Nothin’ Like Music, Nothin’

_n

Advertisements

Building The Perfect Beast

Building the Perfect Beast is the second studio solo album by Don Henley, the lead vocalist and drummer for the Eagles. The album was released on 19 November 1984 on the Geffen label.
– Wikipedia

My affinity for Mr. Henley is well-documented. And so I felt that it was apropos to code-name this little endeavor: “Operation Perfect Beast”. You see, ever since we purchased a home back in the autumn of 2013, I’ve nursed this incoherent vision of the perfect music appreciation room. I’ve seen thousands of digital silver-gelatins featuring fantastic altars to the Gods of recorded music. Much of this renewed interest in vintage audio (mine included) has come on the heels of the vinyl revival. More than jealousy, envy or even mild hatred, these snapshots spurred me to eschew my incoherence and actualize the opaque schematic in my mind.

We finally moved into our new-to-us home this June after an endless renovation. Long before (and ever since) the move-in day, I’ve been frantically putting each thing that clutters our lives into its ideal newest final resting place. Afflicted with Precision Arrangement Syndrome (PAS)–I’m incapable of simply putting stuff away. Instead, I incessantly jockey, jostle and jell the artifacts of a lifetime into some illusory paragon known only to me. This often requires numerous iterations to complete depending on the primary task-at-hand and each accompanying sub-task-at-hand. My wife finds this ailment baffling, as does practically everyone else.

With the stuff that necessarily comprises a home, like cookware, software and underwear, this is not a particularly difficult process. Sure, it can be arduous, but not-so-much difficult. However, when it came to the space that would be my music appreciation chamber, my “man cave” (a term I loathe), my Rumpus Room, the PAS metastasized. I can recall numerous moments staring out into the landfill occupying my garage stalls and thinking…It’s out there somewhere – that thing I need. I wonder if I’ll ever find it? Shit, who cares if I ever find it at this point? It’ll turn up someday; it has to. The garage can’t stay like this forever. Fuck it–I see some vodka in the corner.

I’ve probably spent more time locating, constructing, arranging the various components of this solitary 12′ x 10′ x 7′ x 6′ (it’s L-shaped) room than all others in the house combined, squared. Throughout all of the iterations, I always knew that I had to build a custom stereo rack. And yet, I also knew I needed to listen to my music like yesterday–dammit! Hence, I just threw the old rack into the new room and proclaimed: “That’s good for now!”

On or about August 9th, Rumpus Room v1.0 looked like this in pano mode…

126392781946

And while the trusty old (hacked/modified) gray metal tempered glass rack was surely functional (after I dealt with the uneven floor issue), I still could not abide the impostor occupying the space where my dream rack was meant to stand. I did my best to ignore this uncomfortable, disappointing and glaring anomaly in an otherwise ecclesiastical sonic arcade.

Meanwhile, back in July, amid dueling 5x eBay bucks promotions and PayPal Credit no-interest deals, I purchased 100 1/2″ steel floor flanges. In case you haven’t priced these out at a big-box hardware establishment, they are about $5 each. Thankfully, I found a bulk dealer on eBay that was offering them at a considerable discount. I had to strike fast, as there were only a pair of 50-flange lots remaining costing less than half of the big-box price-tag. I took a photo, not only as inspiration, but also to remind me I had just dropped $170 on 50 lbs. of steel that was decaying somewhere on my garage floor. Now, I had to build that rack; I had committed to it, at least financially…

130246046226_1.jpg

Meanwhile, in a desperate attempt to find the penultimate rack for my Pioneer Silver Stereo components and save myself weekends of painstaking construction, I Googled hundreds (possibly thousands) of pre-fab racks. I perused racks of every shape, size and dimension. As I evaluated rack after rack in full LCD color, the same issues persisted:

  1. I wanted each component on a separate shelf
  2. The height of each component varies
  3. Therefore, I need numerous infinitely adjustable shelves

You’d think such a rack exists, right? Well…it does if, like most sane individuals, you have four components + one turntable. If instead you are slightly less sane and have eight components + a pair of turntables, the prospects shrink considerably. It’s like a minivan that works great until the fifth kid is born…and then you’re looking at a minibus. I promise you—with one exception, I was not going to spend $600 + shipping on a rack I could not first see in-person—no such rack exists.

