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 Tuning and Musical Adventures

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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jun 30, 2017 12:13 pm

Greetings Zonees

I been busy this week at work that Sonic has not definitely concluded my tests round the TPU Door Seals.  Though with settling, I am feeling that while the bass is there and increased, the midrange is emphasised. Sonic is going slow, checking my system settings over again. Let's see where we are by the middle of next week.

But on discovering some too tight connections and loosening them, an hour of music play tonight (with the system fully warmed up) shows promise of the big bass and smooth midrange that Sonic was so happy with last week returning.

scratch  scratch  scratch

So the only progress I made was this:

Ortofon 2M Blue Replacement Stylus

Sonic had thought hard about either:

a.          replacing my Ortofon 2M Blue stylus – which now has crossed over the 1,000 hours of use mark and it is now at the end of the time limit on the life of the diamond and Sonic should change it early well before I hear increased distortion or noise.

OR

b.           replacing the Ortofon 2M Blue cartridge with a Moving Coil device like the Ortofon Quintet Blue or Dynavector DV-20X2 L.

In the end, Sonic chose to replace the Ortofon 2M Blue stylus.  

Why?

There are five reasons:

1.          The Ortofon 2M Blue has given me excellent service and deep down I am contented with its performance.

2.          If I change to an MC (or any other cartridge) I will have realign the cartridge in the arm to get Baerwald geometry. I could do this without too much trouble with a Dr Feickert protractor (a good device indeed!). However a replacement stylus is a “plug and play” action with no realignment required

3.          All the MC cartridges I would consider will cost more than the 2M Blue and multiples of a replacement 2M Blue stylus – and this will be the replacement cost each time the stylus of the MC reaches the end of its useful life. Add to that a realignment job which I can do myself – but that is a factor too.

4.          If Sonic should ever bend the cantilever or damage the stylus in an accident, the MM replacement stylus unit will be cheaper. I was told of an audiophile in this town who has a $12,000 MC cartridge and he was showing it off and in a distracted moment miscued the arm and bent the stylus     It cost him >$6,000 to replace the cantilever and stylus not to mention a four-month wait between sending the whole cartridge back to the manufacturer and getting it returned.  If I dropped the 2M Blue, it will be a phone call/whatsapp message then a 30 minute drive into town and Sonic will quickly be heading home with a replacement stylus. And a modest outlay.

5.          The MC vs MM debate goes on.  There are those who say MCs give a musical breath of life while other listeners say MMs are more accurate (a loaded word, if you seen some of Sonic’s recent posts) and more linear.  These same listeners say that none of the great mastering engineers use MCs as their reference – the cartridge much liked by Doug Sax and such respected one are the Stanton 681 EEE or the Stanton 881S. Sonic is in no position to judge what is or what not "accuracy" acknowledging it is largely in the ear of the listener.  No one can prove which (MC or MM) is objectively more accurate -- the selection is ultimately subjective made on the basis of the listener's taste.  

So if this or that expert uses MM is something that Sonic doesn't care about.  The deciding factor of greatest influence on me in this decision is Point 1 -- that  I am so satisfied with my sound and the reliable, unfussed service of the Ortofon 2M Blue that I did not feel like spending $1,000 for a new cartridge.

Sonic  


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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jul 02, 2017 10:25 am

Sonic thinks this is one of the most beautiful tonearm/cartridge assemblies in appearance ever  Very Happy

Source:  http://blog.livedoor.jp/thorens/archives/52059937.html

Choshi’s Walking Path

June 22, 2013


FERRANTI Ribbon Pick-up

Ferranti ribbon pickup, to listen. The needle pressure is 3 g, while processing the big hole in the temporary arm board, while stepping the arm base steplessly, while checking the optimum position of the trace, while listening to the sound. At the same time, the breathing work can read the change of the sound due to the difference of the overhang, and the capability and the unknown ability become visible. TadamonoDehanai, the smoothness of sound movement. Crawling on the board, a form reminiscent of a snake. Goodness of preservation Good quality. 

Among the pickup systems that heard sounds and heard it, they are fascinated by the beauty of a kind of rare movement. There is no arm rest, it is fixed automatically when shaking to the right. I feel like I can not react well with such a stoic system, Gallard 301 as well as TD 124. Mr. T judged Connoisseur Craftsman - 2 early model, and in accordance with it judged it was stored in the special cabinet which he made.  When passing through the dedicated transformer for FS 12, output as much as 15 mv can be obtained. Then it is understood that it is a pickup system which is not comparable. Small boxes folded correctly with silver paper, the way the timbre appears is lighter and like a lie.  There is no dust such as sound of Hentai full opening, weakness.  If everyone listens it will be attracted.




I remembered that I could be happy after listening to music.

As for this system, Mr. T who is moved, will write in detail later.



If you take time taking care of it from now on, you should get a better sound gradually little by little.
Designed by DTN Williamson, well known for Williamson circuit. 

It was introduced to AMERICAN PRESS magazine in autumn 1953, and it was released in the UK in 1954. Boss Peter Walker of Acoustical (the predecessor of QUAD) has said that he used this pickup for the prototype reference of electrostatic speakers. It must have been sort of music.

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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed Jul 05, 2017 8:51 am



Returning to the Groove

After investigating, Sonic found more probable causes in the tonal shift that contributed to the detour in my evaluation of the TPU Door Seals.

It started with my finding a loose mains connection within the wall plug feeding the Parasound A21. Within the plug the Live, Neutral and Earth wires had become very loose -- meaning if the strain relief was not there, a casual tug on the cable would have separated the cable from the plug. This would have caused a spark and tripping of the ELCB in the dwelling.

After tightening up adequately, the sound started coming back into Tonal Balance.

Sonic then checked the tightness of the system main feeds which my written Tuning Records indicated I had tuned by loosening from mains box external to my dwelling to the plugs feeding the individual pieces of equipment in Sonic’s system. Many were found to be now looser than Sonic set them for tuning. The re-tightening was of course done after taking proper safety precautions such as switching off the mains relays and testing that the electricity was indeed off before checking on the connection with insulated tools.

After tightening the connections adequately, more evidence of the sound coming back into tonal balance is heard. I should soon be able to get a stability to tell Zonees if the TPU Door Seal project is success or otherwise.

In Sonic’s observation there are three states of cable tightness observed whether they are speaker cables or main cables.

Loose, just in contact: upward shifted sound, midrange glare, bass full though not very extended

Tightened to make contact and then a 1/16 or 1/8 turn more till a kind of “bite” is felt: this is what Sonic thinks of as “Adequately tight”. Once this settles, King Tone drops by to Sonic’s dwelling for a visit Very Happy -- the mids and treble smooth out, there is no upward shift, no glare, bass is full, deeper and extended. I get a soundstage and images that are hanging like a 3D curtain across and front to back in the room and unrelated to the Magneplanar MG1.5QR panels as the source.

Very tight: the sound shifts upward, midrange glare, bass goes thin and the production of the sound is now related to the panels.

Now back to settling and evaluation of the TPU Door Seals. Let’s see what Sonic finds and writes into my Friday report.

Sonic


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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jul 07, 2017 11:28 am

Back in the Groove Again but Perplexed

Early this week as I brought the mains connections into proper and balanced tightness, my Tune Instinct whispered in Sonic’s ear pointing to the response of the doors.

A removal of the TPU seals seemed to put the sound back in the groove.

Now four days of settling and the bass weight and extension are almost fully what Sonic expects and the midrange is closer to being in balance again.

It appears that the doors are beyond my ability to comprehend and tune. They have effect on the overall sound of the room.  And my attempt to tune them by sealing the gaps with the TPU product has failed provably – it started out well with more bass power and girth then after about 10 days the sound went into an upward shift which reversed all the gains.

Much the same thing happened when Sonic used those plastic mats on the doors.  Always the same routine -- a good start then a shift up in pitch after about seven days.

So the perplexing factors facing me are these:  

1.          The doors have a major influence on the Tone of my room – for good sound or bad.

2.          Earlier attempts to tune the doors by sticking Space Cones, hanging plastic mats against them and now installing TPU seals have not worked, after what appears to be a success an upward shift is always the result

3.          Sonic is prohibited from drilling into the doors as part of the Terms of Use of my dwelling though hanging things on the doors using hooks is permitted (as long as no drilling is done).

4.          If the doors can shift the pitch up, they logically should be able to shift the pitch down.

Michael – what can Sonic do with the doors? Can you tell me what you would if you had a free hand and also what I can do given the limitations Sonic faces?

