March 6, 2021

Restoring another Linn Sondek LP12, Before Part 1

Something very alluring about Linn Sondek LP12 turn table. There seems to be an undying romance for it, if one comes around! Here's another example, my buddy had this one sitting in his store room for the last 30 over years in which so long, he had forgotten about it!

Last year, he was moving house and had to clear the store room, wah la!.................... he found this and suddenly he had the nostalgic urge to hear this Linn LP12 sing again. He asked if I could help him with this? How could I say no to a Linn LP12?

The work involved by steps, completely strip down, each part examine for condition, and identified for either restoration or to be replaced with new parts.

This is the pictorial guide of the strip down, here goes: 

First, the underside board for the Linn is removed, revealing the motor, Valhalla PS board, suspension, sub chassis and bearing.  

P-Clip broken, in any self respecting Linn LP12 restoration, this P-Clip is an important item, and if broken, must be replaced, as it's function is to keep the tone arm cable in it's place, so it doesn't interfere with the springs & rubber grommet suspension. 

The rubber feet on the 4 corners have been replaced with oversized door stopper as a solution. This one will have to be replaced with original feet or better yet, go for the expensive Trampolin option!

The tonearm cable is too old, all the contact points are either oxidized or corroded. New one please? 

Again, the power cord will need to be replaced. When doing Linn LP12 restoration, there's always temptation to use something better, or audiophile grade. However be reminded that this is counter productive as the Linn requires something soft and pliable, so that it fits the wire clip, and doesn't interfere with the suspension movement. I typically use the industrial grade 13amp Furukawa power cord, proudly made here in Malaysia!

The Valhalla Power Supply board, connected to the 50Hz A/C motor. In this neglected example, both the items are not working and will need to be replaced.

This is the older fluted plinth model, with no corner bracing.

The wooden plinth, completely strip down. Now this is ready for restoration by furniture maker.

The serial number puts this Linn LP12 production date to sometime between 1984 - 1988 vintage.

All the major parts ready to go for restoration, the wooden plinth to the furniture maker, the top plate and outer platter, both aluminum, goes to the machining shop for polishing.

Many other parts, such as new spring & grommet set, 50Hz A/C motor, Valhalla supply board, tonearm & T cable, original corner feet, and lastly the wooden arm board all needs to be ordered.

Re-assembly work can only start once all the parts are in my hands. Stay tuned for After Part 2!


February 27, 2021

Man cave diversity

After the completion of the room setup for home theater, I am pretty happy with the result and watching movie is never the same again. At the same time, other part of me getting itchy again. I was thinking now about what I can do more. During this time, I was experimenting of some DIY players which I wanted to use it for music playback. It has been a couple of years trying many different solution but don't really find something I like. Finally found this little box. Inside this plastic box is a single board computer from Asus (Tinkerboard). With this I am more enthusiast about now in music. The thing is I still need a DAC for this to work. 

I started hunting around to see what I can get. I had an old Arcam Irdac but doesn't support DSD. During this time, I was also looking for some other hardware to replaced my integrated amplifier. I guess is the timing or coincidence but I bump into Wadia DAC. Personally I only know Wadia by reputation of being the leader in DAC. I had an audition in Perfect Hifi on the Wadia hook up to the KEF REF3 speakers. Just simply listening to it already make me want to just swipe my credit card and take it home. That is exactly what I did. Now the Wadia 322di is seating in my room, LOVELY.......

At the same time I also picked up the Audio Research from Perfect Hifi. The pre-amp LS25 tube pre which is what I need as I need the function of HT bypass as it will be use together in the home theater setup. As I still needed a power amp to complete the setup and I gotten a use Audio Research REF110 from a friend of mine. Now it is a complete set. This stack of hardware is pretty much dedicated to hifi use. This is also the point of no return in getting myself into the rabbit hole of hifi world.

Personally I think I still need to get some basic right before going further into more hardware. Lets get the fundamental which is the power (electric) right. I came across Frank Power bank during KLAV and I decided to give it a try. Frank Voon is really a very nice guy to deal with and he came to install the power bank into my room. Now I don't just love my music but is totally awesome. 

Now I feel like this is maximizing the room and also the speakers. I totally never regret in getting into hifi. Although a very good friend of mine did poison me about it. During this meddling around with cables (speaker, interconnect, power), even changing all kind sockets, plugs. The speaker also had additional 2 inch white oak plinth under to get better stereo imaging. Many other voodoo as well as it goes. Well this is all the fun part of the hobby. Hope you guys enjoy it. 

