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 Bill333's System

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 07, 2017 10:25 am

A NEW SYSTEM IS BORN


I bought the Altec Valencias that were on sale in the area and brought them home a couple weeks ago.  After cleaning and reorganizing the loft listening space, they finally made their way up the stairs to their new home:



This is really the beginning of a whole new era in my audio quest.  This is not just a completely new system, but a completely new goal in sound reproduction.  The goal now is to achieve a sound which is so enjoyable that both my wife and I will take up listening to music every evening.  I should point out that this has never been the case in the past with any system I've ever built.  

Some people reading this may find it odd that I'm involving my wife in my goals for my audio system.  Is that because she's an audiophile, like me?  No, very much the opposite.  Is she a person who loves listening to music, but just doesn't care about equipment?  No, she hardly ever listens to music.  The first reason for including my wife is that we are in the habit of relaxing together in the evening after work.  Currently, this means watching a TV show or two.  I realized that if we spend time together in front of the TV every night, we could just as easily be spending it in front of the stereo.  Part of this also is that my wife has strong preferences about how she spends her free time.  When she gets home after a hard day's work, she wants to watch TV and she doesn't mean maybe.  What if she wanted to listen to an album instead?

Let me add this in by way of background: a few weeks ago I had a heated discussion with my wife about the stereo.  She feels that I fuss with it too much and that I've made the entire thing too complicated.  Why don't I stop doing all these things and just listen to music?  Well, the simple answer is that I don't feel like listening to it much, and neither does she.  When I pointed this out to her, she replied that she would never have spent much time listening to the system because she just wasn't interested in music.

But here's the thing: 20 years ago, before she met me, this was exactly her relationship with TV.  She almost never watched TV and had no interest in it.  Now that we have the home theater, she watches at least an hour, and often two hours, every night.  When she comes home after work, this is how she wants to unwind.  What changed between then and now?  Twenty years ago, her television was an old black and white set with an aerial antenna located in the basement of her parents' house.  They got three channels, none of them well.  Now we have a D-ILA projector casting a 7 1/2 foot wide image onto a dedicated screen with a black shadowbox around it.  A DVR records all of our favorite shows in high definition, and we watch them when we feel like it.  The picture quality is roughly equivalent to watching 35mm film in a theater, while dropouts and picture defects are all but nonexistent.

Clearly the quality of the experience matters.   A better TV experience changed the way she spends her spare time and interested her in a world of shows that she had previously been unaware of. So why is our time not being shared with listening to the stereo system?  Given the time and effort I've put into creating great sound in our home, you would think that I would have succeeded in doing exactly the same thing with music.  But I have failed.  

I don't know why I've failed, but I have theories.  The 'God Is In The Nuances' findings are what I'm currently working on.  Which brings me to reason number two for involving my wife.  How do you assess the musical performance of a system when just sitting down and listening to 'the sound' almost certainly gives you the wrong impression?  You enlist the help of someone who isn't an audiophile, who has no preconceptions about what constitutes 'good sound', and who isn't very interested in music.  If the system is good enough to keep someone like that coming back for more every night, then it must be very good indeed.   Idea

So I am now in the process of building an all-Shindo system with a vinyl front end.  Will it bring me the listening experience that I've been longing for?  Will it keep my wife coming back for more?  We'll see.

In the meantime, my wife is voting with her feet every night and I'm keeping tabs.  study
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon May 08, 2017 9:09 am


A wonderful New Start, Bill333 Exclamation

How many watts are you driving the Valencias with?

What are your first listening impressions Question
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 10, 2017 5:29 pm

Hi Sonic,

First of all, thanks for the advice on vinyl.  I'll keep it in mind as I move forward.


"What are your first listening impressions?"

Pretty bad, thanks for asking.  The sound started out extremely disappointing, progressed to very disappointing and has recently improved to merely disappointing.  With enough effort, I'm hoping to achieve so-so, nothing-to-write-home-about and 'just ok' in the near future.   Razz

Seriously, it's been pretty rough sledding.  Do you see the little round things under the corners of the speakers?  Those are furniture sliders with foam centers.  They're great for dialing in speaker position but they are little sound killers.  Pulling them out improved the detail retrieval from horribly deficient to just poor.  Sound killer number two: the cheapie interconnects I use when first hooking up new equipment.  These are the ones they throw in for free when you buy a home theater receiver.  They sound terrible, but they are a reliable electrical connection unlike my nice pieces of unterminated wire.  Changing out the cheapie RCA interconnects for the wire removed some distortion and improved the detail again.  Sound killer number three: my much loved Topping TP21 amplifier (20W).  This is my go-to amp for its clarity, transparency and almost complete lack of high frequency unpleasantness.  But on these speakers, the sound is pallid, bass deficient and two dimensional.  Changing it out for the Elekit TU-879S (8W) was a revelation - a completely different tonal balance with much more bass and a 'bolder' character that suits the speakers well.

