Sunday, 27 September 2015

New Headshells and Other News

Hello to everybody,

after a longer period of absence I am back here without the final two parts about the Leak TL 12.1 restoration parts planned. As already introduced, it was some sort of a experiment to do the restoration as remote project with somebody realizing the steps near Malmö in Sweden. Unfortunately I had now to cut this project since my partner Marcus is extremely unreliable and unsafe about the forthcoming of the project for such regulary entries. He was unable to show any forthcoming within the last months... So I have learned my lessons again, my reservations to be completely dependent from somebody came out to be even worse... I will not do such a experiment again!

Last step of transferred progression in Malmö with the Leaks, the soldering of the housings for the caps...

I will show complete replacement cap housings soon myself to finish this issue, since some people are interested to get such replacements sets for their Leaks TL12.1.

But now the audio season has already restarted. Any longer waiting can not be accepted, so I will  restart this blog with several good news and entries coming soon. One topic will be the introduction of a new headshell project. I want to find good replacements for the long time classic and favorite Ortofon headshells in A- and G-type form since almost all customers of my kit or arms are asking for them. I am planning to bring out a own type made from highly advanced materials with several aural benefits in a very similar style. Even the good things can be made better and vintage stock has got almost unobtainable. The original G-type shells are skyrocketing in price terms at Ebay through the last years, 200 to 300 EUR for even broken, incomplete or unmatching ones has got quite normal.
The run on idler wheel turntables has not only grown a worldwide hunt on such classic record players and tonearms, it creates as well a high demand for matching vintage accessories in style.
People which have read my reports about different materials of such all side closed headshell designs know, that I have already rejected wood for such a dedicated use with advanced audio preferences. A new designed G-type headshell needs to be made from materials with better matching attitudes than wood. I did make several tests with plastic injected molding procedures and composite casting materials. Materials which will match low edition production issues are not very useful in audio terms, these don't match the well known established qualities. The very lightweight compositions and are not solid enough to give heavy cartridges a necessary strong support in a heavy 12-inch armwand, nothing came out to be a real alternative to the thick wanded bakelite vintage types from Ortofon. But even Ortofon does not longer make such shells from injectable materials. Beside their classic metal types their production has shifted to pressed composition processes, using flakes of wood with coumpound materials.

Prototypes for molding models of the gypsum form made from synthetic materials and marble in a 1: 1,3 scale  together with all necessary parts for the finally produced  headshells.

I will try to find a highly improved replacement, matching all traditional design terms. They should look very similar, vintage and old school, but in technical and audible terms highly improve the classic types by far. First test show that porcelain is a exquisite material which might match all expectations. But further test are here still necessary.
I will introduce the classic G-type as complement to my SME 3012 MK1 heritage tonearms in a first step. Customers of such tonearms are looking for matching headshells in terms of historical, visual and technical perfection. Porcelain has always been used as technical advanced material like as electrical or heat isolator, it is water resistent and it is resistive against high pressure loads. So it can act as a favorite material to match all preferences for a ideal headshell with low compliance cartridges like the SPU or the Denon DL 103. Some Japanese companies have already introduced ceramic made headshells  in the 1970ties.

Ceramics are exceptional well matching materials in such terms, but there are other problems to come by in a small scale serial production. Actually I am working to find final solutions of the molded size, which will shrink in two steps after finally formed. The firing of the porcelaine and its glass coating will both have a massive influence to its shrinking size (values between 17 and 26 % are varying on used materials) and represent a increase of its density in verso. The temperatures  between 1200° and 1300° C degrees have a massive influence to the final baked density and so will the audible sound properties of the finalized shell shift with such different production values. There will be still some work to be coordinated till the best G-shell will be available.

Customized materials and staining for the customers in comparison to my own enclosures

During summer the production values for the TrueFi Tannoy dipole speaker have been evaluated. I did contact several carpenters, wood workers, boat designers and loudspeaker specialist in order find a solid reliable and reproducable production process for my speakers. Inquiries from interested customers make a adequate solution here necessary. For this reason several specialist have examined my own prototypes to find figures for a reproduceable serial production of small amounts. The result was of course as expected: too complicated, too much work, too much different materials and with "the biggest enemy of the carpenter – the curved wood*" a lot too complicated to be made in Germany to be paid its labour and material costs in a adequate way. * quote: Norbert Gütte
The good answer first, it got solved, the production is in process, the bad answer it is not cheap. If you see it as lifetime investment (and which commercial introduced audio product will be?) what they easily can be in terms of comparable value, they are still a bargain. These speakers might solve your loudspeaker question finally, which other type can do so. I only know a handful...

Raw new fronts made from solid mahogany layers
of solid wood
The first pairs will be finished soon and I will document some progressions and major changes comparing my own prototypes here. But they will be a lot better made in every respect. The first sets will get send out into the world soon, the first pair will be shipped to Australia.

Read on soon, Volker