Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I post too much big album art.

I haven't made any new aquisitions in a few weeks. I'm spending a lot of time listening and enjoying a healthy stable of awesome speakers. I post the covers as snapshots of what I'm listening to. I Think you're more interested in the equipment, and I'm not a music critic, so I'm going to lower the album art volume.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Sony TA-F45

I didn't expect to find another Sony amp of this vintage any time soon, but got very lucky. This is one model down the line from the TA-F55 that I told you about recently. It produces 55 watts/channel (the TA-F55 was rated at 65), and has a regular volume control instead of the crazy but cool motorized one on the other. Other than those differences they are the same excellent sounding design, with great features: pulse power supply, moving coil capable phono stage with adjustable capacitance, gold plated phono jacks.

Update: This is a great sounding, powerful little amp, and the regular volume control makes it easier to use

Mission 737

I have been trying to find a good pair of these speakers for almost 2 years.

The original (and 2nd generation) Mission 770 has always been one of my favorite speakers. The company refined the design through 5 generations, culminating in the Freedom 5, which sported a new, Mission designed, horn loaded tweeter, and some horrible graphics. I found the tweeter a bit (just a bit) bright, and the Freedom 4 (with the same woofer) is my very favorite.

I have been after the 737 because I suspected that it was Mission's way of keeping the 'classic' 770 design in the product lineup, while upgrading the flagship, and I was right. The 737 uses the last, most refined version of the clear polypropylene woofer (the black colour of the Freedom 4s and 5s comes from mineral polymers added to the clear polypropylene recipe). Early versions used the very good 3/4" Vifa dome tweeter (still in production, and available cheaply at Active Surplus) seen here most recently in the Snell Type Ks and also in the 707. This pair uses the even better Audax TW025A0, and I love them.

Like all Missions, the cabinets are quite light compared to the big american speakers I've been enjoying recently, but extremely rigid. The real walnut veneer is gorgeous. Mission, to my ears does almost everything that people love about british speakers right, but removes a bit of the 'politeness'. They breathe with the music, and kick in the bass.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Heil Air Motion Transformer

From the ESS website:
The HEIL air-motion transformer is recognized by the audio industry as the most significant loudspeaker breakthrough of the last century and is licensed EXCLUSIVELY to ESS. Once you’ve heard it, you’ll agree that the ESS HEIL air-motion transformer indeed delivers “SOUND AS CLEAR AS LIGHT”.

"The Heil Air Motion Transformer (AMT) uses a folded pleated Mylar Diaphragm of a mere 0.0005” thickness! The voice coil is a serpentine pattern of precision etched aluminum chosen for light weight and high power handling. Unlike a normal piston loudspeaker which excites the air by alternately pushing and pulling the diaphragm, the AMT displaces the air by alternately squeezing and expanding the pleats, moving the air at a very high velocity. Because the moving mass of the AMT is extremely low, and the magnetic structure very powerful, this combination results in extremely high acceleration yielding amazing transients. The AMT's low mass and high output allow for a unusually high combination of efficiency and bandwidth to be attained in a single loudspeaker.

Ess is the manufacturer of the original and still best Air Motion Transformer invented by Dr. Oskar Heil over 30 years ago. The AMT is able to efficiently reproduce frequencies over the very wide range of 500 to 20,000 Hz. The minimum recommended crossover frequency is 800 Hz at 12db/octave or more. Impedance is 4 ohms nominal, 3.5 ohms minimum. Maximum sustained RMS power is 400 watts RMS band limited pink noise, 160 watts maximum peak. Sensitivity is 92db for 1Watt @ 1 Meter."

They have met my every expectation.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bob Marley.

I've tinkered with a post about Bob Marley for a few days now. I've been listening recently to Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab's remastered digital versions of Exodus and Catch A Fire, and am loving the fat sound quality and chest thumping bass (especially with the ESS AMT-1Bs). The music outstanding, a master class in modern reggae. Universally meaningful lyrics from a true poet, righteous playing, and excellent production... all in abundance.

I was lucky enough to see Bob Marley live at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto in 1978 (Tower Of Power opened the show), a stop on his 'Kaya' Tour (recorded for Babylon By Bus), and will never forget it.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Greeting From Asbury Park New Jersey

I've been listening to more Bruce Springsteen lately, and this is my favorite. In my humble opinion, he could't be and shouldn't have tried to be the second coming of Woody Guthrie. But his take on the magic of adolescent horniness is unique, poetic and fantastic.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

DCM TimePieces regrilled and refinished.

Every Picture Tells A Story.

Rod Stewart was a bad joke to me by the eighties (Do Ya Think I'm Sexy?), and his recent recordings of standards don't interest me at all (I haven't heard them and don't want to). This album is something else. The Faces are a loose yet tight band, and the sound is clean but informal and earthy. Great songs, great singing, great band. Highly recommended.

Friday, October 8, 2010

DCM TimePieces

Update: I have redone the grill on one speaker. After an hour and I half I was cursing myself for having started. The crossover has to be desoldered from the leads and removed to wrap the cloth. Reconnecting is very difficult (or maybe just is for me), requiring soldering in very tight spaces. I did it, but dread the second. Fortunately, it was worth the trouble. It looks almost new.
I've had these for a while, and mentioned them before, but just got the spec sheet from a very helpful guy at DCM. They are naked right now. I will redo the grills shortly, and refinish the solid oak top and bottom caps. They image beautifully, which was always the characteristic of DCM speakers (TimeWindows & TimeFrames) that set them apart. I'm sure that the coaxially mounted tweeter is part of the reason. I'm quite sure that the drivers are made by Audax (because the TimeFrames' are).

I also found (from another source) what looks like a dedicated passive subwoofer, called DoubleTime. Ithas very weak output at the moment, but does work. I think I have to replace all the crossover components, or at least the resistors. I look forward to hearing the whole system together, and the guy at DCM is working on finding specs for it. There is great potential for the whole system, but the TimePieces are something special all by themselves.

I promise a new post soon.

In the mean time, I can tell you that I redid the grill cloth on the ESS AMT-1B Bookshelves (that's what ESS calls them...the regular 1B has the same components in a floor standing enclosure with the Heil Air Motion Transformer mounted in free air on top). They look almost new!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Cross Eyed Cat

Rescheduled from September 29th...liquor license reinstated!
The Trane is one of the best jazz clubs in Toronto.