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December 2012 Annual DIY Night

Static display by Mark of some of his pre-amps.

Clockwise starting lower left, 4SUTea box using a 12au7, CM4 pentode, 6N7 pre and lastly a Le Pacific MC pre.

Bob's eyeballs with intergral stands. Alpair 10 bass driver and a Aurasound NSW2 tweeter. 7 Litre sealed enclosure with a respectable F3 of 80hz.

Driven by his "Hifield" branded Pass F5 amp (bottom) and pre/eq/active crossover (top). Love the styling.

Wally's Gale 401 knock off's built from surplus drivers from the parts bin. Unknown Parts Express bass drivers and some very old Philips dome mid and tweeter. Sealed box with a beautiful gloss finish. Powered from a 120W Carver CM-1090 amp and a Luxman D-105U CD player. One for the retro fans. Surprisingly good.

This is a pre-amp!!! Red's 10Y directly heated triodes 280V B+ @12ma. Transformer interstage coupling using Russell Spokes 2.8: 1 trannies. The massive power supply (for a pre) is to the right and uses 5R4 rectifiers and other parts salvaged from the junk box.

And the rear view. The perspex coffee table over the top of all this was a OH&S requirement for the night.

Source for this was an Oppo 95 modded with Lundahl LL1527XL transformer output. Power amp (bottom) was a ME200.


November 2012 Rockian Trading


October 2012 Now here's a happy coincidence

Did you enjoy this particular GM? I certainly did. Not only were we treated to a well thought out system that demonstrated the different qualities of the 1980's kit and the 2012 kit, represented by the Sony CDP-101 and the Oppo BDP-95, that made the comparisons a meaningful experience but that we were also entertained with a wide selection of music across all genres, visiting presenters please take note. I have to admit that I was not an immediate fan of the Duntech's but as they were considered world leaders in the mid 1980's they were well placed in the mix. I think we have come a long way from big is always better but they did have glorious base with no one note boom, so often experienced in the Willis room. Well done Nick for getting the placement just right.

So what is this happy coincidence?

I have just received my copy of the HI-FI NEWS Yearbook ( I subscribe so you will have to wait about six weeks for it to appear on the news stands ) and in it, believe it or not, there is a review of the Oppo and article about the Sony. Here they come to the same conclusions that we did at the GM, in that the Oppo is a wonderful piece of 2012 engineering and design and that the Sony, whilst compromised with it's age, it is none the less an excellent sounding machine.

Now is that is not a magnificent coincidence.

Martin Bray
Vice President

September 2012 A summary of Trevor Lees talk to the MAC, September 2012

Trevor started his talk with an observation regarding the retail Hi Fi industry and how much it is changing, with fewer shops and more online internet sales. Over the past two years, he has seen a marked increase in the sales of turntables, stating that he sells about 30 units a month, mainly over the internet, which makes up 80% of his total sales.

"I'm selling more turntables than CD/DVD players." So who are these customers buying turntables? "Mainly people between the ages 25 to 40 years. Anyone here under the age of 40?"

Pro-Ject Audio Systems, has established itself with a reputation for excellent affordably priced turntables which have revolutionised the analogue market. They are successful in grabbing the first time analogue buying public by packaging their turntables with a cartridge, and phono pre-amplifiers built into their units. What is the shift for young people to get into vinyl, is it the sound? "No I think it's more of a tactile thing. It's a fascination with the way a stylus tracks a record and reproduces music."

Trevor mentioned that Pro-Ject has released a new model with a carbon fibre arm. This design has filtered down from their top end turntables, packaged with a $100 cartridge, for a total price of $449.

He was asked how he got into designing pre-amps. His story starts off when in 1974 he was working at Encel Stereo. There he would do a bit of equipment testing for Alex on products he bought back from overseas. At the time Encel Stereo was selling Luxman Valve components and was unsure whether to import another valve product. Alex gave Trevor a product folder to look at, it was on the Audio Research SP-3a1 Pre-Amp. Within the folder was a circuit diagram of the pre -amps phono stage. He adapted this design into a Dynaco Pre, which in his words "Sounded amazing".

