Aug 262018

I had lunch with my good friend, Santos Ortega, on Friday. It’s always a pleasure to get together with Santos, who is one of the most interesting, insightful, and decent guys I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet, not to mention that he has impeccably good taste in all things! 

Ron, Santos, Leo, and Pete at Jeff’s Place

I’ve known Santos for nearly 25 years now, and we’ve been both friends and colleagues over the course of that time, doing joint activities at work, attending CES together, visiting hi-fi stores together, and just generally having a good time doing things! 

Perhaps more than anyone in the last 25 years, Santos – an insightful and visionary man – has helped shape my world view of what it means to be a good person and a good world citizen, one that’s working towards the advancement of social justice, the value of embracing tolerance and diversity, and the importance of understanding the broader social & cultural dynamics that surround us daily in a way that makes our continually evolving world a better place. 

Santos asked me if I had a phono cartridge recommendation for him, and that was an easy recommendation – Soundsmith.

The new Soundsmith Carmen Mk II

I told Santos about my impressions of the new Soundsmith Carmen Mk II and Zephyr Mk III, and we’re going to give them both a listen at my place when we can find an accommodating schedule opening for us both.

The new Soundsmith Zephyr Mk III

I recommend to others those things that I find particularly satisfying in my own life and experience, and I have to admit that I am smitten with Peter Ledermann’s Soundsmith Carmen MK II and Zephyr Mk III phonograph cartridges for their superb musicality, excellent sonics, and affordable pricing.

In the next few months I’ll be writing up Peter Ledermann’s Soundsmith MMP3 phono preamp for Positive Feedback as well. Those who’ve been following along know that I have positive first impressions about the MMP3 and that it has faired very well when compared to the other very musical – and more expensive – phono preamps I have compared it against. Stay tuned for more on the Soundsmith front!

Acoustic Revive Absolute Power Cord & RCA Absolute FM Interconnects in the Corona 832A system.

I’ve been getting in lots of run-in time on the the exotic new Acoustic Revive Absolute Power Cords and RCA Absolute FM Interconnects, both in my vintage Altec 832A Corona based system and my vintage Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre based system. When I am a little more sure they’re completely run-in, I’ll provide some more detailed “first impressions” before their formal review appears at Positive Feedback in the coming months.

These new Acoustic Revive cables are in the deep end of the pool price-wise, and it’s fun to check in on the 1% territory once in a while to hear what’s happening there.

Acoustic Revive Absolute Power Cord

I really like what I’m hearing from them, and I think the new Acoustic Revive Absolute Power Cords are easily the best power cords I’ve ever heard, achieving a superb balance of musicality and sonic performance.  

The new Acoustic Revive RCA Absolute FM Interconnects.

I haven’t quite got the measure of the exotic RCA Absolute FM Interconnects yet, but they are extremely good, and don’t really sound like anything else I’ve ever heard. Stay tuned for more on the Acoustic Revive front in the coming months! 

Fender Princeton Reverb guitar amp.

One more quick mention on the Acoustic Revive front. I’ve been using the original Acoustic Revive Power Reference Power Cord on my new Fender Princeton Reverb guitar amp to excellent effect. Power cords make as much difference on guitar amps as they do high-performance audio gear – guitarists take note!

I should also say that the ’65 Princeton Reverb guitar amp has continued to improve as it’s got more time in on it, and I’m becoming very impressed with what it can do. Tone is out of this world, and it completely crushes my Henriksen Jazz Amp!

Belden 8402 guitar cord on my Collings Eastside Deluxe LC jazz guitar.

I should also mention that the Belden 8402 guitar cord (Neutrik connectors) I had BTPA custom make for me has arrived and I’ve been using it for a while now. I’ve been getting some run-in time on it, and it’s getting better all the time. At first I wasn’t sure I liked it as well as my Analysis Plus “Yellow Flex” guitar cord, but it’s faring better as it gets more time on it. The Belden 8402 guitar cord, in typical tinned-copper fashion during the run-in period, sounded a little “rough” acoustically speaking, but is starting to smooth out now. More to come on this as I get more run-in time in on it.

Collings Waterloo WL-14L (left) Gibson Advanced Jumbo (right)

Also on the guitar front, my Collings Waterloo WL-14L is on its way to Gryphon Strings in Palo Alto, where I’m trading it in on a Collings Baby 2H guitar, which is a small acoustic guitar with a big reputation for superb sound and playability. 

My Collings Waterloo WL-14L is a fantastic guitar with great tone and playability, but I decided I wanted something smaller for travel and for relaxing on the couch – thus the Collings Baby 2H.

Collings short scale OM cutaway fingerstyle guitar

If you want to get a good buy on my mint Collings Waterloo WL-14L contact Matt at Gryphon Strings next week for the particulars, it should arrive there tomorrow. I also bought my Collings OM short scale cutaway fingerstyle guitar from Gryphon Strings, and I highly recommend them as a guitar shop to do business with!

