How to roll tubes in the BHK

February 1, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

Tube rolling, the practice of swapping stock tubes that we designed the product with for a different variety to change the sound of a preamp or power amplifier is something we not only support but encourage. It’s why we made it super easy on the BHK series to roll your own tubes. In the BHK preamp, you can select either 12V tubes of 6 and 7-volt variety with the simple change of a jumper. Here’s how to do it.

85 comments on “How to roll tubes in the BHK”

  1. I’m interested in tube rolling with my BHK preamp, but I haven’t been comfortable with the process as I didn’t entirely understand it. The manual is helpful, but this video really clarified the process and gave me the confidence to open the unit. One thing that confused me at first was that the manual directs the user to move two jumpers to adjust the filament voltage. In the video, only one voltage jumper was adjusted. In opening the preamp, I realized that there is a jumper for each tube. Also, the explanation on adjusting of the bias current was really appreciated and filled in the gaps left by the manual. Good job!!

  2. In the video, he states you don’t NEED to engage the current jumper but you can if you wish to create a change in sonics. What change should I expect by doing this? Tks

  3. In the video, he states you don’t NEED to engage the current jumper but you can if you wish to create a change in sonics. What change should I expect by doing this? Tks

  4. The problem is, Paul, that history had proven that it’s the years of research of every fine detail that produces great products. The BBC Research department had a money-no-object approach, being State funded, resulting in designs that they licensed and set the standard for speaker monitors for 40 years. The LS3/5a design is the basis of a vast range of products and as far as I’m concerned the P3ESR is the pinnacle, the product of about 60 years of research. Many engineers left the BBC and set up companies that because globally successful. Not least of them is a PMC, rooted in professional audio, who did produce a money-no-object speaker. It’s call Fenestria, costs about double the price of any other product they make, has had rave reviews and been very successful. It did take 5 years of research and design, and they already had 25 years of speaker research behind them. If you read what’s involved it is no surprise that it took 5 years, but the result is also beautiful.

    There are a few other examples. For example TEAC, who were the largest CD manufacturer in the world, in about half the world’s computers, made money-no-object CD players, calling it the Esoteric brand. It involved many years of development of an unparalleled transport, the VRDS, that they also sold to some other manufacturers.

    Wherever you look for state of the art money-no-object designs, whether DcS or even Devialet (which resulted from a lot of money being put into new patented power supply and amplifier technology), there is invariably years of painstaking research teamwork and substantial investment in manufacturing technology. You can’t just sit down and come up with a Vivaldi DAC, it’s the product of mainly aerospace research going back to the 1980s.

    So I am more than happy that my audio equipment is designed by experienced engineers with an accumulation of experience and not rushed, even if it takes years, because these things don’t happen by accident. Artists should stick to oil painting.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that large companies tend not to make money-no-object products because they are in the business of making money and conceive products to fit market segments that they think are profitable. That is how they became big companies in the first place.

  5. I never cared for the sound of Yamaha’s previous top of the line speakers. I still own a M-80 and C-70 that I bought at a military exchange in Japan in the mid 80’s. They sound very nice with my Tannoy Super Red Monitors. I use them in my "vintage" listening room.

  6. I heard Yamaha’s NS 5000 (RRP $19,999AU) loudspeakers at the last Sydney Hi-Fi show in July 2017 & also a couple of rooms down the hallway, the DeVore Orangutan 96’s (RRP $17,000AU) & the NS 5000’s couldn’t hold a candle to the DeVore’s…it was like Chalk & Cheese, as we from the British colonies say.
    Big money; little money…big company; little company, it really doesn’t mean anything.
    Ken Ishiwata did amazing things for Marantz, but as far as Yamaha is concerned…well…you can put lipstick on a pig…but guess what?
    The Jap’s have never been able to build a great loudspeaker, but they keep trying…God bless ’em.
    Good luck Yamaha!
    I wont be holding my breath.

