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General Meeting Reports for 2004 Return to Index
December 2004 DIY Night

John Corneille was first off with a no-compromise two way bookshelf speaker system he built using carbon fibre cone Audax mid/bass and Accuton ceramic domes tweeters. The sensitivities of the high and low frequency units were different so John brought a Behringer “Ultra Drive Pro” active crossover to balance the system. Lower bass was dipole, provided by two 38 cm Jaycar units a side. Four 15 inch drivers for bass! Amplification was a Sony 100W/ch GA7ES high end 5.1 amplifier. Very impressive.

Next Glenn Baddeley presented a complete system with a TEAC CD player modified with a two valve output section, a chip amp he constructed using the LM 4780, and two way floor standing speakers using Focal and Dynaudio drivers. The cabinets were completely inert being constructed using five different layers including lead, Masonite and MDF; and the drivers were time-aligned. Great audio.

Chris Mogford presented a similar amplifier with a computer style Creative CD player (which refused to select tracks so the TEAC from the previous system was commandeered) with a pair of largish bookshelf speakers built around German Visaton and Jaycar drivers by Bob Toll, with crossovers by Ron Newbound. Ron also supplied a small powered subwoofer to augment the bass. Very detailed.

After supper a LUX turntable, extensively modified by John Drew, was pressed into service. John also constructed a head amp for the moving coil cartridge and a RIAA pre-amp box to feed line level to Moggie’s chip amp. Absolutely superb.

Bob Toll

November 2004 The Rockian Trading Show

The proprietors of Rockian Trading, Ian and Bev Hooper, who would now have to be Australia’s biggest and best importers of audiophile CDs, showed the new additions to their amazing catalogue. While the previous material is still available, new labels abound. We heard music from Chess, Linn Records, Audioiquest, ATMA Classique, Pentatone Records, Mobile Fidelity, Melba Records and German label Stockfisch.

Ian played excerpts from most of the repertoire, but there was so much we only got to hear small snippets of each selection. Bev’s Bazaar operated at the rear of the auditorium and members snapped up many bargains. I would say that both club members and the Hoopers went away happy after enjoying a very successful evening.

Equipment was provided by Melbourne audio identity Greg Osborn. There were two exotic CD players, a French Audio Aero Capitole nocompromise unit, and a world beater from China; and a Consonance SACD II. Amplification was a Audio Aero 40 w class A valve power amp that looked like a prop from Lost in Space; Greg brought his biggest and best speakers, the Grand Monument Reference that, if white, could have doubled as fridges. Using all Focal drivers, there were two 300 mm bass drivers, a Neoglass cone 180 mm midrange and a phase plug modified focal 20 mm inverted dome tweeter. They each weigh 175 kg!

Greg has made this offer to any club member or convenor: he welcomes visits to his Taylors Lakes operations, to hear his extensive range of amplifiers and disc players and the full range of his classy speakers. His phone no: 9390 1564.

The club would like to thank Ian, Bev and Greg for the effort they put into making the evening interesting for all participants.

Bob Toll

October 2004 Members Request Night

Our third Members’ Request Night was an unqualified success. The idea was that anyone attending could play up to six minutes from a favourite CD. Members were issued with a numbered ticket as they entered and asked which category or genre their selection fitted best into. There were three broad selections – classical, jazz or mainstream-pop.

As the evening progressed a number was pulled from each category in turn and that member had the floor for about five minutes to present his/ her selection. Due to a bit of foresight in arranging the method of choice there was a huge range of good music. In fact, when the last piece was played there were no more slips in the hat! We played every selection except for those who left at supper time.

The equipment for the evening was IMHO amongst the best we have ever had the privilege to review in the Willis Room. Wally Roche was responsible. He brought a stylish Arcam CD player, Carver integrated amplifier (of which we used only the pre-amp) and the ultimate Carver power amp (300 wpc).The highlight was the speakers. Wally designed and built a hybrid with conventional dynamic bass and a brilliant ribbon mid/HF unit about 750 cm long. They were beautifully finished a la piano lacquer.

