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ANATOMY of a WORLD-CLASS AUDIO-SYSTEM, Pt. 3:

The THREAD (of correspondence) relative to; The 'Double-Autograph Tannoy' Audio-System

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Recently, I was contacted by a reader of WAJ on AUDIO; Chris T. Subsequent to this, he has supplied a review of his truly outstanding system. This review may be seen at part 2, here. And my pre-amble to the review is at part 1, here. The following is the thread of our e-mailed correspondence before and after said review was submitted for publication:

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From Chris:

50 plus years of hi-fi. Biased towards horns and valves (tubes) but use mainly a Tact semi-digital amp at the moment. I agree totally with your comments about realism in reproducing music and how to achieve it.

I also am a fervent DIY'er and a great deal of my equipment has been self made. The picture of part of my speaker system is and adaption of the Tannoy Autograph but with 2 X 15" dual concentrics and much heavier cabinet walls coupled with additional ribbon drivers to add to the mids and treble plus a super tweeter. Sub woofer is just as extreme.

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From Winston (W.A.J.)

 

07:37 PM on January 29, 2013 

Hi Chris,
 
Welcome to WAJ on AUDIO, and thanks for joining.

It's encouraging to know you agree with my views on sonic-realism, and on the best ways of approaching it.

Needless to say, I'm fascinated by your system - or what I've seen and read of it, thus far. I wish you had the time to elaborate on its make-up, and on its sound. Being somewhat familiar with 'lesser' Tannoys, I'm sure yours must be totally awesome. Not even the great Westminster Royal should be able to compete with double-15 Autographs. And did you say they're sub-woofed? (More folded-horns?) My Gosh, man - are you serious? (Well, obviously).
 
Some of us would rather reading about a system such as yours, than to see another rave about Wilson/Krell, and the like, which the popular mainstream audio mags so delight in forcing upon us. It's a travesty that they promote these while they exclude the much better systems (as yours is - I'm absolutely sure).

Enjoy the music!
Winston.

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.From Chris:

01:29 AM on January 30, 2013 

Hi Winston,

If you want me to I will write up my entire and rather mad system with pictures.

I have been very lucky in that my best friend was a very accomplished musician (played 18 instruments) and we both were involved in amateur theater with my involvement being in sound and lighting. This involved sometimes recording music and effects and playing them back during performances. Along the line my ears were "trained" by my friend and this has been of enormous help over the years. It's also been a pain from the point of always trying to improve my hi-fi.

Another unfortunate happenstance is my love of the pipe organ which meant a speaker system of extreme proportions.

Music is the end and very often lost to technology I think, and to reproduce it is one of the hardest things to do.

Regards

Chris

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From Winston:

 

07:21 PM on February 01, 2013 

Hello Chris,

That sounds like a great idea.

I could perhaps publish your 'review', if you don't mind. I'm sure my readers would be very interested in your awesome system, and how it came about. If you do write it up, please don't forget to elaborate on the sound of it, especially compared to those with the 'best' conventional types of speakers. In other words, how realistic are the Tannoys, compared to conventional types? And what sonic features (dynamism, tone, etc) make them as realistic as I'm sure they are. (i.e. if this is not too much to ask).

I'm sure your sub-woofed 'Double-Autograph' Tannoys would shame something like an X-2, for instance, so please let my readers know if I'm right.

Cheers,

Winston.

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From Chris:

hi Winston, Please give me an address to email the article to. Regards

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From Winston:

e-mail address sent.

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From Chris:

Thanks. Have emailed the file. Regards Chris

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From Chris:

Hi Winston,

Attached is a rar file with an article on my system in html. If you want to edit it I have no problem with that. I have listened to many systems over the years most of them either friends or friends of friends and I need to be a bit polite even if their whole approach runs at a right angle to mine.

I do like your approach to audio and it’s a pity that we live around the world from one another. Here in S.A. everything in audio is very expensive so consequently the high end stuff is for the more wealthy who are more than a bit snobbish. The Westminster Royal I listened to twice, once in the home of the original purchaser and subsequently to the person he sold it to. As both of them buy and sell equipment trying all the time always wanting something more.....

The Kingdom was a purchase of the first of these gentlemen and to me not anyway near as good as the Westminsters. The big Apogees were at the home/workshop of the man that built my ribbons and he used them as a reference as what not to do with his designs. He built a ribbon sub-woofer but it was something you built in place, took out a bond on your house to finance the magnets and played softly.

Anyway hope you like the article.

Regards

Chris

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From Winston:.

 

11:43 PM on February 06, 2013 

Hello Chris,

Wow, what a review. It's fantastic. And so is the system. (Please check your e-mails for the rest of my response - too lengthy for posting, here).

Thanks for sharing.

Kindest regards,

Winston.

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From Chris:

Hi Winston,

The more of your website I see, the more I wish I had seen it years ago. I feel as though my own position in hifi has been vindicated. I suppose like most people, I have my own foibles, likes and dislikes and probably wobbly thinking. One of my pet hates revolves around bad recordings and more especially those ones that seem to be going down the same route as the Stereophile type magazines.

One of them is Reference Recordings. Some years ago I purchased five of their CD's, four of featuring the organ. On listening to them I was left with the feeling that apart from everything being too smooth and sanitized, there was something very wrong in the low bass and this was long before I had built a sub. I duly ripped a track from each CD onto my PC and ran a spectrum analysis on the files. I found that each of them had strong noise/harmonics, at very high levels, in the region below 10 Hz. To check that this was not an aberrant feature of the sound card or other bit in the system I did the same thing with a Dorian CD. The Dorian recording did not have this noise. So exit the RR CD's stage left to file 13.

Years later I was given two organ and orchestra/brass RR recordings by a friend. These were recorded in the Meyerson Symphony Hall which has a very fine organ and variable acoustics. The recordings, like every RR CD I have to date heard, is very smooth and “refined”, but lacks actual detail and no sound of the venue at all. If I contrast this with a Dorian recording of the Saint Saens Organ Symphony and the Jongen Symphonie Concertante where the acoustics are changed to suit the different works, then it stands out just how bad the RR's actually are. The changes in the acoustics can be very clearly heard in the Dorian recording.

I mentioned my organ builder friend in the write up of my system and deliberately did not mention the firm where he did his apprenticeship. This was at C.B. Fisk and he was part of the team that installed the organ. He agrees with me about the lack of quality in the RR disks and that the Dorian is a good representation of how the organ sounds in the hall and how the acoustics also can be changed.

Here is a link to the organ.

http://www.cbfisk.com/do/DisplayInstrument/instId/100

The above is one of very many examples where to me, recordings are so bad that to try to judge a hifi using them defeats any attempt as to realism. I am sure that the engineer in this case, despite the awe people seem to hold him in, is quite deliberate in what he does. All businesses are there to make money plain and simple witness John Atkinson et al. As I said this is a a pet peeve!

Probably one of the great all time recordings is the Mercury, mono recording, of Pictures at an Exhibition which I only have on CD. Listening to that one wonders what has been lost. I don't totally agree with his view of the Kubelik v Reiner performances that is neither here nor there as far as the actual recording is concerned.

http://www.allmusic.com/album/moussorgsky-ravel-pictures-at-an-exhibition-bart%C3%B3k-music-for-strings-percussion-celesta-mw0001400691

I mentioned also in my system write up, a Decca recording of the Mikado of which I have the original double LP, the Decca double CD and my own mix down from LP to CD. I chose this LP set to play with to see if I could, how little Decca did to get the really excellent transfer to CD. My version is almost indistinguishable from the Decca and apart from manual de-clicking I did nothing. This took a long time to do!

I wonder if you have thoughts on this because at the end of everything you can have the best hifi in the world but if the recordings you buy are crappy then what point other than the music.

At the moment our exchange rate means that a $15.00 CD by the time it gets here should be R132.00 when in fact it comes in at R230.00. And the record companies wonder why people copy or download music.

I have a Squeezebox Touch which streams music directly from a hard drive with no PC needed. The Squeezebox has digital out and it's own on-board DAC with line outs (which I am using). The sound is not too bad but one day when I can lay hands on a Behringer ULTRAMATCH PRO SRC2496 I hope to improve the output. Wonder if you have tried anything like this.

By this point your eyes have started to glaze over so I'll leave you in peace.

Regards

Chris

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From Winston:

Hello Chris,

Wow, what a review. It's fantastic. And so is the system. (Am I right in assuming that the 300Bs power only the ribbons? Since you mentioned 'mid, treble and super-tweeter' ribbons, I wondered how they were implemented/combined with the centre-tweeters of the Tannoys - or not)

Your thoughts on recordings are also appreciated.

I do regret to say I can't be of much assistance regarding your digital queries, though. (And yep, I did notice that Otari and the magnificent EMT - been thinkin' of ditching my antiquated Linn for a 'new' Lenco, miself). Aside from the fact that I see you as the teacher (and I; the student) on these matters, I must admit that digital has never been very high on my priority-list - so sorry about that. I, therefore, defer to your greater years, your greater experience, and to your greater knowledge and expertise, on these matters.

I had been impressed by the performance of a Pro-Tools M-Box operating as a DAC, in the past (not in my own system). But now it seems I need to thank you for the headz-up on the Behringer. Btw, did you see this?  

http://www.lampizator.eu/LAMPIZATOR/TRANSPORT/behringer/Behringer.html

I'm not too sure you'd want to hear my thoughts on recordings, in general. Oh yes, there are many great recordings but, generally, I hate the overzealous emphasis on close-mic'ing, and I hate what it does to 'potential' realism. Only Superman, I suppose, would be able to place his ears at all the instruments in a band, simultaneously - the way so many recordings are mic'd - it's a shame.  I also hate the engineers' practice of 'sweetening' this and 'sweetening' that and, generally, over-using and abusing every single processor in the studio - un-necessarily, and just because they're there. And I especially HATE what engineers do with the dynamic-range of music - the un-necessarily drastic compression of dynamic-range is rife. (I tend to prefer the raw 'take', rather than the 'final mix' - what they do to the music at the latter stage of the 'mixing-process' would be more appropriate in a butchery; a slaughter-house - it's sickening)

I've been toying with a theory, recently: We all know that a distant listening-position, at a concert, affords less detail. To counter some of the detailed 'evils' of close-mic'ing, perhaps a system deliberately tuned to be less detailed would actually be MORE like the real thing - provided its overall reproduction is seriously accurate. Indeed, perhaps such a system would, in some ways, be better and more realistic than having a detailed one which highlights every annoying act of butchery performed in studio. As I said, it's just a theory, for now but, in truth, I happen to like live music, from a distance - I'm sure I'd be happy with a system which accurately portrays music in a lifelike and realistic manner, similar to that encountered in-concert, from the distant-perspective.

Nevertheless, based on my passing knowledge of Tannoys, especially, and of the capabilities of the accompanying components, in general terms, I wouldn't hesitate, for a moment, to include your system in any theoretical list of mine, regarding the world's best systems, that I'm aware of - at least; potentially. Though I've never heard it, obviously, I'm absolutely sure that such components, competently optimized, WILL render state of the art performance. Needless to say, your demonstrated level of competence and knowledge is enough to assure the astute that these competent components WILL have been competently optimized. The room, and the size of it, etc, also constitutes a factor, especially with regard to potential bass-reproduction.

In fact, though I may not be so bold, I'm seriously thinking of introducing it as one of the world's great systems - for real!

Thanks for sharing.

Kindest regards,

Winston.

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P.S.

By the way, you mentioned; "Please don't mention Martin Logan, or the big Apogee ribbon speakers as both of them are so crippled in parts, again the lower mid range, that overall they are of no interest to me. Neither of those have anywhere near enough punch for true reproduction of brass, for example, never mind any serious orchestral work at more or less realistic volume..."