  7. I must say that I am baffled by today’s post.
    First of all, I can only repeat what Steven wrote, but since his English is so much better than mine, I’m not gonna do that.
    PMC makes wonderful sounding speakers indeed. I heard them a few times recently at my local dealer with all kinds of music (Bach, Beethoven, Porcupine Tree, Cohen, Tori Amos, Chick Corea, Brecker Brothers and some others) and I am seriously considering buying a pair in the nearby future.
    But, at least in my country, the Fenestria is not double the price of "any other product" they make, but almos 4 times that price.
    That is if by "any other product" you mean the passive speakers for domestic use. (I don’t know the prices of their active speakers)
    And then, "It would be great if one of the bigger audio manufacturers managed to craft great sound at any price" implies there are no such companies yet. Where does that come from ??
    In every part of the world there are big audio manufacturers that make wonderful audio systems, "despite" all the research and money they put into it.
    But sometimes, certainly also on this site, there are people who in advance don’t trust or even despise every expensive audio component, be it speakers, amps or whatever. A deep distrust towards big companies that have the money for a lot of research.
    Completely misplaced (the distrust).
    And then "soul"….? In a machine or box made of copper, tin, steel, wood and what do I know more.
    Well, I prefer research. An amplifier with "soul" (very often another word for distortion) does not float my boat.
    And then, an indirect attack on a competitor… Not what I expect from PSA.
    And yes, Yamaha can and did build great speakers. But, those speakers are too uncolored, natural for most. People who want "soul" (aka coloration) from their speakers.
    For me soul must come from the music itself, not "enhanced" by the speakers.
    I’m horrified by (most) speakers/amps with "soul".

  8. First, full disclosure. There is a Yamaha C3 Studio Grand in my atrium, and my fist pair of quality speakers were Yamaha NS-690s.

    People will always have different tastes in art, music, and pianos. Yamaha made a commitment to make a concert grand piano on par with Steinway. Many of the world’s great pianists believe they succeeded.

    Also I respectfully disagree with Steven. When it comes to premier products, large companies often forgo making a profit. They can afford to make very high-end products at a loss just to have and example of what they can do when they put their minds to it.

    I see Paul as a Enzo Ferrari, and Yamaha as Ford. Time will tell if Yamaha has found a Carroll Shelby to fund.

  9. Where’s the soul?

    The soul is in the 8 years invested trying to improve an existing technology (art?)

    I do not think that there are many manufacturers who dedicate so much time and efforts to produce their products. Perhaps the exception is the Klipshorn.

    It should be remembered, Yamaha’s work in designing and building a special organ speaker whose white membrane that replaces the traditional cone, has a form as unusual as a whimsical product of advanced research that, according to them, was capable of producing the purest tones, including the deepest and most natural bass in the industry.

    This example definitely shows the soul.

  10. Boy, today’s comments are all over the map. I work with engineers all day long. I can tell you from personal experience that there are artists and there are technicians and they are both polar opposites. This difference matters a great deal.

    The technician engineer (for lack of a better term) is all about perfecting and utilizing accepted art—if they were assigned to design a new amplifier they would do the research of the best designs in the past and then craft their own based on prior art. The artist engineer would do exactly the same but then take it one step further—add his soul into the design: his personal touch, his daring new ideas. In audio, that means the artist starts with the best design choices of the past and then hauls them into the listening room. What comes out from the artist breaks new performance grounds.

    I remember years ago my father trying to explain to me the difference between two trumpet players: Al Hirt and Louis Armstrong. Hirt, a brilliant technician, and Armstrong a true artist.

    I don’t know a better way to explain it. I am sure Steven gets it and he’s a really good writer.

    Perhaps jump in here and expand on this.

  11. I don’t think anybody begrudges Yamaha their investment in research. Rather, I read Paul’s piece to say that the fact that they lead with the science, and neglect mention of the art, makes him wonder whether art plays a significant role. The ad may be an actual statement of priorities, or it may be marketing hype calculated to appeal to the widest audience. (I have no way of knowing.)

    Photographers have tried every scientific approach imaginable to recreate Ansel Adams’ famous "Moonrise over Hernandez, NM," including analyzing moon charts and calculating the angles in the original. They have been unsuccessful. The world’s most sophisticated machines and most advanced science have not succeeding in producing a violin that can make sounds like those from instruments produced in Mezzo-al-Nulla, Italy, by half-literate craftsmen over 300 years ago.

    In some cases an investment in science may be necessary to create something truly great — but science alone is not sufficient.

  12. Paul – This is a beautiful assessment and SPOT ON! I worked for the Japanese for many years and I can tell you first hand .. while being disciplined technical engineers, expanding and refining established concepts, they are not original thinkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging these wonderful people and an amazing culture one bit. But their "conformity" is both their strength and success as a country and their weakness. Duplication, refinement, mass production, and consistent repeatable results .. yes. Credit deserved and given. Being able to connect with your creative soul and touch other other people with an intangible Passion? Well .. thats just not in wired into the culture. Keep doing what you doing.

