Have you ever had one of those periods of time where everything goes wrong? I’m in one of those periods now. Usually it seems like things go astray in triplets, for same strange reason.
Usually, I sigh with relief after the third mishap, because things are about to get better, but this time it appears the pattern is sets of swing triplets (jazz joke)!
I have a couple of audio pals coming over for a listening sessions today, so of course it had to precede that, causing a little upset to the really nice musical performance I had dialed in for the Westminster music system and the vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system (both above) that I use for music and video.
Fortunately the vintage Altec A7 Voice of the Theatre system and vintage Altec Corona 832A system are working fine at the moment! Fingers crossed!
To kick off “the witching hour” the Auditorium 23 SUT that I use for my Denon DL-103 & Audio MusiKraft Denon DL-103 developed a problem with one channel (in the photo above on the middle shelf to the right, behind the video controls).
I’m not sure what is going on with it, so will have to try to track that down in hopes I’ll be able to salvage it.
No worries I thought, I’ll just press into service my vintage Shure V15 III with a NOS VN35MR stylus, as it has enough output to work without a SUT.
Well, I was reminded that somehow the cantilever got broke off the VN35MR stylus, and while I was debating whether I should proceed with the needed $300 repair of the VN35MR stylus, I pressed into service a $25 generic stylus I had for emergencies.
I tried balancing the generic stylus out with different interconnects (Duelund DCA20GA), and different tubes (Mullard) in the Leben RS30EQ phono preamplifier, all to no avail, as it just didn’t sound all that great no matter what I did. Sigh.
Pete Riggle (bless him!) loaned me a Shure M97xE cartridge to try, which is a highly praised budget cartridge ($100 USD).
I use the Shure V15 III & stylus with a Yamamoto headshell and Western Electric WE24GA headshell leads, which makes for a really nice combination.
While taking the Shure V15 III off the Yamamoto headshell, two of the WE24GA headshell leads clips broke off the wires, and I didn’t have any extra Audiosilente clips (my faves) to solder on in place of them, so I pressed into service my DIY Art of Tone 22GA headshell leads, which are really good sounding headshell leads too.
After getting that done, I auditioned a few albums with the Shure M97xE cartridge, and it was a little better than the Shure V15 III with a generic stylus, but it was nothing to write home about, sounding inoffensive and moderately pleasant, but veiled, with a lot of musical nuance gone missing.
But at least the vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system was up and running for vinyl replay for a little afternoon listening session.
Quite a lot of you have asked me for recommendations of a moderately priced “classically analog” phonograph cartridge, that is smooth, to the warm side, with timbral realism, a spacious presentation with a natural amount detail, and high enough output so you don’t have to use it with an expensive an expensive SUT.
That’s a tall order for a miraculous list of cartridge attributes, but I’m looking into it and will report back on what I find out.
Now that the vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system was playing analog in acceptable fashion, it was time to make sure the main music system with my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE’s was in a decent state of tune for my visitors.
As part of the witching hour, a pair of my favorite GE 6L6GC gray plate power tubes in one of my vintage McIntosh MC30’s went tits up … argh!
What to do? After checking my tube stash, I realized I didn’t have any GE backups, so I ordered some, and then pressed into service a quad of 5881 HARMA cryo’d tubes from Watford Valves, a great UK outfit who serves both musicians and audio enthusiasts.
As a note of caution, one shouldn’t sub in 5881’s into an amp designed for 6L6GC’s unless you are sure the amps don’t exceed the ratings of the 5881, as a lot of modern amps calling for a 6L6GC tube will exceed 5881 ratings, which can cause them overheat or arc over.
I need to double check into the MC30’s for that, but given they were originally spec’d for 1614 vacuum tubes I think the 5811’s will be fine, so for today’s listening session I’m throwing caution to the wind and using them, or as we used to say when racing motocross, “When in doubt gas it”.
In a quick listening session the HARMA 5881’s sounded almost identical (!) to my favored NOS GE 6L6GC gray plate tubes, which was a really nice surprise, so if it turns out they’re safe for use in the MC30’s, they could be a real alternative to the GE’s at half their price. I’ll report back when I have time to make sure about the operating conditions.
Well if that wasn’t enough to deal with, the RCA 6U8’s in my vintage McIntosh MX110Z preamplifier spazzed out during “the witching hour”, so I replaced them with NOS GE 6EA8’s in V11, V16, and V17. I think the NOS GE 6EA8’s have more natural tonality than the RCA 6U8’s, so it turned out to be a good swap.
If that wasn’t enough, something went awry with the MPX Stereo indicator light of my MX110Z, as well as the muting switch.
I was able to dial in the performance of the muting switch (there’s an easy adjustment with a screwdriver for that), but my attempts to adjust the MPX Stereo light were only partially successful, so that will take a little more investigation.
Ok, having got all that done with the MX110Z, I then swapped in a pair of shielded Duelund DCA16GA interconnects into the SUT to MX110Z position, which was a nice match to balance out the tone & sound with the tube changes.
Whew! Done in the nick of time! Now it’s time to get the food ready for the arrival of my audio pals, so I’ll report back on the outcomes of addressing the audio “witching hour”!
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!