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Steve Ford's Junk


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  • 1 month later...

I posted this earlier today on AudioCircle - my project for the weekend.

For years I've been thinking about the wall mounted MMGWs and finally got to hear some at The Listening Room in Towson, MD when Lynda and I were checking out the 3.7s. They have a small home theater room set up there with MMGWs up front, what was probably an MMGC center speaker , a small REL sub and some small surround boxes on stands, a Cambridge Audio integrated amp and I forget what kind of DVD player. I was actually kind of busy at the time (scheming on how to get some 3.7s into my fat little fingers).

It sounded tremendous until I asked them to shut off the surround speakers and well, there went the magic. I wonder what those little weasels are? I'll have to find out but they sounded expensive.
The center speaker wasn't set up right for whatever reason but at least I got to hear the MMGWs. The sales fellow assured me that they were a step up from the MMGs which I didn't believe believe and Wendell confirmed my suspicions - the MMGs are a better speaker. The MMGWs were okay but I wouldn't want to use just a pair of them and a sub as they just wouldn't cut it. Perhaps 4 of them would be a different story.

Then the Mini Maggies dipped a toe in the planar waters, I had a DMW woofer being used to help tame the weird room shape upstairs and I just got one of my MMGs back from a complete rebuild at Magnepan and they were just collecting dust after spending 5 years in storage in the basement with doggie wee wee stains on the grills. Maybe it's time to get off my dead ass and put this idea I've been kicking around into action.

As luck would have it, I had a trashed MG-1C speaker downstairs and the oak side rails were an exact fit for the MMGs - imagine that. I cut the side rails down to MMG size, drilled some holes to match up with where the screws go on the MMGs, sanded off most of the stain, picked up some longer side rail mounting screws and a couple of 4" hinges at the hardware store.

Lynda's a tv addict and I wanted to have some decent sound as well. She'd prefer to have the boob tube in the living room and it just so happens that there's a big cabinet there along the long wall so that's where the MMGs went. Across the room is a couch so you're sitting roughly 12' away from where the flat screen will go.


I figure that I can come up with a swing-away mount so I can access my CDs.

You'll notice the DMW in the center which I hooked up the AMP IN connectors


using these double connectors from Parts Express which allows me to use an SVS subwoofer at the same time.


It looks the connectors are touching but they're not and that's all driven by my $25 wonder from eBay


the mighty, mighty Harman Kardon PM640.

Okay, I don't know how mighty is is but it works which I still find surprising

and the whole fershlugginer mess is driven by the usual suspects


I hooked the MMGs and DMW up with some old Tributarie speaker wire that I had in my spare junk pile and therein lies the weak spot. I normally use Kimber Kable and I know for a fact that the Tributarie wire has a grainy sound to it but it's what I had in the length I needed so that's what I used.

Hey, this isn't Stereophile and this is a temporary lash-up as well.

I should mention that Magnepan says the quality of speaker cable with the DMW is pretty much irrelevant but I'd say not for the MMGs.

After MUCH screwing around, I finally ended up positioning the center of the mylar panel at around my ear height when seated which puts the speakers 15" off of the ground - I could probably go up another inch or two which would improve the sound considerably when you're up walking around. An MMG that's another 6 or 8" taller would be ideal for this application and that's a very strong hint, I might add. Perhaps stick in the .7 technology while you're at it, no sense in screwing around.

With the speakers being hinged it's a breeze to set toe-in and you can spend hours driving yourself insane if you're so inclined. The tweeter sections are mounted on the outside and what worked best for me was to aim to tweeters pretty much at my ears with the DMW dead center and pulled out a bit. I messed around a bit with DMW placement and decided that dead center was where it wanted to be. Two foot out with the DWM puts it about 20" in front of the MMGs.


I had to laugh as I just set things up by ear and when I later got out the tape measure everything was within 1/4" of each other. I have been called The Human Tape Measure by people who've seen me set up speakers before. If it looks right and sounds right it will measure right, too.

