Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I thought I'd taken pictures of these before.

And I was wrong. I've had a few variations of this fantastic design: the Genesis Model 1s, the Epicure M-100s and now my third pair of EPI 100Vs.

They are classics. This version is the second, according to Human Speakers (who would know for sure). They deserve consideration along with Advents, Dynaco A-25s etc. That inverted dome tweeter design (which has also shown up here in the Genesis 3s, and Burhoe Blues) is wonderful.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Good News/Buzzkill

I got a Marantz 2220B 2 days ago, plugged it in quickly, and was disappointed (but not surprised) to find a channel not working. After regular cleaning, it sounds perfect, phono stage included. It's rough in one corner, but it sounds as beautiful as any 2220b I've heard. That's saying something. This receiver is popular for good reason.

I'd love to hear it driving the 97 db efficient JBL 4612 OKs but that's the buzzkill. One woofer out of the 4 has a buzz that I don't know how to fix myself. I will seek council.

The cabinets are looking a lot better...it's a matter of deciding how much more fine filling and sanding I want to do. The missing piece of tweeter that I cast in epoxy is painted black. I'm not trying to make it look new (though that would be nice), but to not draw the eye to the imperfection. I hope the woofer is easily repairable.

A kindred spirit in Toronto

I just checked out Vintage Sound, a new blog about vintage audio written by Justin Vitums. There are not many entries yet, but he is clearly my kind of audio lover. I dearly miss the Pioneer A-70 he just got, and enjoyed a pair of Technics linear phase systems a lot like his, but 3 ways, a couple of months before I started this blog. And I love the vintage Sony integrated. His journey will be cool to follow.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Almost finished.

The cabinet damage has all been rebuilt in fibreglass automotive filler. I just cast the broken tweeter piece. I coated the actual machine screw in vaseline and screwed it into the wet resin. After the resin set, it screwed out perfectly. I'm going to get the cabinets smooth, repaint the fronts and backs in flat black, change the worst JBL connectors I've ever seen to binding posts, and cover them in black wood grain or pebble (leather?) grain vinyl mactac, which will make them look like the 4612. The only difference between the 4612 and the 4612 OK is the finish (ugly woodgrain on the OK and that the 4612 had a tweeter level control, which makes sense because it was intended for portable applications, and the 4312 OK was for permanent installation.

Friday, July 23, 2010

JBL 4612 OK in progress.

It's 40 degrees celsius with the humidity today, so it hasn't been ideal for bodywork on speaker cabinets. I have persevered, and have all but the two worst missing parts filled (they need to be built up in layers). I'm using an automotive body filler with short strands of fibreglass already mixed in, and it's working well so far.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

I have a Sansui AU-9900.

It powers on, but the relay doesn't click. I am thrilled to have it, impatient for Vladimir to get back from Russia and make this baby his first priority the minute he's off the plane. Look at the construction...that rear section that's nothing but the transformer, massive capacitors, output transistors and those cool heatsinks. In the front, the inputs are on one side, the outputs on the other. The back contains the power cord and auxiliary outlets, nothing else. My title was going to be 'I bagged the Elephant' but some of you may be too young to remember Wallstreet. I feel that I have a keeper sitting here. This is a magnificent beast.

JBL 4612 OK

I didn't. I just grabbed them. These are JBL professional sound reinforcement speakers. Here is the information. All the drivers work, and they sound like cool JBLs. I am going to have to strip the vinyl, cast whole new sections of cabinet (it's called 'particle board' for a reason!) in resin, then recover them, probably in black vinyl for the JBL pro look (they are covered in woodgrain oak vinyl now). The cracked 'babycheek' horn sounds as good as the other, and I think I can cast the missing chunk. All four 8 inch woofers (with pleated cloth surrounds and huge cast frames) are perfect.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Braun L830 speakers, repaired.

When I got these the curved corner veneer was missing from one whole speaker, and in stripping the other, a patch came off as well. The woofers needed refoaming as well.

