Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Pioneer S-D77

A friend asked for assistance with his Pioneer speakers, which seem "unwell".

When the pair of speakers arrived at my door step, they look "tired" as the cabinets were in average condition (6.5-7 out of 10). Initial inspection indicated the tweeters on both speakers have been damaged with one woofer look worn. Both mid-range drivers look to be in reasonable condition. Specification on the cabinets are 180W 6Ohms and are not bi-wireable. My guess is each cabinet weight about 12kg.
Frontal view

View from the rear with bass port "covered"

Once hookup, it was immediately evident both of the tweeters were not operational. When checking the drivers individually, I discovered one of the mid-range was not operational as well. Even so, the presentation was decent, actually quite pleasing to the ear. The stock crossover is simplistic with a single inductor with two bipolar capacitors and a single semi-conductor current breaker - no resistors.

Hence the 1st option was to replace the damaged drivers. Unfortunately we then discovered the original replacement units are quite pricey (in USD), especially after shipping from overseas.

Second option was to source for 3rd party alternatives. This was when we realised the baffle cutouts were unique, customised for original parts only. As my friend and I do not have a portable router, it was not worth purchasing one for a "1-off" task, in addition to the 3rd party alternatives.

Thus my friend decided to dispose of the speakers. It was mine to recycle. Now what should I do with this pair of crippled speakers? Or rather what can I do to it???

Sunday, November 1, 2015

DIY - ferrite isolator on tuner antenna cable

In the recent weeks, I would hear some unnatural clicking sounds from the tuner in the hall every so often. 

Initially though the tuner require maintenance. Thus I connected that tuner to my 2nd set for verification - no such issue?

Hence the issue was specific to my main setup. I have been adding more electrical components to that locality. Guess some of the newer components were not as well constructed with less than proper shielding.


Most cost effective solution I could think of was to use some spare ferrite isolator (plastic assembly with two pieces of ferrite core) from my "junk box". 

1st attempt using a single ferrite core produce good results with much reduce clicking. Since I had a few, added another for better effect. That seems to have done the job - see pix below.

Was getting carried away and started putting the ferrite isolators on the TV antenna cables as well. Adding the 1st was effective as it did clear up the pix somewhat. Adding the 2nd was disasterous as the TV pictures were pretty blurry!!! Hence removed the 2nd ferrite core from the the TV antenna cabling.

Oh well ... you won't know till you try it

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Technics RS-M45

The RS-M45 was the 1st cassette deck I own. Bought it as part of the "808-series" of slim profile components from Technics with IR remote capability, in 1980.

Do not have the actual pix as the RS-M45 was sold many years ago - hence will refer to one from the internet. I actually kept the RS-M45 for another decade after selling off the "808-series" components before letting it go. Should have kept it... (***regrets***)

Technics RS-M45 from TheHifiEngine database
Specs are available at http://www.hifiengine.com/manual_library/technics/rs-m45.shtml

In those days, Technics was one of the more affordable brands which produce decent turntables and cassette decks (Nakamichi cassette decks were "King of the Hill" then).

The RS-M45 shared the many of the important core electronics with other high-end Technics units of its time eg RS-M02/65/85, except it does not have all the "bells and whistles" available on the front panel. Nevertheless it was a great cassette deck for the price eg "best bang for the buck" back then.

One GREAT feature was the electronics ability to compensate for dropouts. When I play certain cassette on other cassette players, you would hear the dropouts eg sudden loss of volume on certain positions of a song. These dropouts can be rather annoying ... especially when listening to one of your favourite tracks. On the RS-M45, it would proceed as if nothing was wrong!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DIY Better indoor FM antenna

I encountered FM reception issues when setting up my 2nd set comprising of the Quad FM3/33/303 in the spare room.

The  setup in the main hall had access to the radio antenna for the building. However there was no such access point in the spare room.

