|Pass Labs XA-160.8 |
160/320wpc Class A monoblocks. Probably the last amps I'll need.
|Sony Modded SCD-1 |
Modded SCD-1 with full battery power, dual mono implementation of ESS 32-bit Sabre DAC digital section, passive analog output stage of Audio Consulting New Silver Rock 1:2 Silver transformers, Audiocom SC4 & Invisus discrete DC regulators.
|SCD-1 Modded Chassis |
Chassis expanded to accomodate battery logic & custom analog stage. Boxed Audio Consulting New Silver Rock transformers attached directly to the Sony DAC, low-pass filter of large Alphacore inductors, Audiocom Superclock 4, Audiocom Invisus & Teddy Pardo TeddyReg voltage regulators, & various V-Cap, RELcap, Blackgate, Rubycon, Caddock, & Vishay. Silver wire harnesses make a surprising improvement.
|Twisted Pear/Sony SCD-1 32bit ESS Sabre ES9018 DAC Upgrade |
Replaced Sony SCD-1 stock VC-24 & S-TACT DAC section with Twisted Pear Buffalo II DAC-- a PCB mounted with ESS's latest 32-bit ES9018 Sabre DAC chip as used in McIntosh MCD 1100, Oppo BDP-95, and Wyrd4Sound. Further upgraded from stereo to dual-mono configuration of Sabre DACs. In dual mono configuration, each monolithic Sabre chip parallels eight balanced DAC circuits per channel, achieving -135db DNR and -120db THD. For DIY use only Twisted Pear Audio packages the Sabre chip with a 100mHz clock on a compact pcb powered by eight discrete current-shunt regulator subassemblies. A great testament to the high quality of DIY forum projects available these days. The TP Buffalo II modules can be adapted to pretty much any commercial CDP or combined with other TP modules to make a standalone DAC supporting universal data rate inputs.
|Merlin VSM-MX speaker with Modded BBAM |
VSM-MX crossover modded with Claritycap MR and Duelund graphite resistors. BBAM modded with 55AH SLA batteries, custom discrete voltage regulation circuits, large filtering capacitor arrays, Mundorf Silver/Gold coupling caps, nude Vishay TX2575 resistors, and no-lead solder as per factory "e" upgrade. As good as the stock Caddock resistors are, Texas Components/nude Vishay TX2575s are on a much higher plane of resolution & transparency & harmonic richness.
BBAM electronics are housed together with an Ibex AC/DC frame charger inside an IAG aluminum chassis trimmed in zebrawood, with front-panel LCD voltmeter & charge status LEDs.
|Merlin VSM Crossover Mod Claritycap MR |
Claritycap's best MR series reportedly has construction designed to reduce internal resonance. Great sound, but a tight fit inside an inboard crossover.
|Merlin VSM Crossover Mod: Duelund Resistors with 2.0 V2 Wire |
Long tubes packed with graphite-- which reportedly stabilizes driver impedance that fluctuates with heat in voice coil. Transparent & musical.
Duelund 2.0 V2 silver foil wire in oiled silk insulation(not shown) is a clear step up from stock Cardas stranded copper coax.
|Merlin VSM-MX RC & Jumpers Tweak |
DIY RC with NOS Russian SSG silver mica cap, copper foil jumpers, and spade-less copper foil speaker cables. Just three solder joints on the entire panel.
|Merlin VSM Tweeter Diffuser Tweak |
A detachable panel of felt strips diffuses tweeter reflections across the front baffle-- an idea adopted from John Dunlavy's Duntech speakers. Cleaner, smoother treble with more low-level detail and layering.
|Tannoy ST-100 Supertweeter |
Titanium dome supertweeter with variable corner points and output levels.
|Kenwood L-07D Direct Drive Turntable |
The L-07D is all about the rhythm and flow of direct drive. Once this is appreciated it becomes harder to unpack other metrics of the listening experience and easier just to settle in and forget about the machine.
