Over 50 BAAS members braved a rare San Francisco heat wave and Elite’s store renovations yesterday to hear some of the best that vinyl and tubes have to offer.
Thanks largely to the efforts of Michael Woods (our host) and Peter Truce (or Analog Czar and organizer), the event was a great success. Thanks also to Allen Perkins (Spiral) and George and Carolyn Counnas (Zesto) for sharing their knowledge and expertise. (As a special treat, Zesto played the prototype of their much-anticipated tube power amp.)
Q magazine features this article about a 20-year-old’s first experience listening to vinyl – LZ’s “Whole Lotta Love” no less.
Charming and hopeful. Wait until she hears DSD! LOL.
Click here for some other contemporary opinions
See this Wired article for a demo and an explanation by the engineer.
OK, so sound quality is about that achieved by Edison. But I predict that it’ll improve – a lot.
Is this the ultimate audiophile DAC?
Quora, a popular and high-quality opinions site, has this to say on the matter.
Something for everyone – or not.
Sample: “…audiophiles tend to prefer vinyl over compact discs for pretty much every genre of music except classical.”
For the vinyl person who has every thing – an LP consisting of one note.
That’s right, the whole record is a single pitch. 33.33 hz of course. But wait…you can play it at 45 RPM and get 45hz!
The price? 33.33 GBP of course.
“Vinylmania” is coming to San Fran – details here.
Also, you may want to check out this charity record sale on Nov 10th (same day as the movie), proceeds to Palo Alto Library.
I suspect that many of our analog members are wincing….
Just lovely. Designed by the inimitable Dieter Rams, it featured a 6-tube amp and cord drive.
Affectionately called the “Snow White Coffin” by some. I wonder why….
This system has been a work in progress Since 1980. I bought my first audiophile gear at Hi Fi Haven, which was a high-end audio dealer in my college neighborhood in NJ. This was not a part of town you’d expect an audio store, on its left was a strip club and on its right was Greasy Tony’s Cheesesteaks, which was open all night and staffed with the shadiest motley crew imaginable. Ah, you gotta love college in NJ when the drinking age was 18. Most of my friends frequented the two latter businesses, I think I was the only one who added HiFi Haven as a point of interest.
At HiFi Haven, a guy named Peter Cuddy took the time to teach me how to listen, not just hear. For that I’m not sure if I am eternally grateful or really pissed off for letting a college kid buy a cassette deck in the 4 figures. I wonder if he’s still around? Can’t blame him, since way before we met, I had (as an adolescent) been putting what my wife calls audio-porn up on my bedroom walls. The one I remember distinctly was a cool Sansui receiver with a lit up FM dial I was drooling over at 14 years old. I also remember enhancing the sound of my crappy plastic all-in-one’s speakers by reinstalling them in, wait for it… empty one gallon cardboard milk containers. They sure sounded way better… By 15, I was totally hooked.
As an adult, I tend to choose very good elements that sound great together and hold on to them for a long time while I enjoy my system thoroughly. Only recently did I sell that first piece of high-end gear, which I admit was a strange way to start my Audiophilia – a Nakamichi 680ZX. All those cool phosphorescent lights and knobs to play with… who knew a source component would have been a better choice?
I love gear, but what I really care about is music. As I write this, I’ve got my AKGs on (wife’s asleep), listening to Dexter Gordon’s One Flight Up on a pristine Blue Note test pressing. The combination of my analog front end (both the Alphason/Madrigal set-up and the Townshend/Ortofon rig), fed through the VAC and driven by the Raptor is producing such gorgeous, live sound that it’s hard to imagine it getting any better.
Stop laughing, I know we’ve all felt this way many times… until we reach the next level, where we are once again slack-jawed and astonished that “we never heard that before!”
Adding the REL subs to the Von Schweikert Unifield 3s made my system able to reproduce a believable and frankly astonishing concert-level experience.
Thanks for reading. Your thoughtful comments are most welcome. Except about the photos, I know they suck. I’ll get to them one day. Cheers!
Components list and more pictures on next page…
I’m a digital guy, buy I gotta say this is sexy. Recommended by Yarlung Records (which has released two hot-selling LPs and may release on tape). Get yours here. Note that they are coming out with amps and electrostats!
I will investigate for a BAAS event when the line is released.
Check out this article in IEEE Spectrum regarding why tubes sound better.
It’s a bit long, but its arguments are lucid and well-presented. Be sure to read the sidebars too!
Amazingly (for an IEEE pub), bothe the objective and subjective sides of the story are covered.
Also, note how many Bay Area people are on center-stage.
