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My ongoing projects - and my journey to the END GAME

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Hi everyone. I have just joined up here and thought I would start an overarching build thread of what I have done so far, and where I hope to end up (for some amount of time anyway¬†ūüėÜ)

So, from the beginning...

A while back, I was feeling nostalgic after listening to some Bing Crosby and the Andrew Sisters, and on a whim I bought myself this.



A front crank HMV-101 from around 1926. It played beautifully and came with some great records. I cleaned it up and played it non stop, until I ran out of needles... 

So I bought some needles. 

Then I thought, hey I have heaps of needles, I need more records, so I bought a tonne of records.

Then I thought, hey I have a tonne of records, why not buy myself more gramophones. And now I have 3!


It was while I was out looking for 78's, that I discovered more great records existed on Vinyl than on Shellac, so I thought... I better by a record player.


I looked for ages for something local to pop up, something old school cool, that was cheap and didn't need much love to get going, I have little experience with electronics. Eventually something popped up and I jumped at it.


A mid 70's Pioneer FD-3 Console setup. A 2x20w or 4x10w Quadraphonic system that I though would look great with my furniture. I went and checked it out, and although it was a bit sad, I picked it up for $100 and bought it home.




The cabinetry was great. Unfortunately the lights were out, it made practically no sound, and the platter was noisy and slipped when it spun. It couldn't play records, but the tuner came through between the cracks and pops at barely audible volume, so there was hope.


I spent the next week on google, and pulling things apart working out what was wrong. I took a trip to Jaycar and JB and came back with Deoxit, some fuses, some LED Lamps, a new cartridge and stylus, and ordered a new belt off ebay. I pulled the receiver out, gave it a blow out, replaced some bits and pieces, put the new belt and cartridge on the TT, put it back together and fired it up.  It sounded GREAT.  Radio was loud and clear, the records it came with played great, and it looked fantastic after a bit of a polish. I fired up some Roy and enjoyed the show. I felt satisfied, had learned a lot, and had spent a bit less than $200 in total to boot.





What would I do now I had finished my project?

I am sure you can all work it out...







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Guest Muon N'

Two vintage pieces in very nice condition :thumb:

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Naturally I decided after a few weeks that I needed a system for the back lounge room, and of course something that could play all my 78's which hadn't been getting much of a workout. I decided the best candidate would be an old multi speed radiogram so I took to Facebook marketplace and online classifies to find one. Plenty came and went but none took my fancy until a really tidy old AWA system popped up and I had to take it. The seller was very motivated to move it as he was leaving his house. I asked what he wanted for it and he said $80 and it came with all his records. He had some bangers, a few Beatles albums, Johnny Cash, The Easybeats, about 35 in total. What a score. I didn't know much about the system but didn't want to miss out so I rushed out to pick it up.


After some research I was able to learn it was a 1971 AWA 'Dimensional Sound' B83 Prospector model. It was the top of the range model when it was released. It is the '60w model' with 26w RMS and 3 speakers of different sizes each side, and has a good AM tuner. The 'dimensional sound' refers to 'contour' and 'presence' buttons which seem to be cross between EQ settings and a loud button, as seen in the old catalogs here.
s-l1600 (1).jpg s-l1600.jpg 
It is Very solid, well built, the turntable is a BSR but it works well and sounds great. I let the kids use this one as it's difficult to break, and the back lounge room is their play area. I love watching them dance to the good old albums we spin up.
Definitely a cool old piece, starts plenty of conversations. I have seen them sell several times from $650-$850 in stores in Australia so I got my moneys worth for sure.

This is where I decided I should just buy more records now as I had enough gear. Then plans changed a little.

Edited by MJ_Audio

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These two systems kept me pretty happy for a few weeks, although the idea of building a proper system of individual components was playing on my mind. I wanted to avoid rushing out and buying something just to keep up with the Jones's, and made an agreement with myself and my better half to only buy BARGAINS at thrift shops, garage sales, swaps etc. I decided I would start small, and buy/swap/sell my way to the ultimate system without costing me much, if any money.

I love a challenge, so sent about going picking. I turned down heaps of good gear that wasn't the right price/product ratio, and was looking for lots to tidy up and flip, or to build small systems to flip, in order to move me closer to my end goal, which I hadn't really decided on yet.

I missed some REALLY good deals, on amazing gear because I was too slow, though about it too much, held back a little too long, didn't have time between work to get the gear, you name it and it caused me to miss out on gear. 

That changed one day with ANOTHER trip to my local thrift shop, which had always shown up empty to this point. I walked in and spotted a pair of Technics speakers, looked okay, good condition 3 ways but a little too modern looking for me (maybe early 80's) they were probably a decent bit of kit, but I was more interested in the old school looking speakers they were stacked on top of.

I admittedly knew very little of speakers at this pint, and saw a fairly ugly little square plaque on the corner of the grill.."KEF, hmmm, never heard of them". 
They looked pretty nice so I asked for a price, the guy though on it for while and said "How about $20 for the pair".
Naturally I said yes, I had no idea what they were but $20 was not much to gamble with, so in the car they went.

