Sunday, March 12, 2017

Main system update

There are only minor changes in the main system. As you can see, I have new open baffle speakers. These are inspired by NOLA speakers, formerly ALON by Mr. Marchisotto, ex Dahlquist speaker designer. They are based on four Dayton reference series midwoofers per side, RS125 on open baffle, and planar HiVi tweeter. I preferred one tweeter to short array, as it is already vertically quite directional, being quite big. As before, this open baffle is crossed actively at 160 Hz up. Woofers are open baffle 2x15" as before. All biamped.
New NOLA like speakers have significantly simpler passive crossover, as these are only upper pass for midbass (4th order) and lower pass for tweeter (2nd order), crossed at 3k Hz. They sound more coherent and very musical.

Once NOLA finished, it gave me an opportunity to redesign previous open baffle speakers. They are still work in progress, righ now on the floor in the middle. I replaced Fostex FF125K fullrange with FaitalPro 5FE120, which simplifies the crossover, as Faital has almost no breakups. Baffle was redesigned too, to allow more directivity. Ideally, these should be using 4way digital crossover, but I am not there yet.

One last update is amplifier. I was using various chip amp circuits, LM1875 was updated with LM3886, inverted with buffer sounded little cleaner and more dynamic. Recently, I purchased DartZeel clone from ebay, and I am testing it now. Sounds very musical, in spite of measuring badly, its no global negative feedback amp with quite unique features. Lack of global feedback make this amp perform ever more dynamic and musical. Generally too much negative feedback is considered bad, resulting in boring fatiguing sound. This one is opposite, very musical.

Most recently I got SANYO Plus P55 mosfet amp of ebay, and will be testing it in the main system, after its adjusted and cleaned. Once you have Sanyo Plus tuner and preamp, you must have amp too.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

AC130F1 and Fountek horn loaded ribbon bookshelf

This little bookshelf started by looking at excellent fr response of Aurum Cantus 5" midbass AC130F1. Originally I wanted to pair it with small Dayton dome tweeter, but sound was lacking something. Fountek true ribbon in its horn loaded offering has excellent spec and sounds great. These two are meant to work together. I used rather simple crossover, first order series crossover, with just one cap and one inductor, at 7kHz. I selected this crossover frequency to suppress small breakup bump on midbass. Plus ribbons like to be crossed high. I added baffle step later, to compensate for rising response. Just one inductor in parallel with resistor.
Below are some pics from setup with mini dsp crossed at ~150 Hz to subwoofer. You can see how well the little speaker measures, almost ruler flat, this is in room response. First response is just the bookshelf alone, second one is with the sub. Off axis behaviour is exceptional.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

FM radio stations near Washington DC

Frequency                 Name                         Comment

88.1                           ?                                 latino
88.5                          WAMU
89.3                           ?                                 jazz
90.1                           WCSP                        mono, politics...
90.9                           WETA                       classical music, great
91.3                            ?
91.5                            ?                                classical from Baltimore
91.9                            ?                                christian
92.3                            ?                                crap
92.5                            WINC FM               
93.1                            ?                                country
93.3                            ?                                country
93.9                            ?                                crap
94.3                            ?
94.7                            ?                                rock
95.5                            WPGC                      crap
96.3                            WHUR
96.7                            ?
97.1                            WASH
97.5                            ?
97.9                            ?
98.3                            ?
98.7                            WMZQ                     country
99.1                            Bloomberg
99.3                            ?
99.5                            HOT99.5
99.9                            WFRE Frederick      country
100.3                          BIG100.3                  rock
101.1                          DC101                      idiot in the morning
101.5                          ?
102.3                          ?
102.7                          ?
103.5                          WTOP
103.9                          ?
104.1                          ?
104.7                          ?                               country
105.1                          ?                               christian
105.9                          WMAL
106.7                          The FAN106.7
107.3                          ?                               rock
107.7                          ?
107.9                          ?                               latino         

Saturday, May 21, 2016

3 domes monitor

I am very fond of dome speakers, as they often show clean waterfall. The sign of much less resonances as cone speakers. They do sound good too. Dome tweeters has been around for decades, dome midrange drivers were used less often, but they are nothing new. In spite of Lynn Olson badmouthing dome mids, large amount of speaker makers produced great sounding speakers using dome midrange drivers. Here is my effort at making small 3-way three domes based mini monitor. As I have limited woodworking possibilities since I moved to apartment, I used Ikea bookshelf to ease the building. The result is great sounding, ok looking bookshelf speaker. I used 3/4" dayton dome tweeter, 2" dayton aluminium dome, to which I removed the front plate to make it closed mounted to tweeter, and 5" peerless woofer. Here are few pics.

