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Thread: New digs for a classic system

  1. #1
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    New digs for a classic system

    Hello all,

    This project is just so much fun, that I have to share it. Add to that the fact that this website has been so much of a help . . . here goes.

    I have a client who owns a complete, intact hi-fi system from the late 1950s . . . it's a rare combination in a system of top components, decent system design, and wonderful workmanship. The original owner of this house bought most of the components in the mid-to-late 1950s (first mono, then a duplicate for stereo), and when he built this house in 1962, designed it specifically for the stereo system. He was a dentist who was afflicted with MS in his later years, and spent the last two decades of his life in a wheelchair, collecting classical music, and listening to this stereo system.

    The current owner is just as much of a jazz freak as the dentist was a classical enthusiast . . . and we are very fortunate that he instantly recognized the value of the system when he bought the house. In his words: "we looked at three houses, and I didn't really like any of them . . . but this one had the stereo. So we bought it." But alas, the house is now simply too small, and the entire system is in the process of being moved.

    Here's the original JBL speaker system:
    8 D130s (4 per side), loaded infinate baffle to the garage behind
    2 375s, affixed to 537-512 horns/lenses
    2 075s, with L300-midrange-style slant-plate lenses (HL91?) stuck in front of them
    2 N500s
    2 N7000s

    The whole system is absolutely invisible from the inside of the house, covered with a grillecloth that matches the paneling PERFECTLY. The wall they're installed is filled completely with sand . . . probably a couple thousand pounds!
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  2. #2
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    I'll dig up some interior pix soon and post them.

    But here's how it sounded right before it was dismantled . . . the 075s were intermittent (just look at the L-Pads!) and the traces were taken without them.

    So the improvement list reads:
    1. Rebuild all old flakey stuff for best performance/stability/reliability.
    2. Fix the super-tweeter end of the spectrum.
    3. Add some real bass.
    4. Deal with that 250-cycle honk.

    There is a plan for this . . . I'll post the cabinet renderings and system changes shortly.
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  3. #3
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    Wow, very interesting. Please keep us posted on your progress. I have never seen a lens mounted in front of an 075.

  4. #4
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    That was the exact same speaker system I heard at DAVID BEATTY AUDIO..in Kansas City.. Awsome !!!
    Vlad

  5. #5
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    Hi Maron . . . it was Beatty who sold and installed this system. He and the original owner (Dr. Blender) were close friends.

    Okay, here are some pictures of the inside. The flash makes the grilles WAY more apparent than they are in real life. Also, the homeowners don't normally have quite this much stuff in front of them . . . they were in the middle of packing for their move.
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  6. #6
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    I found a bit more original-era documentation for the system - attached is the dealer's newsletter that highlights the system, from 1968.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member bigyank's Avatar
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    Very nice documentation and heart warming story.

    Yank
    Basement: JBL SVA-1800 and 2226H DIY Enclosures Computer room: Control-5:Control SB-2 Living room: JBL 240ti

  8. #8
    Junior Member tensleep's Avatar
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    That's the ultimate!

    I certainly appreciated this story. It also makes me look at my home a little differently. I wonder how sheetrock filled with blown insulation works as a baffle? I've got the garage on the other side of the wall..........
    Silence is Golden.....
    but Duct Tape is Silver

  9. #9
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    So here are photos of the electronics. The Marantz Model 2s are mounted in the basement, the rest in the cabinet at the opposite end of the room. The turntable is a Thorens TD124 with a SME 3009 and a Shure V15 type V. I rebuilt the Marantzes and the Thorens for him about ten years ago, and both are still running perfect . . . a new set of EL34s is all that's required. The preamp is a Mac C26, it probably replaced a pair of mono Marantz Model 1s in the mid 1970s . . . it probably needs a once-over. The commodity-grade tuner and CD deck will remain for now.