  13. The problem is, Paul, that history had proven that it’s the years of research of every fine detail that produces great products. The BBC Research department had a money-no-object approach, being State funded, resulting in designs that they licensed and set the standard for speaker monitors for 40 years. The LS3/5a design is the basis of a vast range of products and as far as I’m concerned the P3ESR is the pinnacle, the product of about 60 years of research. Many engineers left the BBC and set up companies that because globally successful. Not least of them is a PMC, rooted in professional audio, who did produce a money-no-object speaker. It’s call Fenestria, costs about double the price of any other product they make, has had rave reviews and been very successful. It did take 5 years of research and design, and they already had 25 years of speaker research behind them. If you read what’s involved it is no surprise that it took 5 years, but the result is also beautiful.

    There are a few other examples. For example TEAC, who were the largest CD manufacturer in the world, in about half the world’s computers, made money-no-object CD players, calling it the Esoteric brand. It involved many years of development of an unparalleled transport, the VRDS, that they also sold to some other manufacturers.

    Wherever you look for state of the art money-no-object designs, whether DcS or even Devialet (which resulted from a lot of money being put into new patented power supply and amplifier technology), there is invariably years of painstaking research teamwork and substantial investment in manufacturing technology. You can’t just sit down and come up with a Vivaldi DAC, it’s the product of mainly aerospace research going back to the 1980s.

    So I am more than happy that my audio equipment is designed by experienced engineers with an accumulation of experience and not rushed, even if it takes years, because these things don’t happen by accident. Artists should stick to oil painting.

    Finally, it’s worth noting that large companies tend not to make money-no-object products because they are in the business of making money and conceive products to fit market segments that they think are profitable. That is how they became big companies in the first place.

  14. I never cared for the sound of Yamaha’s previous top of the line speakers. I still own a M-80 and C-70 that I bought at a military exchange in Japan in the mid 80’s. They sound very nice with my Tannoy Super Red Monitors. I use them in my "vintage" listening room.

  15. I heard Yamaha’s NS 5000 (RRP $19,999AU) loudspeakers at the last Sydney Hi-Fi show in July 2017 & also a couple of rooms down the hallway, the DeVore Orangutan 96’s (RRP $17,000AU) & the NS 5000’s couldn’t hold a candle to the DeVore’s…it was like Chalk & Cheese, as we from the British colonies say.
    Big money; little money…big company; little company, it really doesn’t mean anything.
    Ken Ishiwata did amazing things for Marantz, but as far as Yamaha is concerned…well…you can put lipstick on a pig…but guess what?
    The Jap’s have never been able to build a great loudspeaker, but they keep trying…God bless ’em.
    Good luck Yamaha!
    I wont be holding my breath.

  16. I must say that I am baffled by today’s post.
    First of all, I can only repeat what Steven wrote, but since his English is so much better than mine, I’m not gonna do that.
    PMC makes wonderful sounding speakers indeed. I heard them a few times recently at my local dealer with all kinds of music (Bach, Beethoven, Porcupine Tree, Cohen, Tori Amos, Chick Corea, Brecker Brothers and some others) and I am seriously considering buying a pair in the nearby future.
    But, at least in my country, the Fenestria is not double the price of "any other product" they make, but almos 4 times that price.
    That is if by "any other product" you mean the passive speakers for domestic use. (I don’t know the prices of their active speakers)
    And then, "It would be great if one of the bigger audio manufacturers managed to craft great sound at any price" implies there are no such companies yet. Where does that come from ??
    In every part of the world there are big audio manufacturers that make wonderful audio systems, "despite" all the research and money they put into it.
    But sometimes, certainly also on this site, there are people who in advance don’t trust or even despise every expensive audio component, be it speakers, amps or whatever. A deep distrust towards big companies that have the money for a lot of research.
    Completely misplaced (the distrust).
    And then "soul"….? In a machine or box made of copper, tin, steel, wood and what do I know more.
    Well, I prefer research. An amplifier with "soul" (very often another word for distortion) does not float my boat.
    And then, an indirect attack on a competitor… Not what I expect from PSA.
    And yes, Yamaha can and did build great speakers. But, those speakers are too uncolored, natural for most. People who want "soul" (aka coloration) from their speakers.
    For me soul must come from the music itself, not "enhanced" by the speakers.
    I’m horrified by (most) speakers/amps with "soul".