Sonic  


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Michael Green
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jul 07, 2017 10:24 pm

Hi Sonic

you said

Michael – what can Sonic do with the doors? Can you tell me what you would if you had a free hand and also what I can do given the limitations Sonic faces?

mg

First we should talk about "why". Why did this happen? Almost every time I have done direct absorption I have run into a similar result, within reason. Because your walls are harder, after settling the distortion that the direct absorption gave you starts to show up. It was there in the beginning as well, but after changes are made you usually are hearing the first and second harmonic structure of the room fully, or partially developed. Once you get into more harmonics affecting the fundamentals, the out of balance zones start to make themselves known. I can usually tell with you when this is about to take place, and use to warn you, but after a while I start to let you get into these "audiophile induced" places. I know sometimes it's tough to understand that these audiophiles (designers, reviewers and other listeners) are out of touch, but you will find that the tune goes a lot deeper into sound than any of these guys. Go back and review where you have been and how when you start to move more in the direction of the audiophile how you fall into these holes. It's ok to visit audiophile-land but realize Sonic it is by nature different from the tune.

Now that I have more audiophile equipment, it's so easy for me to hear when they go astray. Most of the time there's nothing I can do about it, because I'm trying to keep these units as close to stock as I can. It will still be a while before audiophiles can fully understand the tune to the level that allows them to solve all recording situations. The Audolici A25M is that one exception so far, and even it has moments that I have to work on, because it's not totally stripped down. I also have hopes for the AVP-01 and AP-01. The rest of the models I can hear the audiophile-ism in them even though they are great products.

What I'm saying is, I can still hear the audiophile sound in your system, and every time you go down a path, I think to myself "it doesn't need to be this hard". I know I for years have sounded like that broken recorded, but maybe since we are actually in production on some stuff it will be easier to get you going down a different path.

now back to your room

I'm now designing the Floorstanding acoustical products different than I have before. I've realized that doing too many models of products weigh down our ability to produce and make a profit. Now that I'm pretty sure there aren't nearly as many high end audiophiles out there vs what the industry is leading people to believe, it has helped me to focus in on being more flexible and specific. You guys have probably noticed the floor standing units around here look a lot like Brazilian Pine/LTR Platforms with bases on them. Well to a degree that's what they are. I have found a synergism that makes everything easier. It's taken a few years but the more I worked on it the more I realized what was going on. Finally getting into production allowed me to put things to the test. The latest PZC will be made with the backs open and the user will be able to add the burn by attaching the pillow to the back. Yep, pretty darn smart Idea I'm simplifying the tuner and making it front adjustable and frame sides adjustable. The SAM's will be made the same way. So picture this. My speakers, stands, platforms, PZC's, SAM's, Cable Grounds (already are), Blocks, Subwoofer and Sub crossover (in it's tunable box), everything is made to work together and off of each other. Still doing the Spikes & Cones. Still doing the Cable, and adding a special stranded cable to the mix that I have figured out how to bake and voice (that was a trip believe me). There will be voicing accessories available and I doubt there will be many spaces that will not be able to be tuned. And if so, and they have the money, they can do the Tunable Room.

Sonic, I think your doors are one of the best attributes of your room. Now that you have gone through your testing, lets make some voiced shims. You'll have to put them in place every time you close your door but nothing you can do about that. Do you have cedar shims there? If not I can make you some.

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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jul 09, 2017 8:45 am



Greetings Michael cheers

Thanks for responding in such goodly detail!

Mr Green said: Sonic, I think your doors are one of the best attributes of your room.

Sonic asks: why do you say this?


Back in the Groove Again and Less Perplexed

Two more days of settling with the system back in the previous and “original configuration” and the sound of the system is back to my accustomed Tonal balance again. At one level, this is the sound that Sonic finds satisfaction with, though I know it can always be improved. This is the adventure, is it not?

Comments from Sonic on Michael’s suggestion: “Now that you have gone through your testing, lets make some voiced shims. You'll have to put them in place every time you close your door but nothing you can do about that. Do you have cedar shims there? If not I can make you some.”

Sonic: Yes, cedar shims from MGA will be nice. The gaps between my doors and their frames are all uneven eg: one door, it might be 1/10 inch, another door it might be 1/8 inch, more so too the gaps between the bottom of the doors and the floor surface. How do we deal with this?

Also Michael said: “You'll have to put them in place every time you close your door but nothing you can do about that.”

Sonic: this is Ok for the stationary/bolted half of the doors pair. I’ll just put the shims in and bolt the door and they will be “jammed” in place. For the doors that are used for ingress and egress can I not glue the shims to the door frames with thin double sided tape?

Are we looking to for a tight fit where the door is compressing the shim against the frame OR are we going for a loose fit to partially fill the gaps?

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jul 09, 2017 10:47 am

Mr Green said: Sonic, I think your doors are one of the best attributes of your room.

Sonic asks: why do you say this?

mg

Because they are wood. The doors may not be perfect but because they are wood, they are alive, meaning they are natural resonators.

sonic

Comments from Sonic on Michael’s suggestion: “Now that you have gone through your testing, lets make some voiced shims. You'll have to put them in place every time you close your door but nothing you can do about that. Do you have cedar shims there? If not I can make you some.”

Sonic: Yes, cedar shims from MGA will be nice. The gaps between my doors and their frames are all uneven eg: one door, it might be 1/10 inch, another door it might be 1/8 inch, more so too the gaps between the bottom of the doors and the floor surface. How do we deal with this?

mg

I'll pick up some to prepare. Shims are built specifically for different spacing cause they are wedge shaped.

Also Michael said: “You'll have to put them in place every time you close your door but nothing you can do about that.”

Sonic: this is Ok for the stationary/bolted half of the doors pair. I’ll just put the shims in and bolt the door and they will be “jammed” in place. For the doors that are used for ingress and egress can I not glue the shims to the door frames with thin double sided tape?

mg

Once you start to play with them it will be easier to get the use figured out.

sonic

Are we looking to for a tight fit where the door is compressing the shim against the frame OR are we going for a loose fit to partially fill the gaps?

mg

I'm guessing you will probably use them as tuning wedges that are not so much there to block any air flow but more as a tonal shaper. They will also help your staging, because they will help the doors to become tuners of their own balancing pluses. The shims will also work as nice transfer devices between the doors and frames and other things in you space and system I believe.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Jul 11, 2017 9:45 am



Greetings Michael Very Happy

Getting the Cedar Shims Going

Have a look at my post of May 26 on this thread where you will see pix of my doors.

Note please the positions of the hinges.

There are two ways to shims/wedges:

a. a number of strips of thin Cedar that fit in the spaces between the hinges -- that will be four pieces of Cedar (two long and two short pieces) for each door that is shimmed.

b. go to the other side of the door where the door closes against a step in frame of about 5/8 inch. If we shim this side, it will be one long piece from top to bottom of the door since there are no hinges to clear.

Note too that the doors are 1 5/8 inches thick.

Which approach do you recommend?

What measurements do you need from Sonic to prepare the shims?

As I think about it, the taper angle of the shims will be critical. The angle will have to be shallow enough to allow maximum contact area against the doors and the frame. The gaps apart the tops and bottom of the doors are on the order if 1/16 inch.

If the angle of the wedge is too large the shim won’t extend far into the door/frame gap, the door and frame will grip the tip of the wedge so the contact area will be less and the shims will consequently be lower in effectiveness. Not to mention the shims will work loose and fall out.

Michael -- your thougths?

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Thu Jul 13, 2017 4:24 am

Hi Sonic

The shims are designed specifically for door spacing. Here's a pic of raw ones before I do what I do.




Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jul 14, 2017 9:45 am

Greetings Michael

So those are the Cedar wedges.  Using the dimensions you gave, Sonic made a cardboard mock up.

Applying the wedges will look like so:



Sonic has a few questions:

a.          why are the wedges 8 inches long?  They will just some way from the door, might pose a danger to people walking by.

b.          at the sharp end, are the wedges tapered to a point?

c.          the wedges are only 1.5 inches wide! I was imagining the wedges would be broader so they couple more area between the door panel and door frame than being this narrow. How many are needed to tune a single door like mine which is 82 inches high?

d.          are users expected to cut the Wedges so the make a snug fit in the door gaps?

e.          what is the Tune Thinking behind these wedges?

f.           how do you suggest the wedges be used to tune double doors like Sonic's?

The gaps between my doors and the frames vary, from 1mm to 3mm. More at the bottom of course. Any thoughts Michael?

Harold -- PM me on the cost if you will.

Sonic



Greetings Zonees

Alan Shaw always can be found with readable views! Here is something attributed to him – it is not from Harbeth Users’ Group.

