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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Planets of the Universe

Well, as predicted, here is another track that sounds better ripped to the hard drive and played back through the DragonFly: "Planets of the Universe" from Stevie Nicks' 2001 Trouble in Shangri-La http://www.amazon.com/Trouble-Shangri--Stevie-Nicks/.  Better how?  The vocal track seems to have have a distance from the backing tracks that gives it a very pleasing 3-dimensional quality while listening through headphones.

The Audioquest DragonFly and 1980-1984

Merry Christmas, all.  I am prompted to type this entry by the fact that I was given an Audioquest DragonFly USB digital to analog converter as a gift: http://www.amazon.com/AudioQuest-DragonFly-Asynchronous-Digital-Audio-Converter/.  Thousands of words have already been written about this device, so this will not be a formal review per se.  I am not a computer music guy.  I think MP3 and the cult of the iPod suck.  Go ahead and listen to LMFAO and Lady Gaga played back by an algorithm that costs you hundreds of dollars to own/implement and approximates the wave form with less quality than FM radio (yes I am aware that the user can choose better, but we both know that most do not). I will not listen to Sibelius that way no matter how convenient.  So, on its face the DragonFly may seem to be a waste on me, but au contraire, thus far it has lead me to some conclusions that you might find interesting.

Again, I am not a computer music guy, so I had to actually upload some tunes and determine how I would manage them before I could really use the DragonFly.  Without going into all of the boring details, I decided to use Media Monkey (feel free to go on about how I should have used something else, but don't waste your time recommending iTunes).  I then set about randomly selecting some discs and ripping them as lossless files to my laptop.  More on the tune selection in a bit.  Once that was accomplished (about 150 tracks), I popped the DragonFly into a USB port.  The device itself is the same size as any USB flash drive and has a nifty dragonfly emblem that lights up depending on the sampling rate (44.1kHz-green, 48kHz-blue, 88.2kHz-yellow, 96kHz-white, although this setting looks a bit pink to me), and I was able to cycle through all of them except 88.2 on the fly (so to speak).  It is covered with a black rubber coating that probably has some fancy name and can be found on the dash boards of expensive cars.  Your headphone mini jack (3.5mm jack- LEARN IT, Best Buy staff) plugs right into the end.  Complaint Numero Uno- sticking out from the side of your laptop, this little guy is asking to get bashed into, probably also damaging your USB port.  It is easily weighed down by a decent headphone cord.  I prop it up while in use, and I have ordered some kind of "dongle" from Music Direct to protect it: http://www.musicdirect.com/p-114596-audioquest-dragontail-usb-20-extender.aspx although I am sure it will ruin the music's "microdynamics and pacing."  Whatever.  Anyway, installation was a breeze, as the DragonFly pretty much takes care of itself, and all you need to do is save its profile in the "sounds" section of your control panel, and opt out of Windows sending system noises to it.

The DragonFly contains an ESS Sabre chip which, (HA!  "Chipwhich!"  YUM.  Should I have typed "that" instead?  I am far too lazy to look) is renowned for being of high quality for audio playback (Oppo uses them in their Universal players, for example).  On top of that, the DragonFly also uses its own clock as opposed to the one in your computer, therefore keeping the delicate audio signal free from interruptions from those bastards at Norton and McAfee (how weird is THAT guy?) and anything else that your computer's internal clock has to deal with, such as backing up your porn.  That being said, let me state that which most of us know is true: computer music, like most other things that have to do with computers, is FREAKING MAGIC.

So how does it sound?  Okay, I guess, given that I have no frame of reference.  Better than tape.  Much better.  Better than a record (although that's not too hard to do- don't believe the hype).  About the same as the source CD through headphones SO FAR. . . with one major exception.  For some reason, "Men At Work's:  "Business As Usual" sounds better through the computer than it does on disc. I have absolutely no idea why.  it is a pop disc of average sonics at best, but it sounds quite a bit cleaner through my Grado/DragonFly set up.  So much better in fact, that based on that I would unreservedly recommend the DragonFly, especially because I expect to find more pleasant surprises as i experiment with it.  Eventually I will hook it up to the Yamaha A-S2000, and I will have to dig through the collection to see what needs to be listened to.  Which leads me to the most interesting part of this post, in my opinion. Completely by random, here are the discs that I initially pulled to upload to my Media Monkey library:

Emotional Rescue, the Rolling Stones
Empty Glass, Pete Townshend
Permanent Waves, Rush
Bella Donna, Stevie Nicks
Tatoo You, the Rolling Stones
All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes, Pete Townshend
Security, Peter Gabriel
Signals, Rush
Long After Dark, Tom Petty & Heartbreakers
The Wild Heart, Stevie Nicks
Undercover, the Rolling Stones
The Unforgettable Fire, U2
White City: A Novel, Pete Townshend
Thriller, Michael Jackson
Business As Usual, Men At Work

So. . . what do we have in common?  All recorded between 1980 and 1984.  Sure it's a function of my age (44), but when I look at the complete 150 song list, 80% falls between 1977 and 1986.  With the exception of a couple of Rush tracks, nothing from 1991-2000. I always felt that the nineties were for the most part a wasteland for rock music, and I guess I voted that way with my money.  Don't get me wrong, I have every Alice In Chains album recorded, and I am not including bands one might drink and dance to such as the Cure in my calculus.  Not sure what to think of this, but one thing is certain- neither Guns N Roses nor Pearl Jam are likely to show up in any future posts, thank goodness.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Monday, July 2, 2012

Yamaha R300 Stereo receiver

My wife has discovered that among the myriad items individuals dispose of by donating to thrift stores are articles of the fancy or frilly stationary one might buy at Michael's or some other arts and crafts store.  I think that previously she thought that they were only filled with discarded electronics that only fools could take any interst in, old mismatched golf clubs and stained pairs of Zubas (if you have to ask. . . ). Last we went, she came home with an armful of notepads, magnets, stickers and the aforementioned pastel stationary.  What she'll do with it, I have no idea- but while she's busy with that I can stuff the trunk full of broken tape decks.  Win-win.

Planning for a Saturday trip,  I had gathered up a box of clothes and other items to take in (but I'm keeping all of my 1991 Buffalo Bills Zubas for those still following the joke), and off we went.   I of course had to see what audio treasure might be found and came up with this:

A nice Yamaha R300 stereo receiver, 1982 vintage.  In the store I noticed that the input selector switch was loose, but amazingly, the allen-style screw was still in place.  I am sure the receiver hadn't been at the thrift store long as a few flicks more of the input selector and that screw would have disappeared forever- it is TINY.  So, $24 later I had yet another piece of gear for which I have no real use.  I scrubbed it thoroughly, took off the top and blasted everything with canned air and Deoxit.  Amazingly, I had an allen wrench that fit the selector switch screw and was able to tighten it right up.  The selector switch is made of metal and has a great weight to it, with a wonderful tactile sensation when turned. (Looking at the picture I may have to re-seat the tape monitor button- crooked).   

Darned if it isn't EXACTLY like the selector switches on my new A-S2000 integrated amp.  Even the font is identical (that's branding for you), and the loudness is that same, graduated and very useful system Yamaha also  uses on the A-S2000.  The R300 has a 30 watt per channel amp, but it had no trouble whatsoever driving the Paradigm Mini Monitors to rock levels playing "Clockwork Angels" from the new Rush CD, and the FM tuner is quite good, even without a decent antenna.  On that same note, this one came with the original AM loop antenna.

Gotta love the faux vinyl wood grain.  It's in fantastic shape with no scratches, and the corners are still pretty sharp.  The only mark on the thing seems to be a slight scratch on the tuning knob, which I will gradually try to get out.  The weighting of the analog tuning knob is also terrific for such an inexpensive model.  I would imagine that in 1982 the quality of tuning knob feel was not unlike the sound of a car door closing on a dealer's lot as an arbiter of sales.  I've heard that Lexus spent tons of money getting that closing car door sound and feel just right- to exude a certain quality.  I can definitely see people in Crazy Eddie's during the late seventies and eighties on Route 347 near the Smith Haven Mall making that final decision between two similar receivers just by the way the tuning knob felt.

