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 Bill333's System

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Jun 10, 2017 11:03 am

Hi Sonic,

It's early summer and outdoor humidity here is currently around 50%.  Depending on the weather, humidity levels can go much higher, but that typically doesn't last long.  For indoor humidity, the way it works here is that the air is very dry during winter and then humid (equivalent to outdoors) during the summer.  Outdoor humidity is not low during the winter months, but heating the air drops the relative humidity level - low enough so that many people run humidifiers to increase the humidity level.

It's not correct to say that the Well Tempered/TLC setup originally had no hum, but it was quite low.  With the TransFi, it was high enough to be annoying, but I could still listen to the music and evaluate the sound.  The hum I currently have is making listening for pleasure or any other purpose impossible.  And it's not because the ground wire is loose - if I disconnect it, the hum becomes 10 times worse than it already is.  I'm going to make that pair of DIY shielded cables today.  If they fix the problem, I'll be able to sit down and enjoy some music.  If not, I need to do some thinking about the direction I'm going with the system.  

While I'm talking about things that aren't going well, there are some other things that I haven't mentioned before:

My tape deck is broken.  When I got it back from the technician, I hooked it up and was surprised to find that everything I played back on it now sounded garbled and distorted.  Basic functions like play, stop and rewind all worked, but the sound is as if someone were singing a song while gargling a glass of water.  I immediately called the technician to ask him what he did to it that could have caused this.  He told me he couldn't have caused it because he never even opened the thing up. (!)  I believe him, and after thinking about it I think the damage was caused by the many screws in the chassis that I loosened in my efforts to tune the deck.  Loosening screws and relieving stress in a component does great things for the sound, but makes a complex electro-mechanical device like a tape deck vulnerable during transport.  My current plan is to send the deck to J-Corder for rebuilding, which should take care of the problem, but it's $1400 I don't currently have to spend in that direction.  So the tape deck is just sitting in a back room.

I've posted about my broken Altmann DAC and the problems I've had trying to repair it.  But I don't think I've said much about what's going on with my second Altmann DAC, which I sent to Paul Hynes for modification.  He has now had the DAC for 8 months without finishing the work on it (work which should have taken one to two weeks), and my repeated emails typically go unanswered for weeks or even months.  At this point I've started strategizing ways to get my DAC back in any state, never mind the upgrades.  I last heard from him about a month ago, where he apologized for his lack of communication and explained that he's had some health problems and some internet outages on the remote island off the coast of Scotland where he lives.  The work is reportedly about 2/3 done, but nothing he mentioned really excuses taking 8 months to do work which should have taken a week or so.  I'm going to try to get him to send it back to me whether it's finished or not, and then hope this spurs him to finish the work.  If I can get the DAC back with the upgrades, it would be a game changer for my system.  Even if I get it back half finished and unusable, at least I'd have it and I'd know that I need to move on with something else.  But until this is resolved, there is a huge question mark over the future of my system.

So things are not great at chez Bill333.  Crying or Very sad
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Jun 10, 2017 7:48 pm

Ok, I built the shielded interconnects and put them in the system. No change, it still hums. Then I noticed that the little wires that plug into the back of the cartridge were loose, so I twisted them and put the plugs back on the cartridge. Didn't help. So I tried moving wires and equipment to different spots to see if it made anything better or worse. Nothing I did had any significant effect. I'm starting to think there's something wrong with the phono preamp, but I don't have another one that I can substitute to see if that's the problem. Should I buy a cheap one or just wait until I can afford the Shindo preamp?
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:50 am


Dear Bill333

What a conjunction of developments Exclamation

A veritable pig

Sonic's thoughts if I may:

a. it is possible but somewhat unlikely that both the WT and the TransFi both hum. Might it be the TLC? A faulty sample perhaps? Or the phono stage as the common factor.

b. instead incurring more expense, in such a situation, Sonic might get a cheap bomb-proof cartridge like an AT 95-e or a M44-7 mount it and see if there is hum. Alternatively get a cheap headshell, mount the TLC in it and try it in a friend's tonearm. Or test the phonostage in someone else's system.

c. if you have your digital rig playing, keep playing music you like to decompress yourself emotionally so you can think and troubleshoot clearly. I won't buy either a RIAA box or a Shindo at this stage.

d. my friend, you did not bolt down everything before shipping the tape unit --- oooh that smarts. Sounds like the heads are way out of alignment. Do you have a record of what you loosened and trace back. It might be a re-tightening may solve things as it is not the basic transport, or the main playback modules that are out of whack, perhaps something close to the head section?