Sonic found this at:
http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/how-to-design-a-great-rock-music-speaker-alan-shaw-harbeth.160297/

How to design a great rock music speaker ... (perhaps?):

This has been an interesting few posts about 'what makes a great rock speaker'. There have been some useful contributions, but looking at this clinically I think that the entire design approach for rock compared with say, 'acoustic music' is very different. Remember that there is, of course, no such thing as the perfect loudspeaker or the perfect car or motor bike. So let me try and imagine that a Design Specification arrived on my desk from the Marketing Dept. and what they would probably want the speaker to do and how I would attempt to deliver that to them. This is just for fun! As I am not experienced in the design of rock speakers I'm sure that a real designer would be able to add significantly to this very short list. Here are the Marketing's department's hypothetical product specification and my responses:

1. High sensitivity, high power handling,"Loud and proud"

OK, this implies the main drive unit has to be engineered in a certain way. It implies that the moving mass must be reduced by saving weight wherever possible. We'd have to tackle the weight reduction as a priority. Lighter cone, probably paper not plastic. Thinner surround (probably foam or paper surround, not heavy rubber). Hard glues throughout not softer heavier glues. Taken together, this strongly hints that there will be less damping in the cone/surround system (because damping is always heavy) and that the sound will be more coloured. But for rock music, that is a non-issue. Reducing the moving weight of the cone/col/surround will reduce the inertia*, which will allow the cone to start and stop as quickly as possible. For acoustic music this has no advantage, but for rock music played at a high level where the cone is being flung backwards and forwards tracing the bass notes this could be an advantage.

Increased power handling by using a high-power voice coil wound onto indestructible hard Kapton not the soft material used in Harbeth voice coils; Kapton will give a certain 'bite' to the sound**. Large magnet = high sensitivity, tight, dry bass. Lowish DCR [Sonic: DC Resistance – what reading you get on an ohm meter when you measure across the terminals of an unconnected loudspeaker] to pull lots of power from the amp.

2. Attention-grabbing sound balance

Possible. Implied here is that the speaker will be played LOUD. We need to be aware of the Equal Loudness Contours. I'd move from a flat response to putting more energy in to the presence region to pull the image forward out of the box into the lap of the listener. This would be more like the experience in the front rows at a concert. Very exciting. I'd boost the 900Hz region ([Yamaha] NS10 trick) to give vocals a breathiness, an immediacy. I'd adjust the bass to taste.

3. Low cost.

Implies a thick-walled cabinet since no need to tune the box for low colouration. Minimalist crossover since if I under-equalised the baffle-step by skipping components, it would give an overall lift to the middle frequencies which would make the speaker sound full and attractive to the untrained ear.

4. Styling!

Essential to reach out to that market listening at home surrounded by branded goods, wearing branded clothes as 'dedicated followers of fashion'!

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Mon Jul 17, 2017 3:29 pm

Hi Sonic, I'm running around today so this is a quick answer.

Sonic has a few questions:

a.          why are the wedges 8 inches long?  They will just some way from the door, might pose a danger to people walking by.

mg

They start at 8" long and as you figure out the length desired you cut them off. Or you can have me cut some of them here.

b.          at the sharp end, are the wedges tapered to a point?

mg

Some will have blunt ends and others to a point.

c.          the wedges are only 1.5 inches wide! I was imagining the wedges would be broader so they couple more area between the door panel and door frame than being this narrow. How many are needed to tune a single door like mine which is 82 inches high?

mg

That is something you will figure out once you get use to their transfer. But always watch for over saturation whenever you are making a transfer with lower tone woods. As you have found with low tone woods, it doesn't take a lot of size to make a big difference. On the other hand with these shims you are wise to have a bunch of them cause it's one of those things that can lead to lots of uses.

d.          are users expected to cut the Wedges so the make a snug fit in the door gaps?

mg

Most of the time this is what they do, but I can cut to lengths here as well.

e.          what is the Tune Thinking behind these wedges?

mg

A wedge transfer can be a great tool because a smaller wood surface touches the two points of transfer.

f.           how do you suggest the wedges be used to tune double doors like Sonic's?

mg

There are a few layouts I have in mind, but with doors (because they are hanging on vertical hinges) the transfer and general tuning is different for each door.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Jul 18, 2017 10:11 am


Hi Michael

This helps Sonic understand the wedges better. Good stuff Smile

Why are some wedges tapered to a sharp point and some blunt?

What are some layouts to tune the doors you have in mind?

Sonic needs a starting point to order the approximately suitable number of wedges for my doors and avoid waste in ordering.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Thu Jul 20, 2017 1:54 am

Hi Sonic

I've got 36 of them almost done (they sound very nice).

I think for a placement starting point I may need your help by the way of pictures and description. When I use shims I either start from the outside in or the inside out. Keep in mind though that I listen to every step and placement carefully before moving on. When it comes to this type of listening you are best to tune your system as a whole and not get stuck on one part only.



Lets start by taking a look at all the places that touch when closing the doors.

first thing I would make note of is: Does the room change in sound every time you open and close the doors? The answer is yes, obviously, but how aware are you of these changes?

I, for example, am super sensitive to doors being opened and closed. Sometimes so much so, that it's easier for me to remove the door, or doors, and tune the pressure using PZC FS in the doorway or just inside or outside the room. People look at me odd when I make my way into a listening area cause all the fixtures stick out to me, much like someone who is blind. I feel and hear, I would even say sense, pressure as I walk through rooms. Anyone can do this, but once you become aware of pressure you can walk to a place in a room, hear the pressure shift, stop and look around and see what is making that zone to sound the way it does.

I was recently at a horn speaker designers house and when the music started to play I could hear all these phase-y things shouting out in the room. I walked around, crawed around, tapped around, and could feel the relationship between his speakers and the space. I was even able to guess the wood types and where the horns were made just by experience in my travels and being aware. Now I could have missed by a mile in my conclusions but this time nailed it like a CIA investigative spy. The deeper you get inside of voicing the more your senses open up to the ability to think for your mind. What I'm saying Sonic is each step into your journey you become more of a tool, and that tool can do great things for your listening.

The biggest tool I see (besides your wall, floor, ceiling construction) is your bookcase. The second biggest are your doors.

Sonic asked

"Why are some wedges tapered to a sharp point and some blunt?"

mg

They are this way because of the gradual angle they are cut in. Instead of having, lets say, 20 16" long wedges with this continuous slope, the wedges are 40 8" wedges. The thickness was determined by carpenter usage standards for building around gaps and the contraction and expansion of wood and other materials common to building. It's one of those things that happens to work out good for me cause making these from scratch would cost a small fortune. But because I can pick these up locally and somewhat "DRY" I can produce these pretty reasonable, cost wise. A few blisters in sanding, some even coating, curing, more sanding, thinner coating...and so on...and we have a pretty nice little tuning device.

When I started these you tap on them and it would go "thud". Now with a little more voicing they will sound like a xylophone. I love living in the desert, cause it does a lot of my work for you guys naturally.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jul 21, 2017 11:38 am

Greetings Zonees  Very Happy

Earlier this week Sonic was playing some records of string of quintets and concluded that my room/system has a number of dips in my upper bass in the 80hz to 150hz range while the range from 80hz down to the high 30hzs was OK, even reasonably extended.

The effect of this means some recordings becomes thin sounding while others could sound nice and deep. But the bass was never rich and full even though it had extension. This is due to the thin upper bass. And live music is fat and rich in the bass.

A string quartet with the cello being the lowest instrument could in some key signatures sound nice on this system, while other pieces in other key signatures could go thin and lightweight. On the other hand in music where there are basses playing in the range down into the 40hzs, the sound was nicely weighted with my Magneplanar MG1.5QRs.  So this is the schizophrenia that Sonic’s system displayed and as I learn the Tune Sonic is learning to identify and start dealing with it. Something has to be done – especially after going to a live concert then listening to similar music on return to my listening room.  Yes our audio memory is flawed but impressions do remain.

Short of changing loudspeakers, the only solution is changing the placement.  Now Sonic has mapped my floor so I know pretty much what each position did. By that map, where the Magneplanars MG1.5QRs are (57 inches from the front wall) is about the most balanced in the front zone of the room.

But there was one placement option I never tried because it just seemed too strange to work.


This is a “near side wall location”.

Sonic remembers Michael had once said he made brackets for the Magneplanars that bolted to the side walls. This means the panels will be mounted close to the walls. Now audiophiles will say this is a mad thing to do.

My room tends to throw the bass along the side walls. This Sonic knows from my experiments with the Janis W-1 subwoofer.

