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Everything posted by JohnnyB

  1. Good call. I love that album! In fact, I played it to try out the new cartridge and the match sounded so good I also pulled out the Angel Classical versions that I posted. And you're right on the lineup on Jim Hall's album, not only for the talent, but also the moody vibe that Paul Desmond, Ron Carter, Steve Gadd, and Chet Baker contribute to the interpretation. I really perked up when pianist Roland Hanna came in on it. I'll keep an ear out for him from now on.
  2. Thanks for the info. I heard an Ortofon Red at an in-store demo and was impressed (it was feeding a Naim chain of electronics, and I knew the Blue would be better still). My turntable will be on the top shelf, the PHO-8 components will be placed two shelves down, with the PHO power supply and phono stage positioned side-to-side, with a high current power amp (Perreaux PMF-3150) on the bottom shelf. I plan to leave the PH-8 on throughout the weekend. In fact, I've been leaving my much smaller Schiit Mani on all the time and turn the downstream linestage all the way down when I switch cartridges or gain switches. I'll be using a fairly beefy Zu Audio power cord with the PHO-8 power supply.
  3. Yup! I lived in a college dorm 1973-77, and one room had a pretty massive 4-channel receiver and they always were blasting ZZ. I was a few doors down the hall and blasting Buddy Rich, Don Ellis, Count Basie, etc.through a pair of 85-lb. Altec-Lansing 6844 Studio monitors. I came to love ZZ blasting out of the room down the hall. Good times.
  4. How long have you had it? Do you have any tips for use? Do you use it for moving magnet cartridges, moving coil, or both? My previous phono pre didn't provide a good impedance for my LOMC I plan on switching frequently between my MM and LOMC.
  5. I had a handwired PTP phono preamp that had dynamics that would knock me around the room. The tubes were vintage mil-surplus, but I can't find replacements. I'm not expecting the Vincent to recapture the sensation, but I'm hoping the dual-chassis design will improve s/n ratio and dynamic range. I'll find out by the weekend, I hope.
  6. I recently picked up thIs AudioTechnica low-output moving coil cartridge (LOMC) for my vinyl rig: LOMCs excel at extracting the subtleties of musical expression from a record's groove. So to check it out I played this LP of a Spanish concerto for guitar and orchestra played by Pepe Romero and conducted by Andre Previn. It was a great recording to show what my new cartridge could do: It sounded so good I immediately ordered this phono preamp from Audio Advisor with (relatively) massive power supply to bring out the best in an LOMC. On the left is the 2-chassis layout, with the phono stage on the bottom and the power supply on top. Power supply interior: Note the power supply's beefy shielding, isolation, and relatively massive transformer and capacitors. I'll be finding out when it arrives Saturday, but I figure the shielding and isolated transformer will lower the noise floor and the capacitors will provide current on demand for musical crescendos. To my pleasant surprise I got it for the closeout price of $229.95 marked down from $450-$500. That button on the front of the power supply switches between the capacitance and resistance settings required for moving magnet and moving coil cartridges respectively, which will be handy for switching between my favorite two cartridges. I can't wait for delivery day Friday.
  7. Get a Prince sticker on eBay and turn the purple and black body into a Prince Tribute Tele:
  8. In a music store, I played a vintage Switchmaster hollowbody archtop back-to-back with an ASAT Z-3 semi-hollow. The ASAT was every bit the tone equal of the Epi jazz box, but a lot more ergonomic and easier to play fatigue-free. Also, not a historic collectible, but a lot less money. I have a translucent red ASAT Classic semihollow that I had luthier-to-the-stars Mike Lull turn into an ASAT 3 semihollow, The pickup selections sound like an airy-sounding jazzbox/Strat with jangle.
  9. A couple (or so) years ago I called attention to a killer deal on a home audio power amp. It's a real "big boy" amp, with wide bandwidth, low noise, fast rise time (better clarity and articulation) and very decent power. Once again, Audio Advisor has this NuForce 80wpc power amp on clearance--$1299 marked down to $417.99. (Pay attention to the enthusiastic user reviews.) I have experience with these AA Clearance deals. They're on sale for having "used" status, but they are not returns from dissatisfied customers. Rather, they are brand new, unused components that were unboxed so they could be photographed for their catalogs and website, after which they were returned to their factory boxes and inventoried at Audio Advisor. I personally scored a massive 5-channel Adcom home theater amp for $550 marked down from $1550 at least 15 years ago. At that price I assumed that it was a used and returned item. To my surprise on initial installation it sounded rubbery and indistinct, and gradually became cleaner and more dynamic-sounding as I let it run in for a few hours. In other words, it had not been played enough to break in, which means it had not been used. Fifteen years later this amp still anchors my 5-channel home theater system and is in use for hours day and night for TV, cinema, and violent, noisy video games. Definitely not a defective return. This NuForce would also be an "unbox and click" catalog item. Full factory warranty and AA return policy are still in effect. It turns out that this amplifier is the result of a collaboration between Optoma and Goldmund. Goldmund is a high-end boutique brand based in Switzerland whose proprietary power amps sell in the 5-figure range. By comparison, $1299 is chump change and $417.99 is a steal. Also, this Nuforce amp is a smooth, musical-sounding Class A/B design, produces 80 wpc, and yet weighs under 14 lbs, normally the weight range of a more abrupt-sounding Class D amp. My 100wpc A/AB amp weighs about 40 lbs. Detailed (but wordy) review from a High End magazine here.
