Tuesday, December 30, 2008


This is a beautiful sounding, very powerful brute. I replaced a fuse inside, cleaned it, continued to work on the balance control which is now quiet, and have it driving the JBL L88 Plus 12s with authority. In researching this piece I learned that Radio Shack used at least 3 or 4 suppliers for receiver manufacture. I was pretty sure (no clues inside) that this was made by Pioneer, but the thick, green edged glass tuner scale cover reminds me more of Onkyo. I found this information on a site that specializes in evaluating the tuner section of many receivers:
STA-2080 - This 80 watt per channel analog receiver has 4 large analog meters running across the top, and just flat-out looks fabulous. It also performs well. The tuner has 4 gangs and 3 ceramic filters. Used as a standalone tuner via its line-out jacks, it sounds surprisingly good, better than many standalone tuners. This is probably due to the MOSFETs used in the preamp section.
The unit is conservatively rated at 80 watts/channel and the power meters go to 150. It sounds very powerful, clean and airy. I'm asked what difference in sound a more powerful amp makes in an already efficient system, and in my opinion air and ambience are the rewards.
This sounds great driving the Advent short stack!
e-mail me.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Freddie Hubbard, rest In peace.

I was fortunate to hear Freddie Hubbard at the Montreaux jazz festival in 1983, in both large concert & very small (6 feet away!) club settings. He was a brilliant performer, and one of the finest trumpet players of his generation (I've also seen Woody Shaw & Dizzy Gillespie in intimate clubs). In reality, he was THE choice on trumpet for scores of the finest jazz recordings, because Miles didn't play on other people's records (I'm just saying that Miles was more famous - in every technical/musicical way, Freddie Hubbard is anyone's equal - Miles' musical vision and bandleading was unique). He recorded many stunning albums himself. When I posted the artwork for two of them (I'm listening to RED CLAY right now) last week, I had no idea that I'd be writing this, and am sad that I am.
Drink a toast to a great.


e-mail me

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I have updated the Advent post

Have a look. If you seek really musical sound for really little money, this could be for you. e-mail me.

"Headbanger Receiver" 1981

This beast arrived in a trade yesterday. I am going to have to look inside to see if I can determine which supplier to Radio Shack made it, but my guess would be Pioneer. It's rated at 80 watts/channel, and has just about every bell and whistle. The power meters go to 150 watts. I expect it to be a powerhouse. The balance control is very scratchy, and I'll investigate. I hope to be listening soon, and can't wait to hear the 2080 driving stacked Advents.
UPDATE: The balance control is scratchy and affecting everything. I'll get back to you on this one.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

My First Encounter With Dynaco

I've read some mixed opinions about the Dynaco ST-120 amp. One guy on Audiokarma thought it was the worst he'd ever heard. There are many who love it, and I may become one. The tube cage-like design warms me to it. The early transistor design amazes me with it's warmth and effortlessness. I haven't used it a lot yet, but will. It sounds great driving the Smaller Advents & Advent 1s, I will check it out with the JBL L88 Plus 12s soon (they had there non-factory tweeter surrounds removed, and the leads need to be resoldered). There is some technical information here. This amp runs a bit warm, but dissipates the heat through the funky cage. The one I have has a gold cage which I think may be repainted back to black. I'll check and make sure it's not a rare limited edition or some such thing first!
At the same time I got the ST-120, I got an FM-5A tuner, which having an auxiliary input, a volume control and audio out jacks, functions as a simple and clean preamp. The pair sound great, and if you don't require a phono stage (or have a separate one) could be perfect for you. e-mail me.

60 beautiful watts/channel!

Stacked Advents!