This lack of lower-midrange competence/realism has been my pet-gripe regarding, not just planars but, also, virtually all modern small-coned speaker-systems, including some of their 'very-best'. No small-coned system I've ever heard displays the realistic lower-mids weight, authority, and power (even at low volume) demonstrated by the large-cones of the likes of Altec, Tannoy, Bozak, and JBL, etc, (including even Henry Kloss' 'Boston-Bland' designs). To me the magnitude of the superiority of the latter types, Tannoys et al, over the conventional small-coned types is utterly ridiculous. So ridiculous that one wonders why people bother with the puny pretenders at all. In fact, the difference is so ridiculous, to me, that I sometimes wonder if I may be wrong - I simply can't believe that the majority of the world's audiophiles fail to recognize the same thing - so I second-guess myself. (But, apparently, people don't compare hifi to live music anymore). If it's not too much trouble, could you please elaborate on your experience/encounters with these conventional small-coned systems, compared to the likes of Goodmans and Tannoy?

Oh, and I take this as a complement; "The more of your website I see, the more I wish I had seen it years ago. I feel as though my own position in hifi has been vindicated..."   Thanks!

And I too feel vindicated whenever one as knowledgeable as you finds favor with some of the points I've made. However, with regard to seeing the site years ago, I'm afraid WAJ on AUDIO only came on-line around three years ago. And I'm still learning too, from audiophiles such as you.

Thanks again.

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From: Chris....
To: Winston...
Sent: Thursday, February 7, 2013 8:45 AM
Subject: RE: Double Tannoy

Hi Winston,

Thanks for your email and the very nice comments. I feel just a bit overwhelmed! When I started the write up I mentioned my best friend who kicked my ideas about hifi and music into shape. That I was well and truly brainwashed can be borne out by my dislike of Mozart's music which is another carry over from him. At one time between us we owned seven electronic organs, one of which was a totally original M3 of 1948 vintage. Another was a Content digital organ using sampled sounds. Between us we re-built an Estey harmonium (pump organ) which was to be the console for a small pipe organ we started to construct. When he died, pretty unexpectedly from cancer, the ranks of pipes we had built, and the electronic organs, were given to other people, along with all his hifi equipment (all of the above had been left to me). Hilton's hifi was simple, a Leak TL12, Garrard 301 turntable with SME tone arm, a Garrard GC8!!! cartridge and a ancient Goodmans 12” speaker in a bass reflex cabinet. He also owned an Akai M9 and Ferrograph reel to reel tape decks. I had given him a CD player and portable TV which were kept, in their original boxes, in a cupboard and dragged out for special occasions only. I mention this to illustrate that I am a product of an eccentric mind.

Another friend, a concert pianist, also contributed to my musical (how it actually sounds) education. Steven still owns an American 9' Steinway Concert Grand piano along with other lesser pianos. This is where my dislike of Revox tape decks stems from. Steven had bought a new A77 which spent more time in the repair shop than in his studio. I remember a time when he had been trying to make a demo recording to send to the UK he phoned me to come and help him as he was not getting the result he wanted. After messing around for an hour I fetched my Akai M9, did the recording which was duly sent to the UK and a Concert tour resulted. Many years later I recorded a Mass and Organ Recital in the Anglican Cathedral in Kimberley, using an Revox B77 belonging to the doyen of South African organ builders.. Again there were problems with what was supposedly a good machine. At one point I bought two Revox B36 machines and had one re-built by the agents, I ended up giving them away as I could never get a satisfactory result from them either. Now I have an Otari 5050 which works! I can probably babble on for pages on microphones etc. but that's what it would be, babble.

I think there are a couple of points here somewhere … hopefully. One of which is that I agree with you on close miked recordings. The number of recordings that have a stereo effect on a piano are legion. Sitting on the Steinway's bench you can hear which sides the bass and treble is on, just. Stand away, even a couple of feet and that effect disappears. Likewise a band. Playing in a Brass Band you can hear who is playing the wrong note, if he is behind you. Another of my pet aversions and I've got lots of them is stereo pipe organs. Standing in front of a large organ, forget it. Sit on the bench of a small organ and provided you play one note you just might be able to locate it. When tuning a organ you first locate the rank, then have your assistant play middle C until by guess and by sticking your finger over mouths of pipes locate the one that is sounding and you work from there. Stereo my foot!

I wonder how many of these fool reviewers know that all piano's have multiple strings per note in the treble. And that if you are close to the thing the tuning is always very slightly out – per note and especially at the top of the range. So much for the “resolving power” of high end equipment and close miking.

Turntables. Years ago I owned a Lenco L75 which rumbled like all hell. Then a Thorens TD124 which I liked very much. Somewhere along the line I was given a Toshiba turntable with a photo-coupled cartridge and reams of electronics in it. The cartridge was rubbish, the turntable was very good. Then CD's came along and I committed the worst sort of heresy, I sold all my records and the turntable and converted to CD. Despite Hilton telling what an idiot I was. Got back into LP's in 1998 when I visited the UK and the violin maker. He sold me a Linn Sondek LP12 with the Valhalla upgrade to the power supply. We boxed it up in plywood and posted it back to South Africa. Not bad but, as you say in the States, no cigar. Half the time the thing needed help to start.

So I built my own: Motor and external flywheel with encoder for speed control from a 3M tape Deck, the spindle was instead of the usual 2” long thing in a bush, 10” long and 7/8” thick. All running in and on Vesconite. The housing was stainless steel and oil filled. The platter was from the bottom, 3/4” Stainless Steel from a Mitchel Orbe, then 1/4” glass on rubber tips, another 1/4” glass on rubber and finally 1/2” glass with the record spindle only going through the ½” glass. Topped by a clamp also from the 3M deck which had fitted a collet chuck. LP rested directly on the glass. Tone Arm was a very, very good Eminent Technology linear tracking arm. The material some of the ET arm is made from is terrible but I passed it on to an acquaintance in Cape Town and he re-made bits of it from Aluminum. http://www.blueangelaudio.com/ I have never met Andre but we speak on the phone most weeks, usually for an hour or so and this for the last 15 years. I have Mantis cartridge No. 003 which is currently back with him for an upgrade. It is the finest cartridge that I have heard.

Then I got the EMT and the rest of the world can go to hell. It goes with me into my box. From 0 to 33 in 0.2 of a second and I can't wait until my Mantis gets back! Slumming with a cheap Audio Technica for now. Built to last and as a “broadcast” turntable I think the term 24/7 was invented for it.

I think your idea of dumbing down high end systems so that they can become musical (sorry I know you don't like the term) would be a good idea - only; the audiophile community is interested in bits and pieces, not music.

If you have only been in audio for a few years, heaven help us in a few more. Your summary of what is lacking is spot on.

The current trend of inefficient loudspeakers, no matter how well they have been made, cannot do things like dynamics, clarity and even-response. Nor can the small “monkey coffins” (patent and credits to Harvey Rosenberg for the term) on stands. Some of the best sound I have heard was in an old cinema near in my home town 50 years ago. This was a single 36” Pope (Phillips) speaker driven by a 20 watt EL34 valved amplifier. The cabinet was a 15' cube – in truth a room behind the screen.

My speakers are all driven by the TacT or the Triodes, not bi-amped. Truth is I find the Triodes too mellow and the bass too uncontrolled so I very seldom connect them up any more.

The booklet I sent “Five Speakers” you may not have seen. I have been down the concrete column route, with 8' concrete sewer pipes (new!) and 24” diameter with the Goodmans Axioms at the top and mid range 8” Goodmans and tweeters mounted on a shelf above. The whole thing standing on bricks. No paint, no covering. In our sitting room. I don't think my wife even noticed them – horsey type. They needed internal damping which I never got round to as I was diverted by the prospect of the Decca Horns. To anyone with efficient drivers this must rate as one of the best cabinets ever. I used 1 1/4” wood brandering on all the joints with glue and final silicone bead inside. If memory serves over 100 1 1/2” wood screws per cabinet as well. It's very important not to stress any panel lest it resonates. No damping at all and in my case 21” out from a corner. Short of a full blown horn system, dynamics like you have never heard. On my Radford 25 watt amp I never lifted the volume control above two and a half.

Enough for now, time to go home.

Regards

Chris

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From Chris:

Hi Winston,

Please find attached a booklet form the 60’s on various forms of horn speakers for DIY. The last one was supposed to be very, very good. There are still traces of on the ‘net. Built by John Crabbe.

More later

Regards
Chris

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From Winston:

Hi Chris,

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First, let me hasten to clarify a point: You mentioned; "If you have only been in audio for a few years, heaven help us in a few more. Your summary of what is lacking is spot on. The current trend of inefficient loudspeakers, no matter how well they have been made, cannot do things like dynamics, clarity and even-response. Nor can the small “monkey coffins” (patent and credits to Harvey Rosenberg for the term) on stands."

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.Actually, I've been in audio since I was 10 (i.e. ever-since receiving my first portable 'record-player', as a birthday-present - that's when the bug bit) and, now, I'm a member of the 50s-club. Yep, I been at it for a while, spending too many of those years with small-coned speakers, being led by the audio-magz down the same wrong path I'm warning others against, now. (The irony is; I was also intimately involved with the better principles of mobile pro-sound systems, having also owned and operated one, in various iterations, over most of those years). I guess the slight mix-up came about when I mentioned that the site, WAJ on AUDIO, only came on-line around three years ago. 

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.It's good to see you agree with my assessment of what's lacking in hi-fi, today.  With the application of 20/20 hindsight, it's patently obvious what the problems are, in modern systems. After all, if you omit dynamism, as you mentioned, and if you omit lower-midrange tone, both of which modern speakers are guilty of, then you virtually guarantee a patent lack of realism. And emphasizing detail and acute soundstaging, as the 'best' of these speakers do, cannot compensate for this lack of realism, in fact it exacerbates the problem.

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Thanks for the booklet with those speaker-plans. It's a nice addition to my small collection, just in case I need to utilize one of these, some time in the future. I'll admit to being slightly disappointed not to see the Double-Autographs' plans included, but I'd fully understand if you prefer to keep those close to your chest, so to speak.

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.It's funny that I don't seem to have the problems you found with the ReVox A77. Who knows? Perhaps it's because I don't utilize such a machine as much, and in as many ways, as you do. For instance, though I may get around to it someday, I really don't do much live taping - certainly nothing serious. Perhaps this is mostly because of a lack of convenience, and a lack of 'serious' mikes, at the moment.

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Cheers.  *B-) cool

Winston.

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From Chris:

Hi Winston,

 

Sorry about the confusion, re; time.  I will send plans for the Autograph; the Double Autograph Mad Italian. I made up as we went along although, basically, all that was done was to lengthen the top and allow for the increased wall thickness. This was one of the very few times that the sum was better than the whole (or should that be 'parts'? - Ed). It's very difficult to try to describe the huge difference for the better than the standard Autograph. The fact remains that, as you say, no small coned speaker system can hope to replicate anything larger than a small ensemble even if the mid ranges is right because small cones just can't move the air.

 

The closest to right I have heard is the Lowther PM2A in a substantial horn but it has very little in the way of bass, although what it has is very good. Overall as a speaker system it lacks punch. Plus, over time, the frame of the speaker needs to be tweaked as it bends! Had a mate with a pair and he seemed to have the drivers in pieces every few months.

 

I have finally got my tablet talking to my main email account and I'm sending this from home. Don't work Friday's anymore as Son runs the business so I get more time to listen to music and mess around.

 

Have a nice weekend

 

Regards

Chris

Sent from Samsung tablet 

 

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From Winston:

Hello Chris,

OK, I understand the 'Double-Autograph' part. But; 'Mad Italian'? LOL. 

Regarding the soon-to-be-published review; I'm thinking of also publishing parts of this thread (of our correspondence). Would you be OK with that? And would you also prefer for me to change your name? (Well, not officially - obviously - dah!) Please stipulate whatever changes, along those lines, you'd like for me to make - if any. 

By the way, in your previous e-mail, you mentioned the word, 'musical', with some concern that I might have a problem with it. No, I don't - i.e. not when properly used - it's sometimes abused, tho. I believe Arthur Salvatore is the gentleman who might have had more of a problem with it. Speaking of which, you definitely should check-out his web-site, if you haven't already. I doubt you'll find a more honest (or a more knowledgeable) individual writing about audio, today. Even if you don't agree with all his views, you'll respect his logic, I'm sure: http://www.high-endaudio.com/RC-Lenco.html 

Oh, and I deliberately linked you to the Lenco page to illustrate the probable results of having a Lenco L75 well sorted. I'm not sure how you addressed yours, but I think the key to alleviating the Lenco-rumble is to place it in a massive and heavy plinth, similar to Jean Nantais' CLD-type (i.e. Constrained Layer Damping). A good idler, and bearings, also help. Some swear it's better than a 301/401 or 124 (better bass, more dynamic) I'm curious as to how a well-implemented Lenco would compare to an EMT such as yours.