I thought the sound, particularly in a room that is not known for its kindness to loudspeakers, was fabulous. I don’t know when I have heard a more accurate reproduction of voice or strings. The horizontal dispersion was incredible: I could hear the left speaker against the right hand wall and imaging was very acceptable. Vertical dispersion was another thing but we all sat down to listen and this was not a problem. Some thought that the ribbons were a little bright although this could have easily been altered as there was a three position attenuator for the top end. It really is reassuring to see members of our esteemed club building cutting edge audio components that could hold their own against all comers world-wide.

Bob Toll

September 2004 A Walkthrough of Audio Technology

Club member and author Stephen Spicer presented one of the most memorable ever Club nights at the September Monthly Meeting, taking those assembled through a retinue of audio “firsts”. Complete with audio and excellent “Powerpoint” video we heard Thomas Alva Edison utter the first words ever spoken into a recording apparatus, “Mary had a little Lamb”. Of course this was a re-recording as the original on tinfoil only lasted two plays so this was also the world’s first “cover version”.

On to cylinders, the first “talking clock” in 1878, early discs from early in the 20th century, the first “electric” recording in 1926 played first on an acoustic gramophone then a fully electronic instrument. We heard some examples of brilliant early ribbon and capacitor microphones, the quality far too good to be appreciated when they were first developed in the 1920s.

Following this the first stereo recording by Bell Labs of Leopold Stokowski leading an orchestra in 1931, the first “Tape” recording featuring a huge machine called a “Blattnerphone” using steel tape, Jo Stafford with a direct to disc master in 1945 and the same artist on a very early Capitol Magnetic Tape recording in 1948. This is where “Hi-Fi” really started.

Then on to the first microgroove record in 1951, the first commercial stereo tape from RCA in 1954, the first Westrex 45/45 stereo record in 1958 and back to direct cutting discs in the US in 1976. From here it is a short jump to CD, then DVD. Stephen showed that a generation in audio is around 30 years – cylinder acoustic 1880 to electric recording 1926 to microgroove 1951 to CD 1981. What will happen in just a few years?

Of most interest to me personally was the masking used for compressed audio, e.g., MP3.

A cool edit visual graphic was shown and audio played with two overlapping signals: white noise at one level with a 1k tone 10 db down starting after the white noise and continuing after it had finished. The 1k tone could not be heard during the white noise but was easily discernable when it had finished. Mp3 compression says if it can’t be heard, it just won’t be coded and will thrown away. It was really interesting to hear on a music recording, first the compressed audio and then the material that was discarded by the compression.

Equipment for the evening, supplied by Stephen, included a magnificent home built valve amplifier and 38 cm Tannoy dual concentrics in HUGE bass reflex cabinets that weighed about a quarter of a tonne! Thanks for a super evening, Stephen and for the incredible amount of research that went into it.

Bob Toll

August 2004 Loudspeaker Kit Victoria

The Loudspeaker Kit Victoria was represented by Mimo Fornito. Two loudspeaker pairs were brought along plus a Pioneer CD player and an AMC 3150 amp of 150 w/ channel. The speakers were bookshelf model M5s, and floor standing F6s.

The M5s were presented first and are a two way system, ported with a 4th order acoustic crossover. The drivers are Dayton Audio 5.25” bass and Vifa D19TD tweeter. Finished in a vinyl wrap and solidly constructed they are good value.

A selection of tracks were played and the M5s gave a good account of themselves considering the small size. No major discontinuities or cabinet resonances were evident. Rated at 30 watts RMS would be suitable for small rooms or rear channel home theatre. Then came the F6s. Again a two way, constructed from 28 mm MDF and rear ported, with Vifa P17WJ for mid- basses and Vifa D27TG-35 tweeters. Rated at 70 watts RMS and a frequency range of 40 hz to 22 khz –3db. The larger cabinet and drivers made their presence felt in better dynamics and midrange, which was a little lacking in the M5s. Possibly a bit light on for bass authority but again that could have been the large room. My guess is that they would be much more assertive in your average domestic situation.

