sound presentation that engages with the excitement of a live performance. CarePack-2 comes with either bookshelf or floor-standing speakers. Both are good but, if you have space, go for the floor-standers!
Never Say No to Monitor Audio Bronze Speakers,
Monitor Audio Bronze 2 and Bronze 5 employ identical materials for all their drive units. AT first glance, you’ll notice that they’re all domes. Woofer, bass/midrange and tweeter domes are all dome-shaped and fabricated from ‘CCAM’. CCAM is an alloy of aluminium and magnesium with a ceramic coating for an ideal blend of stiffness and internal damping. But metal ‘rings’, right? Not CCAM. Because the drive units are all identical, when sound transitions from one drive unit to another, the result is a seamless and natural crossover.
Most dome drive units are metal dishes glued to a conventional paper cone. Not Monitor Audio! They created a coupling device that connects the voice-coil directly to the dish. This halves cone weight and provides scope for Monitor Audio’s genius. Up to the crossover frequency, the interface is rigid and transfers energy from the coil to the cone. At the crossover frequency, the interface starts to absorb energy like a spring and stops unwanted signals from reaching the dome. The dome itself forms part of the crossover.
Bronze series speakers come in 4 wood grain vinyl-wrap finishes: black ash, walnut, ‘Rosmah’ (rosewood? mahogany?) and white ash. Walnut and Rosmah have a foil base so light reflects through the grain like real timber. The white ash has a soft buff grain as well as a pressed timber texture. White floor standing speakers disappear into light coloured walls by reflecting their surrounding hue. Their disappearing-act is really quite remarkable.
Choose the speakers that best suit you.
In CarePack-2 you can choose between Bronze2 bookshelf speakers and Bronze5 free-standers. Set the Bronze2 on furniture 50-70cm off the ground to put the speaker approximately at ear level. Bronze5 sits directly on the floor so that their speakers naturally lineup with ear-level with a small tilt. Bronze5’s two 5″ bass cones have a similar surface area to the 6″ Bronze2 and so they produce a similar amount of sound. But the ‘5’s smaller mid-bass delivers clearer midrange and the dedicated 2nd woofer improves bass quality over the B’2. If you can afford the extra space and money, Bronze5 always sounds better.
The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable
Look, I’m serious about turntables, and so is Pro-Ject Audio!
Debut first appeared 10 years ago and has gone through five evolutions to emerge as one of the greatest bargains in audio! What do you get? The plinth is thick high-density fibreboard, coated in real walnut timber veneer. The motor is driven by a mains isolated power supply that generates its own 50Hz sinewave. The bearing is bronze and stainless steel and their machining tolerances that fit so they’re almost airtight! The platter is heavy pressed steel for its uniformity and flywheel effect that the unique pressing provides. Tonearm and head-shell are one-piece carbon fibre. That means that any energy that cartridge didn’t covert into sound is transferred, away from the stylus, to a massy brass bearing assembly. The counterweight is decoupled from the tonearm to minimise resonance. The counterweight is lowered to the diamond’s centre of gravity for improved stability.
The 2M Red cartridge is a $190 Ortofon model from Denmark. For $750, it’s a really very impressive package.
Not one of the Debut’s features are superfluous creature comforts? Audio’s greatest bargain doesn’t automatically drop the stylus at the start of the record. It doesn’t lift it off at the end either. No pitch control. Every aspect of the Debut Carbon DC is designed to escalate sound quality. Customers are surprised that background noise (surface noise?) is much lower than they expected. And sound projects (no pun intended) from the speakers to fill your room.
There is a little tweak that I can perform in the shop after isolation’s over. CarePack-2 includes a 6-axis in-store stylus alignment. I can align the stylus in all six-axis for perfect high-frequency tracking. It ‘guilds the lily’ but totally worth it.
Digital Done Right
Of course you still have CDs! They’re not totally outdated by streaming convenience. And hunter-gatherer trips to garage sales and op-shops will likely build a better CD collection these days than it will, vinyl. But what to play them on? CD players are thin on the ground.
Rotel still makes CD players. And their CD11’s a ripper. It’s heavy. Everything Rotel builds is heavy. That’s important in a CD player because its mechanism is affected by vibration. It gets vibration from the spindle motor, as well as from the sound that the speakers produce themselves. With less vibration, a CD player delivers better sound. CD11’s mechanism is plastic, but it’s screwed down onto a heavy steel base and that, in turn, is screwed down onto the heavy steel chassis of the CD11.
Rotel up-samples 16bit digital to high-resolution 24bit data before conversion to analogue. In doing so, Rotel loses the ‘clinical’ or ‘digital’ character that old CD players produced. Rotel CD players sound clean, warm, lively and authoritative.
A Bluetooth Amplifier
Rotel’s A11 integrated amplifier is a gutsy-sounding amp with enough current output to bring any speaker to life. It partners especially well with Bronze2 and Bronze5.
A11 has connections for the Pro-Ject turntable, the CD-11 CD player, a tuner if you so desire and two AUX connections. I like connecting one of them to the headphone output of a TV. In the menu, you can set the level of the TV input and then adjust the volume using your TV remote. But its most versatile connection is Bluetooth.
Rotel APT-X Bluetooth is built-in and it sounds great streaming from Spotify (MP3) or Tidal (CD/FLAC) and it’s how I mostly listen to the radio lately, with ‘TuneIn radio’ and ABC’s ‘Listen’ app.
Hi-Fi News Agrees With Me!
“Rotel has come up with another excellent pairing in the CD11 CD player and A11 amplifier. The two are natural companions, working to deliver an even-handed and musically satisfying sound at a highly competitive price.”
Everything wires up with decent wire. There’s no point in choosing great equipment in CarePack-2 only to have it let down by ‘freebie’ wires. The wire that Pro-Ject supplies with their turntable is excellent – no need to change that – but the CD player calls for something better.
I hand-make 1m cables with a good thick microphone wire and Amphenol RCA plugs. Their copper braids connect at the CD-end, but not at the amp-end so it acts as a proper screen. The braid shields your signal from high-frequency interference but doesn’t conduct any signal. The result is a smoother, cleaner sound. Take note of the writing and arrows on the wire run your signal in the same direction.
CarePack-2 comes with a 3m pair of thick 12 gauge speaker wire. You can position your new speakers in their best-sounding locations with 3m pairs. My banana plugs are gold ‘leaf’ style connectors for convenience. Not really a banana plug because of the absence 0f ‘banana-shaped-springs’ (that ruin the connection integrity, btw) , these plugs fit a standard 4mm socket and ‘graunch’ themselves into place, thus making excellent metal-to-metal connection every time.
Location, Location, Location…
Set your CarePack-2 turntable on top of your cabinet. A light rigid surface is ideal. At one stage, audiophiles everywhere used the 50cm2 LACK coffee tabletops from Ikea! Their thin, stiff surfaces, separated by a cardboard honeycomb made a text-book-perfect turntable platform for under $20! But whatever you have that’s a bit like that will be great.
The CD and amplifier can stack together. They come in silver or black anodised aluminium finishes. Ignore the photo. I’d prefer to set the CD player under the amplifier because the heat from the amplifier rises and the player will only last longer if it’s not absorbing amplifier heat.
The speakers should be in a triangle with where you sit. If you sit 3m away from your speakers, they should be 2.5-to-3m apart. I wrote a blog post on speaker positioning some time back. You can read it here; https://sbhifi.com.au/speakers-on-top-best-positioning-for-your-speakers/
Connect your turntable, CD and speakers to the amplifier. Connect the power pack and cords into a power-strip and you’re ready to go for the next 30 years!