could never afford to purchase a Schroeder,
and The Woody is every bit as good. Every parameter you could want is easily adjustable; and it's so damn beautiful,
and so musical too."
- Ted Danowski
An Audio Diary
July 6, 2012
Listened last night to Grace Bumbry singing Carmen Jones, Heliodor HS-25046,
12" LP. Oh my goodness!!! Recommended. I'm so darned happy with the 12 inch Woody
and DL103 I'm playing here in the shop. The combo of this arm and cartridge, the deHavilland Chaffee Engineering Model
222 tape-head/phono amp, and the DEQX driven horn system, has me in complete delight, wanting for nothing more. I've used
a number of phono stages, including a Herron and a home improved version of the Jolida JD-9, neither of which is a slouch.
The Chaffee 222 blows the other phono stages I've heard out of the water. And it has enough gain to play moving coil
cartridges. This one-off prototype phono stage addition to the Model 222 Tape Head Amplifer is the only phono stage
Kara has implemented. I think folks should be beating down Kara's door to get her to offer a version of the Model
222 with the phono stage. For anyone who plays tape, having the phono stage added would be a super bonus. For anyone
playing vinyl, having the tape stage would be a super bonus. Kara Chaffee telephone: 360 891 6570. Kara Chaffee
July 6, 2012
Just yesterday took brass stock to my friendly local waterjet cutter to have him
cut out bearing retainers which will allow the string bearing cartridge of the Woody(tm) tonearms to be user removable
and replaceable. This is just one in a continuing series of subtle ongoing product improvements. The early Woody
tonearms work every bit as well as the current production models, but where we can improve our methods, we do.
Recently we modifed the Woody design to incorporate a brass anchor into the tail of the armwand so that we could use a machine
screw to mount the counterweight assembly. This is better practice than using a wood screw in end grain,
as was done in early Woody units.
|12" Woody(tm) Tonearm on Cain&Cain Plinth
July 8, 2012
Had a good day of music with friends Stephaen Harrell and Jeff Day. Stephaen reviews
equipment at 6moons.com. Jeff reviews equipment at Positive Feedback Online, and has a wonderful blog of his
own: http://jeffsplace.me/wordpress/ . For Jeff's take on the day, and some great images of the Pete Riggle Engineering and
Audio listening room, AKA "The Garden of Earthly Delights," go to Jeff's blog and check out the July 8
We started the day at The Garden of Earthly Delights. Jeff had not heard the large horn system
since it has been multiamped, crossed-over, and equalized using the DEQX PDC 2.6P Digital Calibration Processor. The
DEQX (pronounced dex) and multi-amping provide a huge improvement over what we had accomplished with a passive crossover system.
Part of the improvement is the simple fact of multi-amping, which reduces intermodulation distortion. Part of the improvement
is from the steep crossovers available in the digital domain. And part of the improvement is the detailed equalization
that is possible with the DEQX. I have not yet implemented the DEQX feature that allows each speaker driver to be optmized
for flat frequency response and uniform group delay before doing the room/system equalization.
on the ease provided by the all-horn system, and the great sense of space it provides. He also expressed amazement that
there seemed to be no trace of digital degradation from the DEQX digital processor. We listened mostly
to vinyl, because Jeff expressed interest in hearing the Kara Chaffee (deHavilland Electric Amplifier Company, KE Chaffee
Engineering) Model 222 Magnetic Tape Preamplifer, to which, on a one-off basis (just the unit I purchased from Kara) Kara
has added switchable equalization to allow the unit to do RIAA phono equalization as well as the NAB and IEC tape equalizations
that are standard with the unit.
I have to comment here on the negative bias many of us have, or had, regarding
digital signal processing. I certainly carried that bias prior to my direct experience with the DEQX unit. An
interesting point here is that Stephaen and I fell in love with the Cogent horn system played in Ron Welborne's room at
the first Rocky Mountain Audio Fest. We still remember kicking back in the darkened room, under the influence of a blues
singer and his guitar and harmonica, completely swept away by the beauty of the sound. The signal source was vinyl.