  17. First, full disclosure. There is a Yamaha C3 Studio Grand in my atrium, and my fist pair of quality speakers were Yamaha NS-690s.

    People will always have different tastes in art, music, and pianos. Yamaha made a commitment to make a concert grand piano on par with Steinway. Many of the world’s great pianists believe they succeeded.

    Also I respectfully disagree with Steven. When it comes to premier products, large companies often forgo making a profit. They can afford to make very high-end products at a loss just to have and example of what they can do when they put their minds to it.

    I see Paul as a Enzo Ferrari, and Yamaha as Ford. Time will tell if Yamaha has found a Carroll Shelby to fund.

  18. Where’s the soul?

    The soul is in the 8 years invested trying to improve an existing technology (art?)

    I do not think that there are many manufacturers who dedicate so much time and efforts to produce their products. Perhaps the exception is the Klipshorn.

    It should be remembered, Yamaha’s work in designing and building a special organ speaker whose white membrane that replaces the traditional cone, has a form as unusual as a whimsical product of advanced research that, according to them, was capable of producing the purest tones, including the deepest and most natural bass in the industry.

    This example definitely shows the soul.

  19. Boy, today’s comments are all over the map. I work with engineers all day long. I can tell you from personal experience that there are artists and there are technicians and they are both polar opposites. This difference matters a great deal.

    The technician engineer (for lack of a better term) is all about perfecting and utilizing accepted art—if they were assigned to design a new amplifier they would do the research of the best designs in the past and then craft their own based on prior art. The artist engineer would do exactly the same but then take it one step further—add his soul into the design: his personal touch, his daring new ideas. In audio, that means the artist starts with the best design choices of the past and then hauls them into the listening room. What comes out from the artist breaks new performance grounds.

    I remember years ago my father trying to explain to me the difference between two trumpet players: Al Hirt and Louis Armstrong. Hirt, a brilliant technician, and Armstrong a true artist.

    I don’t know a better way to explain it. I am sure Steven gets it and he’s a really good writer.

    Perhaps jump in here and expand on this.

  20. I don’t think anybody begrudges Yamaha their investment in research. Rather, I read Paul’s piece to say that the fact that they lead with the science, and neglect mention of the art, makes him wonder whether art plays a significant role. The ad may be an actual statement of priorities, or it may be marketing hype calculated to appeal to the widest audience. (I have no way of knowing.)

    Photographers have tried every scientific approach imaginable to recreate Ansel Adams’ famous "Moonrise over Hernandez, NM," including analyzing moon charts and calculating the angles in the original. They have been unsuccessful. The world’s most sophisticated machines and most advanced science have not succeeding in producing a violin that can make sounds like those from instruments produced in Mezzo-al-Nulla, Italy, by half-literate craftsmen over 300 years ago.

    In some cases an investment in science may be necessary to create something truly great — but science alone is not sufficient.

  21. Paul – This is a beautiful assessment and SPOT ON! I worked for the Japanese for many years and I can tell you first hand .. while being disciplined technical engineers, expanding and refining established concepts, they are not original thinkers. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not disparaging these wonderful people and an amazing culture one bit. But their "conformity" is both their strength and success as a country and their weakness. Duplication, refinement, mass production, and consistent repeatable results .. yes. Credit deserved and given. Being able to connect with your creative soul and touch other other people with an intangible Passion? Well .. thats just not in wired into the culture. Keep doing what you doing.

  22. There’s a blast from the past. I used to have a Hafler setup back in the day, and yes, it did actually work! But not enough that I wanted to keep it in place long-term. It would be interesting to revisit that today, with the quality of equipment I now have in service, but I’m not sure how it would actually fit in my listening room!

  23. Bravo, Paul! I did exactly this, around 1981 and the results were astonishing. (In a good way.) I also inserted a volume control in the line to the rear speakers to help control the volume of the rear speakers, which was helpful. I heard things I never heard before!

  24. Hafler was an attempt…. I was back then and had access via a stereo shop I worked for. It was interesting. Up to a point. What was the true key to real live sound was a high quality digital time delay that would recreate the effect of the time delays that take place in various rooms/halls. At one time when I had been selling audio I was thinking of starting my own shop which was dedicated to this tool for audio. And, to blow the minds of the listeners? Have small speakers in front hooked up around larger speakers that were not playing. Then allow the listeners to guess which speakers were playing the front channels. That is a mind blower. And, its a humbling experience to see how wrong one can be. The sound shrinks when the rear delay is turned off in a most startling way. For those little guys were sounding like giants!

