THE FOURTH WAVE©
Part I of a 100 Part Series
The Ascension of Tube Consciousness
The World First 4th Wave Amplifier
It is happening all over the world. Just look at the worlds most popular television show, Baywatch. Why are billions watching this mindless fluff? It is not for the thrill of low IQ blonde babes with big tits in very very small red bathing suits saving drowning jelly fish, it is because the whole world knows that a major new wave is forming, and the only way to feel its power is to go down to the beach.....
THE HUNT FOR THE TONAL WHOLEY GRAIL
CAVEAT: If when you are done reading this you dont understand, start all over again, but this time try to imagine that you are a professional race car driver and you have just received delivery of a new Indy 500 car and you are now going to have to spend a great deal of effort tuning the car to your tune...if you want max performance, which only occurs when you and your car become one. Any resemblance between the audio systems I am describing, and a high performance race car is strictly on purpose. Those who believe that you can acquire ultimate performance in a dealers showroom, should stop reading now and go back to playing checkers.
If there is any doubt in your mind that most ( of course not you) are still lingering at the most primitive understanding and experience of the audio arts, just consider the issue of tone. "Tone is the single most important attribute of music" (Harry Olsen, Music. Physics and Engineering) yet it is hardly ever mentioned in the audio arts. This is akin to being in the gourmet food business and never mentioning flavor. Why is the most important aesthetic consideration in the audio arts ignored by most? Let me suggest some answers:
1. This is the sport of comparisons, and the only way we can make judgments of quality. But what if the level of tone in all store bought equipment is so low...and for good reason...that it is impossible to detect its low quality? Let me say that another way...if you can only compare one turd to another, how do you know which is the rose? Why is this dismal level of tonal consciousness true? The combination of (1) digital audio, which may do some things great, but is always at the bottom of the tonal totem pole, (2) with universal ferrite magnet speakers, which are always grunging tone...(3) coupled with the typical poor quality crossover parts.....(4) all driven by amplifiers that havent got a clue about how to get tone right...and you have complete tonal discombobularity. If you are wondering why your CDs never have proper tone, all that you have to do is look at how many electronic devices the audio signal must through between the microphone and the hard drive through which travel......is it thousands or tens of thousands of solid state devices?
2. You have to eat tone to know it, and that means you have to listen to real instruments up close and intensely to "get" the harmonic aroma of instruments, and few have this experience.
3. And to screw your head up even more....even if the equipment had high tonal aptitude, the only way to get tone right is by tuning. Even if you take a rare gaggle of tonal righteous equipment and connect them together you will still have tonal discombobularity...because of the way they interact. This is the same truth for a musician buying musical instruments, or someone building a recording studio....the art of tuning transcends.
4. I dont think it is ever possible to achieve a high tonal IQ with complicated circuits...(like mixing consoles) because too much harmonic damage is done to the signal, and again digital circuits, which are the world most complicated suffer in this regard. This also explains why more and more recording engineers are rebuilding vintage, and simpler mixing consoles.
Yet in spite of the widespread tonal turdosity, legions of music lovers are experiencing this paradox: simple, affordable tube audio circuits are able to get tone righter than the big expensive systems...and this is true for the reasons I mentioned above. What I just described is also the fundamental paradox of the Japanese audiomaniac culture....classic simple circuits achieve the highest level of tonal quality.
Once you get a taste of righteous tone, you know the difference between a rose and turd and then the search for the Wholey Tonal Grail begins, and sooner or later you find yourself............
AT THE BEACH
We are standing at where the ocean meets the shore; where the wet meets the wild, where fluids and solids embrace. It is still the early morning of the audio arts and as we look out over the ocean we feel the tug at our feet; we feel the energy of the ocean surging back and forth, and it is in this oceanic music force that we are all swimming....we can feel the next big wave is forming...and it is tugging at our imagination. This wave is your evolving musical consciousness.
There is a spirit moving in us. Our loins are trembling in the way they tremble in front of an almost finished barbecued meat; we are drawn by some ancient inner calling; we know that a new wave is forming, and we must, because that is the place we few brave souls are supposed to be..
Passion creates art and art has its own gizmological imperative that flows directly into the new audio design aesethetic that our community is creating ....and because our art is the most vital of all modern arts, it reflects the paradoxes, enigmas, and conundrums of our humanity. Where else does the dematerial and material wrestle so bravely?
When did arts eternal drive for innovation ever take a one day holiday?
