Category Archives: William Degli-Angeli

The Vintage Audio Nut – #4: My Main Hi-Fi Setup

This week’s installment is a monster of a post. This week I go into my audio setup that I listen to most of the time. This is going to be a long ride so please bear with me. To begin one has to know what this system has to be capable of playing. There is only one answer to that, anything analog. And to be perfectly honest, it just about does that. (Aside from a few very hard to find formats) This system has been setup to play vinyl records, cassette tapes, and good old fashioned radio. However, for the purposes of the darn thing not being somewhat wasted on only that, there are a few additional devices to sort of bring it into the 21st century. Now for the list of parts, the Technics SL-1301 (Discussed in Earlier Post), a Philips TV Antenna with Signal Amplifier, a Magnavox FC 1442 Cassette Deck, the Panasonic RP-966 Dolby B Noise Reduction Unit, the Harman/Kardon 330c Stereo Receiver, and a pair of Radian Research 8-2DP speakers (the ones I refoamed). That is the short list of parts. So that’s where I will begin.

The Magnavox tape deck was a lucky find as the deck was in need of some repair, but ended up being the best I’ve had to date. It only had a belt issue and was in need of a cleaning. Fixed just like that. Plus it was my favorite price (free). The Panasonic Dolby Unit was an odd find at a flea market, I just simply saw it on a table at one booth next to a dbx unit. I spent an entire 5 Dollars US on the thing. It has been very useful in many ways. First, it serves as a low level line amplifier for the somewhat weak phono output on the receiver. Second, it serves as a high quality Dolby B encoder/decoder for my cassette tapes. Also, the darn thing has the coolest analog meter that I have ever seen. The antenna is obvious. That thing was something that I got in order to get analog television reception (prior to digital switch over) and it never really worked. But living in a valley also limits radio reception (they’re the same thing, really) and a short time ago I had the insane idea to use it to get radio signal. It works great and on a good night I can get FM radio stations from an hour and a half away from my house. Now for the powerhouse behind this whole mess (not really joking) the Harman/Kardon 330c. This receiver is probably the coolest thing I have ever seen. The front panel is all black and when you start it up it glows a brilliant lime green with some red accents. The receiver only outputs 20 watts per channel into 8 ohms, but with the right pair of speakers it sounds like a 100 watt per channel receiver. The Harman/Kardon is a fantastic receiver to use as it has the most amazing sound that I have ever heard. Also, many of the others who have used one of these receivers has had nothing bad to say about it. This receiver was a free find as it needed a minor tune-up (insert control cleaner here) and presto, fixed receiver. The actual delivery system for all this sound is the speakers. The Radian Research 8-2DP speakers that deliver the sweet soothing sounds of my music are the only speakers I have that are a good fit for this receiver. The speakers deliver a very warm rich sound that have made everything I listen to on this system sound perfect. The speakers came to me for free and were in severe disrepair. the cabinets were moldy and water damaged. The woofers were rotted out and needed new foam. Thankfully, Google cures all problems that I can’t. Thirty dollars and a week later, speakers fixed. Now they rock the house the way they should.

That was only the core system. Additional devices include a broken VCR as a TV tuner and Auxiliary input switcher and on occasion a computer to play CDs and to hear sound from DVDs. However, these aren’t primary devices in this system.  That’s the main system. Hope everybody could manage to follow along.

Next Week: The JVC Fiasco

The Vintage Audio Nut: Special – Speaker Refoaming & The Loss of Steve Jobs

Last week I said that I would be discussing my main audio setup and my speaker refoaming adventure, but today I have found out that Apple Computer founder Steve Jobs has passed on. For everyone in the world of computers this is a terrible loss. Normally, I would not venture too far into the world of modern audio, but on this day I feel that it is important to discuss my iPod Nano for which I probably wouldn’t be sane outside of my house. I got mine when I was in high school and everybody was going through this phase where everybody (and I do mean that literally) felt like they needed an iPod. At that time, I was all about the newest tech and couldn’t have cared too much for anything vintage. So I saved up my money and bought a first generation iPod Nano in black. That was the 10th happiest day of my life. I love that Nano and I still use it to this day. Getting that iPod was a privilege and I will always love it. That device was just some of the vision that Steve Jobs had and I’m glad that I got to be a part of it. Steve Jobs, where ever you are now, you will be missed.

Now, having said all of that, I will discuss speaker refoaming. Now you’re asking, “What is speaker refoaming?”  Speaker refoaming is the process of replacing the foam surround that is found on many speaker cones. You see after about twenty to thirty years of sitting around, that foam that is surrounding the cone and keeping it centered, usually dry rots away until it is sitting on the floor or in behind the grill. At that point the speaker will begin to buzz as if it is blown. If left unchecked long enough, permanent damage will ensue. Well I recently acquired some speakers that were suffering from the dry rot and I fixed them. Now I’m not going into how to do it, (if you want that just Google ‘speaker refoaming how to’) but I will say how bad the job was, and it wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought it would be. Mostly, the job was tedious and annoying, but I (the complete novice) did this job in one day and by the end of the weekend I had a pair of really good vintage 1980′s speakers for my main stereo.