When you measure from the inside edge of the outer side rail (where the tweeter section is), the speakers are 24" out from the rear wall with the DMW pulled out an equal amount from the rear shelves. If it's back too much further bass output goes up but it gets boomy which is no good. The volume control on the unapproachable Harman Kardon integrated is set at about the 11:00 position. To the right of the couch about 4' away and up against the wall is an SVS PB12-ISB sub which is crossed over at 50 Hz and the volume is at about the 9:00 position.

Enough preamble, who cares, get to the point already, how does it sound? It sounds tremendous, it really does - I don't need no steenking surround speakers, wretched little overpriced boxes!

What this does is the most astonishing thing: when you have everything set up right you'll swear that the majority of the sound is coming from the DWM which is impossible as it only goes up to 200 hz. The MMGs just sound like they're providing a really wide soundstage.

I had Maria Muldaur's Southland of the Heart CD going late last night and it was bizarre - she was coming out dead center where that flippin' DWM is. Put your ear up against the DWM and it's just low frequency stuff, go back to the couch and she's coming out of the DWM.

I ready an article where I believe the author discovered the same phenomenon - it was quite a (pleasant) surprise.

If you turn off the DWM it sounds like really good stereo, turn the DWM on and it sounds like a center channel with additional material on the periphery. The guys at Magnepan are pretty sharp, I've got to hand it to them.

You'll have to screw around to get this effect and like all planars, a small adjustment goes a long way. You'll know when you get it right - there's no mistaking it.

At very low listening levels the sound is kind of flat but crank the knob a little bit and it comes right to life. I can't crank it too far as my VTLs outstrip the legendary Harman Kardon's power output and it popped both fuses during a listen to King Crimson's Red. Shame as that sounded pretty good and then I had to pop the cover on the peerless electronic marvel.

When you're done, just fold the speakers back


and it looks like a normal living room (more or less).

I think that the DWM is good for both smoothing out room irregularities and is tremendous with the MMGs if you futz around a bit with placement. A real subwoofer is required and while I think of it, just sticking a sub where the DWM will not come anywhere close to having the same effect - it'll give you the dreaded Flatulent Elephant Effect, instead.

It only makes sense that you have to keep things to scale and my guess is that with the larger models you would want to use two DWMs to have the same effect. Side by side or stacked, I can not say - I guess that it would depend on your particular room as each one is different.

I listened for a good 7 hours last night and today so I'm a little beat but the sound was so surprising that I stayed up way too late. It was only the grainy speaker wires that caused my ears to crap out. They have got to go.

Further adventures await. I'll bet with some MMGWs on either side of the couch if would be just tremendous!

Ogre-sized Mini Maggies? I'd say so.

Mini Maggies for us normal sized people? That's for another day.

I think that I'd better stop making fun of that incomprable Harman Kardon piece, an integrated amplifier which is the envy of the industry.
It'll catch on fire just to pay me back.

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Nice thorough write up Steve - you missed your calling! eusa_clap.gif
Now, PLEASE! Somebody Karma the man a real amplifier!!!!emwink.gif
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Yeah, those VTLs put out way too much heat.


HEY, you're not talking about my Harman Kardon, are you?  Them's fightin' words, pardner!

I think that made The Ear Trumpet's Recommended Component List in, what was it, 1936, 38?  Somewhere around there.

Yeah, it's kind of a pile and I'm sure I'll blow it up sooner or later.
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Whoa! Back down there pardner!
I love the tube sound at least as much as the next guy - but sometimes you just need SS horsepower (Unless you can afford Bob's beauties, that is)
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The 4 Ohm load is the killer - that NAD was about to burst into flames but it does have a really good headphone section!

Once this thing gets set up properly I'm going to go with a SS integrated (a real one) and maybe run the MMGs through the DMW and see how that works.

The DMW is going to go on a heavy duty sliding tray which will be attached to the cabinet.