The spring-clip speaker terminals are better than average as well.  My NAD 3125 terminals are absolute junk by comparison, not to mention they have rusted and need to be cleaned or replaced.  The R300 must have been stored in a less humid environment because the terminal springs look rust-free and snap closed with authority.  In the near future I'd like to do a comparison between the R300 and the NAD 3125, as I think they were comparably priced.  Still a lot to learn about the R300, and I have to re-clean the balance control as it still has a little crackle.  All in all though, pretty neat!  Anyone with any info to share, I would be most appreciative!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Sony TC-K700ES Cassette Deck

As you can see in the post below, I have purchased yet ANOTHER Sony ES cassette deck, despite swearing off Sony and only knowing two other people still using tapes.  What can I say, I'm a geek AND a sucker.  I got the TC-K700ES under the impression that it would work, and work it does.  The only thing I have done to it so far is taken the LCD cleaner and canned air to it for a thorough cleaning, and I ran a brand new TDK dry head-cleaner through it a few times.  I also took the hood off and tightened the record timer switch.  The switch is connected to a small board that is held in place by a nut located just behind the faceplate.  The nut had come loose and the switch was floating around.  Unfortunately I scratched the switch plastic while holding it in place and tightening the nut, but it's not very noticeable.

I would only rate the deck a 7.5 for cosmetics, but even so, it is very impressive to look at.  The interior is divided into three discrete compartments, and there are two Elena caps and a power supply nearly as big as those found in my NAD 3125 integrated amp!  I know very little about  cassette deck guts, which is why I have two nice examples awaiting dismantling in the 606ES and RX79ES (just ordered belts- if all goes well the seller will get a plug).  The 700ES mechanism looks very impressive indeed, and as I learn more I will pass it on. I have only played one tape on it, just to ensure all is functioning properly, and from that cursory listen i would have to say it sounded better than my nearly brand new TC-W8AESA dual deck.  It certainly is a beast, and it bears saying again- they don't make them like they used to! Anyone with experience with a high-end deck like this, your comments and advice would be most appreciated.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Now this is more like it

The Sony TC-K700es.  spent yesterday cleaning and fixing the Record Timer switch which had come loose.  More text to follow, as I get a chance to see how it sounds.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Fool's Errand

Well, in the tape mood, I went and bought 2 decks for very little money on Ebay.  One only cost me $12.  Yes, yes- they are Sonys.  A TC-RX79ES and a TC-RX606ES.  Let's not talk about the Sony part.  Why so cheap?  Neither work right.  I have had them open, and their belts are junk and they could use super-cleaning and re-lube.  That might do the trick.  Getting the belts replaced will take more than a bit of dismantling however.  I don't think either of these machines live up to the ES standard the way they should, but they have very nice features such as auto bias calibration, headphone jacks with volume, motorized cassette doors (a note about that- as they are both  advertised as three-motor machines, i believe the third motor is for the door.  In 1996 Sony was already going down the wrong path).  Cleaned up, they are in excellent cosmetic condition.  The 79ES even came with manual and remote- therefore it is the first one I will try to get up and running.  Right now it plays but very, very slowly.  I will also try to locate the dial for motor speed while poking around.  I'll take pictures- its 50/50 that i destroy them both!  Any volunteered advice would be MOST welcome.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Feldy's Favorites and the Sony WA8ESA

If you're into audio, you need to buy a tape deck.  I know it sounds strange given the limits of the cassette tape medium as far as fidelity goes, (signal to noise ratios being far less than CD, plus inherent flaws such as wow and flutter) but I have finally started using the Sony WA8ESA dubbing deck I bought new two summers ago, (see earlier post- thank you Chips Unlimited) and I am really having a killer time with it. As I type, the machine is quietly recording nothing over an old Sony Type IV metal SR tape that I had from goodness knows when. When the tape is blank and reasonably quiet (I do not have a bulk eraser) I intend to make a summer mix with it, one that will compete with the legendary "Feldy's Favorites."  More about that in a bit.

The W8AESA is a dubbing deck that was new in 1996 (according to the manual mine came with).  It is a two-head dual auto reverse design, with HX Pro and Dolby B,C and S noise reduction.  With Type IV metal tape (very expensive to come by now) it can achieve S/N ratio of 58 dB with the Dolby noise reduction off, with a 30-19,000 Hz frequency response.  This is not an ES deck of yore- it only weighs 9 pounds, and whereas the operation is quick and feels solid (full logic controls) the sheet metal is flimsy and I doubt there are any space-age anti resonance materials in the case.  The deck has some very nice features, however, beyond mere dual auto reverse. 