Then a quick calculation showed if I put the speaker panels at the 1/7 width points (measured to the centre of the panels) I would be within 2 feet of the side walls, actually the outer edges of the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs would be about 15 inches from the side walls. That is likely where more pressure is.

So Sonic tried this:



Powered up…..I got more bass and a better filled out 80hz – 150hz range.  Sonic decided not to touch anything, not even one Low Tone Redwood block, not one PZC bolt.  Just play musick and let the system settle.

Three days plus of intensive settling and the bass has gained articulation and some initially perceived overhang is gone.  There is no “hole in the middle” which the audiophiles will tell you such as placement will display.  Neither is there sound images bunching on the speaker panels.

The only problem was an image that was stable and centred only when seated centrally, and any small movement of the head will cause the images shift in the direction of the movement of the listener.

This is easy to fix with the Tune.  I moved the central FS-PZC and the two FS-DRTs forward and outward by 4 inches to increase the forward centre Pressure Zone.  The images stabilized as if the speakers were closer together.

Now the bass as improved, I can hear a midrange prominence somewhere between 1khz and 5 khz. Sonic will struggle against this along with residual midrange prominence. From what I have experience, the difference between a suitably projected but realistic midrange and a hard projected one is small, from just right to nasty is not a large change.

Hi Michael


Let’s Look at the Cedar Wedges

MG: I think for a placement starting point I may need your help by the way of pictures and description. When I use shims I either start from the outside in or the inside out.

Sonic: please list the information you need make a recommendation

MG:Lets start by taking a look at all the places that touch when closing the doors.

Sonic: OK understand the contact points are pins, hinges and knobs. Go on….

MG: Does the room change in sound every time you open and close the doors? The answer is yes, obviously, but how aware are you of these changes?

Sonic: I do notice a small effect but dismissed it as my imagination

MG: Sometimes so much so, that it's easier for me to remove the door, or doors, and tune the pressure using PZC FS in the doorway or just inside or outside the room.

Sonic: this will be totally unfeasible for me.  

What next?

Sonic


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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sat Jul 22, 2017 1:06 am

Hi Sonic

I'll be up this weekend to talk to you about the shims and stuff. Right now though I'm covered with saw dust, voicing platforms and speakers.

Cool

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sat Jul 22, 2017 11:38 pm

Let’s Look at the Cedar Wedges

MG: I think for a placement starting point I may need your help by the way of pictures and description. When I use shims I either start from the outside in or the inside out.

Sonic: please list the information you need make a recommendation

mg

well I could use close ups of all the potential wedge points of contact, or for now we can look at the drawing

MG:Lets start by taking a look at all the places that touch when closing the doors.

Sonic: OK understand the contact points are pins, hinges and knobs. Go on….

mg


places for potential transfer, or variations of

MG: Does the room change in sound every time you open and close the doors? The answer is yes, obviously, but how aware are you of these changes?

Sonic: I do notice a small effect but dismissed it as my imagination

mg

nope this is very much a part of your every session. I bet this is no small change at all. This also explains some of your failed attempts at things like Space cones as field devices.

MG: Sometimes so much so, that it's easier for me to remove the door, or doors, and tune the pressure using PZC FS in the doorway or just inside or outside the room.

Sonic: this will be totally unfeasible for me.

well in that case you need to put the opening and closing on your regular listening routine, do you open and close both sides?

What next?

Well there's always a ton of things to look at.

lets back up a little

I see some different cables in the system, lets add those to the equation. The more we can identify the sounds of each part and piece the easier it is to see the system as a whole. Sometimes it's hard to step forward without looking at other moves that have changed the formula.

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jul 23, 2017 9:24 am



Thanks Michael!

MG: For now we can look at the drawing.

Sonic: I understand the arrangement now. Sonic didn’t expect this many wedges.

Given that the wedges are not stuck in place I wonder how many people it would take to put up and adjust something like this? It would need more than two people for sure and given that each wedge will need adjustment as they might be too tight or too loose when the door closes. And this in turn will affect the other wedges being mounted on the door. And this will be only for the bolted side.

If the doors were tuned like this and each time I have to leave the room, it would be quite an effort to prevent the wedges on the opening door from falling to the floor and then having to put each of the wedges up every time I return and close the door.

MG: [Opening and closing of the doors] this also explains some of your failed attempts at things like Space cones as field devices. Well in that case you need to put the opening and closing on your regular listening routine, do you open and close both sides?

Sonic: How do I put the opening and closing on (my) regular routine? I open and close the doors a lot (mostly one side or the room)? Only one of the doors in a pair is in use (the other being bolted) though very occasionally both doors have to be opened, a couple of times a year.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:28 am

Hi Michael and Zonees

A new factor has just been introduced into my room tuning equation Exclamation  

Sonic has been told of a need to rearrange furniture items within the larger dwelling.  This requires Sonic to have a large sofa and a chair or two into the listening room.  Shocked This has been brewing for a while and now has occured.

I am not viewing this as a setback so much as it could be a door to opportunities. Will post pictures of this and report the effect on the sound.

Sonic  
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:25 am




Greetings Zonees

The sofa has been brought into the room and is now the “listening seat” with the Ikea chair moved to one side of the room.

While Sonic is assessing the effect of the furniture on the sound, here is something to divert our attention to:

A Review of the Well Tempered TLC Cartridge

Source: http://www.stereohaven.com/blog/and-introducing

August 24, 2015

Something new from Well Tempered Lab, a moving magnet cartridge, the TLC MM Phono Cartridge. Made for WTL by Nagaoka of Japan, and based on their legendary MP150 cartridge, this cartridge is a modified version built to WTL standards. After an hour of playing time right out of the box, this new TLC cartridge exhibits warmth, body, and detail that many brands in its price range only hint at. Clearly an alternative to the highly endorsed Dynavector 10x5 high output moving coil, this moving magnet might be even easier to mate with normal moving magnet phono stages than the 10x5, thus giving one a great new choice in the $500 range. The TLC has already proven to be a great match with the Leben RS30, Audio Research LP1, and the Dynavector P75 phono stages.

I'll be trying it in a bit with some of the integrated amps with built in phono stages I have around here, and trusty old Marantz and Pioneer receivers in the bedrooms. I get calls and e's from many who are using vintage gear that have built in phono stages, and need solid recommendations for a good match in cartridges above the $50 starting cartridges and below the esoteric moving coils. I think we're going to have a wonderful new contender. It's not a $100 cartridge, folks, it's $550, yet already it's stunning and as one rocker who's heard it will say Worth the Money. One word that kept coming up in yesterday's audition was "likeable". Now don't scoff. There are so many under $500 cartridges out there, the lower priced Ortofons, the Grados, the Sumikos, that you sit and listen and go, yeah yeah, ok, yawn, next!

Not with this new TLC. It's a pull -all- the- stoppers- out go cartridge. An unbelievable value. And with the cartridge shortage we've been having - yes, demand has outstripped the supply- this is a very welcome sight indeed. A highly recommended new cartridge and in supply. If you're ready to move up from your old starter cartridge, if you find yourself not playing records due to a tizzy etched cartridge you bought online, if you're having trouble matching a cartridge to your phono stage, contact me and we'll put some fun back on that tonearm.

Guaranteed!

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:08 am

Hi Zonees

Furniture, furniture….

This is what the room looks like with the sofa as Sonic’s listening seat.



When the sofa came in, a BOO! test indicated a fast damping of the reverb time of the room. While this is not a bad thing, music and speech reproduction showed acoustic deadness but also an upward shift in pitch.  This is what I always find with absorption particularly foam – it controls some things but leads to upward shift, reducing girth.

Looking on the bright side, my room with the sofa means it is closer to the conventional rooms that thousands of Michael’s customers have in their homes.

Once I heard the signature of the furniture, Sonic knew what to do.  And this is to be done progressively and slowly.



Zonees will notice that the FS-DTs behind the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs are now in conventional placement – that is their reflective sides are facing into the room. So are the pair just ahead of the loudspeakers -- now having their reflective sides facing into the room. Compare this to the pictures Sonic posted last week (July 21) where they were absorptive side out. Once turned, the life in the music started coming back and the upward shift went closer to a “flat shift” and a small hint of a downward pitch shift.

What I also found is the distance the FS-DTs are from the wall can affect how they control the midrange.  Sonic is discovering the FS-DTs as Pressure Zone shaping and strengthening tools rather than just regarding them as conventional reflective/absorptive things. Sonic is conscious that my application of RoomTune gear in this room has veered into the unconventional –against the Manufacturer’s insturctions as it were – what with all the DTs hung like so and burn sides facing out. This is a sign of a wrong turn made somewhere or a misunderstand of the problems of my room, or a misunderstanding of the RoomTune products.  This is something Sonic wants to correct.

