Wednesday, October 24, 2007

HiFi 03 : 110v/220v

I've managed to bring to the US two really nice items; a Sansui AU-317 MkII amplifier which I bought way back in 1978 but which still sounds good, and a ProJect Cherry turntable.

The problem is that Europe uses 220v/50Hz mains voltage and the USA uses 110v/60Hz. Actually, it is possible to get 220v into a US house for stuff like heavy duty heaters/machines, etc, but I want to avoid a major wiring job at the moment.

Both these components have particular and different requirements from their mains feed. The Sansui actually has a voltage switch but from 220v to 240v, which seems fairly academic to me. The turntable is motor driven and is controlled by the mains frequency so it is not just a case of stepping up the voltage.

Anyway, I did manage to find one of these; the Quick 220.

I got this one a couple of years ago so the newer ones look rather different. But in use, you plug the unit into a mains outlet with one cable, then try plugging the second cable into any other outlet in the house until the indicator light on the front changes from red to green.

I assume the unit uses two different phases of the mains supply to produce the 220v. Fortunately, the room I'm hoping to use as a listening/reading room seems to have different outlets on different phases so there is no need to trail leads around the house.

Now, although the voltage has been stepped up, the frequency remains at 60Hz. I think that this should only mean the amp may run a little warmer, but since the volume dial almost never goes past 10 o'clock, I'm not anticipating cooling to be an issue. As you can see in this image the unit seems to be producing 234v.

In addition I also use a mains conditioner I bought at Maplin's while in the UK. Despite the dirtiness of the US mains supply, I haven't noticed any artifacts coming through on the sound side, but this may yet happen ... winter is nearly here.

All of this didn't solve the turntable issue ... more in my next HiFi article.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Monday, October 22, 2007

HiFi News : index

HiFi Project:

01 : Phonostage
02 : Sum of the Parts
03 : 110v/220v
04 : Sansui AU-317 mkII Amplifier
05 : Project Classic Cherry Turntable
06 : Marantz CD5001
07 : Sennheiser HD580 Headphones

WiFi Project:

01 : Noxon iRadio
02 : Streaming
03 : Music Server
04 : Sangean WFR-20
04a: Sangean WFR-20 - Streaming

Various Stuff:

01 : Rio Karma music player
02 : RioVolt PSX100
03 : Sony MDR-EX71SL Fontopia In-The-Ear Headphones
04 : Princeton Record Exchange - and blog
05 : Sansa®TakeTV™ video player
06 : Steam Radio ...

Articles soon on; audio file formats/codecs; ripping for hifi ...


Rackett : Joe's Pub, NYC : 3.12.2007
Adele : Joe's Pub, NYC : 17/18.3.2008, pts I, II & III

* last update : 04.07.2008

NYS Sheep and Wool Festival

The New York State Sheep & Wool Festival. How fascinating is that?

Well, actually, it was pretty good!

So last weekend, we mapquested the route to Rhinebeck, NY, and spent a very nice couple of days there perusing the hundreds of exhibits at the show, and visiting a couple of historic locations as well as be entertained for dinner at the CIA - yes, really!

I'll leave show details to Linda to describe in greater detail on infiknitty, but in brief, it was a nice experience and knitters are okay. In fact, in many respects it was much like any other interest based event, like caravanners, antiques fairs, etc, etc ... and the show-ground could have just as well been at Shepton Mallet.

I should add that the sweater Linda knitted for me elicited dozens of complimentary comments and for good reason.

Rhinebeck is in the centre of an historic region which still is very attached to its Dutch past. Not least is its association with FDR - Franklin Delano Roosevelt - the President who took the US into and through the Second World War, only to die shortly before victory was realised.

The FDR Presidential Library is of interest to British visitors because of FDR's strong support for Britain during WW2 and there is much evidence of his alliance with Churchill during this time. The image to the left shows Frank, Eleanor and me enjoying a joke outside the Library.

Ah, yes. Eleanor Roosevelt. Americans regard her as the First Lady amongst First Ladies. After FDR's death she lived a few miles away at Val Kill -Kill being a term for a water course.

Did I mention we had dinner at the CIA?

The Culinary Institute of America, that is. And very good it was too, although I think that someone who is three weeks away from graduating could make sure we got our wine on time with the meal. But, otherwise, the food and ambiance was very good.

The real feature of this time of year is the fall leave colour. Unfortunately it is difficult to get a panorama of this glorious sight. Any glimpse we had was through the trees as we drove Route 9. But close up it was rather wonderful too.

So, ask me if I'd go to the Sheep & Wool festival again and I'd unhesitatingly say yes!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

HiFi 02 : Sum Of The Parts

I have always had an interest in hifi. That is; the facility to reproduce music with as practical an approach to fidelity as reasonable and economic.