OK, I’m kinda not telling the whole truth. If you are willing to compromise and purchase a modular horizontal rack system, you have plenty of options for an 8×2 component system. Here’s an example…

130246046226_2.jpg

All long, I wanted a wall—nay a monolith—of sound. I had little interest in a pony wall of sound. Thus, it was settled: I would build the wall! Only there was no chance “of course Mama’s gonna help build the wall” or daddy, or anyone else for that matter.

So for starters, I constructed a miniature prototype. Surprisingly, it seemed like a plausible design—I was gonna build the bitch!

130246046226_3.jpg

 

Over the past few weekends, my kids have endured countless trips to big box hardware establishments, hours of me in the garage and countless profanities floating through the air. But at least the project was well underway, and there was certainly no turning back. My daughter lent me her bear “Bubbles” for moral support. His assistance in that capacity was incalculable. Bubbles has a unique talent: he can sit on anything and not fall over. This was key to his ability to offer me moral support from numerous locations throughout the garage and basement.

130246046226_4.jpg

130246046226_5.jpg

130246046226_6.jpg

This was not an easy project (to be brutally honest). In fact, if I had to do it all over again, I’d buy the two racks from Target, screw them together and take up quilttng. But last night, the build was (mercifully) complete. I swear this rack weighs 150 lbs. I managed to lug it down the stairs without assistance. I was beyond determined to get this thing hooked up and the minor detail of getting it down the stairs all by myself was sure as hell not going to be my Waterloo. 13 stairs and a gallon of sweat later, I had the thing in my Rumpus Room. I loaded each component into its allotted space, and spun it around to meticulously hook everything to everything else.

130246046226_7.jpg

130246046226_8.jpg

About three hours, much splicing, some shimming and a lot of cussing later, I had it level and lit. My dream rack was alive!

130246046226_9.jpg

130246046226_10.jpg

130246046226_11.jpg

The journey of 1,000 steps is on or about 998. Sure, there are a few accouterments in the Rumpus Room that could be painted to look more ravishing. Yea, the floor could use an additional coat of concrete paint to make its sheen shine. And yup, I need to file a few LPs currently residing in crates on the floor. But I shot a new panoramic this evening of the Rumpus Room v2.0. It gave me pause…then, bliss.

130246046226_12.jpg

In case you are curious, Part 1 – The first notes to pour over the wall of sound were from the Sturgill Simpson masterpiece “Turtles All the Way Down“ – on vinyl, of course. It was fucking fantastic…!

In case you are curious, Part 2 – allow me to introduce the band (right side to top to bottom):

  • Dual 1019 Turntable / Record Changer (da Beast)
  • Pioneer PL-560 Quartz-PLL Full-Automatic Turntable (da Plow)
  • Pioneer DT-500 Audio Digital Timer
  • Pioneer RG-2 Dynamic Processor
  • Pioneer SR-303 Reverberation Amplifier
  • Pioneer SG-9800 12-Band Graphic Equalizer
  • Pioneer SA-9800 Stereo Amplifier (da Heart)
  • Pioneer TX-9800 Quartz Locked Stereo Tuner
  • Pioneer P-D070 CD Player
  • Pioneer CT-F1250 Stereo Cassette Tape Deck
  • Pioneer CS-T7000 210W 8Ω Speakers
  • Pioneer CS-520 60W 8Ω Speakers


© 2015 – ∞ B. Charles Donley

 

Article: Minneapolis Central Library opens vinyl listening room to share collection

Minneapolis Central Library opens vinyl listening room to share collection

library

Summary…

On Saturday, Hennepin County Library hosted the first event in its new “Vinyl Revival” series, which aims to bring attention to the thriving audio format. Through June, artists will present vinyl-themed programming and curate records from the library’s stacks, many of which are the works of local musicians.

The library also converted a small meeting room on the third floor into a listening room equipped with a turntable and headphones, which people can reserve to listen to the artist-selected picks.

h/t Minneapolis Star Tribune

Blather…

Considering the considerable financial barrier to entry that vinyl presents (if a proper turntable, receiver/amp, and speakers are utilized), this is a pretty kick-ass endeavor for budding vinyl junkies fans to get their feet wet.