The audio arts is splitting into different "schools", and that is a good thing because this is the best indication that we are finally leaving the infantile stage of the audio arts, and are ready to experiment with adulthood. This is the organic transition from the passive to active stage, from the receiver to the creator, from herd identity to individuation. This split is clearly between those who are the shoppers and YOU, the small select group, from all over the world, that are musical connoisseurs.
The characteristic of the 4th Wave that separates it from the other less advanced waves, that preceded it, is that it has a metaphysical/existential premise that is as obvious as Playboy centerfolds...
BECAUSE EACH OF US IS A MUSICAL INSTRUMENT OUR JOB IS TO EXPRESS THE MUSIC IN US AND TO DO THAT WE MUST "TUNE" OURSELVES, AND WE DO THAT BY TUNING OUR MUSIC SYSTEM, WHICH IS AN ANALOG OF OUR MUSICAL CONSCIOUSNESS.
(Tattoo that on your Butt)
Can you imagine any musician buying an instrument and walking out of the store and just playing it without tuning it in such a way that it perfectly reflects his vibe? This is the beginning of an adult relationship to music because now, at last, there is a synchronous interaction between our own inner music, our audio gear, and the source material. Here we are creating a unification of intentionality between all the creators: You, the composer, the performer, and the audio artisan.
The reason that the 4th Wave will be resisted by large segments is because this is a radical shift of authority from the audio designer to you. Let me put this another way...this industry is based on your being a little boy who needs to be dressed every morning. Your clothes are picked out for you by your parents and like a good boy you put them on, until one day you wake up and you are ready to dress yourself, and you discover that you hate your parents taste...and you are right...because only you know.....your vibe.
The 4th Wave is being surfed by a small group at the vanguard...those who are ready to define their our own unique tune in their audio systems...which can be created in thousands of ways...if you are ready to leave the relative safety of the lower 3rd Wave and take on a new and thrilling challenge.....one that is guaranteed to take you to a much higher musical state....because the only way, and let me repeat myself...the only way to get to that high place is when your music system has become YOU AS ART/YOU AS MUSIC.
(Note: My friend Steve, who is a connoisseur, came over to Chez Bat Ear to listen to my system and I tuned my system so that it reflected his tune and it was completely opposite of my tune...and that is what makes this sport so fascinating....everyones musical ecstasy is unique)
Our radical community has evolved from knowing the difference between solid state of tube electronics, between push/pull and single-ended, between pentode and triode, to the more subtle differences in tubes, wire and topology and now on to a higher level of demanding even great subtly and refinement in implementation. As I have asked before..."What is wrong with a man who speculates about the difference in the harmonic aroma of coupling capacitors"? The answer: He is suffering with divine madness....and is blessed.
THE CYCLES OF ART
It is also a sign of our self-confidence that we want to re-examine and re-experience the circuit that existed at the primal roots of the audio arts, and bring these classics to a higher level of implementation. Are you grasping my grasp? Am I not up to my eyeballs with modern versions of 1930s tubes? Our artful imagination is expanding. We are ready to explore territories that were once taboo. The 4th Wave is much taller than the third wave because it contains much more energy...it does not edit out any facets of the audio arts....and yes...the circuits from the 1920s and 1930s can move us in ways that more modern circuits dont!
ECSTASY IS A GIZMOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE
Why are we jumping on our surf boards and taking on the challenge of this new higher wave? It is because we want more control over our home aural matrix. We want to be masters of our aural matrix: the contours, shapes, undulations, expansion; the important tonal plasmas...we want to be the master sculptors of our aural matrix.....that is the message.....and that is the right message....you should totally control of your aural matrix....and swapping cables is not enough.
Before I continue let assure you all that I havent whimped out on the ultimate challenge of creating the gizmological expressions of this existential imperative: I have created the world first infinitely tuneable 4th Wave amplifier "complex". My dear brothers, how could I ask you to consider brave new existential possibilities that would make normal men quake, if I wasnt already there and are ready to give you the map. Please write 1,000 times on the head of a pin...ECSTASY IS A GIZMOLOGICAL IMPERATIVE....our dreams create the new space ships that are taking us deeper into music hyper-space...because we are compelled to explore the deepest recesses of our harmonic souls. (If you didnt understand that it is time to change your underwear and brand of beer).
