Quick Take: Oris Classic Date

•November 22, 2020 • Leave a Comment

 I just purchased this Oris Classic Date in Rose Gold (reference 7594) on a gold and steel bracelet.

It was originally purchased from the AD in September 2020 and I bought it from the original owner last week. It looks to have never been worn or sized.

I quickly sized it for my wrist. There is a micro adjustment in the clasp and the articulated links are easy to take out of the bracelet for more comprehensive adjustments.

I’ve been wearing the watch on and off for a few days and here are my initial impressions.

First, I don’t think I’ve ever worn a watch as legible as this one. A millisecond glance is all it takes to know what time it is. Some watches need a few seconds for you to figure out what’s going on. Not this one. Shiny large hands on a simple black face are very useful.

I love the deep black face with the concentric bands of texture. This is a classy watch dial, set off by the hands and markers in rose gold. I prefer rose gold over yellow, and it’s nice to see a watch that matches my wedding band. Up util recently I was not a gold jewelry guy (other than my wedding band) but the two-tone look is growing on me.

The band is very comfortable and the brushed stainless steel clasp is excellent – looks good and feels good. It’s a little out of place on a glossy band however – a hidden clasp my be more appropriate.

Nice band and very nice clasp

The band is comfortable but I’m not sold on the aesthetics – it flat and I wonder whether more curvature, like a beads-of rice or Jubilee style would be more visually pleasing. As it is it’s neither here nor there, and I suspect the contrast and detail is very good-looking at a distance – others may admire it more than I do looking down at my wrist. That was the case with the Milanese mesh bracelet on my Glycine Combat Sub – I grew tired of it but I got compliments from others.

The watch is keeping excellent time (~+4-5 sec/day) and it’s fun to see the Oris 733 (Sellita SW-200-1) movement through the sapphire caseback. Very smooth winding.

For my wrist, this watch is just a little too big. At 42MM it overpowers a little. At 40MM it would be ideal. I would love to try one at 36mm but that may be too small for me.

For that reason while I love wearing this watch I probably won’t hold on to it forever, and I’ll have to satisfy my dress watch fix somewhere else. The Oris Artelier Chronometer in gold and silver has caught my eye – 40MM, chronometer grade of the same movement as in this one, gold on textured silver dial.

But for now I’m really digging the rose gold.

Fun but not a looker: Klipsch KP-301

•November 20, 2020 • Leave a Comment

Klipsch KP-301s are part of the Klipsch Professional line- the speakers Klipsch makes for professional sound reinforcement. You’ve seen them mounted on poles by DJs, hung from rafters of skating rinks, concert venues, churches, and the like, and hefted by roadies in and out of vans for touring bands. In some cases they are very similar to their civilian counterparts from the Klipsch Heritage line (i.e. Heresy, Cornwall, La Scala, etc), save different outer coverings, handles, or grilles modified to handle more abuse. 


The KP-301s I have here are closely related to the Klipsch Chorus I, a large 3-way speaker with a 15″ woofer, massive midrange horn, and horn tweeter. The woofer is upgraded over the garden variety Chorus and is rated for 400 watts at 4ohms and will allow the entire speaker take an equal amount of wattage for extended periods. Overall, this speaker has an efficiency of 101db/watt at one meter and can play at 125db-plus for extended periods of time. It’s made out of 3/4″ birdch ply and with its speckled black outer coating, hefty plastic bumpers and handles, and heavy-duty plywood and fabric grille weighs over 80lb, makes for quite a presence. 


I bought my pair well-loved from an amateur rock musician getting out of the business. They were dented and scratched but complete. Upon hooking them up, I realized that neither one was outputting from the tweeters, and when I took off the grilles, one of the speakers had a replacement JBL 2226H woofer. That’s an awesome driver but not original and at 8ohms, not a match for the crossover. So these would need some work. And that’s when I got  to thinking….


