I am not an audiophile......
I just like to listen to music. At home, in the car, wherever. And I am of the mind that newer, more convenient music formats have offered a steady decline in quality over the standard vinyl LP (cd, then MP3, now MP4 and such) that they were meant to replace. Yeah, it's hard to play a record in the car, and they are a bit fussy in terms of cleaning, system setup, and all, but they simply sound better than standard cd's on a modest, well-set up system. I remember as a kid envying my uncles and their shiny, silver-faced, vinyl-based systems and the record collections that went along with it. (Lionel Richie, anyone?) Back in the 70's and early 80's it was nothing for a self-respecting guy to drop a grand or two on their stereo system. Given inflation, we should be happy to pay that much for hi-fi sound nowadays, but convenience has trumped quality. All one needs is an Ipod and a pile of MP3's from Itunes, or even the old Napster if you really want to cheap out. No messy and heavy records and their jackets to store, no cd jewel cases to break, and all we need is our JBL Docking Station from Best Buy to crank up the party. What's been lost is not just the sound itself, but also the culture of music listening and collecting.
My 'system', if you'd call it such a thing, is not 'hi-fi' in the ultimate sense of the term, but it makes real music, and I like it. Would I like to upgrade some things? Of course, but for now I can put a plate on the stereo and not have my eardrums slowly scraped away by shrill MP3 nonsense.
Music Hall mmf-5, modified with non-felt mat, Signet cartridge, motor and subplatter damping
Pioneer PL-15D AT and Shure cartridges
Sanyo Plus Q-25, Ortofon Quest OM20
Cambridge Audio 640P
Scott 299a phono section
Edirol UA EX-1 USB soundcard. This outboard two-channel soundcard is used in conjunction with a Dell Windows 7 PC and Audacity software to rip analog recordings onto a hard drive. Supports 16 and 24-bit recording and playback , I tend to record at 24 bits and 48 khz resolution (DVD-A standard)
Digital playback is through a Grant Fidelity DAC-09 digital to analog converter
Scott 299a tube integrated, fully rebuilt by Craig at NOSValves
(2) Dayton APA-150 power amps, bridged, feeding subs in main speakers
Acoustic Research AR-11x 'Hi-Res' floorstanders. These were from the early period when Recoton took over the AR badge. They are a bit of heretical in AR circles since they are a bass-reflex design, but they really are a good speaker. After this brief foray into the two channel market AR/Recoton focused more on chintzy home theatre speakers. These units are very sensitive (91 db), have a built-in 8" non-powered subwoofer with a 100 hz crossover point, and are bi-wireable, something I would like to use in the future. I haven't 'auditioned' a bunch of speakers with this system but I feel that these are really good for under a grand.
Various small-medium sized box speakers including Baby Advents, Peavey 308s monitors, Grafyx SP6.
I also have some cheap Dual outdoor speakers on the deck which work okay for the moment, but leave a little to be desired. These are from the new Dual line run by some Chinese outfit and don't have anything to do with the old German company aside from the badge.
Hodgepodge of basic Monoprice premium or Dayton Audio three footers from Parts Express, with some custom coax or cat5 cables. Speaker cables are 12 gauge basic speaker wire with spade or banana plug connections
Anyone into vinyl needs to keep their records clean, and an RCM is the best way to do it. Rather than buy a nitty gritty or VPI for $500, I built this unit using an old vacuum cleaner motor and a simple pine box. Plans for a similar unit can be found here. I presently use Phoenix Enzyme Wash, Mobile Fidelity Super Vinyl Wash and a homebrew cleaning solution of 1:2 99% ethyl alcohol : distilled water with a drop of Tween wetting agent for really dirty records.
This is built based on a plan from TNT Audio. Shelves are two pieces of MDF glued together and mounted through treaded 5/8" rod risers. It's very stable, especially after I added the high-tensile wire anchors on the sides. Shelves are infinitely adjustable and easily leveled.
I built permanent storage shelves from 1/2" pine in my 'media closet' and can hold around 800 LP's and the same number of cd's. This works pretty well. In the dead space in the corner I included stash spaces for accessories.
All material Copyright Terence Bradshaw 2006-2013
terryb at lostmeadowvt dot com