What we didn't know at the time, and learned later, is that we were listening to a multi-amped system crossed over
and equalized by a DEQX processor, the very unit that now resides in the Garden of Earthly delights. It was this Cogent
all-horn speaker system that caused Stephaen and I to design and build the Po' Boy all-horn system that makes the
Garden of Earthly Delights such a pleasure. I'll discuss the DEQX in more detail in a future post. I have read
posts by Kerry Brown, in San Francisco, commenting to DEQX disbelievers that they might want to come listen for
themselves. I also extend this offer.
In the afternoon Stephaen, Jeff, and I took our movable feast
to Jeff's place, bringing the Model 222 with us. Jeff's listening room is gorgeously appointed with Arts and
Crafts furnishings and Native American influenced art objects. We started listening with Jeff's system as he
has it currently configured: VPI table and arm, EMT phono cartridge, New Valve Order SPA-one Phono Equalizer (phono
stage), Leben line stage, Fi 300B monoblock power amps, and Tannoy Westminster speakers. Then we substituted
the KE Chaffee Engineering Model 222 tape/phono amplifer. Both phono stages sounded quite good. I sensed a great
deal of ease, openness, and relaxation from the Chaffee unit. Perhaps this is partly a result of the simplicity
of the Chaffee circuit, which uses only two valves and (I think) one capacitor in the signal path, and, I almost
forgot, one op amp at the input to the circuit which does away with the requirement for a step-up transformer. I certainly
enjoyed the music produced by Jeff's system. It is wonderful when an audio system reaches a level of ease that allows
the listener to get into the music, and forget the gear.
While we had the Model 222 in place, we swapped out power
cords to the Model 222, using various cords ranging in price from $99 to $1200. I'll identify only one of these,
the Furutech FP-320Ag, which happens to be the $99 cord. I thought it did a great job at a great price. This is
not to say that some of the expensive power cords were not absolutely lovely, and perhaps better than the Furutech cord.
Rather, I'm saying that I could certainly live with the Furutech FP-320Ag supplying the Model 222. Jeff sent me
home with the Furutech and another cord to spend a little time with.
|Po' Boy Horns in Garden of Earthly Delights
|"The Monster in the Attic," a 20 Hz, 29' Long Subhorn; Note mounted Racoon Room Treatment
July 19, 2012
Just a note here to
mention that the Woody tonearm design has been modified and tested to allow the string bearing assembly (we call it the Bearing
Capsule) to be replaced in the field, without sending the tonearm back to Pete Riggle. If ever a string bearing assembly
requires replacement as a result of shipping damage or any other event, the owner, original or otherwise, can notify
Pete Riggle, who will send a new Bearing Capsule in exchange for the old capsule. The modification to the original design
is simple, and can be easily retrofitted to the original design. Contact Pete at 409 582 4548, or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org, if you have questions or concerns.
July 19, 2012
I've been listening a lot to vinyl,
much of which is 30 to 50 years old. Some of this stuff is out of date, but still satisfying to my antique and eclectic
musical taste. Some of these records I owned myself 50 years ago. Some are from collections of friends.
Some are thrift shop and yard sale items. A bunch of classical organ records came from the estate of a wonderful man
now known as the "Anonymous Organ Donor." A few are recent productions. What I have to report back from the
front lines is that vinyl, even old vinyl, is very, very good. Out our way we live in a desert environment, which
tends to be dusty. We fight the dust, but it is ever present. So it is always surprising to me
when I remove a record from its jacket (there may not even be a sleeve present), dust it with airflow from my Simco Aerostat
(a secret weapon available used for $15 to $75 on ebay), and drop the stylus in the groove. I don't even own a wet
cleaner, but would need it on only a small percentage of the records. Part of my satisfaction is attributable to a nicely
balanced audio system. The DEQX and a desirable selection of amplifiers and tubes have done wonders for the
Po' Boy horns. But a lot of this is the contribution of the Woody, with a simple unadorned Denon DL103, and
Kara's Chaffee's Model 222 tape stage with the phono stage added. I first became aware of the Model 222 when
Kara played tape through it. I bought the 222 just for tape playback, but then got Kara to add the phono stage. The
Model 222 is remarkable with both tape and phono. When I asked Kara to add phono to the EQ (a relatively small change
from the tape EQ circuit) I didn't realize just how very well it would all turn out. And, good news, Kara seems to
be getting serious about making the phono stage into a product. One can visualize options: 1) phono stage, 2) tape
stage, 3) combined phono/tape stage.
