Saturday, 2 October 2021

What a crazy year!

 It's been a crazy year!

Things have certainly changed over the past year. Sadly, I am no longer in Winnipeg as I had to move to British Columbia. Though, I am not overly active, I still hope I can write up on some gear that I hauled to BC with me or stuff I find. Though, my new living arrangements has shrunk since moving.

Currently, I am in the process of refurbing a pair of original PSB Avante. These are the first generations that had silicone goop aka caulking as both an adhesive/gasket and to add mass to the woofers. They are also done up in wood veneer unlike the later generations. My refurb consist of new grill cloth, new poly cap in the crossover and new speaker binding post.

I will also be refurbing a pair of another speakers after the PSB. Though, it will be a slow process as I have other things that I must do. 

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Technics SL-D2 Turntable

From a vintage turntable point of view, I personally think Technics (primarily their direct drive models) are some of the best built vintage turntables available. They have excellent motors (even their slim line p-mount turntables are very good), well made, and extremely easy to service.

For the most parts, they do not require much, some oil as per the service manual and simple cleaning and adjustments of the controls.

Some negatives of these series of turntables are the hinges, well not really the hinges, they are robust. It is the plastic tabs on the dustcover that insert to the hinges. Those tend to break. There are remedies all over Audiokarma if you're looking for some.

Another sore stop is the mat. The Technics mats are generally great mats but, for some off reason I've noticed they become hard (frisbee hard) and start to leech out oil which makes cleaning an awful mess.

Thankfully, this Technics SL-D2 was in great condition. But, needed a few items. The mat had started to become hard so it was replaced with a very nice JVC QL-Y3F mat and a headshell with cartridge. The dustcover was in excellent shape and the plastic tabs were perfect as they can be for a 30+ year old table. It just needed a good cleaning to remove the built up grime.

Some basic specifications:
Platter: 312mm aluminium alloy
Speeds: 33 and 45rpm
Motor: B-FG servo controlled
Pitch control: 10%
Wow and flutter: 0.03% WRMS
Rumble: -75dB
Tonearm: static balance, tubular
Tracking force adjustment: 0 to 2.5g
Effective length: 230mm
Dimensions: 430 x 130 x 375mm
Weight: 6.9kg

The Technics SL-D2 is a 2-speed, direct drive, semi-automatic turntable. It has a pitch control, a cut/stop button and the ability to "stop" the platter by having the 33/45 switch in an neutral position. This was a very common turntable, retailing around $200USD back in the day.

I like these tables a lot. Considering the current market in Winnipeg, they are very hard to beat.

I would put this above the Akai AP-D2 and multiple others because of the overall quality and ease of servicing and maintenance of these turntables.

This Technics SL-D2 is equipped with a Spectrum branded Acutex 310IIE cartridge with a brand new aftermarket elliptical stylus. These Acutex cartridges are always nice sounding, not as dynamic as an Audio Technica but still very capable. Dynamic, a tad neutral, with good detail all around.


Thursday, 19 March 2020

Mirage Omni Series

One of the last series of speakers that were made by Mirage that were available in Canada (or at least in Winnipeg). I originally bought these for my parents however, they never used them and even left them here in Winnipeg when they moved out of province!

I've only listened to these speakers maybe a handful of times and once at Visions Electronics. When they were being demonstrated for a sale I was very impressed on how beautiful they sounded. I was running them with a Crown D-75 power amplifier and Belles preamplifier.

They were very immersive sounding, I guess the "omni" part were correct, while they were not as direct sounding or a sharp sounding as other speakers they were excellent for what they were designed for. This was one of the reason why I bought them in the first place, for my parents to use them in a home theater setup.

Truth be told, I do have a soft spot for API speakers, even though this was made during the Gentec era. I love Canadian speakers, period.

The overall presentation when sitting about 10 feet away was great. Airy, neutral and definitely the 550s (6.5" woofers) were bass heavier than the 350s (5" woofers). Vocals were nice and clear and the overall ambiance was nice. What's not to love.