Next Week: My Main Stereo Setup (hopefully)

The Vintage Audio Nut: #3 – The 1977 Technics SL-1301

Every once in a while in the world of vintage audio one comes upon an oddity such an extremely european tape deck. It happens. People import things that aren’t normally found in a particular country. This is one of those oddities that is kind of rare. On the outside it looks like a normal American version of the Technics SL-1301, but you would have had to have seen the original invoice to know for sure. Unfortunately, I must admit right now that I have lost that invoice and can’t really prove that in a court of law. So all I will say is that I know it and that I know I can’t really prove it. Therefore, don’t bring that fact up. Now, I will move on to more important information. The turntable is basically a little brother to the most famous Technics turntable, the SL-1200 MkII. Having said that, one can expect to find many of the Technics goodies. These would include, but are not limited to, a direct drive DC brushless motor, Quartz Lock for improved speed stability, and that unforgettable S-shaped tonearm. Of course, with this being a fully automatic turntable, this comes with other cool goodies, such as an automatic tonearm transport for start and return, auto-return at the end of a side, “memo-repeat” to allow continuous playback, and support for auto-start on the three common record sizes of 7″, 10″ and 12″. Sound quality is somewhat hard to explain, mostly due to the fact that different people will use different cartridges and styli with their own 1301. My deck uses a Shure M92E Cartridge this is mostly due to a little incident that might be discussed at a later date. Using that cartridge has been a very positive experience and the quality is phenomenal. I have used this deck in it’s current configuration to digitize some of my vinyl to share with my family on their (Oh I don’t want to say it…) CD players. Those rips have been of very good quality, the only downside to that is that I don’t have a better quality sound card to make digital recordings. This example was only owned by my father before it came into my hands and I have loved it every day since then. For a very long time this deck had big problems that made it hard to use and disrupted some of the unique (at least to me) features that this deck possesses. After several years of playing with it, I did manage to fix all of it’s problems and made it work so much better than it did when I received it. This deck is the crown jewel of my collection and it has it’s own legacy that backs that statement up. In summary, this thing is awesome, and I love it!

Next Week: My Bedroom Setup and Some Brief Thoughts on Re-foaming Speaker Drivers

The Vintage Audio Nut – #2: The Beatles White Album

 

 

As a child I had some unique experiences with music and the world of vintage audio. Most of these experiences involved a Marantz 2285b and a Marantz 5030 tape deck, but one of the best experiences was playing around with my sister’s record player. Of course, being 5 years old, I was only listening to old children’s records that had belonged to that same sister once upon a time. However, that’s another story. Several years later I found myself a being a huge fan of The Beatles and listening to the same 54 Beatles songs from the Red and Blue Albums (1962-1966 and 1967-1970) over and over again. Only when I acquired my father’s old Technics SL-1301 Turntable that he brought back home from Japan in the late 1970′s and I had built my first vintage audio system around that turntable about a decade ago, did I ever want to get this album on vinyl. Unfortunately, the average cost of a playable copy (not very clean sounding  by any means) is usually far more expensive than I believe it is truly worth. It should be noted at this point, that I have only had the pleasure of seeing four different vinyl copies of this album. Two of those copies were original pressings with embossed text and the number stamp which I spotted at a flea market in Dutchess County in New York, the third was at a local record store near my hometown, and these albums had problems. The covers were water-stained, the records were scratched and the full list of release materials was incomplete. In other words, worthless.

But then came the fourth, the one I actually paid some of my hard earned cash on. This copy cost me about $27 (US) and it is worth so much more than the price I paid. This 1975 pressing has the finest quality cover I have ever seen and the records themselves are in near-mint condition. The album included all (that’s right, ALL) of the materials that would have been found under the original plastic wrapper. The sound quality is something to be amazed by. I personally have played this album many times and I really do love this copy. The best words I have as a description is that this album is the multimedia experience of a lifetime and that while it wasn’t cheap, it was worth the extra money. I love the whole album and it is fun to listen to the album and look at the poster and photos and imagine myself in 1968 hearing the album for the very first time. It is albums like this and my own personal experiences with vintage audio that have driven me to build a vintage system and as I am writing this I am working on a second system the core of which is the Sherwood from my previous post. And on that note, my discussion is over for this week.

Next Week: The Technics SL-1301 Turntable from 1977

 

The Vintage Audio Nut – #1: Sherwood S-7050

The Sherwood S-7050

All my life I have been a nut about sound and sound quality, and I have spent many years with false notions of what is good and bad. After years of trial and error, I have learned many things about the best audio equipment to get, how to get it, and get it for a good deal. My entry today is no exception to any of these rules. This 1974 Sherwood S-7050 Stereo Receiver is a fantastic stereo system, and I won’t lie, the price was fantastic (in other words FREE!!!) after being freshly pulled out of a person’s attic. This little receiver pushes out a fantastic quality of sound rivaling much more expensive equipment that can be bought brand new today. I have had this stereo for a little while and never really used it up until about two days ago and I soon discovered that I had made a really big mistake. But fortunately, I have found this piece a good home at my computer. Now after all that blather you’ll probably want to know the specs. This receiver is a 10 watt per channel (wpc) unit with 2 line level inputs, 1 tape output, magnetic phono input and AM-Mono/FM-Stereo tuner. The sound of the preamp is absolutely spectacular, the highs are very crisp and very present bass tones at low volumes. Also, the front of the unit is in nearly perfect condition save for some of the printing having worn off with age. But hey, the unit is 37 years old. That being said, there were some issues I had to correct. Mostly, these issues I would declare as cosmetic but do ‘impede’ usage to a small extent. This is due to the light bulbs being burned out and the headphone jack on the front being wired in reverse. The biggest issues I had were the controls and the headphone jack. The controls were so dirty inside that every control was really scratchy when adjusted and in some cases didn’t work at all. Even after adjustment, the control would remain at full blast or fully shut off. But, contact cleaner heals all wounds. As of my writing this, everything works just fine and all it took was a little work. Again, the unit is 37 years old.

Check back next week when I post my review of A 1975 pressing of The Beatles – White Album on Vinyl!

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