Granted, it does not go very deep, it has only 5" woofer, but as bookshelf speaker, this is enough. Once used as satelite speaker with subwoofer, this is seriously good sounding speaker, as you can see how flat it measures.

Long time ago I built this little bookshelf speaker based on Philips tweeter and midrange, both domes. Woofers in this case are 6" daytons in clam isobaric configuration. This system is used with subwoofer and sounds great.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

System 2

System two consists of yet another SONY tuner ST-S555ES, then Cambridge Audio Azur CD player 640C, Phillips DCC digital tape player, Pioneer RT-707 reel to reel player with type II dolby and diy turntable based on TESLA 1100 arm and AKAI direct drive table. Phono preamp is either SPARTA or Actidamp MkII. Cartridges include Benz Micro ACE, Audio Technica ATOC9, AT ML440a microline, Ortofon Red, AT92E, Signet and many others.
Signal selector is diy, preamp is JC-2 in old Parasound preamp box, Behringer Ultra Curve 31 band digital equalizer, and two LM1875 chip amplifiers, one in transconductance config to power mid/tweet section, one stock to power woofers. Active crossover ~160 Hz for woofer section. Like first system, this one is biamplied too.
Speakers are diy, based on HiVi ribbon tweeter, Dayton 2" soft dome, two Dayton 6" midbass in isobaric clamp, and 15" Jamo as woofers in closed boxes.   

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I am back!

Hi friends,

it's been a while....I have not posted anything on my blog in two years. It does not mean I stopped listening to music or building speakers and amplifiers. I was on sabbatical. Well, I used to work for small biotech company, which was acquired by large biotech company (swallowed, forcefully bought, insert your own...), and as it often happens, things change. Some people were let go, some were kept. I was offered to relocate into neighboring state, or take severance. I opted for severance. I got rid of most of my furniture, and gave away a lots of my audio stuff, kept just the best and moved my stuff into friends one-bedroom basement. Then I went on tour around the Australia and New Zealand. On the way back I stopped in Singapore and Dubai, and went for few month to good old Europe to visit relatives. Then I visited Banff in Canada. All together about nine months. Since then, I found another job in small  biotech company and moved to 2 bedroom apartment in Germantown. I consolidated my two main systems into living room, so now I have two systems intertwined in one room. Here is how it looks.
System one...

My audio system currently consists of Jungson HDCD player Moon Harbor, SONY ST-555ES tuner, Onkyo 2700 cassette player, Technics DCC deck, Technics SL1200 turntable, Onkyo 306RS riaa preamp (only for turntable), diy signal selector, modified 6H6P tube preamp, Behringer UltraCurve 31 digital equalizer, LM1875 transconductance amp, 160 Hz active crossover for subwoofer, and 100 watt amp for woofers. Speakers are diy, all open baffle, tweeter is B&G neo3 with back plate removed, upper mid is Fostex FF125K, lower midbass is 6" Pioneer, woofers are two 15" Jamo per channel in dipole configuration. Sounds ok for now.
Maybe future project will be mini dsp 2x8 with four channel amplification. Who knows.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

The Search for Musical Ecstasy

For millions of years, before there were words we were surrounded by the sounds of nature. Our current homo sapiens form of brain is over 400,000 years old, but it has only been creating language for less than 20,000 years. Our main mode of being was aural, because this mode gave us the most information. There was no language, thoughts, concepts or complex emotions. Seeing, smelling and hearing was what we had. Our aural connection was the most powerful and subtle, especially for the species that were puny and had to survive through the night filled with powerful, hungry long toothed predators.
We were aural long before we were oral.

