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大開耳界:Monaco V2.0/3.0 turntable by Grand Prix Audio



  • edited March 2021
    When musical data is optically written on the surface of a CD, it is evenly distributed on the surface.  This, the speed of reading the data and streaming into the DAC are always meticulously adjusted when the optical head is reading from the circumference to the center.  

    There is a a technology called CAV (Constant Angular Velocity) to govern the speed of packeting the musical data when they are retrieved.  A master clock is often in the chain between the reader (ie transport) and the DAC, any timing difference due to the clocking inaccuracy is called jitter which impacts negatively on sound quality.  The human auditory system is very sensitive to rhythm/tempo thereby driving tremendous technological advancement of clock over the past two decades. 

    Take for example, the Wadax Reference DAC has an internal Zepto Reference clock which only produces 12 femtosecond (fs) of jitter inaccuracy in the transmission.  How much is a fs?  One quadrillionth of one second, 10 to the power of minus 15 of a second.  

    Back to the vinyl world, most of our LPs are in 33 and 1/3 revolution per minute (rpm) timed by a motor with a belt linked to the platter (belt drive) or a motor directly housed beneath the platter (direct drive).  While all the technologies have been put in the CD/computer streaming to minimise the jitter to the above astronomical magnitude, how much effort has been put to ensure the speed to the motor is in constant 33 and 1/3 rpm or 45rpm.  How much tolerance do we allow for TT on such speed requirement?  

    Arithmetically, if the speed of the motor has an inaccuracy on a 45rpm amount to 0.001%, then there is a ‘jitter’ of 0.027 second for every minute of music that we listen.  Would we accept this level of inaccuracy given mega bucks spend on mega tons of vinyl setup?  Are we already contended with the non-compressed analogue music at the expense of time distortion?  If we can live with a 27millisecond/min error in LP, shall we forget about all the Atomic clock, Zepto clock on the digital musical playback?

    Monaco is definitely working in the right direction to address this inaccuracy which destroys the rhythm and tempo of the music.  If you have one slightest doubt, go and listen to the Mozart Piano Sonata to experience the level of realism and beat accuracy presented by Monaco, absolutely stunning!!!


  • edited March 2021

    我聆聽了Da Vinci EQ/Zanden 1200S/風雅 0.35mv 和 Grand Prix Monaco 2.0/Robert Koda K10/Thales Exquisite Silver 0.25mv 同場播一樣的音樂。DV EQ 演繹「孤星淚」相當出色,寬闊的銀幕,熱鬧的氣氛,充滿電影感!Monaco 2.0出場時,角色之間的空間距離感,亮麗的歌聲和堂音,頓時從剛才的電影畫面變成現場有血有肉的舞台劇。如播莫札特鋼琴奏鳴曲,那麼Monaco 2.0演繹得太細緻了,除了速度夠快外,就連手指與手指間的微妙動作,都能如實地反映出來。DV EQ的聲尾則比較長,所以聽感上速度比Monaco慢。

    精準嘅轉速在這形勢吓確然係得天獨厚,任由EQ再換上什麼線什麼唱頭,只可以改變音色。相反 Monaco 在配搭上,還有很大空間,可是星期二的tutorial session,Thales exquisite silver 唱頭 0.25mv夾Robert Koda MC1 phono 選擇了64db 增益 (可以選擇72db,但是超低音涵數又要完全改過),播交響樂曲,是不夠增益。

    PT 為了令兩組黑膠訊源,在基楚上更加接近作比較,所以將兩組唱放輸出都設置64db,因為 Zandan 1200s 唱放的輸出也是64db。但風雅唱頭輸出比Exquisite silver 高了40%! (0.35mv versus 0.25mv in percentage terms is 40% higher.)

    因此我對 Monaco 2.0 還有很大幻想,為 exquisite silver 唱頭配上升壓牛,令 thales silver 有更大的發揮空間,看看 Monaco 如何精準地傳譯大編制的樂章,是我對她的期望!

