Friday, April 30, 2010

I just spent $11.87 on ebay.

Here is a list of what I scored:

10 batteries for my digital scale for $1.20 shipped from china
10 batteries for my 40X loupe for $1.20 shipped from china
10 batteries for my digital caliper $2.99 shipped from china via brooklyn
2 micro forceps shipped from (i suspect) china via florida for the balance.

Lets ignore the fact that we could not send the batteries within the US for $1.20 and focus on the bigger picture.

Even though I bought a lot of crap from china, I still think I helped the planet and my personal economy at the same time. For me to shop locally and buy all of this would take me about $30 in gas to hopefully find it and then pay $5 a battery if I do actually find what I need.

Take two of this today was dealing with low battery life from my cordless phones. I have 3 different models that give me about 10 minutes talk time and need new batteries. When you go to the manufacturer to get a replacement battery you are looking at about $30 or the cost of a new phone at target. I know aftermarket replacement batteries are common and came up with $3 batteries for all of them (shipped!) by typing the number into ebay. That means three more devices are saved from a landfill. If people make their old stuff work, they do not encourage new stuff to be made and that puts us in a better place.

at some point in the future I may go on about printer cartridge costs and the evils of a $60 printer with $80 to replace the cartridge but that is a different rant altogether.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ruppert Wrecked Me...

I was cruising the web.. and was destroyed.. by Western Electric.. again...

I am not sure how I missed it, but is a site loaded with quality vintage gear. But more than that, it was conceived to help track, maintain, and restore these pieces of gear that are truly of museum quality... things that are crafted to last a few centuries... things that have a past and a future....

Tom apparently has not been updating the website, though. I am actually happy to see that. From my understanding he is a world class physician and I think he should pursue that line of work. But I do wish you all could talk to him. His stories are that of any audiophile trying to get good sound, but they just happen to involve things like 205d's and all, yes, I typed ALL of the Western Electric horns. The 12A that I posted above is a truly rare beast. The mouth is all solid wood, not the plywood of the much more typical 15A. He told me this was his favorite. I bet it wasn't all that bad... (big laugh)...

Notice the stand. As I have been working on a horn stand, the elegance of this is amazing to me. So simple, yet looks so appropriate. I love it.

This picture is why I say Tom Ruppert wrecked me again. I knew about the 12A's, but this??? Holy Guacamole! Would you look at the tube line-up in that transmitter! I think that is my new favorite photograph. (sorry, dave)

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Another field coil in the works.

The box showed up yesterday with some assorted parts from Robert. 3200 turns of wire and little rigging later I have some measurements of the same magnet structure (pole piece and front plate) with an alnico magnet vs. a field coil. Below are the results of the comparison according to my flux-meter.

Friday, April 23, 2010

There's a hole in the cabinet dear Liza dear Liza...

With many regrets I sent another pair our children off into the real world and all that is left is a pair of wires and a hole in a cabinet. Good news is we will be reunited in a few weeks in Dallas.
More good news is packing them up wasn't much of a problem other than My desire to really crank up the field just prior to shutting them off and a few minor issues with no time for them to cool down and a bit of melted bubble wrap. Luckily there was enough time to prevent me from taking a smoldering box to the USPS since I think they frown upon that these days. In all seriousness, they fit nicely into their original shipping boxes.
Only one small modification to the original packaging was required and I'll close this post out with that image. I do want to ask for your help in promoting the LSAF event in general since I think it is a wonderful concept that could be expanded regionally as a great way to present both high end commercial and DIY concepts in the same venue. I look at it almost like a three day a cool weekend with your friends.

Now for the shot of the minor package modification that allowed me to ship the FC Alpair 12's in the original Alpair 12 packaging.

Good Times, Bad Times, part III

As most of you know I am finally getting close to something resembling a finished speaker. After literally ten years of all types of horn "sculptures" (see VSAC 2008 for an example of something built on site), I am feeling like I can see the end... I might even put binding posts on something one day...

The line is planning to run from Exhilaration I through V. I still have some work to do on which compromises are best for each price and size point, but here is some work done on what I think will be EX III.

So here is some of the good: The horn shown above (it is now 1.25" thick all the way around) went into the system about midnight last night. I hooked it to the 304TH and just threw in an old Nick McKinney signed Lambda Acoustics Apollo 15". Awesome! I love bass horns.. that snap.. and the clarity... so far, so good..

And then some BAD came along. My ancient (I think 15 year old) laptop crashed. Ugh. No more measurements for me. (They don't make any decent software for Mac. Parallels and such have not loaded properly. Anybody have a junker PC based laptop they want to trade? It can be as old as Windows '98.. or have any ideas on where you source something like that?)

Anyway, so then I just got out the signal generator. My ears told me it was playing very low. I had only simmed as 65Hz. The sweeps had me scared at first. I heard a very light dip around 120. I was afraid it was going to drop. Back to full tilt at 100Hz... still strong at 80... 70... 60!! 50!!! and then straight down... WOW.. dude... 50 Hz... so then I juiced the volume.. I had to... shaking the walls... screws on shelving rattling.. awesome...

and then I realized it was past one AM... man, time for bed...