I’ve said before that Klipsch heritage speakers are a lot like American muscle cars – lots of people love them, they’re simple and easy to work on, and enthusiasts go beyond restoration to modify them to taste. That’s what I was going to do here. 
First I pulled all of the com

Beaten up Klipsch with years of grime and abuse sanded off

ponents out, which lightened the boxes down to about 45 pounds apiece. The 15″ woofers themselves weigh 15lb. I used 1×1″ wood plank to make internal bracing to link all of the opposing cabinet panels to one another, and to reinforce each panel lengthwise. The additional bracing, well glued and secured, should eliminate all resonance from the massive panels. True to form, these massive boxes now have almost no resonance when subjected to the knock test. I added 6″ tubes to the open 4″ diameter dual holes in each cabinet, which, according to my calculations, should tune the box down and provide more oomph in the 40-50hz range. This is important given I am making these into home-use speakers where additional low-end emphasis will be important – commercial speakers usually eschew the lowest bass notes for clarity, durability and massive power handling. 
I then ran through a number of sheets of sandpaper pulling off the years of accumulated gunk over the hardy speckled outer covering, getting down to the bare plywood. Multiple careful applications of wood putty helped smooth out the battle scars, but making these look new and blameless was beyond my abilities. I mitigated this by applying a smooth primer sealant and following up with a fine fiber roller application of black gloss house paint. This provided its own texture which created an even, glossy mottled surface. The end result is somewhere in between a home speaker and a professional. It’s got a semi-industrial vibe to it. As an exercise in finishing, it was an interesting approach. My wife wanted to add red racing stripes, and we may still do that if the mood strikes. 

Cabinets in prep for paint. Note the bracing inside.


I rebuilt the crossover using new Mills resistors and Dayton 1% poly capacitors. This was straightforward and with the large wood slab crossover, there was plenty of room to work. The only challenge was to confirm the values for all of the components on the crossover as there is some debate as to the final crossover specs – the KP301 and subsequent KP301 II have different horns, sensitivities, and crossover points. I learned the KP-301 is very close to the Chorus I in construction. 

Klipsch K48 Woofer. Rated for 400+ watts. Heavy too.


The dead tweeters were brought back to life with new titanium tweeter diaphragms from Bob Crites. These are an easy swap and dealing with the Crites family is always a delight. 

Testing the new Crites titanium diaphragm in the tweeter horn


After finishing I put everything back together, threading drivers and horns back into the cabinets around the new bracing. After putting it all back together I demoed the speakers with my Fisher 500C tube amp, recently put back into service to test some KEF LS50s. 

What’s the verdict?


Well, I’ve had a ton of Klipsch speakers – Klipschorns, Heresys, Tangents, Quartets, Cornwalls, Fortes (I and IIs), and these KP-301s. I have a pair of Klipsch CF4 Series 1 that I will never part with. And I have to say that out of all of that horn goodness these are the most fun. This is the muscle car to have.  They are lightning quick, razor sharp, alive. The Fisher on Volume 1.5 is pushing more liquid tube watts than these need to blow you out of the water.  The bass is not menacing, it is not blowing the doors off, but it is accurate, round, and full down the octaves.

Hooked up to my Fisher 500C and posing. After each use I rotate these so the woofers are facing the wall – kid-abuse prevention measure while I finish the grilles.

For messy massive cabinets with drivers screwed into thick plywood and little time alignment, these image exquisitely. Maybe it’s a function of their sensitivity but stereo sweeps like the drum lines in Rush’s YYZ are stronger and more accurate than they should be. Getting this type of performance out of a dedicated and lauded monitor like the LS50 takes exponentially more watts and 10x the money in high-quality playback and amplification componentry. 

These. Are. So. Much. Fun.

Look at that shine

If you can get past the size and you can get past the looks these are an amazing set of speakers. And Klipsch professionals go for cheaper than their Heritage counterparts with sturdier components – it’s a no-brainer. 
I love the sound and the amazing result of this restoration has really motivated me to take on a crossover refresh and bracing for my CF-4s, which I absolutely love as-is. I know that as much as they are great now, the types of mods I put into the KP-301s will take them into the stratosphere.

Info on  the Klipsch KP-301 from the manufacturer (courtesy of the Klipsch Forums):

The Klipsch Professional KP-301 is a compact, full-range loudspeaker system that is exceptionally accurate. Its high output, high power handling, low distortion and smooth frequency response make it an excellent choice for music playback, such as in DJ or karaoke applications, as well as for live sound applications as a touring or fixed install speaker.

