Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Retro Tech -letting out the inner anorack

Or what I did at the weekend. Time for a break from, angularjs, elasticsearch and the rest, time to play with the HiFi. When I was a yoof, back in the Jurassic, we would obsess over getting the best sound from our LPs, spending ridiculous amounts of time (and money) over the biggest and most accurate soundscape. My daughter on the other hand now seems happy with playing stuff using her phone speaker, and that sounds worse than a 70s trannie, oops tranny.

Decca Kelly Ribbon Tweeters

So, back to the future, clearing out my lockup I disinterred my old Mordaunt Short 700 speakers. I bought these from a junk shop in the 80s as the tweeters were shot and I thought I could fix them. Not just any tweeters though, these were Decca Kelly Ribbon Tweeters, high end hen's teeth. Fortunately there is a nice man, called Howard Dawson who makes spares for these things, and indeed his own ribbon tweeters, a new pair of ribbons were fitted and we were off to the races.

Back then I thought they sounded excellent, there was only one drawback, they aren't small you could use them as coffins; like the man said 'there ain't no substitute for cubes'. So into the lockup they went, coming out for the odd outdoor party, and I ended up with a pair of KEF 104s good speakers, discreet (for HiFi speakers) better than any boombox going. But then the lockup had to be cleared, and we have a bigger house...
Gruesome Twosome

Time to see which ones I want to keep! The obvious thing to do was an old-style A/B test on the two of them, pick a few CDs play a track on one pair of speakers, switch over, play it on the other, see who wins. So  4 CDs  :
The idea was to get a mix of instrumental and vocal, acoustic and electronic , over a range of styles .

Who won?

The Mordaunt Shorts obviously, I wanted them to win :) To be fair I think they really did win, the bass on the KEFs are comparable to the MSs, surprising for such a small box -but then MS paired KEF units with Decca Horns in the later version.  But the treble on the 700s, driven by those tweeters, is just brilliant (although not too brilliant), you hear so much more; some fingerpicking I hadn't noticed on 'Rumour and Sigh', the girl on 'Choke' sounding like she's on fast forward, and the flute and the harp on Mozart and the acoustic instruments on Kevin's CD all sound that bit more real.

Anyone want a pair of Kef 104s? Nicer than many speakers you will find today, just not as good as something ten years older (which was probably in a much higher price bracket).

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