I initially experimented using a bare wire antenna (pix below). 
Bare wire antenna and the removed SMA connector from the other antenna experiment

While the Quad FM3 could receive stereo broadcast, the signal strength would waver eg LHS and RHS indicators would dim and brighten every so often. You would hear distortion(s) every now and then.

Checking the shops in the neighbourhood reveal the available indoor antennas were either too cumbersome, expensive or look like something from Dr.Frankenstein's basement!!

Hence I then search thru my recyclable items (aka junk pile) and came across a WIFI antenna scavenged from a dead router eg 2.4Ghz 54Mbps. As the WIFI antenna required a SMA connector, I had to procure a suitable mounting interface online (see pix below) as the local DIY or electronic part stores does not carry such a component(???).
SMA base with 3m cable and SMA connector

WIFI antenna and the SMA base with cable
WIFI antenna mounted onto the SMA base

Once the SMA base arrived, I cut off the SMA connector at the end of the cable (Ref: 1st pix) and strip the coax cable to enable connectivity to the olden-type TV antenna connector (see below).

Old TV-type connector with the stripped cable from the SMA base
Old TV type antenna connector inserted into Quad FM3

Connecting the above setup to the FM3 produce a solid unwavering signal. The STEREO, LHS and RHS signal indicators on the FM3 now remain lit brightly all the time!

Solid tuning lights and Stereo indicators on the FM3 after using the WIFI antenna
Location of the SMA base with WIFI antenna respective to the FM3

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Appropriate speaker cables for my DIY LS 3/5A with DIY AB1

Not sure if anyone else has similar experience with their LS 3/5A with AB1.

The combination was pleasing to the ears and even a musician friend was complementary of the presentation. However I felt the presentation could be further improved, especially if the HF was to be as fluid as that of horn or horn-loaded-tweeter.

Tried using the original QED and vintage Canare cabling but to no avail. Hence I search the market for used Van Der Hul MCD-352, as I had previously heard it on a friends' Celestion SL6 driven by a Plinius set. After some time, I did manage to acquire the VDH and it did provide improvements.Unfortunately the improvements were not to my expectations.

I then installed my original QED Silver Anniversary (not the XT) for comparison, since both are silver-type speaker cables. 

Viola!!! Everything fell into place when driven by one of my Quad FM3-33-303 sets. Yes, should have trial the QED Silver Anniversary 1st before searching for the VDH.

Another case of the solution being closer to home than one might think!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Sansui AU-20000

Sold my mint condition Sansui AU-20000 a number of years ago and did not have any photo's of it.

For those not familiar with the unit, please refer to http://www.classicaudio.com/value/san/AU20K.html for pictures.

From memory the unit weight about 22kg and was pretty retro looking with a lighted VU meter for both channels. Unfortunately you can not disable the lights, only the metering. Hence the VU lights can be quite distracting, especially in the night.

The AU-20000 was the top-of-line of the Professional Series, with had all the bells and whistles you can think off eg swap L-R channels. Operation was pretty straight forward but I prefer the ease of enabling the tuner from the AU-9900.

The buyer said it sounds like his newish MacIntosh. He was surprised the components were atleast 30years old! Inform him it would sound much better once he got it service and recapped. 

Why did I decide to sell this mint condition top-line unit, you ask?

The AU-20000 has an extremely fluid HF. Bass was acceptable but neither authoritative nor flabby, Would certain be improved after servicing. The AU-20000 was extremely gruntly as well - much much gruntier than I would ever require from it. However I did not find the AU-20000 reproduction to be as natural sounding as the AU-9900A. 

About a year after I sold my AU-20000, I met another seller (of his AU-20000) with similar feedback. Even so, the unit was sold within a day of posting.

FYI The following archive has details pictures of a AU-20000 restoration

Monday, June 1, 2015

Test - Streaming audio via Apple Airport Express

Was intrigue by such facilities when I visited the local AV show last year.

The vendors at the AV show were using a streaming service to demonstrate their wares - amplifiers and speakers. They would ask the listeners for preferences and initiate the demonstrations via a mini IPad.