|Chaffee Engineering Model 222 Tape/Phono Stage
July 21, 2012
Back around 1979 old friend Bill Van Winkle
purchased a pair of IMF monitors. These are in a family of speakers developed and built in the UK and marketed in the
US by Irving M Fried. These speakers use a version of the original Bailey bass transmission line, with a KEF B139
woofer and a KEF B110 midrange. Also present are a dome tweeter, I believe from Celestion, and a supertweeter from
I'll probably get this wrong, but as I understand it, Fried took a pair of developmental
speakers to a consumer electronics show and walked away with about 500 orders, causing quite a bit of consternation back in
the UK where the originators had no idea how to respond to this kind of acceptance. At the time I really loved these
speakers, with a caveat that they did not seem to image very well, possibly due to the fact that the supertweeter was
out of vertical alignment with the midrange and tweeter.
Fast forward to about a year ago. Bill's
IMF speakers were out in his garage gathering dust, so he handed them off to his old friend Ron Barbee, who is pretty
much an unparalleled technical whiz, a constant amazement to the rest of us. Ron did some work to lower the
crossover point between the woofer and midrange, and had them playing when Portland/Vancouver friends Kara Chaffee and Harry
Zweben came to visit. Kara took an immediate liking to what the transmission lines do, and has since switched
to transmission line bass for the monitors she uses in amplifier development.
Subsequently Harry purchased a pair
of IMF TLS80 II speakers offered on Craigs List. Kara and Harry outfitted these speakers with a pair of Kara's
favorite tweeters, the Hiqufon OW1, and disconnected the supertweeter which was no longer needed. I then sold
Harry a Quad 606 solid state power amp, which really made these speakers sing. I'm generally a tube guy, but the
Quad 606 can be marvelous with the right speakers. My reaction, and that of others who heard the Frieds with the Quad
in Harry's listening room, was that this combination of amp and speaker is extremely musical. Subsequently, I bought
the Quad 606 and the IMF speakers from Harry. That is how incestuous audio gets with these friends.
I'm listening to the combination of the modified IMF speakers and the Quad 606 power amp. I have to say
to the world, that this is one magical combination. The tonality is marvelous, and the imaging problem mentioned
earlier went away with the Hiqufon tweeter and elimination of the supertweeter. The Hiqufon OW1 is one delicious tweeter.
This setup is a nice complement to the Po' Boy horns and the Beveridge Model 2SW electrostats in the Garden of Earthly
Delights, providing an excellent set of direct radiators to round out the electrostats and horns. For someone who wants
a top notch pair of direct radiator speakers and a robust reliable solid state amp, this combination would be hard to
beat. Expect to pay about $500 for a nice used pair of IMF Monitors, about $250 for a pair of the Hiqufon OW1 tweeters,
and about $650 for a Quad 606. These speakers work well in a large room, well away from the walls. In a small
room they may be boomy.
|Po Boy Horns, Beveridge Electrostats, and IMF Direct Radiators in Garden of Earthly Delights
July 24, 2012
Some further comments are in order regarding on the IMF TRS 80 II speakers with the Quad 606 solid state amp:
It is important to emphasize that the bass on these speakers in some ways leaves something to be desired.
The bass driver working with the Bailey transmission line is a KEF B139. This is the KEF "racetrack"
configuration. As I understand it from others that know this driver well, the B139 can be a little mushy on certain
bass passages. And this sometimes shows up, but objectionably only on certain passages. A kick drum does
not elicit the desired transient response. Other drums and percussion are typically super wonderful.