February 21, 2021

Man cave construction & transformation

5 years later from the day I have my own dedicated man cave. Its time to go a little bit further. I had from my first experience in having a dedicated room was the fact that, plaster ceiling in the room is a big headache. The simple reason, is the LFE from the subwoofer is creating music on the ceiling. 😋 Its pretty annoying while you are so concentrated in the movie. Second lesson, is the power supply for the room is very important and is necessary to have enough of juice. 

So here we go with the start of the work by tearing everything down. Please pardon the toilet there. The original room was 13 feet x 17 feet. Is decent size but quite a bit tight in space. So the first thing is to get a bigger space. With the extension now the room is 17 feet x 20 feet. From the picture below, the red colour wall is where the projector screen going to be install.

This picture below is the back of the room. Had a small raise platform build up as I wanted to have 2 rows of seats. The raise floor is about 1 feet. Can't really do much as the height of the room is about 9.5 feet only. 

After the floor is taken care of, the next thing is the ceiling. Having plaster is simple and nice, however the rattling problem will still need to be address. How this is done instead of the usual aluminum frame use for conventional plaster ceiling, plywood is use instead to build the frame. In order to reduce vibration further is to fill it up with rockwool. The idea is to have weight on the plaster ceiling to help control the vibration. It cost a little more but I will say its worth the price for it. 

Speaker, power, HDMI cables are all lay in at the same time. There are 4 ceiling speakers and 4 surround speakers to be install later once is all done. 

So the basic of the room is taken of already. Next part is the electrical. I had wired the room with dedicated phase from my 3 phase electric for the room. This DB box is specially put in for the room. 
Each MCB is also direct to one power socket on the wall. 2 x of the MCB is specially direct to subwoofers. I had added many wall sockets in the room. The picture is one part of it. I just want to make sure I have enough even for future expansion.

The room is completed with wall papers and laminated wood flooring. Most of the equipment are from the existing with some additional add on. The first big thing that was the PB13. From the picture it can seen that its so much bigger compare to my tiny speaker. 

The front row seats with some recliners. It feels right during that time but soon I realized is a bad idea. Most of the time I will fall asleep on it rather finishing the movie 😆

The JVC projector is mounted  directly above the first row seat. The second row seat is 3 seater sofa. 
The roller blind is there because behind is glass wall blocks. 

First run of movie and its non other than Toy Story 3. 😊 Ever since this day, my children dominant the room more than me. 

Some movie posters just to have a bit more of cinema feel. 

Finally it is all done with the change of the room. That is all for now. This is the biggest work done for the room. Moving forward is pretty much changes of hardwares and some other minor decorative add on to the room. The room slowly do evolve a more into stereo listening as well rather than home theater which was the original purpose of the room. Will share more next week on the never ending journey.

February 20, 2021

Go Big Or Go Home! Torus Power RM 16 AVR

Torus Power RM16 AVR

Torus Power RM8 AVR, spot the diference?

It's been a good 10 years since I've settled down with the Torus Power RM8 AVR. Read my original review here:

I have been happy with my chosen power supply solution for so long, I had never considered any form of change or up grade. For me, the Torus Power RM8 AVR is always a keeper. 10 years is a long time in any product life cycle, and unlike any of my other hifi equipment that came & went, the Torus Power stayed. Even when I moth balled my hifi and took a sabbatical then restart, I still stayed the course with the RM8 AVR, as I believed even with newer generation products in the market, the Torus Power remains one of the top solutions when it comes to power supply & conditioning.

The Torus Power is a balanced transformer based design with a voltage regulator circuit added for good measure, keeping the output voltage at 230V+/-10V range. In my hands, 10 un-eventful years passed by with no wants, and the Torus Power more than satisfying my hifi power needs.

Then came one fateful day a local used hifi classifieds this Torus Power RM16 AVR appeared and I started thinking, hmm..........., what if? After consideration of the worst outcome would be that I just spent a few thousand to top up a trade in deal, would result in no sound improvement!

I called the dealer who put up the advert, made the deal discussion and the rest was set in motion. a few days later, the dealer called that he would deliver to the Torus Power RM16 AVR to my place, and bring the RM8 back as a trade in. Weighting at nearly 60kgs. 3 of us  had a tough time bringing the RM16 AVR up 2 flights of stairs in to my man cave, located in the 1st floor of my house. Once that was done, bringing down the 40kgs RM8 AVR was less of a problem.  