In the mid seventies, The Absolute Sound Magazine (about which much more some other time) said that stacking 2 Advent Loudspeakers, tweeter to tweeter on each channel was the budget audiophile's best bet. I have recently acquired a set of Advent 1s, and a pair of Smaller Advents, and yesterday refoamed the Smallers (I did the Advent 1s last week). An awful lot has been written about the sound of these speakers. Both pairs share a relaxed musicality, and a beautifully balanced high end. After a few days with the Audio Oasis Titans, with what sounded like an overly etched high end (I think they would work better with tubes), Advent was a breath of real music. The 1s, with their bigger (by an inch) woofer have more extended bass, but the Smallers are no slouch.
So is the stack better? Yes! each pair sounds great separately, but together everything sounds more open and effortless, with no loss of imaging, and beautiful bass!
e-mail me

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Freddie Hubbard

Woody Shaw

A taste of this century's high end for the end of this year

Titans by Audio Oasis.
Update: 3 days later and I know I won't miss these.
Made about 5 years ago by Audio Oasis on Queen East, downtown Toronto. They use Danish Peerless tweeters & high quality (chinese Dynaudio clone) 6 1/2 inch woofers. All components are high quality (crossover capacitors, wiring, binding posts). Cabinets designed and made for these components in Toronto. Full (front to back. side to side) internal bracing, rear ported. Awesome imaging tight bass (update 3 days later: stunning bass!). Newer than what I usually go for, but a very transparent window to enjoy the musicality your Marantz, Sansui or Macintosh (!) through. Drivers are in perfect condition, woofers have rubber surrounds. please e-mail me soon to arrange a listen.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


It shocks me that this is my first post since last Thursday. I'm sorry so much time got away, but will do a lot of catching up in the next few days.
The little Revox Piccolo speakers left two nights ago to live with some Dynaco tube gear. I'm know they're sounding great, the buyer told me! I had a pair of Wharfedale Diamonds that left this morning, and with more power than I'd first used (the Marantz 1150 at 75 watts/channel, instead of say a Marantz 2226) they sounded better than I'd initially thought, but not close to the Cantons or Revox.
I spent a lot of time with the last pair of JBL L36s before they left, and will talk about why I still love them, why they are more difficult than L100s, and why they're worth the effort.
I will post soon about some post 2000 made speakers that are out of the seventies stereo time frame, but an eye opener for me.
Thanks to all of you who write and call. I have enjoyed meeting and talking with you, and learned (and continue to learn) more than I could imagine.
This holiday season I hope you all enjoy your favourite music with your favourite people.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


I haven't recommended a book before (and I'm joking about the book circle), but this drew me in, kept me awake until I'd finished it in one sitting, and stays with me still. Many of you whom I've spoken to or met are collectors with a lot of passion and intensity. Some are chasing their audio/musical dream, trading ever upwards, some hold onto every piece along the way (and every detour). Hurbert's Freaks is about the joy and pain of collecting and dealing in something you are passionate about. I loved it, and you might too.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

The L100s have found a good home.

The L100s were here for only 18 hours. I enjoyed them a lot last night. As I said, they sounded identical to the L88 Plus 12s (which are still here). This morning I changed the connectors to proper binding posts, sanded and oiled them. A guy with very good ears came to hear them this afternoon and tooK them home. A gorgeous pair of L36s came nome with me. I'm thrilled to have two excellent pairs of JBLs in house. The L36s sound very much like L100s with a bit less bass extension. Lower efficiency too (the NAD 3020 drives the L88 Plus 12s with no problem, but has a harder time with the L36s). In smaller rooms, they may be a better choice (I'll yell you when I get the Marantz 1150 back tomorrow). I continue to love both.

FINALLY! The Century L100.

I don't usually post quick flash photos, but I am really excited about these! They look and sound exactly like the L88 plus 12s (which are each other!). This particular pair is in amazing shape, with superb cabinets (which I'll fine sand and oil tomorrow) & woofers that are snowy white new! They sound beautiful! I'm listening with a NAD 3020 (lots of Marantz coming tomorrow!) to Workin' with the Miles Davis Quartet and it sounds fantastic!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Sansui 661

I am fortunate to be able to listen to lots of different gear. An awful lot of seventies stuff sounds musical, with some clear standouts. I listen to everything I cover here, often in different setups over a few months. I have favorites, and items that fly under my radar for a time. The Sansui 661, which I've owned before, is a real sleeper. It is as rich clear and beautiful sounding as a comparable Marantz, very balanced, detailed and muscular. I'm listening to Way Out West by Sonny Rollins on the Sansui 661 through the ADS L620s and I'm very happy!
e-mail me to arrange a listen.