It seems the driver loves to do legato bass, but sometimes muffs the job on stacato bass. It is my understanding that
the problem here, to the extent that there is one, lies in the KEF B139, not the transmission line. In the Garden
of Earthy Delights the bass extends way low, and is robust, Rubenesque, and musical. Quite lovely on
most material. I acquired a used pair of B&W No. 250 woofers that I might be able to squeeze into the transmission
line cabinets, and hope to give these a try, as they have a great reputation. But my best guess is that whatever failings
the B139 drivers have, we will probably lose more than we gain if we swap them out. All in all, I'm quite favorably
impressed with the IMF speakers driven by the quad amp. Not quite as amazing as the Po' Boy horns, but a wonderfully
musical system that may be found, used of course, for $1400 plus shipping. Once again, don't put these in a small
or boomy room.
July 24, 2012
Here is a nice testimonial that came
in today regarding installation of the VTAF on the Systemdek IIX table:
Pete Here are two pictures. The VTAF is fantastic!!! Installation on the Systemdek IIX was tricky because
of the arm board mounting holes. I love it!! Thank you. David Buckwalter
|VTAF on Systemdek IIX
|VTAF on Systemdek IIX
August 22, 2012:
Last weekend I had an opportunity
to hear Kara Chaffee's monitor audio system. Kara is the sole proprietor of de Havilland Electric Amplifer Company,
and Chaffee Engineering. The system I heard is the system Kara uses to listen into what is going
on in the amplifer products she develops. The system I heard had Kara's Ultraverve preamp, her 50A power amplifers,
interconnects by Joe Cohen, and Kara's modification of Cambridge Audio transmission line loudspeakers. While textbooks
on the subject (for example Martin Colloms' High Performance Loudspeakers) suggest that you can get the same
performance from a sealed box speaker as from a transmission line (and with less volume for the sealed box), the practical
experience of others, including myself, contradicts this suggestion. Kara has modified the Cambridge loudspeakers by
eliminating the supertweeter, replacing the tweeters with the Hiqufon OW1 units, replacing the KEF B210 full range mid drivers
with KEF B210 midrange mid drivers, and replacing the problematic KEF B139 woofers with 8 inch woofers taken from a Harbeth
product. I have probably never heard more beautifully relaxed inner detail from any system. At even low volumes
every nuance seemed to be graciously revealed. The credit for this goes to Kara's remarkable knowledge of amplifer
design (she can make any amplifer sound better), to Kara's knowledge of the various British loudspeaker drivers (the Brits
do know a lot about loudspeaker design), and to Kara's recognition that a direct radiator speaker intended for a small
to moderate sized room should have transmission line bass, with a tweeter, a midrange, and a smallish woofer crossed
over pretty low. Also, unlike the IMF monitors, the drivers should be arranged in a vertical line. Also, we have
to give credit to the Fisher folks who developed the original 50A, and to Kara's recognition on hearing a Fisher 50A,
that this amplifer topology is something special, worthy of being resurrected in the Chaffee Engineering version of the
September 7, 2012
See an image below of VTAF on a Clearaudio
Concept Table with the Clearaudio Verify arm and Ortofon 2M Black cartridge. I outfitted the arm and table with the
VTAF. While fitting the VTAF to a separately sold Verify arm is straightforward, there is too much labor and risk in
this modification of the Concept table for me to recommend it to others.
The Verify arm is an interesting
device, using a string and magnet bearing system something like used by Frank Schroeder in his tonearms. An interesting
difference between the Schroeder design and the Verify design is that, whereas the Schroeder arm has the string above
the armwand, with the magnet below, the situation is reversed in the Verify arm. In the Verify arm the magnet force
carries the entire weight of the tonearm wand system, and also provides additional force to provide tension for
the bearing string. As I understand it, the concept used in the Verify arm was implemented by someone in Japan in the
nineteen eighties. It is interesting the Frank Schroeder obtained a patent on a configuration so obviously related to
the one used by the Verify arm. There are undoubtedly nuances in how the designs are implemented. Said nuances
may be relevent to Herr Schroeder's patent. I did notice with the Verify arm that there is a somewhat undamped low
frequency resonance of the tonearm mass against the radial stiffness of the baearing.