At $395 and $700 respectively for the kits (unfinished) they are good value, the F6 in particular. Thanks to Mimo for an articulate and well informed demonstration.

Bob Field

July 2004 Members Recordings

The July meeting included a program of recordings by club members and friends. This was widened to include any material that had never been commercially released. Starting with a local recording of the Kew Citizens’ Band of 76 Trombones with a recalcitrant trombonist that insisted on “doing his own thing”; the evening progressed to a recording by Doug Tipping of a local orchestra’s interpretation of the overture to Bernstein’s Candide, recorded on a Sony Minidisc recorder and transferred to CD. The quality was excellent.

This was followed by a harp solo recorded by member Lucas Cant, then a copy of the US National Anthem, the Star Spangled Banner by a male quartet using new recording technique called “Isomike” from a test CD sourced from the USA.

The local scene was again represented by “Hootenanny” from the Footscray-Yarraville Band, “A” grade champions some years ago and a fine recording of a leading Melbourne flautist from a concert in Assembly Hall in Collins St. A never-released movie soundtrack from “Blue Fire Lady” recorded at Metropolis Studios in Melbourne followed, then excerpts from two well known piano concertos recorded once again by Doug Tipping. Many other local recordings were represented.

After supper Ron Newbound presented a selection of his favourite CD tracks, detailing why he felt they were useful in assessing amplifier and loudspeaker performances.

The equipment for the evening included a beautifully finished AKSA 100 W/channel power amp and Marantz SACD CD player, brought by Peter Huttemeier and a pair of legendary English speakers, IMF TLS 50 Mk. IIs, based on the transmission line principle, which acquitted themselves impeccably. The evening showcased lots of variety in music and most members really enjoyed the night.

Bob Toll

June 2004 AGM

The meeting started with the usual formalities, followed by election of office bearers for the next year. Or should I say the absence of office bearers. It is disappointing that as usual the work of running the club falls on the shoulders of the willing few. The willing few are getting older and more tired. We have talented members with plenty to say so how about a bit of doing as well, members. Right. That’s off my chest.

This was followed by an auction of the club’s surplus equipment. Ex Pres Matt (spruiker) Jelicich presided over proceedings, and what a great job he did. Even allowed Wally to talk up the price of an item on which I was bidding. A fun event to be sure. The odd dollar or two swelled the club’s coffers. Some items I am certain were purchased more as a donation than anything else, and I believe all items were sold. No doubt we can have a pie and coke night on the proceeds if Pres Neville lets the moths out of the wallet. One slices each, fellas no more.

After the auction was a musical offering courtesy of our departing Program Co-ordinator, who supplied the gear, and music courtesy of the committee. I would have to say it was one of Wally’s better efforts. The Arcam amps seemed a good match for the speakers. The speakers surprised me in their fullness. First impressions were “piddly little 4” woofers” in the Willis room? Oh dear me!

The first track from Ken made us sit up and take notice. From there on a good sele ction of music of varied genre and good quality recordings made for an interesting evening.

The CD player had HDCD capabilities, which allowed the full appreciation of this format, which some feel is at least as good as SACD.

The equipment (which is available for purchase) was an Arcam Alpha 8 power amp and preamp combination, plus Arcam 8SE CD player. The speakers are by Wally, the drivers 4” Arista bass x2, with Response mid and tweeter. Budget drivers, but far from budget sound. The crossovers are not yet finalized so some improvement could be expected. Interconnects were Silver Ribbon (flat).

Asking prices:
Arcam amp/ pre combination $2100
CD player $1200
Speakers, painted $1200
Jarrah finish. $1500
Piano finish. $1800

And so another year closes. I will not be active in the coming year, apart from maybe a home meeting. Getting older, slower and grumpier. So put your hands up younger members and do something for your club, or maybe we won’t have a club!

Bob (the Builder) Field

May 2004 DIY Night

The evening opened with Jeff who presented us with a modified CD player which he played into Rogers speakers via a passive pre-amp that was favourablt commented on by thos in the know and those who would believe that they are in the know.

