Thursday, July 29, 2010

Jam Session

So I was reading in our local Memphis Flyer about a jazz photography exhibit entitled Jam Session that was coming to town. It also just so happened to open the night the kids left for camp. Oh, and it was free. (I sell HiFi gear, remember?)

So Lisa and I stroll down to the main library and walk right in. Except for the small detail that it was by invitation only. Whoops. Luckily, Memphis is a very small town, and Lisa knew a woman working for one of the Memphis music organizations sponsoring the event. She was sitting at the check-in table. Perfect. So we acted like we belonged there. Nice. Not quite an Obama dinner, but I'll take it. I guess crashing a party with congressmen in attendance won't make us famous, will it? (I know. pretty sad.)

The pictures were very good, unlike my sneaky snapshots. Basically the exhibit highlighted the Jazz Ambassadors tours from the 50's through the 70's. At some point back in the day, they decided that Jazz was the perfect uniquely American thing to send around the world. So this will explain the large crowds for incredible musicians who were having a hard time here in the US. It also explains the crazy backgrounds and settings.

There were some really cool combinations in this group of photos. The stories were great as well. I especially loved Louis Armstrong backing out of the first and highly politicized trip to the Soviet Union because Eisenhower wouldn't walk the "Little Rock Nine" into school. (But I am glad the event inspired Mingus to compose Fables of Faubus)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Mythical Land of Walter.

On my weekend travels I stumbled upon this out of the way place in the land called Walter where in a relaxed atmosphere old friends meet, sometimes for the first time.

The history and scale of the venue perfectly matched the history and the scale of the toys being played with and the company reminded me of another time when things were genuine.

At the end of the day (which happened to be the next morning) the keeper of the land spoke some important words to me that rang true on so many levels and those simple words were.... "I don't care". Given what I am allegedly a trained professional at, I should be embarrassed by the pictures I have posted but the past 24 hours have been a wonderful education in freedom and acceptance.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Sifting through stuff.

I'm not sure where youze all stand on the personal vs. professional blog content but I was sifting through some stuff from my younger days and found this picture. Someday I might tell the story behind it but I need to find some supporting evidence to make sure I don't violate the relocation rules imposed by the photographers protection program.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Too Cherry to Chop???

OK the shot of the King isn't really that important but it was in my "to be blogged" image folder and the following talk of cherries and chopping made it sort of fit.

The real reason of this post is to talk about the Altec 15's. For some time I have been looking for a dead sample to examine the magnet structure. After a few misses on ebay for too much money these showed up on Craigslist. The asking price was low so I decided to go get 'em. I agreed on $45 for the two and when the guy fired them up it was horrible. Both drivers were flawless. The front driver is an alnico 418 and the rear a ceramic 421. When thinking about getting them home I realized I now had a problem. I had two vintage drivers that were functional and my goal was simply to come out of the deal with at least one driver in need of a re-cone.

As my friend Aron and I carried the drivers across Roosevelt Avenue in Queens a gut in an old red SUV yelled "Hey want any more of that Altec stuff?" I replied yes, I'm looking for a dead 416 or 515. He said he had a ton of Altec stuff and needs to unload it. He rattled off a list of woofers, compression drivers and multi-cell horns that mad me drool. Then went on to talk about dynaco tube amps and other kit that he pulled out of service and tossed on a shelf. We exchanged info and i'll give him a shout next week and try to meed up. Stay tuned! (if any of you have a 416 or 515 in need of a recone pop Jeffrey or me a note and we can work something out)

The project of the day was to get the Lowther Field Coils installed into the bigfun cabinets. In order to do this I needed to add a bit of an extension to the front baffle and while making sawdust I realized that the driver would now see a very different baffle for support in the 300-400hz range and the sound showed it.

The stopgap solution was simple. I had to keep the extension to the for fear of a collapse but once the glue is dry on the extensions, the extra weight of the extension shouldn't be a problem.


Rain brings...

It has been too hot here. Then it finally rained. Became pure steam. Now it is hot again. But beauty came somewhere in the middle. Some was expected, some not.

