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System Updates: both Major and Obscure

Audiophiles have an acronym - WAF (Wife Acceptance Factor), that is usually applied to equipment as an indication for how likely a significant other is to accept *that thing* being inserted into the living environment. My S.O., Blithe, defines it differently - as a rating for how supportive she is for my oddball hobby with the rotating experiments, solder fumes, racks of spare parts in the basement, and road trips to other DIY addicts. With that definition, Blithe rates a sky-high WAF!

Blithe also gets a lot of mileage in her job herding engineers by telling stories about my crazy projects, but since my updates to the website are well... unpredictable at best, she asked me to add a page where I can more quickly post some of the changes to the system. Some of these projects may (should) enventually get their own pages, but for now she will have a place she can point to where people can confirm the madness.


Fall: Still very slowly building up range of shoulder motion and endurance with light loads. In October I start to work on some long-overdue projects with help from Blithe and other friends. Finish Mario's 'tiki hut' dog porch for the side yard. Build an island for the kitchen to replace the cabinet with my Great-grandmother's work table on top (we have used as an island since getting the kitchen reconfigured in 2009). Still waiting for the Jeremy Clark bearing (18+ months)!

Summer: The long, slow recovery continues. In June I finally lose my mind and buy a Recumbent bicycle and I ride it clamped into a trainer in the music room while listening to headphones. In July we take a trip to France for Flo and Bruno's wedding. Still waiting for the Jeremy Clark bearing.

Spring: Yoiks, a bike accident on 15 March where I was struck by a U-turning off-duty law enforcement fellow results in a Grade 5 shoulder separation. Reconstructive surgery at the beginning of May will require a 12 month recovery with no lifting for at least 3 months... so I can listen, but not build (or tweak) for a while. But I'm now part-Zombie since the surgeon uses a cadaver tendon to lash my collarbone back to my shoulder blade. So I've got that going for me.

Winter: Oh yes, the second coming of the Lowther field coils is a most happy time. Sadly, I'm still waiting after 8 months for the blingy 'supermarine' Lenco platter bearing from Jeremy Clark (AKA, Redbeard Analogue), Lenco Heaven has a thread on how many are waiting... many for more than a year with multiple broken promises. It doesn't look good. I've spent so much time thinking about this that I have convinced myself I would have been better off to spend the money on a used metal lathe and try to make one myself! Started working on Lenco number two, a 'light platter' B52 salvaged from a US military setup. This Lenco will have a heavy laminated plywood base with an ebony armboard and a vintage Microtrak 306 tonearm, which sounds amazing with the Denon 103.


Fall: Midas aluminum shell replacement for Denon 103 cartridges + successful surgery to remove the old plastic body == outstanding musical performance! Thanks Daiwok! Ebony headshell and counterweight for Schick tonearm add to the experience. Build and install cherry shelves and hatch covers for the ends of the kitchen window seat.

Ebony bits on Schick arm - Click for larger view

Summer: Landscaping - building a stone wall along the driveway in the front yard.

Stone wall project - Click for larger view

Spring: Trip to Asheville, NC to pick up Lowther Field Coil drivers purchased from Jeffrey Jackson (Experience Music, also Hifi Heroin Blog) is followed by surgery on azurahorns to replace the driver mounting baffle with a Lowther-compatible bolt pattern (oddball freakin' Lowthers are NOT even radially symmetric and have a smaller bolt circle than any 8-inch driver I know...). Also have to design and build rear support legs for the 20 pound electro-magnets, else the weight will warp the Lowther basket.

More walnut parts New driver baffles Side view with Lowther Field-coils Rear view with new drivers

Order a replacement bearing for the Lenco turntable from a machinist in the UK, Jeremy Clark. Seems a shame to hide this level of craftsmanship inside a turntable, but Jeremy assures me this is the last bearing I will ever need!