I say reasonable. I have heard some incredible rigs at hifi shows and at dealers. Some have cost into six figures - and I'm talking UKpounds here.

But probably the best system I ever heard cost in the region of UKp4k at a show in Bristol some years ago. Still a lot of money, but I'll bet lots of people round here spend a lot more than that on their home theatre/cinema system.

As I recall, the rig was in the Wilson-Benesch room, consisting of one of their turntables and speakers playing through a Chord amplifier. The demo disc was Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side. And in the bit the coloured girls go, Doo doo ... you could place every singer in the chorus at an exact place in the room. Nice. I hasten to add, the image to the left represents home theatre overkill, not a modest hifi setup.

Anyway, what I am doing is putting together a system from favourite and found bits and pieces with the occasional purchase, coping with the 110v/220v problem and producing a modest, but practical and competent system.

Next HiFi article; 110v/220v and why it's an issue for me.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Wish List

Coming to see us out here?

Well, there are a number of things you might like to pack to secure our undying gratitude. And most of them are really inexpensive:

  • Original Bisto. You know, the stuff in the box. Two small ones are better than one large one if you're feeling generous. And if you do get the new Bisto, make it Onion Gravy mix. Ahhhhhhh ...
  • Taylor's Yorkshire Gold loose tea. Not tea-bags!!! Actually, you can get it here, but it approaches the price of caviar ... really. Actually, the occasional box of tea-bags wouldn't go amiss.
  • McVitie's Digestive biscuits. Nothing like them ...
  • Cadbury's Fruit & Nut chocolate.
  • The latest Private Eye
  • Wright's Coal Tar Soap
If you're feeling rich and live in Plymouth:
  • Plymouth Gin, Navy strength. 57%proof so gunpowder will still ignite if soaked in it.

Thanks. A&L

# last update : 16.10.2007

NPR : Pledge Week

NPR : National Public Radio.

Imagine if you will, a national public broadcasting system, not unlike the BBC in its aspirations and ambitions, running, not on the billions most other nations devote to their national TV and radio, but a system which almost totally depends on listeners/viewers digging into their own charitable pockets just to keep the programmes on the air.

That is the situation public radio, that is, non-commercial, non-profit-making, community-based radio, finds itself in here in the USA.

And this week is Pledge Week. A week in which NPR is reduced to broadcasting pleas for contributions virtually every five minutes and which, paradoxically, makes the programming unlistenable. All to raise $5million dollars.

So, okay we know the BBC is just a mouthpiece of UK government policy ... well, at least as many say it's the propagator of dissent, so maybe it's got it right after all. But please don't complain about how your country taxes, licences or however else it raises money for its national broadcaster. Just imagine Pledge Week on Radio1, or Radio4 ...

As for television, PBS. It's just the same here. PBS Pledge Week coming soon ...

Monday, October 15, 2007

HiFi 01 : Phonostage

Ah yes ... phonostage ... but what is it?

Nowadays, virtually all hifi amplifiers use line-level electrical connections between components. This works out at about 150mV.

But vinyl record cartridges on a record turntable turn out about 5mV as a maximum and some types less than 1.5mV.

Now my old Sansui AU-317 MkII amp has a phono-stage built in, but if you want to use a turntable with a modern amplifier you will have to get a separate phono-amplifier and run it through the AUX input.

Some newer turntable designs now include a built-in phono-stage and even USB connections. But more about all that later when I tell you more about my hifi adventure in compiling a modest yet fine sounding hifi with bits from my bits-box ... well, almost.

*See my hifi / media index here.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Linda Knits

Who is this dashing fellow? And what's more, what is he wearing?

If you don't know, Linda is a very keen knitter. She even has a knitting blog called Infiknitty - geddit??? *Linda tells me it is not a knitting blog, more about life, the universe, etc, etc ...

Well, here I am modelling my new sweater which is made up of an esoteric wool blend and which, while beautiful, is extremely uncomfortable to model on a day in excess of 80F/30C.

You can read the technical details here.

However, next weekend we're off to a knitting conference at Rhinebeck in mid-state New York. I really can't believe I'm going to a knitting conference!!!

Okay, I'll pretend to myself that we're really going to see the fall colours. Actually, I am ... and this year is promising to be one of the best. I'm currently googling local steam railways and have also found an airfield with vintage aircraft so maybe it won't all be plain one, purl two.

Back on the Blog

Here I am ... Back again.

Now to sort out templates, find old graphics and stuff like that ...

Some stuff from my old blog will be resurrected. Things like hifi and The Bagel Barn - yes, really - brought visitors from all around the world.

And as my son takes great pleasure in telling me, a blog is a very sad thing to do.

Sorry sonJ.