    A couple of interesting things are the Dynaco stereo matrix-thingey built into the cabinet (the knobs to the right of the turntable) . . . this was long since disconnected. Also note the doorbell button here: this actuates a mechanism consisting of a very slow gear-driven motorized arm, some lever switches, and a Rube-Goldberg conglomeration of string and pulleys, all hidden behind and within the cabinet. The end result is that when you push the button, the turntable glides verrrry sllllowly out of the cabinet for cueing. Definately designed for somebody in a wheelchair.
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  10. #10
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    And here are the plans for the new place. I worked extensively with John at Slice Speaker Repair in Kansas City to come up with the revisions . . . he's been an authorized JBL rebuilder for a couple of decades, and came up with some great ideas. For new custom cabinetry, I am very lucky to have a close working relationship with an incredible artist and craftsman here in town. Seems like a shameless plug, but his website is lots of fun to look at:

    www.roundtreedesign.com

    First, just about all the JBL needed service, so it all came out and went to Slice. Since this system is for listening rather than for total eBay value, wax seals be damned . . . I want them to sound great, be well matched left to right, and stay that way for years. So the 075s and 375s were rebuilt with new diaphragms.

    For the D130s, I was trying to come up with an enclosure to improve the bass response, at which point John had the idea to turn half of the D130s into 2235s, and run them as the low-bass in a bi-amped four-way system. I don't know exactly how he performed this feat, but it involved some work on a very expensive milling machine, and the results are very impressive. So I now have four "2235s", four D130s, two 375s, and two 075s that are fresh, perfect, and ready for another fifty years (maybe with a refoam for the 2235s along the way).

    After much musing between myself, John, the homeowners, and Tim (of Round Tree Design), we came up with a workable cabinet layout, and those huge 537-512s simply wouldn't work in the new room, or they'd be so boxed-in that what's the point? We also don't have a garage behind it at the new location. Instead, the 375s will be mounted to new 2382s . . . which is perfectly suited to the new application. A pair of 077s will replace the 075s, as their pattern is a better match to the 2382.

    The low-bass will be handled by a pair of 2235s on each side, in a box of about 8 cu. ft., vented at 31.5 Hz. The remaining pairs of D130s will be mounted in a 4.8 cu. ft. box to handle the mid-bass. Driver layout is shown below.

    I wanted the D130s in a large box to make them sound as close as possible to the old infinate-baffle arrangement through the lower midrange . . . which I feel is part of the essential character of the old system. The D130s, 375s, and 077s will run all off of the existing Marantzes via passive networks . . . I'm planning on using a classic second-order Butterworth three-way arrangement, with the midrange wired anti-phase . . . but I'm going to measure the drivers in the installed cabinet before building the networks. For the bass, were adding a new McIntosh MC275 MkV tube amp, and an Ashly XR1001. I'll probably need a little EQ, so I have a Mac MQ107 parametric to add as well.

    So right now we're waiting on cabinetry . . .
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Rusnzha's Avatar
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    Amazing system.

  12. #12
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    It's exciting to see some progress -- we did quick mockups of all the cabinet panels and drivers today to ensure that everything fits. There are some pretty crazy angles on the low-bass cabinets . . . the top end has an extra little relief to clear the 375 on the mid-horn.
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    That system is very similar to a built in one described in "Audiocraft" magazine in the late 50's, including the strange grouping of D130's and the Marantz 2's. The horn/lenses are the only thing different, the ones in the article were Hartsfield types. Actually, I think it's the same guy & the same system, I'll look it up.

    In any case, your find is absolutely splendid. It's wonderful to see vintage systems in their original environ.

  14. #14
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    Hi John . . . I'd be really interested to see the article you describe, and I'm sure the homeowner would as well. By "the same guy", are you referring to the the dealer, David Beatty?

    Beatty is actually the subject of some local folklore and speculation . . . the official story is that he committed suicide by jumping of a bridge (accounts vary as to exactly which one) into the Missouri river. But the body was never found, and it's still considered a cold case by the Kansas Buearu of Investigation. It's widely accepted that he was in financial trouble at the time of his disappearance . . . maybe he's just pulling a Richard Kimball act. But the parallel to James B. Lansing's death is an interesting one.

  15. #15
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    The dentist. I think it's in the last issue of "Audiocraft". It was pictures from the first house I think, before he moved. I'm almost certain it must be the same system.

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