Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Artist hand made interconnect cable

Having been working in the brand building business for a long period of time has made me developed a liking for well established brands with consistent quality as well as clearly defined image and brand positioning.

In my journey of hifi, my main concentration has been on acquring quality vintage items and restoring it with the original, NOS,or best parts availables. Very little attention has been given to the quality of the tubes and the various interconnect cables.

I was planning to buy a few pair of audionote or some other braned interconnects for my hifi but the prices are so high that it often made think more than twice.

Yesterday evening, while I was sending my Western Electric 16608 for servicing and restoration at 毅德音響 ARTIST HI FI CO , I came across a " not so attractive looking" and non branded interconnect. Out of curiosity, I have asked Sifu 梁文光 Marco what is so special about the cable. To my surprise, Sifu mentioned: 訊號線就是選用了德國錄音室所用的純銅線芯為線材,RCA插頭亦係採用德國古老製品. Since the pure copper wiring is old stocks of wiring cables being used in the studio in Germany, the quality must be exception. Moreover, the sifu also offered a return policy of less 10% if the results is not satisfactory. So, I bought a 1.2 metres cables at HK$1500.

Immediately, when I reached home, I pugged in the interconnect and awaited anxiously to listen to the reproduction of sound. Yes, this "not so good looking cables" actually managed to lift up the sound of my exisiting system by threefold ! It is really a value for money cables! I am sure the interconnect will be even better after 10-20 hours of running in. No wonder there is a saying: Never judge a bok by its cover! In this instance, never judge a cable by its look! Ha ha ha!

When I am back at the shop to collect back my restored WE, one month later : ( ...yes it takes one month, I am going to get another pair of the Artsist hand made cables!


Sunday, May 28, 2006

Western Electric Dream

I have managed to get some information on the WE over a forum by Alan (Pilotrol):

When Western Electric was forced to break up in late 40, some of the production license of Western Electric had been sold or assigned to Altec, Langavin and IPC. Western Electric has been designed many amp for lab, PA or telephone use during 50's, but they were no longer produced the amplifier for own use.

During mid and late 50’s, Dukane and McIntosh were assigned to produced WE design amplifier for Western Electric. In fact, The Western Electric KS-16608-L1 is a 12 watt output mono amp with 6L6 PP design by Western Electric but produced by Dukane Corporation in 1958. Large amount of KS-16608-L1 had been produced during late 50’s to early 60’s. The KS 16608s are the major model to replaced the WE124 for PA or Line amp during this period. FYI, Dukane also has produce KS-16617-L1 (6V6 pp at 8 watts) and KS-16610 (6550 PPP at 75 watts?) during this period.

One of my KS 16608 was produced by Dukane in Illinois & the other one by Mutiplex West Poplar Montana. Since I could not afford or find the more famous and expensive WE 89 & 91, the WE KS 16608 is a good substitute to satisfy my desires for a pair of vintage Western Electric amplifiers!

According to some so called "expert", the sound from this KS 16608 is horrible but I disagree totally! Good music not neccessary comes from only the WE 89 or 91. If this set is horrible why should the Japanese audiophiles continue to pay to own this?

Nevertheless, to ensure perfect sound and to bring the amplifier back to its glorious days, I have sent my pair of WE KS16608 to the famous Hong kong hifi writer and 毅德音響 梁文光 Sifu for restoration and changing of capacitors, resistors and wiring this evening as I could not find the schematic. I am now anxiously waiting for the return of my WE 16608 and the start of the Western Elecric dream!

: ) Be Happy!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Western Electric amplifier 16608L1

The WE amplifier is so rare and expansive than I have never dare to dream of finding or owning a pair.

During my trip back to Singapore, I was fortunate to have met up with Ace who has told me that there is one pair at a junk(old) hifi shop near Sungei road in Singapore.

It was raining very heavily that day and it took me a long time to find the shop. Unfortunaley, the shop was closed as the owner Mr.Lim was out. I have waited for more than one hour and the owner still has not returned. Without much choice, I have decided to go back to try my luck after dinner.

After dinner with my family, I have decided to go back to the junk hifi shop to try my luck. This time, the owner was in. Initially, the owner was reluctant to bring the set out as it was "buried" deep in his shop as his shop was packed with old hifi & speakers. After much persuasion, he has finally agreed to bring it out. I was so eager that I have helped him to bring it out and by this time, he was more willing to show them to me and even decided to let me audition the set.

Both the set were in working condition and I was so delighted that I quickly went to the ATM machine to draw cash and paid him immediately. My next task is to bring them back to Hong Kong for cleaning and tidying the interior wiring system.

Sometimes, when you are least expected, some nice thing appear! The Western Electric amplifier is now sitting nicely at the shelf. It was a real pleasant surprise. Morover, the set was using the 6L6 tubes similar to my Mcintosh MC240. I believe the sound will be even better when it is being played with my Fisher 400CX pre-amplifier (as during testing it was played direct without any pre-amplifer) : )

I have wanted to learn more about the amplifiers that i own. Thus, I have started a Western Electric KS 16608 forum hoping to get more information on the amp. In fact, I get more then what I have asked. Some "audiophiles" were so critical that they started criticising the amplifiers just because it was not the famous WE 89 or 91 models....

