I have been experimenting with hifi equipment for over 45 years trying to get my jazz LPs to sound their very best.I started out making a lot of equipment myself, mostly out of economic necessity, but I have returned to DIY simply to get the sound that I want. It's also more satisfying to design and build something than it is to be on the audio merry-go-round where nothing is ultimately satisfying. In general, I like a warm, detailed, dynamic sound with good rhythmic pacing. I also want my speakers to sound like a single driver, not a collection of several drivers all sounding a little different. That sounds simple enough but it can be hard to come by in today's high-end world.
One thing that has remained constant over the years is my love for straight-ahead jazz especially from the late '40s through the '80s. I particularly enjoy jazz guitarists. Some favorites include George Barnes, Bucky Pizzarelli, Gene Bertoncini, Emily Remler, Wes Montgomery, Kenny Burrell, Charlie Christian, Barry Galbraith, Jim Hall, Barney Kessell, Oscar Moore, Sal Salvador, Chuck Wayne, Django Reinhardt, Carl Kress, and Johnny Smith. What talent! Jazz probably accounts for 90% of my listening, but I also occasionally listen to folk, rock and classical.
I generally prefer the sound of the original issues of LPs or early reissues, in contrast to the reissues sold today by "audiophile" labels. For whatever reason, the modern reissues just don't have the natural sound that records pressed in the 1950's and 1960's have. I would rather put up with a few ticks and pops and even some occasional distortion when listening to a used record from that era than listen to a modern reissue which may sound clean and pristine but also processed and less natural.
Deja Vu Audio speaker with all vintage components--Jensen P15LL woofers in open baffle, Western electric 32A horns with YL Acoustic 5500 compression drivers, and Electro-Voice T-350 tweeter. Internal wiring is Audio Note Lexus and Audio Note SPx..
with Gavia platter (32 lbs). Dynamic, detailed and musical. The table has the updated Galibier high-torque motor and new controller circuitry.
Analog Instruments Siggwan 12
A 12" unipivot arm made by James Grant in New Zealand from a single piece of cocobolo. I replaced the standard Cardas wiring with a Discovery wiring harness.
Triplanar VII.2 Ultimate
The Triplanar is a great match with the Benz LP.
I have been a loyal Benz customer for over 20 years, progressing from a Glider M2 to L2 Woodbody to the LP. I have enjoyed each one.
A classic. Recently upgraded with boron cantilever and MR stylus by Andy Kim. Sounds really nice on the Siggwan tonearm.
EMIA Intact Audio MC Stepup Transformers
Copper 1:10 stepups
DIY D3a/5687 Phono
My main phono preamp is a 2-stage tube phono circuit with passive RIAA equalization. The first stage is a Siemens D3a (in triode) and the second is one-half of a 5687. Each tube is biased with LEDs. The outboard power supply uses a 5R4GY rectifier, several chokes, and Blackgate WKZ filter caps. The audio circuit uses a number of Audio Note Silver tantalum resistors. Interstage coupling caps are .1uf CuTF V-Caps. Intact Audio output transformers.
I experimented with a number of audio circuit topologies and power supply designs, as well as component types, before settling on this particular setup, so it's no surprise that I like its sound very much. It replaced an Artemis PH-1 as well as a number of previous DIY efforts. Aside from sound quality, it is also very quiet, more so than any of the 4 or 5 solid-state phonos I've tried.
Emotive Audio Epifania Custom
This is a one-of-a-kind version of the Epifania. It uses the Epifania 12B4A audio circuitry but with solid state regulators. This unit has V-Cap coupling capacitors and Black Gate WKZ power supply caps.
Slagle Autoformer passive attenuator
Western Electric WE 124 amplifiers
DIY version of the WE 124 amplifier with Acrosound TO-330 output transformers. RCA 6L6-G output tubes. Copper V-Caps and Audio Note Silver Tantalum resistors.
Emotive Audio Vita monoblocks
These are a custom pair of Vita amps built by Fred Volz at Emotive. The Vitas are a push-pull design that can use KT-120s, KT-88s, 6550s, EL-34s, KT-77s and 6L6s. My favorites are Genalex (reissue) KT-77s and Tung Sol KT-120s. These amps are, without a doubt, the best sounding high-powered amps I have had in my system. They are also the best looking with matching tiger maple bases. The amps have 3/4" thick aluminum slabs around the perimeter which act like a sink for vibrations. They have copper V-Cap (CuTF) coupling capacitors, Teflon tube sockets and WBT connectors.
DIY 6L6GC Monoblocks
Push-pull amps with GE 6L6GC Blackplate outputs and vintage Chicago output transformers. They use a floating paraphase inverter circuit. Coupling caps are Copper V-Cap (CuTF).
DIY 46 SE Monoblocks
Single-ended 2-stage amps with Electra-Print output transformers. A Western Electric 417a driver feeds a RCA 46 output tube via an interstage transformer made by Dave Slagle of Intact Audio. The driver stage has voltage and current regulation with a CCS feeding an OD3 gas tube. Choke-input power supply with 5R4GY rectifier and BlackGate WKZ filter caps.