Cabinets were beautifully designed, curved not squared or rectangular. Aluminum tweeters, which at times I prefer, and rubber surrounds. They are truly well made speakers. Grills were a bit of a pain to remove and be careful of the plastic speaker grill pegs.

These are gone but, they still left a lasting impression on me. I may update this with more information later one as this is definitely for posterity.

Akai AP-D2 Turntable

Akai AP-D2 is a direct drive turntable of the very late 1970s and early 1980s, usually the straight tone arm is general sign to "age" a turntable. I've had many Akai before and definitely had my fair share of AP-D2s and they are solid tables. Easy to use and more importantly quite easy to service.

It is a 2-speed direct drive turntable with automatic return with a "servo lock" which locks in the speed, therefore this guy does not have adjustable speeds pots.

Overall, it is a solid direct drive turntable. This one was equipped with an Audio Technica AT-3400 (probably originally a rebadged version of the Audio Technica) and a new aftermarket Jico stylus was installed. Sounds great!

This is really a no-frills direct drive turntable with basic features but, that's all you need to make music!

This guy was in excellent condition. And, now found a new home!


JVC JL-A20 Turntable

This turntable was made during the late 1970s and comes with all the basic features you would expect from a mid line Japanese belt drive turntable. It is semi-automatic, so it has an automatic return mechanism, reject, 2 speeds, antiskate and cue feature.

Surprisingly, it does have some heft to it. It is well made for what it is. There are some information off if you wish to see the brochure. It does have good specifications, unlike modern day entry level belt drive turntables.

It does have some nice metal hinges that I tend to prefer of the plastic ones that break, so that is quite the bonus.

This turntable has been gone through by us. It needed a bit of love but, it's running beautifully. It has a new belt and new RCA plugs. It comes with a rebranded Audio Technica AT-3711 cartridge (Akai PC-90), which is a conical but, sounds great. It's also in good shape.

This would make a great entry level turntable for someone looking to get into vinyl.



For those who are affected the Covid-19 virus our thoughts are with you through these difficult times. Stay safe, keep calm and keep washing your hands.

On a lighter note, at least if we have to stay indoors we have our music!

Monday, 16 March 2020

Crown D60 & D45 Power Amplifiers

I've owned Crown amplifiers and still own a D75 in my main setup. All I have to say is I love Crown amplifiers. I think they are some of the best hidden gems out there. Let's start with some basic specifications. You can easily find a more thorough list online.

Crown D60 Specifications:
Power output: 35 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo)
Frequency response: 5Hz to 100kHz
Total harmonic distortion: 0.05%
Damping factor: 400
Gain: 26.3 dB
Input sensitivity: 0.75V

Crown D45 Specifications:
Power output: 25 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo), 95W into 8Ω (mono)
Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Total harmonic distortion: 0.05%
Damping factor: 400
Gain: 20.6 dB
Input sensitivity: 0.8V
IOC® (Input/Output Comparator) alerts of any distortion that exceeds 0.05% to provide proof of distortion-free performance.
Signal presence indicators verify the presence of amplifier output.

Finding information on the D60 is a bit hard as the unit is older but, for the most part both amplifiers are Class AB. I've read they are pure Class A at very minute wattage. Both can be used as a single unit or bridged. Both are of a dual mono design with individual volume potentiometer. The D45 has some added features such as the IOC, which is nice to have but, it does loses the speaker jacks for a strip. However, both models say their are "Made in the U.S.A.", which means it is 100% made in the USA and extremely well made.

While brand new these units were quite expensive. On the used market they can be had for an inexpensive price and they are worth every penny. These are some of the best sounding amplifiers I've heard. They are very dynamic sounding amplifiers. To put, they are very uncoloured but, packs a lot of punch. "Raw" sounding if you must call it. They remind me of my favourite Hitachi HA-1100 integrated amplifier. Except, these Crown amps have huge damping factor, better woofer control, over the Hitachi.

Professional power amplifiers, with professional build quality for home use? Absolutely! Sure, I had to put some rubber feet on my D75 but, they run my JBL horns beautifully!

I've also used them to run my Bozak MB80 and used them as demonstration amplifiers and they never failed and always impressed. Not to mention, they make excellent headphone amplifiers!