Friday, June 30, 2006

Tannoy Canterbury red monitor

After playing with the LS3/5a, the Telefunken & Coral full range speakers, I must say that the Tannoy speakers are one of the most user friendly speakers who need little attention and pampering.

The Tannoy is like a good friend. It will be there to play your favourite music to help you relax without the need for much pampering, adjustment, placement, or any special attention). It sounds is so relax that it serve its sole purpose of reproducing music to let one listen to one's favourite music, absolutely stress free. There is no need to worry about positioning of speakers, matching of right amplifiers, etc...absolutely hassel free : )

After a hard day's work, just turn on the CD, the pre-amp and amplifier, the music just flow smoothly like a quiet river...

Please view :

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Radio craftsmen C500a

The Radio craftsmen sounded very close (about 90%) to the Leak 12.1 sound. However, in term of sound stage and detail, I must say that the 12.1 is slightly ahead with slightly wider stage as well as depth. In term of looks, with its shining chassis, the Radio craftsmen is ahead of its time.

For those of you who do not wished to pay HKD$45,000 or more for a pair of Leak12.1 and still want the lovely sound from the nice KT66 amp, could look for the Radio craftmen C500 series as alternatives instead (at half the price) ....but a hifi shop at Tak Fak Mongkok is selling the same pair of Radio Craftsmen C500 with Chinamade KT66 at $38,000 though : 0 ...

I have tried matching the RC500a with both Fisher 400Cx and Marantz 7 and both sounded nice. To make a choice between the two, I would say that Marant 7 seemed to be the perfect match for the Radio Craftsmen. Perhaps, it is due to the fact that both Marantz 7 and the Radio craftsmen C500a were both delevloped by the famous Sid Smith. Look at the size of the various transformers! They are giants! Good sound!

To know more about the great Sid Smith Please see :

: )

Radio crftmen C500a amplifiers

After 4 months of waiting, I have finally managed to find a fully restored Radio craftmen C500a amplifiers to accompany my 12.1, MC240 & WE KS16604.

Some backbround information on the RC500 from Alan (Pilotrol) at R33 net:

Radio Craftsman founded by John Cashman in47. John Cashman worked in Hallicrafters Radio Company before he founded Radio Craftsman. Radio Craftsman was mainly focusing on development of home audio and television from late 40 to late 50's.

Ed Miller and Sid Smith were two major engineers to work for Radio Craftsman during early 40's - mid 50's. Actually, Ed Miller is the founder of Sherwood and who leave Radio Craftsman before 1953 (This year he founded Sherwood and mainly focused on integrate amp and receiver). Sid Smith later left Radio Craftsman and joined Marantz as chief engineer in 1954.

The major audio products from Radio Craftsman actually was not completely developed by Radio Craftsman, but mainly licensed by RCA and Western Electric!

Most of the Radio Craftsman gear sound fast, clear and very transparent with fine body (thin but not thick and mellow body).No question that the most popular Radio Craftsman amp in the family must be the C500 series.

The first two generations of C500 was mostly worked by Sid Smith and licensed by Western Electric. The first generation C500 was introduced in 1951, it comes with a smooth corner Stancor output transformer. In 1952, smooth corner version replaced by the sharp corner version output. Radio Craftsman C500 is based on Williamson design which operated with 2 x KT66 output tube in triode but pure class A operation with 10 watt output. It has very natural sweet, clear and transparent tone. However, it has very clear, natural, realistic and transparent tone than many vintage and modern hi-fi amp.

The Radio Craftsman C500 was replaced by C500A in 1953 and the same years Sid Smith left Radio Craftsman. I believe the Radio C500A is the final work of Sid Smith. The different between Radio Craftsman C500A is it has much higher plate voltage in triode class AB and the output increase to 15 watts per channel. It also has much large size choke than C500, it also licensed by Western Electric as well. The rectifier tube also changed to 5U4G instead of 5V4G.

The final version is Radio Craftsman C550 and it replaced Radio Craftsman C500A in 1954. Honestly, the sound of Radio Craftsman C550 sounds slightly different than C500 and C550A, it has better body but not as transparent sweet and natural than C500 and C500A. The reason is simple, the C550 is operated in Ultra-linear instead of triode operation, the output also increase to 30 watt instead of 15 watts. The amplifier also used a B+ delayed turn-on via a slow warm-up, it required 60 seconds to preserve the cathodes on the KT-66s. FYI, Radio Craftsman C550 was not designed by Sid Smith, but actually designed by Bob Grodinski, this guy took over Sid smith work as Smith already left the company and joined Marantz in summer of 1954...!