One can automatically or manually set the record level.  If you choose to do so automatically,  play part of a track you intend to record in the record pause mode and the deck "listens" and sets the level based on loud and quiet passages.  You can calibrate the bias for the type of tape you are using, which is neat.  You insert the tape, hit the deck you want to calibrate (A or B- whichever the tape is in) and then select the side of the tape you want calibrated (the direction) followed by pressing pause.  The machine then goes through a 9 second routine wherein it records test signals, analyzes and then sets the appropriate bias.  Call me a nerd, but I really get a kick out of watching it do its thing.  

In many ways, this deck was a real help for parties in the days before 100 disc changers or 10 to the X power number of lame MP3s on Teraflop iFads.    A setting allows me to loop each tape continuously for playback so I could have maybe -wait for it- up to 200 minutes of uninterrupted music!  Keeewwwl!  Even cooler is the Random Music Sensor play- if I record the tracks with enough blank space between them, I can then program the random playback of up to 28 songs.  Why I'd want to do that I don't know, but it's nice to know that I could.

A big downer for this deck is the fact that the cassette wells are not back lit.  It's pretty tough to see where you are on a tape in a dimly lit room.  I could of course just use the clear and easily legible counters, but I want the lights as an option.

The sound is. . . pretty good, actually.  I would characterize it as "soft."  It has been so long since I spent any quality time listening to tapes that it is hard to characterize the sound.  Is it better than the SCD-XA5400es SACD player?  Um, no.  Is it better than 75% of the records I own on the Rega/Orofon Red combo?  Absolutely.  I will know more as I build experience I can use to make judgments.  The two decks I hope to make comparisons with are the Sony TC-KA1ESA that lives at James' house, and the Dual CC8066 at Dennis' house.  Upside is that all of these decks are very low mileage- the W8AESA has had a mere three tapes made on it and maybe another two or three played back,  No worn belts or idlers and pinch rollers out of round.  The best way to compare of course, is to make mix tapes!

Which brings me to the title of this post.  A mutual friend of ours once made (in the summer of 1987, I think?) what he felt to be was  the ULTIMATE mix tape.  As I recall, it had both "Xanadu" from Farewell to Kings AND the "Low Spark of High Heeled Boys" on it, so it was certainly geared to specific tastes.  I remember liking it.  Was it the best?  Hard to say.  Today I did a dry run on a nice Maxell XL II 90 I had unused.  I included some re-mastered Tull, some Stones SACD stuff and even the 180 gram vinyl re-release of "Yours is No Disgrace" from the Yes album.  Making a tape is not like creating a playlist on your computer.  There is little room for error, and you are always on the clock.  Making a mistake means re-tracing your steps AND loss of fidelity- tape is a mechanical medium, after all.  But I really got into the song selection, the order, the flow of the thing.  Haven't felt that way in a while.  And when I played it back i got satisfaction not only that it sounded pretty good, but that the tunes all worked together.  Is it the ultimate?  Nope.  Not even close to: "Feldy's Favorites" which was on an earlier generation Maxell, if I recall correctly.  This is just the beginning.  I have to send out a challenge and see what everyone cooks up!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Sony XA-5400ES v. Yamaha CD-S2000

Is it time to get the matching Yamaha SACD player?  I have the Yamaha CD-S700 (unbelievable buy for $99 complete with remote box and manual), and whereas it does not play SACD, on CD playback it sounds remarkably close to the XA-5400ES (I do not think I could reliably tell them apart on the majority of CDs I play).  What both Yamahas have that demolish the Sony is a solid and impressive disc loading mechanism. The 700 has a thin, elegant loading drawer that was not taken from a computer DVD-Rom unit, I do not think.  I know that Kal Rubinson at Stereophile has given the XA-5400ES very high marks, and he has access to  more and higher quality gear with which to critically evaluate sound quality, so his opinion carries weight with me.  Plus I believe that he is sane and writes in a comprehensive, logical fashion, something I cannot say for many of his peers under the same masthead.  It is a shame that I cannot a.) own both and do a direct comparison, or even b.) listen to the Yamaha anywhere locally.  It can be ordered from Crutchfield however:


. . . and they have a wonderful return policy.  I'll have to think about it.  The Sony has excellent bass response and definitely sounds different through its balanced output (at least it does through the balanced input on my Yamaha A-S2000 amp, which is a fully-balanced design). But the loading time is slow, the drawer mechanism is junk, I never cared for its styling, and I really can't stand what has become of Sony the Company.   I will have to think about it . . .

