Mike and Neli get smart…

… or maybe we’re just getting a bit too old for some of this heavy lifting… after putting up and tearing down Campaniles 3 times in the last year or so, we wondered if there could be a better way 🙂

We decided to get this Dayton platform lift with a 880 lb capacity and used it to take down the top 170 lb cabinet of the Acapella Campanile…

.. and put up the 200 lb or so top cabinet of the Acapella Apollon.

[it’s not that these are so darn heavy, it is that they are tall cabinets which makes them a little unwieldy. No. Really. ;-)]

This platform lift, which doubles as a poor man and woman’s palette jack, is just the kind of thing that is so nice to have around the house.

We still do setup the speakers manually ourselves at distant customer’s homes and at shows (sometimes with help from Rusty, the show freight shipper, and friends)


The top cabinet of the Campanile coming down

The other Campanile cabinet already down and boxed.

The Apollon getting its upper cabinet into place.

How you can learn what most speakers and components really sound like

At Newport 2015, everything sounded as it usually does: the exhibitors whose rooms usually sound good … sounded good again, the average sounding rooms sounded …. average…

The last 30 shows or so, I found it entertaining to practice my listening skills.

How to practice listening skills

To go into each of the 150 rooms or so, per show, and describe, to yourself, the sound.

* What kind of sound was it? Was it emotional? Impressive? Analytical? Boring? Exciting? Was it filled with life or dead sounding?

* How well did it form the notes? Was decay too long or too short? Was the attack too sharp or did the note seem ‘slow’? How was the timbre and did it change with volume or frequency?

* How well did it behave up and down the frequency spectrum? How did it handle loud and soft notes? How did it handle a lot of content happening at the same time? [was their good separation or was there a ‘wall of sound’ effect]?

* If the sound was pretty good, then listen for things that are secondary, that depend on other things being right first, like soundstaging and imaging.

Then continue by trying to tell which component was contributing what to the sound.

* Speakers fail in certain, recognizable ways. If they are not failing much, then the speakers are pretty good

* Amps are supposed to drive the speakers. If they do not do this well, and most amps fail at this to some degree, it is clearly audible [‘under-driving a speaker’ is only an extreme case of this].

* Cables are harder to hear as a separate entity in an unknown system unless you are very familiar with the cable, IMO. Otherwise they are a case of ‘if everything else is right’, then it is up to the cable to make or break the sound.

* Sources, CD players and turntables, reveal themselves by just how much information is in the sound. Yes, it takes a good system to reveal the characteristics of a good source, but most systems are up to the task, it is the source that often short-changes systems by not generating a sufficient quantity of information for the system to translate into sound.

Speakers, amps, etc. do many other, audible, things to the sound that can be heard at shows. Someday we’ll try to make an exhaustive list.

The idea is that after hearing the same component [or nearly the same component] in so many different rooms and systems, you learn to know what the component sounds like. Its character, its flaws, what it can do well.

Using this process, you can learn what most speakers and components sold in the U.S. really sound like.

You can also with a pretty good success rate, predict what your friends and colleagues systems sound like just by knowing which components they are using in them. 

They will often be some variation of a system you heard a couple of times in different rooms at different shows.

Anyone can do it.

It just takes some discipline and listening to a lot of rooms at a lot of shows.

This doesn’t work if you just visit the rooms talked about on forums [often just slightly above average sound]  or raved about by most reporters [often worse than average sound :-)]. You have to visits lots of different rooms, even those that insist on playing music that may not be your favorite genre. 🙂

Hope to see you all at the next show!



A DIY 30-amp 240 volt outlet for your monster amps

A DIY 30-amp 240 volt outlet for your monster amps

Along one’s travels through the universe of audiophilia, one comes across 30 amp 240 volt amplifiers every so often.

But what if you do not have a 240 volt outlet in your listening room?

What to do?

What to do.

Here in the U.S., many homes do have a weird-shaped 240 volt outlet like that seen below.



This is the type of outlet that electric dryers use.

It just so happens that in our home, the electric dryer outlet was originally in a small room off of the dining room, which is open to the living room where is our main listening room.


Currently, this small room, formerly the laundry room, is now the ‘closet of boxes’. This is where we store boxes to be used for shipping small things like cables and HRS Nimbus and Couplers.


So what I did was let Neli make a box that effectively converted weird-dryer-outlet to two ‘normal’ 240 volt outlets. [It is just so wonderfully ‘convenient’ to have a wife that just runs off and builds things like this :-)]


Where one end plugs into the dryer outlet…


And the 40 foot power cords to the amps snake across the dining room and into the living room, along the wall finally plugging into the amps.



The 40 foot power cables we used are from Kimber.



In particular the Kimber Kable PowerKord Model 10 power cords.




The cool little box that Neli built was an in-wall 4-gang box and a 2-gang cover from Home Depot. Two of the holes in the cover have no matching holes in the chassis.

After spending some time in this section and looking at all the options, it is our considered opinion that our Home Depot just carries a bunch of random parts, the majority of which are either redundant or incompatible with the other parts.





If I remember right, the red 240 volt outlets are hospital-grade which we got from Amazon for about $20




The other end of these 40 foot power cords is a rather blue socket. These are 30 amp IEC connectors.



This is what the inside of the business end of these 30 amp IEC connectors look like. The amps we used this with are just prototypes, and I am not sure if they still use these same sockets in the production models.