Turned Japanese - system tweaks and DIY projects

Discussion in 'Members' Systems' started by bjlefebvre, Nov 3, 2016.

  1. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I keep meaning to add a thread on my evolving system but never got around to it. But I was just sitting on the sofa, listening to some Horace Silver, and it hit me - my system has turned almost completely Japanese in the nearly three years I've been living here.

    Started out with a Pro-Ject Debut Carbon/ Ortofon 2M Blue plugged into a Tivoli Model 2 w/ subwoofer when I moved here. Eventually ditched the Tivoli for a Yamaha A-S501 and a pair of Dali Zensors1.

    Then I discovered Yahoo Auction Japan. Holy crap. I sold the Pro-Ject and Tivoli stuff (most of it at break-even level) and started buying Japanese gear.

    Fast forward 18 months and it's a Yamaha A-S801 (Yahoo Auction), Denon semi-automatic table (Yahoo Auction), Denon 103s (Yahoo Auction) put into aftermarket bodies (USA!) going through a Denon SUT (Yahoo Auction) and into Yamaha NS-690 speakers (Yahoo Auction). The tuner was $20 at a recycle shop. The only thing that isn't Japanese in my system now is the Chromecast Audio and the Empire carts I occasionally use.

    I guess I know what the Japanese sound is. Strangely, I don't have any info on what a good Japanese phono amp might be. I'm getting ready to pull the trigger on a Parks Audio Budgie.

    We're planning on heading back to the States next year. I was halfway thinking of trading all this stuff in and using the money for a Rogue Audio amp and VPI turntable - maybe try to go All American, just for the hell of it. I don't know - kind of liking these 690s.....

    PSX_20161103_204721.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2016
  2. Rome

    Rome Holsum Honey Buns Subscriber

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    Nice!

    Rome
     
  3. 4-2-7

    4-2-7 Smart Ass Sponsor Subscriber

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    I started a thread like that, been meaning to continue it as I never got to where I am in the progression.

    The Evolution and Progression of Members Systems
    http://audiokarma.org/forums/index....on-and-progression-of-members-systems.720842/
     
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  4. Dr. Jackson

    Dr. Jackson Member

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    Been using the Parks Audio Budgie for a few years now, I love it. Bang for the buck I can't imagine anything this capable in the price range that even competes, and tube rolling is interesting to change the sound in subtle ways.

    Funny how I've subconsciously Gone Japanese also (mostly). I've always been a fan of the transparency of Yamaha receivers, but until I picked up the Yamaha PX-3 and a Denon DL-110 cartridge, I never went full-blown Japanese. I guess it was inevitable since the first upgrade to my previous system (Rega RP1) was a Nagaoka MP-110 which was nice and warm. I'm a believer in value proposition and Japanese components are big on delivering for the money. Still, raise my budget by a magnitude of 10 and I may start looking more local. Who doesn't want a sexy McIntosh rack?
     
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  5. Dr. Jackson

    Dr. Jackson Member

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    Oh, one last thing. If you're all over Yahoo Japan Auctions, start buying and refurbing all the Yamaha PX turntables, as long as they're parts complete (dust cover, headshell, hinges). I see them so cheap and they are worth a fortune everywhere else. The PX1 could buy you a used car, if they ever turn up.
     
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  6. Ohighway

    Ohighway Wannabe Minimalist Subscriber

    I mostly equate Japanese audio equipment with quality so I'd say..... well done ! Keep it and enjoy !!
     
  7. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Buying I can do. Refurbing - not so much. I like the idea of flipping some gear. I've done so already with some used cartridges. But turntables and amps I'm kind of wary of, just for the shipping factor - shipping rates went up here recently and that may scare possible buyers away. I did one AK guy a favor earlier this year and bought and shipped an amp for him, but shipping along - LAND shipping, which took about six weeks to reach him - took an extra $150, IIRC. Amps would at least be easy to pack, but packing turntables is a hassle enough without taking international distances into account.

    I see a PX1 right now on Yahoo Auction for ~$3,600. Wow.
     
