It’s been a crazy busy time for yours truly, with travel, work, looking after my 91-year young Mom, getting ready for some memorial services for my Dad, keeping up here at Jeff’s Place, and the like. Sometimes 24 hours in a day seems woefully insufficient.
But I wanted to check in and say, “Hi!” and tell you what’s going on, share a few tips with you, and tell you what’s coming up. First I have a couple of tips for you, the first being a tip from Pete Riggle:
In the photo above you see a plastic bottle I use for misting plants, and my Audioquest record brush.
Tip # 1 courtesy of Pete Riggle:
The last time I was over at Pete Riggles’s to listen to his Altec Lansing A7 Voice of the Theatre project with his Hiraga-san inspired crossovers (Pete’s A7’s were sounding magnificent during my visit, by the way), I saw Pete hold a plant mister in one hand and squirt a mist in the air, then with a record brush in the other hand, Pete let the mist fall down through the air upon his record brush.
Then Pete ran the brush over the spinning record on his Thorens TD124 turntable. The tiny bit of moisture picked up on the record brush’s fibers from the mist pulled the dust of his record like magic.
As soon as I got home I tried the same thing with my plant mister and record brush, with the same great results. If you live in a dusty environment like I do you’ll particularly appreciate Pete’s tip, because it means you don’t have to do near as much record washing, which I always hate to do.
So thanks to Pete for the great tip on easily getting the dust off records!
Oh, and speaking of Pete Riggle, I have become so impressed with Pete’s Woody SPU tonearm that I have decided to formally review it for Positive Feedback, so more about that in the future.
Tip # 2 courtesy of yours truly:
Here’s a second tip from yours truly, and you may find it a bit controversial, but I’ve found it to be indispensable over the last 40 years or so.
When I was a wee lad I was involved in the sport of scuba diving. I loved to go out and submerge myself into the water world and investigate it, and I found it to be a magical and exciting place!
One of the things they teach you as a scuba diver is to equalize your ears as you descend through the depths to offset the pressure increase upon your ears.
This technique also came in handy for me when I was a young lad flying my crusty old Cessna 3245J around, and I still use it when flying commercially these days. A little bit of equalization during the aircrafts descent makes your ears feel a whole lot better!
Another thing I’ve found is that by gently equalizing my ears before listening sessions greatly helps the listening experience, and if you’ve never done that it will really surprise you, I predict.
Now here’s the thing: be very careful and very gentle when equalizing your ears! If you use too much force you could actually do damage to your eardrums. Recognize that if you try this you are doing so at your own risk! Be careful!
If you are very gentle about it I think its a good thing, and I think it pays big dividends for the music lover and audiophile. I have always done it myself, for over 40 years now, and I think you’ll be surprised how much your hearing opens up in a good way.
If you have any doubts about equalizing the pressure in your ears don’t attempt it, and be very careful if you’ve never done it before. Use the least forceful method you can that will allow your ears to clear (see the wiki link above for ideas), like swallowing, yawning, or various specialist maneuvers.
I generally use the method that is most often taught to SCUBA divers, the Valsalva maneuver, which involves lightly pinching your nostrils closed with your thumb and index finger, and then gently trying to breath out through your nose.
When you do the Valsalva maneuver, “it equalizes the pressure in the middle ear with the outside pressure by letting air enter along the Eustachian tubes”.
When my Eustachian tubes open up and the pressure in my middle ear equalizes with the outside pressure I immediately notice that everything sounds louder, clearer, less muffled, less distorted, and the music just sounds better all the way around. It’s about the magnitude of difference of listening to music from another room, then going in and sitting down in the sweet spot for a listen. It’s big.
Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire
As I mentioned in my last post, the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire will be shipping here to me at Jeff’s Place this next week, and to Parts Connexion shortly after that.
As you know, I am really excited about the DCA16GA wire, and I can’t wait to give it a listen.
I’m hoping the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire is a more refined version of the fabled Western Electric WE16GA wire that has been so impressive with my Westminsters, vintage McIntosh gear, and Altec Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers.