Sonic

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:45 am

Hi Sonic,

Quote :
b. instead incurring more expense, in such a situation, Sonic might get a cheap bomb-proof cartridge like an AT 95-e or a M44-7 mount it and see if there is hum. Alternatively get a cheap headshell, mount the TLC in it and try it in a friend's tonearm. Or test the phonostage in someone else's system.

I do have an Ortofon 2M Red that I could swap in.  It's been a while since I used it, but I don't recall it having any hum problems so it should be a good test.  Unfortunately, I don't really know anyone with a turntable based audio system.

Quote :
c. if you have your digital rig playing, keep playing music you like to decompress yourself emotionally so you can think and troubleshoot clearly. I won't buy either a RIAA box or a Shindo at this stage.

I'm still leaning towards picking up an inexpensive solid state phono stage just to have around for diagnostic purposes.  Having an equipment bench is a good idea and the one I'm thinking of is only about $80.

Quote :
d. my friend, you did not bolt down everything before shipping the tape unit --- oooh that smarts. Sounds like the heads are way out of alignment. Do you have a record of what you loosened and trace back. It might be a re-tightening may solve things as it is not the basic transport, or the main playback modules that are out of whack, perhaps something close to the head section?

Now that you mention it, there are a few things I could try to get the deck working again.  I'm skeptical that retightening will help, but I have nothing to lose.  The thing is that the distortion is so severe that it's hard to imagine something as subtle as tightening a screw could change it.  My assumption at the time was that a part was knocked loose, but I looked through the deck and couldn't identify any loose parts.  What I definitely can do is post to tapeheads.net and see what the people there think it might be.  

Also, this whole thing was so unexpected because I didn't ever ship the deck.  The technician's house was only 20 miles away - I strapped the deck into the front seat of my car like you would with a newborn baby and drove carefully the whole way there.  But i am definitely grateful for the ideas - I will swap out the cartridge and let you know what happens.
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue Jun 13, 2017 11:45 am

This morning I sat down and tried out my Lyrec RB-02 reel to reel tape deck for the first time.  It took a little bit of fiddling to set the AC to 115 and get the hang of the controls, but I was able to successfully play my 15 ips 2 track Andy Williams tape from start to finish.  Listening to the headphone out, I found an easy emotional connection with the music and was able to relax for half an hour before going to work.  

Reminded me of why I like tape so much. sunny
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Wed Jun 14, 2017 12:42 pm

I did some extensive experimenting with the phono hum problem this morning.  It's definitely not the turntable or the cartridge - the system hums even when the turntable is completely disconnected.  This is with the interconnects plugged in to the phono pre's inputs; unplugging the interconnects completely gets rid of the hum and makes the system nice and quiet.  It's the interconnects.

Subsequent experimenting shows that the shielded interconnects I built are no better than the cheapie interconnects I had been using.  At least for hum.  I'm going to try some more experiments when I get home tonight, but this whole thing is making me question whether the path I'm on is even viable.  If I can't get rid of phono hum, I can't play records.  And if I can't play records, how much sense does the Shindo system make?  Worse than that, if I buy a Shindo preamp new and end up selling it because I can't make this work, I'm going to lose at least $2000 on the resale.  I think I need to figure this out before I make any large purchases.  Certainly if we're talking about new equipment.

But for now, I'm going to continue with my troubleshooting.
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Jun 15, 2017 12:52 pm


Hi Bill333

Sonic got a couple of comments if I may:

The only way to be sure that the hum is due these interconnects is to take a couple of other unrelated but conventional coax interconnects and try them. If your diagnosis is right, there will be no hum with these and only with the interconnects you been using up to this point. If there is hum on the other interconnects then the fault is with the phono input. I am bit suspicious why the phono input emits hum with both existing interconnects (though I do not know what they are like -- particularly the DIY one). Is there a fault in the phono input that is brought on by the presence of the cabling even if it is open circuit? Did the phono ever work at any time without any hum?

You said: "but this whole thing is making me question whether the path I'm on is even viable. If I can't get rid of phono hum, I can't play records."

If it is the interconnects and the use of other interconnects silence the hum, then your path is viable because records can now be played. Whether the sound is good and how you tune it is another chapter.

As for the Shindo or any other amp, it will/should not hum with proper cables (again Sonic does not know what your existing interconnects are like. If the ground connection is loose like in your cables without RCA jacks, hum is a likely result). I see the Shindo as a separate decision path. It will not hum if truly the cause was your existing amp.

What did your further tests show? Do go slow as you figure this out my friend!