If things are so greatly improved, what's still not good?  Detail retrieval still isn't where it needs to be if I'm going to be hearing rich tone and harmonics.  Soundstaging and imaging aren't great and there's some hardness to the sound, especially in the treble.  I think the next steps are to get the speakers up off the carpet and onto platforms, get the good interconnects working with the Elekit amp and bring out the serious digital to replace the Magnavox.  Eventually, I'd like to go into the cabinets and tune the connections between driver and cabinet, remove the dampening and poly the inside of the cabinets.  And of course, the Jagusch crossovers.  And then there's the 300B amplifiers that I've been building...   Very Happy

Whenever someone in day-to-day life asks me about audio (which never happens, but it could happen  Rolling Eyes ) I tell them that knowing how to get good sound out of the equipment you have will get you farther than buying 'better' equipment (that you don't know how to get good sound out of).  This has been a useful reminder of how true that is.   silent
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 11, 2017 1:21 pm

Hi Bill

Those are cool looking Exclamation

I think the retro look has something about it that is so Hi Fi (I use that term in the very best way possible) spectacular about it that it's hard to resist. And, I know folks can't really get a feel for the loft space at Bill's place, but it calls to me like chimps to the bananas. I love it up there. For me it's a soundstage depth paradise, but I also dig the different audio playing around going on inside of the brain of Bill. keep it fun daddy-O. Great to see the both of you getting into it more.

makes me want to get out my Stephen speakers and start messing with them

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 12, 2017 11:32 am



Greetings Bill333

A comment from Sonic - those speakers are a great part of mankind's audio heritage. Please reconsider opening up, removing the poly, tuning or doing anything th the Valencias beyond bringing them back to original spec. They are too precious for that.

Could you show how you use I terminated wire for interconnects? Is it a danger that something could pop loose and create a speaker destroying BANG Exclamation Question

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 12, 2017 12:04 pm

Hi Sonic

Bill has a picture of it up here somewhere. It's pieces of my wire without the ends, one going in and the other made into a harness going around the RCA. I have a few of them here. They can be touchy.

I've made my own custom RCA's since that gizmo.

Idea Shocked affraid

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 12, 2017 12:15 pm


Thanks Michael. I hope you or Bill333 can show a pix.

I find the idea scary, one sneeze and a Big Bang through the speakers or a ruptured speaker. The stress of using such a set up will be too much for Sonic.

Have a look at my discovery into how/where the No Tone Control deviation started.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 12, 2017 12:56 pm

Yep, when you get that minimalistic you have to be willing to have a replacement budget.

I posted on your thread study I wish the topic of tone would go much more mainstream. To be perfectly honest I believe 90% of the high end audiophile population should be using tone controlling. So many guys have left high end, and will never come back because of that one issue alone. Many of them chose to buy 10 systems rather than try the obvious.

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri May 12, 2017 6:45 pm

Hi Sonic,

I wasn't planning to do anything to the Valencias that would really be permanent, except maybe poly the cabinets.  I can always put the stock crossovers and the insulation back in them if I want to sell them as stock.  In my own defense, I have to say that Altec really wasn't thinking 50 years into the future when they designed these.  Capacitors don't last forever and these have been riveted into a metal crossover box and potted in some kind of black tarlike substance.  Not exactly maintenance friendly.  In any case, I really have to do something to get these into decent shape sound-wise or I'm going to end up turning around and selling them.  I'm not sure that getting them up on platforms is going to be enough.

I'll post a picture of the interconnects so you can see how it's done.  As for blowing up the speakers, this is all just part of the life of danger and intrigue which I lead.   Smile



You can find out more about my life of danger here: https://www.netflix.com/title/70171942   Suspect



Seriously, though.  I really haven't had a problem with it.  They cut in and out when the connection isn't good, but they have never caused a loud pop when they cut back in.  The music just starts up again.  Sound-wise, no other interconnect I have can touch them.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat May 13, 2017 1:14 pm



love it!