I thought I'd wander the store and see if I could find any gear that may have driven these, sadly none turned up, but in the furniture section I saw two big (and in my opinion ugly ;)) speakers that looked like they were from a PA system or something. 

I thought 'Why Not' and asked for a price.
The guy thought again..."$60 for the pair sound okay"?
They had to be worth that in timber alone so I said yes and in the car they went.

When I got home I decided to check out my haul and do some research, and was blown away but what I had come away with!

A practically brand new pair of KEF 104AB's.

And a pair of very dirty B&W 801 Series 80's

I put them in the garage safe and sound and had a think about where to go from here. Sell the 801's to fund my entire system? Sell the 104's to fund an amp for the 801's.

I had some thinking to do and put it on the back burner until I took care of some other pressing work and family business.

Edited by MJ_Audio

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1 hour ago, Muon N' said:

Two vintage pieces in very nice condition :thumb:

Thanks, very nice pieces to look at and listen to.

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Those B&W speakers were a remarkable buy.


Base your system around these. You will need a very capable amplifier to drive them.

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16 hours ago, Telecine said:

Those B&W speakers were a remarkable buy.


Base your system around these. You will need a very capable amplifier to drive them.

I definitely haven't taken my luck there for granted. I have run them on a 20wpc SR810 and they work great but it definitely is ultra under-powered for actual use.  I am still deciding if I will build around the 104's or the 801's. Maybe one set for each lounge room.


I could survive on 50wpc for the 104's in the back lounge room which is smaller and has less space, they would blast that room at less than half volume. Even at half volume on 20wpc they were nice and loud to listen to. That wouldn't be too big of an outlay and would give me a lot of options for a restored amp.


The 801's would be happier with 100wpc which limits my options for vintage gear without big bucks, so may have to bite the bullet and go a bit more modern and more powerful. On my au555a at 25wpc the sound great but can't really stretch their legs and I wouldn't dare dial the volume up much. They function fine but would love more power.

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Some time after scoring the big speakers, I managed to pick up a very clean little system that had spent a while sitting around unloved. I was told It had power but only made extremely faint sound and I think the old owners had decided it was no good. I assume through the power of google they were still able to drive a hard bargain and I walked away with the components paying more than I would have liked, not that I wasn't happy. Sansui and Acoustic Research, even I knew these names and took a gamble.

I got home and hooked up some test speakers to the amp, the music was nice and clear, however you needed to have your ear on the speaker to hear it at 50% volume. I slowly went through and manipulated each knob and switch, no crackles, no pops, no crunchy sound, I started to worry I had a dud. Luckily the last switch, the tape monitor, saved the day. A nice slow flip and at the halfway position the speakers fired right up. Perfect. Gave everything a deoxit bath and let it sit while I checked out the speakers.

Grills came off (quite a mission it turned out) and the surrounds were fine, that's a good start. The cabinets were in great condition, everything else seemed okay so I decided they should be good to go. I hooked them up and gave them a bit of music. Nice and loud but very muddy and bass heavy, not a very good sound. 

I worried that it might be the amp so I hooked up the 104's, I am glad I did because this was the first time I had heard them. BEAUTIFUL, what a fantastic sound, I gave them a workout for half an hour and gave myself a break to enjoy them before jumping back in. Must be the speakers then. They have adjustment pots on the back so I gave them a wiggle and a spin from side to side, very crunchy (google said this was pretty normal) and they didn't seem to do a lot. Suddenly I hit the sweet spot and the sound totally changed. These speakers were amazing for small book shelf speakers. warm and rich mid's and very clear highs, with surprising bass. I was loving them. 

Here is a recent picture of them set up in an impromptu spot while I done some work in the area they are usually set up. (don't have access to my other pictures while posting this)

Sansui AU555A and Acoustic Research AR 4X. Great combo! 


They face a huge lounge and wall and are on a soft leather ottoman so don't sound the best here, but were still very nice when they got a play.
I have always really liked this system since putting it together and for a while that held me off moving to the big speakers, which were happy being safely tucked away in the garage. 

Of course, eventually I would need to upgrade again.

Edited by MJ_Audio

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Great read. 

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On 22/10/2019 at 8:04 AM, Telecine said:

Those B&W speakers were a remarkable buy.

Quite an¬†understatement ūüėÄ


What  a great find! Perfect basis to build a high quality system around. 

Edited by mkaramazov

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Quite a while since the last update. I have been under the pump with work and haven't been chasing gear too much! I have picked up a  few sweet records here and there but the good deals on gear have been few and far between.


I have spent a lot of time deliberating on what to do with my systems, and as I thought would happen, I have struggled to convince myself to let anything go. I had a lot of interest in the au555a/AR4X combo I had up for sale but no one turned up with $$$ in their hand so I have decided to keep them for now. obviously it was meant to be! The setup has a home in my front lounge room but my FD-3 is there too so I have decided that my mum will get that for Xmas as she keeps nagging me for a system and it's my least impressive. That will free up some space for me to put in a cabinet or unit to house the Sansui setup nicely. 