I’ve actually been playing my guitars more lately than listening to my hi-fi rigs, so I’ve got a bit of catching up to do on the hi-fi front.

Just for kicks this week I decided to give the Spec RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier a try with my vintage Altec 832A Corona loudspeakers.

Spec RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier

As you would expect given Yazaki-san’s appreciation for his vintage Altec loudspeakers, and his use of them while voicing the Spec Real Sound Amplifier, the Spec and vintage Altec 832A Corona’s are nice match together.

Spec RSA-M3 EX Real Sound Amplifier with vintage Altec 832A Corona’s.

I also happen to have enough (I think) of vintage Western Electric WE12GA cable, that I bought long ago but have never used, to make up a pair of speaker cables. Given Yazaki-san’s enthusiasm for vintage Western Electric tinned-copper wire for speaker cables, and Belden 8402 microphone cable for interconnects, I’ll add that into the mix in the vintage Altec 832A Corona based system when I get time, and I’ll report back on the results. 

I’ve started writing up the Positive Feedback review of Mark Still’s Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier (above & below) and I should have it finished up in the next 2-3 weeks.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I am a big fan of EL84 amplifiers combination of musicality & sonics, and the Still Audio EL84 is a superb example. The Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier has a hand-crafted “Fi-style” chassis and an exquisite choice of components in the build, and for a boutique amplifier it is remarkably affordable at $2895 USD.

Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre system with Still Audio EL84 integrated amplifier.

Stay tuned for the full review at Positive Feedback!

Ok, that’s it for now, and as always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 8:34 am

  6 Responses to “Jeff checking in … Acoustic Revive, Belden 8402, Collings, Fender, Soundsmith, Spec, Still Audio, and Waterloo!”

  1. Thanks for the post, Jeff, as always. I really enjoy your site and your opinions.

    May I suggest hiring an electrician to put those TV wires in the wall and then putting the 124 on a wall shelf? For me the wall shelf has been one of the biggest upgrades… not for footfalls but for tone and depth and solid imaging. I was able to remove the mushrooms and rubber feet (switching to small ebony cones) even with relatively light “swissmade” Ortofon style plinth. Not a hint of motor noise. A wonderful upgrade.

    • Hi David,

      I’ve used a Sound Anchors wall-mount turntable shelf in the past, and it did work well. However, due to the layout of this particular room there isn’t a suitable location for wall mounting the Thorens. I could do with a bit less motor noise from the Thorens, although grounding the motor to the amp, and the tonearm to the phono stage, does drop the motor (and other) noise way down.

      If I was staying in my current house I might have an electrician do as you suggest, but I’m getting the itch for a new locale at some point in the future, so probably will not. My next house project is instead new carpet, painting, and beautifying the landscaping, as I think about putting my house up for sale and moving.

      Thanks for the tips – appreciated!

      Kind regards,


  2. Jeff,

    Nice catch up! Curious where you are thinking of moving to?

    Take care,


    • It’s still an open question on specifically where to move when the time comes, Bobby.

      There’s where I’d like to live, and then where I can afford to live!



  3. Jeff,
    Always a great read, but it does seem like you have to much spare time on your hands !! Maybe another hobby or two, (like sky diving or or or…just kidding !!) Kudos to your Mom for hanging in there, she seem’s to have a very good understanding of who she is. Not always a given.

    Olympia is nice this time of the year, housing is relatively affordable, (by SF standards, if that means anything!),but it does rain 6 months of the year.

    Loved the first Watt SIT-3 piece; if Nelson ever needs to road test, I have a Garber sorta equivalent, 421a and EVO setup, (9 years, no looking back) that rolls fairly well. (I’m sure he would have some interesting comments !)(I have heard only 1 piece of Nelsons gear, J5 ?? and it sounded very nice.)


    • Howdy Mike,

      Thanks for the kind words, appreciated!

      It’s crazy, since I’ve retired I’m busier than ever. I have three main hobbies of hifi, guitar, and bicycling, and they are really keeping me jumping! I enjoy being busy though, and it seems the natural ebb and flow of people and activities helps keep everything in balance. Now I just need to get that motorbike running that’s in the garage! 😉

      You know, I’ve never been to Olympia. My cousin Rick & his wife Jan used to live in Olympia before moving off to Boston, and they really liked it. I was looking at houses on Zillow in Olympia, and there’s not much to be had. Looks like people buy and stay, which is a good sign I suppose.

      The First Watt SIT-3 can be an amazing amplifier with the right speakers (high-sensitivity), and I’m looking forward to giving it a try with Nelson’s special little tube preamp that’s in the works. I’ll bet it’s an amazing combination.

      The 421A amp sounds intriguing, and if it’s held its own for 9 years it must be a good one!

      Kind regards,


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