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Everything posted by philipbarrett

  1. Awesome - just what I'm talking about. If you're streaming from a computer these "pro" units are the way to go, I groan everytime I see people talking about their hi-end optical/Toslink DACs. Now I'm going to encourage you to try the Firewire PC card & Behringer combo. It's a bargain especially when you realize that a 3 year old laptop can make an awesome music playback server for minimal bucks. Mine's on K-Horns too.
  2. I have mine (the half-sized unit) on it's side, loaded up with no problems.
  3. Are you playing from a computer? If so, do yourself a favor, install a >$30 Firewire card and the >$99 Behringer FCA-202 for your playback. Without getting into technical issues around clocking (contained in the FW bitstream) or lack thereof (non-existent in the optical/TOS), it's so much more bang for the buck than any DAC. http://www.behringer.com/EN/Products/FCA202.aspx
  4. My father has over 20,000 classical albums, no one in the family understands his filing system but he can walk up to a shelf & pull out the right record in about 5 seconds! Don't even ask about the 78s.
  5. A-Z, right thru left, Jazz & Classical get their own place & 12" singles are in another place entirely. Special slot for new acquisitions so I don't forget & lose them in the general population. If you put some wood strips at the back your records will not slip out of the Expedit, just remember to pre-drill the screw holes, you get one shot with IKEA particle shelving. Here's a mod I liked - http://ikeahacker.blogspot.com/2009/02/spin-it-with-some-colour.html
  6. Amy - will the winning bidder get a letter of provenance proving the turntable's background? Then my kids can clean up on Antiques Roadshow after I'm dead & gone. Double dammit, just checked my Carver, it has an MC input, stars aligning... PB
  7. Love this site - http://www.woot.com/
  8. Balancing involves using a 3-conductor signal cable with + and - conductors wrapped in a 3rd "shield" conductor. Without getting too heavily into common mode rejection, the balancing circuitry removes noise introduced in the cable resulting in a theoretically cleaner signal. The professional world of long cable runs (we have snake cables of over 500' carrying mic level signals) and lots of big A/C power hanging around would not be possible without balanced lines. As you can see though, just because a circuit uses an XLR it does not have to be balanced. Pros As above, the CMR between the signal & ground gives a signal which cancels out electromagnetic interference and is therefore quieter. Notice no increase in the actual performance of the signal path is possible though. Cons The balancing circuits themselves cause all kinds of problems. Traditionally balancing was only possible with transformers and these varied in quality & frequency response depending on the need (a telephone call requires less bandwidth than high quality audio). The best audio balancing circuits still use transformers and to achieve the performance needed these are highly expensive units which is OK if you're at home and need 4 but gets pricey on an audio console with 60 or more. To solve this problem most equipment uses "active" balancing which is basically a circuit that replicates the transformer. However, as with all active circuits they vary vastly in quality & price and even the best will introduce noice, distortion & phase anomolies into the signal path. Pro engineers have a love/hate relationship with these circuits, yes they fix one problem but create some others. So, a necsercerry evil in a live/studio environment but without much real application for home where signal cables can be kept extremely short. And to answer the speaker cable length vs. signal cable length debate; the lower the signal level the shorter the cable should be. If you imagine any induced noise to be of a fixed level which increases with cable length then the cable that gives the highest ratio of signal to noise should be the longest. In other words the 10s of volts of speaker level are much less sensitive to noise than the milivolts of line levels (or microvolts from a TT). Secondly, a speaker has no gain stage (quite the reverse, they are incredibly inefficient), therefore no ability to amplify any noise introduced into the signal and is therefore the best place to be at the end of a long cable run.
  9. "They" would be wrong. Now you know. :-)
  10. Thanks for everyone's contributions so far. Please remember, my point is that there are absolutely great "values" to be had at the Meridian & Mcintosh price points (and the Klipsch and a whole host of other manufacturers) and the pieces you mention are excellent examples of a price being consistent with the cost of production, engineering and IP. No one minds paying a fair price (even a big one) for a fair product. Bear in mind I'm comparing these value equations with the super high-end, 5 & 6+ digit price tickets. I knew the automobile example would come up soon enough but I don't think it applies here. Ferrari certainly charges a premium for their products but I don't think anyone would disagree that their level of engineering and the advanced componentry used in their products is vastly more costly than those used by GM in the Corvette (no critiscm intended here). In the audio world my assertation is that the 6-figure plus designs are using very similar components, designs and circuit topologies to the so called "lesser" products we love. Imagine finding out that Ferrari sources their brakes from AC Delco and their transmissions from Borg-Warner. Now that F512 price doesn't seem so justified does it? My comparisons to the professional industry were to illustrate that argueably, in the case that you mention of speaker drivers, the best engineered components are not stratospherically priced and I find it hard to believe that you can produce drivers that are so much of a magnitude more costly that your speaker is now priced in the 6 figures.
