Monthly Archive for July, 2012

nominee for ugliest amplifier in the world

so far the  MB1 amplifier (12ax7 & 6aq5) and the small speaker power output stage (6aq5) are built onto an ugly custom stripped out chassis. its chopped up  to  fit neatly into the lovely old skyqueen cabinet.  it sounds great even with it’s very temp/experimental control  wiring. just need to  drill and letter stamp up the panel, anodize it.. and finish the build. the ugly chassis looks like many  50’s european radios . those crazy germans made the ugliest most dangerous looking electronics   …placed  inside beautiful veneered plywood cabinets. u just dont see  that stuff being made anymore. if anything has curves –  safely assume it is moulded plastic.

up underneath the 300-3U

i love this type of point to point construction , where the back of the valve socket extends backwards  and tags are riveted to that tube up the length of it so as build that particular valve stage right on the valves base. beautiful and simple. at their age these amps have plenty of leaky hi voltage caps. they work and sound good ..  but you can tell they are on the edge of crapping out completely. the leaky coupling caps cause the controls to be extra noisey , also can cause the amp stage plate resistors to burn out , and usually false bias the following stages to the point of almost cut off. the power supply sags and the whole thing goes about 25%.  i’m using french made solen brand parts to repair these amps. ive had only good experience with them. they dont leak d.c at all and are not physically oversized.

commando news from jungles of te pahu

bevan has writen back after living commando style. seems he has trouble of the balls in the wifes purse variety tho . .. hes not the only one mate . just goes to show how much trouble a man will go thru to run with the good stuff. ekadek stuff. read on.  Hi Greg.    Sorry it has taken such a long time to email you, but I’m guessing you’ve been fairly pre-occupied with the big shift in any case.
I hear you’re in Matamata now? Hope you found a nice place and are enjoying the lovely country life.

The studio has been up and running for a couple of months now. I’ve recorded a couple of local teen bands, a local jazz trio, some school bands from Hauraki Plains College (music teacher is a good friend) and a couple of other things. I’ve got lots of people lined up keen to make use of the space so I’m happy with how it has turned out.

Gear-wise, I’ve got a simple but effective setup. I’ve been recording drums with just a beta52 on kick, sm57 on snare and a TLM -102 as a single overhead. All going through the very classy Ekadek Commando (the original that is!). My lovely 60s Rogers kit sounds awesome through it. I’ve used the DI for the bass guitar (1974 Hayman 4040!), as well as a ribbon mic, and both sound warm and full. For vocals, I’ve tried the TLM-102 and the ribbon mic and it’s hard to pick which is better. Such a different sound of course but they both respond well through the preamps. (I like using the ribbon mic on vox and horns because you get to wind the gain and volume pots right the fuck up!).

Now, I do have a problem with the Commando. I’m already indebted to my lovely wife, as she basically funded it. Now I want another one because it seems such a shame to not put everything through such awesome preamplification when recording a band live. Ah, I will just have to be patient I guess, and save my pennies…

Anyway, I am completely stoked with my Commando. It is the centrepiece of the studio, and I’m honoured to have one of your fantastic creations.

I am already thinking about the next one. My ultimate setup would be to have another 4 channel commando just like the original, with an additional 2u rack of input meters, patched into both preamp racks. Is that possible? Wouldn’t be in the near future though, so just something to think about.

Anyway, hope everything is going well for you and the family.
Thanks again

ampex 300 oozes dean martin

a client has delivered these ampex machines – ex of capitol studios L.A. – to me –  for to reclaim them up and into a new professional life. first thing has been  to strip them free of their remote control and varispeed switching wireing. to return their control back to personal only. and to bypass the signal tone injectors from the input circuitry. then to clean the decks down careful lube clean up check over electro mechanical features of the tape  transporters.  chunky old school stuff . from another world of engineering long ago long in the past .  the cleaning and clearing has revealed –  one very  munted capstan shaft – one bubbled rubber shot pinch roller – and one scratched up feed idler wheel surface . so far.   braking and control functions seem  good. a bearing bit gummy. so carefullydismantle – clean – lube – refit – quick beer.

i have  to focus now on getting one single stereo machine going all good inside the next two weeks. so the 300 transport deck 1/4″ 2 track with stereo model 300 – 3  octal tube record playback amplifiers. capitol#54 . the total yummy valve tape machine.  it actually oozes dean martin. just today ive swapped out the 60hz capstan motor for my 50 hz spare. so as to get the speed of this master machine as close to an actual 15 inches per second as possible. with that sorted and after a feed idler overhaul  – this transport should be sweet. then to dismantle – recap the amps ,  check thru and prep for full tape recording alignment and greatness.

philip the MB1 tube mic/di preamp

famous pultec MB1 design two tube mic /di amp. my ekadek clone of it lovingly  built into this  1960s philips portable tape deck. i made this one is 2002 and  have used it with great success to sell the design and portable concept over and over again. as well as stereo and 4-8-16 channel rack unit models.  clients who borrow philip  fall in love with the sound of the thing. its fat and hi-fi – has very low shushed self-noise – no hum –  and has a totally valvi-licious tone. his natural warmth and clarity makes for very characterful recordings. build up  multitrack layers with philip and a mix becomes  super easy. if you are looking for main recording amp good for all microphones / sounds / and instruments – then u just found one. the direct input is especially awesome for bass guitar. so BIG and rich. the amp loves keyboard sources too.

there’s a 150 ohm balanced mic input xlr with phantom power switched and pad. a direct input jack and level adjustable line input jack.
gain control – this alters the negative feedback within the preamp. with a low gain setting (and maximum feedback) the amp is in its most controlled high fidelity state. the higher gain settings cuts out the negative feedback and lets the amp go wild.
then there is a phase switch – self explained. and also an output trim control to fine adjust the balanced floating isolated low low Z  xlr output into when u need to. (best left right up actually – to preserve that low Z)

scorpion final assemblage

yesterday i picked up the fresh anodized metalwork from tokoroa. marcel from advanced anodizers reckons  he and his crew never have any infections from cuts and scratches. the chemicals have fried all the germs. i wanna take a bath in that stuff. cos i have so many cuts and grazes. i also bort some awesome records from the methodist op shop there.  linda ronstadt – heart like a wheel. mint, echo and the bunnymen  45rpm the cutter , cat stevens – tea for the tillaman, roxy music – flesh and blood, and john barry – conducting an orchestra playing his most famous film soundtrack themes. fantastic. im always struck by the number of ray coniff.englebert humperdink. james last, accordion party hits,  moog meets pop records, and harry freaking seacombe christmas albums . i guess i was too late for the really good old shit. my turntable has worked overtime today. my neices are staying atm . they love saturday nite fever and abba. im glad to oblige cos thats (embarrassing?) is the music of of my teen years. what a old fart.
tomorrow i’ll finish  fine wiring  the scorpion chopped up and start him up i reckon. ooh , and we bort an old dishwasher today – heaven – in a most beaut schlubbish way. no more wasted hours a day, just another noisy 20th century machine all up the place.