A Pioneer CT-F1250, A Rebuild, A Saga

tumblr_o9i0uyRjH01upt4oto1_540

Blake Donley
Wed, Jul 6, 2016 at 2:06 PM
To: Tim

Hello Tim!

I was referred to you from the fellas at Pacific Stereo.

I have a CT-F1250 that was finally diagnosed by a local vintage audio repair shop as having a bad motor. My local shop tried to replace it with one that would fit and found it was not a perfect fit. I know these motors can be rebuilt, but I am not confident enough to undertake that task in a DIY manner. Do you offer any type of service in regards to CT-F1250 motor rebuild or replacement? If so, do you accept units shipped to you (I’m in Minneapolis). If so, what’s a ballpark on the cost of such an undertaking? Thanks for your time.

~~BlaKe~~
Tim
Thu, Jul 7, 2016 at 11:33 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can repair or replace that motor if you ship the unit to Music Technology.

To do that repair would be about $250 .

The cost could be more if it needs new belts (3), new pinch rollers or an idler tire.

Also, the heads in theses decks often have some wear and that means it may not be 100% as far as specs. New heads are not available. The record calibration system on this deck is not well designed so if you want to record on this deck, it’s best for me to set the deck up internally for a tape so you don’t need to use the cal system.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Wednesday, July 06, 2016 3:06 PM
To: Tim

Tim –

10,000 thank you’s for your reply!

So I had this deck serviced three separate times by the same techs up here at Alex Audio & Video. I believe they replaced belts and rollers and rebuilt the idler. That said, you come highly recommended, so I trust your judgement.

Basically, I want this baby as close to new/spec as possible for a 40-year-old deck. As long as you give me a head’s up as to what the repair and cost will be after you give it the once-over, I’ll be happy to have you work on it.

I will likely never record on this system, so no heroic measures are needed along those lines.

My next questions is: so how does the process work? Do I just mail you the deck, you assess it and send me an estimate? I’m cool with whatever your preferred approach. Just let me know.

This deck is the sound-loop anchor of a stack of Pioneer silver I’ve been collecting for six years. Plus I have over 400 cassettes that I can’t currently play. I really just want is serviced and serviced by someone that knows what they’re doing. I’m quite excited you will work on it.

Thanks!
Tim
Fri, Jul 8, 2016 at 9:32 PM
To: Blake Donley

You just mail it in with a $75 deposit check. That 75 gets applied to the repair bill once the deck is finished.

And as I mentioned, that deck will very likely have a fair amount of head wear, so it won’t be “like a new deck” when I’m done.. It will sound decent, however, and be reliable As long as you are ok with that. New heads are not available.

Pack it well! No hard styrofoam or peanuts. Lots of soft padding.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Tim

Sounds most excellent.

It’ll be in the mail Monday morning.

Thanks Tim!!!
Blake Donley
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 12:49 PM
To: Tim

The unit shipped today UPS Ground; they said Friday it will arrive. I told them no Styrofoam. It is insured in case they goof up the shipping. There is a $75 check enclosed along with a printout of the page with your instructions.

If you needed to officially enter my information as a customer, it is as follows:

Blake Donley




Just let me know the grand total for getting her back to fightin’ condition—thanks Tim!
Tim
Tue, Jul 12, 2016 at 7:21 PM
To: Blake Donley
Sounds good. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

-Tim
Tim
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Estimated total is $530 with an estimated balance due of $455 (since you already paid 75).

-new reel motor
-2 new pinch rollers (they are 100% shot)
-3 new belts (they are the wrong size)
-repair tape guides (deck is damaging tapes)
-you would have to buy the belts from Marrs for $30 (not included in estimate)
-playback only

Let me know if you want to proceed.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 10:41 PM
To: Tim

So if I buy the belts would I have them shipped to you?
Tim
Wed, Aug 3, 2016 at 11:01 PM
To: Blake Donley

Correct. Have the belts shipped to the shop.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 8:25 AM
To: Tim