Audio Note Sogon and Vx
Silver litz wire interconnect.
Audio Note ISIS interconnects
Audio Note SPx speaker cables
Silver litz speaker cable.
Audio Note ISIS speaker cables
Ocellia Reference power cord
used on phono preamp.
Audio Note ISIS power cords
with Furutech FI-50 NCF connectors. Used for all components except phono preamp.
Furutech GTX-D (R) NCF
Sound Anchors Stands
Dedicated stands for turntable and monoblock amps.
New speakers! For the past week I have been listening to my new YL Acoustic/Jensen speakers that were designed and built by Deja Vu Audio in McLean Virginia. They are built around a midrange horn and compression driver made by YL Acoustic (Yoshimura Labs) which was a Japanese firm that supplied movie theater sound systems in the 1960s. YL Acoustic was inspired by Western Electric designs and made some replica WE compression drivers for the Japanese market. The firm is perhaps best known today for some of its employees who went on form Kondo, Ale and Goto. My speakers use a YL horn from 700 Hz on up and are supplemented by a Electro-Voice horn above 10K. The bass is handled by a Jensen P15LL in an open baffle. The crossover components use vintage paper in oil capacitors. The internal wiring is all Audio Note Lexus.
Preconceptions can be dangerous. In the past, I have preferred the sound of AC heating for preamp and power amp tubes instead of DC heating. Therefore, when I revised my phono preamp to use a pair of Type 56 tubes instead of 5687, I used AC for the 2.5 volt heater supply. To my surprise, changing the heater supply to 2.5 volts DC not only lowered the noise levels but also sounds better. That's a first for me.
My next surprise came after running the 56 tubes for a few days and then switching back to the 5687. Yes, the 56 has some appealing qualities, but overall the 5687 has a more neutral tonal balance and more detail, at least in this application. So I have come full circle and ended up back where I started.
Time for a new project! I am thinking veneer for my speaker cabinets......
Sal, beautiful system and philosophy. Given my vintage propensities and recent vinyl renaissance, I just love your rig particularly the Altecs. Total eye candy. I have been sleuthing for vintage horn-based high efficiency speakers to try in my main listening room.
I am sure you may be aware of this guy who restores a lot of vintage speakers:
I made an interesting change to my phono preamp, changing the second stage tube from a 5687 to either a 27 or 56. I have a lot of 27 tubes left over from my Emotive Erato days, and it's been fun hearing these again. My favorite 27 continues to be a National Union with ST glass. The 56 is a very similar tube to the 27 and I have now tried a couple brands. So far my favorite 56 is also a National Union. There is something about these really old triodes that communicates music in a more direct, more fundamental way than modern tubes like the 5687 or 6DJ8 etc.
As an experiment, I am running the 27 and 56 tubes with an AC heater supply. Tube phono preamps nearly always use DC on the heaters to minimize noise pickup in a sensitive application like a phono stage. However, running my second gain stage on AC doesn't seem to cause any problems. The residual noise in my present setup is higher than the ultra-quiet background I have with the 5687, but I suspect that is due to the difference in gain between the tubes and not the heater supply. Anyway, eventually I will try a DC heater supply to find out if that lowers the noise at all, and if it does whether it is worth the sacrifice in sound quality. In past experiments with other tubes, I have always preferred the sound with AC on the heaters.
Thanks for the update on AN silver tants Salectric. When I am feeling wealthy I may try some of those silver tants on the cathode of my C3m driver tube. And thank you again for your recent advice on some of the tweeks I have made to my amp! Regards Jet
I have been experimenting with the new Audio Note Silver Tantalum resistors in a few critical places. So far they have been a distinct improvement over the resistors used previously which include regular Audio Note tantalums and some other brands. They have exquisite detail and microdynamics that result in a lively and very natural sound. It's too bad the Silvers are so expensive (close to $90 per pair) or I would use them everywhere.
It doesn't surprise me that the Ocellia would expose the quality of an IEC connection. I believe the Ocellia cables purity of signal transmission will just reveal the truth. They accomplish this in a natural rather than analytical fashion.
Sal given the make up of your system, yourjazz music collection must sound divine.
It turns out the Ocellia power cord is better than I thought it was. A while back Charles1dad asked me about it and I posted that it sounded good but it didn't impress me as much as the Ocellia interconnect. Since then I found out that the Furutech IEC plug used on the Ocellia power cord is quite sensitive to the type of IEC inlet on equipment it is used with. In my case, I had the Ocellia plugged into an ordinary tin-plated IEC inlet on my phono preamp, the same type of IEC inlet used on virtually all commercial equipment and unfortunately not a good sounding match with the Furutech IEC plug on the Ocellia. I don't claim to be any expert on IEC inlets since I have only tried two after-market inlets, but I can say that the Oyaide R inlet is a far better match sonically to the Ocellia than the tin-plated inlet. (I also tried a gold-plated Furutech inlet but did not directly compare it to the Oyaide.). The Oyaide inlet preserves all of the positive qualities of the Ocellia power cord while pretty much eliminating my reservations about it. Previously its midrange was a bit withdrawn and lacking in body and the midbass was on the lean side. With the Oyaide R inlet, the Ocellia power cord is well balanced from the deepest bass to the highest highs and the midrange is no longer recessed. Dynamics and detail are also improved. Based on this experience, I highly recommend the Oyaide R IEC inlet. Also kudos to Chris at VH Audio for his helpful advice.
