At Portsmouth we have recently taken delivery of the Sugar Cube SC-1 by Sweet Vinyl. In short it makes the unlistenable, listenable. It sounds too good to be true doesn't it. As an unremitting lover of all things vinyl and analogue I completely dismissed the idea of putting a digital box anywhere near my turntable. To be honest I dismissed it somewhat contemptuously and was adamant it was an utterly terrible idea. I am now eating very large helpings of humble pie. I do not mind admitting, I was quite wrong.
I know what you are thinking, what if my vinyl is in mint condition, does it kill what was a perfectly good sound? I thought that too. If we accept the fact that it does what it says on the tin and takes pops and clicks out of vinyl, what else is it doing? Well you would be surprised. The SC-1 has 10 levels of filtration and a bypass mode. What I have found in my two or so weeks of playing with it, using vinyl of many varying qualities and ages, is that the bypass mode really does work. However I did discover that using a very low level of filtration on what I classed as a pretty minty album, Eddie Reader, Songs of Robert Burns, it took out some noise I didn't even realise was there and it sounded better than bypass mode. Now, with some classical albums from the late 50s early 60s that were quite unpleasant to play, I found that the more filtration I added the more the sound became rounded but that was at the top end of the filtration level. To be expected I think, mainly due to the age of the recording which even when new, I doubt it sounded perfect. So you might find there is a bit of a pay off in some cases. However, it never sounded dull or lifeless, just a little smoother.
One of my favourite albums of all time Extravaganza by Stackridge has been on my deck loads over the past two weeks. It's hard to find and even harder to find one that hasn't been trashed. For me that one album alone is worth it. This brings me to one of the other functions the SC-1 has. The click button. It allows you to hear exclusively what it is removing, so you only hear pops and crackles. That is a real eye opener, or should I say ear?
For the sake of science I also committed a heinous crime. I bought a battered looking album by Bill Haley and the Comets from a charity shop. I hurled it on the floor and proceeded to dance on it. I then put it on our work bench and savagely scraped in circles, that seemed to do the job. To look at it you would throw it in the bin. IT PLAYS. Not all tracks to be fair but, but those that do... WOW!
The SC-1 does not come with a standard remote but as you may have spotted it does have an ethernet port. Yes. there is a wireless setup and control app. I know it does not sound very analoguey but if you want to use it, it is really easy to set up and and simple to use. I will talk more about that in the next blog as well as using the set 7'' set up disc.
I purposely left the price bit until the end to make sure you kept reading. It's £1550. If you think about it, it's not unreasonable as it means there is, (within reason), nothing you can't now play. Old, new or worn albums become enhanced. Let's say you had £1550 to put towards your system nothing will do what the SC-1 can. You could get a great cartridge, for your vinyl and it will still snap crackle and pop like a bowl of rice krispies. You could make some massive improvements to your cables and again your vinyl will still be crackle..... you get the idea. The SC-1 will be on our website shortly and another blog will be here next month.
We look forward you seeing you at Audio T Portsmouth soon. Until then happy listening.
James, Joe and Nick.