Sunday, January 31, 2010

Quads and Plinths

Here is another picture of two of the plinths we listend to.  The idea was to use the same 301, Schroeder arm and cartridge and simply move them from table to table.  The arm is mounted on a "pod" that has no connection to the plinth so it can be "hotswapped" ala the Lab 47 arm.  The Two plinths pictured are a solid maple one and one from delignit.  Each plinth had its own character and more time is needed to get the "sounds" of each sorted out.

Speaking of the sound, the system we were listening to was also unique to say the least.  It consisted of 3 pair of Quad ESL 57's arranged in an interesting manner.  Two of the units were stacked and facing outward and a single unit was traditionally placed facing the listener.  To make things even more interesting the three units per side were wired in series to net a 48 ohm load and were driven by vintage PP triode amps (Leak, Beam Echo, Marantz 9's and some sid smith 300B's).
The sound is unlike any quads I have heard.  We know all of the words to politely describe Quads and this setup has them all and then you must add the words Big and Dynamic!  We were somewhat limited in how loud we could go by the 15W amps but it was still shocking how different it sounded than a pair of single '57's.  More to come.....

Lemon Lulu

I was dropping the transformers for the 284D amp off to JC yesterday and I met his adorable daughter.  When I saw a rabbit on her shirt I mentioned that I had a bunny named Lemon Lulu she said that Lulu was her name too so I promised to show her a picture.

Don't let the harmless face of this 9 pound beast fool you.  It is unfazed by the 160 pounds of big dogs that he shares space with,  the good news he is litter trained (He humped the grey cat one day and used their litter box and it was his from that day on) but the bad news is he likes to chew on stuff.  Anything on the floor is game and he has a particular liking for vintage tube boxes and old wires.  He also has a particularly interesting chase reflex.  If a 40 pound toddler is running at full speed across the room, he will take him down and if I didn't know better I'd think he has a little Mel Gibson in him.
Who knows all of the anger and destructive behavior could simply come from attaching the Lemon Lulu name to a boy.

keeping things in the family...

I just noticed that Steve Schell has a pair of MI-1444's listed on eBay... Steve, being the American Museum of HiFi, is one of my heros... a genuine and solid guy.. his passion is evident the instant you meet him... definitely family... I have heard these woofers several times, but the best being on these old horns of mine:

Through Karlson's, shallow front horns, and in reflex boxes, I have not heard heard them make quite the same magic as that of a nice, long, straight front horn... and, from that, I just think that their best application is midbass... Steve Blair has a pair... and these old horns of mine that he was wise enough to snag just really mate well...

Blair is working on a nice system... one that plays music late into the night, hell, nearly until dawn... because of that, every visit to see him is a blast.. check out the story of his birthday week.. lots of bling: Josh drivers, Azuras, mercury, Coral, DHT's, etc.....

Saturday, January 30, 2010


I was cleaning up my desktop and came across the images Gary Gill sent me from new years eve in DC.  When I first looked at the pics, I was reminded by all the fun we had listening but in trying to type in a lame blog entry I found that the images of the event spoke to me far more than the sound.
At some point the analytical side of me takes over and forces me to make proclamations so at this time I'll punt and say find your emotions from your own passion.

Peht Mak Mak...

so we *finally* were able to go eat Thai in vegas.. long wait at the restaurant.. the smells torturing us... starvation.. we order.. Dave orders "peht".. ahh.. maybe we will really get spicy.. J Rob reinforces this.. "peht mak mak"... Mr. Oh.. same.. me, the same... and then the German.. always causing problems.. Frank wrecked us.. German > English > Thai... *not* spicy... Frank, we will get you back!

Luckily, this led to a package I received this week with a return address naming "J Rob"... real kaffir lime.. and several baggies of different peppers... ahh... you the man.. tonight I am all jazzed up on peppers.. a handful of them, seeds and all in my green curry... sweating.. the ice storm that landed in Memphis last night has nothing on "peht mak mak"...

Friday, January 29, 2010

Inductive Volume Controls...

Thanks and props to Bench for the term inductive volume control. It is the only one that perfectly describes the operation of both autoformer and transformer volume controls. See the posts at Intact about one of the many merits of autoformers over transformers - vastly superior current delivery... "drive", if you will... autoformers are always the choice if you don't need galvanic isolation... (and in a home audio system, you shouldn't!)

Along those lines, I finally updated the Passive Aggressive page with pictures of a few passives I built last fall... a remote version is about 75% complete.... and in a more modern chassis size.. so we can sneak a line level crossover under the hood...

