Sunday, December 30, 2012

Just arrived. NAD 3120. Harman Kardon Citation 17.

Update: NAD dead, returning to whence it came.
Further update: Ditto HK Citation preamp.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Denon PMA-830 photos.

From The Vintage Knob:

  Apparently, the looks of the series turned a few customers away... way too serious looking, especially considering the period during which these were introduced. But once you let any of these warm up - bang !... you'd almost wonder what hifi did do for the past thirty years to bring you a better music reproduction ; hook it to a decent LP turntable and you really start wondering.

I couldn't have said it better!

Check out the incredible history of Denon.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Just look at that transformer! The controls have that super silky (expensive) feel. It has a serious, lab equipment vibe that I find irresistible. In class A, driving the Mission Argonaut Reference speakers, with vinyl or digital, it's sounding very, very good.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

B&W DM580 update.

The B&W DM580s remind me why older vintage audio gear makes me so happy. It's not that they don't sound good...they do. Compared to older B&Ws that I've enjoyed (these, these, these & these), they leave me a bit cold.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

  I know, these are from the late eighties, but they're part of the continuum of B&W engineering and design that flowed through the seventies, like the Matrix series. It's my duty to check them out carefully, so I will. They've been sounding good since yesterday afternoon, but today I'm going to turn off the computer and spend time with my favourite vinyl, and try to really get a sense of them.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Referring to this incredible translation, I learned that the midrange dome is titanium, the tweeter aluminum.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

The new speakers are here.

  Coral CX-77s & B&W DM2 mk2s. Lots of fun awaits.
  The Corals are the ones that left much too quickly when I had them in the spring of 2009. I've heard a lot of speakers since then, and am excited to hear them again with better amplification and sources.
  The B&Ws are beautiful 3 way 8 inch systems with integral (bolt on) stands. I expected that they would be similar in size to the DM14s & DM1400s that I've had before. They're taller, deeper and heavier. They sound really inefficient compared to the Corals, but I've got the amplification to handle that. I'm going to enjoy getting to know them.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

First post of the month.

Not good that it's 9 days in. Things have been really good musically, but fairly static, equipmentwise. The Marantz 1200 has taken it's place at the heart of my system, often driving the Mission Argonauts or Spendor BCIIs, when not driving something new (like a just refoamed pair of Sound Dynamics 500 Concert Monitors) or what I feel like (right now the upgraded Mission 710s). The Spendors sound beautiful, but are the epitome, to me, of what is meant by 'politeness' when talking about British speakers. So this week I'm saying goodbye to them, and welcoming some new speakers, a set I've never had or heard before, and one of the best I've ever heard here, that left far too soon the last time. That won't happen this time. Stay tuned, I'll have them soon.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Marantz 1200 is back and fantastic.

I've never had an amp restored this thoroughly. It's dead quiet and sounds gorgeous. This is my amp for the foreseeable future.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Marantz 1200 transformer status update.

The new transformer is quiet! It's being installed and bench tested as I write, and will be back tomorrow!
Forgive me for addressing politics, but it's a really good day to live in Toronto. Rob Ford is not the mayor anymore.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Joe wasn't answering his phone today. The new transformer isn't in my Marantz 1200 yet. The SAE 3022 has been tiding me over nicely, but I can't wait to hear the Marantz as it was meant to sound.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Marantz 1200 Update

  When I got the Marantz 1200, both channels played through headphones, but only one through speakers. I had it fixed (never mind by who), and started to listen. The overall gain of the unit seemed low, and the whole unit hummed like crazy until the relay clicked in, after which things seemed to be pretty good. Then I got the Technics SL-1401, and mounted the SAE cartridge on it. Anxious to listen with a lower ambient noise level in the room, I shut down my computer, achieving dead silence, and making a residual hum from the Marantz glaringly obvious.
  Enter Joe. He's the new owner of an old school repair shop that I'd visited and written off as not into vintage audio. Joe doesn't feel that way, and set upon the 1200 with enthusiasm. I've known repair guys who don't want to work on equipment until it's not making sound. Joe tested each component, replaced many (with correct parts)and had it sounding great, and the really clicked in right away. The transformer continued to hum.
  I did some research, and know that the transformer was assembled using shellac, that dries and cracks with age (and use, especially improper use, like when capacitors start to fail). This allows the metal plates to move. Tightening all the assembly bolts often solves the problem. It didn't in this case. The transformer is failing.I just bought an exact replacement on eBay, and can't wait to hear my beautiful Marantz in all it's glory.
  Apparently Bullock Magnetics, the manufacturer, is still in business in California, and I may be able to have the faulty transformer reconditioned.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Thursday Update.