MOTIVATED BY FEAR
All around me are young horny audio bucks in the rut who want to take over of my thermionic harem, challenge me, destroy me in battle and take over the Triode Guild. Heavy Shit! To maintain my leadership position I can not stop or some young buck will dislodge me. This is the secret gizmological horror drives me. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be chased out of The Triode Guild throne room but some whimper snapper wearing a propereller hat, and have to wander in the audio wildnerness all alone and vulnerable to the attacks by maurading packs of man eating transistors?
Yet, There is nothing more important than men to competing on the playing field of art, and my responsibility as Guildmeister is to encourage not only new forms of competition but to, as a Master, play the game at the highest level of skill....talk the talk...and walk the walk. I would be failing at my job if I didnt stimualte an expanding intensity of creativity in the audio arts.
I felt I needed to do something major as my first awesomosity of the 21th century ...the beginning of the second century of the audio arts. It is time for me to once again establish the high ground for the audio arts....you know, once again shred the perimeter of the audio arts....the place where you find the OTL-1, or Black Hole Amp, or Triodzilla....it was once again time for me create a defining creation which will set the pace against which others will judge themselves....but because a gizmo is not only a thing, it is a spirit.....it must have a brilliant mindfulness. Each of my creations must speak to you on many different levels, because there are so many of them that need contact with their fellow alien brother.
Because I want you to buy into the notion of the 4th Wave Modality I will now to sell it to you. Please compare my sales pitch to the curves you are pitched by other manufacturers.
COST: If you are smart and have some of the basic parts, each amplifier will cost less than $50. Because I am permantlly imprinted with tube circuits I have no choice. I must repeat my historical dialectic, which found me as a teenager on Canal Street in New York City, that was the center for army/navy surplus WW II electronics. The first amplifiers I built were made with grey and green colored parts, and tubes cost 25 cents. So this, the worlds first 4 th Wave amplifier harkens back to the thrill of building a really cool musical toy...and made with surplus parts. All of the power supplies I bought used, and almost all are over 30 years old and still have their original tubes. I bought these power supplies five years ago. I already had a collection of tubes and output transformers, so the only thing I had to buy was some pieces of wood, some tube sockets, resistors, capacitors and wire. I think all four mono amplifiers cost $120.....and what can be a bigger gizmological thrill than beating the ass off a Ferrari with your home made hot rod? Trust me. If I were to manufacture an exact copy of this amplifier so you could buy it in a store you would be writing a check for over $500K...or you could do it my way...or some way in between...and then you would have enough money left over to go to Switzerland and have a bat ear transplant.
INFINITELY TUNEABLE: There are so many easy to adjust tuning feature on this amplifier sytem that I dont have the math skills to calculate them...but.... for example.....the voltage on every single tube is adjustable....and that is four mono SET amps, and that also includes filament voltage. And yes you can hear the difference in ten volts one way or the other if you have bat ears, and a nymphomanic is giving you a backrub while reading you Shakespeares sonnets.
This system employs eight separate adjustable tube regulated power supply. Stack them and you are looking at ten feet tall of tube regulated power supplies, and the total watts for all four amplifiers is usually TEN. I could, if I wished take this concept and create 20 times the power....but that is not my trip. The circuit I am current using is extremely simple...a direct coupled 6SN7 cap coupled to the output tube grid...thats it...and the meaning of BE VERY STIFF BE VERY SIMPLE. I keep three others power supplies on standby because I know the harmonic aroma of each, and what power supplies liberate what tube....and the need to optimize is obvious. Fine tuning all of the element for tonal perfection is the only way to get beyond the beyond I was experiencing.
This systems, because of the tube crossover, permits me to choose different types and brands of tubes for the tweeter and woofer...and choose the operating point that is optimal blending for each tube. Over time I will have many more laptops with different input circuits. With my entire collection of output transformers now having connectors on them, I can change them in less than a minute. I am experimenting with 5Ks on tweeters and 3.5 K on woofers. With no passive crossover, all the amplifiers are directly connected to the drivers ( with no filtration between) and every adjustment is revealed in the subtelest change in tune...including brand of resitors....and what could be more fun than swapping around power supplies and tubes to squeeze the maximum juice from the clit of the music...if you know what I mean.
THE TIME CONUNDRUM: You know you are experiencing a great gizmo when you are pulsating in a time conundrum like when you are standing in front of a perfectly restored 1948 Ford Woody station wagon...time has stopped, yet you are in the past and present and all time sychonistically....like the way time is transformed when you kiss a state of the art breast for the first time.
This design has passed the 4th Wave Test.....it is so advanced that it is positively prehistoric in its effect. Those of you who are into physics know that when you get so far out into the future you are about to get up the butt, because time is circular. When we get really advanced we find ourselves deep into our prehistoric past.