    To make it work. Big speakers with excellent bass need to be the ones behind you! Being hall/room effectors. They do not need super high frequencies ability. They need to replicate what a room reflects. But it must be done right. Not for sound effects. You can make it sound like a band is playing around a large indoor pool with reflections not like what is heard with live music.

    Its just got to be perfected which never took place back then because electronics were not as advanced as we now have today. Back then only the wealthy at that time could afford it, and it never caught on because salesmen wanted to sell huge speakers/expensive instead. But, the bigger speakers are needed in the rear! If they have excellent bass, the small speakers up front will not need any subwoofers!

    Yes…. I was considering opening a shop that was to sell digital time delay systems. But, that was only a desire that I had no means for doing. When its set up right people would save their money till they could afford such a system. It makes two speaker systems that might sound mediocre transform into something fantastic when the rear speakers were set properly. What is needed is phase coherent front speakers for the best live sound illusion. It trumps all other illusions that a two speaker system can offer. It gives you the hall and depth… Not some ersatz illusion of it.

    This is not about having fours channels. Its two channels in stereo up front, and having the ability of sensing the lost ambiance coming from behind you as you would sense hearing a live band. You will not hear a helicopter flying from behind you and over your shoulder heading up front. That is theater effects. You will just feel like you are sitting in a concert hall with the musicians up front on stage… or adjust the delay for a small intimate club.

    I still have in my closet an old Yamaha DSP delay I found on Ebay that needs to be refurbished. Maybe one of these days it will see action again.

    Merry Christmas….

  25. I’ve always had mixed feelings (no pun intended) on remixes, only because I’ve heard so many bad ones throughout the years. Like the total hack job that Nick Davis did to the Phil-era Genesis catalog (which now stand as the "official" versions today). In some cases it’s been by an artist trying to "improve" the outcome, only to make it sound awkward (especially when newly recorded tracks are added).

    It is nice to finally have remixes that stay true to the originals with minor improvements–I welcome this trend. I’m not a big Gentle Giant fan, but I came into a copy of <em>Three Friends</em> when I was maybe nine or ten years old and have really grown to like it over the decades. (It was a promo my cousin gave to me from the studio he worked for.) I had no idea what it was back then (I was more the jazz/Latin/instrumental listener), but it always had a somewhat subdued sound to it, no matter what I played it on. The recent Steven Wilson remix of four of the six tracks from this album give it just enough additional "pop" that it’s nice to listen to in enhanced form, bringing out a few buried details that are nice to hear. The same BluRay set adds the flat transfers of the original two-track mixes and they actually sound quite good themselves. It’s a shame the other multitracks are lost, as having the remaining two songs freshened up would be a treat.

  26. Paul,
    You may have mentioned in the past (if so, my bad) but can you tell us at what frequencies (and perhaps design slope orders) the driver’s filters (crossovers) on these IRS V are set? (as the woofers are staged back from the mains)
    thx

  27. In my organ audio system I have one 2-channel source but two amplification systems: the front 2-channel system which reproduces the original 2-channel recording and a second rear-channel system that includes a Bricasti M7 stereo reverb processor that coverts the original 2-channel signal into a 2-channel hall response, which when played through the rear system simultaneously with the front system gives the listener the illusion of being in a hall, such as a music studio, a concert hall or a cathedral. The parameters of the hall (reverb time, decay characteristics, liveliness, frequency response, listening position, etc.) are adjustable so the hall can be whatever you want it to be. This is one way to simulate 4-channel without a 4-channel recording. It also allows you to change or enhance the spatial characteristics of the original recording if that is something you want to do. Even just playing the original 2-channel recording through front and rear speakers without any reverb applied gives a fuller, more engaging sound. Sound reflected from the rear of a space is typically high frequency attenuated and less crisp in its attack. I simulate that phenomenon by using a tubed amp and warmer speakers in the rear system. My simulated 4-channel system allows the hall characteristics to be adjusted to suit my listening room and tastes. I’m not stuck with the original acoustics. Yes, I’m cheating. But sometimes cheating results in a better sound!