Sonic plans to work towards removing all the foam from this room and getting the benefit from the proper use of the RoomTune goodies I have now and then decide what else Sonic needs from Michael’s good products.

Come to think of it, Sonic has found that the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs located in near-wall placement demonstrate benefits as settling progressing.

Sonic



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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Jul 30, 2017 11:26 am



Greetings Zonees

Sonic is listening to Robin Gibb’s Secret Agent (LP). It’s an entertaining album when played some correction with the JVC SEA-10 to deal with the forward midrange.

Michael asked a good question if the sound changed when a door is opened and closed.

Sonic has tested and I still cannot catch the effect, though it is probably there.

What Sonic does hear is the effect of a laptop in use and out of the way as I listen.

The laptop compromises the sound in the balance between the bass and mid/trebles. Sonic doesn’t know the cause – it might be the object causing comb filtering by its physical presence or some electromagnetic effect of the device so close to me.

Whatever the cause, the best musick is when the laptop is switched off and out of the way.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Tue Aug 01, 2017 11:03 am

Hi Sonic,

I just wanted to say I really enjoyed the article by Richard Seah on musicality.  It inspires me to stay focused on the experience, rather than the technical which is so easy to get lost in.  Idea
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Wed Aug 02, 2017 9:01 am

Greetings Bill333

Glad you like Richard’s article.  It is true that we must always remember what our audio systems are there for – to allow us a means to enjoy recorded music.  Anything beyond this is embellishment of the goal like the endless quest for “accuracy” in whatever form may we imagine it to be. Sonic needs to keep this in mind and avoid the obsession I can too easily slip into.

Good to hear from you!

Sonic is getting a sense of what the sofa is doing to the sound reproduction in this room. I should be able to make a description of it in this Friday's posting Sonic thinks.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Fri Aug 04, 2017 12:00 pm


Greetings Zonees

Furniture, furniture..…Part 2

This follows up Sonic’s July 28 post – and the effect of the sofa now two weeks in my room along with the Magneplanar MG1.5QRs placed nearer the side walls (reported on July 21).

The result? Better than I expected. Sonic is pleasantly surprised.

After some tuning, the upward shift is gone. The room is quieter, the sound is drier, something which after I got accustomed to, I rather like. It is certainly preferable to an unevenly live acoustic. The zing in the upper mid/lower treble appears to be no longer noticeable.

The tuning steps involved taking the two FS-PZCs at the forward side walls and swapping their placement with the two FS-DRTs that are at either side of the central FS-PZC. Sonic therefore now has a cluster the three FS-PZCs at the front centre in a \ _ / placement and two FS-DRTs placed parallel to the forward side walls (reflective sides facing into the room as Michael recommends).

Even though the Magneplanar MG1.5QR panels are positioned further apart than conventional positioning rules advise, there is no “hole in the middle”. The sound images are clustering round the triple FS-PZCs at the front centre.

I use the Japan Victor Company SEA-10 to raise 40hz by 2dB as a baseline and can use the other EQ bands if necessary.

“All’s good for now”, Sonic can indeed say.

This means I can next turn my attention to the capacitor change for the Magneplanars MG1.5QRs. This one will be slightly complex. The Jantzen caps turned out to be too large to fit behind the grille cloth, so Sonic will have to build a wooden shelf that bolts to the back of the Magneplanar MG1.5QR panels on which to mount the two caps and use Michael’s Bare Essence T3 to connect the capacitors to the rest of the crossover board.

Sonic

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PostSubject: Re: Tuning and Musical Adventures   Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:05 am


Greetings Zonees

Here’s a wonderful article about collecting records. Sonic hopes you enjoy this.

For the source and the accompanying pictures and captions go to:


http://www.collectorsweekly.com/articles/why-nerdy-white-guys-who-love-the-blues-are-obsessed-with-a-wisconsin-chair-factory/

Quoted text starts:


Why Nerdy White Guys Who Love the Blues Are Obsessed With a Wisconsin Chair Factory

By Lisa Hix — August 8th, 2014

In the 2001 movie “Ghost World,” 18-year-old Enid picks up the arm on her turntable, drops the needle in the groove, and plays a song yet another time. She can’t get over the emotional power of bluesman Skip James’ 1931 recording of “Devil Got My Woman.” If you know anything about 78 records, it only makes sense that a nerdy 40-something 78 collector named Seymour would have introduced her to this tune. As played by Steve Buscemi, Seymour is an awkward, introverted sadsack based on the film’s director, Terry Zwigoff, who—along with his comic-artist pal, Robert Crumb—is an avid collector of 78s, a medium whose most haunting and rarest tracks are the blues songs recorded in the 1920s and ’30s.

“These guys were collecting the music that resonated with them, and then it became the document of that time, the music that endured.”

Nearly a decade later, music critic and reporter Amanda Petrusich had the same intoxicating experience Enid (Thora Birch) did, listening to very same song, although she got to hear “Devil Got My Woman” played on its original 78, courtesy of a real-¬life collector, who owns this prohibitively expensive shellac record pressed by Paramount. Only three or four copies are known to exist.

The gramophone, a type of phonograph that played 10-inch shellac discs at 78 rpm, was developed in the late 19th century. But it wasn’t until the 1910s and ’20s that the technology became more affordable and less cumbersome so that an average family could have one at home. The records, which could only play 2 to 3 minutes of sound per side, had their heyday in the ’20s and ’30s. They lost their cachet in the ’40s, when radio became the most popular format for music lovers. Then in the ’50s and ’60s, 78 records were phased out in favor of long-playing vinyl records.

Paramount blues records, in particular, seem to get under the skin of modern 78 collectors. From 1922 to 1932, the label, founded by a furniture company in suburban Wisconsin, discovered some of the most legendary blues icons of the 20th century—Charley Patton, Son House, Blind Blake, Ma Rainey, and Blind Lemon Jefferson—thanks to African American producer J. Mayo Williams, who recruited talent scouts to find these impoverished artists in the South, and then paid the artists a pittance to record for Paramount. These “race records,” meant exclusively for black audiences, were made in limited runs from a cheap, low-quality mixture of shellac that gives them a ghostly, crackling sound. Their rarity, the strange sounds they make, and the brilliance of these artists (who mostly remained obscure at the time) has led to a full-blown fervor in the 78 world. Even rock star Jack White, who founded Third Man Records, is obsessed with Paramount. Last year, White teamed up with Revenant Records’ Dean Blackwood to release a box set of vinyl albums featuring 800 known Paramount tracks. (Yours for a paltry $400.)

Petrusich, who spent years immersing herself in the world of 78 collectors as a reporter, got so obsessed with Paramount Records, she went diving into the murky waters of the Milwaukee River to look for discarded shellac. Now, she’s released a book on her experience about getting swept up in this mania, Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records. We talked to Petrusich about the characters she met, the important preservationist work they’re doing, and how white men ended up writing the narrative of a music genre created by impoverished African Americans.

Collectors Weekly: How did you get interested in 78s?

Petrusich:
Before I started researching this book, I knew that 78s were the original format for music that I loved, like prewar country and blues. But I hadn’t held one in my hand, and I hadn’t spent a lot of time around them. Then I started working on a story for “Spin” magazine about the commercial resurgence of records around 2007, because at the time, bands like Metallica and Nine Inch Nails were reissuing their whole back catalogs on vinyl.

“I was terrified that I was going to break one of these records because I’m such a doofus—and then these guys are literally going to disembowel me.”

In the course of reporting that story, I met Mike Lupica, who at the time was the director of the WFMU Record Fair, held twice a year in New York. He offered to put me in touch with some vinyl collectors who could give me some fun and colorful quotes for the story. He said, “I’m happy to introduce you to some our LP vendors, but if you really want to talk to someone who’s totally bananas you should talk to a 78 collector.”

I filed that away, because I couldn’t use it for my current story. But like any reporter would be, I was intrigued. I hadn’t realized what a small, intense, insular, competitive, and complicated subculture had sprung up around that particular format. Lupica eventually introduced me to John Heneghan, who was my gateway into this world. It wasn’t until I met John that I got to hear 78s played on a proper turntable. It was also the first time I got a sense of who makes up this oddball network of men and how crucial their work is.

Collectors Weekly: For these collectors, the prewar blues are the most valuable 78 records?