Iíve been listening to the L-07D mostly with a modified Trans-Fi Terminator linear tonearm. The platter is a sandwich of Trans-Fi Resomat over TT Weights 4 lb. copper mat, on top of the stock Kenwood stainless steel platter. The TT is sited with DIY Stillpoints under the Kenwood brass footers, on top of a large sprung sandbox with separate sand compartments at each corner.
|VPI Modded TNT with thread drive |
An inelastic thread is audibly more speed-stable than stock VPI rubber bands, but tensioned thread is difficult to implement in the drive train without slippage. Adding a system of guide rollers improves grip by wrapping the thread around 300 degrees of the circumference of each drive pulley or platter. The guide roller system has the ancillary benefit of decreasing lateral loads on the motor, flywheel & platter bearings, since the force vectors of the tensioned thread cancel as the wrap approaches the full circumference.
|VPI Modded TNT DIY bearing, clamp & platform |
DIY sandbox top layer is cut into seven subsections for isolation of motor, flywheel, suspensionless feet & modified spindle bearing. The sandbox is decoupled from the rack with a layer of six industrial springs resting on 1.5" maple butcher block. The platter spindle bearing is modded with dual thrust plates & a fully floating ceramic ball. The bearing housing is directly coupled to the sandbox via an extensible brass footer. DIY 5 lb. brass record clamp on top & DIY Stillpoints inside each suspension tower. TTweights 4 lb. copper mat takes things up a notch relative to the stock black delrin/lead/cork platter.
|Trans-fi Modded Terminator Pro Linear Air Bearing Tonearm |
Low-pressure air bearing minimizes pulsing at stylus. Short 2" flat aluminum arm wand minimizes resonance. DIY sled of carbon fiber on foam core reduces horizontal mass by 70%. Update to brass core and pedestal improves performance. VTA-on-the-fly. A real giant killer.
|Trans-Fi Custom Arm Wand for Universal Headshells |
Custom pivot with SME-style bayonet receptacle accepts standard headshells. Dual counterweights front and back allow variable vertical effective mass. Straight-shot wiring from phono stage to cartridge pins bypasses the SME coupling.
|Trans-Fi Reso-Mat Turntable Mat |
LP is elevated on vinyl acetate cones. Works well with or without light clamping to cup down LP onto the points.
|Trans-Fi Terminator Pro Tomahawk flat wand |
Technically improved flat wand design with external shielded 4N silver wire harness. The new design combines swappable arm wands with uncompromising use of uninterrupted wire from cartridge pin to phono stage.
|Trans-Fi Terminator Balanced 4N Silver Wire harness |
Uninterrupted straight shot from cartridge to phono stage. Balanced with a separate RFI jacket on each conductor. Requires gantry & careful dressing of wires to ensure free movement of carriage.
|Trans-fi Terminator Air Flow Controller |
DIY air flow meter & valve for linear air bearing arm.
|VPI Modded TNT Custom Platter Bearing |
A ceramic ball floats in an oil bath between dual thrust plates. The heavy brass housing has an extensible footer to conduct bearing noise directly into sandbox below TT.
|VPI Modded TNT footer DIY Ceramic Ball points |
I began by replacing the stock VPI TNT sorbethane suspension inside the elephant foot with a hard maple puck. This move to an unsprung suspension was an improvement. Sound improved further after replacing maple with brass. Next a well was drilled in the delrin footer to receive DIY ball points. Similar to Stillpoints, these ball points are a pyramid of ceramic balls, retained in a bearing cup that provides spring pressure in the horizontal plane. This type of device is the only one I know of that deflects in vertical plane while remaining stable in the horizontal-- as necessary to preserve rigid, fixed geometry in a belt drive train with a detached motor. After further listening, the Delrin footer received a brass core with a ball bearing at the bottom. This improves conduction of vibration out of the ball point bearing cup and into the platform below. The brass core was a sonic eye-opener-- proving the clear superiority of brass over delrin in this application.
This customization of the stock suspension of a VPI TNT produced an extraordinary improvement in treble filligree, decay and deep hall effects, delineation of bass, etc.
|DIY Turntable Hardwood Sandbox with Segmented Top Plate |
The top plate of this sandbox for the modified VPI TNT has been segmented into eight subsections in order to isolate each TT suspension element from every other. The purpose is to prevent internal TT vibration from traveling across the top plate and back into the system through adjacent suspension elements. There are separate top plates for each of four feet, motor, flywheel, and spindle bearing housing. (The spindle bearing housing of my TT has been modified to couple directly to the sandbox top plate via an extensible brass footer.) Taking a cue from Thom at Galibier, tall aluminum angle is fastened to the bottom of each wood plate in order to improve coupling to the sand. The decorative blanking plate is plywood. The small sections that do the work are 1" Kingswood-- a very dense hardwood.
|Mark Kelly AC-1 Turntable Drive Controller |
Speed controller kit for AC synchronous motors. Digital & analog circuitry derive two phases of the AC sine wave from a 12V battery source. To take advantage of two-phase capability (in contrast to single-phase VPI SDS & Walker drive controllers), the AC-1 requires removal of the phasing capacitor from AC motor.
