Saturday, December 1, 2012

DIY simplistic tape adapter for the Quad 33

After reading about the possibility of a simplistic tape adapter for the Quad 33, I fashioned a DIY from the following PCB strip (easily obtainable from the electronic shops).

I then used a small hacksaw and sand-paper to fashion the strip into a similar dimension Quad 33 Tape Adapter board. The entire job can be easily completed within an hour.

From top
View of bottom

Inserting the DIY Tape Adapter, it fit perfectly into the slot of my 2nd Quad 33 (which has been upgraded internally - need to reduce length of the board later)!

After insertion and Quad 33 in-use

Powering up was proof of a job well done.

Reproduction was revealing, especially on bad recordings - does no favours for them! And vice-versa.

As the reproduction could be a little raw at times, I tried inserting small value non-EC caps into the signal path to smoothen it out. Hence I replace the bare jumpers with a 0.047uF Russian Paper-In-Oil (PIO) capacitor in the REPLAY pathway. Made the unit sound more or less like the original 33.
With Russian PIO(s)

Then experimented with an old fashion Wima 0.33uF (original Quad value ... hmm) in-place of the PIO. The lows sound decent without the raw-ness but lack HF clearity. HF seem a little muddle. You can hear the HF details, as if they were being push into the background.
With older Wima(s)

Next step was to insert a 2pF silver mica to the REPLAY pathway, in-parallel to the Wima. The silver mica(s) act as a tonal bass-pass. And after 30min or so, the unit sounds good again - without the raw-less-ness in the reproduction.
With Wima(s) and silver mica
A few hours later, had to insert a 1uF into REPLAY as there seem to be an absence of some LF.
With 1uF added

LF's are now decent (without overemphasis), and, the HF are realistic (aka natural) due to the clearity of the reproduction.

Source is the Audiolab 8000DAC and 8000CDM, pre is the 2nd Quad 33 (internally upgraded) and power via the 3rd Quad 303 (late model) driving my Meridian speakers. The interconnect cables between the CDP and the Quad 33 was fashion from phone cables (nothing fancy). Cables between the Quad(s) are factory issued. Speaker cables are the ones I have been using since discovering their hidden talent!


After inserting the DIY TAPE ADAPTER into the 33, upon powering-on the 33 - DO NOT increase volume. Turn only to the point of power-on.

This is because I discovered if the inserted DIY tape adapter did not fit into the socket properly, there would be mass rumblings of sorts thru the speakers! If so, quickly turn off the unit and count to about 30 before removing the TAPE ADAPTER. Remove and re-insert properly.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Sansui SE-7

Among enthusists, Sansui were renown for their equalisers which were sweet sounding and functional.

The SE-7 is a nice 10-band equaliser from the 1980's with volume control for both channels via a bi-channel potentiometer. The SE-7 has facilities for various dubbing/output combinations and a pleasant lighted ON/OFF button.

I remember recapping the PSU EC(s) as the unit was sounding too soft - that did the job, as it was a low power consumption unit! 

Found the following pix from my digital camera.

Sold the SE-7 a while ago as it was surplus to requirements after my other units had been recapped.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

How does the Audio Note Signature DAC compare against my recapped DAC?

The million dollar question!!!

Setup during shoot-out
Hence I took the Audiolabs from storage and connected the RCA output from the 8000CDM to the Audio Note DAC. The RCA cable is a DIY made from a single core co-axial cable intended for video. The 8000CDM XLR output was fed to the 8000DAC. The XLR cable consists of a blue Klotz for digital cable. The outputs from both DAC(s) were fed to my Magnum IA-125 which are connected to the Meridian A500(s).

Any audible differences?

I could not hear any when performing the comparison using various CD(s)??? 

Please note the 8000DAC has been recapped with better components and a few values were altered from the originals.

After listening to the above setup for a couple of weeks, I decided to let go of the Audio Note since I could not tell the difference when playing any CD and switching between the two DAC(s) during critical listening.

The buyer of the Audio Note could not differenciate them either!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Audio Note DAC One 1X Signature

Audio Note is an established and one of the well known brands in high-end hifi.