I must say, it's great chatting with you. Enjoy the weekend too. Enjoy the family. And enjoy the music!

Kind regards,
Winston.

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From Chris

Hi Winston,

Attached are the plans we used to build the cabinets from.

The reason for multiple emails is that I am not sure of what your email server allows you size wise. I can send 100MB but most servers don’t accept anything over about 4.

Regards
Chris

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From Chris

Hi again Winston,

I have no problems with you passing on anything I send you unless you think I am being a bit too controversial. Likewise I would not want you to get sued or something….! Likewise my name – got issued with it so I live with it.

Had a couple of thoughts about some mundane things. One of them is the problem of static when playing LP's. Where I live, we are some 6, 000 foot above sea level. Our climate varies between very dry during the winter and lots of thunderstorms during the summer. With range of temperature from 35 Celsius to -10 during a winter night we seem to have the whole bit. Thankfully not in an earthquake region and not much in the way of cyclones. Anyway back to static. During any dry spells I approach my hifi with trepidation as it always seems to bite me after crossing the carpet to change a record or CD. Despite all the usual earthing to the equipment very often static clicks occur whilst playing or lifting a record from the turntable. I eventually did something about it and it only took me 50 years to get to! Sourcing most bits to anything in a 3rd world country is a pain so "making a plan" becomes a way of life. I attach a picture of my solution which is so simple I don't understand why no-one seems to have come with it before. Often in machinery static has to be cancelled out, in my case my Xerox printers and the simple method used there is a small, earthed, carbon fibre brush which just touches the paper as it feeds through the machine. As the static generated in playing a record is much lower there needs to be no actual physical connection between the turning record and the brush, a small gap of a couple of mm suffices. After checking with a multimeter for some degree of conduction as not all carbon fibre brushes actually seem to give a resistance reading, I mounted the brush on a block of wood as a support, ran a wire from the brush to earth and end of problem. The fact that there is no contact brush to turntable is consistent with methods used in industry where often a metal "tinsel" is used to collect energy. Anyway away it works so if you already don't know about it feel free to use this idea and pass it on.

I am listening to an Adrian Boult performance of Vaughan Williams' Sea Symphony and going back to your theme of low fi high-end, this reminds me of when I gave a copy of this to an audiophile friend and later enquired as to what he thought of the recording, he remarked it was a bit funny in the bass in places. On listening to it on his system, Audio Research amp and expensive Pro-Ac speakers I was a bit dumbfounded to not hear the organ as a separate instrument. The role of the organ in this Symphony is almost totally to support the orchestra and underpin even the singers with soft and very low bass. On my system the moment the organ plays it is immediately apparent as even though it is used very softly, the way an organ energies a space comes through. Not to mention the bass. As much as I hate to mention this, I tried this recording on another friends equipment, Wadia CD player, Steinhardt valve amps and (horror) Bose 901 speakers and that sounded all right. Mind you, the Bose 901 goes back to the days when at least the manufacturers tried to get it right. Wasn't there a time when Amar Bose sued Stereophile for an unfavorable review and won?

Also sent some pictures of my record cleaning setup. The rinse/vacuum part is almost finished but I had to stop work on it as the cap screws I have are a tiny bit short and that means Monday for new ones. The idea with this part is to rotate an LP through a cavity with water spraying on the surface with vacuum applied at the same time. The brushes may need to be cut down a bit but until everything is running I can't tell. The pressure from the brushes versus the vacuum, I hope, will give enough flow to really lift any debris loosened by the ultrasonic clean. This should be the cherry on the top as the ultrasonic clean already does a very fine job. I want to get away from Isopropyl alcohol as the fumes are not too good for one and running the ultrasonic unit at 55 Celsius tends to make lots of fumes! I tried cleaning a LP in the dishwasher and yes it warped the LP but boy, was it clean afterwards so I have a liquefied and filtered version of the detergent waiting to try as soon as the rinse unit is working.

My Lenco turntable I bought new and used it as it came. At that stage of my life I accepted that the manufacturers knew best. Ya right! I still have this thing about this hence my enjoyment of the EMT. It works, as it should, bare chassis on a table. The cabinet that it’s in is a frame with a front that clips on and that stands on a bit of granite on four bits of industrial damper sponge. The reason for that was to keep the Linn from having kittens on organ bass and this without the sub. The EMT just does the job and with the sub at high volume.

From your previous mail I gather that you are, like me over the hill a bit, but won’t lie down yet. I am 65 and find I need more time in the day to do everything I want to do. My wife who is 80, still rides horses now and then, drives a cart and horse and also rides a quad bike to inspect the fences a couple of times a week. All mad here!

It's very nice to have someone to talk to about hifi that has the same outlook.

Regards
Chris

---------- 

From Winston

 

Hi Chris, 

Sorry about the delay in my response. I eventually found your last two e-mails in 'spam'.

Thanks for the plans. And the accounts of your exploits with static and record-cleaning are quite interesting, as usual. 

.Oh yeah, having recently entered the 50s-zone, I prefer to see myself as approaching the hill - certainly not over it. I'm sure you'd be amused at the way some of us try to push-back that 'hill', instead of admiting to climbing it. Yep! I consider myself to be still on the approach. (A recent diagnosis of 'early-stage emphysema', a couple weeks ago, doesn't help with this outlook, though - but at least I'm 'lucky' to be 'early-stage', I’m told).

I'm aiming to have that review posted by the coming week, along with the thread of our correspondence, to date. And since you said; " It's very nice to have someone to talk to about hifi that has the same outlook." I have to admit; same here. It's very refreshing to discuss high-fidelity without having to endure references to 'tastes & preferences', implying that fidelity can be tailored to tastes. It's really amazing how much the mainstream mags have brain-washed gullible 'audiophiles'. One fella actually informed me that sonic realism was different for everyone, and that his 'realism' is likely different from my 'realism'. So, then, I guess realism is no longer absolute - according to the teachings of these mags.

.It's frightening how powerful these mags are. And it's even more frightening how much they abuse this power. Consider the Linn Sondek, for instance - certainly a good tt but, as you say, no cigar, compared to the likes of an EMT. Yet years ago, when the mags said the Linn was the best thing since sliced-bread, many abandoned EMTs, Empires, 301s and 401s, 124s, and Lencos (all of which are better than the Linn) to jump onto the Linn band-wagon (Granted; some need to be modified to display their best - but they're also better than many of the mega-buck tts the same mags told us were the ultimate). But even this pales against the CD fiasco. How many of us put aside great tts (Thorens 125, in my case) to ride that CD-bandwagon, at these mags' behest? (Both my hands are raised). Forgive me if I neglect to elaborate on the lies they spew about modern speakers, compared to those like yours, and even your former Goodmans. I'm particularly bitter about this topic since I allowed myself to be led astray, by these mags, even though I should really have known better, considering my involvements, at the time. 

Perhaps I should leave it at that. (At least you had the sense to use 12" Goodmans in horns, etc). I was stupid enough to endure BC-1s at home (and in my car, after being disillusioned - long story) for the better part of two decades (tho grossly disappointed, in comparisons with the live sound) simply because the mags said there's nothing really much better out there (and hearing the others that were touted, I agreed). But this is also while I was involved, on a semi-pro level, with the likes of Altec, Goodmans (two 18s of which I still have) and (Pro) Celestion  - much better, in hindsight. Yet I refused to fully embrace these for domestic purposes, since the mags claimed they were not worthy. How stupid can one be? And now you know the source of my bitterness, concerning these despicable mainstream audio-mags and small-coned toy-speakers, in general.

Thanks for the listening ear (perhaps this is 'therapeutic', after all - talkin' 'bout 'issues').

Cheers

.Winston.

.----------

.From Chris

.

Hi Winston,

Very sorry to hear that you have emphysema, and I really hope that you can keep it under control. Really, really nasty thing. And no, as a smoker of 57 years, I have no room to talk. It's annoying that as we get older and have the money and leisure to enjoy ourselves a bit, we get nuked with something or other. I am diabetic so I get to stab myself every day.

You can be as vitriolic as you like with regards to the audiophile sheeple, they deserve everything they get from the likes of Atkinson, Fremer & co. I have been lucky enough to have had a varied technical career and to see what people swallow keeps me highly amused! Have you come across Peter Belt? http://www.belt.demon.co.uk/ if you have sufficient interest in yet another set of scams. For a giggle have a look at this bunch. They are “into” Dihydrogen Monoxide http://www.dhmo.org/ and I wish them well of it......

My Goodmans: Years of good listening with not one problem and the surrounds which were very soft and supple, never gave the slightest signs of breaking down. Nor did the voice coils ever show signs of being overheated despite me running loads of power into them at times. I used them in an ice-rink (in bass reflex cabinets) for a show my musical friend and I produced. They stayed there for two months and even the humidity didn't affect them. Also outdoors for PA work at horse shows my wife used to run. Mine dated from the mid 60's and were designed (which perhaps you know) by Ted Jordan. He is still building drivers with metal cones, his first attempts were the Jordan Watt Modular speaker also dating to around the same time.

They were terrible.

I wonder if you subscribed to Sound Practices magazine? Also have you read that very amusing nut case, Harvey Rosenberg. To him I owe my interest in Tannoy. As I think I have said before – it helps to be a little mad. I would dearly like to hear a full blown system with Altec VOT driven by Westrex amps but not likely to here in S.A.

For your sins I'll write a bit more this weekend.

Regards

Chris

 ----------

From Chris

.

Hi again,

Hope pdf files are acceptable to you!  Here is one that took me by surprise. A bit of polish and everything sounds better. I know my car goes better when it’s clean, but really.

The Westminster cabinets are solid and with all the internal panels, very well braced. I can see adding sand above the driver and maybe in the slanted top corners, but who would have thought polish. Maybe the very dense birch ply with walnut veneer on top is porous.

Regards
Chris

.----------

.From Chris

.

.

Hi Winston,

Found this and a very good job he seems to have made too. I wonder why Tannoy uses these stupid connecters. Anyone with a grain of sense would solder connections where possible. On this point the solder I use is Silver bearing but this is more for mechanical reasons rather than nebulous gains in the sound.

Do you have an opinion on spikes on something of this size, given that the floor is concrete? I do not use spikes; I rely on the sheer weight of my cabinets.

Regards
Chris

.----------

.From Winston

.Hello Chris,

.

.Sound Practices? No, never subscribed - that was a late discovery for me. Keep in mind that, though I've been in audio since a tender age, my audio-epiphany occurred in the late '90s. [Though I really had better sound, in some ways, from my mobile pro-sound system (and actually used parts of it at home sometimes, especially after I relegated the Spendor to more 'appropriate' duties in my car) I'd, generally, heeded the teachings of the 'bibles of the industry', for my domestic system, up until the late nineties.] That's when I really started to find my way. That's also when I really started to seek alternatives to the mainstream mags (which I'd gradually cast aside). Alternatives such as Sound-Practices - belatedly.

However, I've read quite a few of the S-P articles at 'enjoythemusic.com'. In particular, I find the writings of Greg Boynton especially interesting, as he delves into horns, and into the make-up and design of Altec speakers, in general. I also liked the writings of those guys that built the Altec-based Exemplar speaker-system - Jeff Markwart is one (the other name eludes me, at the moment, sorry). Yep, I'd say I'm definitely a fan of that mag, and I think it's a loss to us all that it's no longer in operation. (It's listed & linked in my site's; 'Guide To All Audio-Mags', by the way). The Audio Critic is another great mag (also linked) and also discontinued. Oh, and The Audio-Critique (by Arthur Salvatore) is, thankfully, still in operation - it's outstanding. Let me know if you've read it. If not, then there's also a link to it at my site.