Hey you freeloading birds! Get outta my scoops! I am not done with them yet!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Exhilaration III

It has been a while since I have updated the thoughts and results from experiments that are leading to the Exhilaration I through V speakers. I think the model that most people will be able to fit into their spaces is the Exhilaration III. This model will have the straight midbass horn that reaches down fully to sixty Hz. (I have trashed quite a few horns in figuring out that sixty is my magic number.) Up top will be a midhorn that skips teh top octave in favor of majestic mids. Music is in teh middle, after all. I am leaning toward a horn in the 200 Hz range. I was planning to add in a tweeter above 15k anyway, so why not bring it in just a little lower in frequency and be able to bring the mid horn down along with it?

I have been living with the prototype midbass horn for a while now, so I am just working out some construction details. Stiffness is king in the midbass. The horn has to be solid. You can really hear the difference.

The drivers will be a compression driver with a 3" diameter diaphragm and a 15" woofer down low. Field coils will of course be available for both as highly recommended options... (evil grin)

Friday, July 16, 2010

Jeffrey, where have you been?

Working and vacationing. Pictures tell it better than I would.

vegetarian take on local culture

tree climbing

hamfest vendor was a 70's skate pro


sliding rock

western baby

Dad, is it legal to wear this hat in public?

exceeds dress code

melon baby

my big breakthrough


desperately needed acoustic treatment



melon head

more graffiti

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Funny how you bump into famous people

Hi All, Pete here as a guest blogger. So here I was on vacation travelling around the South West USA and who should I bump into in deepest darkest Arizona!

Now some of you may know this reprobate! But would you trust him with high voltage? I'm pretty sure I saw one of his relatives, Chris, I think his name is, in a movie somewhere. I'm pretty sure there was some high voltage involved there and that didn't end well. :-)

What do you think guys? Separated at birth?

Of course after meeting up thousands of miles away from home, surrounded by beautiful scenery, being the geeks that we are, we proceeded to discuss the finer points of tube amplifier design!

(They made me do it, honest guv!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

If a picture = 1000 threads...

how do you compute these odds?

seems like a horse race to me and it just comes down to who you trust at the wire.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Three is the Magic number.

No not another De La Soul entry but one that takes me back to my youth. Back in the day when we only had 4 channels on TV to watch on Saturday mornings in between Bugs Bunny and the Roadrunner on ABC there was an entire series of educational animated music videos called Schoolhouse Rock

About 15 years ago when I first met Steve Berger, he told me how he played with Bob Dourough and I hadn't a clue to who he was. He then mentioned Schoolhouse Rock and suddenly I knew every lyric the man had written, or so I thought. Over the course of the next few years it became clear to me that those catchy lyrics are only a part of his legacy and to this day his contributions to music have spanned 80+ years.

My Buddy Steve is working on a documentary about Bob's life and like most independent films, they don't have the $$ to finish it. The lack of funding has lead them to Kickstarter to try to generate the needed $$ to finish shooting a few scenes and edit the film. After reading up on how the process works, I felt confident in making a small pledge. I look at it this way, for the cost of seeing some piece of Hollywood crap in Stadium seating you can help a worthwhile cause and get an autographed copy of the movie to boot.

I rarely do this kind of thing but do not feel guilty in the least trying to pimp it out. I know there aren't enough people here to even make a dent, but I also know that spreading the word is viral and the people here are passionate, so if you see me trying to help out a friend on another forum, chime in with support. Better yet, make a post about the project on your favorite forum and help spread the word.

The project is the featured on on Kickstarter today but in the future the direct link is:

Devil May Care


happy siete de julio

a few days late from the actual event but enjoy!


Friday, July 2, 2010

My take on flavor.

Based on Jeffrey's last post I was able to replicate his experiments as best I could with parts on hand. Amorphous Outputs are 10K:16, 80% nickel outputs are 20K:16 with limited inductance (160hz up) Output tube is a 300B so things aren't perfect, yet you gotta work with what you have. In any case without going into too many details, I think the culinary aspects dominated the experiments.

For actual scale, the nickel outputs are one size up from what JJ had and the amorphous OT's have 1/2 the core of the 304TL beasts. Before anyone asks which is better I want to be clear that we all have and are allowed out own tastes. Keeping with the food analogies, I'd say that to me, amorphous is like a meal at a nice restaurant and the nickel is the comfort food cooked by your mom that you request whenever you go home.