Comparing the behaviour of
the Verify magnetic bearing with the behaviour of the Stringtheory(tm) bearing used in the Woody(tm) tonearms was interesting.
I noticed that the Stringtheory bearing is substantially stiffer radially than the Verify bearing. Using the Concept
table with a Woody tonearm and a Denon 103 cartridge provided a quite more musical result than using the Verify arm with
the same cartridge. The Concept table, though lightly constructed, turned in a lovely performance with the Woody tonearm
and the Denon DL103 cartridge. The Ortofon 2M black cartridge was brand new, lacking the benefit of break-in.
It was not possible to make a fair assesment of the 2M cartridge.
|Clearaudio Concept Table with Verify arm and VTAF; Prototype Beater Woody Tonearm
September 24, 2012:
Kendall Clark, an audiophile from
the Washington DC area, commissioned me to build for him a 14 inch Woody(tm) tonearm and a 12 inch Woody tonearm.
The 14 inch Woody is new to the Woody product line. Kendall also had me install a VTAF on a new Jelco SA750-L
12 inch tonearm, and build wood mounting blocks allowing the Woody arms and the Jelco arm to be easily mounted off the
deck of his newly acquired Analog Engineering (Mike Paschetto) Empire turntable, a real beauty.
Today I played all three of Kendall's arms here in the shop. I used a simplifed and verstatile new tonearm
mounting system that I think will be found useful by a lot of people. The image below shows the 14 inch Woody tonearm
and the 12 inch Jelco tonearm, both mounted on simple wood blocks. The wood blocks are mounted to an isolation board
using four dabs of Uhu Tac per block. Blu-Tac or alternative adhesive putty products would work as well. The wood
block for the Jelco arm is drilled from the top to accept the VTAF Bronze Bushing used to mount the VTAF and the Woody
tonearms, and from the back to accept the right angled DIN connector used by the Jelco arms. The cartridge used today
was a simple old fashioned Denon DL103, which is an inexpensive, lovely, and forgiving cartridge, and my favorite to
date. I prefer this $200 cartridge to the Koetsu Black, which is priced somewhere in the $1800 range.
|14" Woody and 12" Jelco on Analog Engineering Empire Table with Sticky Putty Block Mount
The turntable used today is the AE-2008, an Empire 208
table refurbished and enhanced with a solid 3/4" thick aluminum top plate by Mike Paschetto of Analog Engineering.
Kudos to Mike. This is a wonderful sounding table. I first heard this table in Jeff Day's listening room,
and thought it was excellent. Today's listening session has reinforced the earlier observation, and taken the Paschetto
version of the Empire table even higher in my esteem. You may read Jeff Day's review of the Paschetto AE-2008 table
at the following link:
OK. Let's cut to the chase. The Analog Engineering table and the 14 inch Woody have taken the
sound in the Pete Riggle Engineering and Audio listening room (known locally as the Garden of Earthly Delights) to a new reference
level. This is somewhat surprising to me, because I have been exceedingly happy lately with the musicality of the current
system and room. Credit for the improvement seems to be attributable to the Analog Engineering table outperforming the
resident Thorens TD124. And, in an outcome I did not expect, the 14 inch Woody seemed to my ears to have a slight performance
edge relative to the 12 inch Woody, across the sonic spectrum. Perhaps this is just an overactive imagination on
my part. I'll be interested in verification by my esteemed listening panel when the opportunity presents itself,
and by Kendall, when he has had a chance to compare the 14" and 12" Woody arms. The opportunity to hear
another 14" Woody here in the Garden of Earthly Delights may be a slow train coming, because the 14 inch Woody ships
tomorrow. Both the 14 inch and the 12 inch Woody arms make utterly gorgeous music, in my opinion, and do it with
the affordable Denon DL103 (check low Denon cartridge prices at comet.supply.com).