  28. I had big fun setting up comparisons at audio shows between stereo recordings decoded with Hafler and the Quad versions of the same recording. In the vast majority of cases, the Hafler absolutely trounced the Quad version and it wasn’t at all subtle.

    I began my recording career in 1965. At that time, most pop music was intended for mono reproduction and everybody made production decisions using a single monitor speaker. The "suits" wanted the extra income from stereo versions. These got mixed after the fact with little or no artist or producer participation. They pretty obviously were not nearly as engaging as the original mono versions. This was because pop music mixing is all about balancing musicality out in front while tucking in the inevitable warts.

    Around 1968, the big chain stores began refusing to order mono albums and FM stereo radio had become an important form of exposure. This resulted in producers starting to make decisions based on stereo monitoring. A couple of years later, "quad" arrived with hi-fi manufacturers and record labels hoping to repeat the sales explosion stereo had created. Again the "suits" ordered remixes and again these were not nearly as good as the originals. One exception stood out which was Dark Side of the Moon which had actually been produced using four-channel monitoring. Unfortunately, by the time it got released, almost no stores still had the ability to demonstrate quad. To this day, record production is almost all done using stereo monitoring.

    A friend of mine got hired to produce a 5.1 recording of an independent band. After they completed the album, they wanted a stereo version for streaming. To his shock, he found that he needed to choose completely different takes in order to create an equally compelling stereo version. The production monitoring format is a big big deal!

  29. Paul, I see a new product. Lets say $1,000 in cost. It sits between a DAC and a pre-amp. Most/many of us have audio systems that have surround speakers, maybe because SACD promised must-channel audio, maybe for other reasons. It looks at the non Left and Right Audio channels and looks fir noise, if it sees it it puts some combo into other channels for surround music. It uses other balanced inputs into your high-end pre. …

  30. There’s a blast from the past. I used to have a Hafler setup back in the day, and yes, it did actually work! But not enough that I wanted to keep it in place long-term. It would be interesting to revisit that today, with the quality of equipment I now have in service, but I’m not sure how it would actually fit in my listening room!

  31. Bravo, Paul! I did exactly this, around 1981 and the results were astonishing. (In a good way.) I also inserted a volume control in the line to the rear speakers to help control the volume of the rear speakers, which was helpful. I heard things I never heard before!

  32. Hafler was an attempt…. I was back then and had access via a stereo shop I worked for. It was interesting. Up to a point. What was the true key to real live sound was a high quality digital time delay that would recreate the effect of the time delays that take place in various rooms/halls. At one time when I had been selling audio I was thinking of starting my own shop which was dedicated to this tool for audio. And, to blow the minds of the listeners? Have small speakers in front hooked up around larger speakers that were not playing. Then allow the listeners to guess which speakers were playing the front channels. That is a mind blower. And, its a humbling experience to see how wrong one can be. The sound shrinks when the rear delay is turned off in a most startling way. For those little guys were sounding like giants!

    To make it work. Big speakers with excellent bass need to be the ones behind you! Being hall/room effectors. They do not need super high frequencies ability. They need to replicate what a room reflects. But it must be done right. Not for sound effects. You can make it sound like a band is playing around a large indoor pool with reflections not like what is heard with live music.

    Its just got to be perfected which never took place back then because electronics were not as advanced as we now have today. Back then only the wealthy at that time could afford it, and it never caught on because salesmen wanted to sell huge speakers/expensive instead. But, the bigger speakers are needed in the rear! If they have excellent bass, the small speakers up front will not need any subwoofers!

    Yes…. I was considering opening a shop that was to sell digital time delay systems. But, that was only a desire that I had no means for doing. When its set up right people would save their money till they could afford such a system. It makes two speaker systems that might sound mediocre transform into something fantastic when the rear speakers were set properly. What is needed is phase coherent front speakers for the best live sound illusion. It trumps all other illusions that a two speaker system can offer. It gives you the hall and depth… Not some ersatz illusion of it.

    This is not about having fours channels. Its two channels in stereo up front, and having the ability of sensing the lost ambiance coming from behind you as you would sense hearing a live band. You will not hear a helicopter flying from behind you and over your shoulder heading up front. That is theater effects. You will just feel like you are sitting in a concert hall with the musicians up front on stage… or adjust the delay for a small intimate club.

    I still have in my closet an old Yamaha DSP delay I found on Ebay that needs to be refurbished. Maybe one of these days it will see action again.