How did I accomplish this? My research has proven that when men hear the right "harmonic plasma" our brains operation is altered. Mr. Normal, who normally keeps his Mr. Music Wild Man locked in the closet when give the right dose of harmonic plasma will open the closet door. The magic is in the harmonics, which is why the wildest of music wild men are tripping on DHTs....the magic potion is tone........
Those of you without bat ears dont fret. I will be shortly holding ear sensitivity workshops in your local community. It is a simple one hour course that costs only $25. I make my presentation with twenty Victoria Secrets models who once they have strapped you into your chair, take off their bathrobes, and while prancing all around you, in their underwear lick your ears...for one full hour.
When we get beyond the basics of tonal righteousness...and you are already there or you wouldnt be reading this, you start to want more refinement and that is right, and the only way you can get it is my adjusting your system to your evolving music mind...that is constantly evolving. Which is why 4th Wave Modality is...a celebration of your changing mind...with 4th Wave you go with the flow, i.e......Is today a bad hair day and you need 45s, or is today the kind of day that demands 300Bs at 320volts at 80ma on the tweeter and 300Bs on the woofers at 550 volts at 125 ma? And to be quite frank with you young men, I don't know how you enjoy the same tubes in the morning and after dinner. I often have to change my combinations and tuning states many time during the day depending on what planet is in conjuntion with Pluto. Of course if tonight is going to be big rock and roll we know what modules, what tubes, and what operating points to use...dont we. Isnt that why musicians have more than one instrument? Again, isnt that why Yahweh decreed the law that a man should have many wives.
4th WAVE MODALITY CHECK LIST
As you know there are hundreds of ways to tune an audio system. In the good olds days this process was all about swapping phono cartridges; today we have many more choices on how to create exactly the right "tuning".
TUBES: This most obvious way we change the tonal personality and aroma of our system, and when it comes to DHT this means we have really huge options, and they are growing But why shouldnt one amplifier accommodate a wide range of tubes from 45, 2A3, 300Bs? The answer is YES...Of course the same is true for push/pull, and this topology needs a big boost in morale, and I will meet that challenge shortly.
OUTPUT TRANSFORMERS (OPTs) : This is an extremely important element in the 4th Wave because relatively so little attention is devoted to the SOUL" of your amplifier. You will soon discover how much time and attention I will be spending on this topic. This is one of the most effective ways of crafting your aural matrix. Why shouldnt OPTs be like phono cartridges where you can plug them in and out so you can choose your favorite OPT from your collection....that is just right for Monday, or jazz? The reason I love this topic is because there are, across the world, masters of the transformer art form, who create real options for us....tuning requires choices! OPTs are also fabulously artful gizmos, with literally hundreds of variations in designs and construction, including blending of magnetic material. Do you like the aroma of Permalloy?
INPUT CIRCUITS: Who wrote the book on this subject? Why shouldnt you be able to plug in and out different input circuits? Do you think there is only one right input circuit? We are now at a very exciting "neo-classical" time because, once again, in our neo-classical splendor, we are using input transformers, plate chokes and interstage transformers..... the way they were used when radio was the hot new technology...we are going back to the primal moment of creation to be far out into the future on the top of the 4th wave. The circuit I am now working on is the circuit that my father built in the 1920s.
POWER SUPPLIES: One of the requirements to become a Triode Guild master is you must pass an exam in power supply design and you must demonstrate that you know how to exploit many different types, including passive, solid state active, tube active, and that includes a complete mastery of the tube regulation practices of the 1950s...because....soon power supplies will be modular...as they should be....and you should have power supply choices.
PASSIVE CROSSOVERS: I dont know any that are made at high standards in stock speakers, which explains why they are hidden because if they were external, where they should be, you would soon discover that your big buck music system was victim to about $20 worth of parts. This is the weakest element of every audio system and it is essential that you upgrade all of the passive parts....and while you are at it you can fine tune your speakers...because every speaker is a unique personality. There is no reason why you shouldnt be bi-wiring with different "optimal" amplifiers for your top end and bottom end...if you are not ready to go the full nine yards to electronic crossovers.
TUBE CROSSOVERS: This is going to cause many to squirm, as they should, but there is no avoiding this ontological necessity. It is absolutely essential to fine tune the crossover points/slopes because every amplifier interacts with your speakers differently....and your speakers will be much more stable, have lower distortion, be more dynamic, and have the most righteous tone.
