Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Paul McGowan on room set up

Paul McGowan explains how to get your room right, in general terms, in this video from the latest PS Audio Newsletter. The newsletter generally is worth signing up for, it appears monthly in your inbox and is not just a sales push, though selling PS Audio's approaches is generally what it's all about. Paul is a generally positive guy who offers great input on the company's own customer forum at If nothing else, the video shows you the cool set up at in their listening room. Maggies, diffusers, prototype amps.....enjoy.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Bye bye Herb

I hate it but it is so, the great Herb Ellis has left us. I can write about it but words won't convey the wonder of his playing. If you need an education, go to YouTube and check the guy out. If you want to listen, really listen, to a player who could comp, solo, accompany, interpret and just plain push that guitar into the realm of true instrumentation, pick up one of his solo albums and just listen. No histrionics, no wailing distortion masquerading as technique, no speed runs feigning profundity, just pure harmonic joy in the instrument. And if you want to know how anyone could live in the same space as Oscar Peterson and thrive - he was that man. Thank you Herb - you made life better. Nuff said.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Reviewer sells cables sent in for review - shock, schlock and lack of facts

One of the complaints of the web is that we are drowning in too much data -- but another is that some postings never die, and can resurface at any time. Both are in evidence in a recent note I came across on Audio Asylum. Not sure how I missed it since I subscribe, but apparently a leading writer in a leading magazine (!) was alleged to have sold his review samples on A'gon. Worse, this was $20k's worth of cable from a high end manufacturer who was not amused. No official response from the 'critic' though he allegedly called the editor of a rival journal a 'fucker' for mentioning it.  Follow the links, it gets more bizarre as a well known amp designer chips in with other stories and a picture emerges of bribery, reviews for sale and general lowlife behavior among some members of the review community. Now read those mags with a better sense of perspective.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Elekit up next

Flushed with beginner's success, I purchased another kit, this time an Elekit 879s integrated, a good looking 8w three-tube amp from Japan. I purchased from Victor Kung in Vancouver who imports these and translated the manual (which apparently has since been copied by others without permission). Victor has been a great assistance in dealing with a damaged shipment courtesy of the mail service. More pics to follow but the parts quality of the Elekit is impressive and a step up from the S5 amp.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

DIY amps

I've been assmbling a kit tube amp from S5 Electronics, a small, 8w 6 tube integrated that lives on a piece of wood, the KL8

Instructions are not the best but suffice to get it done (there is one missing figure and at least one missing step involving the input jacks but you can figure this out easily by the time to get to that stage of assembly). All you need is basic soldering skills (nobody's are more basic than mine), and the final assembly looked like this:

Despite their 86db sensitivity, I managed to drive my old Kef 103/2s with this to really pleasing room filling volume. At the very least, this kit tells you what you can achieve with a small investment in decent enough parts, a predesigned schematic and some labor. Sure you don't get anything that looks too good with this kit but you can begin to appreciate how more expensive transformers and caps might improve matters. There's a whole range of DIY forums out there to help (check out, for example, this one )

From here, I plan to move on to another kit, the Elekit integrated which comes from Japan complete with a decent chassis and ultra cool looks. In fact, there are more high quality kits out there than you might imagine and I suspect one could create a really decent amp for a reasonable investment. More as I go.