Odds 'n Ends at Rocky Mountain

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Odds 'n Ends at Rocky Mountain

Here are a few odds 'n ends from the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest

I’ve never had the inclination to perform A/B listening tests on binding posts, but a demo by WBT opened my eyes to the importance of this often overlooked link in the signal path. WBT makes high-quality binding posts and jacks found on upper-end equipment. For the demo, a pair of TAD Reference Monitors was fitted with high-quality generic posts along with WBT’s newest posts. The posts were wired together inside the speaker, with the leads feeding the speaker’s crossover taken mid-way along the connecting wire. The signal path was thus identical for both pairs of posts. We listened to 25 seconds of a piano and vocal track through the generic posts, and then the same track through the WBT posts. I was startled at the difference; the generic posts imposed a clangy sound on the piano’s leading edges along with a graininess to the voice.

I had the chance to meet and talk with Jim Fosgate, a pioneer in both surround sound (Dolby Pro-Logic is based on his circuits) and high-powered car audio. Jim, who has been retired for some time, returned to audio with a gorgeous looking tube preamplifier. Jim mentioned to Garth Leerer of Music Surroundings (who had commissioned the preamplifier design) that he had an idea for a simple device that would allow anyone to accurately set phono-cartridge azimuth. His hand-held box has input jacks, LEDs, and a meter. You play a left-channel signal from a test record and note the level on the meter, and then play a right-channel signal and adjust the azimuth to realize the same meter reading. Simple and effective—and reasonably priced at $250.

Finally, I was walking down a hallway and looked inside a room to see wall-to-wall Technics open-reel tape machines. These weren’t just any used Technics machines, but had been lovingly restored inside and out. Most were customized with exotic metalwork, inlay, paint, and metal finishes. The company, J-Corder, was founded by Jeff Jacobs, who sold the Technics machines when they were new. He buys them from a variety of sources and restores each one with a unique color or metalwork—each machine is named. Customers can select from his stock or order a machine custom-finished to their specifications. I used a Technics 1500 for two-track recording and mixing from multitrack in my recording studio in the early 1980s and can tell you that it is a phenomenal machine. It was amazing to see a room full of about 15 open-reel tape decks.