A blog reader wrote recently and asked for a post on refinishing tips. I am no expert. I work slowly and deliberately, and am just starting to have the proper amount of patience. I used to sand every cabinet to remove the old finish, but now use stripper, after my enthusiasm caused me to go through the veneer a few times! I then do a light sand (220 grit) to get a smooth surface, and remove scratches. If you stripped instead of sanding, the veneer will be thick enough to allow most scratches to be removed completely. I am not interested in tinted stains or sealing finishes. I prefer to keep the grain of the wood open, and use either Danish or Teak oil.

The corners of theses Brauns were the most challenging repair I've attempted so far, and they are not perfect. I try to just get things to a point where the damage doesn't draw the eye, and I think I've done that.

Braun speakers, as beautiful and refined as they are as products, generally did not have speaker connectors. Instead there are about 10 feet of flimsy 20 gauge wire coming out of the back of the speaker. I added simple connectors to improve the look and allow the use of any speaker wire. The grills are in good finish, but a little bent in places. I may take them to an auto body shop to see if they can be made to look new.

The Braun L830 sounds fantastic: very neutral, but with sparkle and dynamics.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Kenwood KA-701 photos.

Right now I'm listening to the Allman Brothers (Stormy Monday, Fillmore East) with this amp driving the Infinity Quantum Jrs, and I couldn't be happier.

Note the front to back shafts on the left and right. They allow source selection, tape source and speaker switching to happen at the back of the amp, minimizing the length of critical signal paths. Elegant.

I'm not saying that I haven't seen this before, but it's cool to see it here.

The 3 new speakers.

First, the a freakily well preserved pair of EPI 100s. They look about 6 months old. I refoamed the woofers last night (I would have done all 3 sets last night, but I was out of foam and glue), and they sound just like they should. They are a budget classic, and a steal today, with one of the great tweeters.

Second, a pair of Braun L830s, 3 way, sealed systems with 10 inch woofers, the famous Braun dome midrange, which I've never heard before, and their superb dome tweeter. They have rounded corners, teak veneer cabinets and silver perforated metal grills. all the veneer on the curves is peeling off on one, so I have some work to do before they look as good as they sound. They do sound great. The midrange dome is famous for good reason. With an amp that likes 4 ohm speakers, they are very dynamic. It's no secret that JBL, Mission and ADS are at the top of my favourite speaker list. I've never had Brauns in my home before. They are every bit as good as I'd hoped, and at least as good as similarly numbered ADS models.

Finally, the pair I was least excited about until I read up and then saw (and lifted) them. I have a pair of Infinity Quantum Jrs. I was not enthused because I have been unimpressed with every small Infinity I've ever heard with a polycel tweeter, sonically, and due to the flimsy construction and chintzy components. These babies from 1978 are something else. They have cabinet quality comparable to JBL, excellent drivers (including a sweet EMIT tweeter, and a dome midrange almost as good as the Braun), and sound great. I don't think the woofers are original, but don't discount it either. The 2 speakers have slightly different driver adjustment markings, and connectors. Infinity Systems, like other manufacturers, continually changed and improved components. The 12 inch woofers sure act original (the cabinets look like they haven't had others installed) and sound great. Here's the Technical Manual.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Update.

The B&W 1400s left this morning, and the second pair of Mirage 750s are leaving early next week.

3 new pairs of speakers are coming tonight, 2 I've not had before. I'll tell you what they are as soon as I've got them.

A New Kenwood Amp.

DC coupled, 85 watts/channel. Sounds good so far.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Mirage 750 stacked!

I just hooked this up, driven by the Pioneer SX-838. It is quite something! The sound is bigger and more dynamic. One pair of these is more than enough, but excess is sometimes a lot of fun!

Update: One pair is gone. It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Saturday Update.

I picked up and refoamed another pair of Mirage 750s. I have four now. They all have new woofer surrounds and grill cloths. Mirage stack anyone?