Petrusich:
The blues command the highest prices by a decent margin, we’re talking tens of thousands of dollars. But the economics of 78 collecting can be obscured because a lot of these trades happen privately. Just last year, a rare record by prewar blues singer Tommy Johnson sold on eBay for $37,000 to a guy named John Tefteller. That was, in my experience in reporting the book, the biggest public exchange of cash for a 78 record that anybody had heard of.

Collectors Weekly: I know far fewer blues records were made than other genres, but it is also a matter of taste?

Petrusich:
It’s probably half and half. It seems obvious to me, having spent some time around these collectors, that they’re drawn to things that are rare. But in the community, I get a sense that it’s seen as tawdry to want something because it’s rare. But I think, especially in our particular cultural moment, where we have access to everything on the Internet all the time, I can understand prizing rarity as a quality in and of itself.

With country blues, the music is the product of these marginalized, somewhat anguished figures. And something about the 78 collector “Seymour” archetype lines up with that. For these guys who often feel marginalized, maybe anguished in their own way, or alienated from the rest of society, it makes sense that they would be drawn to this music that is telling the same story. The blues records also captured just tremendously good performances.

Collectors Weekly: What other genres do people collect?

Petrusich:
People are collecting all sorts of genres of music on 78. The book hardly looks at all at classical music. I wish I had time to get into all that. Based on my taste and the relative worth of these records, I ended up focusing mostly on country blues, as well as some Cajun and ethnic records. But yeah, there’s also classical, opera, jazz, gospel, Hawaiian, pop, and dance band music on 78s. There’s a strong contingent of collectors who focus on Cajun records, because that music is also breathtakingly beautiful. And now, collectors are expanding their scope, too, to look at 78s that were being recorded around the world.

One of the collectors in the book, Chris King, is singularly focused these days on operatic and Albanian laments, which are incredibly sad Albanian fiddle songs. There’s also a collector in the book, Jonathan Ward, who runs a great website called Excavated Shellac, and he focuses on what we would call “world music” or “ethnic records,” for lack of a better term. He curated and compiled a really wonderful set for the Dust-to-Digital label called “Opika Pende,” and it’s all African 78s.

Collectors Weekly: Can you describe the experience of hearing a 78?

Petrusich:
With records in general, people are quick to talk about the analog experience of music, saying a lot of cliché things about warmth, texture, and authenticity, and how it “just sounds better.” I think, by and large, that it is true. I’m a sucker for that stuff. But the first time you hear a 78, it doesn’t sound great. It is noisy either because the shellac is damaged or it wasn’t pressed well to begin with. They were often recorded on rudimentary setups, and everything sounds a little shoddy compared to what we’re used to hearing now with digital recording. But there is something about hearing every second of the hundred years that record has been around. There’s a certain mystical quality to it that I found instantaneously intoxicating. I wanted everything to sound like that. And I listen to LPs, I listen to CDs in my car, and I have an iPod. But there’s something about hearing 78s that is such a singular and transformative experience. I was romanced by it very quickly.

For example, I had heard digital reissues of prewar blues singer Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman,” but there’s something about hearing it played on a 78 that makes it sound closer. You feel like he’s in the room with you. I can’t really explain it in a scientific way. It’s more spiritual thing that you just sense. Especially with prewar recordings, that feeling comes up a lot for me and came up a lot in my conversations with collectors. Nowadays, people are hyper-aware, when they step into a recording studio, of the ways in which it will be the defining record of that performance, but that just didn’t exist back then. People didn’t really think about it; it was all so new. So there’s something really raw and pure about the way they perform—with singing, in particular, and I think you can hear it in the instrumentation a little bit, too.

Collectors Weekly: I love how you describe the way foremost living 78 collector Joe Bussard reacts to his records.

Petrusich:
Joe Bussard [who has more than 15,000 records and is the subject of the 2003 documentary “Desperate Man Blues”] would have this incredible physical reaction to records. It was unlike anything I had ever seen. I went into this project assuming that a lot of these guys must be in this for reasons other than just pure fandom. But then I’m watching Joe listen to a record and seeing the way he responds to it physically, seeing the intense communion he has with that music. It’s really beautiful.

Collectors Weekly: Are 78 collectors different from people who collect vinyl?

Petrusich:
Yeah, it’s a different kind of guy—and they’re almost always guys who collect 78s. It’s hard to say that shellac 78s are more rare because there are remarkably rare vinyl records—as with 78s, sometimes there’s only one known copy of a vinyl record. But because of when 78s were made, for the most part, there are no surviving metal masters of any of those recording sessions. So the only evidence we have of some of those performers are the artifacts themselves, the records that they made. That tends not to be true with vinyl records. Also, 78s are so fragile. They’re made of a very brittle, hard mix of shellac and other ingredients, and they break so easily. They were pressed in way smaller quantities, because the recording industry was somewhat nascent at the time, so there’s just a lot less of them and fewer of them have survived.

I think because of that, they seem to attract a particular kind of fanaticism about the music and about the format in particular, just because they are so hard to find, so expensive, and so hard to care for. I feel like collecting vinyl is a hip, cool thing to do. I live in Brooklyn, and there are obviously tons of people here that are into collecting vinyl records. But 78s are aggressively uncool. You need a special turntable to play them. The music they contain is so obscure and often strange-sounding. It doesn’t have the same cultural currency. So collecting 78s, I would venture, will never be cool.

Collectors Weekly: You don’t think the hipster obsession with old-timey things is going to come around to this?

Petrusich:
There is certainly an interest in 78s, in 78 reissues, and the culture around it including the sound, the look, and the aesthetic. Absolutely that has taken hold here and I’m sure in other parts of the country as well. But the actual act of collecting of 78s requires such devotion, and hipster cultures—and I know that’s an imprecise word—move so quickly. People are into that Americana vibe that’s popular now, but it will be supplanted by something else in a couple years. And 78 collecting requires a lifelong dedication to this thing that’s nerdy and quiet. It’s just too hard. It takes too much money, time, effort, and research. And the good records, the records that people would want, the records that fit into this whole aesthetic and look that’s popular, they’re impossible to find.

Collectors Weekly: In the book, you’ve characterized 78 collectors as proud outsiders.

Petrusich:
Absolutely. I think a lot of collectors end up turning to 78s because they feel alienated by modern culture or not satisfied by it in some ways. Your collection becomes a way of insulating yourself from the facets of modernity that you find distasteful, unsustainable, or not nourishing. A lot of these guys had no interest in modern or contemporary music at all. For them, it ended with World War II, or with Hank Williams. Everything that came after that, they don’t even want to know about it because they think it’s garbage. It’s frustrating for me as music fan and critic, because I’ll be like, “Wait, there are all these amazing people making amazing records,” and they have no interest in them.

Collectors Weekly: It’s interesting that they feel marginalized because they’re also relatively wealthy, right, if they can afford these?

Petrusich:
Yeah, most collectors are white men who started collecting in the second half of the 20th century and have enough money to
travel and buy records. They’re coming from a place of extraordinary privilege for sure. It’s these privileged white people collecting this music from disenfranchised African Americans. There is something uncomfortable, I think, for a lot of people, myself included, about that exchange.

But at the same time, I feel so grateful to collectors for doing this. Their interest in this music has paid off so much by the fact that we have it and it’s safe, so to speak, and I can go over to my shelf right now and listen to Robert Johnson’s entire recorded catalog on another format. I wouldn’t be able to do that if it weren’t for a 78 collector. So I feel like whatever weirdness that exists in that power dynamic, I can overlook it because I’m so grateful that the work got done. But it’s worth thinking about. It’s something I struggled with in the book.

Collectors Weekly: Are there any 78 collectors of color?

Petrusich:
I’m sure that there are. In my book, I just look at a handful of guys, and there’s one collector towards the end, an African American collector, Jerron Paxton, who performs as Blind Boy Paxton. There’s also one woman that I end up spending a little time with. But by and large, it is mostly, in my experience, and from what I was able to observe, predominantly white guys.

Collectors Weekly: Why do you think it’s mostly men?

Petrusich:
That was a question that plagued me through the whole process of reporting this book. I ended up speaking to a neurobiologist, a guy named David Linden, who’s a professor and physician at Johns Hopkins. He’s written this great book called The Compass of Pleasure about the science of why we want things. That was the question I brought to him. I knew as a woman I was incredibly moved by these performances and I understood the impulse to want to gather these records. And I couldn’t figure out why no women had done it.

I had a few hypotheses. The hobby of 78 collecting got going in the ’50s, which was a time, I think, in which women didn’t necessarily have the social freedom to spend three weeks driving around rural Virginia, knocking on doors and trying to put together collections. A lot of the collectors in the book did that, and that was when they got the great, rare records. But then I wondered, too, if there wasn’t some neurobiological thing happening that made record-collecting, for some reason, more accessible and more appealing to men.

