CRAIG IS A PISSER

When I got the email from Craig Schmidt warning me that he was going to "piss me off" I immediately got pissed because I thought I was the only who was in the business of pissing people off. How dare he try to usurp my power.

As you know it is impossible to aspire to greatness unless you are prepared to be a pisser, which means you have the courage to piss against the wind, and piss lots of people off.

"Wait a minute" I said, as a yellow light bulb went off in my head.

"Have I stumbled on the reason why there is such a big difference between men and women's moral courage"? I asked Dr. Gizmo.

Dear friends, has it not occurred to you that women hardly ever assume the "pisser" archetype? History is proof that women are uncomfortable pissing people off.

I believe this is a major insight breakthrough: The reason that men are much more morally courageous is because we can stand up and pee, and women have to sit. Then I realized that there is a reason why our Mother Nature gave us this enormous biological advantage: hunters would be very vulnerable to the attacks by predator if we had to sit down to pee.

Am I being some kind of weird chauvinist pig?

Not at all because I believe that in the 21st century women are going to make significant advances in their moral courage because of a major technical breakthrough that will permit them to pee standing up.

Check out this new technology, and then read all about Craig's work of art, that will piss lots of people off and that is a good thing. By all means buy the women you love this latest gizmo:

pee

 

THE ALTERNATIVE "PISSER" AMPLIFIER

It is time to go against the grain again. I love building, buying, or doing something different. Sometimes it doesn’t work out but when it does, the feeling you get is overwhelming (kinda like you just hit oil in your backyard or hit the lottery etc.).

amp

I have talked before about my little Parsex amps from Dr. Bottlehead. They are really good little units but I needed an amp with a little more guts and better bass response. There are plenty of kits out there using 2a3’s and 300b’s but retubing these units cost a lot of money. Maybe there might be an alternative that would come close in sound quality and not break the bank to buy and maintain. Well, I have found one and for what it is worth I think it sounds better than any other amp I have heard. Please allow me to elaborate.

One day in the merry merry month of May (actually I think it was March) I was looking through Jim Meluish’s link list and came across Chris Beck’s website. He had some nice homemade speakers on there so I decided to delve into the site. There was also a write-up about a single ended stereo amp using 1625 tubes for the outputs. This amp really goes against the normal way of thinking. There is not a triode in site, uses a 5r4 instead of the popular 5u4, and runs in ultra-linear mode with feedback." Heresy" you say!! "No" says I! This amplifier sounds wonderful and is super cheap to buy and maintain. For those of you who have not switched to another screen, I will elaborate a little.

amp

In my opinion Chris Beck is a special person. He is extremely knowledgeable, patient, an excellent craftsman, and all around nice guy. Look at the two pictures of my beautiful amplifier. My friends come over and drool all over the place while staring at it (my wife does not like this. She says we are foul.). The sound quality is simply stunning! The very first thing you notice about this amp is the bass response. It is super clean! Then you start hearing all kinds of little tid bits that you did not hear before. (Play a live recording and you will hear what I mean.) There is absolutely NO brittleness in the highs. They are very smooth. This amp works really well with my semi horn system.

Operational wise, it is flawless. NO turn on or off thumps. It is obvious from the photos that this man builds a quality product. I had him modify mine to take 6bg6g tubes instead of the 1625’s but they are the same electrically. The driver is the 6sj7gt. This combo, with the mighty 5r4gwy makes for impressive sound and pumps out about 8 clean watts per channel. Iron is Electra-Print. I had never heard an amp with their transformers before. They are built extremely well and they are heavy. As far as retubing this amp, you are in the el cheapo range. 6bg6g’s cost about $8 each, the same for the other two tubes, maybe a little higher. (I buy my tubes from Vacuum Tubes Inc. They are very reasonable and their packing is unbelievable. I do not see how tubes could get damaged if purchased from them.) The bottom line is, the cost of maintaining this amp is very reasonable indeed.

So, it comes down to this: If you want an amp that sounds great, looks great, is totally different, reasonably priced, and is built to very high quality standards by a master craftsman, (phew!) move your mouse as quickly as you can to the links page on this site and bring up Chris Beck’s website. Email him and maybe, just maybe, he will build one for you. Lastly, In keeping with the spirit of going against the grain, Chris is also building a preamp for me called the Ultra- Path (I believe it is an Electra-Print design). Here is the kicker. It is transformer coupled and uses loctal tubes (7a4’s and 7z4’s). More on this when I get it.

