Sotosound

RUSSELL K IN THE HOUSE – IN MORE WAYS THAN ONE

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I’ve just pulled the trigger and ordered some Russell K Red 150s.

Here’s the thread that documents my journey.

https://hifiwigwam.com/forum/topic/126333-which-way-to-jump-on-replacing-digital-sources-and-speakers/

The decision-making process was looooong and draaaaaawn out and that my final worry was that the audition pair didn’t seem to want to boogie. I did finally manage to get them to boogie to some extent at very high volume Saturday before last, but I hoped for more than that.

Fortunately, the story didn’t end there.

I’d already been in touch with Russell Kauffman about what kit he used when voicing his speakers and I’d explained my “boogie” issues to him. After a valuable phone chat, and after he emailed me a set-up guide, I promised to update him on things, which I did.

So Sunday before last I told him that I’d placed my order. After all, despite any perceived issues, the Red 150s had this habit of pulling me into the music and they’d also seen off plenty of competition.


WHAT YOU GET FOR A CUP OF TEA THESE DAYS

Two days later Russell contacted me. He wanted to understand more about the lack of boogie factor, and he offered to pop round to my house if I didn’t live too far away and if I could make him a cup of tea. I thought about it for the smallest fraction of a nanosecond and said “Yes”.

So, last Friday afternoon he arrived and brought in cables, and power blocks etc. – and I put the kettle on.


THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN COMEDY WAS MISSING, AND JIMMY JONES WAS DEFINITELY NOT IN THE ROOM

The first thing we did was to put on “That’s Where The Happy People Go” by Trammps. Russell sat and listened and then said “I see what you mean. It’s timing.” The timing was definitely not right.


POWER SOURCE – FROM THE VOLTS

At his request, I unplugged my kit from my own power block and he plugged it into his own Nordost power block, which he then placed on top of some isolation cones. We listened again and it was “Boogie Time”.  Timing problem solved. Not only did the speakers boogie, but the leading edges on the piano in the slow orchestral intro to the track put in an appearance for the first time. I could feel those fingers hitting the keys.
But that was just the start.


TO BE FRANK

Then we switched to repeated playing of the stereo version of “Autumn Leaves” by Frank Sinatra. For me, this is a great track to sort out the wheat from the chaff. Cold, sad strings, beautiful harp flourishes, a great melody, lots of interesting chords, and Frank’s nostalgic and sad vocals.

So we played Frank. Then Russell replaced my power leads with expensive silver-plated copper Nordost power leads and we played Frank again. Clearer sound but more hifi and less emotional. So the old power leads went back into place.


SEPARATING THE SEPARATES

Then Russell placed my Croft preamp and power amp on different shelves and the sound quality improved. More clarity without any loss of feel. His stated aim was to get the speakers to cut loose and communicate, but he felt that he hadn’t quite achieved it yet.


ISOLATION – PUT OUT THE HASH WITH THE TRASH

Then Russell placed my power amp on cones and it increased the sibilant frequencies but with no other benefit. So the amp went back down on the shelf.

Then he placed my preamp on cones and that uplifted quality in every sense. More power, clarity, emotion etc.

Russell said that he was eliminating “hash” from the sound, and I had to agree.

Then my Rega Saturn CD player went up on cones and we got another very noticeable improvement.

By that time the perceived power and energy and pace and clarity and emotional communication had multiplied and it was like a whole equipment upgrade rather than some minor tweaks.


STANDING ON THE TOP – THE STATUETTE OF LIMITATIONS

After this we switched to playing “This Is What You Are” by Mario Biondi and The High Five Quintet, which is a great swinging jazz and dance track and which UK readers might recognise as the music behind the current Quooker Flex TV commercial. (A TV advert with good taste in music and a blistering product – if you get my drift).

Then Russell said that he hoped that it wouldn’t cause upset, but would I mind removing the figurines that were sat on top of the speakers? (My speakers are viewed as pieces of furniture.) So off they came and the speakers really let loose. He pointed out that the cabinets of the Red 150s are “live” and that a heavy weight on top of each one would degrade the sound, and he was dead right.


WHAT I GOT FOR TWO CUPS OF TEA

And that’s where we stopped.

 Two cups of tea and two and a half hours later I now had an appreciation of just how good the Red 150s and my own gear could be and also just how clever and kind their creator could be. I’d also learned more about listening.


THE RUSSELL K METHODOLOGY

Russell advised me to remember his methodology, i.e. start at the very beginning and work your way through, changing one thing at a time, and also making sure that you describe what you’re really hearing, and not what you think that you should be hearing because you’re listening to expensive highly-reviewed speakers or because the dealer is stood over your shoulder or the designer is sat next to you or whatever.