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

January 1987

"Few things can set hi-fi enthusiasts squabbling faster than a discussion of amplifier sound."  So starts the famous, (or infamous, perhaps) David L. Clark and Ian G. Masters article in the January 1987 issue of Stereo Review entitled: "Do All Amplifiers Sound the Same?"  The conclusion seems clear- they pretty much do if you can't see which one you're listening to.  I just got a hold of a worn copy of this issue, and I have yet to read it again in detail.  The amps compared are a $12,000 pair of Julius Futterman mono tube amps (the name alone is worth the money I suppose), a $2,000  Mark Levinson ML-11, a Hafler DH-120 at $320, a $548 NAD 2200 and a lowly Pioneer SX-1500 receiver- $219.95.  Keep in mind that same Pioneer would cost you $436.97 in today's dollars, so those Futtermans ain't cheap.  I fall into the category of believing that I have heard differences between amplifiers, so I can't wait to read the article and through the whole issue- there's also a great picture of a Linn Axis turntable on the cover.  I intend to keep an open mind.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tosin Abasi

I'm listening to "Infinite Regression" which is the first track on "Weightless" by Animals as Leaders.  I didn't feel like using quotes just there.  Anyway, it's late and I'm in front of the computer, so the sound is coming through the iGrados again, this time with tracks played through iTunes, which isn't very good, but is better than the awful Zune software.  For someone into stereo, my computer music situation sucks.  More about that some time later, if I ever consider computer music to be more than convenience. 

Tosin Abasi is the guitarist for Animals as Leaders, and he is something of a mix between Stanley Jordan and Eddie Van Halen, with some Vernon Reid thrown in for good measure.  There are a few videos of him floating around, so Google away.  Better yet, buy one of the albums.  He taps and hammers the strings frequently, often at lightning speeds and punctuated by short, powerful chord bursts.  He certainly keeps the drummer busy.  Very neat stuff, and I highly recommend it.  No vocals, which is refreshing- in my opinion it has absolutely, positively, all been said before.  besides, until the craze with whatever the kids consider to be "irony" these days passes, lyrics are going to be an awful mess. 

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Watching TV

I think I finally have the home theater system to about where I want it.  I have an Oppo BDP-93 for discs and streaming upon which I cannot heap enough praise.  Next to my old 1989 vintage Sony CDP 605ESD it is my favorite disc player.  We use a somewhat (for an AV receiver anyway) older Marantz SR6003 as the brains, and a very old (1982?) Hafler DH 200 (again updated and modified by Wayne at In House Stereo Repair) running the mains.  This is an amplifier to keep forever.  The speakers are all new Dynaudio DM series- DM2/7 fronts and DM center.  They sound great, even though they are not broken in.   The center is 1/3 the size of my Dynaudio Audience C122 center (which is in storage now) but has a wonderfully natural timbre on voices, which is obviously important.  It's also on a neat stand it comes with to give it clearance over the top of the cabinet, which is perfect given the cabinet's depth.   No sub (yet, I think- the DM 2/6s have great bass) and no serious thoughts for surrounds, but just fine as is for most stuff.  I will admit that the Emerson Lake and Palmer Brain Salad Surgery DVD-A could use surrounds though, as could some of my Porcupine Tree stuff, but the ELP- there's a TON of weirdness in that mix.

Yamaha A-S2000 caps

Just some quick shots of the 4 very large capacitors in the A-S2000, and my old Sony TA-F444ES for comparison.  There's also a shot of the new binding posts on the 444 (thank you In House Stereo Repair)- one of the better inexpensive integrated amplifiers Sony ever made, and given the current quality of the company certainly the last I'll ever own.


Here are some shots of the outriggers for the Dynaudios up close- very nice, as I said earlier.  I've also included a shot of the Tara Labs cones the Rega 1 is sitting on- I removed the stock feet.  The inexpensive stand everything is on is made with glass shelves, which are supposedly terrible for sound.  I've found a craftsman in PA that does amazing stuff- I'll post a link to his site later- but I think I will definitely be purchasing a new stand fairly soon.

Speaking of feet, the Yamaha A-S2000 integrated comes with huge feet that have magnetic spikes one can affix- but I still haven't even taken the tape off them.  Again, when I change the rack it sits on I'll get them set up. . .