Once you have gone as far as you can go with your passive crossover it is time to go all the way.... and just think about this tuning creatively....why not use a 2A3 on tweeter and a 300B on woofer...or if you really want to get serious....what about an AVVT 2A3 on tweeter and a KR 300BXL on woofer...your mix/match options are unlimited, and that is what tuning is all about. This is one of the few implementation were you are guaranteed advanced performance, and again, and again, much lower overall distortion, better tone and real dynamics... and save money...two sets of smaller amplifiers will cost you less than one that is more powerful..and will sound better. That is the good news, the bad news is that I can only find one acceptable crossover in America...and it is good.
PARTS: Take your passive parts sensitivity and shoot it up ten notches, because with advanced clarity and with your expanded aural matrix you can hear the big difference in parts. Some places carbon resistors work, and in some place oil caps work...and in some places metal oxide and polypropylene works...but dont worry...it is so apparent to you that you know exactly what choices to make.
GETTING REALLY FREAKY OVER
THE AURAL MATRIX IMPERATIVE
As you savvy thermionic savants know every different brand, of every kind of tube, has a different personality, which I call their aural matrix...and that is multiplied by the unique qualities of the system they are used in. But let us now assume that we are only talking about this one system. By knowing intimately the unique aural matrix of each tube I can manipulate my home aural matrix in very interesting ways. Some tubes are more dynamic in the midrange, some are more open and delicate at higher frequencies, and each has a unique low frequency aural matrix, and for example, as I am writing this I just switched from AVVT 2A3s on the tweeters to KR PX 25 because I wanted to enjoy the shift in my aural matrix aesthetics. And I fiddle around with the operating point with all four tubes...it is just like tuning in a radio station...it is easy to hear when it is just right...totally seamless.
So when I am listening to a voice singing I fiddle with the voltages of all of the tubes and I shape the voice along many different axis...but it is always optimal because I stop when it is perfect for me at that moment....
Does that make me an aural matrix control freak? Yes, and that is the dark side of the 4th Wave...and that is cool.
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WHAT ABOUT PUSH/PULL?: Why not, they are as tuneable or even more tuneable than SETs. As you know I am of the opinion that this genre has gone down a dead end of maximum power/minimum refinement in the service of a completely dysfunctional low inefficiency speaker aesethetic. It is time to reverse trends and do what the Japanese do...create lower powered more refined circuits...using the 4th Wave Modality
REAL LIFE EXAMPLES
I just got Willie Nelson album, and after listening to the first cut I knew a change of tubes was in order, and I knew exactly which combination squeezed the most musical juice from the CD. This also required me to adjust the balance between the tweeter and woofer, and shift some operating points...but it took just a few minutes, and then Willie was at his highest creamosity......I picked the right combination to create the optimum tone and shape of aural matrix. Now tomorrow I might to listen to that same CD but only experience it from a different aural matrix axis.
I now have a good idea what combinations work best for chamber music, piano, rock and roll, and different types of voices, and with the same variables at your control, I am sure your creative expression would be completely different, and that is a good thing...especially because the only way for me to experience the Guanari String Quartet playing Beethovens late string quartets with AVVT 2A3 on woofers and KR PX 25s on the tweeters, the early string Quartets, because their nascent spirit is different requires a different combination of tubes...but you know what I mean.
My ability to control the combination of space, time and harmonic balance of my system is the nitty gritty of the 4th Wave, it is the only proper way to search for the Tonal Wholey Grail, and it is more fun that oral sex with a mermaid, and from a tribal point of view it is....my ultimate microscope for examining the wholeosity of any piece of audio gear.
In this system I have reached a very high place in experiencing the deep soul of any work of audio art from wire to transformers, from resistors to vintage of tube...and all of this will be put into serving your need to share the path.
TRANSLATING THE 4th WAVE INTO THE REAL WORLD FOR PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN HOMES AND HAVE WIVES, CHILDRENS AND PETS, AND NO BRAIN DAMAGE
My own, and the first, 4th Wave amplifier, is not meant for human consumption, but that doesnt meant that the core concept will not be translated into your dream amplifier....because I have already implemented a plan to translate the prototype into a commercial product with Plitron Manufacturing, and you will soon hear about it.
I also hope that other designers and manufacturers take note of this shift and embrace the idea that YOU are the ultimate definer of your tonal righteousness, and YOU are evolving, and YOU are searching, and your audio equipment should serve these compelling needs.
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