SHOULD I ADOPT A POLICY OF ISOLATIONISM?

Before he left, I asked Russell whether the timing fix was actually the result of his power block or the fact that he isolated it from the floor. He said that I could test this by placing a couple of old Sellotape reels underneath my own power block.

After he left I did this. First, I played Mario Biondi to my wife. Then the power block went up onto two reels of masking tape. Then I played Mario Biondi again, and my wife said that it was as though the track had sped up.

Now that’s a cheap upgrade!


THE FUTURE

So now it’s time to isolate some gear, probably using Something Solid Dissipating Feet, and wait for my own pair of gloss black Red 150s to arrive.

When they arrive I’ll be able to run them in by standing them face to face, connecting them out of phase, and playing something on repeat all day long. Russell said that he was doing this right now with a pair of speakers in preparation for a show. He also told me that it could take a few months before the speakers were at their very best. So patience must become a virtue.


WHAT ELSE CAN I SAY BUT “THANK YOU RUSSELL”.

What happened last Friday was a once-in-a-lifetime thing and I’ll be eternally grateful to a very busy Russell Kauffman for taking the time to help me get the best out of the speakers that he designed.

Thank you Russell!

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Super Dealer

He didn’t suggest any form of acoustic measurement ,which would have determined the speaker/room interaction?

That would Be the logical starting point  rather than rolls of sellotape.

Keith

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Moderator

Excellent post Soto , after reading your other thread about the speaker selection and now the tweaking this illness hobby can really get you , but the best bit that brought it all back to the real world was the figurines on the speakers , brilliant :D.

Why don't you fill in your Wigwam Info , people like to keep up with kit and changes .

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43 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

He didn’t suggest any form of acoustic measurement ,which would have determined the speaker/room interaction?

That would Be the logical starting point  rather than rolls of sellotape.

Keith

This is boring and often overlooked but if you really want to start from the ground up essential. There are many free programs to help you assess your listening environment. If you dont have a decdicated listening room though you just may be stuck as to where you can place things and just have to make the most of what you have got .

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2 hours ago, Duvet said:

This is boring and often overlooked but if you really want to start from the ground up essential. There are many free programs to help you assess your listening environment. If you dont have a decdicated listening room though you just may be stuck as to where you can place things and just have to make the most of what you have got .

And that's where I am. :)

Acoustically measuring the room won't change it. All it would do is to cause frustration. I've often said that the best hi fi upgrade would be to move house, but that won't be happening any time soon.  I actually like where I live.

Edited by Sotosound
Added info
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2 hours ago, PuritéAudio said:

He didn’t suggest any form of acoustic measurement ,which would have determined the speaker/room interaction?

That would Be the logical starting point  rather than rolls of sellotape.

Keith

No. We started with the inbuilt measuring devices on each side of our head ( :) ), our MENCs (mechanical energy to neuron converters)  and the fixed parameters of the living room and its furniture. There's no real scope for major change in that room and acoustic treatments are also out of the question, so it was a question of trying to get the best result within those constraints.

(Prior to beginning I'd already positioned the speakers as guided by Russell, i.e. distance from wall so that bass is neither overblown nor understated, side-to-side so that the speakers disappeared into the stereo image, and then toed in by roughly 5 degrees.)

My ears told me that isolating my own power block on rolls of masking tape had the same impact upon timing as Russell's isolated power block mounted on Nordost cones and bearings etc..... and he didn't start with rolls of Sellotape - I started later with rolls of masking tape. :) 

If I pursue this line further then there will probably be discernible differences between masking tape brands, and the sound might also be affected by how much tape there is on the reel and how old the tape is, i.e. the condition of the adhesive and the tape and how much scope for movement and unwanted vibration there is between successive layers of tape. The really sad thing is that this is all probably true. The big question is whether or not there's money to be made selling masking tape to audiophiles.

In short, and with two exceptions, each tweak that Russell made increased listening enjoyment, which was the only aim. By the end it was as though I was listening to a different, much better and more enjoyable system. (And the old one was pretty good.) That was the endgame for us and we could hear when the speakers stopped holding back.

And that was Russell's biggest point. Say what you hear, not what you think that you should be hearing. In the end that's all there is to it.

It all comes down to whether or not I'm able to enjoy listening to my music. Everything else is just a means to get to the music, and I do auditioning etc. because I have to more than because I want to.