OK, so I was familiar with the quality of Tannoys for quite a while, but the late Harvey Rosenberg's intelligent 'rants' were what first alerted me to the heightened level of performance Westminsters are capable of. (I believe his were the first Westies in the US). I also remember reading an article by Stereophile's Art Dudley extolling the virtues of those same Westminsters, after having spent a night on the couch in front of them. And, speaking of Stereophile, I'm sure you must be aware of the quality of J. Gordon Holt's articles. However, I'm not sure you're also aware that some of these may still be found in their 'Archives'. If not, then you could also link to these from the fore-mentioned 'Guide To All Audio-Mags'.

And did you say you've been smoking for 57 years? My Gosh man, that's longer than I've been on this particular planet, in this particular life - for real.

I don't want to preach, but perhaps you should consider quitting, though. Emphysema (discovered at a very late stage) is what took my dad out in his 76th year and, even with that, I was stupid enough to continue smoking 'til my doc discovered I now have the beginnings of it. Still, I consider myself very lucky to be at just the 'early-stage' since, as long as I quit smoking, etc, this is like being given a second chance in life. I'm encouraged by what I've been told, and by what I've read about it. One guy, diagnosed with similar 'early-stage' emphysema at age 28, for instance, has lived to 91, and is still around, I believe. So sorry to hear that you're diabetic. I suppose we all have our 'crosses' to bear, one way or another. (My own spouse puzzles me, btw, as she seems to be on a quest to acquire every minor '..itis' in existence - arthritis, sinusitis, and counting). But, with regard to your allusion to affluence, I don't consider myself quite there yet. Good to know at least one of us is, though.

With regard to spikes, and other 'tweaks', bear with me as I express the long-winded version of my opinion:

I believe some 'tweaks' are beneficial, to some degree. And spikes for speakers are among them, in certain circumstances, especially where carpets are involved. However, I also believe most 'tweaks' are more trouble than they're worth. Many of these 'tweaks' could be the products of superstition, but I also suspect most are the products of fertile (if devious) minds in search of innovative ways to fleece audiophiles of their hard-earned cash. In system-building, I believe ALL the budget should be dedicated to the speakers and other major components of the system (in that general order). Even exotic and expensive cables should be put on hold at this stage, in my opinion, since the components themselves are much more important, with much greater contribution to the overall quality of the system (Rat-Shack cables will do, for starters - I'd swear). Long after the very best equipment have been acquired, for the available funds initially, then exotic and expensive cables and 'tweaks' may be added, at the listener's discretion, and as funds become available. My general advice to those interested would be that no cable or tweak ever made a bad system good, but there are very good systems bereft of expensive cables and tweaks. This fact, by itself, determines the position of expensive cables and most tweaks on my priority-list.

That being said, I'm fully aware, from experience, that even with the very best system one's ever owned, the 'upgrade-bug'  will still bite, sooner or later. At some stage or other, we'll inevitably feel the urge to do something, even to an outstanding system. This is where I think tweaks are invaluable since, instead of mucking-up a perfectly good system with un-necessary equipment-changes along the 'upgrade-path', we may simply add a tweak or two and reap the harmless benefits - real or imagined.

With that being also said, I reiterate that speaker-spikes are among the more worth-while tweaks, in my own humble opinion. So then, if I were asked, the short answer would be; yeah, I'd go for it. I'd spike them Double-'graphs to 'high-Heaven'.

By the way, that pdf with the Westminster mods could never be argued against. They're the best kinds of tweaks - perfectly logical.

But then, these are only my opinions. YMMV.

.

Kindest regards,

Winston.

.----------

From Chris

.

Hi Winston,

 

I made a mistake 53 years not 57. Both my parents smoked, my mom 30 a day from her teens until she died at 89. My old man smoked 70(!) a day and a particularly strong brand that no longer exists. Springbok Plain in boxes of 50. He died at 61 but not from smoking, it was the 3 bottles a day of brandy that did that. So I smoke but don't drink. I obviously live in my own little world of denial!

And I am not wealthy, just comfortable, which is where I'll be till I die unless I start down the road of bribery which is the only way to get ahead in this country now. Enough of that!

We have a supplier of valves (tubes for you lot) who imported the complete set of Sound Practices and photo-stated complete sets. Mine are worn, dog eared and in need of replacement. Maybe I should buy the CD and put them on my tablet instead. The Audio Critic I like very much and have downloaded all that is available on his web site. Some of his views may be a bit extreme but I can't judge as I have not had the exposure to the sorts and quantities of equipment the average reviewer seems to have. He seems to have come almost to a halt and the latest update to the site was over a year distant from the one preceding. In my small world of hifi the biggest problem I have found is that very few amplifiers do not change the sound hence the love of my TacT / Lyngdorf. I attach a review of the thing for what that's worth. I do agree with the part where he mentions it's lack of it's own sound.

I heard a Graff OTL amp my valve fundi re-built and again good but nothing special. I would love to hear a Futterman OTL though. Also Audio Research and various Krells. conrad-johnson Premiers seem to stand out as good sounding but without direct comparisons who knows? Would buy one of them second hand. I bought a Jolida hybrid amp and was very glad to get shot of it too. On the other hand I have a Jolida CD player which works far better than some very expensive alternatives. I have listened to the Jolida in direct comparison to a couple of Meridian players, a 206 and a 508. The Jolida to my ears was superior to both as a device to play music on although the 508 was a bit better on detail. Both of them cost a whole lot more than the Jolida.

Work continues rather slowly on the LP cleaning unit due mainly to sloth and also Mad Italian woodworker managed to router a groove in his thumb which delayed things. I believe there is now a contract out on the CEO of Elu which is owned by Black & Drekker.

Somewhere along the line I sent you a picture of a replica Watts Dust Bug. This has a brush and roller which drags along the surface of the record and picks up loose dust. It works to a certain extent and is better than nothing. I have just had an idea (deluded and fevered brain) which I would welcome comment on. In sourcing brushes for the vacuum / rinse unit I found a narrow brush about 3/16” thick with bristles 1” long. This is actually part of a draft excluder made to mount on a door. I got to thinking about how it would work as a pre-play wipe on a LP. I seem to have hit on something that actually works very well with one proviso, clearing the debris after digging it out of the grooves. So I have come up with the idea of mounting the brush in a Perspex channel with the brush just protruding, by around 1/4” and applying suction from a portable vacuum unit via flexible tube. I know this probably sounds a bit extreme but what the hell why not go the whole hog? I always pre-clean a record before playing using a velvet lined pad but this only really cleans (grinds the dirt in?) the surface and makes no difference at all to the clicks and pops. The brush does reduce quite considerably the surface noise and I hope suction will improve that. Anything that reduces dirt is good!

After reading some more of your web site a bit about resolution at low levels started me on a listening spree with that in mind. I specifically went for old recordings both on CD and LP. Heifetz and Oistrakh on violin and Cziffra on piano plus an old 4 Phase Stereo recording of works by Ketelbey and yes I know 4 Phase Stereo is junk! The detail is there with the system set below the volume I would expect from a live performance. And for that hint from you, I thank you. If you havn't heard any of Georgy Cziffra's recordings try and get some. It makes the modern pianists (Brendel, Kissin, Ax etc.) sound like over practised children. Lang Lang should be shot with a ball of his own …...! And no, I don't believe everything old is good and everything new, bad. Mind you a new, improved (mute) wife would be nice.

While on the subject of performers, have you ever heard anything played by Jean Guillou organist of St Eustache, Paris? Compare him to John Scott ex St. Paul's, London and now at St. Thomas, New York. I heard him a couple of months ago here in Johannesburg and a wet fish of note with totally un-inspiring to listen to. Guillou is the exact opposite and if he came to SA I would follow him around the country just to listen. I have around thirty five recordings of the St. Saen Organ Symphony and the ultimate best, my opinion, is the performance with the San Francisco Symphony and Eldo de Waart, Guillou in the Davies hall.

I mentioned the violinists Heifetz and Oistrakh earlier and compare them to the likes of Joshua Bell who while very good does not seem to have the last little something. Nigel Kennedy does however and also Julia Fisher.

Enough of my rubbish. Have a good week.

Regards

Chris

.----------

.From Winston.

.

.Hi Chris,

How funny is this? That pdf review you sent, regarding your amp, is the very same review I'd already included and linked to, in your review. I absolutely swear. I'd linked to most of the pictures you sent, mainly in the list of components in your review. But there was no individual picture for either that amp or the two Jolida units, so I decided to look-up reviews of these units and link to them. That review you sent was one of the reviews I'd already linked. The only difference is that my version of that review is sourced from "Secrets of Home Theater and High-Fidelity' (not sure where your version is from). How funny is that?

I'm not done yet - this is too fascinating. I'd sourced these reviews some time after midnight, last night. Though I didn't see it 'til mid-morning today, your e-mail, with the attached pdf, came in at 1:49 a.m. This means that both of us were focusing on this very review at almost exactly the same time, half a world away. It's more than remarkable, in my opinion. I mean... ...are you superstitious? My Gosh!

Anyway, enough of that superstitious mumbo-jumbo. Oh, by the way, I've been notified that my site is down (again) by The Internet Seer - still down as I write - so I'll publish when it's up again. Un-welcome nuisance.

Regarding the modus-operandi for your dust-buster, you mentioned; "I seem to have hit on something that actually works very well with one proviso, clearing the debris after digging it out of the grooves." And, for that proviso, you also mentioned; "I have come up with the idea of mounting the brush in a Perspex channel with the brush just protruding, by around 1/4”, and applying suction from a portable vacuum unit via flexible tube." Obviously an ingenious solution has already been worked-out. Further comment from me would only contaminate pure genius.

My own ideas (not for dust, but for wet-cleaning) when I once contemplated this perennial issue we all must confront, is this: An old dis-used turntable with a brush attached to an arm-wand a la Shure V15. Rubbing-alcohol, gravity-fed thru a tube to a point just before the brush. Regarding any debris dislodged in this manner, the idea is that the brush would follow the spiral-grooves of the record to the very end, where said debris could be gotten rid of, as we go about repeating the process for the other side. Not too sure how effective this would be since I still do it by hand, augmented by lint-free cloth. Yep! Some of us just have no class!

Speaking of which; I did, previously, allude to my long involvement, from youth-stage, with my mobile pro-sound DJ-system - to cite its full nomenclature. Perhaps because of this involvement, my main area of expertise (if we should be so bold as to call it that) is in the area of popular music, R&B, etc - hence my long-standing vexation at the antics of studio-engineers, and the effect this has on a revealing system such as my home-systems, thru the years. Because of its use of some acoustic instruments, mainly piano and guitar, I've long been especially fond of 'folk-rock' (or 'soft-rock') from the 60s - 70s. Starting around 15 years ago, or perhaps before, I've found myself gravitating towards Jazz, especially acoustic, the older I get. Also since then, I've found that I've acquired a taste for classical music. And though this has been the case for quite a few years, I refuse to consider myself anywhere near an expert on either jazz or the classics. So even though it's true that, since my youth, Ive listened to every type of music (as long as the quality was apparent) the popular genres are the main areas in which I feel expert and confident enough to name names and versions of performances - I'll recite such details in my sleep, literally.

I spend so much time stressing the importance of acoustic music in system-assessment, that I suppose it's natural to assume I'm a long-standing expert at the classics  - the most common or obvious source of acoustic music. Naw. My all-time favorites are still the the popular fare such as the1812 Overture, the Nutcracker Suite, and Beethoven's Fifth. Sure I like many others, but for most of those I'd still have to refer to the record itself for detailed info, if you catch my drift, I wouldn't venture to name composers, etc, as I would for such like the 1812, for instance. For non-critical listening, I've also taped many classics, and jazz (not on R2R - high-quality 6hr HiFi-VCR, actually) from various sources, most of which I haven't the faintest clue as to who, what, when, or where, the answers to such questions as composer, conductor, soloist, orchestra, venue, etc, may be. In fact those 6hr tapes are my most frequently used source of music since I don't have to regularly change discs as I listen while I work. Nevertheless, I doubt I'll ever be as versed in any other genres apart from those I grew-up with. So much for that, anyway.