  8. thomo57

    thomo57 Super Member

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  9. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

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    It must give you the Vapors , I do declare .
     
  10. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Do you know hard it is to get a mint julep here? Or even a halfway decent Mojito? Makes me miss Houston sometimes.
     
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  11. zebra03

    zebra03 All Audio - NO BS

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    haha . That was the only way I could work Vapors in to the conversation .
     
  12. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    But...but...but..starved plates! :p
     
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  13. Dr. Jackson

    Dr. Jackson Member

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    Yeah, shipping is ridiculous from Japan, which turns a stellar deal into an "oh I guess I'll wait for one to turn up locally" situation. You'd think someone would throw a few packages in the shipping containers cars and other things use. China manages to get iPhones out for $5 a pop. I guess fuel or something is expensive over there.

    I think you alluded to returning to the US at some point, and that would be an opportunity to bring some tables. Packing is a hassle, especially with fragile dust covers.
     
  14. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    I always read that living spaces in Japan are on average smaller than here in the states. Wondering how much your listening space will change
     
  15. lightcapture

    lightcapture Active Member

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    superb
     
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  16. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The living spaces are definitely small here, especially in the cities. My in-laws have a house that's much closer to US-specs but that's waaaaaay out in the countryside. In the US, I'm sure I'll have a little more space to play with speaker placement, but not too much more. I doubt we'll be getting a mansion of any sort.
     
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  17. asilker

    asilker Bible Reader Subscriber

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    Sometimes the difference between a small space and a really small space... Is a big difference
     
  18. Quadman2

    Quadman2 Super Member

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    In the very beginning a lot of us started with the stuff that came from that part of the world was not that great, but as time moved on, so did the quality of Japanese equipment.

    I remember that some of my stuff was so low powered with the rest of the specs that went with that type of gear.

    But, as in most cases, their stuff progressed and quality followed. Check out some of the forum dedicated to the various brands to see what both budget and taste allows you to garner.

    Q2
     
  19. bjlefebvre

    bjlefebvre AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Well, six months and one return move to the US later, It's now a firmly bi-national system. Had to get rid of the Japanese-made Trio tuner that I loved (incompatible radio bands), but picked up a Mitsubishi tuner that sounds nearly as good - not quite as warm as the Trio, but much better at locking in a station.
    Also swapped out the Denon DP-50L turntable for a used VPI Scout. The Denon was good, but direct drives always make me a little nervous. I can fix/replace belts and motors, but once it gets to malfunctioning chips, I'm at a loss. Put my old Grado Black/8MZ cart on it.
    Still have the Budgie phono amp and the Yamaha A-S801 integrated. Both are superb. I occasionally toy with the idea of trying a different integrated - maybe a Rogue Sphinx - but the in-unit DAC on the Yamaha is just too nice to treat lightly.
    I thought briefly about swapping out the Yamaha NS-690 speakers I have just for giggles. I auditioned some Tekton Mini-Lores and had two nights of speaker shoot outs in my system. The Tektons were great - if I had to buy a new set of speakers, it'd probably be those- but I really like the the 690's neutrality and open high end. Every other speaker I've tried so far sounds boxed in at the top in comparison. So now just looking for some speaker stands for the 690s.
    Finally, made a switch/summing box so my mono records can get mono output.

    We're in a rental apartment right now. Otherwise the TV would be on the wall and I'd have more breathing room for the separates. Will probably move into a larger place once we get a better lay of the land.

    PSX_20170415_105229.jpg IMG_20170408_085442665_TOP.jpg
     
  20. Dr. Jackson

    Dr. Jackson Member

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    I have two tvs mounted to the walls of my apartment. You may want to find out the rules, rental doesn't necessarily mean you can't hang pictures or televisions. You just need a dab of spackle and a spot of paint on the way out.

    Also, Budgie preamp owner here too. I went from the factory tubes to JJ Golds and have settled on some very loud and warm JAN Philips tubes. They're a great match for the high output mc Denon DL110, easily adding probably 30% to the volume vs the JJ Golds.
     

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