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…

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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…

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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…

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

 

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