Cornet 2 tube phono stage impressions
Feb 25, 2006 at 6:16 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 1


Supafly & The Funky Pimps
Sep 13, 2002
I finally posted some impressions on this as a follow-up in the DIY forum. It's posted there because I was a project, but I wanted to post some impressions in this forum, so here they are. We can always use a little more vinyl in here, IMO.

If I was any further behind... I'd be all caught up!
I really wanted to wait and do this right, but life is blowing right by while I'm doing other things (like working for a living), so I'm going to post a few brief impressions from tonight.

Gear used:
Sota Moonbeam, with Grado Gold cart
Hagerman Cornet 2 phonostage
crimp-terminated L5CFB ICs
Ear+HD amp
AKG K701 headphones

Cowboy Junkies "Trinity Sessions"
(four disc, single-sided, 45 RPM, 200 gram pressing)
Love and Rockets "So Alive" and "Holy Fool" remixes
Bruce Springsteen "The River"

I have been fiddling with the tubes in my Cornet 2 for the past couple weeks, checking a bunch on the hickok, and trying out different combinations. I finally have a decent combination in there. I also cleaned up a bit of flux that I somehow missed. So tonight I set it up, and cued up a 45rpm pressing of the Trinity Sessions. Oh man, it just may have been an out-of-body experience! Vinyl is growing on me more and more, but this is the first time I can honestly say I was blown away by it. Outstanding.

The Cornet 2 is not as rich black as the Emmeline phono stage, but it's still very quiet. Being tubed versus solid state, I guess I expected a bit of that. You have to turn the volume up well beyond half to hear any subtle noise, but of course if there is a record playing, the music is quite loud at that point. I still want to try and track down that last bit sometime. It's a VERY subtle bit, but knowing it's there makes me tweak. My original complement was fairly noisy, IMO, but the rotation installed right now is working really well.

More on the music: of course Alan Anton's bass work in "Sweet Jane" is a perennial favorite of mine, and it has never sounded so good to me. Very rich, well-defined, and with excellent extention. The cymbals in this track are also just beautiful, especially near the end of the track. On "Postcard Blues", you can pick up a faint reverberant slap from the kick drum, returning from the far wall of the church. Often, this sounds like a muffly hit, but it is distictly a kick and corresponding slap, very soft, and very close together. At times you can hear Margo's lips parting before she starts to sing. It's almost a bit voyeuristic, as though you are invisible, and walking around amongst them during the recording. Wild. The harp on "I Don't Get It" and "Postcard Blues" is simply an amazing piece of recording. It comes through so clean and clear, without any hint of grain, or edginess. The same cannot be said for Margo's vocals. At times there is a bit of sibilance. This is more technique than poor engineering in this case, I believe. I should call her up and ask her.

So, the bass line and harp are beautifully rendered. How about the midrange? It's pretty sweet as well. Passages of note are Michael Timmins' guitar work on "Blue Moon Revisited", and also the dobro on "Misguided Angel". The tone is gorgeous. It's well-defined, and while it is certainly full and rich in it's range, it retains an airy quality. Excellent definition, and it while it's 'right there', it's not over-emphasized.

Overall, the full range is beautifully presented. It's smooth, and very lively. Lively? Does not sound like the Cowboy Junkies, perhaps, but it is lively- almost ethereal. I was very into it, if you couldn't tell! The setup is plenty fast, and is seems well balanced, tonally. The K701s are a great match with this rig, better than the HD650 with regard to the bass extention. It is just a bit too fat with the Senns. On my CD rig, the Senns fair more favorably than the 701s, on much of the material I listen to. It's darn close, though. The 701s paired with a modest turntable rig is thoroughly enjoyable. I am very pleased with this setup so far.

Much of my record collection is fairly old, physically, so a good cleaning machine is going to have to happen sometime this year. I am going to be listening more vinyl now than I have been. I enjoyed listening to "The River", and also some Love and Rockets, mainly as a point of reference in this case. Although I have owned and enjoyed the Trinity Sessions ever since it was first released, my experience with this pressing is quite limited.

I may add to this mini-review later on, but wanted to get at least these initial impressions up.

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