  10. Oh, the Ibanezers looked down on the Strad guitars and lutes for having tied off frets made of gut instead of the superior embedded polished steel frets of the Ibanezes.
  11. I think the denser spruce grains produced in the mini-ice age (17th century) is a more plausible explanation. After all, it's not just Strads that are legendary, so are the products of other Cremona luthier families of that time period--Amati, Rugeri, and Guarneri, most notably Guarneri Del Gesu Many world-class classical violinists had Strads, but several of them favored their Guarneri Del Gesus from the same town and time period, including the legendary Paganini, Jascha Heifetz, Pinchas Zuckerman, and others. They all owned Strads, but Guarneri Del Gesus were their favorites. And the Sabionari Strad played in this video is the only playable Strad guitar. Here's another guitarist playing it:
  12. After all, that's why Leo Fender decided to make boltneck guitars. His partner, George Fullerton, was a gigging musician and his (acoustic IIRC) guitar neck got a twist. Orange County was pretty sparse for specialty business at that time, so he had to ship it a few hundred miles or more to a luthier who could fix it and either passed on gigs or borrowed a guitar to keep playing. Leo saw the advantage of a boltneck--make do with your twisted neck and mail order a replacement neck.
  13. ... is another man's trash. I got the clue several years ago when I was shopping at Sam's Club for a VHS machine so I could play all the Disney and Sesame Street tapes when the grandkids visit. Uh, there were no VHS decks available; this was at least 10-15 years ago. Fortunately they had (and I bought) a VHS/DVD combo and it's still collecting dust in the garage. My wife's son and daughter-in-law still had a VHS machine at their home so I mailed a box of our vintage VHS tapes to them (with media mail, of course). The remaining doorstops were donated to my local Goodwill. Hopefully it kept some rugrats occupied while it allowed their harried mothers to put their feet up and get some rest.
  14. I have several of them. Some were done by Acoustic Sounds, including a remaster/repress of a 1958 Nat King Cole album, "After Hours." This is a pre-stereo recording, so it really lights up with my mono cartridge. I also have the Ry Cooder/V.M Batt "A Meeting by the river." Cooder's son played tablas, and the presentation is in-the-room visceral and dynamic. I have a few more remasters, but I also have some pressings from classical label Angel's "sonic series", which presents large scale orchestral works such as "The Planets." The 45 rpm effect spreads the groove undulations over a longer area, much like professional studio tapes are recorded at 15 or 30 ips, rather than at 7.5 ips. The faster speed also means that many single-disc 33rpm albums are double albums at 45 rpm, and cost around $25 /per disc. I have a 3-disc album that came in at $75, but I bought it used from an audio buddy for $50. Still have it, won't let go of any of them. Angel's Sonic Series comes in cheaper because they're on the used or out -of-print market.
  15. At last I'm able to present my subjective impressions of new $34 AT-95VM with bonded conical stylus. I like it for a number of reasons: It has a rich, forward soloist range, whether vocal or instrumental, with a pleasing blend of the backing instruments. This makes it particularly engaging if you're listening to Sinatra accompanied by Nelson Riddle or Count Basie, or any number of pop/rock groups such as The Cars, Police, Elvis Costello, David Bowie, Michael Jackson, etc. The cartridge body has built-in mounting threads, making installtion siimpler and with no need for bolts to secure the cartridge. The supplied bolts fit the thread pitch in the cartridge, which may not work with bolts from other sources. If you have any mono LPs, you can switch between stereo and mono recordings without swapping (and re-balancing) between stereo and mono cartridges. My 2014 Beatles in Mono releases sound superb, even when compared to my moving coil mono cartridge (which requires rebalancing the tonearm and changing the gain and capacitance settings on my phono preamp. The mono cartridge is lower in noise because it's a true mono which tracks above accumulated dust i in the bottom of the groove, but the AT95-VMC comes very close. The conical stylus is a good match for LPs stamped before the mid-60s. Starting with the $34 AT95-VMC, you can upgrade economically to a nude and/or exotically shaped stylus for less the price of most all-in-one cartridges with a nude-mounted high end stylus. For example, I got Audio-Technica's flagship cartridge with nude Microlinear stylus, the At150MLX, for $259 in 2008 directly from Japan when import goods were cheaper; stateside they were $599. Currently the At150MLX has shot up to $770. The AT-95VMC ($34) plus the microlinar stylus ($169) totals at $203. Similarly, the same cartridge ($34) plus its upgrade nude shibata stylus ($199) comes to $233. By contrast, the shibata-equipped Ortofon Black cartridge weighs in at $699. Again, $233 is a steal. The microline stylus is shaped like the cutting head when mastering the LP. The shibata stylus was created to track 4-channel discrete LPs to groove oscillations up to 40Khz. They remain lush and unperturbed when tracking the inner part of an LP's groove where it's tight. I have been using the base AT-95VC on a wide variety of music: a capella vocal, the Beatles, power pop, '80s rock, small group jazz, big band, and even large scale orchestra, even my Balalaika Favorites, which is in mono. It sounds superb with this $34 cartridge, and I have been using the AT150MLX for13 years.