The money quote:
In spite of the bad press, high-end audio was estimated in a Wall Street Journal article in December 1991 to sell as much as $1 billion per year worldwide, enjoying a 20 percent annual growth rate. Japan, alone, consumes $200 million per year in high-end components.
Some of you may know that once a year I teach a DIY tube gear class. This time I’m offering a phonostage / phono preamps class. You will lean about RIAA equalization circuits and build one of my designs known as The Randall Phono.
I have subjected Randall Phono to a number of shootouts / comparison and it has always come out on top. It has a big tone with superb midrange, sparkling treble and solid extended bass. The sound stage is big without being bloated. Imaging is spot on where you can easily pin point the location of performers and instruments in space. At $196.00 for the class, around $350.00 in parts and 8 class sessions you take home a phonostage that is truly high end.
The phonostage you will build is the “passive” type based on the 6SL7 family of tubes, 5V4 rectifier with selectable cartridge loading. This is a medium gain phonostage so you can use it straight with 2mv and greater cartridge. If you use a low output moving coil cartridge (LOMC) you will need to use a step-up transformer (SUT). With a good SUT this phonostage have enough gain to accommodate LOMC as low as 0.14mv. The output impedance is around 30K so it should be able to drive most preamps or integrated amps.
This class is recommended for intermediate or advanced students. If you have taken any of the previous Randall Tube Audio DIY classes or have experience soldering, you are good to go. Even if you have never soldered but have good dexterity, then this class could be ok for you but contact me first. The class is limited to 10 students. This will be the only time I’ll offer the class so don’t wait till the last minute to register.
Class Announcement / Info:
Go to page 12 class #18824
Winter Class registration:
I think you can enter the class number on the search function. The class may not show up on the reg site until 12/18 but do check.
Museum Member registration:
December 11, 10 a.m.
December 18, 10 a.m.
First meeting 12:30 PM Jan 8th 2011 in the Randall Room at the Randall Museum
If you have any questions email me Ed Yang at:
BAAS members got a special treat treat today, served up hot at 1340 Mission Studio in San Francisco.
Members coming out of the mastering room uniformly commented that they had just experienced the best sound that they had heard in a long time. I had to agree.
In my experience, this level of fidelity requires attention to all elements of the reproduction chain. In the case of today’s event, four elements stood out:
- THE TAPE PROJECT SOURCE MATERIAL – Have you ever heard a master tape? We came about as close as mere mortals can. We listened to direct dubs of the master, recorded on 1″ two-track media at 15 ips! Wow. Nothing quite like it. And I’m not sure that I ever heard an analog source this quiet.
- SUPERB ELECTRONICS BY EAR and VTL – These premier brands need no introduction. Top-of-the-line line-level components designed by Tom deParavicini himself. And power from the mighty Siegfrieds.
- FOCAL GRANDE UTOPIA LOUDSPEAKERS – About 7′ of pure linearity. The effortless bass was striking to me. The smooth treble from a Be inverted dome was also quite moving. But the degree of driver integration was perhaps their most impressive quality. These huge multi-driver boxes sing with a single voice.
- CUSTOM, PURPOSE-BUILT LISTENING ROOM. No parallel surfaces. Balanced use of absorption and diffraction. Ballast (mass) in key areas of the structure. A great showcase for sound.
San Francisco audio designer, Edwin Yang, will be once again teaching a class starting in January, 2011 at the Randall Museum. For the last few years, Edwin has been teaching students how to build a tube linestage, myself included. The linestage, although not expensive, is a terrific piece of gear – I sold my other 2 tube linestages after building it.
The next project is a tube phono stage. This class will be more challenging than the linestage class, but still possible for the student that has confidence and some dexterity. It is not necessary to have built anything before but that it desirable.
The class will be for several Saturdays starting in January. Some will finish quickly while others, like myself, will take the total of 10 Saturdays to finish. The class is always entertaining and educational and I highly recommend it. Cost will be around $600 – $700.
Phono stage comparison at the Randall Museum October 9th
The Bay Area Tube Users Group will be hosting a phono stage comparison at 1pm on Saturday October 9th. I will be bringing my Nighthawk and Prism Orpheus to compare to Edwin’s phono stageIf you have a favorite phono stage you want to compare, please bring it along. So if you are on the fence as to whether it is worth the effort to build one, attend the event and decide for yourselves.
This NYtimes article and video document a historic jazz music find and recovery.
The handling of these treasured disks may make some vinyl purists (the triple-distilled water set) wince….
“To Have and to Hold” – as in LP (not book) – is an upcoming documentary film about the hold that vinyl has over music-lovers everywhere.
The film is still in production, but you can get a taste of it from this “teaser” video.