"I mainly tinkered with valve circuits, that's how I leant about pre-amps." While on the subject of valve equipment, Trevor briefly talked about VTL and Manley Laboratories, how they first entered the hi fi market with old designs that were upgraded to appeal to a new generation of hi fi enthusiasts. This is similar to what is happening on the internet, with the Chinese selling copies of the famous Marantz 7 and VTL phono stages. "But be aware what you buy from ebay, it may not turn on"

So Trevor,what is the best sound you have ever heard? "Hill Plasmatroncs Speakers, plasma tweeters that had a flame. Ran off a gas bottle,CIG standards gas bottle. Full size bottle, I think it ran off Helium. Just an amazing sound. Went down to 700Hz. We stayed up until 4am in the morning playing James Taylor. Turn the gas on and just turn on the jets. There was ozone in the air. It was a pretty amazing system. I've never heard anything that good in my life. It was just exceptional."

Our thanks to Trevor Lees for an entertaining night at the club.

Nick Karayanis
Program Co-ordinator

August 2012 Of Fire and Glass

A reminder of the night

I had mention to Ron Newbound a month or so earlier that I would like to present a trio of valve amps for member evaluation. Ron felt the presentation would be better held at a DIY meet. Because I like to make all of my presentations music nights and therefore a pleasant and interesting AGM evening I felt it would go over well. On a call from Ron to go ahead with the night I got the opportunity to present a trio of single ended valve amps. The Osborn Eclipse (speakers) would be required to provide good volume and first rate reproduction.

Equipment presented

Here is a list of the gear on the night:

retro-thermionic "Luciano" 807 SE pentode UL amp
Don's 300B (Psvane) SE amp
Don's 6C33C (Russian military valve) SE amp
Osborn Eclipse Speakers
Oppo BDP-95
Mongrel Dog Audio (Pass) BoZ preamp
Cat6 speaker cables
Wire-wrap interconnects: CD player to preamp and preamp to power amp

Note: retro-thermionic and Mongrel Dog Audio are trading names owned by Mark Houston.

The night

Three similar tracks were played from six different music style CDs. Each amp received six CD tracks from six different CDs before moving to the next amp. This allows a comparison to be made between each amp without the drudgery of listening to the same track twice or even more. CDs, SACDs and high resolution DVD-As were played.

Members comments

Between the 807 and the 300B most members initially liked the 300B over the 807. When the 6C33C was introduced the 300B fraternity was split once more. Is this a case of the last "thing" I hear I like or are our Golden Ears really very discerning and can get it right regardless. What was interesting is the halfdozen or so who liked the 807 didn't change their selection or comments about why they liked it and could articulate why. To sum up my perception of the members subjective "taste" almost a 50/50 split between the 300B and 6C33C. With a half a "D" sticking with the 807. I like the 6C33C but what would I know? Also I had a number of members who claimed my music selection was very good and a few expressed in glowing terms how much they enjoyed the music. Thanks for the nice comments.

Mark Houston
Classic Convenor

July 2012 Members Request Night

The evening started off with an exercise in speaker placement. As you all very well know, the positioning of one's speakers in a room will greatly influence the overall sound of your system. With the speakers elevated so the tweeter was firing just over the members heads , we started the exercise with the speakers positioned a meter out from the front wall, and three meters in from the side walls. A music track with voice and double bass was played for 30 seconds to get an idea of the sound. The group was asked if they liked the quality of the bass ,and then the speakers were moved out into the room. This continued another three times . With each new position the members would give me a show of hands to gauge their response to the bass.

In the end, the speakers ended up 2 and a half meters out into the room. With most people agreeing that the sweet spot had been achieved , they basically had nothing to complain about, oh except for the the loudness of some tracks. I believe that this exercise in positioning and elevating the speakers, contributed greatly to the enjoyment of the music on the night. So much so, that the group was very appreciative and applauded enthusiastically at the finish of several tracks.

This was very unexpected, as many a times in the past, meetings have turned out to be a little disappointing. You come away from the night thinking, why was the sound so unimpressive? Or why did they choose that type of music to demonstrate the system with? This is something that has always bothered me and many other members.