Frederik has told me that the MSRP retail price is $12.99 USD/meter ($3.97/ft), but I understand that Parts Connexion’s standard pricing will be 15% off this or $10.99 USD/meter ($3.37/ft.), so that’s a great deal for what is essentially a custom, hand-assembled, 16 AWG tin-plated stranded copper wire made to Western Electric WE16GA specifications, with an oil impregnated cotton jacket.
Update 7/18/2016: Frederik just told me that Parts Connexion will be pricing the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire at an introductory price of $9.95 USD per meter for the first 30 days after they receive it. Get it while you can!
I think that the DCA16GA may very well represent a refinement of the original Western Electric WE16GA wire, and I am very eager to compare the two.
I know that Frederik worked extremely hard to bring the DCA16GA in at this price level, which is about the same that I paid for the WE16GA back when you could find the real thing. Thank you, Frederik!
There is much more to come on the Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA!
Bumblebee’s and Jupiter Condenser Red Astron Capacitors in the vintage McIntosh MX110
As I have report earlier, the vintage Sprague Bumblebee’s have been my favorites of all the capacitors I’ve tried in my vintage McIntosh MX110Z vacuum tube tuner-preamplifier.
The Bumblebee’s have an extraordinary combination of sheer musical prowess and great sonics, and I love their smooth, rich, warm, and colorful, presentation, and their very ‘real’ presentation of timbral textures, not to mention that they excel at portraying the tempos, melodies, rhythm, and dynamics that give life to the music.
I’ve also found that the Bumblebee’s also flatter less than perfect recordings, allowing a lot more recordings to fall into a musical sweet spot, and they provide unparalleled emotional connection to the music.
Many modern capacitors are done audiophile-style, with peaky, hard, and exaggerated highs, which I find unpleasant. I much prefer the smooth, rich, music-lover style of highs the vintage Bumblebee’s possess. I sure wish Sprague (or somebody else) would make an exact reproduction of the Black Beauty / Bumblebee series of capacitors for us vintage fans and music lovers.
For my tastes, there’s been no current production capacitors that can touch the Bumblebees, and oh do I wish there was! Sprague, are you listening? Please bring back an exact reproduction of the Bumblebee.
I have continued to search for a modern production capacitor that sounds as good as a vintage Sprague Bumblebee in my MX110Z that I can recommend to you. Using 50-year old vintage Bumblebee’s, even if you can find them, can be dicey, as they often have deterioration issues that can turn your kit into a fireworks display should they misbehave. I love them, but I also recognize the risk in using them, and I’m not sure I would recommend you take that risk upon yourself.
When I read that the guitar guys had said the Jupiter Condenser Red Astron capacitor might be that modern day Bumblebee, with its Mylar & tinfoil construction, and its reputation for being ‘warm’, it really got my attention, and I just had to give it a try.
So out came my soldering iron, and I extracted the vintage Bumblebee’s from my MX110Z, and in went the Red Astron’s. I’ve been listening to them for a while now, and I swear they’ve been getting better every time I listen, and I’m very impressed.
They don’t sound like the Bumblebee’s exactly, the Red Astron’s are more transparent and their high-frequencies are more extended, but they have that ‘vintage warmth’ that I crave, but in a little bit more modern sounding capacitor.
The Red Astron capacitors represent a really nice combination of musicality & sonics that I think a lot of you would enjoy, at least I do.
I’ll be looking forward to trying the Red Astron modded MX110Z with my Duelund CAST crossovered’ Westminster Royal SE loudspeakers too, which should be illuminating.
Since I’ve got home from England I’ve been listening exclusively to my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers project along with the Red Astron modded vintage McIntosh MX110Z, and I have been enjoying it immensely.
The Yazaki-san modified Hiraga-san inspired crossovers are coming along very nicely, and are sounding very musical right now.
This combination is so musical that I’m just going through jazz album after jazz album, immersing myself in the musical experience. It’s a luxurious and sensual musical experience for sure!
I’ve got some more exciting news to share with you about the A5 VOTT project crossovers, but I have to wait for a bit to tell you about it, so there is more coming on that front soon I hope!
As always, thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!