Researching the above I decided to give streaming a go using an older model Apple Airport Express as we have an IPad in the house. This is because the small-sized 802.11n Airport Express are now reasonably priced. 

There are many free (but degraded) streaming service available. I settled on Spotify as my kids were already using it.

The following items will be required to make it work:-
- An Apple product (Android app to access Airport Express is not free)
- An Apple Airport Express (or alternative)
- Audio cable with 3.5mm mini-jack with L/R RCA outputs. or. optical cable with mini TOS to TOS connectors
- USB cable for printer connectivity (optional) to enable wireless printing
- Ethernet cable to enable the Airport Express to function as wireless router, bridge or repeater (optional)
- Register to choice of online streaming service or use playlist on your Apple device

Physical connectivity is straight forward. Connectivity setup requires a bit more work. Please refer to manual or online tutorials for the connectivity setup.

Once setup, I can control the volume and songs to be played from the iPad. There was a 1-2second delay between issuing the command on the iPad and hearing the results from the amplifier.

Quality from the free streaming service was reasonable with some adverts in-between material every once in a while. We did experience buffering time-outs when the iPad was not accessing the wifi via AC-protocol. My wifi setup comprise of a ASUS RT-AC56S connected to a Huawei fibre modem (with fibre cable into the apt).

Overall the free streaming service was a good and convenient way to hear new material before committing to buy the CD ... Yes I still prefer the quality from CD after testing MP3 at high bitrates (320 and above) against the original CD.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Sony CDP-X7ESD with Marantz CDA-94 DAC

Was clearing the storeroom and came across the old battleship ... the X7ESD weight more than most of my integrated amps!!!

X7ESD as transport with CDA-94 as DAC
Since the CDA-94 was already on the hifi rack, took the opportunity to pair the X7ESD with the CDA-94 (previously with the CD650).

The X7ESD has been in-storage for atleast 3years. Even so, using it upon power-up was like it never left the hifi rack. Everything just works as expected. The CDP output volume was stronger than that of the CD650 and CDA-94. Reproduction from a familar CD thru the CDP was of very good quality, thought the HF was a little brighter than it should be. Switching to the DAC output, everything fell into place though the output volume was lower. In fact I was surprise to hear delicate items reproduced with natural clarity as well as bass which has not been evident before this occassion!!!

So much for the theory of a transport conveying 1's and 0's only, therefore the 1's and 0's are the same from any player!

In summary, the X7ESD pairs extremely well with CDA-94, as if they were made for each other.

The X7ESD, CDA94, G90X and ST333ESXII form a group in my collection of higher end vintage gear, with wooden panels on the sides.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Sansui AU-555

Sold my prestine condition AU-555 quite a number of years ago ... still wondering if I should have let it go (with original manuals), or, keep after recapping it.

I know I have some pix of the unit but can't seem to locate them ... when you require them! Hence will use the following links to pictures on the internet 1st and update the blog once I do find them.

From Audio-Database

From Amp8

From memory the unit has a very nice tube-like presentation and weight more than it look. Output was pretty much balanced with a tad more HF than bass, I normally set the bass to +2 and rarely use the LOUDNESS switch. Nice bonus is the separate bass and treble controls for each channel. However there is no tone control bypass.

Main weakness was the lack of additional inputs, plastic flip switches which are hard to replace, speaker terminals using a actual screw which made changing speaker cables an exercise in-itself, and, no speaker protection during power-on/off. 

Otherwise operating the unit was quite a pleasant experience as the dials had a nice feel to them.

Normally had the volume to just before 9 o'clock before it was at a nice easy listening volume via the Meridian A500 or the Celestion SL6s.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

TDA1541-based CD player vs TDA1541-based DAC

Finally had the opportunity to setup these two vintage units as a pair - the Philips CD-650 as transport and the Marantz CDA-94 (reviewed by DutchAudioClassics) as DAC.