This three-way system features a 15-inch (380 mm) bass driver with a rigid, lacquer-dipped, rib-reinforced cone for extreme power handling. The midrange is handled by a 60° x 40° Tractrix® Horn coupled to a two-inch (50mm) titanium dome compression driver, with the high frequencies provided by a similar horn matched with a ferrofluid cooled, one-inch (25mm) polyetherimide dome compression driver. The KP-301 is equipped with a proprietary limiter device that automatically protects the high frequency driver from being overdriven.

The KP-301 is built from selected furniture-grade, 3/4-inch (19mm) void-free birch plywood with a 1-inch plywood motorboard. The finish is black textured paint with a black, powder-coated perforated metal grille. This is a portable model fitted with side positioned handles at the balance points and corner and edge protection.

MSRP: $976 each

KP-301

FREQUENCY RESPONSE: 50Hz – 20kHz±4dB (-10dB @ 39Hz) @ 3 meters, 1/2 space anechoic

SENSITIVITY: 101dB @ 2.83V, 1 meter, 1/2 space anechoic

POWER HANDLING: 400 watts (44.7V)

CALC MAX CONTINUOUS OUTPUT: 125dB

COVERAGE ANGLE: 60° Horizontal x 40° Vertical

DIRECTIVITY INDEX (DI): 9dB ±2dB

NOMINAL IMPEDANCE: 8 ohms, 5 ohms minimum @ 230Hz

TRANSDUCERS: One K-792-KP compression driver, one KP-66-E titanium compression driver and one 15″ K-48-KP woofer

CROSSOVER FREQUENCY: 800Hz and 6kHz

INPUT CONNECTIONS: Dual red/black five-way binding posts and dual locking Neutrik® D-shell 0.25″ phone plugs

DIMENSIONS (H x W x D): 32.625″ (82.9cm) x 20.825″ (53cm) x 16.825″ (42.9cm)

WEIGHT: 82 lbs. (37.2kg)

Whole-House Audio, Vintage Style

•December 4, 2017 • 2 Comments

I just set up a simple but beautiful vintage setup in our new reading room: Pioneer SX-1080 and a pair of Klipsch Heresys Series I. I saved the Pioneer from a neighbor and fully cleaned and lubricated all of the switches, panels, and lights. Looks and sounds great. The Heresys just arrived from their first owner, who purchased them in 1984 and is now downsizing pending retirement.

Together the Klipsches with Pioneer is a great pairing. The super-cool power meters on the pioneer bounce along to the music, albeit only a tiny amount given the efficiency of the Klipsches.

I’m impressed with the bass performance of the Heresys given their reputation as a bass-light speaker. The lowest octave isn’t strong but is present, and the mid bass is balanced. Perhaps my wall placement is helping here.

This system is getting a lot of playing time at low levels, pushing background jazz and classical through the house. Some would say the magic of the Heresys are lost in such an application, however I’m finding the opposite – in critical listening these immaculate but middle-aged speakers are missing some of the dynamics and detail of other Klipsches I’ve had, and their polite bass makes them only mediocre party speakers. The horns seem to project well and I’m getting really nice sound projecting through different rooms. The Pioneer’s excellent FM reception is helping here too.

These Heresys are beautiful and deserving of some more attention. I plan on putting in new capacitors and inductors to liven up the sound, and perhaps adding some damping material to decrease resonance and improve bass response.

CAF 2017 Recap

•November 9, 2017 • Leave a Comment

 

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Living in the DC region has its pluses and minuses – there are lots of great free museums, a ton of sports teams to root for, schools are pretty good, and you’re never too far from a protest. And group karaoke is an adult competitive sport. There are also minuses aplenty – traffic is universally horrid at all hours, it’s a swamp (literally and politically), group adult karaoke is REALLY competitive.

One of the unequivocal pluses has to be the critical mass of audio hobbyists and stereo nuts. One of those nuts (using this term as endearingly as possible) is Gary Gill, who has been organizing an audiophile gear and trade show called Capital Audiofest for over a decade. It’s grown into a massive event with almost 100 exhibitors of speakers, turntables, receivers, amps and other assorted audio esoterica. Everything you can imagine is there to see, with an emphasis on high-end gear, extreme performance and impeccable style.