  • edited July 2022
    Faust - Karajan Live in Paris (Warning: there is a no turning back if you play it by Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0)
    Instrument energy is powerful, explosive and under control.  I can comprehend the depth of musical note.  The depth of it is constituted by the fundamental frequency 基音 and its harmonics 泛音.
    If the speed of turntable is imprecise, some notes either disappear or blend in with another note to creature confusion. Music plays via the Monaco is complete in depth.  For example, the reproduction of chamber music always translates into totality of realism, as the perception of sound field is constructed on the precise foundation of each instrument’s 基音and 泛音, alongside ambience information captured by the recording engineer.  The perception of sound field is not just a random bunch of airy feelings come from nowhere.  
    The Faust under the baton of Karajan via Monaco 2.0 delivers the wholeness of a group of violins.  Yet I can still comprehend a single violinist within this group. Each violin radiates its own energy to deliver a holistic string session.  
    I also begin to understand the cohesive power under the baton of Karajan.  Before listening to Monaco, I could feel the power of the orchestra.  Now with Monaco, I could understand the conducting style of Karajan - fanaticism for tonal allure and rhythmic accuracy, alongside a very controlled conducting manner.
  • LamLam
    edited April 2021
    今次約見Chris主要是因為Edison最近寫了一篇關於Grand Prix Audio Monaco 2.0的技術與安裝經驗的文章,並且激發了我的興趣。我對直驅盤情有獨鍾,但到現時為止仍未找到一個心儀對象;我認同F1賽車的技術應用在唱盤是新的科技概念,值得推崇。雖然心中對Monaco有所保留,但我知道這一行不會失望,因為同場有極大知名度的Da Vinci。
    他選播了一系列預先準備好的「教材」,有Maria João Pire彈Mozart Piano Sonata,Original London cast的Les Miserables,Karajan Live in Paris等,讓我遊走於Da Vinci和Monaco之間聆賞。Monaco沒有明顯被比下去已經令我感到驚喜,但還不夠令我抺掉故有對直驅盤缺點的印像,極其量只可説是各有千秋吧。
    直至播放Arthur Grumiaux和David Oistrakh時,Monaco令我眼前一亮,Da Vinci-Fuuga (風雅) 的聲音是歐式華麗,而Monaco-Xquisite發出的聲音就是誠實!同樣是一支小提琴和一個鋼琴,在Monaco 播放時我聽到的不只是樂器定位準確,同時也能表達樂器大小的比例、兩件樂器之間的空間、與及音符與音符之間的空間。
    Karajan Live in Paris,放在Monaco播放Faust,它氣定神閒有條不紊的超級大動態演繹,全隊樂團超高速大能量的高潮結尾,使我終於明白指揮家控制不同樂組節奏的重要性。我相信這就是轉速近乎絕對準確才能重播至此境界,彷彿在黑膠系統接了Rubidium atomic clock一般!我已經找到心儀對象了。感謝Chris 在百忙之中抽時間讓我增廣知識。
  • edited April 2021
    Greetings AE forum members.  I am Tim Aucremann (tima) and this is my first post here.  I do not read the Chinese language and use Google translate to get a sense of the postings.
    Please let me express my thanks to all participants for their interesting comments on the Monaco 2.0; I enjoyed reading them.  I thank Edison133 for quoting from my review of the  2.0.  I also appreciate the comment of Thomas0701 about understanding the conducting style of von Karajan when listening with the Monaco turntable.  I have similar experiences with other conductors, hearing how they make new sense of a composition when heard with this turntable, for example Andre Previn conducting Shostakovich's 8th Symphony.
    One question if I may:  There were two pictures of the Monaco without the screw down clamp that comes with the table and has an LED indicating when clamp pressure is at a pre-set level.  One of the alternate clamps was a Shun Mook (picture no longer posted) and the other clamp I do not recognize but it looks very sophisticated.  Do you have experience comparing those clamps with the Monaco clamp that you can share?
    Fwiw, in my queue of work is a review of the SRA Virginia-Class Reference platform built for the Monaco 2.0.
    Thank you for allowing me to particpate.  This seems like an excellent forum.
  • edited April 2021
    A big welcome Tim. This forum will benefit from your vast experience and I look forward to reading your review on the SRA platform in due course.
  • edited April 2021

    Welcome to the AE community. The record weight you mentioned is Dalby Pirueta. It is the holy grail in our analog community. It delivers a very open sound field which contradicts with all other clamps which colour the mid range or adding extra energy to the upper bass area.  We don’t carry Shun Mook.  What you see is also from Dalby - ebony feet.  I want to add some weight to the motor control which is too light in weight. 

  • edited April 2021
    Thank you for the welcome Howie and Chris.   The Dalby Pirueta is impressive.
    Yes, the motor controller is too light in weight.  Absent other resources, I put a VPI Brick on it.

    Will AE carry  the Monaco 'table?

