Thanksgiving kicks off the Holiday Season in the States, and I want to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!
I have a lot to be thankful for, when reflecting back upon the past year, but it’s also been a tough year with the passing of my Dad, and due to some health crises for my Mom, as well as for myself. I’m pleased to say that both Mom and I are doing well, and past our health crisis, so things are looking up.
It’s the first year in a very long time that all three of us were not able to gather together and share a Thanksgiving meal together, which has been a tradition of our family.
I’ll be playing chef today, and the turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, dressing, carrots, and pumpkin & pecan pies are waiting in the wings to be prepared as the day progresses, and we’ll no doubt get in a little jazz listening as we dine.
I want to encourage you all to embrace your friends, family, and loved ones, and let them know that you love them and are thinking of them, as you just never known when you might not have that opportunity again.
On the music & audio front it has been a wonderful year, with lots of great things happening, which I’ll recap for you. You’ll recognize some of what I’m saying from my Positive Feedback Writers’ Choice Awards for 2016, but with other juicy insider tidbits thrown in that didn’t appear there.
Leopold Stokowski’s Voice of the Theatre Loudspeakers: Just as 2015 came to a close, friend Ron and I made a road trip to Seattle, where I was able to obtain a pair of unique & historic vintage Altec-Lansing Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers that were custom made, sometime before 1964, for the great maestro, Leopold Stokowski (April 18, 1882 – September 13, 1977).
Leopold Stokowski collaborated with Altec-Lansing on projects during his career while he lived in New York and was conducting the American Symphony Orchestra, and he helped Altec make some considerable advancements in the audio arts during that time.
Stokowski was an amazing man, being both a brilliant conductor, and extremely adept technically in audio engineering.
Leopold Stokowski’s custom A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers are amazing vintage loudspeakers with a great history, and I hope to tell you more about Leopold Stokowski’s audio & musical exploits in the coming year, as well as to share more with you about his very special vintage Altec A7’s in their massive custom cabinets.
It’s a great story!
The vintage Stokowski A7’s sound magnificent and play music incredibly well, to the extent that after one short listen to them in the tiny little room they live in here at Jeff’s Place, Pete Riggle went out and bought a pair of vintage A7’s of his own.
You already know that Pete has considerable audio engineering talents, as evidenced by his bespoke Woody SPU tonearms, but Pete’s talents in building loudspeakers and crossovers is also considerable, and Pete was able to adapt the Jean Hiraga crossover design for the Altec A5 to the Altec A7 with stunning results.
When equipped with a pair of Pete’s crossovers, the Altec A7’s are the most cost effective ‘super loudspeakers’ I’ve ever encountered on planet Earth, and their performance is quite simply stunning. When properly crossover’d, they positively crush loudspeakers up into the $50K range and above!
Pete’s a really nice guy, and while he doesn’t sell crossovers as a product, Uncle Pete can tell you how to make a pair of crossovers for your A7’s like his that will blow your mind.
If all the stars align in the coming year, and if it’s ok with Pete, I’ll build a pair of Pete’s Hiraga-inspired crossovers for my Stokowski A7’s, document it here, and write it up as a feature article for Positive Feedback.
If you decide to embark on an Altec A7 adventure with me, I promise you will never be the same again!
Altec-Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre Loudspeakers: Also towards the close of 2015, another pair of vintage Altec-Lansing loudspeakers arrived in my life, this time a pair of vintage Altec-Lansing A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, restored by Gary Fischer.
First introduced in 1945, the A5 was a popular choice for smaller theater venues, and taming these historic & unruly beasts for domestic listening formed the basis of a challenging vintage loudspeaker project that has been a resounding success!
My Altec A5’s have been a sort of ‘living history’ adventure for me, where I get the unruly historic beasts tamed for a domestic environment, instead of their natural environment, the movie theater.
With my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre project I am trying to duplicate, as close as I can, the historic A5’s used for Jean Hiraga’s audio demonstrations at L´Audiophile in France, way back when, that impressed so many people, and ended up changing the course of audio history around the world.
I’ve wanted to hear what these historic loudspeakers can do when optimized for a domestic environment for a very long time, so it’s been a particularly exciting project for me to realize that audio dream.
While there is a bit of crossover work involved to get these vintage Altec’s singing, these musical Altec beasts will melt your heart!
I plan to write the project up as a feature article for Positive Feedback in the coming year so you too can get a little deeper glimpse into our audio history, and get a feel for what it’s like to hear these historic loudspeakers that played such an important role in the course of audio & film history.
Altec-Lansing Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers that have been nicely restored by Gary Fischer start at around $3000 USD (for A7’s) and go up from there.