This is the Torus Power RM8 AVR with 5 UK style power points, the RM16 AVR has only 1 extra point, even though it has double the power supply capacity! 

I proceed to plug the RM16 AVR in to my system and realized that despite the big heavy box, I only got 6 UK style power points, compared to 5 on the RM8 AVR. However, I only needed 4 to use om my system.

I fire up the system, not expecting much sound difference nor improvements. I am totally surprised by what I heard. 2 things stood out the moment the first track played on my Sony CDP X-7 ESD CD player, first the already black background just got blacker......, like black hole to nothingness, it's eerie! Next the high frequencies gain a buttery smoothness, a much longer tail end decay in to that black nothingness. I get the same full bodied, thick mid range magic as before. However the bass took on a more integrated in to the sound stage character. In the past I could still hear some the bass notes coming from the woofers of my PMC IB-2i speakers, but now all the bass is coming from the front stage imaging! another bass area improvement was the flabbiness. Forcing the big boy PMC speakers in to a small room was kinda cramping it's style. I had some degree of bass flabbiness that vibrated that whole room when then particular room mode hit! Funnily enough, the Torus Power RM16 AVR with is double capacity had much, much more grip on those 10 inch pistonic bass woofers that PMC uses. That bass flabbiness as mentioned, whilst not totally eliminated, was however, much reduced, to the point it's barely noticed. I guess there are limitations when going against the law of physics?

Overall, going the double the power supply didn't make sense at first. You see, my system was barely drawing 3 amps peak and when using the RM8 AVR, I already had more than double the headroom to spare. I was thinking buying more head room was probably a suckers game! However, now after a week in to the change over, I felt the trade up was more than a fair deal. I am glad I done it!

Wishing all our regular readers GONG XI FA CAI!  


February 13, 2021

Two in one system

Starting from the living room and moving into the dedicated room, the journey continues. All this while, I am doing the room for home theater purpose. Watching movie have never been the same again once you a have dedicated room. Although I had enjoy much of movies but something else crept up on my mind. What about stereo music ? The B&W speaker is really made for stereo and using it only for home theater is not fully utilizing it. Now having that in mind, I do something that is capable doing double duty. After doing some research and some consultation with friends, decided to get rid of the Emotiva processor and the power amp.

Looking from the pic above you can see that I had gone back to AVR from pre pro setup. This is the Yamaha A-3050 , the first Yamaha AVR that supports Dolby Atmos and DTS X. The model is from year 2015 and is the top of the line Yamaha AVR in that time. This is a 11.2 channel AVR. The price is very reasonable too, roughly about RM7,000. Keeping in mind that I wanted dual usage on my setup, I wanted Yamaha for the neutral sound. So this AVR will serve the purpose of surround sound and also pre amp on stereo.

Next up will be the new integrated amplifier which was highly recommended by a friend of mine. This is the Musical Paradise MP-501 integrated tube amp. It has 4 x KT150 power tubes which is capable of 65 watt in stereo mode. Coming from solid state amp into tube, it really makes me love music. The price for this nice amp is about RM6500, I guess is quite ok for this is a China brand. One of the important factor is that this integrated amp support HT bypass. With the HT bypass feature, with just a flip of a switch it can be an integrated amp or merely being a power amp only. This serve the purpose for me to be able to have pure 2 channel and also using it as power amp for the home theater. 

So now we have all the hardware for the audio, except that I still needed something to playback for my audio. This is the first time I have venture into digital audio playback. Had been reading quite a bit online on DAC. To be honest after much reading, I still don't quite know what is the DAC going to do for me. Nevertheless, I went to get this Arcam rDAC. A very simple dac with coaxial, USB and optical input with 1 pair of analogue output. It pretty much do 24/192 sampling. I simply hook up my Dell laptop to it play with foobar. All the files are loaded in external hard drive to be use. 

This is how the overall setup had changed into with the Yamaha, tube amp and the Arcam DAC. This is pretty decent given the fact that I have no idea what I was doing but just reading from internet. As a matter of fact, I had enjoy it very much. Hifi is really something far more complicated than home theater. Getting music nirvana is something I had invested a lot more than my home theater throughout the years. Till today, there are more things that I had wanted but still haven't get the chance to try it out. Hopefully this year will the the time to venture into analogue audio with vinyl record and turntable. Till that time comes, the journey continue.