Thursday, 16 July 2009

Quad Amplifiers

Should have written this yesterday but have been too “busy” listening to them to write about them.

I bought this pair in 1983 using some of my tax free earnings from my year in the deserts of Kuwait in '82; a friend had owned the previous models for over eight years and I had always liked their neutral sound.

These went very well with my Celestion Ditton 442 speakers and were a good match with my Linn turntable, the other design feature that I really approved of was their design which lends itself to very easy servicing. The input channels on the pre-amp are like PC expansion cards and the power amp was designed with maintenance in mind.

They went u/s while I was living in Scotland a couple of years ago and I had kept putting off getting them repaired but while I am on a couple of weeks leave I decided to get them fixed. Rang up the service centre in Huntingdon (where they were made) and was told that for a £20 fee on top they could do a same day service and that they opened at 07:30.

I arrived and booked them in at 08:20 and they said that they would give me a call when they were ready to collect, drove into town and mooched around finding a good looking old church (St Marys if the street name reflected the church) and a pub that served a really good pint of Youngs bitter at lunchtime.

Got a call at 13:20 that they were good to go and I was back home by 15:30 and they were powered up 10 mins later sounding really sweet.

I paid around £520 for them in '83 which is around £2,000 to £2,500 in todays terms – chicken feed compared with what the nephews have spent on amplification in the last 10 to 15 years. They have always blamed my system for “inspiring” them to go out and spend shed loads of cash to get the best sound that they could find – I have always maintained that I was not striving for perfection, just a sound quality that I liked and suited the variety of sounds that get played.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

MP3 Player

Last week I took delivery of a 8Gb Zen Creative which my friend D had kindly preloaded with 92 albums for me from his collection and having put on 16 myself I still have 2Gb left and if I really wanted loads more I could add an 8GB SD memory card.

This was purchased to supply some sounds in my “farmers” car via a Sony cassette adaptor that D no longer needs. Today it came into its own as I had a 200 mile round trip to perform to get my 25+ years old pre-amp and power amp serviced.

Selected one of the playlists I had created and thoroughly enjoyed the sounds of Jimi Hendrix (Electric Ladyland), Neil Young & Crazy Horse (Live Rust), Radiohead (OK Computer) and Lou Reed (New York).

Trip was successful and the amps sound even better than I remembered, but more on that tomorrow.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Jeff Beck at the Royal Albert Hall

Had a phone call from the finest guitar player that I know personally on Thursday night asking if I would be interested in going to see Jeff Beck on Saturday night as he had a spare ticket. Are bears Catholic etc?

Transport in from West London was a nightmare as the tube line was shut for engineering works but we caught a cab and made it there with plenty of time to spare. It was his first time at the venue and he was impressed by the building and view from the bar, I had been there once before in '83 and had seen Jeff on that night as well along with a very interesting line up which will make another post.

It was very hot and humid inside but once the music started we forgot all about that, damn fine gig from a group of very fine musicians and the bass player deserves a special mention Tal Wilkenfeld who is only 23 but you would never guess that from her playing.

The show passed by very quickly and all too soon came to an end and when they came back for the encore they were joined by Dave Gilmour; some cove in the audience sitting much closer caught it on video.

We came out into the cool of the evening and after a restoring pint of Fullers London Pride set off on the long trek home, caught a bus to Hammersmith and found that the tube was still out. Missed a replacement bus service by 20 seconds and so ended up on the last bus to Ealing with a bunch of other people.

A big hello to the 3 “happy” and loquacious drunks who were sitting behind the 2 happy Scotsmen – you provided an amusing backdrop to the seemingly interminable bus journey around West London tube stations. Reached his place around 01:00 and then sat up for another 2 hours chatting and viewing part of his guitar collection.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

BMW 325i

Last Sunday morning D arrived at my place not long after nine and we set off to drive round the M25 for the second time in 2 days and had a pretty uneventful trip to Orpington – no aircraft to see apart from the usual commercial stuff. With wallet in hand this time he completed the deal and prepared to head off in his second hand Mazda 6 (complete with climate control and an mp3 jack on the sound system).

Meanwhile I was preparing for a trip down memory lane as I had not driven a 325 for 15 years; I bought one of the first ones imported into the UK back in '85 kitted out to my specification with metallic dark green paint and the optional ABS system. This was one fine car to drive with it's gorgeous 6 cylinder 2.5 litre engine delivering the power to the rear wheels as the gods of motoring intended all good handling cars to do.

Over the next nine years we clocked up 145,000 miles and I had a lot of fun driving it, especially on the roads in the Highlands but not in the winter – it was a pig to drive in snow unless the boot was packed with heavy stuff.

One Sunday morning in July '94 I got up came down the stairs and opened the kitchen curtains at the back of my house and there was an empty space where my car should have been resting. Never saw it again and in December of that year I acquired a two year old “farmer's car” that has been my ride since then.

First thing that struck me leaving the garage was how weird the accelerator felt as it is a full size one hinged on the floor, after stalling it on the first attempt to leave I slowly readjusted. The trip back went well initially until we hit a jam one junction before we were due to leave the M25 and were stuck for 20 minutes; at least I had D's mp3 player hooked up to his sound system via a device inserted into the cassette player.

It was only when I hit the last 5 miles of B roads that I was able to open her up and have a play – creating a large gap to the car in front before flooring it in 3rd and listening to the engine sing as the revs passed the 4000 mark.

Still a pretty looking car even after 20 years but underneath the skin there is over £1,000 worth of welding to be done to get it through it's MOT next month so sadly she has to go – brought a huge grin to may face though.