Jeremy Clark example of fantastic custom bearing - Click for larger view

Winter: finally replaced ancient and gigantic Mitsubishi rear-projection HDTV with a Sony 55-inch LED flat panel. HDTV improved a lot in 13 years! It's thin, light, has a great picture, uses less than 40% of the power of the old TV, and I can drive it at full 1080p resolution from the MacBook.


Fall: Purchase an Eastern Electric Mini-max DAC, a Sabre-chipped beauty with 12AU7 tube output and switchable phase.

Summer: More small house projects, convert the reef tank to LED lighting. Trip to Asheville to visit Steve Blair and the Jacksons for Independence Day, then an Alaskan cruise in September.

Spring: 46 tube preamp with parafeed loading and remote-control slagleformers as output trannies...

46 preamp project, top plates cut but no transformers yet - Click for larger view

Winter: Replace the bass support panels for the azurahorns with new open baffle panels featuring double 15-inch Augie drivers from Silver Iris, and solid walnut wings...

Top view of new bass panels shows countour of walnut wings and triangulated rear bracing New bass panels with walnut wings, double Augie 15-inch woofers With Azurahorns attached, more stable than previous woofer bases too


Fall: Replace the Squeezebox with Apple Airport Express boxes on Kitchen and Music room sytems, convert all FLAC files to Apple lossless so that we can both use iTunes on our MacBooks using 'Max'.

Summer: Back to MC Cartridges after I put a Faraday cage around my stepup transformers to kill the EM-induced hum.

Steel box, aka Faraday cage, for the stepup trannies for high EM environment - Click for larger view

Spring: Dang, I can't remember! Oh yeah... working on the kitchen.

Clark Avenue kitchen after with new lighting, granite counters, copper backsplash... Clark Avenue kitchen, detail from new window seat in eating nook...

Winter: January DBH meeting in Greenville, SC - Ken Lochridge. Trip to Memphis, TN to visit Jeffrey Jackson and the Jackson clan.

Channeling Elvis at Sun studio? Not.


Fall: Tear up the kitchen!

Summer: dBH meeting here in Raleigh -- and it's frikin' hot in da Music Room!

Part of the gang

Spring: VSAC 2008 in Vancouver, WA March. Oswalds Mill trip in April. Return with a 12-inch Schick tonearm for the Lenco, perfect for use with a Denon DL103. Lash up the azurahorns atop the OB subwoofers from Charlotte and start experimenting with crossovers -- Zowie! What took me so long?

Azurahorns in tha' house! OB (Open Baffle) woofers with subwoofer amps Line-level low-pass crossover for SM70 amps quickly replaced the sub-amps Line-level high-pass crossover for amps driving horns unloads drivers from bass duty

Winter: Replace main power transformers in il Monstro with custom-wound units from Jack Elliano ( DBH meeting in Ashville, NC at Jim Dowdy's house.

New huge Eletra-print power tranny on left, old Hammond 300BX on right


Fall: Moving into new house with a beautiful new listening room and a basement crying out to be a shop -- but first I have to seal all the block foundation walls and add wiring and lighting throughout.

Clark Avenue basement before... Clark Avenue basement after...

Summer: Commuting weekends between Charlotte and Raleigh while we sell the Charlotte house, living in an apartment in Cary during the week stuffed with audio parts and tools. Rebuilt Lenco turntable kicks the poop out of my Empire turntable. Begin the digital transformation with purchase of a Slim Devices Squeezebox and start ripping all my CDs to FLAC files.

Lenco in laminated cherry base with vintage Ortofon tonearm

Spring: comes along and makes me an offer I cannot refuse to leave Wachovia and move to Raleigh... Also prep the Adire HE12.1 speakers for sale by finalizing the crossover and installing it in the cabinet, and recovering the baffle with black vinyl -- looks marvelous!

Adire HE12.1 final version - Click for larger view

Winter: Finally get the new equipment stand built and installed in the living room in Charlotte.

New equipment stand - Click for larger view Just about the final layout for the Listening Room in Charlotte - Click for larger view