Even though, my intention is not to "collect" vintage tube amplifiers for the sake of collecting, I have subsconsciously been poisoned by the music reproduction from these KT66 amps.

Out of the 5 amplifiers mentioned, I have managed to find 3 & 1/2 namely:

1. Leak12.1
2. Radio craften C500
3. Mcintosh MC240
4. WE KS16608 (the model after the highly priced WE 124) -- just joking! : )

Hopefully, I can find the WE 124 to replace the WE KS16608 soon!

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Top five best sounding 6L6 power amplifier

According to a Hong Kong tube amplifiers magazine, these are the 5 best sounding 6L6 vintage power amplifiers.

Even though the various opinions are very subjective, I have the opportunity to listen to (1) to (4) namely : 12.1, Mcintosh MC240, Quad II & Radio Craftmen C500 and there are indeed nice sounding power amplifiers using 6L6 or KT66.

With the exception of 5) Western Electric WE124 (as I have not have the opportunity to audition), my ranking of the 4 amplifiers are as follows:

Ranking (from top) Best match pre-amplifiers using my current M7 or Fisher 400CX:
1. Leak 12.1 - warm sound, good soundstage, detail and full of "inner enegrgy". Best match with Fisher 400 Cx pre-amplifier
2. Radio Craftman C500 - smooth sound, good soundstage, sound slightly faster, good balance. Best match with Marant 7 pre-amplifier
3. Mcintosh MC240 - good for representing music with energy, good power and yet still able to maintain its warm smooth sound. Best match with Marantz 7 pre amplifier
4. Quad II - overall warm and balance amplifier, soundstage not as large, power may not be enough for low sensitive speakers. Best match with its own Quad pre-amplifier.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Simple set up

After my spring cleaning, these are my current system. My dream amplifier now is the Western Electric 124 . However, the price of it is so high (HKG$100,000 - 140,000) is making think twice. : (

Hopefully, I will be able to find one pair one day.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Tubes and wires upgrade

I have been concentrating on the search of the hifi equipements for a while and I have finally settled with the one I like namely: Leak 12.1, WE KS16608 and Mcintosh which uses the 6L6 or KT66 tubes with Marant7 & Fisher 400CX as preamplifiers. Both the Pye Mozart & RCA speakers were sold to other audiophiles.

Now, my next move is to look at improving the other areas such as the changing of tubes and getting proper cables to further enhance the sound.

Yesterday, I have managed to get a Quad set of vintage Brimar 6L6G tubes to replace the previous Groove 6l6GE and the 5881 in my Western electric KS16608. Immediately, the sound became much more smoother and filled the soundstage with more details when using the Cora Beta 8 full range speakers..

Knowing the important of the speakers cables, i have ordered a pair of Artist speakers cables to replace my existing one.

Perhaps less is more as I could concentate on my improving my current set up... : )

Sunday, June 18, 2006

My current hifi collections

I have not intended to start a collection of vintage amplifiers as my intention is to use the equipements to reproduce the music that i want to listen. However, my hifi journey and my various exploration has led to a proliferation of hifi equipments as follows. I feel quite priviledge to be in Hong Kong - the heaven of vinatge hifi and having the opportunities to audiyion various types of brands and its different music reproduction.

As music is about personal preference, there is no such thing as teh perfect or best amplifier. Only the "best" in term of personal taste. There are occasions, however, a certain hifi that could capture more audiences attention and preference such as the WE, Marant 7, Leak 12.1, fisher 400Cx, Mcintosh MC240 etc.

  • Power amplifiers
  • Leak 12.1 (using KT66 tubes) - my favourite and most loved amp as it took much efforts to pair them up & restore. To keep for life!
  • Mcintosh MC240 (using 6L6GC tubes) - my first serious vintage amp!
  • Western Electric KS16608 (using 6L6 tubes) - found in Singapore & restored in Hong Kong ! One of the best sound after restoration to its original condition!
  • Siemens Smf4vb (using El84 tubes) - 5 watts single ended amp to match my Cora Beta 8 full range speakers

  • Pre amplifier
  • Marantz 7 - One of the best preamp to keep!
  • Fisher 400 CX - Second best preamp to keep!
  • Speakers
  • Tannoy Canterbury monitor red - Most relaxed speakers!
  • Rogers LS3/5a - one of the must have classic!
  • Coral 8 Beta fullrange speakers - most detailed speakers!