On the subject of OTL amplifiers, my young ears, between 11 and 14 years of age, may well have fooled me, but I'd swear no high-end amp has ever sounded quite as good, in some ways, as my parents' Philips TV (which was actually turned over to me, for experimentation) at the time. Much later in life, I've come to learn that the speaker in that TV is now considered a classic, in certain circles (Here's a link to OMA's example of a speaker-system utilizing multiples of a similar Philips TV driver: http://oswaldsmillaudio.com/underground/2007.html And OMA's Jonathan Weiss expounds on the virtues of high-impedance Philips speakers here: http://oswaldsmillaudio.com/forum2/index.php?topic=19.0  )

I've also since discovered that the amplifier in that TV was an OTL, also respected by a few for some reason, I seem to recall. So it seems my pre-teen ears were not wrong, after all. As I remember, this amp/speaker-combo excelled at the separation of instruments, airiness, and natural tone reminiscent of the real thing (which I'd become cognizant of, even then). Are you, or any of your associates, aware of this TV phenomenon? Though I'm happy with what I now use, I'd be happy to find an amp which could mimic the outstanding OTL amp in that Philips TV. 

I kid you not.

Cheers
Winston

.

.P.S.

.

Ah yes, the site is up and runnin' again, so the review, etc, will be posted as soon as I get round to it.

 Btw, thanks to OMA's thread, I now wonder if the speaker is the item most responsible for the unique sound-quality of my long-past Philips-TV combo. I actually preferred music on that TV to that from my dad's stereo, at the time - and still long for a slightly-improved version of that sound - really

Be advised that the review, and related pieces, are now posted. Please let me know if there are any changes you'd like for me to make - it's no problem.

-----------.

.From Chris

.

Hi,

 
Thanks and will go and look at it shortly. Need actually to do some work today!

Maybe we are telepathetic? (sorry).  I take it that the saying “great minds think alike and fools never differ” has not passed you by…..

For me the Bernstein version of Beethoven’s 5th is my favourite and Ormandy did a recording of the 1812 with the Valley Forge band and organ – I only have a very old and worn out LP of that.

Will go and look at WAJ web site.

Will write soon.

Regards
Chris

----------.

.From Winston

.

Hi Chris,.

You'd mentioned Gilbert Briggs' demos in your review, and that reminder provided the inspiration for the theme of my 'Live vs Recorded' preamble. Thanks for that.

And thanks for that booklet on the orchestra.

Cheers
Winston

.----------

.From Chris

.

Hi Winston,

I am trying to find a copy of one of Briggs’s books to scan in re the Royal Festival and Carnegie Hall concerts. When I do I will forward them. Here is something from my archives by Briggs. He was aided and abetted by Peter Walker of Quad.

 

HI-FI AT THE ROYAL FESTIVAL HALL
THE 4th WHARFEDALE CONCERT SUMMED-UP

- By G. A. BRIGGS

I have been invited by the Editor to write briefly on the question 
of how the concert of May 9th, 1959 compared with our three previous demonstrations in the Festival Hall. I do so with pleasure. because there are many differences-some plus and some minus-
some expected and some unexpected-which may be of interest to readers in general as distinct from those who patiently sat through the event.
As we were playing stereo from disc (six items) for the first time in a concert hall, this article might well have been headed " Fourth Dimension ", the extra dimension referring to the unknown prob-lems of using two channel discs in such a large hall, as well as to
the sound reproduced..............

.----------

.From Winston

.

.Hello Chris,

Obviously, you're a veritable repository on most things hifi, and all things Gilbert Briggs.

Thanks for all the info you just sent on the great man, and his work. I'm so sorry I can't reprint much of the info so as to pass it on, but.....

Look around you today, and tell me how many iconic figures are there who really genuinely care about hifi, and about where it's going? Who really cares about upholding high standards anymore? How many are there of the calibre of a Gilbert Briggs,  a Henry Kloss, Ed Villchur, Saul Marantz, Paul W. Klipsch, Guy R. Fontain, Ronald Rackman, J. Gordon Holt (yep) Peter Walker, James B. Lansing, or so many others? How many of today's industry-players could claim to be able to even walk in these guys' shoes?

I was just wondering about that. That's all.

Thanks again!

Winston

.----------

.From Chris

.

Hi Again,

Another quicky!  Possibly the best turntable I owned before the EMT. Did what it was supposed to do without noise and or rumble. Had what was probably the world’s first and hopefully, last opto coupled cartridge. Tracking force could be monitored with a built in meter. The cartridge was heavily biased towards bass so it got thrown out in favour of a Goldring Elite.

It was given to me by a Ham friend who is the main agent for Jamo speakers in South Africa.

Regards
Chris

----------.

From Chris

Hi again,

Picture attached is a very expensive speaker. Just after it came out a friend  invited my musician friend and me to audition it. My musician friend put his trumpet in the boot of his car and off we went. After listening for a while he asked for a trumpet record to be played, listened for a few moments and then fetched his trumpet from the car. And I suppose you can guess what happened next..

Anyway this was in the mid 90’s and the cost to the importer was the same as a mid size Mercedes car and a more foul loud speaker I have yet to hear. It did nothing right and the finish for the money was rubbish as well. 

Regards
Chris

 

----------

Hi Winston,

John Crabbe is an Audio Journalist of some distinction and I think he is still active.

Jack Dinsdale is a scientist and an export on horn speakers. He developed the trough system for the Townshend Rock turntable. The article mentions Harold Leak who to all accounts was not a nice person.

Rex Baldock who died recently was another of the old school. I have in the past read a lot written by him – the two articles here are all that I have.

Don’t know anything about Colin Walker.

I wonder if you know of David Manley? He was originally from this end of the world and at one time had a business in partnership with my valve guru friend.

For your hall of fame perhaps Tim de Paravacini?  http://www.ear-yoshino.com/tim_bio.html

Another nut case, an author and journalist who was mainly involved with motoring although he wrote for the now defunct Audiophile mag in the UK is L.J.K. Setright. For beautiful prose no one came near him and his technical grasp was immense.

Sorry for the multiple emails as I am not sure how big a file you can receive.

Regards
Chris

----------.

From Winston.

.

.Hi Chris,

My short-list of paragons was by no means comprehensive.  If this were so, then I could never have left out two of the greatest, who are also closest to my own situation. 

It's funny that you should mention Tim De Paravicini. He's the designer/builder of my E.A.R. 834P phono-stage which outperforms many that cost much more. It's a bargain, just shy of 2-grand, new. But the thing about it is this; the expensive units it outperforms are maxed-out with the more expensive and best parts (caps, resistors, etc). Yet the 834 equals or betters them using ordinary and much less expensive parts. Simply modifying the 834P with these premium caps, resistors, etc, elevates the level of performance even further past its expensive rivals. The man's a genius.

But Tim de Paravicini is most renowned for his design of  studio-gear - he's the modern-day guru, as far as that's concerned (his hifi amps are also revered). However, the second great figure close to my own situation is Bill Putnam - also belonging firmly on any list of audio paragons. He's the founder of Universal Recording Electronics Industries, a.k.a. UREI, and designer of my long-standing favorite small ss amp (also a part of my current system). He's the inventor of the studio-console, in its current form, I believe, and the designer of the most desired mixer in the DJ field. In fact, almost every piece of equipment in the typical recording-studio owes either all or some aspect of its development to Bill Putnam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Putnam 

Bill Putnam is the original trail-blazer, Tim de Paravicini continues the tradition, in the same mold.

Ruddy Bozak is another notable omission. Like Henry Kloss and the Wester-Electric/Altec engineers/designers, Ruddy Bozak's obsession wiith achieving 'good tone' in his speaker/driver-designs is very-much appreciated by; you know who. No-way would I have excluded him from any comprehensive list of mine, regarding iconic figures in audio.

Oh, and the designers of my main tt and pre-amp, Ivor Tieffenbrun and William Z. Johnson, would both deserve mention since they're arguably almost single-handedly responsible for maintaining public interest in the turntable and the tube, respectively - i.e. during those times when the audio-world had, effectively, discarded such components, at least on paper.

I'll leave it there, before I get too carried-away.

Cheers,.
Winston..

.

PS.

.

.Toshiba? Never would've thought of that - don't doubt you tho. Gotta go now - got some readin' to do. LOL.

Oops! This was sent last night. However, this morning the Mailer Demon informed me that it didn't go thru. I hope it reaches you on this attempt.

Oh yeah, regarding your point about that speaker; how prominent do you think such expensive crap would be if we had more honest mags and reviewers?

I hope you find the reports on those demos. Attached is a pdf of the reports on Gilbert Briggs' '57 Liverpool demos.

.----------

.From Chris

.

.

Hi Winston,

Sorry to be so disjointed but we are working all hours at the moment 6.00am to 7.00pm which means getting up at 4.30am and falling into bed before 10.00pm – bit hectic!

Thanks for the Briggs pdf. Just what I was looking for. Have fun with the attachment – exam starts tomorrow! I have just skipped through it again and a lot of his work makes sense but how it applies to music I don’t know. There are parts on colouration which he defines also as timbre, wrongly from the musical point.

I have quite a few books which are too large to send via email so eventually I will get round to listing them and those you want I could either dropbox them or write them to disk and post them. For instance Olsen’s Acoustical Engineering and also Dynamic Analogies. The AE book is 20MB and I can’t compress it further.

Anyway I am going home and will answer your last tomorrow.

Regards
Chris

.----------

.From Winston

.

.Hi Chris,

.

.Here's a link to a site with some real high-end stuff. Perhaps you should join them too - really. Though I'm sure that if you do, yours will be the best there. I'm sure you know that, while many h-e systems similar to yours may rival your system's quality in most aspects, only a very few systems in this world can claim parity with yours, regarding bass-reproduction. In that regard, yours is head and shoulders above most others - I'm sure.  http://www.cpskal.gr/pop_simop.htm 

.

.There's a guy at the site linked below (can't find him now) He built two bass-horns on his roof (they seem to be at least 40' in length - sorry - height) firing thru his ceiling. There are one or two others who built bass horns of similar length in their yards, blowing out a wall or two to accommodate the mouths of these humongus horns in the listening-rooms. Perhaps these guys' systems could compare to yours. Not many others. (Tho Mr. Doppler may have some relevance, here).  http://www.audiovoice-acoustics.com/forum/showthread.php?t=168

.

Have you any more pics of the system? Especially full-length pics of that sub, in situ. Obviously I'm still in awe of an outstanding system. Heartiest congrats on your achievement. Sincerely!.

.Cheers

Winston

.

PS.

Well, that Harry Olson was really something-else. He loosely copied Altec's A-7, I believe - so well that some claimed his version, the LC-9, was better. Yet, when Ed Villchur claimed to have invented acoustic-suspension, Harry/RCA sued him, claiming authorship of the concept, on paper - tho he never ever even attempted to build a working model. In any case, his claim was dubious, to say the least, tho poor A-R opted not to contest it. OK, so Harry only worked for RCA, but I see the whole affair no less hypocritical, and convoluted.

.Re; The outstanding RCA LC-9

.-----------

From Chris

.

Audiophoolery

by Ethan Winer

This article first appeared in Skeptic magazine, Volume 11, Number 3 (2005).
(With minor additions since publication.)

You might think that a science-based field like audio engineering would be immune to the kind of magical thinking we skeptics see in other fields. Unfortunately, you would be wrong. In my 35 years as a professional audio engineer and musician, I've seen some of the most outrageous pseudo-science sold to consumers, and even to other audio pros who should know better. Not unlike claims for alternative medicine, nonsense is shrouded in scientific-sounding jargon to confuse the uneducated. Or a.......

.

.----------

.From Winston

.

.Hi Chris,

.

.I confess. My interconnects are pretty-nifty - mostly from Wire-World and Monster-Cable. Speaker-wire lengths are like small garden-hoses, and from Esoteric-Audio.

.

.Perhaps I should be the last one to advise people not to buy expensive inter-connects and cables. But the truth is, I never deliberately sought to buy these. They came automatically as part of a deal. - didn't even know they were part of the deal.

.

.But, do they make a difference? I confess, again - not really. Sure there may be very minor differences. But I would never tell anyone that these very minor changes are worth anything much - if at all - there may be a slight differences, yes, but I wouldn't say it's better. And I've gone out of my way to compare these premium inter-cons and cable with the cheapest of sh-- I could get my hands on. Not much difference of any significant consequence.

