Friday, April 29, 2011

Some of my favorite british gear. And the turntable is back!

Big Friday Update.

I saw Cross Eyed Cat Thursday night at The Trane Studio. They keep getting tighter, and gave a fabulous performance. The club's excellent sound guy, TQ, recorded, the whole thing in analogue, and one of the band's guitarists recorded it digitally. I will soon have copies of both, and look forward to hearing them. Audiophiles talk about detail, transparency & imaging, but when I close my eyes at a live performance, that's not what I hear. I don't have words to desribe what I do hear, but I hope that having good recordings will help me evaluate audio equipment in reference to a live performance I attended.

That was the goal of The Absolute Sound magazine, and it's intrepid editor Harry Pearson, who attempted to compare components to live music (and developed a vocabulary to try to describe what he heard), rather than evaluating their performance in a lab. I will spend some time in the near future explaining that publication's importance and value to all of us who love music. I learned about the NAD 3020 (one of the only components the magazine wrote up that I could afford) and many other fantastic components from The Absolute Sound, and many excellent records. Where High Fidelity and Stereo Review (and the british audio press) fetishized equipment and specifications, Harry Pearson and his volunteer staff cut through the crap and focused on the reason we bother, the music.

I was hoping to make some sort of wacky graphic commemorating the unavoidable royal wedding that has many normally sane people setting their alarm clocks early, but realized that I don't have a single british audio product in the house at the moment. I think that here will be another Rega turntable here soon, but life is unpredictable.

The Sansui G-6700 is leaving tomorrow, and I expect to pick up a pair of DCM Timeframes, successors to the uniquely talented Timewindows that I enjoyed at the end of 2010. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Honey, I'm home!

And I need to catch up and show you some modest, but cool stuff. This Kenwood KD-2055 turntable is a great example. It was inexpensive (and still is), competing with entry level turntables like the Pioneer PL-112D (which 3 of my friends owned in high school). Most japanese entry level turntables were fairly flimsy and light. The base of this Kenwood was moulded from synthetic marble and is very heavy. The KD-2055 is belt driven, but Kenwood made direct drive models with the same base. The arm is very simple, and I didn't expect much when I hooked it up. It lacks some refinement, but overall is quite musical, with a deep, tight bass that exceeds expectations.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Sunday Update.

I hope you're having a great weekend, and I'm sorry I wasn't able to post this week. That doesn't mean I haven't been working on equipment. I have an Apt power amp in the shop that I'm really looking forward to hearing.

The Axiom speakers went back to their owner yesterday, and will be missed, though my ESS AMT-3 Rock Monitors are easing the sense of loss. The Sansui AU-9900 is sounding wonderful since it returned, and has made me lazy about plugging in some other electronics that I should be paying attention to.

More to come soon.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Good News.

My wonderful Sansui AU-9900 is back from the shop, and has taken it's rightful place at the centre of my system. It's driving the ESS AMT-3 Rock Monitors as I write this, and making me very happy.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Electrovoice Sentry 100A Monitors finished.

Saturday Update.

The Electrovoice monitors cabinets are all looking great in their Varathaned particle board cabinets. I've remasked them, ready to spray the front baffles and backs as soon as the rain lets up.

I didn't tell you that my beloved Sansui AU-9900 gave up the ghost a month or so ago. When you switch the amp on, a red light comes on, and turns green when the relay clicks in. After 30 minutes, the speakers would turn off the amp would go back to the red light and shut down. I assumed it was a specific, discrete component that was failing at a specific temperature. It's way more serious than that. Some output transistors failed.

Shocking News.
Vladimir is planning to stop accepting jobs from individuals, and start working for a commercial client soon.

Wishing Vladimir all the best in his endeavors, but having needs, I took the Sansui to a new (for me) old school repair guy right in my neighborhood who I've had my eye on for a while. The amp will be ready either today or Monday. It's been my intention to have the AU-9900 be my go to, reference amp. I hope this happens soon. I'm easy when it comes to equipment loyalty, and I've had great musical encounters with many, many speakers, I have had relatively few go to amps. They have been the Marantz 1150 & Sony TA-F5 (which I'd buy again in a second, which I regret more than any component I've ever sold). I mean an amp that can musically drive any speaker I've got, and the AU-9900 should be it, dependably. I hope I finally get there by Monday.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Electrovoice Sentry 100A visual plan.

The cabinets were wrapped in very beat up black vinyl, but underneath the MDF is perfect. I just sanded and Verathaned the MDF, and they're going to look like contemporary Ikea speaker cabinets (if Ikea made speakers), with 70s graphics. I'm going to do one pair with flat black baffles, the other in hammertone charcoal gray (like the Regas). The forecast is for rain a'til Sunday, so I'll show you pictures as soon as possible.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Just arrived. Just refoamed.

= have 2 pairs of Electrovoice Sentry 100A studio monitors. Followers of this blog know that these are all time favorites of mine. They usually look like this, with utilitarian black vinyl wrap. These four speakers all have scuffs and tears in the vinyl. I've peeled one pair down to the mdf, and it looks kind of cool with the black baffle.

I refoamed all the 8 inch woofers, and they all sound just like they should. Lots to come.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Speakers I wish I owned: First in an occasionally appearing series.