How sad! Just because it is not the most sought after WE amplifiers will be branded as not a good amplifiers? For me, I like the amp alot as after so many years (from 1960s) it is still singing beautifully was a USP itself. Moreover, it is found in Singapore, my home town. According to the seller, he has owned the amplifiers for more than 15 years..which is a long time, in my opinion.

Perhaps, the world will be more peaceful if one can be more tolerance and appreciates things from a different angles and a bigger heart to accept differences in taste and preference.. instead of wanting to win all the times and imposing views and opinion onto others...

: )

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Next KT66 amplifiers

After listening to my favourite Leak 12.1 using the KT66 tubes, I was totally poisoned by the wonderful sound reproduced using the magical KT66. These has promted me to search for another amplifiers using the KT66. Immediately, the Quad II came into my mind. However, after having experiencing 2 set of Quad II, I realised that Quad II has very nice sound. However, after AB comparison, I have always found that Quad II has some small limitation which is difficult to describe.

Thus, my next amplifiers will have the following characteristics:

1. Made in UK
2. Mono Block having about 12w -15W
3. Using KT66 tubes.

Given the above characteristics, the options available is Pye PF91. Very little information is available on the Pye PF91. Pye PF91 is a KT66 push pull amp. There is another Pye HF 25 but the Pye PF91 KT66s are triode connected, so the amp gives about 12W while the Pye HF25 is 25 watts.

Higher watts power is not something I am chasing. Some experts have mentioned that the Pye PF91 does not sound as good as the Leak12.1 and I am curious to do am AB test and find out. I was told that Pye company was formely producing equipments for military use. Given the high standard required for military commissioned equipments, I am quite confidence that the Pye PF91 will be of a high standard.

In my wish list, I hope one day I can build a power amplifiers collection consisting of 1.) Mcintosh MC240, 2) Leak 12.1, 3)Pye Pf91, 4)Radio Craftmen C500, Western Electric amp using 6L6. I have geard that Tannoy and Roger Williamson made very good KT66 amplifiers but I have yet to hear them. Thus, the search is now on..

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Best Hifi combination

"Playing" with Hifi can be a very sentimental and emotional hobby. Very often, we can see much arguments and quarrel over the various hifi forum owing to personal views and perceptions plus the fact that there are many monetary factors involved.

For me, it is only a hobby. I have change my hifi equipemnt very often. During these peiod, I have let go Elekit iintegrated amplifier, Fisher 80c, Leak 10, Quad II twice, Thorens TD124, Thorens TD160, Altec 604E speakers.

Why? The reason is not because the items are no good but due to personal taste preference. I like Leak 12.1 alot owing to its great warm sound, great sound stage as well as details plus the KT66 tubes.

For me the best combination A consists of Leak 12.1 + Fisher 400CX + Tannoy Canterbury.
In addition, I like Mcintosh MC240 + Marantz 7 + Rogers LS3/5A
For bed room, I think the Pye HF20 Single ended with the full range speakers are the ideal combination.

There are many hifi collectors in Hong Kong. Some specilaised in Marantz & Mcintosh, some in Leak, some in Eico. For me, since space is a constraint, I am very happy and contented with the above set that I have. The Pilot SA232 using the EL84 suddenly become a lonely child as I could not find a pre-amplifier to match it.

In fact, I have listened to my Leak 12.1 + Fisher 400CX + Tannoy so often that the rets are on the shelf over the past months.

If anyone ask me for my opinion, I would advice one to go for "one" very best set rather than having so many "average" sets. Moroever, my preference is not to have too many set of the same or similar items which is why I sold off 3 set of LS3/5A and kept one for reference and use. IMHO, all the LS3/5A has very coomon characteristics (i.e Good mid) ireegardless of the brands.

Thus, since wants are unlimited and resources are limited, rather than spending all the budget on one kind of speaker and one kind of sound, my prefernce is to go for one large speakers (12 inch & above) ; one LS3/5A for pure vocal listening and one full range speakers.

By having these 3 kinds of speakers, we can enjoy full Orchestra music with the large speakers, light jazz and vocal for LS3/5A and use the full range for pure vocal and pure violin or one instrument.

Hifi, is means for the reproduction of actual music to our ears. Since there is no one single speakers that can satisfy all our requirements, one has to know what type of music one likes. Like what they say, one man's food is another man's poison.

Enjoy your music!

Further restoration

I was quite free during the Easter holiday period as I was alone in Hong Kong. With so much freetime, it has prompted me to further upgrade my 220 v Leaks 12.1 set.

With the spares resistors and capacitors, I was able to get into the restoration quite quickly.

To ensure that the set is properly restored, I always make sure I use the other set as reference so that the correct position.

It is important to make sure that the TCC capacitors does not leak as it does, it will send in extra current towards the tubes which will shorthen the life span of the tubes.

The 12.1 is relatively maintainance friednly as the British made amplifiers tend to have very neat schmatics positioning.

With the help of JK, I have managed to learn do some basic maintanance works which help to keep the amplifiers in its prestine condition. Thanks John!