The next comparison will have to be straight versus backloaded JBL scoop style cabinets. The footprint is *much* smaller for the scoops, but the sound? I dunno.. maybe.. it is an eight or nine foot path curled up inside there..

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Lone Star Audio Fest.

Jeffrey and I will be in Dallas for this show and we will have some cool toys in tow. Right now our temporary lineup will be:

-Artemis labs Table and Arm (by Frank Schroder)
-Miyabe Cartridge with a slight possibility of a "trick" denon
-Assorted SUT's wound by some clown in NY.
-Our proto "Cheap Pentode" phono Other phono will be a 7K LCR
-John Chapman's Remote Autoformer Volume control
-Inductive only line Level Crossover
-50 amp, Eimac amps Du Jour
-Field coil Lowthers in 150hz Eleven Horns
-Bass Maxx bass horns.
-Thai Food and Beer.

Dates are May 14-16 and it is in Dallas. More info is at the LSAF website.

The other thing ot be displayed that JJ and I are involved with is the Field Coil Alpair 12. I have finished breaking in and listening to these side by side with a stock pair of the Alpair 12's and rather than blather on about them I'll simply invite you all down to Dallas to give them a listen.

If anyone plans on attending and wants to do an official show report, drop me a note and I can put you in touch with an world renowned Online Rag that doesn't have any reviewers local.


Putting the Slinky back on the mandrel....

OK.. dave alluded to this one a while back... and it is pretty funny..

As you guys know, Dave is the one with the winder. But when you have to wind something, like *RIGHT NOW*, you improvise... so what you see above is the mandrel I hastily turned for the upper midrange field coil compression driver. The basic procedure is to wind bondable wire on this mandrel that is shaped like the pole piece of the driver. Then you bake it to turn the wire into a solid slab. The slab slides off the mandrel... drops into the driver... you attach the back plate and diaphragm, and listen to music... ahhh... In this picture you can see the first few turns of wire already on the mandrel. Pay no attention to the missing end cap.

In this picture you see the improvised winder. It is just an old drill press mounted to a work table.

This was a completely full spool of wire. As you can see it was nearly empty when, ahem, "something" happened...

Remember that end cap I told you about above? Here it is... next to my new Slinky.

Yep. I needed longer screws. ouch.

However, all is well that ends well. Lesson learned. The drivers have been up in my listening room for well over six months. In side by side comparisons with the Goto 370 and the JBL 2435Be, all on 600 LC horns, everyone has chosen the field coils. I knew I dug them, but they are my babies... I have had them in my head for years and years.. so I am genuinely biased.. for other manufacturers and casual listeners to verify what I hear is, well, yippee!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Garden above the Garden

I'm not sure how many of you know that I actually have a day job and this is the first time it had me moving a ton of grass. Oficially I am a photogragper and my client needed a beautiful lawn to be shot in a studio and the one I rented was 16 floors up and overlooked Madison Square Garden. Here is a pic of the view out the back.

So all of that grass sitting on 30th street was hauled up and layed out for the shot.

When The final images are done, I'll post one to complete things.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Speaking of Hamfests...

I was talking with one of the family music/tube/horn junkies the other day, and he had never heard of a hamfest! So, my friends, hit google... find one local to you. I promise you will find interesting - like this truck.. worried the government is watching or perhaps just a SETI guy.. the picture does not do justice to the amount of communications gear on here..

But the real reason to go is to buy stuff. Remember me telling you that my shop was clean and that I made all this new shelf space? Well, it is all gone. It wasn't my fault! When you are offered a crate of maybe forty potted transformers and chokes for $2 (not each, for all of them), what are you going to say? No? Daven pots for a few bucks... box of NOS chassis for $5.... HP meters for $2... and all sorts of wild ham gear.. receivers of all sorts... and I hate to buy them to gut for parts.. they are so cool.. so I took some photos for inspiration..

I also picked up an old Atwater Kent radio. I had to. It was full of 26's. There is nothing wrong with a row of DHT's that ends in a globe 71A... ahh.... and you know how I feel about old tube gear..

So, yes, Lisa did use my full name when addressing me as I pulled into the driveway. She could tell I had gotten into trouble because the truck was riding low. I guess next time I should pass on the second crate of transformers... totally guilty...

most expensive grass in nyc.

And I mean it!  This is 100% Kentucky Bluegrass bypassing customs and air freighted in from an exotic location in a swing state known for a big hamfest and motors.  According to FedEx it is just shy of a ton and I hope it is enough.  After the first day it is like American Idol for grass and 25% of it has already been sent home with my assistant who gladly saved me the NYC disposal charge for this fine grass.

 Me and My Grass In NYC

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Mats called me a tease!

Sorry, brother... I didn't mean to leave you all hanging like that. I honestly had just been trying to get some other things done. Believe me, it pained me at least as much as you to not know what those horns sounded like - especially when I was having to walk around them all day long!