Strain on my Brain.

Here is a quick shot of the 10 or so cartridges I have been playing with the past few years. Someday I'll turn up the fabulous original and add it to the collection for mono.  (this means if one shows up on the bay I have dibs and I don't care who saw it first!)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Dude! A *local* score.....

unusual these days... not eBay or a web scouring... local!

One of the antique radio club guys called me about an electronics shop shutting its doors... retiring... but I didn't expect to come home with a new pile of meters, mercury, and thoriated tungsten!

and a genuine NOS 304tl... not a burned pull... always a treat....

Ver Halen finally picked a tube....

after a few years of us working out schematics and ideas about his amp, Jon finally decided on the copper plate GM70... the breadboard work has been done.. time for chassis decisions.. on this one, since Jon is an accomplished (you'd better be!) woodworker, he wanted to do the chassis work... I only have to supply neatly wired, good sounding, boards... great for me.. all the more time to spend playing with the circuit...

pic is of a quick sketch of the power supply... and if you have to ask what the blue tubes are, you are off the blog!


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Origin of Species: Eleven Horns....

so I have known fellow horn junkie Victor Sierra for a while now... just swapping email as junkies do about horns... drivers... tubes.. transformers... and, of course, music... eventually he asked about the horn I had been using for upper mids... I had been turning lots of different flares in my shop... but he was a long time tractrix man... I zipped the fast flare Le Cleac'h profile off to him.. I think it was about two weeks before I got the call.. you know the one.. giant leap in the evolutionary chain... he was now walking erect... his only question: "Can you send the profile for the big midrange?"

so we are now a team... the horns depicted here are approximately one meter diameter... the top is for a compression driver.. below is for a field coil Lowther...


Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I nominate NFS audio for the Al Stiefel Legacy room at RMAF 2010

I would like to nominate Anton and Mike Of NFS audio as hosts for the Al Stiefel Legacy Room at RMAF 2010.  Chances are they will decline the nomination so we may have to band together and DRAFT their asses into action.  If they bring the lights and limoncello,  I'm sure there will be adequate resources from the young and eager manufacturers to provide plenty of sound support.  The only issue I see is getting the hotel to properly allocate guest rooms Vegas style so security isn't pounding on the door at 10:01PM saying "Shut it down boys".


Horn envy... Audio Magazine, April 1954

So Dowdy sent me an article about an SE amp a few years back... rare to be written in 1954... single ended was long dead by then.. and in the corner was this great cartoon... I think it is the sad friend the owner is showing this to that makes me laugh so much.. in any case, I love this horn!

thanks to the itishifi for the high quality scan.....

Monday, January 25, 2010

I hate that Yellow Dog.

Why do I have animals?  This was once a brand new Lowther replacement basket until Yellow Dog decided to jump up on the table and make it a chew toy.  He may look cute but I assure you he is pure evil.  There is one thing far more evil than Yellow Dog but I'll save that for another day.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sporting the Blue Bling....

So, yes, mercury does sound fabulous... it possesses that rare combination of warmth and dynamics... but I would be lying if I didn't admit that the stuff is serious bling... the crazy blue is enough, but those rare oldies with exposed oxide filaments are just two much..... check out this pair of different filaments.... vertical "V" and horizontal "Z"..... I'll dig out some more soon...

Sometimes you need to break some eggs.

Just finished a 16 pound amorphous 25W 10K OT for a WE 284D  and a 2.5 pound 3W 5K nickel output for a 45.  They both sit upon about 10 pounds of scrap copper from units that didn't measure up.  That Black thing in the background is Lucy (the good dog).  Later today I'll introduce you to Yellow Dog, the most evil creature on the planet.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Two arms are better than one

 I picked up a Lab47 RS-A1 arm prior to CES and got to play with it a bit in Denver.  Just got it set up on the empire and I'm really digging it.  It should really help out future cartridge comparisons.


Friday, January 22, 2010

Another one bites the dust.

The morning mail brought me a much awaited ebay transmitting tube and the filament decided it preferred to travel outside the plate stucture.


Monday, January 4, 2010

Spanish Sketches.

I went down to see my friend Ijaz in Washington DC last weekend to play with some Garard 301 plinths and various other things.  On one of the days we headed down to Nick Doshi's place to hear his new amps. The highlight of the sound was the 15IPS studio tapes from Sketches of Spain.  They sounded awesome and it was great to get a peek behind the scenes of the recording process.

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