When I refoam speakers for others, they often just bring the raw drivers. Sometimes, though, the whole system shows up. These Axiom AX 5s are from the mid eighties, and I just finished refoaming their 10 inch aluminum cone woofers, which are on the speakers's backs. These cost $1800/pair new, and made Axiom's reputation as a serious canadian manufacturer. They are wonderful, with superb bass and overall musicality. I will regret returning them to their owner (take your time, Paul). They have two sets of binding posts, and the toggle switch between them allows for easy switching between single cable and biwire configurations, without removing jumpers. I've never tried biwiring before, but right now I have the tweeters and midranges connected to speaker A on the Sansui G-6700, and the woofers connected to speaker B. The difference is subtle, but worth the extra cables. Single or biwired, I'm really impressed.

Another Plug For A fantastic Site.

It's been a while since I visited Rebuilt Tranny Records. I won't wait long between visits again. Corbin Cloward is a fantastic writer, with a deep appreciation for music and a craftsmanlike approach to digitizing vinyl. His site is very generous with insight, cool visuals and great music. Not to be missed

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Over 200,000 served!

While I was sleeping, one of you became the 200,000th visitor to this blog since Blogger started keeping track last June. I love making this blog, and your visits and comments are gratifying.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Listen To This.

There's been a huge media blitz around the release of this album in Canada. Robbie Robertson was prominent at the Juno Awards. The Band was one of the artists paid tribute in the musical centrepiece of the show that Jim Cuddy music directed. He was also inducted into the Canadian Songwriter's Hall Of Fame last month, attended the ceremony, and gave lots of interviews to the canadian media. This album deserves the attention. It's soulful, rocking and sounds amazing. I prefer Eric Clapton's playing on it to most of his own recent output. Not to be missed.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

EPI 100s. All time classics.

I have 2 sets of these speakers, which were manufactured from 1967 until 1979 (!). One pair are 100Ws, with walnut cabinets and tweeter level controls. The others are 100Vs, with woodgrain vinyl cabinets and no tweeter level controls. I replaced the single capacitors in both pairs. The difference in the 100Vs was huge and immediate. The difference in the 100Ws has been much less apparent. I'm sure that I need to open up the Ws and either clean the tweeter level pots, or better, bypass them. Later EPIs didn't have the unecessary control, and are better for it. The speakers sound best flat and besides, that kind of adjustment is best left to tone controls.

The bottom line, is that the EPI 100 is a fantastic speaker, and a huge bargain. Don't underestimate it's musicality. It's always a pleasure to listen to.

The Advent Loudspeaker in walnut.

I've had many Advents in woodgrain 'utility' cabinets, but never a real wood veneer pair. The sound is wonderful, as always, but they look much betters and of much higher quality.

For those who wonder about the'original' Advents with the masonite ring around the woofers, they were made that way so that Henry Kloss' long travel woofer design could be realized inexpensively by the young company. A standard 10 inch woofer basket was too shallow, and the ring allowed a 10 inch woofer to be built with a 12 inch basket, which had sufficient depth. As soon as financially possible, Advent got it's own basket, the deep 10 incher. The masonite ring version sounds exactly the same to my ears, no better and no worse.

You'll notice a repair made to one of the woofer surrounds. The previous owner tore a dime sized hole, presumably with a screwdriver when installing the refoamed woofer. Since the refoaming was done (well) with contact cement (not recommend), it would have been difficult to remove the surround without damaging the cone. I glued a foam patch to the underside of the foam with my (recommended) Speaker Service Cement. It doesn't look pretty, but works perfectly, and sounds great. The Advents are pretty strange looking with grills off anyway, and I imagine owners of the real walnut veneer versions keep the grills on anyway.

Sunday, April 3, 2011


One of the most beautiful receivers ever.

This 60 watt/channel beauty was Pioneer's top of the line in 1972 & 1973. Even one model generation later, in the 3 series, we don't see this kind of quality and attention to detail: solid metal knobs, engraved faceplate, walnut veneer sleeve, front panel light dimmer switch (!) & awesome internal construction. It sounds as strong and beautiful as it looks, and is now one of my absolute favorites.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Thank you.

For the first time since Blogger started tracking, in June of last year, more than a thousand of you checked out the blog today. I suspect it has to do with the April Fool's Marantz photo, but I'll take it where I can get it. I appreciate your patronage. Please come back tomorrow, I'll have some beautiful stuff to show you.

Friday, April 1, 2011


2 channel is so 1970s.

Wow! The specs speak for themselves:
2200 Watts total program power @ 8 OHMS
Built in 7.1 receiver audio/video amplifier, preamp/digital sound processor with auto circuit protection. Digital AM/FM tuner. High power 10" long throw powered subwoofer.
Satellites/Center. Dual studio board VU meters/graphic equalizer. Digital A/V inputs and outputs with/6 Channel audio direct (HDTV Compatible).

The whole sytem is tastefully finished in brushed aluminum, black enamel & mirrored glass. It includes gold capped A/V cables & connectors & a laser lite programmable full function remote control.
You can negotiate your own 'best price' with the travelling sales team. I was lucky...the system I bought was surplus, shipped to the sales team by accident & too expensive to ship back. The company's carelessness was my gain. I got the $4,000.00 system for less than a quarter of the price!