Jeff is one of the club's gentlemen and conducted his presentation is an efficient and entertaining manner, which got the evening off to a good start.

Roger was next, who had brought with him a Jaycar chip amp coupled with an AKSA amp and played this equipment through Jeff's Rogers speakers.

The rest of the evening was a combination effort by Kendrick, Peter H. and Martine which consisted of Kendrick's valve pre-amp receiving signals from Peter H's CD player, then vai an AKSA amplifier into Martin's Omnidirectional speakers.

This combination proved successful in most people's opion on the night. Of course, there was a lot of discussion, questions, and sometimes correct answers during the supper break, which tended to enhance the popularity of our DIY nights. Many have remarked that meetings of this type prove to be most enjoyable because everyone seems to get involved, rather than just sit there and say 'entertain me', which leads to a 'clubby' atmosphere.

Wally Roche

April 2004 The Best Speaker System in the World?

Obviously, such a claim is usually greeted with a great deal of skepticism, so it was understandable that they were greeted with a considerable amount of reserve. What was generally agreed, after hearing a few tracks, was that during the era when they were made they probably were the best speaker at that time.

Most of the opinions expressed were very complimentary, so a large number of people enjoyed their performance. It was generally agreed that they were one of the more unusual/innovative designs seen to date.

As usual, most of the critics of the system were still trying to equate a domestic hi-fi system with a PA system. Those that thought there was either too much or too little of the audio spectrum, were probably sitting in the ‘wrong’ part of the room, the room having its own acoustic properties, which invariably contribute to modification of the sound. Perhaps it would be an idea to move about a bit, because although it would have been very difficult to change axis for this particular speaker, it may have allowed for a wider appreciation of performance.

I went to Len Greene’s shop to take a few pictures of the ‘innards’ of the DR-1’s which I hope the Editor will find space for in this edition. (See pp 28. Ed.)

For those who missed this meeting and who may be interested in a detailed description of the speakers, please refer to last month’s MAN.

There was quite a lot of chat about the value of these speakers, and numerous figures were quoted, none of which seemed to relate to commonsense. I have since learned that originally, the drive units and the built-in amplifier came as a kit at the time for $7000.00, so where all these other figures came from is anybody’s guess although, as Barry S. pointed out, one of the figures quoted gave you a choice between a pair of these or a Rolls Royce. That being in the realms of fantasy, further investigation discovered that, some time ago, one pair sold for $30000.00. I believe the owner, Len’s son, may be persuaded to sell them if anyone is interested, for around $10-12000.00, but don’t quote me.

Wally Roche

THE WORLD'S GREATEST SPEAKERS Another view !

I guess there's nothing like a good dose of hype to get members interested in an upcomming demo , and the promise of hearing "The World's Greatest Speakers" certainly worked. The Willis Room was packed for this night with probably half the members coming just for the chance to scoff at this ridiculous claim! After all who ever heard of RTR? As vintage equipment goes they certainly have no real cult status. The design was interesting though; two externally mounted 8" bass drivers in a pseudo-isobaric setup using a single internal 12" bass driver crossing over to a curved electrostatic array at around 300Hz. Not the most expensive speaker in its day (late 70s) but well up there.

Our presenter, Len Greene, was confident of the ability of these speakers even though he may have been a bit lost on the technical details. The music played was chosen strictly for sonic impact, not subtlety. As the decibels rose the front seats began to vacate.

As for the sound of the RTR's....I think many members were surprised that they actually sounded quite good for their age especially bearing in mind the amp setup and the Willis room accoustics. In particular I found them to give a reasonable stereo image when sitting to one side of the hall- something few speakers achieve. Their performance was all the more impressive considering the far from ideal setup:

1. The yamaha power amp was just not big enough for SPLs being asked. The clipping indicator on both channels was pretty much lit constantly during the first half of the demo.

2. The bass drivers had recently had new surrounds fitted and these would have been done without any chance to match the original specs.