Coming soon: Pye PF91 (to buy or not to buy?) & Radio Craftmen C500 using KT66 tubes

I hope to do some spring cleaning in July 06 and further streamline my collection to a more manageable level as I am running out of space in my Hong Kong apartment. After much listening, I have sold the following to other audiophiles collectors:

  • Pye Mozart using EL34 tubes
  • RCA full range speakers

Do write to me at should you find any interest in my hifi collection.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Fully restored Western Electric KS 16608

I have just received my restored Western Electric KS16608 amplifiers. It sounds fantastics!

My Western Electric amplifier is restored by 毅德音響 ARTIST HI FI CO Sifu Mr. 梁文光 Marco. For detail, please see :

The Western Electric KS 16608 (KS = Kearny Specification, a New Jersey subsidiary which supplied replacement parts for WE) was the model after the Western Electric 124. The KS16608, in my opinion, has been seriously under rated. Even though the price is very affordable and cheap, the sound is fantastic! Some so called "experts" has looked down and condamned on these amplifiers. However, the key questions are: Have they audition a perfectly working set of amplifiers or a non performing ones to judge? Have the amplifiers been properly matched with the proper pre-amplifiers and speakers?

They are many reasons why the WE KS16608 is such a wonderful amp to "play".
1. 以價錢論聲可算超值到難以置信。
2. The 6L6 tubes are very resonably priced when comparing with the Kt66, KT88, El34 tubes.
3. The KS 16608 is the model after the WE124 and is 按西電的要求特性交由其他廠代造 (Contract manaufactured)

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Siemens single ended SmfV4b amplifiers

Siemens 5 watts power amp together with my Marantz 7. The Siemen amplifiers are very well built, with solid chassis and very neat internal circuit and wiring. However, there is a need for some by-passing of the pre amplifiers in order for it to sound good.

My friend David, therefore, went to consult his DIY friend in Germany. Within days, a set of simple instruction was sent. After performing a" by pass" operation (sound like real life operation), the sound from the 5 watts Siemens are exceptionally good! What a change!

For a mere 5 watts power amplifier, see how big the output transformer is! This big output transformer may be the secret as to why the sound of Siemens amp is so good....even with the difficult to drive, low sensitivity LS3/5a speakers!

The Siemens amplifiers with its low watts output is able to work very well with high siensitive speakers such as the Tannoy. the clearity of music and the ability to reproduce real life music really differentiates these amplifiers from the other low powered amplifiers!

For an understanding of German amplifiers, please visit:

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Pilot SA232 & Siemens SmfV4b amplifiers

The Pilot SA232 has always been an odd one out among my hifi equipments.

My Leak12.1 matches very well with my Fishers 400CX + Tannoy Canterbury. My MC240 + Marantz 7 + LS3/5a combo is another perfect match, In the bedroom, my Pye Mozart keeps my RCA full range speakers company.

The Pilot Sa232, therefore, is like a spare waiter at a wedding banquet trying to find a role to play. This has prompted me to put in on sale at R33.

Upon getting the Coral 8 inch Beta speakers, I immediately plugged in the Siemens SmfV4b (without by-passing the pre amp ) and the hum sound has prevented me from enjoying the Cora.

Without much choice, I have to hook it up with the Pilot SA232 and immediately I was surprised by the very nice vocal reproduction together with the Marantz 7! The Pilot has finally found a plane to fly!

In Hong Kong, the hifi circle is very small and yet can be very political at times. Very often, conflicts arises as a result of competition for the same equipments or when one wants to impose one's views upon others. Sometimes, conflicts also arises out of envy and the inner desire of wanting to win, all the time.

I have my fair share of exchanges in the forum. These has prompted me to keep a low profile in the forum and let the various "opinion leader" continue to dominate the various threads and "blow water" for their own ego or vested interest. However, there are some nice fellow audiophiles such as JK who is always willing to teach and help!

In the end, listening to hifi is the enjoyement of music. The various equipments basically help to reproduce the sound that suits the individual taste.

The night is quiet..and the music is singing softly from the coral and the Pilot. Enjoy music : )