So they are now running in the shop. Goto low mid on them. No treble yet, so the highs are very directional. I will have to fix that with the 600LC later this week. Just moving from a 320LC to the 140LC and dropping the crossover an octave or so was a revelation. It was like being home again. All the irritation and raggedness (that had to have been coming from the Altec 15's) is now gone. BIG and clean midrange... not overly forward.. not too laid back.. not drawing attention... just *right*... I can't tell you how happy I am...

If I ever try to build a direct radiator anything again, would someone please smack me?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The cartridge from the black lagoon.

An anonymous person :cough: JJ :cough: sent me this cartridge he got in a swap.  Said it didn't sound very good so it seemed like a good donor.  It showed up today and a closer look really was interesting.
There is a piece of plastic over the coils suspension and gap to keep junk out and removing it made things even more interesting. 

That big fuzzy thing at the top of the pic is magnetic and it seen in the bottom right of the first picture.
Some light work with a soft stylus brush cleaned things up a fair bit but still notice all of the little magnetic bits sticking out.
 Finally a closer look at the coils.  The good news is the cantilever is intact and the tip doesn't look too bad.  There are some other issues but this looks like a perfect candidate to experiment with.  (Shamelss request here) If any of you have dead MC carts collecting dust in a junkbox, I'm currently accepting sacrifices :-)

I love it when a plan comes together

Finished up a breadboard of some crossovers for a pair of Tannoy 15" Reds.  Added a bit of ajustability and the coolest thing was how the sims and the measured responses matched each other.  The nasty technical bits can be seen here.

Going to give them a listen tomorrow but for now I'll leave you with a picture of the beasts which will be confirmed for sonics and inserted into a nice wood box.

Just for a tease, These are the simmed and measured of the 3K notch filter, top line is without it and then it slowly get introduced.

Music Maker of the Month - Bruce Bosler

Bruce used to be a quite normal audiophile. He would even listen to a cable. Then slowly he discovered low powered tube amplifiers... then Lowthers... then horns... How many audiophiles that you know would do this to their listening room?

So Bruce was happily listening to his Avant Garde Duo Omegas. But when I would visit, my only comment was how the bass just couldn't hang with the mids. That comment was buried in the middle of conversations about Shelly Manne and Art Pepper... but then he asks me for a proper basshorn design. Let me tell you, I get this question all the time. How many people do you think even can reply after I send a drawing of a twenty foot long horn with a twelve square foot mouth? Bruce didn't reply with "maybe", he replied with pictures of the throat sections!

I also drew up a stacked supply direct coupled amp for him. He loved the sound, but wanted more gain, so he stacked a third stage! For those of you that have not played with this topology, each stage is dependent on the preceding for bias. When one drifts, they all drift. Bruce got tired of adjusting bias depending on time of day and wall voltage, so he made his own wall power! Nuts! He grabbed a signal generator, fed it to a giant 4kW prosound amp, and now enjoys not only stable, but also clean AC...

My most recent conversations with Bruce have been along the lines of "I think I am actually done with hardware". Friends, this is where you want to be.. buying vinyl and breaking in that listening chair...

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

How to attach Goto to a proper horn....


The above adapters are made from nambe. (Examples here). Even though he swears they are purely function, I kinda like the the way they look with the drivers. Best of all, they fit perfectly and my Goto drivers are now "normal" exit diameters. The 37 series is now 1", and the 50 series is now 1.4". Each adapter has a matching flare cut into the throat... ahh....

Thanks, man... much appreciated...

Monday, April 5, 2010

Easter Monday.

I seem to always be a day early or a day late.  Luckily in some countries I get a grace period for this request from johnny.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

davey has a new toy

finally scored one of these bad boys off ebay.

I have a camera adapter on the way but being the impatient soul that I am I had to hack something up to see where things fall.

This was with the camera hand held and a proper mount will do wonders but I'm still happy as a first try.  That shiny silver thing in the lower right is a 30ga insulin needle that is .01" (1/4mm) in diameter.  For reference that needle is about the same diameter of the wire I wind the autoformers with.  The cool thing is the adapter has a 2X lens in it and to get this picture I needed to zoom out so I should be able to get in a fair bit closer.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Spare change to help buy a horn?

So I had the front section (Lowther section) of the horns stacked in the shop...

and here is what followed:

and in this manner I hope to accumulate enough spare change to buy that WE16A.

Thanks to JP for the camera work....

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Thats not a switch mate.


Sometimes things you buy online don't come in as you expected them.  Take the above switch for example.  It is intended for switching resistors in a speaker level crossover and I found them for $15 each.  They are electroswitch and have 10A contact ratings and i'm going to give them a shot even though they are a bit larger than I expected.  One thing is for sure,  making an adjustment will really give you a sense of accomplishment.  My favorite part is the little cloth bag holding all of the hardware.  The closest electroswitch I could find was around $250 from digikey and are about 1/2 the size of this beast.

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