.

.While in  the process of designing a reader's system recently, I was asked what premium cables I'd recommend. I advised the gentleman to concentrate on getting the very-best equipment for the money. I went further to suggest that it's much better to acquire the best equipment, even if he had to use Rat-Shack cables, initially. As far as I was concerned, he could always run out and buy such cables after I'd secured the best equipment (I saw where he was determined to ride the cable-bandwagon) but he certainly wasn't going to do so with any help from me, and not at the cost of the really worthwhile gear. I simply can't bring myself to recommend what I don't believe in, regardless of how popular and in-fashion the item may be. 

.

.My opinion on tweaks is quite similar. As I mentioned not too long ago, apart from a few, like speaker-spikes in certain circumstances, many tweaks are worthless. Perhaps I'm old-fashioned.

.

.However, I thank you for the literature corroborating my stance on these issues. I'd felt like a lone-wolf on this one, as I do on several points in hifi, but such  articles as these help to strengthen my resolve - I'm encouraged. Still, I really can't understand why it is that so many intelligent people are so prone to what amounts to superstitious beliefs, and the panacea-effect - not to mention; sheer stupidity. What a monumental waste of money?

.Oh, and thanks for that full-length pic of your sub-woofer. It's now linked by the appropriate word in your review - 'extreme'. Nice write-up too. And TNT is a great resource to utilize in exposing it to many readers, their readership is a lot greater than  that of little WAJ on AUDIO, which only started relatively recently. This is also why I was encouraging you to also display this system on that site I linked to, or similar, in my previous e-mail.

.

Your system is inspirational, and I think it should be shared with as many people as possible. If nothing-else, it serves to counter the dishonest arguments of those nay-sayers who claim hifi will never be really close to the live sound. This is why I spent so much effort in my preamble, seeking to refute this notion (btw, you never gave your opioion of it - good, or bad). I appreciate your mention of comparisons with live instruments, in assessing your system - obviously most people don't even consider such things anymore. And I'm grateful to you for the reminder regarding those LvR demos of Gilbert Briggs, et al - nothing could have illustrated the point any better (in refuting misinformation) than the facts of those widely-publicized demos - awesome. 

.

.Regards,

.Winston

.

.PS

I sent the-above e-mail last night, and since I haven't received a response, I'm sending it again, on the assumption that you didn't receive the first one. I know you said you were somewhat busy but, based on past actions, I'm sure you'd have responded in some way, if you'd gotten it.

.

.This gives me an opportunity to clarify my stance on cables, since I don't think the-above came out right. I said;   there may be a slight differences, yes, but I wouldn't say it's better -   not really the proper choice of words. (I've done a fair amount of experimentation with my own system, and those of others, with the result that I'm not the greatest advocate of expensive cables). For instance, one of my inter-cons does seem to elicit a very slight increase in transparency, over the cheap Rat-Shack version - and I emphasize; very slight. But I really don't think such a slight increase warrants the vast difference in price, especially at the initial stage of a system-build. This is why I stress the acquisition of the very best components, for ALL the budget available in building a system, initially - Rat-Shack cables are fine, in such a circumstance, initially. Later, one can always go out and buy premium cables with anti-corrosive, gold-plated connectors, for instance (at least these serve a tangible purpose) and if other slight benefits are also apparent, then so be it. But, where the cost of a cable rivals the cost of a tangible equipment up-grade, for instance, I draw the line. 

.

.For example, I'd already cited my design of a reader's system. Of three pre-amps I'd recommended, he opted for the least-expensive (still very good - ARC SP-8). Yet, he also expressed a desire for expensive cables, and sought my advice on the issue. Cutting a long story short, his pre-amp choice (the least of my recommendations) was demonstrably compromised, slightly, at high-mid to high-frequencies, compared to a passive pre-amp (which is flawed in other ways, in my experience) as virtually all active pre-amps are. My other two recommendations both incrementally improved on my least-recommended option in exactly this area. (In fact, the best one, Coincident Statement, is one of only a very few active pre-amps as good in this area as an otherwise flawed passive pre-amp - it's one of the world's best, at a ridiculously reasonable cost).

.

In addition to premium cables, he was also considering one or two other un-necessary and/or un-necessarily expensive purchases, which had no prospect of improving the quality of the system. My advice to him was to forget about premium cables, at this stage, and about those other un-necessary purchases. He should put the money saved toward the purchase of the very best (my primarily recommended) pre-amp, as this route is the only one that would offer the most benefits in improved performance, for the same amount of money - even with Rat-Shack cables, initially, if necessary.

.

.I hope this clarifies my position on cables. It's not that they're worthless (as I believe some outrageous 'tweaks' are) but I believe better gear is much more important. Premium cables are only relevant after the best gear have been acquired and, in any case, I don't see where prices even approaching anywhere near half a grand can be justified. Those that cost thousands are simply ridiculous. 

.

But these are just my opinions..

.----------

.From Chris

.

.

Hi Winston,

Sorry to be only replying today to your last. I am writing this on my Samsung Tablet this being the only connection to the outside www world from home. That's IF I can copy this to email.

I seem to have missed your mail with a description of your setup. Or not yet found it on your site. Will try harder!!!

I read your remarks on interconnects with interest and again find myself in agreement with you. I admit to trying cheap aftermarket "upgrade" ones and found they did make a difference over the really basic ones that seem to be supplied with every CD player, TV and other things we surround ourselves with. I bought a pair for around $20.00 and yes they did seem to sound better (different). What was bizarre was they were marked with arrows for direction and when I reversed them the sound changed a bit. Apart from rewriting the laws of physics to account for that, the only way that could happen would be if the manufacturers had added something such as a capacitor to "improve" the sound? Around that time another hifi fiend was trying very fine wires running parallel on Selotape without any problems. Off I went on a tangent and applied some knowledge gained during my Ham phase. The net result is that as long as you use a wire with low resistance in any of the accepted configurations, the results are satisfactory. So as I mentioned I got some silver wire, 0.7mm thick and played around. The Goetz ribbons sound slightly different than the others probably because of the capacitance between the conductors, the rest of them are indistinguishable one from the other. One set is a center conductor insulated using a small rubber tube (used in the old type of bicycle valve) with a second conductor twisted round - one loop every 6" or so fastened with tape here and there. Another with conductors in Teflon tubing slightly twisted and taped. Another set, also in Teflon, running in parallel and the whole inside a silverplated screen stripped from some milspec co-ax, 1/2" variety. I also tried RG58 and R59 which are 50 and 75 Ohm co-ax again milspec. The co-ax cables were leftover from Ham days. They all worked pretty much the same.

 To give you an idea of the futility of this whole cable thing. Whilst playing around with transmitters one of the hams in our club and myself built a rather heavy duty set of cavity filters for the VHF repeater at 145HZ. This so we could transmit and receive on the same antenna simultaneously. There were six of the filters which were made from 6" diameter copper pipes, around 3' long with 1/4" wall. In setting the thing up we used a Rhode and Swartz system generator borrowed from the South African agents. This instrument is a couple of steps up from a RF spectrum analyzer and very expensive. With it we could accurately determine the frequency tuning and set peaks and nuls of the filters.they were arranged three to a set wired in series. On the screen you could see the actual filter curve, both width (frequency) and depth (dB). Everything was of the best, the link cables, the connectors and even the silver bearing solder. We achieved over 70dB attenuation per set which was about double of the original commercial units. OK. Long introduction. As we needed to get the cable lengths exactly right - to the mm as the R & S could show exactly where the null in the cabel was, we made up a dummy set with normal cable and standard N type connectors which are the 1/2" version of the BNC. After that episode we tuned the filters and made up the final set of cables and the final "tweak" to the filters.. Now the interesting part, at last! The through loss for all 6 filters and all the connectors, test set to final, was 6dB when fully matched. Which is not a lot when you consider we are talking about 18 N type connectors, 3 N type T connectors and around 10 meters of cable AND 145MHz. To get this we went from normal chromed connectors to silver plated ones, from mil spec 1/2" co-ax with copper conductors and braid to double screen, silver plated co-ax with foamed He dielectric and the filter tubes were silver plated with damn near 50 micron deposit, inside and out. 20kHz is less than 0.01% of that. So much for speaker cable loss.

 

In the days of my Goodmans I used light ripcord until I was given a roll of very heavy, 360 strands per side twin core (suppose you could call it very heavy rip cord). Again I heard no difference at all but along the line I read about the Goetz cable so I had to try. At that time I was part owner of a automotive radiator core manufacturing plant so the ribbons of Copper were no problem. I acquired a roll of 4" wide 80 micron plastic laminate, the works office laminator and made up a couple of runs. All very fancy. Had to adjust the laminator to take the thickness as after application of the laminate to the copper foil, pairing them up, laminate sides together, and re-laminating the whole lot defeated the feed. Anyway I made off the ends, connected them up and drove the Triode amps crazy. Should have known the extra capacitance would be a no, no. At the time the only amp I had was a Radford amp with EL 34 output and this worked. There seemed to be slightly less body in the sound, almost the same effect one would obtain by turning the bass control down a couple of points. Gave them to my valve guru buddy who tried them and passed them on never to be heard of again. Copper strip was 27mm X 0.07mm of the highest purity. One day I will make up a set of the ultimate speakers leads as project using double screen silver plated 1/2" co-ax or even better 7/8" silver plated Heliax used for microwave. Just to piss people off, as it won't sound better - just look impressive!

I have just finished reading The Audio Expert by Ethan Winer author of the last article I sent. Very good book with his educated opinions on audio. He seems to very knowledgable and has had a great deal of experience in audio from all side. You might say he is QBE, qualified by experience! He bears out a lot of what we both believe is true in audio. Well worth reading. He now runs a business, Real Traps, producing sounds traps and diffusers. I have a huge amount of information on acoustics, most of it totally opaque to normal people, me very much included! His explanations are right up my street and when I have finished the record cleaning unit and the valve vacuum record wipe thingy I am going to have a go at some room treatment. There are two points in the room that resonate in the low bass, one of them also much higher up. Likewise I might just try Styrofoam panels a foot or so behind the ribbons as just maybe there is some comb filtering although to my ear it seems OK. According to him comb filtering can cause loss of accuracy in the placement of instruments. Again to me it seems fine but one always wonders. Audiophile friends are no use as they tend to listen for things that only they find important.

Coloration is something that they all try to find but it seems to escape them that if there are a couple of recordings that play back almost perfectly then the system is good and any funny artifacts heard at another time might just be the flaming recording!!! Just because a LP or CD is sold doesn't make it the last word.

TNT has just put up the article on the ultrasonic record cleaner under DIY, Accessories if you want to look.

Need to go inside for coffee

Cheers

Chris

.----------

From Winston.

.

Hello Chris,.

I note, with interest, your similar views on cables. Though, given your use of high-quality silver-wire, this comes as a mild surprise. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised for this reason, though, since I also use some fairly nifty wire myself, even as I question the necessity of such extravagance. Enough said on that, I suppose.

You also mentioned; "I seem to have missed your mail with a description of your setup. Or not yet found it on your site. Will try harder!!!"

Here's a direct link to the article which best describes my system, and its sound, though changes have been made since then; http://wajonaudio.webs.com/systembuiding-for-lifelike-sound-my-system-by-waj.htm 

.Pictures of the system are here; http://wajonaudio.webs.com/apps/photos/album?albumid=13058663 

That is the article which actually started WAJ on AUDIO, since somewhere around the first 10 articles started life as a part of that mega-essay - actually written long ago. I'd been brimming with elation, for a number of years, regarding how close the system now sounded to an acoustic 30-piece band that frequently played in the open-air next-door. (This band/orchestra had/has always been my reference-source. It's also the reason I was so frustrated with the incompetence of my 'highly-rated' Spendor system, previously). That immense joy actually stemmed from the satisfaction I now experienced whenever I compared my system to those instruments next-door. And my road to where the system is now actually appeared when I bought a cheap and incomplete pair of KLH speakers.

Perhaps I should explain this point a little further.