Now that I have a 'Small System' definitely in size anyway, I decided I still needed an amp/receiver for the 104's to use in my other living room. I also needed a TT.

I have an old Marantz SR810 Receiver and an SD1010 Casette deck in the garage that I need to move on (have been using them for testing) but I have no speakers currently for them and would like to sell as a functional system.


The other morning I decided to jump on FB Marketplace and have a look if anyone was selling up before xmas and saw something that got me interested so I sent them a message. It was a bunch off good looking gear, some well known brands at least, and only $200 for the lot!




I got very excited at forst thinking this may be one of the big 120wpc JVC monsters I had read about somewhere a while back but I couln't make out nay models names and asked for more pictures. I got this back.






A quick google showed me this was a decent deal. The Receiver wasn't what I thought it may have been, but it had good specs, and 45wpc would be perfect to run my 104's. The ad said it had to be picked up ASAP and I wouldn't be able to make it for a few days due to work (1hr trip each way) so I asked if there was something we could work out.


After a chat it turned out the sellers brother worked across the road from my work so I pounced on it and paid over paypal and he delivered it to me at work that night! It worked out great.


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After a night shift I had a few spare hours the next day so I decided to go through my bits and pieces I had picked up. Everything was in GREAT condition! A little dusty here and there but very well looked after. I decided to clean the receiver up first an give it a whirl with the SK44's that were included with it.


Externally it just needed  a wipe down with a damp cloth and it came up looking brand new. I pulled the perspex panel off and cleaned the inside of dust and it came up looking practically brand new. I decided to open it up for a look. It wasn't bad inside!




Not a lot of dust and no real nasties. I blew it out with some air and gave the switches and slides a hit from the back with deoxit and put it back together (I was too keen and did not get an after picture) Time to chuck the speakers on. They looked fantastic too, extremely clean inside and out. 


I ran some new wires for the speakers, put the laptop on through AUX and fired up some Chris Cornell Acoustic sessions. The sound was great, I didn't expect big things from the SK44's but they were actually very nice to listen too. Not in the same league as the au555a/AR4X combo but still great.


The receiver went perfect. Not a single crackle, pop, hiss, hum...NOTHING. Tuner works great, meters function properly, definitely got a good one here. I will be replacing the lights as they are a bit dim but other than that no dramas at all.


Right, time to hook up the 104's. 

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So...Finally time to get my 104's onto a decent receiver. I had been hanging out for this, they had been sitting in my garage for about 6 months begging to get used. Jazzed up a few new cables, hooked them up, and FINALLY let them sing. I Just ran the laptop through a cheap Aux cable playing HQ/Flac recordings off youtube, the speakers are completely original with un-restored crossovers.






I was genuinely blown away. I am new to this whole thing, but even I could tell how much better this sounded than 'other' systems I had listened too. I am starting to see why people chase particular gear and set ups trying to get what they think is the perfect sound profile.


A little biased of course, but this is by far the best sound I have ever personally heard, as I said though I am new to this hobby. The highs are crystal clear and the mid's and lows are punchy without being overwhelming or muddying everything else up. 

Vocals sound amazing and the music sounds like it has another dimension to it compared to listening to the same songs on other equipment. It even well outplayed the au555a/AR4X, and that is a GREAT combo. I haven't really put any though into speaker placement or room setup, so I imaging I can get this sounding even better. I will be looking at redoing the crossovers as well.


I thought paying $20 for these was a good deal BEFORE hearing them, I couldn't be happier!



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It has been a while without an update, I have been super busy with a new position at work and haven't had much time free to hunt for Audio gear.


I have seen a few sweet deals pop up here and there and made a few enquiries online but have failed to close a few deals due to distance and time constraints. The few trips into the wild I have I made have come back empty handed.


This morning I had to get the kids out of the house for an hour so the wife could set up a birthday party.

We took off in the car to get a coffee and happened by a garage sale I decided to stop at for a look.


Luck was definitely with me, I saw these peeking out from under a table and pounced on them...5 minutes after arriving they were in my boot and on the way home, and I was $5 poorer.




I didnt know exactly what they were, but the grills looked like my AR4x, they were heavy, and the terminals looked quality. There is also an unfaded rectangle of cloth on the corner of the grill that looks like where my AR4x badge is missing.


I deduced they were PROBABLY AR's and was excited to investigate further at home.







Lo and behold,  my suspicions were correct. A bit of googling told me these were AR3a's which by all accounts are a great speaker, and definitely a score at $5!!


I hooked them up and played some tunes, the 104ab's on the same receiver started getting nervous!


These are fantastic sounding speakers as is. On the floor they are very brassy, and the pots on the back need to be jiggled to perfection to get the speakers to become clear (there are two per speaker which is a pain) but when you hit the spot, man is it sweet.


Side by side with the 104's, very different, both are great but the ARs are a lot bassier. Mids and highs are still crisp but they sound like they would appreciate more power than the 104's need to sound amazing.


I will keep fiddling with the pots and get them up off the floor and see if I can get them sounding as best as possible before I decide which set is going to be the winner for now.


Maybe I need to keep hunting down that monster amp...

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