The Audio Note DAC One.1x Signature deploys (mouthful obtained from the net) a 24Bit/96KHz compatible converter, AD1865N chip, digital filter free 1xover-sampling direct from disc technology. Black Gate capacitors, Audio Note copper foil signal caps and copper wired digital input transformer in Zero style chassis, 6111WA anode (valve) with no feedback (NFB) output stage.

The unit has digital inputs for either XLR or digital via RCA via selector in the rear. There is only a single pair of RCA outputs.

The following pix(s) show the lights visible after power-up.
Upon power-up

Once DAC detecting a CD transport connection
Once CD play initiated
Unfortunately I was not able to access the unit easily to take a pix of the internals, as only the front and rear plate are removable. Internal components are secured via screws on the bottom of the shell.
After front-plate removed
Pix of the internals after front plate removal

How does it sound?

Reproduction via the Audio Note is smooth, with full and dynamically natural sonics, using the Audiolab 8000CDM as transport via a 1m co-axial single core cable.

Keep an eye for the comparison against my recapped Audiolab 8000DAC next month, with both DAC(s) using the 8000CDM for input!!!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

LG RH-1988HS

Yes I know (and agree) ... this is NOT HIFI (in any manner or form)! Best qualified hifi usage is only as a "poor man's" transport.

The only reason I am posting the item here to save all the (other) poor soul's from being tormented  by the long or many  "PLEASE WAIT"  display issue (seems to be quite common when I performed a search on the net). I would like to contact the webmaster of a LG DVD-HDD website for consideration to add the following to his list but there was no contact listed there.

Our RH-1988HS has been working fine till recently when the "PLEASE WAIT" message was being displayed more and more often!!! Shortly thereafter, the LG stopped recording properly and would shutdown within seconds after start-up e.g as if it got hit by a PC virus??? Or it would only recording material in intervals of seconds!!!

LG RH-1988HS on top of another HDD-DVD recorder

After much Google-ing, found the solution after searching the net on good old YouTUBE!

Suggested steps to fix the issue are:-

1. Note your programmed recording schedule
2. Power off the unit
3. Remove the top casing
4. Check the capacitors on the PSU board (located behind the HDD)
5. Put your finger on the top of each of the larger capacitors to "feel" for bulging e.g the 2200uF(s)
6. Remove the PSU board from the chassis and perform the replacement, once you have the necessary capacitors. I used Rubycon(s) of the same spec(s)
7. Return the PSU board with all the necessary connections
8. Power-up
9. Set the clock and re-enter the recording schedule(s)

Took the opportunity to replace all three 2200uF capacitors on the PSU board even though only two were deformed.
After removing casing (PSU board on top LHS corner, board behind HDD)

After the 2200uF capacitors were replaced

Original capacitors which were replaced

In case anyone had venture into the recorders maintainence mode and made changes without recording the original values, these are the OPCODE settings for my recorder. Please note I purchased my unit in Singapore. OPCODE(s) are different for other regions and countries. Please search the net if your unit is not for distribution in Singapore.

OPCODE(s) for my recorder
And for those interested to make your unit region free, please refer to . Basically you need to repeat pressing the '0' 7x twice.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Philips CD-380

Was helping my friend dispose of his CDP and he was ok for the following post in my blog.

The CD380 is a CDM4/19 based CDP without built-in remote capability. This particular model uses a TDA1543 DAC.

The CD380 can be remote capable via an external unit from Philips and connecting it via the RC5 RCA connectors. Unfotunately the external remote unit are extremely rare.

Front view

View from rear

Internals from top
The CD380 has no issues reading CD-R as well as my test CD with a degraded "see-thru" area on the TOC (Table of Contents).

How does this old gal sound? Pretty good actually for a stock unit which uses the "poor man's TDA1541"! Audio was warm and pleasant. Background details were good as well. Output via RCA(s) were low in volume. There is no volume control on the headphone output.