  16. I agree that the Babicz versions of the Tunamatic bridge and stoptail bridges on guitars are busy-looking. But Babicz's J-bass version is sheer elegance compared to Fender's bent sheet-metal plus adjustment screws. I'll take Babicz's ability to do a setup in 10 minutes any time over the fussy Fender design. And that's no slam on Leo, either, because he also designed the smooth and comfortable Saddle-Lock bridge designs at G&L: Having played the stock Fender J-bass with sheet metal bridge and owning a J-bass with the Babicz drop-in replacement plus a 1980s G&L Lynx bass with Saddle-Lock bridge, I'd estimate that the Babicz and G&L bridges add about 30% more tone quality, volume, and clarity over my experience with a J-bass's stock bridge.
  17. Friday update: I just wasted 2 hours writing a description of Audio-Technica's AT-95VM moving magnet series only to have a virus take over my screen with no escape but pressing the power-down button, thus wiping out everything I wrote. Now I need a nap. So here's the URL to Audio-Technica's well-illustrated description of their AT-95VM series: https://www.audio-technica.com/vm95seriescartridges/index.html I bought the entry-level model with the bonded conical stylus for $34. I've been playing a wide variety of records lately and will post my opinion of its performance later this afternoon.
  18. Audio Technica has a brilliantly conceived new line of moving magnet cartridges. More info to come Friday.
  19. Unlike the sharp and ratty Fender tailpiece, the Babicz cams are smooth and provide a comfortable place to rest your plucking hand.
  20. I tend to agree. Some displays of virtuosity fit in with the music and raise the energy of the songs, but when overdone, it distracts from the song. I got a CD of Eric Johnson from the local library. I was interested in checking him out because he was touring with G3 and got a lot of good press here. But after slogging through his solo album, the pentatonic meedly-meedly got to me, leading me to conclude, "It's Still Wank 'n' Roll to me." To be fair, I think too much reliance on the pentatonic scale is getting to me. I recently played a British classical orchestral album of Ralph Vaughn Williams symphonies and tone poems. Vaughn Williams frequently adapted/rearranged orchestral works based on rural English folk songs. Being folk songs, these also relied heavily on the pentatonic scale (minus the meedly-meedly), and to my surprise I rapidly tired of the folk reliance of the pentatonic scale in spite of Vaughn Williams' lush orchestations.
  21. My stepson gave me this vol. 1&2 double vinyl remastered180-gramg repress for Christmas: This music evokes fond memories going back 58 years when I was 8 yrs old. This album shot to #1 in 1962 and the singles got lots of airplay on our local top 40 stations. To hear its biggest hit, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-YqaTDDCDM. I got a new phono cartridge and I was breaking it in on the Ray Charles, some gems from my jazz collection, and this amazing album: This is a meticulously mastered and 180g pressing from a 1963 recording. It was recorded by Mercury Records, using a Westrex cinema-based machines 35mm tape recorder. 35 mm film is about 2-1/2" wide and runs at 24 frames/sec, which means the sound was recorded on about 1-1/2"-wide tape running at about 24 inches per second. The recording clarity and musical quality is stunning. This recording was made at the height of the Cold War. To soften some of the tension, there was some USA/Soviet cultural interactions, and this recording was one of them. (Another was when Russian folk dancers appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show about the same time) The musicians were the Osipov Orchestra (Wiki article at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osipov_State_Russian_Folk_Orchestra), and featuring a full-sized orchestra comprised of Russian folk instruments. The balalikas ranged from large bass ones (pictured) going all the way up to violin range. They also used accordions or concertinas, which add a lush color to the arrangements. The balalaika players are monster virtuosos. One of the songs is "Flight of the Bumble Bee" picked at full speed. Check it out at https://store.acousticsounds.com/d/11026/Vitaly_Gnutov-Balalaika_Favorites-180_Gram_Vinyl_Record. Hear the opening number here:
  22. Here's a web page about the 2230 at a website called "Classic Receivers."
  23. In the Wikipedia entry for FujiGen it says, "In 1981–82 FujiGen obtained the Fender Japan contract which lasted until 1996–97..." It was around 1997 when I saw the one in the music store, and Robben Ford was still endorsing it.
  24. Any love for the MIJ Fender Robben Ford Esprit model? I played one in a music store and it seemed really nice.
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