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2 hours ago, Bazzer said:

Excellent post Soto , after reading your other thread about the speaker selection and now the tweaking this illness hobby can really get you , but the best bit that brought it all back to the real world was the figurines on the speakers , brilliant :D.

Why don't you fill in your Wigwam Info , people like to keep up with kit and changes .

Now done.  Speakers will soon be changed. :) 

I notice that the number of characters per field is quite limited....

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Super Dealer
57 minutes ago, Sotosound said:

No. We started with the inbuilt measuring devices on each side of our head ( :) ), our MENCs (mechanical energy to neuron converters)  and the fixed parameters of the living room and its furniture. There's no real scope for major change in that room and acoustic treatments are also out of the question, so it was a question of trying to get the best result within those constraints.

(Prior to beginning I'd already positioned the speakers as guided by Russell, i.e. distance from wall so that bass is neither overblown nor understated, side-to-side so that the speakers disappeared into the stereo image, and then toed in by roughly 5 degrees.)

My ears told me that isolating my own power block on rolls of masking tape had the same impact upon timing as Russell's isolated power block mounted on Nordost cones and bearings etc..... and he didn't start with rolls of Sellotape - I started later with rolls of masking tape. :) 

If I pursue this line further then there will probably be discernible differences between masking tape brands, and the sound might also be affected by how much tape there is on the reel and how old the tape is, i.e. the condition of the adhesive and the tape and how much scope for movement and unwanted vibration there is between successive layers of tape. The really sad thing is that this is all probably true. The big question is whether or not there's money to be made selling masking tape to audiophiles.

In short, and with two exceptions, each tweak that Russell made increased listening enjoyment, which was the only aim. By the end it was as though I was listening to a different, much better and more enjoyable system. (And the old one was pretty good.) That was the endgame for us and we could hear when the speakers stopped holding back.

And that was Russell's biggest point. Say what you hear, not what you think that you should be hearing. In the end that's all there is to it.

It all comes down to whether or not I'm able to enjoy listening to my music. Everything else is just a means to get to the music, and I do auditioning etc. because I have to more than because I want to.

Sellotape under a power block making a discernible improvement is it April already?

i would acoustically measure the room, the Fr plot would be most revealing, even in a room with few placement options a small movement of the speakers or listening seat can bring a worthwhile improvement , which you can corroborate by measurement.

Keith

Edited by PuritéAudio

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Whilst I can understand the benefits of isolating a CD player using cones/any other method, the rest does seem to be rather unbelievable.

I can only (mis)quote chumpy.

Spending money may you enjoy suitably YOUR suitable choice-implementation-maintenance - enjoy aural exultation .

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Super Wammer
18 minutes ago, PuritéAudio said:

Sellotape under a power block making a discernible improvement is it April already

i would acoustically measure the room, the Fr plot would be most revealing, even in a room with few placement options a small movement of the speakers or listening seat can bring a worthwhile improvement , which you can corroborate by measurement.

Keith

Or the speakers can be moved and the OP can decide if they like the change or not, then move them some more and so on.  The enjoyment of the listener doesn't need measurement corroboration.  One of the key points was about saying it as you hear it - that doesn't need measurement.  Does the listener find it perferable or not?  That's what counts.

Oh, and a system is about a lot more than FR.  An FR plot only tells you about FR.  Listening tells you about FR and all the other things too.

Edited by sunbeamgls

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3 minutes ago, awkwardbydesign said:

You don't have to believe it.  Neither do you have to understand it.  You have to listen for yourself.

It's just rubbish. Utter and complete rubbish. Audiophile Sellotape for gullible hifi enthusiasts with more money that sense. Whatever next?

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I'm having a hard time with this thread because I'm sure the exact same results could have been achieved if the O.P simply left the room and thought something had changed when nothing actually had. 

The important thing however is the process has changed the mental state of the O.P and they are now happy with the set-up.  If it only takes a couple of hours and a couple of cups of tea to achieve this, it's money and time well spent.  I liken it to falling in love with someone that you weren't before, the only thing that really changes is your perception of that person.

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Super Dealer
2 hours ago, sunbeamgls said:

Or the speakers can be moved and the OP can decide if they like the change or not, then move them some more and so on.  The enjoyment of the listener doesn't need measurement corroboration.  One of the key points was about saying it as you hear it - that doesn't need measurement.  Does the listener find it perferable or not?  That's what counts.

Oh, and a system is about a lot more than FR.  An FR plot only tells you about FR.  Listening tells you about FR and all the other things too.

If you measure you have tangible graphic evidence which you can correlate with your subjective impressions.

Keith

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