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 14, 2017 10:42 am

Hi Michael,

"To be perfectly honest I believe 90% of the high end audiophile population should be using tone controlling. So many guys have left high end, and will never come back because of that one issue alone. Many of them chose to buy 10 systems rather than try the obvious."

The Valencias have a dial on the back that allows you to control the treble response and I have to say that it's been a real Godsend.  I can't tell you what a relief it is to just dial down the treble until it sounds right.  cheers

"Bill has a picture of it up here somewhere. It's pieces of my wire without the ends, one going in and the other made into a harness going around the RCA. I have a few of them here. They can be touchy.  I've made my own custom RCA's since that gizmo."

You made your own RCA connectors?  How?  Can you post a picture?  What do they sound like?
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 14, 2017 3:24 pm

I'm excited to hear this Bill Exclamation

I believe you would do very well with the EQ tuning. And let me say this, if both you and Sonic do the EQ adventure, I will jump in the group with you.

Cool

RCA Harness

I will need to find them, or make more sets, cause I have not located them since the move. What they have is a center post for the one cable and an outer RCA ring that slides onto the OD. I was waiting till I made a tini clamp for the ring before telling you guys but have become so busy, it has gone to my wish list of things to get done.

I call them the MGA Picasso RCA Harness.

sound

Pretty darn good. The one biggie difference is your able to slide them along the ID and OD to give you more adjustability over the sound and do the sliding independently.

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon May 15, 2017 8:53 am


Greetings Michael and Bill333

MG sayeth: "if both you and Sonic do the EQ adventure, I will jump in the group with you."

Sonic asketh: "what does the EQ adventure involve? I am using the JVC (Japan Victor Company) Nivico SEA-10 to adjust things when recordings need adjustment, otherwise it is bypassed or at the alternate setting with 2dB boost at 40hz, everything else flat."

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue May 16, 2017 11:55 am

Hi Guys

For me to get into it, it would need to be done similar to when we use to do referencing with recordings. "if three or more gather" type of thing. Bill, Sonic and mg would definitely be a good base to explore this.

Here in Vegas EQ's come up for sale all the time.

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 17, 2017 10:31 am


Michael and Bill333 Very Happy

Sonic's on board -- where shall we start Question
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 17, 2017 1:02 pm

Sonic and Michael,

I'm on board too. I've never mentioned it, but I actually do have a JVC SEA-10. I bought it several months ago and never took it out of the shipping box, but I've got one. The big question for me is, can I do the EQ adventure without hooking up digital? Right now I'm using vinyl and I don't have a preamp, so no easy way to switch.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 17, 2017 7:11 pm

Last Wednesday I received the TLC cartridge from Don Better Audio and installed it in the Well Tempered Simplex.  I put it in and was listening to the very first all-analog, all-tube system I have ever had:



So how did it sound?  Not bad.  Nowhere near the level of fidelity I've gotten with my tuned digital systems, but I do think I'm detecting the beginnings of a relaxed quality that I rarely ever got from digital.  At this point, I've got about 10 hours or so on the new system so I should be out of the break in period on the cartridge.  Right now I'm working on resolving the weak points in the system.  Cool
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 17, 2017 7:20 pm

Here's weak point number one: speakers sitting on carpet!  Let's get those bad boys up on some platforms!



At the same time, I put the system up on one of the Brazilian pine platforms with the suspended on wood setup that I learned from Andy and Harold at the AXPONA show.  Basketball

Putting the speakers up on the platforms wasn't the revelation that I hoped it would be, but there was an improvement.  Next stop, interconnect cables.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu May 18, 2017 10:32 am


Progress indeed Bill333 Exclamation

If you start to hear from the system the relaxed quality of analog, the system must be doing a number of things right.

Without a tape loop or a separate preamp, Sonic wonders how you can wire in the JVC SEA-10. Of course you might put it between the phono stage out and the amp in, or the CD player out and amp in. If there is no impedance mismatch, it might work but then switching source becomes difficult and risk fraught.

In Sonic's case the EQ sits in the tape loop. If I want Flat, it is switched out the tape loop and if EQ is required, the tape loop is activated.