  11. I was flicking through the Audio Advisor catalog today, they're not so bad and at least somewhat avoid the hyperbole of other catalog/online audio retailers. Many of their photo shoots include the products with the lids off & it's interesting to peer inside and see exactly what has been used & where. This lead me to some general (and subjective) musings on the price/value equation at both the mid and ultra high end audiophile equipment market. If I put my engineering cap on and open the AA catalog at the Benchmark DAC page (for example) I see a very well laid out circuit board using nice components housed in a solid case. Retailing at $1,600, there probably isn't a huge mark-up considering the IP & physical property involved in a product like this. Likewise the Vincent Chinese made pre & power amps; less care & attention paid to the PCB & component layout but again, not bad considering the price. If you compare these products to similar items in the professional market they are priced quite competatively, a good Firewire interface will run well over $1,200 and a Crown XTi amplifier will be in the $4,000+ range. Even if you remove the digital processing in the Crown a Parasound domestic unti priced at $2,700 still looks to be a pretty good value. If we move to speakers we reach similar conclusions. Good professional drivers from JBL & TAD run from the mid-$300s up to the $1,500s, a speaker cabinet containing 4 - 6 drivers of similar quality can legitimately sell for $5K - $8K. As Klipsch fans will attest, there are many great designs in that price range. My point being is that, at this sector of the market, (the same sector that I believe most of the Klipsch range sells into) there is a direct correlation between the selling price and quality of the components, the quality of the construction and the intellectual property involved. So where does that leave us once we move into the realm of $60K amplifiers and $100K speakers? Is there a level of componentry & design that the mid range manufacturers are not party too? Is there another level of designer and engineer available? My answer is no, certainly there are military spec components that meet higher production tolerances and often have a better resistance to external environments but they are not actually priced much beyond the commercial stuff you can buy at Mouser. In digital processing designers do not have a vast range of chips to chose from & no boutique audio manufacturer has the resources to design and fabricate their own, therefore, it's the same old ICs repeated over & over. So if we can establish a somewhat consistent basis for the component specifications then surely the arguement supporting value in the super-high end audio marketplace must be one of superior intellectual property. The designs must be so revolutionary and advanced that they support such prices. Once again, I have my doubts. So much esoteric equipment is tube based & frankly most of those circuit topologies originated with the RCA Radiotron Design Handbook in the late 1920s. Yes there are tube designers pushing new boundries and I'd be amiss not to mention both Bruce Rozenblit & Manley Labs here (interestingly both belong in the "affordable" catagory) but most of what I see are new varients on existing, albeit excellent, designs. Again in the digital realm, the ICs are fairly ubiquitous and so are the circuits to drive them. Certainly audible gains can be wrung out of the clock and A/D-D/A circuitry but not at the magnitudes reflected in the upscale prices. Even speaker design is a long established art. In fact, one could argue that the venerable Klipschorn should be one of the most expensive models available because its' wood working is one of the most complex. Yet even at full retail, it doesn't begin to touch the prices asked by the "audiophile" brands. So what's my point? I'm not arguing that the high-end audiophile market does not produce products with excellent sonic properties. What I am arguing is that the prices charged for this equipment have no basis in either component or design costs are are completely based upon "what the market will bear." Perhaps with the added incentive that some purchasers may equate that higher price with higher value. Conversely, there seems to be an area of the market where component costs, design & packaging meet to form a perfect storm (sorry, not a term I love) of value. I find it interesting that in my experience, most members of this forum tend to exist in, or aspire to this level and not to the ultra market. We know return you to our regularly scheduled programming.