The fault I found with the Spendor (and most modern speakers) in comparisons with the live sound, is (a) a lack of realistic dynamism and (b) a paucity of realistic tone and tonal weight. I also found that pro-sound systems, including my own, were prone to exhibiting much more realistic dynamism. And though many such systems also displayed somewhat more realistic tonal weight, most didn't sound quite right - crude, amongst other things. The best I heard were not really pro-sound systems; Tannoy and Klipschorn. I was also familiar with Altec, from a distance, and closer to home since 12" 417s (not their best for hifi) were a part of my own pro-sound system - very loud/efficient but....

Long story short, I embarked on a quest to find Klipschorns, come hell or high-water. I didn't! (I eventually I found a damaged Model 19, but that's another story). This is about when a friend sold me a pair of cheap KLH 7500s (post Henry Kloss) with one of the 12" mid-woofers missing. The original intent was that this was for a secondary system but, out of curiosity, I hooked it up to the main system. This was encouraging, so I decided to keep it there as a reference while I tried to find another brand of driver with similar tone (of which I could obtain a pair to replace the cheap KLH).

And this is how I've come to realize that very few drivers display realistic tone today. Countless drivers were tried (bought, begged, or borrowed) none could match the tone of that single KLH 12. Why was it so important for me to match it? Well, that's because that cheap KLH was the one that came closest to the tone and tonal weight of those instruments next-door. Not even the 18" Goodmans, of those I'd already owned, came close. They could display more midrange weight, but this was unrealistic and really crude, bereft of the KLH's finesse and resemblance to the real thing. Others weren't even as 'close' as that, with even 15" drivers lacking the tonal weight of the KLH. 

Bear in mind that I was using a passive pre-amp set-up, at the time.(I've since discovered that these, themselves, also lack tonal weight). Therefore, the difference I speak of is really very subtle, at this stage. At this stage, the KLH only very slightly hinted at things to come. Then came my purchase of an active ARC LS-3 - magic. The lower-midrange, previously restricted by the passive pre-amp mode, was now unleashed. It was only now that the full lower-mids attributes of that single KLH 12 were made much more apparent. It was now that the KLH resembled the tone and weight of the live instruments even more - further distancing itself from the others I'd tried. 

Still I wanted something that was just as good, but with more 'prestige'. And voila, a pair of JBL 4430 studio-monitors were advertised, locally. Perfect. Now this would be goodbye to that cheap KLH. (Not too bad a find, since no Klipschorn had yet turned up). The seller had agreed to bring the JBLs over, and confidently agreed to a sale based on the outcome of an A/B comparison with what I already had. He was even more confident when I told him the comparison would be against a cheap KLH (Spendor had been long discarded - damaged by the sun, in the back of my car - no regrets, really)

Most would find it difficult to believe the rest, but I'll say it anyway. The single KLH was hooked-up to one channel, and one of the JBLs connected to the other. (First-priority was to better, or even equal, that KLH driver - stereo, and such issues, were secondary considerations). After level-matching by ear (the single KLH is 91db/w/m, btw) we spent a fair amount of time switching between both. This was un-necessary, really, since the winner was apparent from the very first round. Oh yeah, the LS-3 does have a 'pure' passive pre-amp mode, and both speakers sounded similarly 'neutral' here - scarcely a difference between the two, except for the JBL's better treble (KLH was still equipped with its cheap Boston-Bland tweeter, up to then). However, on switching to the active mode, the JBL was left in the dust, it could not approach the superior tone and tonal weight of the cheap KLH, which had already proven itself, in direct comparisons, to be very near to the characteristics of live instruments. The difference between the JBL and the cheap KLH was significant, really significant - no, really, really, significant.

After that test, I decided to live with the cheap KLH. I bought two more pairs on e-bay, double-stacked two pairs (now the tone/tonal-weight almost perfectly resembles the real thing) and extensively modified the thing for improvement in other aspects. The doubling of 91db/w speakers would bring the efficiency-rating to 94db/w and, I figure, this combination along with a crossover-less 7" driver from a Yamaha NS 10 studio-monitor, adds another 1db for a total of around 95db/w/m efficiency. This combination gives me the previously missing tone/tonal-weight and much of the dynamism of live music. It's now a pleasure to 'A/B' between my system and that live band/orchestra next-door. Previously with the Spendor this would bring pure frustration and disappointment. I'm happy, now!

Oh, perhaps I should explain the reason for the NS-10's 7" driver, and even the extended purpose of my sub-woofer.

That cheap 12" KLH may be as good or better at the lower-mids than almost any driver I can think of - I'm certain of that. But I'm also certain that that's the ONLY area it's really good at - middle-mids aren't great and bass is OK, but the leading-edge of mid-bass is atrocious, and mid-bass tone isn't great either (very similar to the Spendor and perhaps most speakers in these aspects).

The NS-10 driver is excellent in almost every area in which the KLH is mediocre (and vise verse) they complement each other. The details may be gleaned from the relevant article but, suffice it to say, especially since no x-over is used on the 7"er, the leading edges at mid-bass are as sharp as (or really sharper than) that of the typical mini-monitor - consider the PRaT of a crossover-less full-range driver, for a better illustration. Similarly the tone of the NS-10's mid-bass more accurately resembles that of real instruments (a kick-drum, for instance) and better matches the tone of the Goodmans subwoofers. Therefore, upper-bass/upper-midbass is dominated by the NS-10 drivers, and mid-bass to low-bass is dominated by the 18" Goodmans. (An alternative mode of operation is to confine the 18s to deep-bass, only).

The transient quickness of the smaller drivers and the sledge-hammer power of the large (18s) are all combined to better represent the characteristics of the real thing, better than either type of driver by itself, in my experience. Suffice it to say; I'm no longer looking-out for Klipschorn.

Finally, the relevant article still expounds on my initial use of the Altec compression-driver without its matching horn (a much-smaller horn was also once adapted since I felt the 811 was too colored - further tests and mods have changed my opinion, tho). Yep, I'm proud to declare that the 802/811 Altec combo is an integral part of my DIY speaker-system (augmented by Philips tweeters utilized as super-tweeters, in this application). I've previously hinted at this in the article entitled; 'The Ultimate Speakers Are Within Reach'. However, I'm overdue a system-update since, obviously, a few things have changed since those articles were written.

That's it, basically. 

Regards,
Winston.

.----------

.From Chris

.

Hi Winston,

Just had one of those moments. When I brought in the ribbon units I tried various things suggested by Dr Singh to blend them in with the Tannoy. These units were made 100db @ 1 watt and to get that level of efficiency apart from very strong Cobalt magnets a heavy steel "retangular box" with 1/2" walls concentrates the field further. The ribbons are open to the back and the back fires into the corner about 2.5' distant. This is actually not right as there is some signal cancellation and in theory comb filtering would also raise it's ugly head. I tried foam, fiberglass wool and even lambs wool in the cavity. To me that muffled the sound so they were left empty.

As I had never heard the effects of comb filtering I asked my valve buddy to listen and he couldn't hear any signs of it. So that's how it's been. Until I read through the book I mentioned by Ethan Winer. His explanation of how comb filtering could thicken the perceived sound made sense and I had another go at cutting off the back radiation. I have placed a Styrofoam panel about 5" behind the ribbon "boxes" and low and behold, instant and easily heard improvement in the detail. The ribbons run at the same level as the Tannoy HF pressure driver and complement each other and very definitely add detail now even more.

In fact I am seriously thinking of hitting my head on the wall for not preserving at the outset. This extra detail goes down all the way of course as even in heavy organ bass there are higher components. In addition there is a noticeable, good, increase in the output which seems to stretch from low midrange upwards. This should be the result of less cancellation.

Listening at the moment to one of the softer parts of the Sea Symphony which has the organ underpinning the orchestra and contrasting with the trombones and very good it is.

This epiphany is also due in great measure to our conversations which have made me start thinking again, rather than just listening. Thanks!

I read all you have on your system and I hate to say this but not one of your components bar the turntables are familiar to me. I know of the good reputation Kef has and your Goodmans must, almost by definition, be excellent but otherwise I am a bit flummoxed. Notice I kept my trap shut about Revox!

This whole lot goes to show how improvements are almost always possible and not to get complacent, which to be honest, I had done.

Been working a bit on the rinse/vacuum unit and with a bit of luck will get it working tomorrow. As far as I can work out there is only one place where there could be a problem and that is more of an adjustment than a design hassle. Wish me luck and then on to the record wipe/vacuum project.

Almost 10pm here and I want to listen to Mahler's 8th so I'm off.

Regards

Chris

.----------

From Winston.

.

Hello Chris,.
.
.I saw your article about your record-cleaner, at TNT-Audio - nice piece.
.
.I'm also happy to know our correspondence inspired renewed success in your experiments, regarding those ribbons.
.
.However, I'm surprised by your comments, here;  "I read all you have on your system and I hate to say this but not one of your components bar the turntables are familiar to me. I know of the good reputation Kef has and your Goodmans must, almost by definition, be excellent but otherwise I am a bit flummoxed. Notice I kept my trap shut about Revox!"
.
.That's strange, since several of my components are household names - literally. More so, coming from someone as knowledgeable as you are, about hifi. You hint that you know Linn, Thorens,  and Goodmans. But I'm shocked that you'd imply ignorance concerning the likes of the following:
.
.Audio-Research Corporation; This is the company (along with its founder, W.Z. Johnson) most tube-lovers credit with saving tube-components from the junk-pile of history. You say you're mostly into horns and tubes, and I'm sure you are. But for a tube-lover to be ignorant of Audio-Research is perhaps the equivalent of a Buddhist being ignorant of Buddha - it's similar to a christian being ignorant of one J. Christ. LOL (The LS-3 is perhaps ARC's best ever ss pre-amp, by the way, highly recommended by several mags - 'Class A', for what it's worth - and despite its reasonable cost).
.E.A.R.; You're the one who suggested, "For your hall of fame perhaps Tim de Paravacini?  http://www.ear-yoshino.com/tim_bio.html" And just as your own link indicates, de Paravacini is the founder of E.A.R. (Esoteric Audio Research). Obviously you know this. And the E.A.R. 834P (similar to my own) is arguably the  product most commonly associated with E.A.R. and Tim de Paravacini - literally synonymous with his name. As an audiophile who's aware of the gentleman, it's difficult to fathom how you'd not have known this. Anyway.....
.
.KLH; This was one of the companies formed by the very famous, Henry Kloss (in partnership). Others were Advent, Acoustic-Research, and Cambridge SoundWorks. We all know this, I'm sure. Leaving Cambridge aside, accomplished in its own right, all Kloss' previous designs are still world-acclaimed for their realism - due, mainly, to his reputedly obsessive dedication to the accomplishment of "good tone" (i.e. the currently-neglected low-mids accuracy, especially) in his designs. Henry Kloss is arguably single-handedly responsible for the famous/infamous 'Boston-Bland' or 'New-England' sound, which features an uncanny resemblance to the live sound (as Ed Villchur's LvR demos have proved) despite an obvious reticence in the treble-region. All Kloss' designs featured this similarity with the live sound, and the companies he was associated with featured this trait in their products even after his departure - or, at least, shortly there-after. The most obvious of these being Acoustic-Research (re; AR-3, etc).  [And, based on my own experience, I'd suggest that the cheap speakers KLH produced immediately after Kloss' departure also featured the most valuable of the Kloss/Boston-Bland traits; realistic lower-midrange heft & detail (though mods are required for excellence at other traits). My choice of highly-modified versions of these KLH cheapos over JBL and other highly-rated examples may, or may not, serve as an indicator of its outstanding, albeit little-known, potential.] Nevertheless, it does feel strange to be explaining Kloss & KLH to a seasoned audiophile. LOL. 
.
.Yamaha NS-10; This is THE most popular, most successful, near-field studio-monitor in the history of the recording industry. This little white-coned speaker is hard to miss, it's featured in many, many music-videos which highlight the control-rooms of countless studios - even with classical music. (Ironically, one of its most unloved traits - a sharp, flat, 'cardboardy', mid-bass - is, in fact, its most accurate, if also unusual. It's superior, in this regard, to the softer and seemingly more tuneful, bouncy, 'pretty', well-liked mid-bass of most popular speakers). Perhaps 75% of recordings made within the past 20 years, or so, were monitored at some stage on the Yamaha NS-10 - winner of a one-of-a-kind Grammy-Award, for its unique accomplishments. Most of us are familiar with this little white-coned icon, even if some of us don't know its full name.
.
.Grado; It's difficult to imagine an audiophile who's not aware of Grado. Especially for users of moving-coil phono cartridges, as you are, it's common knowledge that Joe Grado was the inventor of the moving-coil - though his company shuns this type, for quality-reasons.
.
.Altec 811 mid/tweeter horn; Perhaps you may have missed it, but this is the very same horn you used for many years with your Goodmans rig, if I understand you correctly. And you're not familiar? 
.
Considering all the above, this statement seems difficult to reconcile; "I hate to say this but not one of your components bar the turntables are familiar to me."
.
UREI; Since this is mostly a studio-oriented amp (and brand) it'd be understandable if an audiophile pleads ignorance in reference to it, generally. However, in our very recent discussion of audio-icons I'd mentioned UREI and its founder, Bill Putnam, with relevant references/links. Considering, also, your interest in recording, and your understandable familiarity with Tim de Paravacini, in this context, one would have expected a similar familiarity with UREI and Bill Putnam - especially since UREI and its founder were the trail-blazers in the field. By the way, in certain quarters of the audiophile community, these amps are rated as 'audiophile quality'. One of my own very-experienced readers rates it as one of the best amps around - better than certain models of Krell and Levinson he'd also owned, amongst others, for whatever that's worth. http://wajonaudio.webs.com/%27Cheap%27%20UREI%20&%20QUAD%20Amps%20Better%20Than%20KRELL%20&%20LEVINSON.html
.
.ReVox; I'll leave it there - except for your comment, here;  "..Notice I kept my trap shut about Revox!" Ever since you related your experiences with such machines, I've  been searching for evidence to substantiate your general allegations. And, aside from the extremely rare negative comment, like yours (which we'll always find for any product) the overwhelming-majority of people's experience with ReVox have been purely positive - like mine. Based on its stellar reputation, and on my experience with it, I consider ReVox to be one of the very best machines of its type, as its well-earned reputation suggests - and with all due respect to you. 
.
Anyway, for the next couple of weeks, I'll be away in the country. I regret to say I may be away from a computer (and civilization) and unable to communicate with you. Nevertheless, I must say that correspondence with you has been interesting, for the most part. And I must thank you, once again, for sharing your awesome system with my readers.
.
All the best to you and yours.
Kindest regards,.
Winston
----------