I would like to thank the members for their participation, and their contribution to the musical program. A list of the tracks follows after this write up. And before I finish up, I would also like to thank our club president Ron, who helped me out with the speaker positioning and to Ernie, for volunteering to write down the CD's that were played. Very much appreciated.

Nick Karayanis
Program Co-ordinator

June 2012 AGM and the art of listening

Following the usual activities required at an AGM where a new committee was ushered in under Ron Newbound as President, Ron and Nick Karayanis took the meeting through a series of interesting CD examples of differences in sound types to help us understand how recording engineers think and help identify problems with equipment, mainly loudspeakers.

Equipment used was an Oppo Blu-Ray player (which also played CD's), a custom home-built (kit) 2 valve pre-amp based on 6N2s, the power amp was a modified QUAD 405 design (80w/channel) and a pair of loudspeakers built around French Triangle drivers in a tall enclosure.

The speakers followed the D'Appolito arrangement, with a 135mm driver on top, tweeter recessed in the centre and a similar 100mm driver below, top sloping in and bottom sloping out. The top driver was in a sealed enclosure and the lower in a reflex vented section. The system worked well, as we have come to expect from Ron's build quality.

Nick detailed various acoustic traits to look for when assessing any equipment or CDs. They were:

Sound Quality Artist

1. Neutral Natalie Merchant
2. Recessed
3. Forward / Upfront Stacey Kent
4. Boxy Etta Jones
5. Spacious, Open & Airy Christy Baron
6. Dry Jeanette Lindstrom
7. Sibilant Cowboy Junkies
8. Sweet & Sibilant Anne Sofie Vonotter meets Elvis Costello
9. Bright Tina Arena
10. Honky Al Somma
11. Nasally Livingston Taylor
12. Depth Best of Chesky Jazz (Drum Solo)

An interesting evening, the only problem being the Oppo player which took time to identify the type of disk before playing and a touch screen that would not behave, leaving some gaps in the presentation. Another worthwhile meeting.

Bob Toll

May 2012 Nothing Beats Live

Moments in time that are seen as memorable can be defined in many ways. The birth of children, a wedding day, the day you became the leader of a minority government. All will stay with you until the day they admit you to the "Sunshine home for the permanently confused" however I think we can add another. Let's try attending a concert of some of the most beautiful jazz I have heard played by musicians who played with skill and passion and all this completely free of charge. That should stay in the club's collective memory, should it not?

That is exactly what most of us experienced at the May GM. We were able to step away from the norm and experience some original music with innovative instrument design. A six string double bass which takes it out of a support role and projects it into the melodic front line of the group. Drums that have been reconfigured to give a different sound, one that works well in a small group. I was fascinated by their reduced size, very clever idea. Take a bodiless guitar, one that the manufacturer denotes as a practice instrument and make it produce music for the performance area and we have a trio that no one could describe as ordinary or dull. I got a strong impression of a marriage of jazz, world and classical styles. All of which had me sinking into the piece being played. Mindful that music is an art form that becomes more enjoyable with repetition (unlike a book or a film) it is all the more remarkable that an original piece can sound so right on first hearing. Something special indeed.

Add to all this three musicians who thanked us for allowing them to play for us! This just has to be the wrong way around. How can we express our gratitude for having enjoyed an evening of beautiful music? The only way is to say a resounding THANK YOU to Scott Dunbabin on bass, James Wakeling on guitar and Serge DeLucio on drums.

Martin Bray

April 2012 Video / Audio Evening

John Cornielle provided the equipment and program for an excellent meeting last month. He presented a DVD music night with some historic performances from well known artists.

For jazz fans the evening began with Miles Davis and his group recorded in the 1950's. This was followed by Norah Jones then Elvis with a couple of numbers from the 60s and the Beatles performances on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964. Thousands of screaming teenage girls (what has changed?) Video quality was not good but these were historic performances. Next Ike and Tina Turner performed followed by Eric Clapton unplugged.