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Classic Audio Loudspeakers T-1.5 Reference. 18″ woofer, 15″ midbass woofer, 4″ Beryllium diaphragm midrange compression driver mounted in a wood tractix horn. 

Consumer brands were not well-represented, with a couple notable exceptions – TAD (affiliated with Pioneer) had their Reference line available for demos in two rooms, and Technics brought their new GU-8700 digital integrated amplifier, a couple pairs of their reference speakers, and an all-in-one media player/amplifier, all driven by one of their two latest 1200 series direct-drive turntables.

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Technics SB-C700 speaker. Coaxial, designed by HAL 9000

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Technics Grand Class SU-G700. I’m a sucker for meters.

I really liked hearing the Grand Class SU-G700 integrated amplifier. It’s a full-digital amplifier, which means it transmits to the speakers in a lossless digital signal, even converting analog input signals to digital using high-performance onboard Burr-Brown DACs. It pushes 70 watts into 8 ohms and 140 into 4 ohms, which is plenty for most speakers. I’d love to carry one home.

The German Physiks speakers were unique – one massive carbon-fiber unidirectional cone sticking straight up, with a woofer stuffed into the base. Kind of a modern take on the old Ohm Walsh speakers, except for $30k+. They sounded great and looked like aliens.

One of my favorite speakers to listen to were the Audio Charney Companions. Each the size and shape of a mailbox, he Companions had one 5″ Voxativ full-range speaker perched on the front of its exquisite woodwork. Looking under the rear of the speakers revealed a 104″ folded horn crafted out of smoothed birch. Running off of a quarter watt of tube amplification, these things roared, pulling rib-scraping cello riffs across the soundscape. They’re rated down to 40hz and my bowels can attest they get down there or farther. Unbelievable.

Turntables came in all shapes and sizes. Prices were uniformly high – the cheapest VPI I sampled was $900 and sounded great. Others on hand reached into six-figure range. I have to say that on these price-no-object systems, vinyl took on a new life. I was amazed at the clarity and color pulled out of the discs. I didn’t even think it was possible, and wonder whether sound engineers mixing some of these revered jazz pressings in the 1960s could ever fathom that some day there would be audio systems capable of completely bringing these artists back into the flesh.

My favorites still have to be the Vanatoo Transparent Ones. They’re small, relatively affordable ($499) powered speakers with integral DAC. They shouldn’t be my cup of tea – no horns, no tubes, no ancient walnut veneers – but they’re happy. They sound happy. Well-rounded, accurate, beautiful imaging and detail, no fatigue at all. 60 watt amps run a 5 1/4″ aluminum woofer and a silk dome tweeter with a passive radiator on the back. They’re tiny, 6x10x8 inches, and that’s even with one of them packing the amp, USB, optical, coax and analog inputs, a set of speaker outputs, a run for a sub, and volume, bass and treble controls. It’s a whole system in the palm of your hand. This is the third year I’ve heard the Vanatoos, and they, more than anything make me question why I obsess with the rest of the audiophile gear. They really sound that good. I took a picture of the new Transparent Zeroes, which are even tinier, pack more tech, and sound excellent as well. I kept coming back to the ones, however.

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I don’t remember what these are, other than they are open-baffle arrays. Those are large brass discs hung on there too, to eliminate resonance. I guess that a slight curve to the disc increases their rigidity, so each is slightly unflat. Neat.

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These are speaker cords with massive, humungous rare-earth magnets to do something or other. Maybe nanoparticles? They look neat. And it’s been featured on The Discovery Channel.

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Showcase of beautiful gear. The stands  themselves are likely worth more than my car.

My second favorite speakers were these Odyssey Kismets. Simple principle – one Scanspeak Revelator woofer and one illuminator tweeter. Put to good use.

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Here are the gorgeous Fern and Roby horn speakers with mid-range box. Dipole dual 12″ subwoofer next to it. Amazing craftsmanship.

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5 Years and Back to Posting

•November 6, 2017 • Leave a Comment

It’s been over a year since my last post and over 5 since I started this blog. I’m thankful for all of the interest and comments in my posts. I have a lot of speakers and amps to report on since my last post and even more things I’ve learned and want to share with everyone.