.
From: Chris 
To:  <waj
Sent: Sunday, February 24, 2013 10:26 AM
Subject: How to be an idiot 2

Hi Winston,
Just read your article on how so called recording engineers kill off dynamics and the original tone. Hadn't read that when I held forth on the same subject but I agree with you totally.
Another thing I have just picked up on are problems you mention with Tannoy drivers. They are by no means perfect and the later ones less so. The later HPD speakers had stifferners glued to the back of the cone to allow more power to be put through them and this was not an improvement. My first Tannoy were HPD's and on the advice of the man who got them from the SABC I changed to the Monitor Golds. They are a bit different in that they are without stifferners and have cloth surrounds - HPD and later have foam and those all deteriorate over time. Maybe Tannoy should have approached Goodmans as did Briggs to find out how it should be done. Another innovation Tannoy came up with is the special contour of the cone which supposedly forms an extension to the HF horn. The HF driver is pressure loaded with it's own magnet and diaphragm and here Tannoy should have copied Lansing/Altec and then maybe they would have got that right too. The crossover is also more than a bit suspect with the most dreadful components, switches and pots. I see this lack of attention to detail with cheap connectors in the Westminster's persists.
There are various things which help a lot, bypassing all the switches and pots in the crossovers and also the 3 pin connector plug on the drivers makes a very definite difference and at the same time I changed the wire going to the driver from the crossover to Silver as I still had lot of it. A big problem with the Tannoy HF driver is that the harder you push it, the harsher it sounds. This apparently is due to having been designed around low power and then over the years upping the power handling to suit recording studios. Hence my crack about consulting Lansing. Tannoy eventually redesigned the old pepper pot horn to the new waveguide one and introduced another set of hassles. My Tannoy guru claimed that changing the number of gaskets on the HF diaphragm allowed a certain degree of tuneabilty and I ended up with 2. This lessens the actual drive or volume and with that the harshness and also the very frequencies wanted. Hence the ribbons.
Valve guru modded his crossovers until the speakers sounded lifeless and then sold them on. 
Another thing I picked up on somewhere, on your Spendors I think, was the use of Bextrene cones. From memory I think this may have come about due to Harbeth at the BBC. Somewhere I have dissertation from him on the abortion that became the LS 2, much favoured by reviewers. I'll try and find it and send it on. Again if memory serves, Goodmans tried Bextrene and dumped it very quickly and I think it was the decision of Ted Jordan.
Done more listening after my mod of Styrofoam panels behind thenribbons and I'm convinced that it has improved the whole sound. Most importantly the sound over the whole midrange has become more defined.
Better go and placate my wife as I have spent the day locked away listening and reading and I intend doing the same tonight. Another early start tomorrow at 4.30am but that'll t should be it, I hope.
Cheers
Chris

Sent from Samsung tablet
----------
From Winston


Hello Chris,

.
.I saw your latest e-mail as I was sending-off my own, previous to this.
.
.When you aired your views on recordings and the antics of engineers, days ago, I'd automatically assumed that you'd already read my own views on the subject. This is, especially, since your thoughts on several of the related issues mirror mine, exactly. Naturally, I'd assumed that you highlighted these issues to indicate your agreement with the points I'd already made in my article. Surely, you'll understand how scary it is for me now to learn that you've only just-now discovered my article on the subject.
.I repeat; this is absolutely scary!
.
Speakers: OK, though I like both Tannoy and Altec, I'd gravitate more towards Altec. This is mainly because it seems to me that though both may be tuned to display similar traits in my favorite region (the lower-mids) apparently more effort is required (with more assistance from a tubed amp, for instance) in order to access those lower-mids with Tannoy. I could be wrong, but to me it seems the Altecs (416/604, 414, 515) are more naturally inclined to deliver those low-mids, more so than the likes of  JBL, Goodmans, and Eminence to name only a few among most, today. (Of those mentioned, Goodmans may well be as good, here, but I haven't A/B'd them - Ed). I wondered what your take on this issue would be. I also wondered, for example, whether you discern a difference, at low-mids, between your 300Bs and your semi-digital amp, and as to which amp sounds more realistic in this particular range. On a wider scale, I wondered what your experience may have been with regard to the differences between amps, generally, in the said range. And I also wondered whether you may have discerned a difference, at the said low-midrange, between passive and active pre-amps
.
Concerning your thoughts on Tannoy-shortcomings, we all know that no driver, speaker, amp, or anything in this world, is perfect. The fact still remains, regardless of the faults of various iterations, Tannoy drivers are among the least imperfect of drivers in existence, generally speaking, and all things considered. Its record, reputation, and performance, are all testament to this.
.
.
Spendor and its plastic cone? Perhaps later. (Oops - maybe bextrene is the more politically-correct term - sorry). But this plastic is what led to its demise, in the back of my car - the sun melted and warped the plastic cones, goo and all. One thing about that BC1, though, it had the ability to make almost any other speaker sound colored. Yes, compared to the live sound, the BC1 definitely had its serious shortcomings at low mids and in dynamism, especially (neither was bass as realistic in attack, PRaT, or tone, as that of my crossover-less Yamahas by themselves, for instance, let alone combined with KLH and the Goodmans subs). However, one listening-session with the BC1 spoils the listener for almost everything-else that doesn't match the Spendor's level of 'uncolored neutrality' - and only a handful really did. This was a truly amazing speaker, in that sense (despite my frustrations with it in LvR comparisons). In fact, I'm sure their 12"-equipped SP100 will have been built to similar standards and, because of its increased cone-surface area, I'm sure a double-stacked pair of these should be awesome and outstandingly realistic in low-mids tone and detail, similar to my current Yamaha/KLH/Altec DIY rig. (Though I doubt it could challenge this current rig, overall - seriously - lagging in PRaT, most likely, and also lagging in efficiency/dynamism as it would, at only 89db/w/m, each). Nevertheless, I'd really love to hear a double-stacked pair.
.
.Cheers.
.Winston.
----------

.From Chris

.

Hi Winston,

Thanks for your email. Picture attached refers!

I do know of most of the fancy brands but not from the point of having heard them. I have an acquaintance who has an Audio Research SP6 plus D90 amplifier which is partnered with ProAc speakers..... 

I have never heard any E.A.R., KLH equipment or any of the Grado cartridges for that matter and know of them only by reputation. The Yamaha. Can you believe the only Yamaha equipment I have ever heard are their pianos, trumpets, a sax, and motorbikes! UREI I also had never even heard off. Sorry!

The Altecs. Guilty! I liked them a lot and had I been able to partner them with the correct (Altec) 15” drivers I would probably still have them. I could never get them to blend with the Goodmans in the Decca horns. The Goodmans must have been around 98db while the Altecs were 119db! I bought them for next to nothing as the diaphragms were shot. These were fitted with new ones by the agents in Johannesburg. Whatever I tried to “damp” down the Altecs, short of bi-amping them destroyed the sound and the Leak amps I was using at the time, Point One on the Goodmans and TL 12 mono's on the Altecs meant a whole lot of trouble every time I needed to change volume. Also the crossovers I used was probably nowhere near right. The closest I came to right was when I borrowed a Bryston active crossover which the owner declined to sell.

We have never had audio clubs in this part of the world and consequently the opportunity for listening to other systems is limited to either friends or friends of friends – audio dealers are not that thick on the ground here either and those that are sell high end equipment at astronomical prices. If you think this is an excuse, it probably is – I don't move in the right circles!

I keep mentioning my valve guru friend. I say it this way as he is very well known in S.A. and I am not sure if he wants his name bandied around. Alan --- was in business for a time with a member of the Manley family and knows well that other tube-gear 'guru'/manufacturer, mentioned in our talks, from his time in South Africa. (Note; segments of the previous sentence, highlighted in italic, have been changed in order to respect the individuals' privacy - Ed). He, due to his ability to repair valve amplifiers which he does as a sideline, has a vast knowledge of audio. I met him around 20 years ago when he was recommended as the person to rebuild my Radford amplifier which had self immolated. Through Alan I have heard many systems full of all sorts of esoteric equipment but nothing I have heard stands out other than some conrad johnson amplifiers and the Westminsters. What I am trying to say is that I am ignorant about the majority of audio equipment.

On the subject of tape decks. One of the decks I had was a Brush Soundmirror (1947) exactly as per the picture. The SABC threw them out around 1965. Mono full track and it worked very well but boy, did it have foibles! As you can see the tape path was a bit odd and to rewind you had to first take off the pinch wheel manually and then thread the tape over the top micro switch. Then go through the same rigmarole in reverse, to play or record again. Mine had a topless take-up spool and god help you if you pressed the buttons out of sequence whilst FF or rewind. Then you had 1,200 foot of tape all over the place. The rewind/FF speed was 3,000 rpm. Single speed 7 1/2ips. Three motors and you could only use single play tape as it stretched anything else. I still have a tape recorded on one like it by the SABC in the Johannesburg City Hall. Years later after the advent of the CD I tried everything from a Ferrograph to an Akai M9 to G38 Revox to get a good transcription to CD. When I bought the Otari I finally ended up with something that resembled the original. I know what it should sound like as the City Hall as a venue is very well known to me as is the sound of the organ in it.

If I compare the sound to that of a recording done 5 years ago on some form of digital recording device things get a bit weird. I would dearly like to send you copies of both for your amusement and comment. Both recordings are good enough to identify the venue. The organ is also recognisable as the same instrument and changes in the organ sound, due to a re-build in 1974, can be differentiated. What is weird is that the old recording would not be described by anyone as good. One analogue using a Soundmirror with Neumann valve microphones (which is all the SABC used at the time) to heaven knows what today. The modern recording is a direct copy to CD from the digital work station. The old one is the actual original tape I transcribed to CD.

Have fun in the country

Regards

Chris


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