If you’re interested in becoming one of the growing numbers of vintage Altec loudspeaker enthusiasts, you can view more of Gary’s work on his Facebook page here, and even order a pair of your very own.
Silver-Copper Hybrid Duelund CAST Capacitors: I chronicled for Positive Feedback in Issue 70 and Issue 74 an audio adventure where Frederik Carøe (Duelund Coherent Audio) and I partnered on building a pair of no-holds-barred external crossovers for my Tannoy Westminster Royal Special Edition loudspeakers out of his ultra-performance Duelund CAST capacitors, resistors, autotransformers, and inductors.
The Duelund CAST crossovers were shockingly good, and with my favorite pure silver 6.8uF CAST capacitors ($10,289.48 USD each) in the C1 positions of the high-frequency circuits, they were also shockingly expensive.
Just as 2015 came to a close, Frederik delivered a set of 6.8uF silver-copper hybrid Duelund CAST capacitors for me to try in C1 that captured a large slice of the performance of the pure silver capacitors at a fraction of their cost, a much more affordable $744 USD each.
The 6.8uF silver-copper hybrid Duelund CAST capacitors offered that amazing silver CAST capacitor performance at a much more affordable price!
The Woody SPU Tonearm™: The 12.5-inch Woody SPU Tonearm™ by Pete Riggle Audio Engineering is so ridiculously good I just couldn’t bear to see it leave after I finished up its review in Issue 87, so I bought it to replace my 12-inch Thomas Schick tonearm that I use for stereo SPU phono cartridge use.
Pete Riggle is really onto something wonderful with this tonearm, and I highly recommended the 12.5-inch Woody SPU Tonearm™ to all like-minded music lovers.
I’m so impressed with what Pete has done with his 12.5-inch Woody SPU Tonearm™ that I awarded it with a Positive Feedback Writers’ Choice Award for 2016.
The 12.5-inch Woody SPU Tonearm™ is very fairly priced ($2000 USD), its musical & sonic performance is extraordinary, its adjustability & flexibility unprecedented, and it is entirely hand-crafted by Pete Riggle on a bespoke basis. You can contact Pete by email here.
Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Premium Tinned-Copper Cable: In Issue 88 I reviewed the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA Premium Tinned-Copper Cable, which is based on the design of the much beloved (and now extinct) vintage Western Electric WE16GA wire that was renowned for its live-like musical & sonic presentation.
Not only is the Duelund DCA16GA based on the glorious vintage Western Electric WE16GA, but it actually betters it both musically & sonically in every way.
The Duelund DCA16GA premium tinned-copper cable, wrapped in its oil-soaked & baked cotton dielectric, with its extremely vivid tone color, superb dynamic response, melodic sophistication, harmonic complexity, live-like timbral complexity, spooky imaging presence, natural live-like level of resolution, generous portrayal of soundstage & soundspace, a presentation so breathtakingly musical, and with such high level of intensity of emotional engagement, that it makes for the finest speaker cables or interconnects that I have ever experienced, bar none.
The MSRP retail price for the Duelund DCA16GA is $12.99 USD/meter, which is a bargain for what is essentially a custom, hand-assembled cable that betters the legendary vintage Western Electric WE16GA, and is actually less expensive than what I paid when I bought a spool of vintage Western Electric WE16GA a year ago.
I’m so impressed with what Frederik has created with the Duelund DCA16GA ‘vintage tone’ tinned-copper wire, that I awarded it a Positive Feedback Writers’ Choice Award for 2016.
In the Americas the Duelund DCA16GA premium tinned-copper cable is available through Parts ConneXion at the very fair price of $9.99 USD/meter.
The music & hi-fi we all share and enjoy so much is such a great hobby.
I feel really fortunate and thankful to have friends like Ron, Rafe, Leo, Pete, and Don, pictured in the photo above, and many others that aren’t in the picture, including all of you! (left to right, with Don’s noggin’ appearing just above the Westminster loudspeaker on the right)
There’s nothing quite as wonderful as having friends over to share some hi-fi fun & games, listen to music, have some laughs, and enjoy some good food & drink, like when in February 2016 Rafe & Don did a road trip from beautiful British Columbia to pay me and my friends a visit. Rafe wrote about their road trip at Part-Time Audiophile here.
One of the best ways to improve your hi-fi experience, and to create good memories, is to invite friends over to join you!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little Thanksgiving retrospective of 2016 here at Jeff’s Place, and from my home to yours, may the music make you happy!
Now I’ve got to go and get cookin’ in the kitchen to get our Thanksgiving meal ready!
Thanks for stopping by!