As  per other Philips CDP(s), the CD380 has potential to sound much better if the capacitors were refreshed and replaced with better quality components.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Sansui AU-6500 (***Updated***)

The baby of the infamous "black face" series, the AU-6500 is nevertheless a superb sounding unit if properly maintained.
Front view
I happen to chance upon a unit which look like it was just taken out from the box!!!

First obvious issue is the faulty power-on light.

Rear view

View from top

Next discovery was the unit only sounds great for the first 5min or so, before the high's are reproduced in a off-tune manner with the bass reproduce improperly aka half-baked!

Suspect the issue lies in the pre-amp stage as it sounds just as terrible when I connected the AU-6500 pre-out to the B-2101.

Observed the above issue seem to be prevalent when the volume is above 9 o'clock. Likewise when I listen via the headphones. Hence there could be an issue with the power availability from the power supply board or the audio reservoir capacitor.

I will recap the unit and change any component(s) which are not working properly once I have time to trouble-shoot the unit. 


Finally had the time to look into the above issues.

1st step was to recap the EC(s) only - using proper quality caps in the signal path. Caps used were Panasonic ECA/FC, Rubycon, United Chemicon and a few Jamicon(s) (in the PRE areas). Did not change the EC(s) on the power on relay board as those look to be in reasonable condition.

Previous issues seem to be 50% gone but reproduction seems too grainy when the volume was turn above 9 o'clock with vocals breaking up as well as drop-outs during playback.

Investigating further, notice the transistor on the PSU board was not the original 2SB507 but a Hitachi A771. On paper the A771 seem to be a compatible replacement. And there was a dark brown patch at the feet of one of the diodes on the PSU board. Hence I purchased the 2SB507 (... prefer to the original transistor as much as possible) from eBay. Swapped the original heat sink for the 2SB507 with a much larger one - the original heatsink was even smaller than those for the 7805 in my Philips CD players!!! Also installed small heatsinks to 2xTO-220 transistors on the Power Amp board. Replace all the PSU diodes with the leftovers from the 303 refurbishment eg 1N4004. Bought a new larger value Zener, as the original was no longer available. A slightly larger value Zener should be ok as it is only required during the initial power up. Took the opportunity to replaced the 2 transistors on the PSU board with modern equivalents.

Does the above help to resolve the issue(s)?

Well during the first hour of usage, the breaky vocals were still evident - was wondering if I had been barking up the wrong tree!?!

In the 2nd hour the breaky vocals seem to only occur after a duration, which tend to be further&further apart with more usage.

After about 3-4hrs, everything seem to be back to normal aka sounds decent again!

Will now slowly increase the volume in the followup usage periods to run the old gal in.

Once bedded down, will initiate recap of the non-EC(s) in the pre-power signal path(s)s.

Update the blog again in the near future ... this is gonna be fun!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Meridian 209

The 209 is my Meridian remote to control the 201 and 602. The 204 is only activated by the 201 when utilised, and, vice-versa. The 209 has no other control over the 204.



After bottom cover removed
After insulator removed

The 209 literally eats 9V batteries for breakfast!!! Hence I had the remote codes programmed into the Philips Pronto and used it as my main remote for the Meridian components.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Sansui B-2102

The B-2102 is the companion for the C-2102 pre-amp and is a X-Balanced System power amp.

Front view of the B-2102
There seems to be little information on the internet for the B-2012. I can confirm the B-2102 specification is similar to the B-2101. Main differences are that the B-2102 is a B-2101 with a different facade, large caps of 8,200uF instead of 10,000uF. Lastly the DISPLAY OFF switch only disables the audio feed into the meters - does not switch the meters off. Like the B-2101, the B-2102 is a scale-up version of the G90X amplifier section - with 8 transistors per side vs 8 transistors for both channels on the G90X.

Recapped the B-2102 a few years back as it was sounding dull. Came across across leaked caps on the PSU board with many very tired caps on the power amp boards. Used Panasonic ECA, FC and FM; Rubycon, Wima(s) and misc caps.


