I joined AoS back in October 2013, I’d just bought an SL1200 with the view to modifying it, little did I realise then I’d spend the next 2 years trying to put a system together. It’s taken some time but I feel now that I have built up a collection of boxes that I’m happy to call my first HiFi. This has taken me so long primarily as I don’t have a huge amount of free time for HiFi but also because most of my equipment is vintage so I’ve had to wait for stuff to come up for sale at the right price. With the exception of the Oppo and the Nakamichi everything’s awaiting further servicing or modding so I thought I’d start a blog to document the (hopeful) evolution.
Starting at the top a 1966 Garrard 401 http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...hlight=garrard .
I’ve spent maybe £100 servicing it and £35 on the CTC Thrust base http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Classic-40...item3f4fcbf32d. I also tried the XTC Thrust bearing but ultimately preferred the CTC, I felt both were quieter than the stock thrust pad but the XTC maybe had too little drag, the CTC I think sounds more like the original thrust pad with the advantage of reduced noise and less oil leakage. Jobs for the future include having the idler dressed and reinstalled with a new bearing, rewiring, having a second bearing serviced, possibly repainting and eventually sticking the face plate back down!
The arm is a Hadcock GH228 http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...hlight=garrard. I’ve replaced the arm tube with a Stainless Steel tube (~£5) to bring it to 242 spec. It currently has either a Shure M95HE or AT440MLa installed but I’m looking for a replacement cartridge at the moment. Depending on the choice of cartridge I can change the arm tube with relative ease to match the mass of the arm with the cartridge.
The plinth is still a work in process, the top plinth is a SlateDeck, the lower plinth is a piece of 40mm Italian slate I had cut to size and the feet came from Vic at TransFi http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/HIGH-QUALI...item2a4ca3a88d. It sits on a Target wall shelf with Soundcare Superspikes under an off cut of Oak block board. I think I need to decouple the TT from the shelf as the shelf is pretty well coupled to the wall and any vibration through the wall is transferred through the stylus. I’ve not heard another Garrard so I have nothing to compare the slate plinth to but I really like what slate does especially when used with timber. Jobs for the future include, finalising the arm board material / design, having a new 40mm top plinth cut and decoupling from the wall shelf.
Next up the Croft PreAmp with Phono.
This is a recent arrival and I still need to find out whether it’s a Micro 2 or a Super Micro 2. Either way its a Croft, its utilitarian, has valves in it and I love it, it was the missing link in my analogue chain and it was only when I plugged this in I thought everything in my system clicked.
I don’t know what the future holds for the Croft whether it’s worth servicing / modding or whether money would be better spent on a new unit, either way for now I’m just enjoying it.
Quad 405 Mono-Blocks http://theartofsound.net/forum/showt...modding-advice . I think for the price a Quad 405 can be bought for they’re an excellent bargain, servicing cost was approximately £80 per amp with the majority of that cost being supply caps and speaker protection. I only have one board installed per enclosure and will endeavor to modify the other boards to DCD 3 in the coming months (first attempt was a failure), try them with bridged with 2 boards and continue to search for another with a bronze heat sink.
Oppo 105D. This is a jack of all trades and despite being the most expensive item in the rack, I do consider it to be quite a bargain. Being a single unit it negates the need for many expensive wires, an MS Klotz interconnect per amplified channel, 1 x Audioquest Pearl HDMI (for Sky), 1 x cheap HDMI (to TV) and a network cable is all that I have connected.
From a HiFi perpective it’s a CD/SACD/HDCD/DVD-A/BD-A/FBA player, it has twin Sabre DAC’s, one 7 channel (which feed the Nakamichi) and one 2 channel which line out to the Croft. I use it as a pre into the Nak for AV duties and was using it as a pre into the Quad’s until the Croft arrived. The Croft makes far nicer music than the Oppo, it would seem after Marco brought round his Tisbury the other day that maybe the digital volume control lets the Oppo down.
From an AV perspective it’s a competent processor. I run Sky through it and this means I can use the internal DAC for audio and apply Darbee Visual Presence to the picture, this really does make a positive difference to Sky’s broadcast material and well worth the trade off for the occasional artefact. For BD’s I think it’s amazing as I said earlier the pre amp could be bettered but at this stage I’m happy with it as a pre amp for the Nakamichi.
Nakamichi AVP-1. If the Oppo’s “quite a bargain” then this was the sale of the century. For £400 I have absolutely no complaints with this amp. I had hoped this would replace the Quads to make a more streamlined system but ultimately I prefer the sound of the Quads for music so it will be staying in its AV role. I feel its strengths lend themselves more to AV than music, it’s quite neutral and transparent with a good dose of power but for me lacks the warmth of the Quads.
Celestion Ditton 44’s. I bought these after hearing Marco’s 66’s, I love what the 66’s do but I was looking for a more wallet friendly alternative and along came a pair of 44’s. I’ve put ~£100 into them, replacing the HF2000’s with SEAS 19TFF1’s, rewiring, recapping and lightly modifying the crossover. At one stage I had a pair of 44’s for front and a pair for rear speakers, I crossed them over to the sub at 40Hz and loved what they did with films. I think they make excellent AV speakers and would quite happily have them all the way round but unfortunately due to a room move around that’s no longer possible and so the quest for speakers continues.
Mains. A visit from Marco involving mains cables and cable management convinced me there would be benefits to installing a dedicated ring main. I’m in rented accommodation so limited to what I could do, my chosen solution was to install a dedicated 4mm ring main. I went with 4mm as it was the largest I could back feed into the consumer unit and went for a ring due to the fact that I couldn’t use larger cable.
Behind the rack I have this bank of MK un-switched sockets, many more sockets than I need but I wanted the redundancy as at the time I installed this boxes were going in an out on an almost weekly basis. Once everything is finalised I’ll remove all but two of the redundant sockets. I’m sure there are better solutions but all in this cost me ~£100 and I’d say it’s probably the best ~£100 I’ve spent on the system as a whole.
Bias Lighting, is provided by a 6500K LED strip light costing ~£10 (delivered) from eBay (this was a nightmare to photograph and is not really reflective of how it looks in real life).
To achieve the right level of luminescence I used insulation tape to cover LED’s until I had the right balance. No it may not be as close as possible to CIE D65, nor is it particularly user friendly to adjust the brightness but at ~£10 it’s VFM is hard to beat.
Why “K-Billy’s Super Sounds of the 70’s”?
K-Billy is the DJ in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dog’s played by Steven Wright: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6f4ZXQCNVE
I thought this was an appropriate title as my system is a combination of brand new AV and HiFi from the 70’s (admittedly my 401 was born in 1966 but they were still in production in the 70’s) and thought referencing this would show a link between music and movies. I’m a big fan of Tarantino soundtracks, growing up in rural Mid Wales in the 90’s didn’t provide the easiest gateway to new (to me) music. Tarantino’s soundtracks introduced me to a number of artists I would otherwise not have heard and possibly shaped my music taste for the future.