Weekend Update

The Marantz 2220B is gone. I was amazed at how well those 20 watts drove the big, inefficient JBL L88 plus 12s. I hope to have some other Marantz pieces to show you soon. Remember the Superscope R-1240 receiver...same blue lights, same output stage, beautiful Marantz sound for half the price! The big 1150, which I haven't been able to hear with the JBLs is going to the shop in a couple of hours for a long overdue appointment (my fixer was on vacation). I hope to have it back tonight. UPDATE: Make that Monday!
I have an NAD 7020e receiver that also drives the JBLs effortlessly and has a handy digital tuner with presets added to the always great 3020 sound. UPDATE: the NAD 7020e is sold. I still have a 3020, though!
e-mail me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Words Fail Me.

So here are someone else's:
Miles & Quincy Live at Montreux is a Miles Davis collaboration with Quincy Jones for the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival. For the first time in three decades, Davis returned to the songs arranged by Gil Evans on such classic 1950s' albums as Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess and Sketches of Spain. This album was also the last album recorded by Davis. It left a lot of people who had been disappointed with his newer, more experimental works happy that he had ended his career on such a high note. That is an understatement. This a beautiful, BEAUTIFUL recording!

Revox Piccolo Flats

The Canton GL260s came and went quickly. They were an excellent choice for the guy who is enjoying them now (in a small room). I didn't expect to see anything similar very soon, and felt badly for those of you who also knew they would be a good choice (or had previous experience with them and knew how good they are!). Imagine my surprise when I found these Revox Piccolo Flats!
Made in West Germany by Willi Studer, they are 8 1/4 inches wide, less than a foot high, and only 4 inches deep with grills. They sound very much like those fabulous Cantons: a full, dynamic sound with a sound stage that ignores the little boxes and is just there. They are superb with voice and horn instruments.
If these interest you, please e-mail me soon to arrange a listen.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I'm listening to the Image Reference Twos, and am really enjoying them. As I said in November, a british sounding system with a touch of canadian crunch in the bottom end. New lower price too! FURTHER UPDATE: I've been listening to these for hours, and I'm sure the new surrounds continue to break in. They keep sounding better! E-mail me to arrange a listen.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Merak M4 after refoam

It's very satisfying to give fantastic speakers (like 10 inch Seas woofers) another 20 years of musical life. The Meraks sound amazing! There's a lucky guy in Montreal who will have kicking new speakers for the new year.

Marantz 2220B

I have a beautiful example of this fantastic receiver! It's very clean: all switches and pots quiet and fully functional, all lights working, sounds gorgeous! Please e-mail me to arrange a listen.

Saturday update

The Rectilinear Research XIs just left. On final listen, they were as good as I thought. It amazes me how good conventional paper cone tweeters can sound when they're engineered properly (see JBL, Altec, KLH etc.), losing almost nothing to silk or titanium domes or even more exotic variations.
I will be refoaming the Merak M4 woofers today. I thought they were fine, but when I put low tack masking tape around them so I could refinish the cabinets, the foams came off with the tape! I was actually relieved, because in my heart of hearts I knew that speakers of their age couldn't be ok, even if they looked it. These speakers will be ready to hear tonight.They won't be available for sale because they're going to Montreal to conclude the trade that brought me the fabulous ADS L620s. Please e-mail me to arrange a listen.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Altec/Lansing Model Three

UPDATED SUNDAY: Turning up the tweeters gave a huge improvement!
I just replaced the flimsy speaker connectors with decent 5 way binding posts. While doing that I had the chance to inspect the woofers (beautiful, heavy cast frames) and internal construction. The sides are veneered inside and out! There is a quality of fit and finish that we rarely see outside of the high end anymore.
Soundwise, they are very nice with no obvious flaws. They are very well balanced. The level controls are generous in their range, and almost any taste in high end balance can be catered for.
Please remember the Altec Model Ones as well, with the same beautiful balance in a smaller but equally excellent enclosure.
Please e-mail me to arrange a listen.