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue May 23, 2017 5:22 pm

Hi Sonic,

I was just planning to insert it between the phono preamp and the amplifier.  I never really about using a tape loop, but that's definitely a great idea.  When the day comes that I have an actual preamp, I will definitely give it a try.  In the meantime, I hope I don't have problems with the impedance match...

Unfortunately, switching sources is already difficult and risk fraught.  I wonder what fun and easy would be like Question
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed May 24, 2017 9:31 am

Greetings Bill333 cheers

An impedance mismatch can show itself in two ways: a loss of drive or a funny sound with a noticeably rolled off bass.  

Both are easy to test for.

The JVC Japan Victor Company Nivico SEA-10 is designed to be unity gain, so with all sliders flat, your amp volume knob should be the same to get a similar playback volume level with and without the EQ box in the signal path.

Ditto the bass roll off, the bass extension with and without the device in the signal path should be identical, the only effect of the SEA-10's presence is some "closed-in" colouration which you will know how to tune out easily.

Do post what you discover with this experiment  Very Happy

Sonic
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat May 27, 2017 9:21 am

Hi Sonic,

Here's a picture of the unterminated interconnect I was telling you about:



Here's a closeup of the cable ends:



As you can see, the ground connection is just the wire twisted in a little loop - a round pencil works nicely for this.  I've used two different terminations for the hot: in the first one I just bent the wire over a piece of 1/8" x 1/8" balsa wood stringer.  The wood makes it easier to pull it in and out of the female connector, but the shape the wire takes makes it difficult to get an electrical connection with some RCAs.  With the second hot termination, I twisted the wire into a spiral around the end of a small diameter drill bit.  This one is easier to get a good electrical connection and I generally prefer it.

The listening results are clear - when it comes to RCAs, the best connector is no connector.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun May 28, 2017 8:04 am


Thanks for the pictures of the wire hook-up Bill333 Very Happy

Sonic salutes your courage.


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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Jun 09, 2017 3:24 pm

It's been a little while since I've posted.  Sometimes I'm too busy, but other times it's more the case that 'if you can't say anything good...'

After getting the Well Tempered turntable established, I decided to switch it out for the TransFi Salvation to see how that sounded.  I've been disappointed with it in the past, but I've never heard it with a good cartridge so I wanted to see what the TLC cartridge brought to the table.  I was also hoping that being able to directly connect the tonearm cable to the preamp would bring the sound to a new level.

After a lot of fussing around getting things aligned and set up, I finally got everything working and the sound really wasn't as good as it was with the Well Tempered.  And the Well Tempered hadn't been anything special.  Plus I now had a reliability issue in that the air pump wasn't putting out consistent air pressure.  Fine sometimes, and almost nothing at other times, which would then cause skipping because the arm carriage stopped floating.  Even when it was behaving, I had more background hum than I had with the WT.  Which didn't make sense because the tonearm wires are supposed to be shielded and grounded.  Dressing the wires didn't seem to help.

A week of messing with this and I was really looking forward to putting the Well Tempered back.  I remounted the cartridge on the Well Tempered, put everything back the way it was and voila... I now have a nasty hum problem.  I don't understand why because everything is in the same position, same wires, etc.  I'm going to try making a pair of DIY shielded interconnects and see if that helps.  If that doesn't work, I'm not sure what's left.

Digital is looking better and better...  Rolling Eyes
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Jun 10, 2017 9:07 am


Hello Bill333

This sounds like a situation that is difficult Sad

Something is odd. Is Sonic right to understand that you had the TLC cartridge in the WT, that it sounded unremarkable but no hum, then over to the TransFi with the TLC and there is hum. After that a switch of the TLC back to the WT and you hear hum?

If this is the case, it is perplexing. If the TLC gave hum first on the TransFi then on the WT, it might be faulty out of the box, but if it went from No Hum in WT, to Yes in TransFi and the Yes when back to the WT, what might be the cause? Unless something changed with the rest of the equipment chain in some ways.

As the air bearing parallel tracking arm, what you describe is a common experience in my town. Here the humidity is unrelentingly high year round and moisture collects in the arm sleeve and causes sticking and skipping. Due to the humidity, Quad electrostatics do not last long here, even for owners who keep their listening room aircon on 24/7 (not environmentally good), the Quads start to crackle. And in the case Martin Logans, they reportedly lose volume over time.

What's the humidity like in your home?

Sonic

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