Top with cover
Top with cover removed

Recap PSU and LHS driver board
Recap RHS driver board

8,200uF caps
Power amp board on one side

Details of the B-2101 are available on the web at specificationsbrochure-1 and brochure-2

I find the B-2102 to be sweeter than the B-2101 though the specifications are almost the same as the other model.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Pioneer A-400X

Recently a friend requested for assistance to help sell his A400X.

I sold my A400 and A400X yonks ago. Both the A400 and A400X are physically the same. I remember picking up the A400 and it was definitely heavier than the A400X. Other physical difference was the A400 had only speaker terminals for a pair of speakers while the A400X had terminals to bi-wire a pair of speakers. Both models has speaker protection circuitry.

Top view without cover

What I do remember is that the A400 sound close to the Cyrus1 while the A400X reproduction was closer to that of the Cyrus2. And when I had both the A400 and A400X to test with the Pro63 - the A400 was able to drive the Pro63 without issues. The A400X on the other hand manage to produce some squeals when the volume was between 1-2 o'clock!!! Even so, both models did not have issues driving my Celestion SL6S speakers.

Hence when I audition his stock A400X to ensure it was fully functional - my jaws literally dropped!!!

Let me explain.

When I had my A400X yonks ago, it had good high and mid-range reproduction but LF was disappointing. I did not realise my source was the issue then - a "well rated" Rotel CDP (which I later sold). Hence when I connected his A400X to my current setup - Meridian speakers with the Meridian 602/606 combination, the reproduction was SHOCKING - almost top-flight!!!

Seems the A400X is rather choosy and require a good source with good speakers to perform well.

Given the proper diet ... it is a rare and true bargin!!!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sony CDP-C245

The C245 is my only multi-CD player. It does not have any digital output - just the normal analogue RCA outputs.

Even so, don't be fooled by the stigma of a multi-CD player. Many of my visitors were surprised by it's capabilities (in stock form), especially when used in combination with the X10D.

Sony CDP-C245 with C-2102

The C245 accommodates up to 5 CD's in a circular carousel tray. After a CD has been played into the tray, you can load another by selecting DISC SKIP. When PLAY is depressed, the CDP starts checking for a loaded CD starting from LOC#1. The CD lens mechanism is located to right rear of the unit.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Sansui B-2101

Missed the amp after it last seen day light ... about 2 years ago!
Front view with meters on

Front view with meters off

The B-2101 is a 200W RMS per channel power amp with the X-Balanced technology. Basically a scaled-up version of the power amp section from the Sansui AU-G90X e.g 8 transistors per channel vs 8 transistors for both channels on the G90X.

My other Sansui power amp, the B-2102 is prety much the same as the B-2101, except the reservoir caps are smaller at 8,200uF instead of 10,000uF. Other non-audioable difference was the DISPLAY OFF on the B-2102 does not really switch off the display but disables the audio feed to the electronics. The B-2101 and B-2102 sound pretty close to the other.

I normally partner the B-2101 and/or B-2102 with the Sansui C-2102. There are slight differences between the C-2101 and C2102. The C-2101 has more capacitors on the Parametric EQ motherboard (LHS if looking from front).

I had recapped it a few years back as the unit was taking over an hour to sound proper. In addition, the caps the in the PSU board had leaked, other caps on the power amp boards looked like they could do with a replacement after many years of service. Used the following EC(s) - Nichicon and Rubycon on the PSU board; Panasonic FC and FM on the driver and power amp boards. Some ceramics and polys were replaced with Wima(s) on the power amp boards. All replaced caps are of original values.

From top

Top view without cover

Close-up of one of the power amp sections

Close-up of one of the driver boards

In the past I had performed a test between the B-2101 vs the Meridian 557 in a all Meridian setup. The 557 excelled at vocals though the B-2101 has a wider dynamic range.

Uploaded the following brochure of the B-2101 as the information is scarce on the internet.


Can't wait to setup horizontal bi-amping with the B-2101 and B-2102 after the superb results with bi-amping the Quad 303(s)!!!

Now where did I put the B-2102 - was not in the storeroom where I was expecting it to be???