Philips CD-650 as transport and Marantz CDA-94 as DAC

The Philips CD650 has been recapped (some new caps with different values) according to suggestions@DIYAUDIO (no other modifications).

The Marantz CDA-94 has been recapped using better quality components only - original values are used.

The Philips CD-650 and Marantz CDA-94 are connected via (vintage) Monster Cable Interlink-400 to the Sansui AU-G90X. Digital content from the CD650 is delivered to the CDA-94 via a Klotz OT206 digital coax cable.

How do they compare?

Initially no difference upon usage straight from of storage.

After a week or so of continuous usage, the differences became more apparent. Even so, the differences would only be noticable once you turn up the volume past 8 o'clock on the Sansui.

The CDA-94 is as per the review on DutchAudioClassics - in short delivers to high expectations!

The CD-650 seem possess a slightly larger HF headroom and just a tad more aggressive in it's presentation. Reproduction from both are realistic and 1st rate!

I find myself preferring one to the other, depending on the music genre. Even so, both are very competent implementation(s) of the TDA1541 DAC.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

DIY - DIN input cable for older Quad(s)

Apparently these components are getting quite nowadays. Even the cabler(s) I frequently use are no longer interested to restock the 4-pin and 5-pin DIN (half moon or 180-degree) connectors once their stock run out. They inform there is not much interest in such items nowadays. 

Since I was in the Sim Lim area, decided to check out electronic part stores for the availability of the 4-pin and 5-pin DIN connectors (required by the Quads), as well as the availability of the female RCA connectors. As per informed by the cablers I frequent, these items are becoming rarer nowadays. Most shops do not stock them any longer. If you do locate stock, these tend to be the lower quality components eg discovered the DIN connectors with black plastic covers tend to disintegrate  after some time. Hence I try to avoid these when possible.

Here's an example of the required cabling - my older cable.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

DIY - Replacing broken glass (glue-on) on vintage tuner

Finally had time to replace the broken glass on the Sansui TU-9900.

Will not be using the other Sansui TU-9900 face plate (sent by the seller) as I maybe relocating to another part of the world in the near future. Hence I bought a Perspex replacement from eBay for the job and save the real glass replacement for another day - the original glass parts are rare ... very very rare!

Removing the face plate was straight forward.

1. Power off the unit and disconnect the power plug from the AC socket.
2. Remove the dial(s) from the face plate. Torx screw drivers required. The volume dial uses a smaller screw.
3. Push all the buttons on the left side of the face plate in and gently pull out the power on/off switch.
4. Remove the cover (8 screws;4 on the sides and 4 on the rear) to access the two screws inside, holding the face plate up 
5. Remove the two screws on the bottom of the unit holding the face plate to the chassis
6. Gently nudge the face plate away from the chassis
7. Put the face plate onto a soft surface eg towel, newspaper, with the face facing down
8. Use a bottle of electronic contact cleaner spray - similar to the one I am used. Do use the long nozzle provided
9. Spray onto the edges of the glass in very amounts eg just enough for it to get under the area of the glass. This is done to ease removal of the glass which has been secured to the face plate with double-sided adhesive 
10. Leave for a minute or so and then use a pair of pliers to assist with removal of the broken glass - it should just came off with a gentle tug - mine below
Glass after removal from the face plate
11. After ensuring all the glass fragments has been removed, I then use my fingers to remove the old double-sided adhesive from the face plate
With the removed original double-sided adhesive
12. Then use tissue or cloth to clean up the remaining fluid and let it dry.
13. About 5-10minutes later, I took the perspex replacement to position it into the face plate - DO NOT REMOVE ANY OF THE ADHESIVE sides yet.
14. Ensure the grooved edges of the perspex is facing into the face plate in the correct position before removing the adhesive protectors around the edges and pressing the perspex onto the face plate eg verify the 2-holes on the perspex are in the correct position
15. Once completed remove the rest of the coverings on the perspex and reassemble the face plate onto chassis eg reverse order of the dis-assembly
16. I now have the below

After perspex replacement
Looks great ... again!!!