So I spoke to Linden, and we floated a few theories. Aspects of this particular kind of collecting resemble certain forms of OCD and certain disorders on the autism spectrum, which skew more male biologically. The way collectors talk about 78s is similar to the way men talk about sports, discussing a collection of statistics. With 78s in particular, there’s a lot of talk of serial numbers, dates of recording, and all these facts and figures that are ancillary to the emotional or spiritual experience of listening to a record but seemed to be important for collectors, nonetheless. Collecting 78s is also similar to an addiction: You get the next record, and it’s never enough. You always want the next one. So there were a few different neurobiological traits that might explain it. But it was a question I never could really get a definitive answer to.

“Collecting 78s, I would venture, will never be cool.”

I always get nervous talking about this because these are such big generalities. But socioculturally speaking, just in my experience, I think women are more comfortable listening to music and having an emotional reaction to it. We have the vocabulary for that. We’re socialized that it’s okay for us to do that. With men, it’s a little more complicated. For a man to hear a song and be moved to tears by it, I think it can be a frightening experience or maybe an experience he has not been socialized to find acceptable. So collecting and organizing is a way of trying to de-fang those intense emotions and also figure them out through meticulous research, learning as much as they can about the record, owning the record. There are all these different ways you can mediate a very emotional experience to make it more concrete, more digestible, or less scary.

Collectors Weekly: What sort of equipment do you have to have to play them on? The original Victrolas?

Petrusich:
No. I had gone into this assuming, well, these guys are such purists about formats and music that, of course, they’re going to want to listen to these records on the original players. But because of the way old Victrolas were built, the tonearms are often so heavy that they will literally gouge out the grooves in a record. Collectors will listen to them on modern turntables, but you have to find one—and often you have to special-order it or go out of your way to get one—that will spin at 78 rpm. If you were to just go into a store and buy a turntable right now, chances are it would spin it at 33 1/3 and maybe would have an adapter or a way to switch it to 45 rpm. But to find a turntable that plays at 78 rpm is tough. You really have to look for one, and then you need a proper stylus. The stylus that will play a 78 is a little bit thicker than the needle that will play an LP.

So you really have to look to find 78s, and then you have to go out your way to get the equipment. That’s another reason why 78s so often get thrown out, because people just don’t want to bother buying all that stuff to listen to these records that are in their attics because their grandparents owned them. It requires an investment right off the bat before you can even hear anything.

Collectors Weekly: And the 78 collectors have other sorts of collections, too?

Petrusich:
Quite a few of them also collect either old sheet music or old instruments. They almost all without fail have beautiful homes filled with really interesting things. Collectors in general get a bad rap, and everyone thinks visiting their homes is going to be like an episode of “Hoarders,” but it was quite the opposite. Some of these guys, their record rooms are beautifully appointed oases where you can sit and listen to records. When I was reporting the book, my friends would ask, “How many records do these guys have? They must have millions of records.” And it was like, no, they have 500 records or 1,000 records, not so much about the quantity, it’s about the quality. They’re really, really, really picky about what they will allow into their collections.

These are people who are also very particular about the way their 78 records are stored, because they’re really fragile. They can’t just be stacked up willy-nilly. They have to be carefully arranged and handled gingerly and with respect. You have to be really careful in terms of shipping them and moving them around, because it’s so easy to break one. I spent the whole three years I was reporting this book just terrified that one day I was going to accidentally break one of these records because I’m so clumsy and such a doofus—and then these guys are literally going to disembowel me.

Collectors Weekly: And they’re heavy?

Petrusich:
They’re really heavy, yeah. And they’re not like LPs, where they come in a sleeve that has art and information on it. They were just stored in brown paper sleeves that were branded with their record label, and often collectors will put them in new sleeves because the original sleeves were so tattered or haven’t survived. So when you see a shelf of 78s, unlike LPs or books where you can go over and read the spine, you’ll just see a sea of brown paper and everything looks the same. But collectors will organize them by whatever rubric they settle on.

Most LP collectors I know organize their records alphabetically, and that’s the way I’ve always ordered my records, but a lot of the 78 guys don’t do that. They’ll organize them by genre and then within genre, it will be by label or by year, and then by serial number. It’s a very complicated system—often they wouldn’t tell me the details. But of course, they know where everything is.

Collectors Weekly: It sounds like they’re also very protective of their secrets.

Petrusich:
At first, I was like, “Why isn’t anybody telling me everything I want to know?” As a reporter, you’re so curious and you want all the facts. But they are protective of their hobby because 78s are such a limited resource. There’s a finite number of records, and of course, they want to keep the prices down. Collectors would be very particular about what they would tell me in terms of where they found the records, their sources for records, how much they pay for certain records. They don’t want all of that information to be public because I think it can screw up their economy a little bit.

Collectors Weekly: You mentioned that one way to look for 78s at a flea market is to look for gramophones?

Petrusich:
I still think that’s probably the best tip I would give anyone who’s interested in starting a 78 collection. It’s hard to find, obviously, the rare and good 78s, but you can find a stack of records in almost every antiques store. People just shoved records in gramophone cabinets all the time. Sometimes an antiques dealer or a vendor in a flea market will have a gramophone and won’t even realize that there are records in there. It’s a great place to look, for sure.

Collectors Weekly: Can you tell me a little bit about the history of Paramount Records?

Petrusich:
Paramount is this incredible label that was born from a company called the Wisconsin Chair Company, which was making chairs, obviously. The company had started building phonograph cabinets to contain turntables, which they also were licensing. And they developed, like many furniture companies, an arm that was a record label so that they could make records to sell with the cabinets. This was before a time in which record stores existed. People bought their records at the furniture store, because they were things you needed to make your furniture work.

“There’s something about hearing the blues played on a 78 that makes it sound closer. You feel like the singer is in the room with you.”

So the Wisconsin Chair Company, based in the Grafton-Port Washington area of Wisconsin, started the Paramount label. And they accidentally ended up recording whom I believe to be some of the most incredible performers in American musical history. Paramount started a “race record” series in the late 1920s after a few other labels had success doing that model, by which African American artists recorded music for African American audiences. Through a complex series of talent scouts, they would bring artists mostly from the Southeast up to Wisconsin to record, which in and of itself was just insane and miraculous. These are Mississippi bluesmen, being brought to this white rural town in Wisconsin, and you can’t imagine how foreign it must have been to them to see that landscape. Sometimes the performers would record for Paramount in Chicago, but later in Paramount’s history, the company built a studio right in Grafton, and it was a notoriously bad studio. It had shoddy, handmade equipment, and then the records that Paramount was pressing were really cheap. It was a very bad mixture of shellac, and Paramount records are infamous for having a lot of surface noise.

But as I said, they captured some of the best performers in American history, folks like Skip James, Charley Patton, Blind Lemon Jefferson, and Geeshie Wiley—all these really incredible singers. At the time, Paramount didn’t know what it was doing. It hasn’t been until now that people are like, “Oh my God, this label rewrote American history.” I don’t think Paramount was remotely cognizant of the significance of the work that was being recorded in their studio. They were just trying to land on a hit. And they had some success with Blind Lemon Jefferson. They had a little bit of success with Charley Patton, but I think for the most part, it’s obvious these performers didn’t sell super well because not a lot of their 78s have survived.

Collectors Weekly: So they didn’t make that many of them?

Petrusich:
No, but it’s hard to get numbers. It was frustrating for me as a journalist because so little information has managed to survive. John Tefteller, the collector I mentioned earlier, has some information that Paramount had, some of their log books and things like that. But a lot of it, we don’t know how many records were made. We don’t know how many sides were recorded. All that we know about are the 78s that have emerged in the decades since.

Collectors Weekly: Was Paramount the only label recording country blues?

Petrusich:
There were other labels that were doing comparable work and making some really beautiful performances and records. Paramount is the one that many people latch on to because it just seems so odd that it was this chair company in Wisconsin. But there were other labels that were recording country blues singers around the same time—Gennett, Vocalion, and a handful of others. Paramount has this unique lure to it, in part because of where it was in the country. Also, I think it has to do with the way those records sound. As I was saying, they were made of a particularly volatile shellac compound. They sound really weird, sort of ghostly and obscured. I think that has contributed to the mystique surrounding that particular label.

Collectors Weekly: In the beginning, 78s collectors didn’t value the country blues?

