The King Is Dead…

While I generally operate the P10 with feedback set to Local, there are certainly discs that benefit from the Global setting. A good example is the Decca Phase 4 Series, whose OTT dynamics can definitely stand a little taming. Playing the ‘Miller’s Dance’ and ‘Finale’ (from Falla’s Three Cornered Hat – Stanley Black and the RPO, Spectacular Dances for Orchestra – PFS 4118) using the Global setting locks in the soundstage, defining the space around and between instruments. It cleans up the splashy top-end and reduces the brightness and glare in orchestral tuttis, while still allowing the recording’s sheer energy full reign. It works just as effectively in sorting out splashy, congested pop recordings or bringing a degree of spatial and locational stability to big and overly dense orchestral recordings. This is no sledgehammer to crack a THD nut: It is a subtle corrective to allow for system matching and/or less than brilliant recordings that you still want to hear. The fact that you can switch it from the IR handset means it’s there if or when you want it – or if you simply want to see if it helps.

EQ curves: who needs ‘em?

When the P1 first arrived, besides its stellar performance, the thing that really sold it to me was the option to include additional EQ curves. I was already aware of the importance of correct EQ in playing classical recordings from the early stereo era, having encountered the facility on the FM Acoustics FM-222, ARC and Zanden phono-stages. But none of these was ideal: the rotary controls on the FM needed adjusting for each curve and while the Zanden and ARC did offer a switched solution, they omitted (at that time) the crucial Teldec curve used by DGG until it ceased record production the first time around. The P1 was the first phono-stage I came across that offered a push-button solution to selecting the EQ curves for early EMI, Columbia, Decca and DGG pressings. It’s a facility that, once heard is hard to forget, and the dramatic musical impact of using the correct curve on many mono and early stereo records is easily demonstrated. So much so that I’ve been doing that at audio shows for nigh-on twenty years. The standard reaction from the audience goes something like, “How can we not know about this?” Explain that there are many that either won’t or can’t hear the effect of correct EQ and it changes to an incredulous, “What? They can’t hear that?

At least part of the problem lies in the fact that it only applies to some records. If you don’t have those records, or only have later pressings of them, then they will likely be RIAA compliant and you won’t experience any benefits from switchable EQ. What this means is that whether you decide to take up the EQ option on the P10 (or P1) depends on the nature of your listening, the nature of your record collection and where you see it going. I’ve covered the issues in some detail in the article linked below, so I’ll not repeat the whole saga here.