I’ll re-commit to posting, and am adding new channels to Silver Face Stereo: You can follow me on Instagram @silverfacestereo and look for my Facebook page .

In the meantime I’ll share a few images from my recent acquisitions, with a promise of reviews and even more gear to come.

 

 

Update: CA-2010 is alive

•January 16, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Just back from a cleaning if all the pots and switches, including the coupler on the back. A short demo indicates clean clear and even output from both channels. We’re in business!  Next step: clean the faceplate, knobs and switches and restore the cabinet. 

  

Yammies

•January 10, 2016 • 1 Comment

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Just picked up a complete Yamaha CA-2010 and CT-1010 integrated amplifier/tuner pair. Everything lights up from beneath a film of dust and grime. I was told one channel is out on the amp. I’m hoping that’s just from corrosion in the pre-power amp coupling switch on the back – a common problem.

Will update after a thorough cleaning.

 

the offending coupling switch

 

Yamaha CA-1010 140 watts per channel

 

 

Yamaha CT-1010 tuner. Top of the line

 

Update with Sansui 7070

•December 10, 2015 • 1 Comment

Sansui 7070 receiver after some outpatient circuit surgery to get the lamps glowing

Sansui 7070 receiver after some outpatient circuit surgery to get the lamps glowing

I just found a forlorn Sansui 7070 receiver at a local record store. It’s in pretty good shape – everything is there and it sounds really really good. The lamps in the front didn’t all light up until I banged on the top of the unit. It turns out that the light board is notorious for poor solders. After about 10 minutes of reheating all the solder joints on the board I got all but one lamp to glow. Now it looks great.

The fake plastic veneer on the cabinet is peeling so I’m thinking about replacing it with some real cherry veneer on adhesive backing I have laying around. It should be a quick and nice-looking fix.

I wouldn’t bother if this thing didn’t sound so damn good. On a lark to test I hooked it up to my very power-hungry Polk Lsi7s and was absolutely amazed – this receiver sounds clear, clean, and amazingly pleasant. And it has the current to drive some pretty inefficient monitors. This thing is staying for a while!

 

UPDATE:

I pulled off the vinyl covering from the case and re-veneered with the real cherry I had laying around. Picture below is pre-sanding. Now it’s looking very nice indeed.

Looks so nice I may not stain it.

Looks so nice I may not stain it.

Heritage Klipsches: Cornwall and Forte II

•December 10, 2015 • 2 Comments

Klipsch Cornwall Detail - logo and custom grille on bullnose

Klipsch Cornwall Detail – logo and custom grille on bullnose

I’ve recently had a run of Klipsches come through the house.

First was the pair of Klipsch Cornwall speakers in beautiful naked birch finish that I found in the spring of this year.

Cornwalls are the flagship of the direct radiating bass speakers in the Klipsch Heritage series.

What does that mean in English? It means that Klipsch is all about horns – enclosures which surround a driver and shape the direction of the waves. They are a good way to tune which frequencies are accentuated from a driver, where they go, and how they sound. They also boost efficiency of speaker systems considerably.

Klipsch Cornwall in Builder Birch

Klipsch Cornwall in Builder Birch

The biggest Klipsches in the Heritage series, the Klipschorn, Jubilee, and Belle Klipsch, all use a horn tweeter, midrange (also known as ‘squawker’) and woofer in a folded horn enclosure.

The Cornwall is the largest of the Klipsch speakers below the folded-horn woofer designs. That means its 15″ woofer just sits in the speaker like everyone else’s designs – it’s not hidden within the cabinet.

To get the desired bass, that means the Cornwall is large – 36″ high, 25″ wide, 16″ deep and easily 70-90lb apiece.

Detail of the Klipsch Cornwall Birch finish. Beautiful after 3 decades

Detail of the Klipsch Cornwall Birch finish. Beautiful after 3 decades

The pair I had were made in the 1970s and came in ‘builder’ spec – which meant an unfinished birch veneer and no grille. These models were intended to be sold to installers who would add their own veneers or enclosures. By the time I got my pair it had acquired optional grilles and bullnose (the surrounding of the grille on the fascia) and small risers. Interestingly the grilles were nailed on behind the bullnose – no looking at the speakers from the front.