Petrusich:
In the book, I talk quite a bit about a seminal figure for 78 collectors, a man named James McKune. Prior to James McKune, most people who collected 78s in the early ’50s, especially in the late ’40s, were only interested in hot jazz dance music from New Orleans. McKune was the guy who found the Charley Patton record, had strong reaction to it, and thought, “This is the music that I need to be seeking out.” That was a shift within the collecting community when suddenly people got interested in blues records and started finding them. But prior to that, yeah, absolutely, country blues was considered tawdry and not of the quality the early collectors wanted.

Collectors Weekly: Do you think that on a certain level, collectors may have misunderstood the culture that created 1920s and ’30s blues?

Petrusich:
I’ve thought about that a lot, the ways in which the narratives of American music, or certainly of blues music, were getting written by collectors, purposely or not. These guys were collecting the music that resonated with them, and then it became the document of that time, the music that endured. It’s easy to think of it as the authoritative, omniscient narrative, or the canon of the blues, but in fact, it was this really personal selection made by collectors. These just happened to be the records they liked.

“When we talk about the blues as being raw or authentic, it discounts how hard this stuff was to play and how sophisticated it was.”

If you were to stop a person on the street and ask them to name an old blues artist, most people would say Robert Johnson. But Robert Johnson was, in fact, not a huge star of his time. Other blues singers like Barbecue Bob were commercially way more successful in the African American community. It just happened to be that Robert Johnson’s the guy who got lionized by collectors, in part, because he’s an incredible talent. But also something about what he was doing made sense to these white men who were in charge of gathering, preserving, and digitizing the records. It’s interesting that the narratives we think of as being historical are, in fact, really personal.

When you try to figure out, “Who was actually selling a bunch of records in 1929?” it’s not the folks we now think of as being the pillars of the canon. In fact, women were often making the most commercially successful records. It was Bessie Smith and Ma Rainey. But again, they get pushed to the side in favor of this other story of the blues.

Collectors Weekly: How much does the idea of the blues as this wild, devilish, or lawless music have to do with the idea of otherness?

Petrusich:
I’m so guilty of this sometimes, too, but there’s this way that we want to talk about blues music as an anguished cry. In many cases, it is that. You hear these songs, and they’re incredibly moving. But when we talk about it as being raw or authentic, it discounts just how hard this stuff was to play and how musically sophisticated and innovative it was. There’s a sense of almost remarginalizing it by talking about it as this primitive music that sprung up in the cotton fields, when in fact, it’s incredibly skilled and impressive music.

Collectors Weekly: Could you tell me a little bit about Harry Smith?

Petrusich:
Harry Smith was a filmmaker, archivist, and collector who is responsible for the “Anthology of American Folk Music,” which was the first 78 reissue compilation. It was released in 1952 by Folkways Records, which is now controlled by the Smithsonian. Harry Smith was maybe 27 years old when he put together the “Anthology of American Folk Music” based exclusively on records from his collection. It became the default document of that time period.

Harry Smith, by all accounts, was a difficult person, particular about his collection and about the ways he wanted people to listen to his records. He was also very adamant when he would encounter certain objects that he thought belonged in this collection: He would just take them. He was always stealing other people’s stuff, and he believed strongly in serialization. He thought that things should be in the proper order so that objects related to other objects, and he was driven by a desire to line everything up in the right way.

The “Anthology” works like that, too. He was so particular about the way in which that thing was sequenced. The sequencing of the ”Anthology” is probably the most remarkable thing about it, the narratives he ended up writing, just by placing certain songs next to other songs. He’s an incredible figure in the history of 78 collecting, and probably its most famous practitioner. He ran with an interesting crew in the ’50s, too; he was very close with Allen Ginsberg and some of the other Beat writers.

He was also a mystic and alchemist who was interested in Native American culture and ended up working for a spell at the Naropa Institute in Colorado. The “Anthology” has a funny metaphysical bent to it. If you spend enough time reading its liner notes and looking at some of the illustrations, there’s a mystical edge to them, a way in which people still talk about 78s. People are so romanced by 78s and often confounded by them and hypnotized by them that they end up using that vocabulary. I know I do. I feel that way about them as much as I try to caution myself not to.

Even today, the records still seem to invite this sort of myth-making. There’s the mythology of Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the crossroads. There’s so much apocrypha and stuff that’s just not true but these artists become cyphers in a way. There are all sorts of weird stories that go around.

Collectors Weekly: Robert Crumb and guitarist John Fahey also became big 78 collectors?

Petrusich:
Yeah. In the course of reporting the book, I kept wishing I could have talked to John Fahey. Unfortunately, he died in 2001. Fahey was a student of this music and certainly a collector of it. Then in the ’60s when he was still rather young, he went out into the field with other collectors and blues researchers and tried to find some of these performers. Fahey was one of the three folklorists who went and found Skip James convalescing in a charity hospital in Tunica, Mississippi. James ended up playing at the Newport Folk Festival and recorded some new material. Fahey was one of the guys who brought him back to recording late in life.

“If somebody were to say, ‘The records are in this part of Lake Michigan,’ I probably would show up in my scuba suit again.”

It’s easy to think of collectors as passive, sitting around, filing records. In fact, in the beginning, 78 collecting was really active with a lot of boots-on-the-ground work and guys going out into the field, both to find the records and later to find the performers. We got so much of blues history from the interviews that were collected then, when folklorists, writers, and collectors were speaking to these bluesmen about their memories of the prewar days.

A lot of collectors today say, “Look, we can’t do this anymore. The records are gone, and you’re not going to go out and find the quality of stuff that we used to find.” And they could be saying that just because they don’t want people to steal the records out from under them. It makes you wonder if those days are behind us of when people could go out and get really good stuff that way.

Collectors Weekly: When these records were re-released, what was their impact on modern rock music?

Petrusich:
If it weren’t for the reissues that started coming out in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, other musicians wouldn’t have had access to this material. It would’ve been languishing in the homes of 78 collectors. First-wave British rock bands, like the Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin, took huge inspiration from these compilations that were being sourced from 78 collectors. If these collectors hadn’t done that, would all this other music have followed? Would it have existed in quite the same way? Once you start entangling that, you start thinking, oh my God, the work of 78 collectors is a big deal.

Collectors Weekly: And you even went scuba diving for 78s?

Petrusich:
That was a totally bonkers thing to do. Paramount was forced out of business partly because of the Great Depression, because of declining record sales, and because their product was not great. I had heard from many different sources that the day Paramount closed, the workers were so disgruntled that they had all just lost their jobs that they just hurled all of the deadstock records, all the remaining 78s that hadn’t shipped, into the Milwaukee River, along with the original metal masters from many of those recordings. It’s a rumor that’s persisted for years: That’s where all the Paramount Records were, and that’s why it’s so hard to find them. They’re all rotting at the bottom of the Milwaukee River outside of Grafton, Wisconsin.

In 2006, a PBS show called “The History Detectives” sent a scuba team to the bottom of the river, and they didn’t find anything. But they admitted that they were probably looking in the wrong place because of the way in which the dam had been moved and a complicated series of currents. I got it in my head that scuba diving for Paramount 78s was something I should do. In a way, it was a test I set up for myself to prove my dedication to the material and the practice of collecting, almost like an initiation into this oddball fraternity. It was probably the apex—or perhaps nadir—of my obsession with this material, when I was really thinking, “They’re down there, and I can find them!” I learned how to scuba dive, got certified, and got a guide to take me out into the river. Not to give anything away to your readers, but of course, we came up empty-handed. Had we found anything, it would have been unplayable and rotten.

But I just wanted to get my hands on some evidence of this label. When you go to Grafton now, other than Paramount’s crumbling stone foundation and one historical marker, there’s very little evidence that this entire enterprise ever existed there. I was just wanting to get closer to Paramount somehow. I still think if somebody were to say, “Oh, no, they’re not there, but they’re in this part of Lake Michigan,” I probably would show up in my scuba suit again. The mania of collecting takes hold in that way, and you stop thinking rationally about anything.

(For more information, pick up Amanda Petrusich’s book, “Do Not Sell at Any Price: The Wild, Obsessive Hunt for the World’s Rarest 78 rpm Records,” read her New York Times article, “They’ve Got Those Old, Hard-to-Find Blues,” and Dust and Groove’s interview with Joe Bussard. John Tefteller can be reached at his site, World’s Rarest Records. To hear more of this music follow John Heneghan’s Old Time Radio Show and Jonathan Ward’s Excavated Shellac. Reissues of 78s can be found at Smithsonian Folkways, Yazoo Records, Old Hat Records, Revenant Records, and Third Man Records.)
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