An interesting comparison was made featuring Fleetwood Mac with "Tusk", first from 1982 and then a more recent performance in 2000. As with our last evening of this type, the highlight was the Roy Orbison and friends "Black and White" concert and the finale, "Pretty Woman". To finish the first half a very funny presentation of cowboys was offered from an American group called Primus. After supper John played requests from the scores of DVD he brought with him.

Equipment included a large, full HQ Sony projector, DVD player, two channel preamp and Tannoy 38cm dual concentric drivers in PA style enclosures. I was fascinated by the monobloc(?) digital power amps in class "T". They were housed in tiny jiffy type boxes, did not even get warm and were rated at 160W RMS per channel! The shape of things to come? Altogether, a fine night of interesting music and equipment. Thanks again, John.

Bob Toll

March 2012 Guitar Workshop

If you missed the March Monthly Meeting you missed the meeting of the year, an incredible display from four professional musicians. They all work part time (when they are not recording or being session musos) for Billy Hyde in Blackburn. Introduced by Richard Hunt, they brought about $150,000 of guitars with them, not to mention all the associated electronics and PA gear.

Richard Hunt, a professional guitar teacher who arranged the night, went through the various guitar types, brands and values. A very ordinary looking acoustic guitar (as a static demo) was worth in excess of $10,000! Roger McLachlan, an original member of the Little River Band was first up. He had to leave early to attend a recording session. He gave a display of the compass of the bass guitar with various styles and pedal effects.

Next was Ron Peers from Stylus who regaled us with his particular style of bass and then did a duo with Roger. Unfortunately the whole electronic system was "live" and the participants kept getting "belts" from the microphone. He also demonstrated a large bass guitar with fluorescent yellow strings. We really knew we were listening to pro musicians!

Steve Romig, songwriter and guitarist from John Farnham's band next played and sang some of his own songs using a large bronze tube on one finger giving a "slide" effect on his guitar.

Last, Robert Little, bass player for Tommy Emmanuel demonstrated the instrument of the evening, a stick bass. This looked like the fingerboard of a full size double bass without the body. Using two pickups, magnetic and piezoelectric, give very different sounds and a control blends the output of the two giving a huge variety of different effects. It can also be bowed with more interesting results. After an example of what it can do solo, he played couple of pieces in duo with Steve. Robert was classically trained and he plays cello for relaxation.

Questions were asked by our members and a time was spent answering them. Martin Bray won a brand new acoustic guitar just by getting up in front the meeting and playing a few chords under instruction from Richard. John Corneille recorded the complete proceedings on a professional digital recorder.

The night was a great success. One member asked me "What are you going to do to top this." I really don't know!!

Bob Toll

February 2012 What does the future hold

It was a delight to participate in last month's demonstration with Mark Houston. Mark demonstrated a new DAC from Jaycar, very reasonably priced at $149 that is in a new DAC genre able to decode any type of music file at any sampling rate and bit depth. This is all done in the very sophisticated software and does not rely on the computer, or indeed any particular file type including FLAC, WAV, WMA and quite a few others. More of these types of DAC are appearing on the market at the moment but are usually much more expensive than the Jaycar type.

Mark brought along his Silver Dragon 300B valve amplifier with a Nelson Pass BoZ Special Edition preamp using only one FET and played items from many different bit depth/sampling rates. 24/192 files are so large it takes many hours to download a single 3 minute track! I thought his Fostex back loaded horns gave a good account of themselves, as far as any single driver loudspeaker could. Later in the evening Mark demonstrated his 'Harris Duo' monoblock amps. using 6EM7s in the output for around 8 watts/channel.

An interesting aside, Mark works in a Jaycar store and on the day after the meeting answered the phone from a caller saying he went to a terrific DAC demonstration (Marks) and could he buy one of these DACs. Mark mentioned the call to the Store Manager who said that the phone had been running hot with similar calls a little earlier. Mark, you really started something!

Bob Toll

January 2012 Swap Meet

Another Buy, Swap and Sell night went well. Pizza and drinks were enjoyed by all.

Phantom Program Coordinator