And how about the Jelco arm
with the VTAF and the Denon DL103? Excellent arm for the money. Not quite as transparent when compared with the
14 inch and 12 inch Woody arms. Perhaps with the right cartridge.
That is the news for the day from "Out
Our Way." One more image below, showing both the 14 inch and the 12 inch Woody arms mounted using the Sticky Putty
Block Method. No cartridges or finger lifts in this image. The images shown here today do not do justice to the
finish of the wood tonearms. And some day I will do a nice finish on that beat up old cutting board used today as an
|14" Woody and 12" Woody with Analog Engineering Empire Table
November 26, 2012:
Carpentry is nearly complete on a
plinth I am building for the Garrard 301. See attached image. Next I'll do one for a Bogen branded Lenco
(Bogen Model B61). Finally I'll do one for the Thorens
TD124 now in use in the listening room. I'll
use comparable materials and construction for each of the three plinths. This will allow comparison of the tables on
Interestingly, a Bogen B61 table is the first non-changer table I owned (Circa 1960).
I had no idea what I was discarding when I sold it. Ah, foolish youth.
I like the plinth design and construction I am using. Like many others, I glued rectangular layers
of 3/4 inch birch plywood (with appropriate cutiouts) and and then sawed them into a perfect rectangle on the table saw.
To hide the laminations the four sides were cased using plywood from the same sheet, resawn on the table saw into
two 5/16" thick layers. Recesses with a cross section 5/16 inch square were left at the four sides of the
top, the four sides of the bottom, and the four corners. Into these recesses will be glued solid birch trim strips.
Finally the plinth will sanded smooth with an orbtal palm sander, with grits ending up at about 3000 grit, and then French
polished. To avoid the hassle of clamps slipping while glueing the layers, I added layers, one at a time, the second
layer to the first, etc., with a pneumatic brad nailer, allowing an hour or so of glue setting between successive layers.
Hand nailing with finish nails would work as well. I spaced the nails in a square matrix about 2 inches apart. Now that
I think about it, one could use just a few nails (as few as two) and use multiple clamps and cauls. For me nailing is
Tonearm mounting will be with a separate rectangular block plinth for each tonearm, as discussed
in an earlier entry, said tonearm block plinth secured with tacky putty at the side to the turntable plinth, and/or at the
bottom to the shelf or isolation board which supports the turntable. This is a really simple system that makes it easy
to adjust the tonearm or swap tonearms between tables.
For mounting spikes I purchased four each 1/4 inch
brass screws, removed the heads, and brought one end of each to a point using a band sander and finishing
with 220 grit in the drill press. Cost of the hardware for the mounting spikes was about $10. Near the pointed
end of each screw a brass nut is fixed with Locktite Red 271 thread locker, providing something to grip when adjusting the
screw. These screws will be threaded into metal inserts at each corner of the plinth bottom, with another brass nut
to serve as a lock nut after leveling the plinth. I prefer four feet to three.
For the Garrard
plinth I used 7 layers of plywood. the top two layers were cut out using the pattern recommended in the Garrard
301 Manual. The next four layers have a much smaller cutout, just enough to clear the motor assembly. The bottom
layer has no openings. I will use the captive power cord that came with the Garrard. A small hole at the rear
of the plinth will allow the cord to exit the plinth. It will be necessary to remove and reinstall the plug. It
turns out that a plinth with a removable power cord is a bit more of a hassle than one might imagine. I'd rather
remove and replace the plug, than unsolder wires from a receptacle, and deal with a length of wire inside the plinth.
It will be a lot of fun to compare the Thorens TD124 with the Garrard 301 and the Lenco. I've heard the Thorens
and the Garrard in recent years. The Thorens (modified to eliminate ringing of the aluminum top hat over the cast iron
platen) has a very smooth, polite, and refined presentation. The Garrard has DRIVE, and knows how to boogie.
It will be interesting to find out which of these tables is preferable, and to whom, and on what music.
|Plinth In Work for Garrard 301 Turntable