Monday, December 1, 2008


On first listen, the ADS L620s are very precise and neutral, with a great tweeter (writing as I'm listening). They are much bigger than I'd thought they'd be (I guessed the Altec 3s would be the larger boxes) and more authoritative, this after 3 Art Pepper songs (Art Pepper Meets The Rhythm Section).
This is big fun!
Yes that's a new Marantz in the corner of the shot ( not too soon- both the 1150 and 1070 integrated amps are gone).


Updates soon. I'm unpacking 5 boxes!

Sunday, November 30, 2008


The Pioneer HPM-60s, and Marantz 2230 left yesterday and will be missed. On final listen (and I returned to them many times in the months I had them) I still feel that they are very good speakers, worthy of comparison to JBL L36s.

The Marantz 2226 is in a wood sleeve now and looks amazing! It looks (and sounds) really good with the new JBLs. Together they would make an awesome holiday gift for the vintage fan you (really) love

My cabinet refinishing skills are improving, and the Merak M4s and JBL L88 Plus 12s are smooth like glass. I will make the Rectilinear XIs smoother too.

Coming Attractions

Two pairs of speakers will be arriving shortly, and I'm excited to hear both. I haven't mentioned the Altec Ones in a while, but really like them. They do a lot well in a unassuming, very musical way. They are the only sealed (acoustic suspension) system in Altec's line. I will (hopefully tomorrow) have a pair of Altec Threes, with the same tweeter but with a 10 inch woofer in a ported enclosure. I expect them to sound richer and even more musical.
The other pair is also a 10 inch 2 way system, the L620 from ADS (Analogue and Digital Systems, USA), american purveyor of Braun speaker designs and drivers. I've known their speakers by reputation (especially the L810 and awesome L910) and design. I'm really looking forward to hearing them and will post about them as soon as I can.

Awesome little speakers.

These Canton GL 260s are stunning! Almost twice the size of the famous Radio Shack realistic Minimus 7s, they are an order of magnitude better. They image beautifully, are neutral and uncoloured sounding, and have astonishing bass for their size. The cabinets are epoxy coated metal with perforated metal grills and are heavy for their size and very solid. They are in the Bauhaus style of modernism popularized in Braun's industrial designs, and are of at least as high quality. I bought a pair of Wharfedale Diamond VIs this morning, another small 2 way speaker, but more modern (metal dome tweeter, weird textured plastic woofer). I expected to offer both for your consideration, but the Cantons bury them!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A beautiful set from Yamaha

Yamaha's receivers from the seventies are prized by many. Visually, they are modernist minamalist compared to Marantz and sonically they are considered less rich (or coloured, depending on where your tastes fall).
Here is a beautiful 55 watt/channel integrated amp and matching tuner in almost perfect condition that sounds great. It's got power for the JBLs and big Merak M4s and really controls the Meraks' bass nicely.
Please e-mail me to arrange a listen.

Live Blues tonight at Toronto's Home of The Blues!

From Grossman's web site:
Grossman's Tavern - Toronto's Home of the Blues
This tavern was originally open in 1948 by the Grossman's family, it was sold in 1975 to the Louie family, and since has been lovingly maintained and nurtured (except the kitchen: I wouldn't order dinner!).
A great number of intriguing patrons from every imaginable walk of life has come and gone through these doors.
Grossman's has become a legend in its own right, and has since beomce known as "Toronto's Home of the Blues"
Some of our Alumni include: The Downchild Blues Band, Kid Bastien & the Happy Pals, Milton Acorn, Robert Priest, Rebecca Jenkins, Jeff Healey Band, Allannah Myles, Amanda Marshall, Burton Cummings, Philip Sayce, and scores of others...

Tonight, starting at ten, playing 3 sets (the last one ending at 2) BLUESDRIVER, a band full of talent chops and experience (bassist Brad Campbell plays on Janice Joplin's Pearl album). Singer Frieda Nagel fronts the 4 piece band and must be heard.

If you've been thinking of taking a night away from audio for some reality, this is a fine night. I'd love to meet any readers who make it. I'll be near the front bobbing my head and smiling. I don't see enough live music, and when I get off my ass and do, I'm happy.

379 Spadina Ave.
Toronto, ON M5T 2G3
Tel: (416) 977-7000