    Merry Christmas….

  33. I’ve always had mixed feelings (no pun intended) on remixes, only because I’ve heard so many bad ones throughout the years. Like the total hack job that Nick Davis did to the Phil-era Genesis catalog (which now stand as the "official" versions today). In some cases it’s been by an artist trying to "improve" the outcome, only to make it sound awkward (especially when newly recorded tracks are added).

    It is nice to finally have remixes that stay true to the originals with minor improvements–I welcome this trend. I’m not a big Gentle Giant fan, but I came into a copy of <em>Three Friends</em> when I was maybe nine or ten years old and have really grown to like it over the decades. (It was a promo my cousin gave to me from the studio he worked for.) I had no idea what it was back then (I was more the jazz/Latin/instrumental listener), but it always had a somewhat subdued sound to it, no matter what I played it on. The recent Steven Wilson remix of four of the six tracks from this album give it just enough additional "pop" that it’s nice to listen to in enhanced form, bringing out a few buried details that are nice to hear. The same BluRay set adds the flat transfers of the original two-track mixes and they actually sound quite good themselves. It’s a shame the other multitracks are lost, as having the remaining two songs freshened up would be a treat.

  34. Paul,
    You may have mentioned in the past (if so, my bad) but can you tell us at what frequencies (and perhaps design slope orders) the driver’s filters (crossovers) on these IRS V are set? (as the woofers are staged back from the mains)
    thx

  35. In my organ audio system I have one 2-channel source but two amplification systems: the front 2-channel system which reproduces the original 2-channel recording and a second rear-channel system that includes a Bricasti M7 stereo reverb processor that coverts the original 2-channel signal into a 2-channel hall response, which when played through the rear system simultaneously with the front system gives the listener the illusion of being in a hall, such as a music studio, a concert hall or a cathedral. The parameters of the hall (reverb time, decay characteristics, liveliness, frequency response, listening position, etc.) are adjustable so the hall can be whatever you want it to be. This is one way to simulate 4-channel without a 4-channel recording. It also allows you to change or enhance the spatial characteristics of the original recording if that is something you want to do. Even just playing the original 2-channel recording through front and rear speakers without any reverb applied gives a fuller, more engaging sound. Sound reflected from the rear of a space is typically high frequency attenuated and less crisp in its attack. I simulate that phenomenon by using a tubed amp and warmer speakers in the rear system. My simulated 4-channel system allows the hall characteristics to be adjusted to suit my listening room and tastes. I’m not stuck with the original acoustics. Yes, I’m cheating. But sometimes cheating results in a better sound!

  36. I had big fun setting up comparisons at audio shows between stereo recordings decoded with Hafler and the Quad versions of the same recording. In the vast majority of cases, the Hafler absolutely trounced the Quad version and it wasn’t at all subtle.

    I began my recording career in 1965. At that time, most pop music was intended for mono reproduction and everybody made production decisions using a single monitor speaker. The "suits" wanted the extra income from stereo versions. These got mixed after the fact with little or no artist or producer participation. They pretty obviously were not nearly as engaging as the original mono versions. This was because pop music mixing is all about balancing musicality out in front while tucking in the inevitable warts.

    Around 1968, the big chain stores began refusing to order mono albums and FM stereo radio had become an important form of exposure. This resulted in producers starting to make decisions based on stereo monitoring. A couple of years later, "quad" arrived with hi-fi manufacturers and record labels hoping to repeat the sales explosion stereo had created. Again the "suits" ordered remixes and again these were not nearly as good as the originals. One exception stood out which was Dark Side of the Moon which had actually been produced using four-channel monitoring. Unfortunately, by the time it got released, almost no stores still had the ability to demonstrate quad. To this day, record production is almost all done using stereo monitoring.

    A friend of mine got hired to produce a 5.1 recording of an independent band. After they completed the album, they wanted a stereo version for streaming. To his shock, he found that he needed to choose completely different takes in order to create an equally compelling stereo version. The production monitoring format is a big big deal!

  37. Paul, I see a new product. Lets say $1,000 in cost. It sits between a DAC and a pre-amp. Most/many of us have audio systems that have surround speakers, maybe because SACD promised must-channel audio, maybe for other reasons. It looks at the non Left and Right Audio channels and looks fir noise, if it sees it it puts some combo into other channels for surround music. It uses other balanced inputs into your high-end pre. …

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