Cornwall grille detail. No way to get these off.

Cornwall grille detail. No way to get these off.

The grilles were in excellent condition, and the veneers, despite some dust on the lower reaches, were in great shape. I was really worried about the veneers. – birch is pretty soft, and these had survived 40 years with no protection whatsoever. I didn’t want to mess them up. When I got them I didn’t even oil or polish them, just a little warm water on a damp cloth to pull the dust off. They are beautiful.

I liked the sound too. Very smooth and well-balanced. I found them very similar to the Klipschorns I used to have but easier to place since they don’t have the corner-horn placement requirement. The forward-mounted woofer concentrates the bass right with the mid and tweeter.

I didn’t crank these enough to have any problems with too-forward treble or mid, just a very nice presentation.

Even though they are much easier to place and live with than the Klipschorns, these were still too wide for my space and found a new home in a beach house in Deleware.

They came along with a pair of Tangent 5000s, which are seen in the pictures alongside the Cornwalls. The Tangents were a gap-filling model line between the Heritage line and later CF and Reference model lines. These Tangent 5000s were basically a Heresy II with a passive radiator on the back in a much larger enclosure. I bought them because the components and crossover were the same as the Heresys, and I planned on putting them into a smaller and better-damped enclosure and get a modded Heresy. But I couldn’t gel with the sound – even with the larger enclosures there was surprisingly little bass – I suspect that a woofer may have been wired out of phase. The downside to the Tangents notwithstanding their great components was the cabinet-  it was thin and much flexier than the Cornwalls, KGs, or Fortes I would later have. I’m sure they contribute a lot of negative resonance to the tangent’s sound. They left before I could figure out how to re-purpose the components.

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Klipsch Tangent next to the Cornwalls

Klipsch Tangent next to the Cornwalls

Then a little later on I came across a pair of Forte IIs in Walnut. In excellent original condition – the grilles had never been off. I bought them from a record store that had accepted them in trade from the original owner.

These I like. Very well balanced with a Tractix mid horn on the front with a 12″ woofer and a 15″ passive radiator on the back. The sound and presentation is exceptionally smooth and well balanced. I’ve heard these described as the best of the Heritage line – advanced and balanced mid and high range horns, good bass response, very good efficiency, all in a manageable size. These are really nice. But alas they could not kick my mighty CF-4s out of the rotation and I don’t have anywhere else for them to go. They were competing for a while against my modded Polk Monitor 7s, but I’ve found that since the Polks’ new crossovers have burned in, they have an amazing synergy with my Harmon Kardon 3380 receiver in my living room and I don’t want to mess up that mojo – I finally have a system with great imaging and detail, good bass (amazing bass for a Monitor 7!) and clarity in a room with terrible acoustics.

Klipsch Forte II in Walnut. Beautiful shape, beautiful sound

Klipsch Forte II in Walnut. Beautiful shape, beautiful sound

Klipsch Forte II walnut veneer

Klipsch Forte II walnut veneer

Tube time: Fisher 500C

•June 22, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Fisher 500C Receiver

Fisher 500C Receiver

This was a long time coming.

With all my tinkering and trying of new stereo equipment I’ve tried to maintain objectivity in the face of what is a very subjective hobby. The internet is full of people who swear by multi thousand-dollar runs of speaker wire, while others maintain lamp cord sounds the same. Class A vs Class B vs Class D vs Tripath amplification – people swear up and down the sides of each. Subwoofers and monitors beat full-range speakers, or vise versa.

There are a few tropes:

Vinyl is more lifelike and warmer

MP3s just suck

Tubes are warmer and richer

Solid state is tinny

I couldn’t even get through writing those without coming up with a million challenges to each one out of my own limited experience.

So it was with a high degree of skepticism and anticipation that I tried one of the heralded heavyweights of vintage hi-fi – the Fisher 500C receiver.

These are tube-powered 35 watt per channel receivers from the 1960s. Search the web- people love these things and they reportedly perform right up there with newer audiophile tube rigs costing thousands more.