 

THE SPEAKER JAPANESE EXPERIMENT

In the late 60’s / early 70’s most of my armed forces buddies were coming back from Asia. Naturally they brought back stereo equipment. Pioneer or Sansui receivers and Pioneer speakers were the units of choice. These speakers had nice woodwork with sculptured grills but the sound was certainly different than what I was accustomed to. I pondered over this for about 30 seconds and then went back to what people did back then and getting into the tunes.

Now, thirty years later, and I am thinking about it again.There are three reasons for this. The first reason is because of Dr. Gizmo (of course). On his website was an article about the virtues of alnico and pretty much how the cost justified the return gained in sound quality. Naturally I agree with that, but how many of us can really afford (or even want to spend) that kind of money on a set of drivers. Just how close could one come to audio utopia without them? The second reason was generated by my last project (The 66% Solution).

This speaker system sounds very natural in the midrange and highs but the bass is a little strange. It goes very deep but there is a slight gap, so to speak, in the response probably around 80 to 100 hz. I think I could fix it easy enough, but I wanted to change the looks as well as the sound. The third reason is because the Japanese people seem to be into this hobby big time. I was curious to hear what their impression of a good sounding speaker was.

I decided to make a totally Japanese designed loudspeaker system! I have stated this many times, but for the record, here it goes again. In my opinion, Fostex makes the best drivers for the money. To be sure, they are not cheap. They cost a lot of money compared to many others, but they are not expensive. They are worth what they charge. Plus the range of units they offer is phenomenal! You want alnico? You got it. You want wood horns? They are yours for the asking. Even just looking at their full range product line will blow your mind. Plus, every driver you purchase from them has paperwork offering suggestions for complete speaker systems. I chose one of these and stuck to the plan. I already had most of the drivers. The t90 tweeters are alnico but the cost is low enough to use these plus they are horn loaded. The midrange task was going to the H400 wood horns and the D1405 ferrite based drivers. This combo works extremely well (I found that out by using them on my 66’s). The bass called for an extreme driver (for me anyway). The Fostex FW405 woofer is HUGE! It is also built like a tank.

woofer

wwofer2

(I purchased these new from HIFIDO. I got an incredible deal on them and great service to boot. As far as I am concerned they are the only place to use for purchasing these products.) Mr. Fostex recommends a hundred liter cabinet using a four-inch port, so I built one out of _ inch MDF and mahogany veneer (but doubled the face).

box

I then built the crossover that was also suggested.

 

crossover

 

I used components of good quality (like Solen. I know the Japanese use these because I ordered caps from them before and that was what I got.), but nothing exotic. I also added a zobel network to the woofer as per the plan. I noticed that a lot of Japanese cabinets had removable backs. So does this project and I like it much better than a fixed unit. It is so much easier to set everything up and also to modify later if needed. I put the woofer on the inside of the 1.5" thick cabinet face. "Pray tell Craig, why did you do that?" Because children I learned something about driver alignment with my last project. It has to be close if not perfect. The problem for me was that the horn sticks out so far over the cabinet it does not look right (but sounds fine). So I figured I would give myself a little added distance to play with. Enough talk about the construction.

TIME TO LISTEN.

speaker

It has often been said that Japanese speakers tend to sound bright or too forward (at least that is what I have heard.). I do not agree! I now think I have a handle on what these people like. They want to be close to the music. An example of this would be like sitting in the front row of a theater. Up close and involved. This speaker system does just that! Yet it is not fatiguing like a lot of forward sounding speakers that I have heard (an example of this was a very popular speaker of the 70’s put out by JBL.). Live recordings sounded like you were there and that is really it, there was a lot of thereness (if there is such a word) there. No one driver stuck out. The big three blended together quite well. The sound was immensely enjoyable. Third reason solved!

You might think that using a fifteen-inch woofer would kick out prodigious amounts of bass but it doesn’t. Oh, they go very deep when called for, yet these drivers are very smooth all the way up to their crossover point (which is pretty high in my opinion.). What can one say about the midrange that the 1405/H400 combo produces? Old clichés used many times to describe sound quality just do not fit here. They are just excellent period! Second reason solved! Now solving the first reason for starting this project is a bit tricky. I do not have a full alnico based system to use for comparison. No need to worry though. If it sounds right it is right!! So dear Doctor: Alnico may be the king of sound, along with it’s kingly price tag, but I’ll bet us peasants can come pretty damn close with good ferrite drivers assuming the drivers are designed properly. My wife loves these new speakers and says I am now allowed to converse with the good doctor again. What a gal!


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