Great stuff. This film should build on Fremer’s work, raising awareness and entertaining all at once.
Long ago, we selected and posted our “desert island digital” (CDs).
Now let’s take a crack at vinyl!
Add a comment containing your 10-20 most cherished LPs. Try to include enough info that members can reach out and buy a copy.
I’m newly “reborn” to vinyl, but I’ll begin anyway:
- Bruce Springsteen, Born to Run
- S&G, Concert in Central Park
- G. Harrison & Friends, Concert for Bangladesh
- Joni Mitchell, Court & Spark
- The Who, Who’s Next
- N. Young, Harvest
- Chicago, Chicago II
- J. Hendrix, Are You Experienced?
- John Klemmer, Straight From the Heart (Nautilus)
- Iron Butterfly, In-a-gadda-da-vida
- CCR, Cosmo’s Factory
- CSN&Y, Deja Vu
- Jackson Browne, Saturate Before Using
- Traffic, Low Spark…
Can you guess when I last bought LP’s? ;^)
Enter yours now – comment….
BAAS membership reflects the current trends of audiophiles worldwide. As such, the majority (including myself) listen to digital these days. So it was interesting to see how our first “analog event” in several years would be received.
About 30 BAAS members gathered at Jason Victor Serinus’ home yesterday to listen to the latest in analog source technology, delivered by Allen Perkins of local manufacturer Spiral Groove (SG).
The system featured the following gear from SG:
- Spiral Groove SG 2 Turntable ($15,000)
- Spiral Groove SG Tonearm ($6,000)
- Lyra Cartridge ($6,000)
- Lehmann Audio Decade phono section ($2,400)
- Spiral Groove preamplifier (projected $15,000)
An impressive array, to be sure!
I am quite familiar with Jason’s system and listening environment, at least for digital sources. Here are my impression of yesterday’s sights and sounds:
- The SG gear is beautiful to look at, and even better to listen to. Furthermore, it’s practical. For example, it can be set up by one person in 30 minutes (!). Simple elegance.
- All told, I listened to the system for five hours. I heard fewer than a dozen tics or pops. This is a new record for me <g>. Especially notable: not a single record was treated in any way during the event. No rituals – just load & play. (Sorta like a CD…) [One member told me that the sound was clean because only
vintageolder "virgin" vinyl was used.]
- Allen’s description of the engineering design choices that guided him made a lot of sense to me.
- The sound in the second session was a bit tighter than the first. (This is not unusual. I think it’s caused simply by the gear being more fully warmed up.)
- Nordost Odin cables are the real deal. At one point we substituted the preamp’s power cable with a Odin. Wow.
- For the first time in a very long while, I was thinking “…maybe I do need a turntable…”
We also conducted several listening tests on digital sources. These allowed us to compare several digital exemplars to state-of-the-art analog. I’ll say here that two things were apparent:
- Analog rocks. There’s a reason why so many audiophiles are driven to turntables (see this article from today’s NYT). – they can sound great!
- PS Audio’s(PSA’s) new “Perfect Wave” stack combines outstanding ease-of-use with media flexibility and great sonics. That’s a tough combo to beat! Very nice kit, especially for audiophiles wishing to get into high-resolution without going to a computer. (Digital sources that I consider “reference quality” generally have price tags beginning at 2X the PSA tariff.)
- I preferred the sound of the Wavelength Wavelink USB audio interface to that of the the transport (many members agreed). I don’t think it yet matches the best in firewire converters, but it sounded quite detailed and transparent to me (especially on hires material).
Note that Jason’s description of the event – and activities leading up to it – can be found on the Home secrets Blog.
- November 2013
- September 2013
- August 2013
- July 2013
- June 2013
- May 2013
- April 2013
- March 2013
- February 2013
- January 2013
- December 2012
- November 2012
- October 2012
- September 2012
- August 2012
- June 2012
- May 2012
- April 2012
- March 2012
- February 2012
- January 2012
- December 2011
- November 2011
- October 2011
- September 2011
- August 2011
- July 2011
- June 2011
- May 2011
- April 2011
- March 2011
- February 2011
- January 2011
- December 2010
- November 2010
- October 2010
- September 2010
- August 2010
- July 2010
- June 2010
- May 2010
- April 2010
- March 2010
- February 2010
- January 2010
- December 2009
- November 2009
- October 2009
- September 2009
- July 2009
- June 2009
- May 2009
- April 2009
- March 2009
- February 2009
- January 2009
- November 2008
- October 2008
- September 2008
- August 2008
- July 2008
- June 2008
- May 2008
- April 2008
- March 2008
- February 2008