Sep 052016
 

It sure was fun to go to Matt’s and Milagros’ wedding at Mount Vernon, and to visit with all the family and friends that attended. They sure are a fantastic group of people, and it makes me thankful and proud that I can call them ‘family’.

Matthew & Milagros' wedding ceremony.

Matthew & Milagros’ wedding ceremony.

Family and friends waiting for Matt and Milagros departure while blowing bubbles for their departure. Fun!

Family and friends. Fun!

Now I’ve got a few things to tell all of you about, my extended music & hi-fi family, and I’m thankful for all of you, your kindred spirits, and your enthusiastic love of music and audio! You all are awesome! 🙂

Pete doing tonearm surgery.

Pete doing tonearm surgery.

I just got a message from uncle Pido (aka Pete Riggle, and no, he’s not really my uncle) saying, “Maybe you would like me to bring my spare Altec 416Z woofers (16 ohms, alnico) over for a visit to your 825/828 cabinets. We could A/B the 416Z and your 515 woofers. The 416 are about 3 dB less efficient than the 515.”

Pete's A7 VOTTs.

Pete’s A7 VOTT’s are shown on the left, with his Beveridge loudspeakers in the middle, and his custom Po’ Boy horns on the right.

Pete’s really been on a roll with his Altec A7 VOTT’s, and they’re sounding very impressively musical. In addition to his other prodigious audio talents, Pete has an immense amount of experience modifying, designing, and getting loudspeakers to sound fantastic. I’ve watched Pete do that time-after-time with loudspeakers as different from each other as can be: horns, electrostatics, conventional box loudspeakers, unconventional box loudspeakers, you name it, Pete’s squeezed every drop of music out of them they’re capable of.

Pete was able to take his inexpensive, but well-loved & well-used pair A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers, that he bought for something like $1300, and turned them into loudspeakers so formidably musical that I can only think of a very few high-end loudspeakers that can even come close to matching their musical prowess. Pido has the musical Midas touch when it comes to loudspeakers (as well as tonearms, which I’ll tell you more about later).

Pete's Woody SPU tonearm on the left rear of my Garrard Project 2015 turntable.

Pete’s Woody SPU tonearm on the left rear of my Garrard Project 2015 turntable. Formal review to come.

Pete is an engineer with a musical heart, and has worked in the rather high-tech world of governmental engineering projects all his life, until retiring, and like our dear friend here at Jeff’s Place, Yazaki-san, Pete pursued enthusiast audio in parallel in his personal life, building every single type of component from scratch for fun (except for phono cartridges), and Pete even had his own enthusiast loudspeaker company at one time.

Now that Pete’s retired he focuses entirely on family, friends, and his audio adventures. Pete still hangs a shingle out in the audio realm in the form of Pete Riggle Audio Engineering. Pete’s a really good guy that I’m proud to have as a friend.

Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre project.

Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre project.

When Pete suggested his Altec woofer A/B to me I thought, “Wow! That sounds like fun!”, then immediately after I felt like the weight of the world that I’ve been carrying around on my shoulders for the last couple of years came crashing down on me.

Life events have left me feeling rather overwhelmed these past couple of years, starting with moving my elderly parents close to me when their health failed them, looking after them after they arrived, then with the passing of my Father, his memorial services and burial, looking after my Mother, toss in a full time day-job on top of that, taking care of my own household affairs, trying to do a little writing, keeping up on correspondence, a couple of physical health hiccups along the way, and … well this old bachelor beatnik has been running on empty physically & emotionally for a while now.

The truth is that my family, friends, and my audio adventures, are what’s been keeping me going these last couple of years, injecting some joy and excitement into an otherwise difficult time. Thank you all!

Altec 825B bass horn with 515B Alnico driver.

Altec 825B bass horn with 515B Alnico driver.

Altec 803B in my A7 VOTT, which is an earlier version of the 416.

Altec 803B in my A7 VOTT, which is an earlier version of the 416.

So here’s my road to recovery: I told Pete I’d like to do his Altec woofer comparison in due time, but probably not for a bit, as I have a lot to get caught up on in what I’m expecting to be a bit of a breather from the busyness of life over these next few months.

Then I started to look into the future to think about what I want to get done in the coming months. I’ve got a lot I want to do on the hi-fi front to get caught up on my writing, which always recharges me.

It’s been at least nine months (maybe longer) since I’ve written anything for Editors Dave & David over at Positive Feedback, so I want to get busy before the whole year has gone by, as I don’t want them to think I’ve abandoned writing for them.

Rafe getting an action shot of the Woody SPU.

Rafe getting an action shot of the Woody SPU.

Up first, I want to start writing on a Woody SPU tonearm article for Positive Feedback, so that’s priority one. If you’ve been reading along, you know that the Woody SPU tonearm blew away the whole group of listeners at Jeff’s Place back when Rafe & Don from Part-Time Audiophile were here visiting from British Columbia.

Here’s Rafe’s trip report about their visit so you can hear about it from Rafe too.

'Smoke Screen' by Gil Elvgren 1958.

‘Smoke Screen’ by artist Gil Elvgren, 1958.

Pete’s prototype Woody SPU tonearm stunned the attending hi-fi devotees into silence as it obliterated my Schick tonearm in a direct comparison.

I was glad there was a discriminating audience in attendance so you wouldn’t think I was just blowing smoke up your skirt when I told you about what happened that day.

Blues In Orbit via my Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII and Woody SPU tonearm.

My Ortofon SPU Classic GM MkII on the Woody SPU tonearm.

I also want to write an article for Positive Feedback called The Vintage Altec Voice of the Theatre Adventure, that will be along the lines of The Vintage McIntosh Experience article I wrote for Positive Feedback back in Issue 77.