Sounds like a plan. If you can get me the info on which belts to purchase and the website where I am to purchase them, the rest sounds good. I am already invested in getting this deck to work, so let’s do it.
Tim
Thu, Aug 4, 2016 at 6:43 PM
To: Blake Donley

Go here:

http://www.marrscommunications.com/pioneer-supreme-cassette-belts-10-year-guarantee

Now in the box that says “brand/model” enter Pioneer CT-F1250 and then hit “buy”

Hopefully they can ship direct to my shop. Perhaps email them first about that.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 12:21 PM
To: Tim

I ordered them to be shipped to:

… c/o Blake Donley


Hopefully you will receive them this week or next.
Tim
Sun, Aug 7, 2016 at 8:13 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sounds good. I have the new reel motor on order.

-Tim

Tim
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 9:19 PM
To: Blake Donley

Still waiting on the belts.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:04 PM
To: Tim

I know they were having issues with flooding down there. I’ll ask for a status.
Tim
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:11 PM
To: Blake Donley

The new reel motor has arrived, but not installed or tested.. I’m going to wait for the belts before I do that.

-Tim
Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 6, 2016 at 10:13 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. I sent them a request for status. They did update their site to say as of 8/30, orders were taking 7 days. I assume mine got lost in the chaos, but I forwarded them the paypal transaction. Hopefully you’ll get the belts soon.
Tim
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Blake Donley

Have they received payment form you? As in your CC or Paypal has been deducted the cost of the belts.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 10:52 PM
To: Tim

Yep, I paid with PayPal and have the receipt. I have sent them the receipt each time I have inquired (which is not five times). Today I simply asked them to email back and acknowledge the receipt. I have not heard anything as of yet. I’m assuming I won’t until they finish their move.
Blake Donley
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 5:42 PM
To: Tim

I finally heard from Marrs today via email. Someone there forward my inquiry to someone else there and copied me. I have not heard from the someone else yet…
Tim
Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 6:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

If you want to just get your money back, I can install belts from another company. Or you can wait for Marrs. Either works.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sat, Sep 24, 2016 at 12:41 PM
To: Tim

I’ll wait…for now…only because it took them six weeks to acknowledge the order. Lord knows how long a refund would take…

I’ll let you know when I hear from them–nothing as of yet.
Tim
Sat, Oct 22, 2016 at 9:22 PM
To: Blake Donley

I have the belts from Marrs now. Will proceed with the repair. Perhaps a week to finish it all.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 7:52 AM
To: Tim

Thanks for the update!
Tim
Sun, Oct 23, 2016 at 10:21 PM
To: Blake Donley

BTW, the new reel motor modification works great. You will have the first CTF1250 with a brand-new, higher-quality reel motor installed. It is not NOS (new old stock). The original reel motors were very unreliable and rebulding them often did not work at all or it was something that would eventually fail again. It was not a good-quality motor to begin with.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:44 AM
To: Tim

I’m giddy! I have over 800 cassettes just waiting to be heard again. Thanks for all the hard work and patience!
Tim
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 7:03 PM
To: Blake Donley

Another first for this 1250 repair is that it will have new Teac pinch rollers. Previous pinch roller options were poor: 1 recover the original rollers at Terry’s. Those did not work well due to the small size. Option 2 was new rollers from Germany. Those are poor quality and super-expensive. These new Teac rollers are very high quality and have a good price.

-Tim

Tim
Mon, Oct 24, 2016 at 11:37 PM
To: Blake Donley

It is done, but I should test run it for two days before you pick it up. I will let you know.

Recommend you keep Dolby off and EQ switch set to STD. This is to compensate for the play head wear issue that I told you about (that all old 1250 decks have). It will give you more highs (treble).

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 5:18 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks for everything!
Tim
Tue, Oct 25, 2016 at 8:56 PM
To: Blake Donley

Also, it depends on which type of tapes you are playing. If they have Dolby B encoding, they may sound better with Dolby off. If they were recorded with CrO2 EQ, they may sound better with STD EQ. Again, this is due to play head wear.

-Tim

Tim
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 12:52 AM
To: Blake Donley

It’s ready for pickup. See hours below.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 9:47 AM
To: Tim

Thanks Tim!