  I haven't been idle, just busy with my work.
  When I indicated that the SAE  1000E high output moving coil phono cartridge was making me happy (it was), I didn't say that it needs about 40 hours of break in time. It sounded pretty good, with perhaps too much 'detail', but my vinyl deprived ears were ok with that at first. After a few hours they weren't ok at all, and I stopped listening for a few days. I let the next 20 hours of break-in happen unheard (playing a record with no amp), and as the 40 hours dwindle down, I'm very, very happy. All harshness is gone, leaving a beautifully balanced presentation that sounds a lot like music.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

  Here's a link from the Vintage Knob.
  This is my third attempt to check out a vintage quadraphonic receiver, after the Marantz 4400 (Vladimir wasn't enthusiastic about trying to fix it), and more recently, the Harman Kardon 900+ (way too problematic and expensive to fix). I knew it powered up, but bought this beauty as is, and so far there's only weak sound in one channel. It's next for repair. I'll keep you posted.   It did clean up nicely, though.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Monday, October 22, 2012

My bliss tonight.

The Mission Cyrus One sounds great driving a pair of Energy Pro 22s, just arrived, in black.

Just arrived. Camber 2 loudspeakers.

  The final version of what were initially the Rega 2 speakers. Renamed Camber after Roy Gandy, Rega proprietor freaked out when he learned that his Canadian turntable distributor was producing unauthorized Rega badged speakers. The excellent Camber woofer is better built than the Audax woofer in the early Rega version, and equally good sounding. The Cambers have proper binding posts, not spring connectors. I really like these speakers, and have always liked this form factor, slim and deep.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Just Arrived. SAE 3022 integrated amplifier.

  From Davids Audio: "Another item you rarely see for sale, the 3022 was an early attempt by SAE to produce an integrated amplifier. Presumably to reduce engineering/manufacturing costs (I suppose), rather than developing a new product from scratch they merely tacked together a 3000 preamp and a 2200 amplifier, tied together with common sheet metal.
  This led to a completely unique and funky design - rather than having the inputs on the back panel like a conventional system, the inputs are tucked away in a slot on the side of the unit. If you look on the right side of the picture below, you can see the opening where the input jacks are located."

Over three quarter million served.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Mission 710 Update

I was pretty sure that the pristine looking woofers in the Mission 710s I got last week weren't original, but wanted to confirm it. I was right. The original Peerless woofers were long gone. After some deliberation, I installed a set of Seas woofers that would've been in 770 Freedom 4s. The new woofers polypropylene cone and more rigid cast chassis, combined with the same Seas tweeter used in the first 3 generations of 770s, make them sound much more like 770s than Missions original bottom of the range speaker.

 Thanks to The Speaker Shop team for sorting out a crossover issue for me.

Marantz 1200 pictures.

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Marantz 1200 is fixed.

I just got it home, swapped out the Mission Cyrus One (which hasn't left my system since I finished it a couple of weeks ago), and fired it up, driving the Spendors. It sounds fantastic, with incredible weight in the bass that comes from insanely over engineered vintage gear.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Just arrived. Energy Pro 22s.

Wow. I wrote the same thing 13 days short of a year ago! This time they're black. If you've never heard a pair, you really should. They're a modest landmark in Canadian speaker design (I mean all 22s, though the 22 Reference Connoisseur is the high water mark), and they still sound great.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Spendor Type BCII photos.

The grill frames are great, but the fabric needs cleaning.

B&W LM1 speakers.

I don't understand why manufacturers recycle model numbers. These are not the new LM1s that look like computer speakers, or home theatre rears. I have a pair of cast aluminum originals, made, I think in the late seventies. They weigh about 15 pounds each,and have a 5 inch woven kevlar woofer. The basket of the woofer is the same casting as the front baffle, meaning that effectively the woofer is the front baffle, giving the system extraordinary rigidity, which at least partially accounts for the incredibly uncoloured sound this speaker delivers.