Granny, I should probably have withheld comment on the WE 16g wire since my WE wires have so few hours use. I hope to get around to trying them again soon.
Charles, I have Ocellia interconnect between my phono preamp and linestage. I would love to have an Ocellia from linestage to power amps but unfortunately I need a long 4M cable. I haven't seen any Ocellias longer than 2M. I use a 4M Wireworld Eclipse II that sounds very good in my system.
All of my power cords are Virtual Dynamics David except for the phono preamp which has an Ocellia. The Ocellia power cord is very good but I don't like it as much as the Ocellia interconnects.
From an SP 1/2 owner your system is super cool. And I agree with your statement about driver integration. Spendor nailed it with the SP100s and SP 1/2s (2/3s not as much, IMO) super coherent, just like live music. I am a bit jealous.
Strange stuff this audio business. I use the WE16ga wire now because I found it full bodied and smooth. It bested cables both copper and silver cables I have that cost thousands. Very interesting comments on your experience. Wonder what about the combination of your gear gave a different result?
It is very natural and organic sounding in my system as others have experienced. This is why it is impossible to say something is this or that in this hobby. Fact is wire or gear seems to not perform the same system to system.
I dislike thin sounding gear do we are on the same page on that attribute.
I tried the WE 16g briefly, maybe 4 or 5 hours, and didn't like the tonal balance---too bright and too lean. It was certainly lively sounding and had pretty decent detail but the tonal balance was not to my liking. I am hoping that it will improve with more hours. So far, however, I haven't had the time or interest to try it again. I also bought some more WE 16g so I can try it with doubled up wiring next time. A pair of 16g wires is equivalent to something in between 12g and 13g, so I am hoping that improves the LF weight.
I did spend a lot of time working with the Belden 8402 interconnect recommended by Jeff Day. I started out with KLE Absolute RCA plugs, ran it for over 200 hours to break in the plugs and cable, tried it with and without shielding, and tried it in both directions. Then I changed the KLE plugs to WBT 0102 Ag plugs and went through the whole breakin routine again for another 200 hours. The bottom line after all that was I still prefer my old Wireworld Eclipse II to the Belden.
I don't disagree that the WE 16g and the Belden are great values, but so far I haven't head anything that suggests they deserve all the hype.
In any case, comparing cables is not my idea of fun!
No, I haven't tried the Clarity TC caps. I am still very pleased with the power supply caps I am using which are BlackGate WKZ and Jensen radial electrolytics. In concert with the other capacitor, resistor and wiring choices, these power supply caps give me the sound I am seeking.
Did you ever put the TC caps in the power supply of your amp? Love to hear your findings. Also curious what you thought of the Western Electric WE16ga NOS wire as speaker cable? I think you tried some in the past?
I added a photo of the new armboard for the Siggwan arm. This is a massive hunk of aluminum that is attached to the Galibier turntable with two 3/8" bolts. Very solid.
The Siggwan is now my preferred tonearm. While I do occasionally switch back to the Triplanar, I always end up putting the Siggwan back pretty quickly. I don't know whether it is due to the cocobolo or the 12" length or something else, but the Siggwan has a natural tonality and a sense of ease and composure that I like very much.
I recently sold the Schick tonearm so it is no longer listed.
The Siggwan 12" cocobolo is attached right now. I used it for a couple months to break in the wiring, went back to the Triplanar briefly as a reference point, and am now back to the Siggwan. Both the Triplanar and Siggwan sound very good but I haven't compared them yet with the same cartridge. The Schick also sounds nice but I prefer the other two arms.
I will be trying some different wiring on the Siggwan shortly.
Well, this is interesting to come by. I've been buying jazz LPs since about 1958. And I've been trying to get them to sound their best for all that time since.
My current systeme is a Thorens TD-121 with Ortofon RMG-212 tonearm that I bought in 1962 or 1963; the current cartridge is an EMT XSD-15 SFL. It steps up through a Denon AU-310 transformer and then to a Diego Nardi designed Phi-42 phono preamp, DIY from Sound Practices. Then on to a 5687 WOT linestage, and the current power amp is an EL84/2A3/MQ FS-030 Loftin-White. Speakers are Lowther PM2A A.T. Special spec'd drivers in modified Fidelio enclosures, or Petite Onkens with Altec 802-8Ds on conical horns on top.
An *extra groove* as we used to say in pre-Motown Detroit. I'm long gone from Detroit now...in East central Vermont. Yep, it's cold here, but the music is an extra groove!.
Mention of the Clarity TC psu caps got me to this thread because I also have a DIY 24A/45//James JS-6123 HS Loftin-White power amp which until now has had motor run caps in the power supply. But they've been giving problems.
As a result, I *just* ordered four Clarity TC caps from Parts Connexion to replace them. We shall see what we shall see. I'll try to report back once they're in and once that 45 amp is back in-systeme, because it's the *grail*.