The one that came to me has been restored and upgraded with audiophile-caliber parts by local tube audio specialist Bill Thalman of Music Technology Inc (formerly of Conrad-Johnson) and sports Telefunken 12AX7s and a band new matched quad of Electro-Harmonix 7591 tubes.In addition to the recapping, the speaker terminals were upgraded to Cardas gold-plated binding posts and the old ungrounded power cord was replaced with a grounded socket. Sweet.

So this is not a stock example, but one that has had some care and attention lavished on it. And it looks great with a brushed aluminum face, real glass faceplate with immaculate blue “The Fisher” lettering and bird logos, and thick walnut cabinet.

Fisher 500C Receiver top view

Fisher 500C Receiver top view

I was really excited to try it out. At first I hooked it up to my CF-4s and plugged in my iPod for some quick demos. It was neat. I played a few songs and was getting used to the sound. the one real first impression I made was how strong and clear the FM tuner was – hah! Then I went to plug in my CD player to sling some discs and there was a flash and smoke came out of the chassis.

Oh no! Did I just kill this amazing receiver? How? This has never happened before with one of my transistorized amps.

So the 500C went on the bench for a few months while other projects took precedent. But once I opened up the bottom and looked in at the spaghetti mess of capacitors and resistors, I saw some obvious burn damage along the right side of the chassis – the conduit carrying wiring from the front-mounted power and volume switch back to the auxiliary sockets on the back of the amp was burned – somehow the wires had shorted and caused the blackout, maybe taking one capacitor with them.

Fisher 500C receiver. View from the underside. No circuit boards here!

Fisher 500C receiver. View from the underside. No circuit boards here! The blue and white wires running at the top side of the receiver are the new ones from the switch.

Once I replaced the three wires and the capacitor I switched on the receiver and now everything seems to be OK. I’m still a little worried that there may be some more trouble in there and I’m watching for weird behavior or smoke now constantly, but I had it running for an hour the other day with no issues whatsoever.

Detail of the fried power line conduit.

Detail of the fried power line conduit. The new wires are the blue and white ones to the right. They are crossed to limit interference.

And I finally had a chance to listen a bit more closely. Very impressive!

Detail of blown capacitor

Detail of blown capacitor

With the efficient CF-4s, the Fisher doesn’t have to push too hard. Bass is round but not sloppy and displays accuracy. What’s most interesting to me is the soundstage and imaging. Treble is not rounded or cut down – every note is there. It’s not shrill either. Most interestingly I’m picking new notes and elements out of music that I’ve never ever heard before, and in a new way. Some super-accurate solid state amps wow you with the detail but the way this Fisher puts every note, instrument and voice in the right perspective is something different – everything is where it should be, not just highlighted for you to check off the list -“yep, I heard that cymbal, this is a good amp.”

The Fisher lets you listen critically and still enjoy the music, which are often mutually-exclusive things for me.

Interestingly enough when I switched from the iPod Classic to my Sony ES Blu-Ray player the sound changed a bit. Imaging, soundstage and detail were still there. But there seemed to be more forwardness to the treble. I actually turned down the treble knob a bit on the Fisher. Surprising. I wonder now if the accuracy of the Fisher is bringing out a stridency in my CF-4’s horns. I’ve never heard it before but the Klipsch forum is full of mods for damping the resonance in this particular horn and bi-amping the speakers to bring the horns in a more acceptable level with the woofers. So now maybe I have more work to do.

Lots of room to work on everything.

Lots of room to work on everything.

Even my wife was impressed – she was blown away by the Fisher’s performance on CD with the big Klipsches, and remarked that a bit of forwardness in the horns was acceptable for the quality of sound we were getting. She also made a very good observation – it’s a mark of the Fisher’s excellent sound quality that it’s bringing out these deficiencies in such amazing speakers as the CF-4s. We played some of the same CDs then back on my Marantz NR-1403 AVR and there was a definite change in the sound – I heard it as flatter, however perhaps with a slightly wider overall soundstage (at least on CD). My wife heard no comparison whatsoever. She said the Fisher justified whatever price I paid for it.

I love that woman!!!

 

Fisher 500C reveiver. Rear view with the walnut case removed

Fisher 500C reveiver. Rear view with the walnut case removed