Jeff's A5 VOTTs as restored by Gary Fischer.

Jeff’s A5 VOTTs as restored by Gary Fischer.

In that article I want to write about both my Altec A5 Voice of the Theatre Project loudspeakers, and my historic custom Altec A7 Voice of the Theatre loudspeakers that were built for Leopold Stokowski back in the day.

A7 VOTTs that were custom built for Leopold Stokowski.

A7 VOTTs that were custom built for Leopold Stokowski.

First I want to finish up the A5’s crossovers, which I think are now pretty close to being where I want them musically and sonically.

Clarostat variable resistors with Ohmite Brown Devil resistors as used in Mod 2 for R3.

Clarostat variable resistors with Ohmite Brown Devil resistors as used in Mod 2 for R3.

I still want to try a couple of Mod 2 resistor changes to dial in the high-frequency voicing a little more, then I should be done with that part of the A5’s crossover circuit.

We scrapped the Mod 1 Zobel network indicated in the low-frequency circuit as it turned out not to be complimentary to the A5’s overall sonics and musicality.

I had hoped to be able to tell you about some other really nice capacitors that we were going to try in the A5’s LF & HF circuit, but that manufacturer never came through with the caps they had offered to send.

Hiraga-san inspired 16 Ohm A5 crossover with Yazaki-san mods.

Hiraga-san inspired 16 Ohm A5 crossover with Yazaki-san mods.

I also need to rewire the Altec 515B bass drivers with the Duelund DCA16GA, like I did for Altec 288C compression drivers and 1005B ten-cell horns, and then build a prettier version of the A5 crossovers, rewired with the DCA16GA wire, suitable for article photographs and such.

Altec 825B bass horn with 515B Alnico driver.

Altec 825B bass horn with 515B Alnico driver.

Duelund DCA16GA from the Hiraga-inspired crossover to the A5's HF horns.

Duelund DCA16GA from the Hiraga-inspired crossover to the A5’s HF horns.

Then I want to build a pair of crossovers like Pete built for his A7 VOTT’s and try them on my Stokowski A7 VOTT’s. Our A7 components are a bit different, with my older A7’s having Altec 804A 16-Ohm compression drivers & 511B horns for the high-frequencies, and the Altec 803B 16-Ohm drivers for the low-frequencies. With Pete’s Midas touch in advising on the crossovers, and a rewire with Duelund DCA16GA, I’m sure we can make my A7’s even more amazing than they are already (which is pretty amazing!).

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA wire.

I also want to start writing on my Duelund DCA16GA article for Positive Feedback, and compare it to the legendary Western Electric WE16GA.

Western Electric WE16GA left, Duelund DCA16GA right.

Western Electric WE16GA left, Duelund DCA16GA right.

That article will include the results of Duelund DCA16GA wiring for my Altec A5 VOTT’s, Altec A7 VOTT’s, my Tannoy Westminster Royal SE’s, and my Harbeth Super HL5’s.

Harbeth Super HL5 with Duelund DCA16GA.

Harbeth Super HL5 with Duelund DCA16GA.

I’ll also include a description of my foray into making a pair of Duelund DCA16GA interconnects, which turned out really well, well enough that I’m going to build some more!

Could the Duelund DCA16GA interconnects be the ones that can displace the mighty Belden 8402 microphone cable interconnects in my systems? We shall see!

A pair of DCA16GA IC's

A pair of DCA16GA IC’s

I need to wire up my West’s with DCA16GA to make that article happen, and that’s quite a chore to do.

WRSE with WE16GA internal wiring.

WRSE with WE16GA internal wiring.

Ok, you get the idea, there’s a lot going on here at Jeff’s Place, and I hope to be able to tell you about all kinds of fun hi-fi adventures.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA.

Duelund Coherent Audio DCA16GA.

Thanks for stopping by, and may the tone be with you!

 Posted by at 4:39 pm

  6 Responses to “Jeff checking in … Altec’s, Duelund DCA16GA, a Woody SPU tonearm, and a look ahead!”

  1. Jeff,
    Count me in for any usable support I can offer as our past experiences have uplifted my spirit and motivated my addiction to our mutual hobby/avocation.
    Barbee

    • Absolutely! I shall be looking forward to every moment of our continued audio & music adventures, Ron!

      What fun!

      Cheers,

      Jeff

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Kind words indeed. I thank you for them.

    Despite the material aspects of audio, the quest for beautiful sound has for many of us become spiritual. There is a mystical aspect to the quest for beautiful sound, much like the quest of the medieval knights for the Holy Grail. To most people, existence is the greatest miracle of all; and, along with it, our serendipitous ability to experience it all through our senses. Some might say we are the eyes and ears of God. Others might say that science and technology are wonderful. The fact that sound can be coherently transferred through the air,coherently recovered by our ears, and coherently interpreted by our neural system, is in itself amazing. The fact that we do a pretty good job of reproducing music, with AC currents fluttering 20,000 times per second in our vacuum tubes, passing through our transformers, and pulsing through our loudspeakers, is almost beyond comprehension. What a wonderful hobby we have.

    You certainly have your hands full with the plan you have laid out. I really don’t know how you do it. Please count on Uncle Pete to lend a hand where possible, along with Fatha’ Ron Barbee. In particular, I would be most pleased to be allowed to saw and cut and drill and fasten and solder crossovers alongside you. As we found when we assembled and had playing a monster subwoofer horn in one day, many hands make light work.

    With Kindest Regards,
    Uncle Pete

  3. Jeff; goes to prove that “busy” can be fun and unwinding when it is something we so much enjoy!

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