Add-ons to the kit include integrated battery charger, front-panel voltmeter, battery filtering capacitor array, and Madagascar ebony fascia. Sounds great, and the stability of piano on TT now equals my CDP.
|Audio Research Modded PH-2 Phono Stage |
Balanced SS phono w/48db gain with many mods including continuously variable phono loading via optocoupler photo-sensitive resistors, Schottky rectifiers, and Multicap, ClarityCap, REL & NOS Russian teflon in coupling & power supply. Caddock TF020 resistors are used at input to first gain stage-- the most critical area.
|Modded PH-2 Continuously Variable Loading Mod |
Three mini-pots per channel vary loading 50R-200K via optocoupler photo-sensitive resistors. Many MM/MI cartridges load optimally well above nominal 47K spec.
|Modded PH-2 Expansion PCB Bottom View |
With add-on PCB of Russian teflon caps, variable resistance optocoupler phono loading, and DH Labs shielded silver intrachassis ICs.
|Various MC & MM/MI Cartridges |
Denon DL-S1, Audio Technica ART7, Lyra Helikon w/Soundsmith OCL diamond, AQ7000 Fe5, Azden YM-P50VL, Sonus Blue/Gold, Astatic MF-100, Sumiko Andante P76, Sumiko Virtuoso DTi, Empire 888,999,1000Z,2000Z, Pickering XSV3000, Audio Technica AT20SS, Acutex M320IIISTR, Acutex LPM420 STR & LPM415, Stanton 981LZS, Grace F9 w/Soundsmith Ruby OCL tip.
|Soundsmith Grace F9 Ruby OCL Stylus |
Soundsmith's top turn-key stylus assembly for a classic Grace cartridge.
|Atma-Sphere Modded MP-1 Mark II.2 |
Integrated phono preamp modded with light-dependent resistor volume control, V-Cap TFTF & ClarityCap MR coupling caps, Texas Components TX2575 & Caddock TF020 resistors, "superpaks" of Russian oil & teflon filtering caps, and phono section converted to hybrid SS/tube with over 70db gain.
|Atma-Sphere Modded MP-1 Power Supply Chassis |
Allen Wright VSE Superregulators with large Mundorf Tubecap polyprop film caps, Cree SiC Schottky diodes, and a 1.5uf stack of NOS Russian FT-3 teflon bypass caps.
|Balanced Audio Modded VK-75SE |
Several upgrades take this amp to a much higher level of resolution & transparency. Replace stock BAT/Jensen paper-in-oil coupling caps with V-Cap TFTF teflon caps. Replace 2' Belden intrachassis IC with high-quality silver IC. Replace seven 4-pin silicon bridge rectifiers with discrete Schottky zero-recovery diodes. Replace select resistors around small signal tubes with TX2575 resistors. Bypass electrolytics with film caps-- similar to BAT Superpaks as found in latest REX version.
|BAT VK75SE mod Cardas No-Stress binding posts |
Clamp-style binding posts clamp on bare copper of DIY foil speaker cables.
|DIY Copper Foil ICs & Speaker Cables |
As good as any I've heard.
|Velodyne Modded DD-15 |
DD-15 sits on Auralex foam plaform & connects to preamp via balanced line through Jensen Iso-Max transformer. Sub is crossed over to Merlins at 30Hz/24db octave.
The DD-15 has much improved speed & impact after replacing the stock 4-pin bridge rectifier with discrete Schottky diodes & replacing the stock internal speaker wire with a litz braid of Audio Consulting silver wire in cotton sleeves.
|Optima Yellow Top & Odyssey PC2150 Battery Supplies |
Total of 210AH in 12V SLA batteries with 900,000uf in filtering capacitance! A fast, dynamic battery supply consists of large, low-impedance batteries, lots of low-ESR capacitance, thick DC trunk cabling, and high-quality film bypass caps close to the application.
|Sennheiser HE60 Electrostatic Headphones |
|DIY Roller Ball Footers Black Pearls |
Based on a popular commercial design. Uses five ceramic balls and a metal hole plug from Lowes.
|Balanced Power DIY Power Conditioner/Distributor |
Signal DU-5 5kva transformer in DIY wood enclosure. Hardwired umbilicals in/out made of star-quad twists of 12awg teflon-insulated silver-plated cu wire inside tubes damped with non-magnetic metal powder fill. Acme cryo-treated silver-plated outlet with ebony facia. Vintage Audio Lab rhodium-plated copper AC and IEC connectors.