  12. Bit truck like, wasn't a Honda Odyssey for sure but it got me there & back OK.
  13. OK for all you wanting the "full story" here it is: It was a dark & stormy night...no wait...I mean, I remember at a very young age... Found them on ebay of all places via a search with Search Tempest which scans local Craigslist & ebay auctions for you. The gentlemen had a Buy It Now price (I can't be bothered with the bidding having had a number of sellers drop out at the last minute) so I contacted him & we settled on $1,700 for the pair. All this time I'm on a business trip (multiple actually) so I'm worried that he's going to think I'm some kind of scammer "out of town right now, will send you a bank check for $60,000..." He's cool though, we agree on a Paypal deposit & cash at settlement. I got back home on Easter Sunday and set everything up for Tuesday. I didn't want to do the U-Hual piece of crap for 50 cents/mile thing so I contacted National Car Rental and found out they have Chrysler Town & Country Mini-Vans with seats that fold into the floor. I called the local Dodge dealer & got dimensions, the K's would fit perfectly! Now it was off to Houston on a bright sunny Texas spring day with bright wildflowers lining Interstate 45 (God bless you Ladybird). With my 13 year old riding shotgun & piloting the iPod we were at the seller's house in under 5 hours. He had a pretty extensive collection of equipment & a full theater/listening room. We quickly hooked up the K-Horns & verified all was OK, humped them down the stairs to the van & then we high-tailed it before he came back to his senses! Drive back was uneventful save for tacos & borracho beans at Taco Cabana & the obligitory (in Texas anyway) stop at Dairy Queen. Rush hour greeted us in Dallas but finally we were home and carefully unloading speakers. 1st problem; the spade lugs on my cables were too small for the K's bananas so it was off to the Depot before I could listen to anything. Soon enough we were all hooked up & working, the wife unit helped lift the horns into place and we were off to the Cathode Tube Races. 1st listening session was short as I needed to get the rental van back & retrieve my car, plus my ears were fairly pounded from the highway & my son's taste in music! Anyway, a quick dinner back at the house & then the anticipation is finally over. Where do you start? Something you know? Something to really test them? I chose Lee Hooker's The Healer as the first cut...needless to say the listening session went late. My wife's comment was the best (she's been married to a sound engineer for years) "hmm" she said "sound like studio monitors don't they?" She's right, they have that highly defined soundstage and full but tight low end typical of the double 15"/horn JBLs or Westlakes. When the music starts you jump! They started out a little bright but by the time I'd got to Clapton's Ocean Boulevard everything had smoothed out nicely. Tonight is vinyl, I've been saving myself. Now you know the rest of the story.
  14. Actually listening to my son's iPod for 9 hours gave me the feeling I'd earned these speakers! Joke OK?
  15. No, no - put your ear to your monitor, see, don't they sound great?
  16. Rented a Doge Grand Caravan yesterday, my son jumped onboard with iPod & dash aux input as official Road Trip DJ and we were off to Houston. 9 hours later we were back in Dallas with a beautiful pair of light oak Klipschorns! What can I say? You guys that have them are nodding your heads in a "I told you so" kind of fashion. Those that don't I encourage you to listen at your earliest. Mine are paired with the 1961 Pilot SA tube amp and the two (or is it three) seem to work great together, only the slightest hint of hiss from the HF and absolutely no hum. My job now is to play through my entire music collection. See you in 5 years!
  17. Don't tell me that the sultry French presenter does nothing for you!
  18. Nice looking Ampex ATR-700 on Dallas CL for $250 - http://dallas.craigslist.org/mdf/ele/1120769770.html Actually built for Ampex by Teac, this version had the balanced I/O I believe. If it works it's a keeper.
  19. Direct from the Cityof Lights, 24 hour jazz & classical, great selection. Sort of Edith Piaff meets Chick Corea meets Brahms. You can listen via iTunes (160kbs stream, look under RADIO>JAZZ>CLASSIC & JAZZ) or stream from their website - http://www.classicandjazz.net/
  20. Angela Instruments - nice people & often the cheapest. - http://angela.com/
  21. Audio Xpress is a gem of a magazine with some truly amazing home projects, tube, solid-state & speakers. Can get pretty technical but these are guys who are not afraid to sling an iron around a 900VDC B+!
  22. And I thought I was the only who'd noticed how much blacker the blacks were AFTER I disconnected my speakers.
  23. So apparently you cannot tell by ear? Some kind of audiophile you are. Of course, since my Monoblocks run off a dedicated 400A, 3 phase supply I'm calling the company to get pricing on the big ones.
  24. As they need it is the best. You cannot damage or wear out the heads with careful cleaning, denatured alcohol & a Q-Tip are the tools we use in the studio. Make sure you clean the tape path, capstan & picnch roller too. Unfortunate news is that the oxide coming off will pretty rapidly affect the sound of your tapes, you'll notice an HF loss first. If you have some that are particularly sheddy it's probably best to transfer onto a CD-R before they become unplayable. Defeats the object of the RTR I know.
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