  • A resounding yes. 
  • edited April 2021
    復活節假期我的第一個節目,就是去了參加御品上環的「菲林模式」演播會。兩套黑膠系統分別選播不同的現場錄音。當天令我最深刻印象的是「孤星淚」Les Miserables (Original 1985 London Cast),試音歌曲包括:Master of The House,Little People,Do You Hear The People Sing?


    第二條提到發掘器材的價值。 一邊箱在Da Vinci Equilibrium "EQ" 唱盤,展示了鈦合金碳纖版的Dalby Pirueta Elemento唱片壓。由於它比Pirueta更加輕,所以它減輕了唱盤的負載,從而改進了轉速的準確度 ( Belt Drive 設計,Platter愈重,摩打和Belt的載荷愈大)。另一邊的Grand Prix Monoco 2.0唱盤,擁有電腦每秒檢測轉盤速度五千次的功能。如果轉速出現微細偏差,原來會影響歌者發音 ( Diction ) 的準確性。準確轉速是黑膠訊源基本中的基本,重中之重。

    第三條是音樂感來自能量和速度,尤其是低音。播放 “Master of The House" 時,Chris示範提升了Cessaro「項羽」超低音的音量由0db 至 +9db! 原來低音不足嚴重影響現場感、平衡度、動態。我很難相信Cessaro「項羽」超低音的音量竟然是+9dB,因為我五天前聽同一曲已好靚,但當時項羽音量只是0db。我明白了怎樣去衡量低音能量後,當Monaco唱盤播放這曲目時,我更要求Chris提升超低音量多1db至 +10dB!因為低音不夠,中音便漲了 — Chris 形容此乃「中音陷阱」。


    第五條是要表達主音和伴唱在演繹時的互動默契。聆聽 "Master of The House" 和 "Little People"後, 我深深認為AE上環已經達到此要求。

    第六條是關乎音樂播放要看到「畫面」。Cessaro 的 Wagner Silver Signature 號角喇叭和「項羽」超低音,再加上 Arya Audio 的 Airblade (氣刃)擁有180度高音擴散能力,真的可以調教出任何畫面。當天Chris把Wagner高音號角的sensitivity減少了2db,為的是幫助「氣刃」和 Cessaro 主喇叭更容易融合。

    第七條是消滅Ground/AC噪音。我認為AE的客戶明白這個最基本投資。上環系統當然用上Troy Signature NG地盒,Chris更為Dartzeel NHB-18S preamp 接上 2 x Dalby Audio Design 的 Kyoku (曲)— 旗艦地線來處理地噪,因為Dartzeel前級左右聲道的Ground是獨立。


  • edited April 2021
    Last Sat, I hosted an audition session in AESW for a new friend who apparently is a Generation Y without adequate exposure on vinyl.  People in this generation live in a world where computer audio, both hardware and software, is the only channel for music enjoyment.  The audio industry must accept the prevailing dominance of CAS appealing to Generation Y and Z and so forth.  Technological advances in software and hardware drive convergence in the product space with lesser and lesser differentiation on accuracy, processing speed and user interfaces.  

    The gentleman came with extreme enthusiasm and curiosity on almost everything in the showroom: from the vinyl system to the horn speaker, then to the Xiang Yu subwoofers and Airblade.  The 2 hours session went quickly with tremendous fun in sharing noise mitigation techniques. 

    As a host, I was still intrigued by the Monaco 2.0 turntable. It was my third encounter in a month.  Interestingly, the 'altar' of ultimate analog performance is characterised by mega size turntables serving the thrill of the eyes, more than the ears.   Sheer mass is but not the only way to approach the design of turntable.   Monaco bravely walks a different path achieving ultimate precision in speed stability.  Mega scale symphonic scores are always delivered with delicacy and complexity alongside impactful delivery of orchestral power in spite of Monaco’s compact presence. Energy is always delivered in a concentrated manner. The speed uniformity, coupled with the ultra tracking precision by the Thales Statement arm and Exquisite Silver champion unimpeded lyrical coherence, solid palpability of musical objects, and a stage with scale and perceivable dimensionality. Most importantly, tempo is rhythmically precise, which is the foundation of musicality.  

    My IT career began with size of computer occupying half of a room with processing power and storage around only 1% of my mobile phone now.  I belong to the camp of disruptive technology transformation.  

    Appearance can be deceptive. Monaco deserves serious attention beyond the audiophiles population. We should have an open mind to embrace new technology.  
  • The almighty Monaco 3.0 with super computer landed at AE SW ready for Hi End Audio Show from Aug 5-7.  We don’t judge quality by size and popularity. Only knowledge matters. 

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