If you recall (and it’s been forever, so you probably don’t), I shipped the unit into y’all from MN. I will need it shipped back…

Blake Donley

Just let me know the balance (plus return shipping), and I can call in and pay it.

THanks!
Tim
Wed, Oct 26, 2016 at 8:48 PM
To: Blake Donley
Yes. I forgot it was mailed in.

It is packed and ready to go.

Kat will call you for payment.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 2:24 PM
To: Tim
Hey Tim,

I got the deck back today and put it back into the stack. When I went to fire it up, nothing much worked on it. Here is a video of FFWD/RWD/Play

I just hooked up the RCA cables and plugged it in. Was there something else I needed to do?
Tim
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:20 PM
To: Blake Donley

Make sure the tapes are good. If you put a Bic pen in the tape hub and verify that the tape turns freely.

If the tape turns freely, then the deck must have been damaged in shipping. Unfortunately, that happens one or twice a year when we ship things out.

I test ran the deck after repair for about 20 hours with many different tapes and they all played flawlessly, so it was 100% functional when packed.

If your tapes all test good, then ship the deck back. Use a much bigger box with more packing this time. The box and packing you sent the deck in with was marginal.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 4, 2016 at 9:30 PM
To: Tim

I tried about a two-dozen tapes in hopes it was a bad cassette. All the same…

I too noticed the half-assed packing job. I walked into a UPS store (with the bare deck) and said: “This needs to make to VA w/o a scratch on it. Please pack it carefully.” I paid for them to pack it. What I got back, which I can only assume is what you received and sent back to me, made me ever so sad. I’m going to pack it myself—so much for leaving it to the “professionals” (a pair of college kids on summer break from the looks of them).

I’ll be in the mail on Monday. Thanks!
Tim
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:40 PM
To: Blake Donley

I found a brake lever was knocked off it’s track. A strong jolt during shipping likely caused this. I have fixed it so that won’t happen again. Deck plays tapes perfectly now.

I want to test run the deck for about 5 days to be sure everthing else is good and stays good.

I will not ship it back to you it that box and packing. I will see if we have a good shippng box for it in our shop

-Tim

Blake Donley
Fri, Nov 11, 2016 at 9:53 PM
To: Tim

Awesome! Thanks so much!
Blake Donley
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 10:00 AM
To: Tim

Just an FYI. I am leaving for vacation on Tuesday 11/22, and I will be gone for 14 days. If possible, could you ship it in time to arrive on Monday 11/21. I’ll sacrifice a full 5 days of testing for having it arrive before I depart.

Thanks so much!
Tim
Mon, Nov 14, 2016 at 8:02 PM
To: Blake Donley

Sorry. Can’t do that. It needs a full 5 day test and then another full bench test before I ship. Also may take a while to find or buy a new shipping box.

I don’t want you to have another defect show up when you get it back. This is a very old deck and they must be checked carefully.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 2:31 PM
To: Tim

OK, I appreciate the diligence. Is it then possible to delay shipment until 11/30? I’m just worried that the unit will be delivered when I am not there and after three attempts they will send it back.

Tim
Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 8:46 PM
To: Blake Donley

Yes, I can delay shipping till 11/30.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 9:55 AM
To: Tim

Thanks!

Tim
Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:14 PM
To: Blake Donley

I was test-running the deck and it ate one of my tapes for the first time ever.. It has not repeated that, however. I have run about 12 tapes through it with zero problem. I need to run it some more to find the problem. May take about a week to find the problem because it is very intermittent.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Sat, Dec 3, 2016 at 8:25 PM
To: Tim

Sounds good. Thanks for the update.
Tim
Wed, Dec 14, 2016 at 12:22 AM
To: Blake Donley

I could not duplicate the tape-eating incident. I lubed and adjusted some items, but never did see the deck eat a tape again. Played about 20 tapes in a row with no problem at all.

Unit is packed in a new, larger box with better packing.

Re-boxing fee is $60. We will pay for return shipping.

Kat will call you for CC payment very soon.

-Tim

Blake Donley
Saturday, December 23, 2016 9:25 PM
To: Tim

IT WORKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can’t thank you enough for everything. So I have a wonky CT-F900…interested?

cdcover


Copyright © 2018 – ∞ Blake Charles Donley