Sonic


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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Thu Jun 15, 2017 1:39 pm

Hi Sonic,

Let me first give an update on last night's experiments.  I thought that there might be some appliance or electrical fixture in the house emitting dirty electricity or EMF and thus causing the hum.  So I shut off every circuit in the house except the one in the loft, and then unplugged everything except the stereo.  So that the system was literally the only thing in the house receiving power.  Made no difference at all.  I read in a paper on hum troubleshooting that it can be caused by having the power plugs oriented the wrong way in the power strip, so I marked the plugs and turned them in every possible permutation of position.  No effect.

I do have a whole box of other interconnects, but I've really only tried the two I described and a couple pair of Michael's interconnects.  The Picasso interconnects hummed badly - it seems like those bare wires just act like antennas in this application, so I set those aside and concentrated on the others.  The cheapie interconnect, at one time, gave a very low hum performance.  But after swapping the TransFi table in and then back out again, I haven't been able to get that performance back.  I think what I will do is go through my interconnect box and just try cables to see if any of them eliminate the hum.

Something which might be a game changer is that Shannon Parks of Parks Audio is sending me a known good pair of interconnects for the turntable to phono pre connection.  I own his Budgie preamp and Shannon has been enormously helpful in tracking this down, even to the point of sending me a pair of interconnects at his own expense.  Once I receive those, if they don't get rid of the hum I will at least know that these cables are capable of not humming in someone else's system.  Which would leave the way they are being used or the downstream equipment as the only possible sources of the problem.  

I do know for certain that the problem is not the amplifier or the phono preamp itself.  With the phono preamp off, the amplifier is dead quiet.  Even with the phono preamp on, if I unplug the interconnects from the input it will be dead quiet.

On the brighter side, I was able to get the tape deck working.  I posted a thread about it over on tapeheads.net, and the forum members have been very helpful.  The consensus seems to be that one of the caps involved in controlling transport speed has gone bad.  The good news is that you can do a workaround by pulling the pitch control knob out and tuning the transport control system by hand.  I had no idea this feature even existed - I really can't overstate how valuable the tapeheads.net forums are.  The tape deck still needs to be repaired, but it's at least possible to use it now. bounce
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Jun 16, 2017 8:33 am

Ok, I have finished my experiments with different interconnects. I tried them both connected and unconnected to the turntable, ground wire connected the whole time. All of them hum, but some are worse than others. Longer interconnects (6 feet) hum less than short ones, anything that involves solid core wire and minimal insulation (Kimber PBJ, Anti-Cables interconnect, MGA Picasso) hummed far worse. None of them brought hum down to an acceptable level for listening.
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Jun 16, 2017 10:11 am

Oh dear -- that sounds like an inherent flaw in the phonostage after all  Sad

If it were cables, the hum would be specific to one or two/or a particular type of interconnect eg: unshielded, and no hum on the majority of cables you try. If there is hum on everything, it has to be the phonostage.

I'll look up what you posted in Tapeheads.net

What's the next step Question  
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Fri Jun 16, 2017 3:54 pm

Quote :
What's the next step?

I don't want to get ahead of myself, but I'm going to make an offer on a used Shindo Aurieges this weekend.  If I can come to an agreement with the seller, I'll be able to swap out the Budgie for the moving magnet section of the Aurieges.  That, and the known good interconnects should narrow the problem down to its source.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Jun 17, 2017 9:01 am


All the best in your offer for the Shindo cheers

Given that your turntables and cartridges do not contribute the hum, this means you should have hum-free phono playback Very Happy
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Jun 19, 2017 9:06 am


Are you a Shindo owner yet Question
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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Mon Jun 19, 2017 1:08 pm

Hi Sonic,

I believe so. We closed the deal Sunday and I Paypal'd the agreed amount. According to the seller he should ship today, which means I'll have it by the end of the week. Will it be a new era in music listening? Only time will tell.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:49 am


Congratulations Bill333 cheers

May Sonic suggest my frame of mind when I acquire something new -- I mentally suppress optimism, preparing to be even slightly underwhelmed on power up. Then let the sound grow with me and settle in.

You might be on the brink of completing your Tune or the start of a new adventure -- one of advancement and not disappointment Sonic means Very Happy

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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Tue Jun 20, 2017 8:54 pm

I just hooked up the tape deck to the speaker based system for the first time in months and put on a 7.5 ips tape of the West Side Story.  I listened for five seconds and I couldn't help exclaiming [intemperate statement edited out]. Suffice to say I liked the sound a lot, and felt it easily bettered what I'd been hearing from the turntable.

