A new SUT survey 2019

"After getting a Soundaries Audio's Western Electric 618B replica, I had to tame my strong desire to taste it... My dedicated XLO Signature phono cable wasn't able to stand the wide RCAs, so I had to use Litz/Eichmann cables... but this is only an excuse... I was busybusybusybusy! When my daily job sort-of allowed my strength back, again... voilà! I prepared a quite complex survey, having my superb The Head TX-4 vs. Peerless 4685, Western Electric 618B, Neumann Ktr 147C (made by Beyer) and Soundaries 618B clone... all the contenders were used with my cherry-picked Lumiere DST and Garrardzilla. It wasn't an easy task, folks... most of all, the above SUTs had different RFI rejection habits: Tim de Paravicini's and Peerless 4685 the most easy and deadly silent of the lot." I admit I was quite curious about the Thai WE618B clone: the original WE618B is unobtanium and fetching truly high prices on pre-owned market, so having an earthly priced design is such a premium...

... but how does it sound, really?

... and what does it mean "clone"?

Before trying to reply to the above questions, let me point it out the people at Soundaries Audio modeled their flagship SUT after direct comparison with their own original Western Electric's...

As I also did, I compared it to my own 618B and...

I also strongly wished to compare VS. my personal reference - i.e. The Head by TdP, bar none.

The WE618B is amazingly - considering its age - modern sounding: detailed, smooth and unforgiving despite it's not huge headroom and frequency range...

The Head is the winner... it's faaaar superior, in my combo/rig, to highly overrated Tango MCT-999: extremely detailed, 3D, fast and dramatic in dynamics.

The Neumann is quite romantic, very pleasant but slightly forgiving vs. the best SUTs...

Peerless 4685 is... WOW! an humble, industrial masterpiece, superbly performing... something I could live with forever. Lively and full-bodied.

Soundaries 618B is such a surprise!

It keeps the authority, smoothness and 3D of original 618B, with an added sense of breathing (someway) unheard in WE's... more similar to my personal reference - i.e. The Head.

SUT is an audio art-niche: they add or subtract spice with naturality to a good recipe... the best SUT matches with a given cartridge into s system.

When you find the heavenly match, you DO understand it with goosebumps, period!

To find this distilled, Zen-like findings... few words, inversely proportional to the hours spent on comparing the evaluated MC-transformers, and a lot of late-night listening-sessions were needed.

I forced myself to remain focused and decided to only use two records to evaluate the above gears: a Fritz Hauser's solo-drumming 2-discs set on Hat Hut's Swiss label and beloved Gillian Welch & David Rawlings' The Harrow and the Harvest, both true full-analog recordings.

The subtleties, harmonic richness, superb details contained in the above mentioned so vastly different stellar quality discs is infinitely intriguing and inspiring to me... the shimmering cymbals on Hauser's discs and acoustics of recording venue never end to surprise me... Gillian and David's acoustic guitars and voices are just a dream...

The above SUTs give their interpretation: more wood or more strings on guitars, trueness of natural sibilants on voices, right weight on drums skins and cymbals brass and decay.

Worlds of beauty, infinitely heartwarming and untiring.

I herewith give a strong 8/10 to Soundaries' 618B clone... confirming The Head TX-4 10/10.

WE618B is, in my humble opinion, 9/10... Peerless 4685 is 7/10 and Neumann/Beyer is 6/10...

The above ranking is just my personal taste, in my system, with my own ancillaries.

Bravo to Thailand's Soundaries Audio for the achievement... my only advice is to improve packaging when commercially dealing with their nice products and shipping.

Fowarder's agents hands can be heavy, indeed!

Stefano Bertoncello