Thursday, February 9, 2012

iGrado and Animals As Leaders

I'm not a big fan of in-ear headphones.  There's something about them that just creeps me out.  I look at them and get the feeling that I'm one step closer to home theater being a chip installed in my skull.  *Blink* 50000p video and 21.1 surround all in my brain *Blink* and I'm out of the Matrix.  Whatever.

Anyway, the latest pair of portable-ish head phones I am using are the very good iGrados.  They were about $40 I think, (from our friends at Audio Den) and fit pretty well.  They have much better bass than any in-ear I have used at twice the price (Klipsch, Sennheiser).  You just can't recline with them on- there is a hard plastic band that wraps around the back of your head that prevents that.  They would be fine for exercise though, even though I prefer to run without music. I would imagine the iGrado would keep your ears warmer than running outdoors in February than iPod buds!  I also use larger Grado S60 cans for late-night listening to the main system, and for the money ($70?  there may be an improved version- check out Music Direct: http://www.musicdirect.com/p-7148-grado-sr-60i-headphones.aspx)  they are hard to beat.

I had meant to order the SACD of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here,"  but as is so often the case on Amazon, I found myself scrolling through the "Other People Who Bought This. . . "  and discovered a band called "Animals As Leaders."   I know nothing about the band, but as I sit here typing I am listening to a track on their MySpace page called: "Tempting Time."  The guitarist is a speed demon. Kind of a cross between Eddie Van Halen and Stanley Jordan for Progressive Metal.  Interesting.  I'm ordering it.

Monday, February 6, 2012

FedEx Strikes Again!

Actually, this is an older picture compared to the Oppo box damage I posted around Christmas.  nevertheless, Bravo, Federal Express!  Good thing they were both double-boxed.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The End is Nigh

. . . and I do not mean that in the sense that Anthropogenic Climate Change Doom is upon us because we haven't seen snow like in this picture of Chermpf from last year.  What I mean is that Susan, of her own volition (no Jedi tricks from me) has:

A.) decided to get rid of the top of the cabinet that housed our Flatscreen and home theater, thus freeing our Dynaudio DM2/7 speakers from the little cubbies in which they resided, leading to hugely improved sound,


B.) decided that she wants to either fix or replace our dead Martin Logan subwoofer.

Who woulda thunk it?  I was going to be happy with the 2/7 and DM Center doing everything, but the lady wants more bass!  Time to do some research (as in HSU Research, perhaps?)  I'll send an e-mail to In House Stereo Repair first and see what can be done about the Martin Logan Dynamo.  It blows fuses now the moment it is turned on.  Probably a short, but it was so cheap it may not warrant replacing. . .

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

A/D/S/ as promised

Well, it took me a while but I managed to dig up an older picture of a system I ran with a pair of a/d/s/ 1290 speakers.  They belong to my Uncle, but lived in the basement of the condo we used to have and a dorm room (!).  Sorry this is a terrible picture, I took it to show someone how we had installed speaker wiring in the walls and had plates for hook up.  The system actually worked pretty well, but the picture does not flatter the room color or the equipment.  At the time, the amp I was using was a Hafler, and that still lives with me now.  It has been recently upgraded with new binding posts, caps and high quality RCA inputs by In House Stereo Repair in Setauket, NY.  Check out their link- they do terrific work.  The Hafler now runs a pair of Dynaudio DM 2/7 mains for a home theater, with a Marantz SR6003 AVR providing the processing brains.  I can't really comment on the sound in detail as the speakers, amp modifications and blu ray player are all very new to me (blu ray is an Oppo BDP-93).  I'm not yet accustomed to listening to multi-channel without a sub woofer, although I will say the DM 2/7s create a ton of bass for their size.  Apparently they need a lot of break in time, so we shall see. . .

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

And, without further ado. . .

The list should be viewable now, thanks to the lovely people who created: PDF-XChange Viewer at:


I have made JPEG files of the list should you care to look.  Interestingly, for all the various things I have owned over the years, there are very few if any that the mainstream audiophile (ugh- you know who you are, you twerps) would consider to be "High End."  I'd like to think that most of the gear I have spent my hard-earned money on has been reasonably designed by sensible engineers who understand that the benefits of woofer cones made out of shockingly-expensive Carp-flavored, single-atom carbon nanotubes would probably be lost on me anyway.