I have spent a few hours listening to the A&R A60 driving the B&W DM1400s, the Mirages and the KEF 104s, all quickly & easily switchable with banana plugs. I am so lucky sometimes. This all sounds really good. I think that speakers at a certain level of price and refinement should get a lot right, and these all do.

I'm not going to go on now, just enjoy.

As promised:

Just Arrived: B&W DM1400

These speakers are magnificent.
More photos:

Brochure, manual, individual frequency response graphs, signed inspection card, mail in warranty card.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

My favourite piano player, ever.

My Photographs Are Copyrighted.

For the second time this week, I found an ad on Canuck Audio Mart that used my photographs of a piece of my equipment to sell the same model. I contacted the advertiser, explained that they are copyrighted images, and he immediately apologized and took them down. Anyone I have contacted has always removed my photos once they know that they are mine.

I work very hard on my photography, and hope that I am continuing to refine and improve on a certain spare visual style. It is my signature. I don't want, for example, my Marantz 2245 photos representing another Marantz 2245 that is for sale...I think it will erode the honesty and trustworthiness of them.

If you do want to use any photos that I take for this blog (or for my own advertising), please ask first. As long as I am given credit, and you make clear that the photos are not of your actual unit, I will probably say yes.

Pioneer SX-838 photos.

Audax photos.

Update: I've been listening to these for more than a day now, and have not felt the need to plug in other speakers...these are really nice.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Photo Delay.

In an act of pure stupidity, I damaged the proprietary connector on the cord for my ancient Olympus camera. I can't post photos of the stunning new Audax speakers refinished until I get a USB card reader. I'm sorry for the delay.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Midweek Update.

The JBL L46s have gone to an excellent home, where they'll sound amazing driven by a Sansui 8080. That generation of titanium tweeter is really something.

As I write this I'm listening to a gorgeous Pioneer SX-838 that I picked up this afternoon. I had a poor example about a year ago (I don't think I told you about it), but this one is really solid, sounds great, and looks about 3 years old, not 36!

I also have a pair of Audax speakers. Audax, a french company, is generally thought of as a speaker driver manufacturer. They make drivers that have been used by Tangent, Paisley Research and many others. These are from the late sixties to early seventies, cabinets and drivers made by Audax. They have 8 inch woofers (with very light magnets...all kinds of driver designs work!) with pleated cloth surrounds and whizzer cones (!?), 4 inch cloth surround mids and one tweeter is original, a freaky looking chrome dome behind a round perforated metal cover. The other must have died and was replaced with a conventional paper cone that is an excellent sonic match, professionally installed, a long time ago.

These new Audax speakers have a KLH/AR look to them. The white grills are extremely cool in a very french way. I'll be stripping and sanding (and sweating on) them tomorrow. The tops are very scratched. They have screw terminals that need to be replaced. I'll post pictures as soon as possible.

Oh, I did listen to them before I decided to put in the work. They sound really good.

Monday, July 5, 2010

A Marantz I haven't had before.

I have a Marantz 2238, made in 1977. It's in the last Marantz black tuning dial style, which I will always prefer to even the most wonderful silver dial ones. It's in beautiful shape, though it needed a really good cleaning. It sounds beautiful too, especially the phono section, and has been driving the KEF 104s and Mirage 750s with authority.

Note: The lit dial is a picture I took indoors (in natural light with a tripod) and placed into my outdoor shots in Photoshop. Getting a lit receiver photographed well outdoors has so far eluded me.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Mirage 750

I had another pair of these 2 years ago, in black with silver baffles. The new pair quickly reminded me why I liked them so much. These are serious 10 inch 3 way systems, well engineered and constructed, with excellent cabinet bracing. The rigidity of the cabinets contributes to their excellent imaging, always a strength of the brand.

I've had 650s, and 360s, and while I don't like their aesthetics, they always impress.

Email me.