It's the weirdest thing to hear the voices, piano and all of the rest seemingly come out of that black square woofer.  I'm not sure how they did it or even if they intended for it to be that way but that's what I got.


I think those VTLs have the power requirements covered but they're not meant for the MMG system and the Harman Kardon was trying to keep up with 250W tube monoblocks so it's no wonder it popped it's fuses.  
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  • 4 weeks later...
Guilty Pleasures courtesy of Harman Kardon
Ever since I was a child I've loved listening to the radio in bed.  It seemed like a glimpse into another world when I was pretending to be asleep with my little battery operated portable AM radio. 
Then my parents would come in and tell me to turn it off and go to sleep and that was the end of that.
This weekend I put together a grouping of Harman Kardon gear right above the bed which sounds pretty darned good.  It's not the greatest but it's not the worst thing you'll ever hear, either. 


From left to right there's my 25 dollar special, the MIGHTY PM640 integrated amp, an HD7600II CD player whcih I won in a karma (thanks, Madmaster!) and this is a nice piece, a Stax SRD-7 adaptor for the headphones, an old F50XK tube tuner (not the one from RodH but similar) and then there's AKG 701 headphones and Stax Sigmas. 


To say that these two headphones are at opposite ends of the sonic spectrum is putting it mildly.  The Sigmas have very weak highs but are very relaxing whereas the 701s are very detailed but are not so much fun in the long run.
I need to get a real power conditioner, hook the tuner up to the roof antenna and I'm thinking of updating to a later HK integrated to match the CD player.
The wife hasn't seen this yet.  I wonder how this one will go over?
They're kind of like me, they're rather handsome in the dark...

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I always did like the Mona Zappa poster.

The photos don't show it but there's a raised footer on the bed and it seems to me that's where the Mini Maggie system should go because you don't always want to be tied down to headphones.

I've been scheming on how I can mount them on hinges and then get them to lock into place when they're in use and then fold flat when you're done. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
It brings out a tremendous amount of detail and just sounds phenominal. 

I wasn't sure quite what to expect, to be perfectly honest, but BillD turned out an astonishingly great preamp.  I love tube gear but I think this may be in the same league as the Audio Research products, perhaps better.

I'll be able to spend some more time over the next week or so (lots of overtime) and will swap it around with some different systems but you can just hear the greatness in it and I'm using it with a crapolicious Oppo player, low buck cables, MMGs and a Harman Kardon amp with collapsing caps.

It feels really good to be running a Carver product again.

Tale a bow, BillD!


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You always get the best stuff Mr Ford.......I'm extremely jealous.
One day I hope to send one to Bill as well.....if I can ever get back to normal work life.
Till then I'll just have to live my audio fantasies through your so called "junk"  
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It brings out a tremendous amount of detail and just sounds phenominal....

I've been listening to a BillD modified C-11 for a while now and I couldn't agree with you more.
I think that "clarity" is the product of a vanishingly low noise floor and a total lack of coloration.
However you slice it, the result is nothing short of amazing. Kudos Bill!!!
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There's a lot of gizmos on that preamp so you'll have to mess around with the settings for a half hour or so to get it to sound right.  The headphone jack sounds great, too.

What he's done makes it considerably better than the stock Carver or Sunfire preamps which aren't in the same league as Bill's handiwork.  He's modest about his work but I don't have to be. 

I'm interested to see how the phono stage is.

I'm not going to sell my SFL-2s but I won't sell this one, either.
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  • 2 weeks later...
Idle hands are the Devil's tinsnips, I always say, so I've been keeping myself occupied.

My venerable Harman Kardon F50XK tuner up above my bed



has given way to this weird glowing garbage:




which is a Jolida headphone amp and a Sherwood S3000-V tuner. 

This is a winning combination which kept me up about 5 hours past my bedtime. 

The AKGs never sounded anywhere near this good on anything else.



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