Living with SYD S 10, by Vassilis Theodoropoulos, Athens, Greece, September 27, 2008
My Introduction to high end audio occurred during my college years when during a visit to Lyric in NYC Mr. Michael Kay, let me listen to the big Infinity IRS, accompanied by an array of Mark Levinsons.
University scholarships and many bonuses that amount to several BMWs were invested in equipment in pursuit of the “live” sound. However, the result was mostly frustration than the expected improvement. At this point, a 15-year audiophile, had pretty much given up on high end audio, due to “voodoo” staff I had to follow for better sound, until I came across an abused Simon Yorke S4. I contacted Simon who agreed to refurbish it. I send it to Spain and a month later it came back brand new. The cost: nothing. It was part of the life time warranty the product has. The S4 was the component, with a budget Blue Point Special that allowed me to start getting some enjoyment out of my source material. It does not mean that my previous turntable was bad. It was the complexity of adjustments and the constant care required that was bothersome. On the S4, all was simple with easy to understand geometry, made simpler with Simon’s instructions.
As the years went by, the interaction with Simon became a good friendship, which gave me the opportunity to ask him to get the #1 S10 when produced, which I received in January 2008. As always, Simon’s step-by-step instructions were simple to follow and accurate, which allowed for a quick set-up. The S10 and its tone arm are extremely minimal with focused geometry, thus specialists are not needed for installation. The tools supplied, a good scale, a strobe to check/adjust the speed, a test record and ample of light, for some of us, is all you need.
I selected about 30 of my favorite “test” records. At first, I did not know what to believe. The sound was different, for the better, than I was accustomed. Very detailed, with all the instruments pinpointed in space, yet very musical. Large instrumental works had the real scale. Was I there? But let’s start at the beginning.
The first group of records I played was Jazz and New Age. As the time was passing and the break in process was taking its course, the sound was improving. Bass was solid with outstanding kick and articulation. The mids were natural with no euphoric bloatness that is many times associated with record players. The voices were like you were in the studio. The highs excellent with the fading of the cymbals extremely close to the Istanbul and Sabian cymbals of my drum set in my listening room. Studio albums were followed by live recordings, the same performance. Each instrument clearly defined, but always part of the whole and with timed beat. OK, Jazz sounds right, but can it rock?
The second group, with rock, punk and blues got lined up. All sounded like being with the artists at the studio. Granted, good recordings were outstanding to listen and feel the emotions emitted from the artists efforts. Bad recordings were OK. You focused on the music, with the understanding that the engineers had a lot more to learn. You could still enjoy the music, hear things you never knew existed, appreciate the artists’ contribution, but getting the urge to send them an email to change engineer.
Classical music sounded excellently as well. It is not my favorite genre, but I listen frequently and have the basic work from most composers and many select performances that stand out. Firstly, It passed the test of Richard Strauss’ “Also sprach Zarathustra” (Michel Schwalbe, Berliner Philharmoniker, Herbert von Karajan) at full blast. In general, large scale orchestral work was awesome. The soundstage very broad and deep, the dynamics present when the material demanded. The sounds were properly articulated from the lightest to the big slam with presence and articulation. What I enjoyed the most was the proper fading of the instruments’ harmonics, especially in the higher end of the frequency spectrum. There is no abrupt end to the cymbals, unless is the artists’ intent.
I can safely say this is the best record player I ever owned and most likely my last one. This is not an inexpensive recordplayer. But if cost is an object, I would prefer to buy the S10 and pair it with one of many excellent integrated amplifiers in the market and a good pair of speakers, thus bringing the whole system price down to relative affordability.
Simon Yorke S10 and S4, with interchangeable tonearms
Grado Statement and Clear Audio Concerto phono cartridges
Burmester 01 CD player
FM Acoustics 122 Phono Amplifier
FM Acoustics 245 Preamplifier
Mark Levinson 334 Power Amplifier
German Physiks Borderland Mk II Loudspeakers
Cables: FM Acoustics for phono and CD player (both RCA), Symphonic Line pre-to-amp (balanced) and German Physiks loudspeaker cable (same as speaker’s internal wiring)