We'll see what the phono stage of the Aurieges does, but I can tell you I really, really want to get the tape deck fixed.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Sat Jun 24, 2017 8:57 pm

I received the Shindo Aurieges this morning.  I hooked it up for an hour between the tape deck and the Elekit tube TU-879S tube amp and had to disconnect everything.  The sound is just too poor to do any kind of evaluation of what the Aurieges is doing or not doing.  The tape deck has too many things wrong with it, and too many unknowns.  I put it away and substituted the Magnavox DVD player in, this time without the preamp.  Once I have a reasonable level of fidelity I can put the Aurieges back in and try to make some judgements about what it brings to the sound.  At the moment, I've got Abbey Road on repeat and I'm letting it settle.   Cool
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Sonic.beaver



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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Yesterday at 10:44 am


Go slow, my friend Very Happy

A question or two:

a. In your many tests have you ever been happy with Elekit amp? What configuration was that? Sonic means if you have never been satisfied with the Elekit, this test might get confusing.

b. Is the 8W of the Elekit sufficient for the Altecs?

Are there any other amps in your home audio workshop/closet that you are testing with the Aurieges?

Sonic


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Bill333

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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Yesterday at 5:18 pm

SHINDO AURIEGES

FIRST IMPRESSIONS


I let the Magnavox DVD player settle with the Elekit amp until I was confident of the baseline and then inserted the Aurieges using a new pair of no-terminal interconnects.  My fear with preamps has always been that they are going to put a veil over the sound.  The Aurieges has improved the sound so much I wouldn't be able to tell you if there was or wasn't any veiling going on.  A straight wire with gain this is not:

  • First of all, where did all this bass come from?  I thought the bass was ok running the Magnavox straight into the Elekit, but it's an entirely different ball game with the Aurieges in the signal path.  Big, powerful, and deep.  I didn't think the Elekit and the Valencias were capable of this.
  • Second, the overall presentation has a big, bold and powerfully dynamic character that I wasn't getting without the Aurieges.  It's like when you make a tuning move and everything sounds louder than it did before.  But on steroids.

Is there anything that isn't perfect?  I think the main problem right now is a lack of refinement.  We'll see what a few days of system settling and wire break in do for the sound.  The speaker crossovers and my electrical power would be the other main suspects.  It's also possible that my bare wire interconnects are not the proper voicing choice in a Shindo system and may be creating the brashness I'm hearing along with the dynamics.  I'll have to sort this out over time.

Hi Sonic,

To answer your questions:

a.  Yes, I always liked the sound of the Elekit amp.  It did well on the Klipsch Synergy speakers and even better on the Music Ply 60s.  Back in the days when Michael was visiting, he heard the Elekit and seemed favorably impressed.  The amplifier was allowing him to hear inner detail on test tracks like the opening drumbeats on 'Something' from Abbey Road that my other amplifiers weren't able to do.  So the Elekit is a contender.

b.  From what I'm hearing, 8 watts is plenty.  It just needed the right signal driving it.  The Valencias are 98 db/W/m sensitive, so it shouldn't take much.  I"ve heard of people driving these speakers with as little as 2 watts - they are not uncommonly paired with 2A3 amps.

c.  There are a couple of other amps I could try, but I already know the Topping doesn't work well and it seems unlikely a solid state amp like the Sherwood would be a good match.  Especially if I want to put the Aurieges in the chain.  The Aurieges has a high output impedance, so it wants to see an amplifier with a 50 to 100k input impedance; that's going to rule out a lot of solid state amplifiers.  I also suspect the Valencias are a speaker that likes to see transformers at its input.  The real candidates are two tube amps I'm still building on my workbench.  The Elekit TU-8300 is a 300B amplifier based on the same design principles as the TU-879S.  Even more promising is the Damn Good 300B.  This is a highly refined 300B amplifier design that uses no negative feedback and has an excellent reputation for sound.  I had the Edcor output transformers custom wound for 16 ohm output impedance, so it should be a good match for the Valencias.
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PostSubject: Re: Bill333's System   Today at 10:41 am


This is good news Bill333 Exclamation

Given the Elekit is sounding and making music to your and Michael's liking, then its down to letting it all settle.

Do you find the two volume controls in series (one on the Shindo Aurieges preamp and the other on the Elekit) problematic?

How do you set playback volume -- do you turn the volume of the Elekit to the max and adjust volume from the Shindo? This given that the tracking of the pots are at their worst at both ends of their travel.

Is there any way you can bypass the Elekit's volume pot or have something like the Parasound A21 amp where the input level controls are effectively out of the circuit when turned to the maximum end of their travel?

Sonic
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