For those of you who have been following along, Mr. Shirokazu Yazaki (below, second from left) of SPEC Corporation fame (The Real Sound Amplifier, et al) encouraged me to try a ‘Capacitor Adventure’ with one of my vintage McIntosh amplifiers (MC30 monaural amplifiers, MC225 stereo amplifier, and MC240 stereo amplifier).
My MC30 monaural amplifiers and MC225 stereo amplifier were beautifully restored both electrically & cosmetically by Yves Beauvais, who is actually a famous & talented record producer by day, as well as a vintage vacuum audio enthusiast by night (Ok, I’m kidding a bit here, Yves is actually both a famous & talented record producer and vintage vacuum audio enthusiast both night and day!) Both the MC30s & MC225 were purchased from Yves at retail pricing through his Vintage Vacuum Audio business.
Yves’ McIntosh amplifiers are fantastic, but they are built to a cost point to make them accessible to enthusiasts. But what if you didn’t have to observe costs with retail considerations in mind?
Well that’s what we’re doing here at Jeff’s Place, we’re taking Yves’ fantastic MC30s as a starting point and going where no man has gone before, so the Capacitor Adventure has now become The Great MC30 Adventure!
After talking over which of my vintage Mac’s would the best choice for our Capacitor Adventure with my friend and vacuum tube equipment expert, Ron-san, he recommended the MC30 monaural amplifiers for their simpler circuit, vacuum tube rectification, and relatively spacious interior that would make laying out and doing modifications fairly straight forward.
Now here’s the situation that I find so intriguing: Yazaki-san has had a very successful professional career designing audio equipment, was the head of the Research & Development division of Pioneer Corporation, and started SPEC Corporation to pursue designing his own state-of-art audio products (like the SPEC Real Sound Amplifier shown below).
In parallel with all of this, Yazaki-san also is a life-long audio passionista for vintage vacuum audio equipment, and has an enormous amount of experience with building, restoring, and modifying vacuum tube electronics to get the highest level of performance from them, which he calls ‘the real sound’.
Mr. Yazaki-san has an enormous aural database of experience from his lifetime of audio designing with the different capacitors, resistors, vacuum tubes, wire, etc., that makes up an audio amplification device, and because of that aural knowledge he can look at a schematic for a particular vacuum tube audio amplification device and make recommendations on how to improve it to achieve ‘the real sound’ as he calls it, which is his perception of the sound of real instruments playing music in real space. It’s also a perception that is very much my own, so in that we are definitely kindred spirits!
Yazaki-san looked at the schematics for the MC30 monaural amplifiers and made some recommendations using some of his favorite components, and thus the Capacitor Adventure was born.
I’ll update this a bit later with all the components involved and ‘the why’ of what we did in detail. I think it’s a really fascinating discussion and I want to tell you all about, and it has been very illuminating for me.
Ron-san laid out all the modifications in the chassis and installed all the components, and he did a beautiful job. It was a big job with all the desoldering, layout, soldering in of the new parts, testing to make sure all parameters were in the right range, and ultimately that everything was sounding & working right. The first MC30 took about 16 hours of time to upgrade, the second went a bit faster, but it still was a huge effort. The Capacitor Adventure would not have been possible without Ron-san’s generous amount of help – thank-you Ron-san! Those are the completed Capacitor Adventure MC30s in the photo below, and they sound magnificent!
Mr. Yazaki-san has suggested that we now up the ante on the MC30s’ performance even further, and do a Resistor Adventure, so that is now in the works.
Also, Ron-san has suggested that we install IEC connectors into the MC30s’ chassis so we can use high-performance power cords like those of Mark Coles at Sablon Audio, which are simply the very best power cords I have ever encountered. At Mark’s suggestion I ordered a pair of Oyaide Power Inlet R IECs from Chris Venhaus at VH Audio.
To top it all off, Yazaki-san has suggested we do a little vacuum tube rolling to pick out the ultimate tube set for the MC30s – I’m breathless!
When we’re done with these MC30s they may very well be the ultimate MC30s on Planet Earth!
So there will be much more to come on the Great MC30 Adventure! Stay tuned!
Thanks for stopping by, and please stop back by to join in on the fun!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention it: I have something else really exciting to tell you about very soon too – an exotic (and affordable) SPU tonearm that’ll give you a Woody! More soon on this SPU Woody Fresh Catch!