3. The speakers had a rear mounted control for both treble roll off and treble energy to match the level of the tweeter unit with the bass. This setting would be dependent on the gain of the bass amp used among other things. In my conversation with the presenter I gathered he had just set this to approx mid position as a bit of a guess. Certainly he confirmed to me he hadn't measured it. This might be the major reason for the mid imbalance commented on by several members.

I think the low expectations most members brought to the presentation allowed the speakers to impress beyond their real performance ability. What struck me most on the night, however, was the excellent attendance for a demonstration of relatively modest equpipment.

Perhaps members are more interested in demos of equipment they are likely to buy or use themselves than in mega dollar unobtainium stuff which wholesalers normally bring to meetings? Hmmm... I can sense a questionaire coming.

John Corneille

March 2004 Club's 30th Anniversary

I would like to say the March GM presentation was a resounding success with an exciting programme enjoyed by all. Unfortunately I can’t !

It promised to be an interesting night with selections of music from the 1974 and 2004 eras along with some direct comparisons between Vinyl and CD version of the same tracks. Instead, the efforts of the presenters were completely destroyed by poor equipment setup and the non-arrival of the speakers for one of the two systems until well into the supper break.

I can only offer apologies to the four presenters who had each gone to the trouble of preparing a special programme of 1974 and 2004 material in celebration of the Club’s 30 years of operation.

Neville Keatley

February 2004 Chris's Surround Sound Night

Chris Mogford was determined to show us the glories of Surround Sound ! In an orgy of furniture removal, he shifted most of his system to the Willis Room to let those attending a General Meeting hear some pretty good surround sound.

In each corner of the room and at centre front he located a 3 way speaker. The units were virtually identical with the front and centre speakers using SEAS Bass units, which Chris felt produced a slightly better bass extension than the rear speakers which used Vifa bass drivers. Each box used a Vifa mid range dome and a Vifa ring tweeter. The player was a Denon 2900, and the amplification was Chris's home brew.

We heard a wide selection of discs catering for all styles of music. I thought the Dark Side Of the Moon SACD showed the best potential for producing sound all around you. But then DSOM is probably the only one of the pop style discs Chris played I am familiar with.

I was less than impressed with the Classical discs. The Planets was a travesty of good orchestral sound, over spotlighted and far too much up front. Whoever was responsible for the mixing should be hung, drawn and quartered, while listening to John Cage's piece - 4 minutes 32 seconds at mind numbing levels. Chabrier's Joyous March fared much better with only ambience heard from the rear speakers.

In all though, it was an instructive night. The new formats showing promise. I think though that surround sound serves pop music better than Classical. Only rarely in concert music will you have performers behind you, but ambience retrieval, which is one of the great hopes for Surround Sound, is poorly achieved in most 2 channel stereo. I was interested to note that while a centre sweet spot was limited to very few seats, good spread was heard from my seat well to the left and well back into the room.

Thanks Chris for very interesting night.

John Drew

January 2004 AV Demo - Swap Meet

Ifound this a difficult task. Does one tell it as it is, or say what people like to hear. I am inclined to tell things as I see it as many of you know. I don’t always get it right, and tread on a few toes, but here goes.

Frankly it was a disappointing evening. A relatively small turnout for starters. Wally did his best to present a musical offering that was -well- a little different. I felt the medium (videotape) a bit inappropriate. After all, we are supposed to be at the cutting edge, aren’t we? The musical content was quite enjoyable, in fact I have purchased a CD of Mozart’s flute and harp concerto. The sound quality was acceptable, if not leading edge. The vision – hmmmm?

The artists were certainly world class, especially the harpist. No prizes for looks, but she could really play what is in fact a very difficult instrument. It was disappointing that the audience saw fit not to applaud, or even thank the presenter for his effort, even if the music was not to their taste.

Anyhow, off the perch and back to business. The offerings were a bit lean. A little DIY stuff, a few CDs and records, but not much else. Maybe last years bumper offering was a hard act to follow.

One thing that is always in abundance was the friendship and common interest in things audio. Who cares if it is not cutting edge, I enjoy the social aspect of the club, the people, the technical haggling and the great musical knowledge base the membership provides.

Bob Field