Here's the link to the nice folks who made the outriggers that I am using with the Dynaudio Focus 220s, an absolute must on thick carpet. 


They are very well built and look quite impressive without detracting from the wood of the speaker enclosure.  I found that I needed to use metric hardware to install them in the pre-drilled holes on the Dynaudios.  Let me know if you need the size as the card I jotted the measurement down on is around here somewhere.  I can't really comment on any change in sound- there was none that I noticed.  I am very far behind in writing about some sound changes I HAVE heard (new amp, new CD player, and so on), so that should be next.  I think we will start with the speakers, and work our way from there.

Monday, January 23, 2012


I'm 43.

Doesn't seem too old, now that I'm here, even though I know better.  I think, gradually, I am becoming an adult.  Perhaps my current employment is forcing it on me, but we won't get into that now. As a result, I am starting to realize that money has some purpose other than being exchanged for beer, and stereo equipment.  So the natural question one asks oneself is:

"Over twenty five years, how much could I have POSSIBLY spent on stereo stuff?  I mean, it's not that much, is it?"

Well I decided to try and find out.  I sat down over the weekend with a box of receipts and manuals, and put together an Excel sheet that tries to document all of the gear I have owned at one time or another.  The only rules:  To make the list, an item has to have been hooked up at least once and listened to with the intent to keep it, and speaker pairs count as one entry.  We now know how long that intent lasts.  Could I be successful at compiling such a list?  So far, so good.  It helps that I have a strong obsessive-compulsive streak.    I've got 102 entries dating back as far as 1987, and the total cost is $21,172.88.  I still need to find prices that I paid for 22 items, so that total is going up.  I figure a safe bet is that I have been averaging $1000 spent annually over the last 25 years. What would a golf habit have cost me over that time?  Put that way, it doesn't sound so bad. Ultimately I have sold off most of the things I've had in the past, so I ought to try to figure out what I actually paid for the period I owned a particular piece.

I was able to include columns for MSRP (need a lot of work there) and place of purchase, which includes a lot of places some of which no longer exist, like Silo and Lechmere in Western New York, or Square Deal on long Island.  Some places are still in business like Audio Den, Speaker Shop, Chips Unlimited, Stereo Chamber and the online folks like Music Direct.  I'm also going to try to account for repairs or upgrades done at In House Stereo Repair in Setauket.  More work to do, but the next step is to get the PDF uploaded so that it can be seen here on the blog.  I'll have to look into that.  In the mean time, if anyone is interested I'd be glad to send it via e-mail.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Right place, right time

If I had a superpower, it would be finding nice stereo equipment at crazy prices.  A good example would be the brand new, in box, with remote Yamaha CD-S700 I bought at Best Buy for, wait for it- $99.  Yup.  They stopped carrying this line and blew it right out the door for almost nothing.  Crutchfield carries this player for $799.  I thought I'd re-sell it, but the proprietary loading mechanism is so nice and the overall sound so surprisingly good, it is hooked up and sharing duties with the XA-5400ES.  Put it on the ever-increasing list to review.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Some hasty shots

A few more quick pictures to provide an idea of how the system has changed.  One close up of the outriggers by Soundocity- I see their site is down, so I will sort through my e-mail and see if they forwarded a link.  These are a must on thick carpet for narrow speakers like the 220s.  I will also edit my full review of the A-S2000 as there is not a lot on the web about this amp.  It's appeal to me should be obvious- but it has some interesting quirks worth mentioning. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Bad picture from last summer

Much has changed, but here is a grainy shot of the monster Yamaha A-S2000 integrated now running the show.  I have also switched over to all Kimber cable and as you can see, there are outriggers on the Focus 220s to protect them from cats that leap like mountain goats.  More on the outriggers later- they are a super nice piece of kit by an outfit called: Soundocity.

Let's try this again

Okay, I think I'm over it (my rant over what Sony has become, that is).  it only took a few months.  So I think it's time to give this blog a chance again, albeit with a name change.  The whole system has changed anyway- I'll have to write about the addition of a Yamaha A-S2000 integrated amp, along with modifications to the home theater set up including a new Oppo Blu Ray player and a brilliant pair of Dynaudio DM 2/7 speakers.  I think I'll even take some pictures. . .