Why our home and not the concert hall is the primary place of musical ecstasy? Audiophile, by definition, specialize in the intensely creative process of searching for musical ecstasy in their homes. This does not mean that attending many different types of live music events are not an essential aspect of the search, but the reality is that recorded music has become the dominant musical experience. The most obvious reason is convenience. Going to the great concert can be costly, tickets, dinner, parking. Listening to the music at home is one of the great entertainment bargains, but not the point of this discussion, we are exploring our soul, not the pocketbook.
The gestalt of experiencing music in the home is very different from the experiencing live music. Most audiophiles have had to subscribe to the conventional wisdom and claim that they are striving to achieve the qualities of a live musical event in their 9x12 living rooms. The orthodoxy states that the purpose of our efforts is to create the illusion of live music in our home. I counter this by asserting that the purpose of our efforts is to achieve musical ecstasy and the illusion we create is not the goal but the means to this end.
Let me start by suggesting that there are two distinct musical art forms, connected by the same powerful force, but totally different. The emphasis here is on the art and metaphor. The first musical art form is live musical performance. Within this form there are many established conventions of performance (chamber music, orchestral music, rock and roll, country western...). The creation of recorded musical event is a totally distinct musical art form because the clear intention of the community of the people who cooperate with the artist in creating this
condensed, fractured and synthesized recording is to give you a chunk of encoded data to process, at some future time, through a strange combination of disparate electro-mechanical devices. How the artist creates a great live performance has little to do how they create a great recording!

Things has become musically topsy-turvy. It is a valid assertion that the standard by which we judge the live performance is the synthesized musical performance emanating from the recording studio even though it may be completely non-sequential and spliced. Yes, life is imitating art!
Good concerts are frustrating events. The sound systems at even the best rock and roll concerts are so bad that it is painful to listen. The high level of distortion makes it impossible to enjoy the concert most of the time. Of course there are truly great concerts. How do you recognize a truly great musical event? It is quite simple. You want to rewind the passage over and over again. You know the feeling? Do you stand up during the concert and yell, Excuse me maestro, would you play that passage again? I need to re-experience it again because it caught me off guard and I
wasn't ready for the startling effect it had on me. Doesnt it often take listening to that passage over and over again to fully integrate its energy? How many times it is artistically inappropriate to go on to the second movement of a symphony before you fully get the first movement? How many brilliant conductors are considerate of the audience's feelings, pausing between movements till we are ready? Or what about the frustration of listening to the brilliant performance of a particular piece of music over and over again in our homes and than going to the concert and hearing a leaden performance of the same piece? Do you get up and boo? Why does the audience always applaud at the end of bad performance?

The string quartet was really jiving. They were bouncing up and down, bobbing in and out. They were so energized in their playing that I thought they were going to jump out of their seat and start to dance. But the robots in the audience, including me, had to maintain the proper concert decorum in spite of the fact that many of us were fidgeting and getting into joyous tumult of the music. Do you get my drift? You can not separate music from the dance. In my home I have the freedom to liberate the whirling dervish in me. I can dance naked! Creating the audio system is one of the most sublime expression of testicular beudacity. It is the full expression of man's tool making energy, creativity and skills used for the highest possible purpose. As it is immoral to give children tainted food, polluted air, or toxic chemicals it is also immoral to give children junky sound. By and large, the sound in most homes is junk. In spite of its importance, the audio industry, recoding industry and especially the audiophile community have failed to confront the mediocre sound in average living room.
Lets explore the audio gizmos, the tools of musical ecstasy. It is very easy for me to achieve musical ecstasy while lying in bed in a totally relaxed state listening to my clock radio, provided the volume is just right. If I turn the radio up so that its flimsy little cabinet vibrates or it's 1/2 watt circuitry is pushed beyond its limits, my waking dream state is shattered. This radio does not play any heights or lows and its only mono signal, but everything that is played is in the correct proportion to re-create a musical tableau upon which I can suspend lightly as if I was hovering effortlessly above a field of blossoming lilies of a valley. Conversely, it is very hard for the brain to filter out artifacts that poorly matched hi-fi components are capable of imposing upon the music. The only hard work one should have listening to the music is when one embarks upon a serious moral, spiritual, or emotional exploration brought on by total involvement in a great piece of music, such as Shostakovich's Lenigrad Symphony. Even that exploration is not really hard work because such music sweeps us along effortlessly on a musical path that leads to greater and more challenging truth about ourself and the world.

by Harvey Rosemberg