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Norman Nicolai

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About Norman Nicolai

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  • Birthday August 13

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    Bloomfield, NJ
  • Interests
    Vintage Fisher, Sherwood, and Harman Kardon receivers, AR turntables, KLH, Advent, EPI, and Paradigm loudspeakers.

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  1. Just an update on where I am with the Advent 300. I contacted David Eaton and did not hear back from him for a few days. In the meantime I posted the problem on another forum and got many, many suggestions. Among the suggestions: Many non-specific suggestions that it was a grounding issue, but no suggestions as to how to resolve the grounding issue. I had a couple of suggestions to use ferrite plugs and I ordered some from Amazon since they were very cheap. A number of people suggested changing the orientation of the receiver or placing it in an entirely different location, which is not exactly feasible right now since space is limited in my small cottage. The most interesting suggestion was to place a pyramid shaped Shungite tile on the receiver... I did hear back from David Eaton after a couple of days and his suggestions were to 1. change the plug polarity. 2. use double shielded RCA cable for the power amp/preamp connecting straps. 3. reorient the receiver 4. shield the receiver. My solution: I decided to get the double shielded RCA cables from Amazon, along with some ferrite shielding plugs from the other forum suggestion. The upshot: After ordering the parts the problem pretty much disappeared on its own after about 4 days. One day, BEFORE getting the ordered parts and installing them, I turned the Advent 300 on, and the RF/phantom FM station was completely gone! What happened, whether it’s an atmospheric condition change, a power source resolution, or improved grounding on its own, I have no idea. In the aftermath, I’ve installed the directional double shielded RCA cable (It looks really high tech...) and the ferrite plugs (very low tech looking) and I have my fingers crossed that the problem does not re-emerge. The Lesson: Damned if I know. Maybe, be more patient before freaking out and asking for help? In any event, thanks everyone for your help and input!
  2. Had more time today and put the rebuilt/exchanged 300 through its paces. I used it as both a receiver with some KLH 17's and an FM tuner/preamp with my HK3490 and KLH 6's. Sounded pretty good both ways. The 300 power amp only puts out 15 watts per channel but still impressed hooked up to the KLH 17's. With the HK3490 it sounded even better run through my KLH 6's. But... (There is always a but) I am having a problem. I'm getting a background FM signal at low volume from my speakers regardless of whatever input is selected, FM, Phono, or Aux. The FM signal is NOT the same as what I have the FM tuner set at. The volume control does not amplify the background signal. If I touch the wire straps on the back of the unit that connect the preamplifier to the power amplifier, it magnifies the strength and volume of the signal, as if my body is an antenna. If I use the 300 as a tuner/amp only, the problem persists. If I didn't know any better I would think there is a pirate Carrier Current radio station operating in my area, but I'm not getting the same problem on any of my other equipment. Anyone ever encounter a similar issue? Help!
  3. I got the new exchanged Advent 300 today from David R. Easton. I plugged it into my bench speakers briefly to confirm that it's working. So far, I have been able to determine that the FM section works fine but did not have the time to check the Aux or Phono functions because of lack of time. I will report out as soon as I get time, probably tomorrow.
  4. Just a follow up. After talking to a couple different audio repair shops that I deal with I decided to ship the 300 to David Eaton in St. Louis. He was the most expensive option, but also promised the most extensive restoration plus the fastest turn around time since he would swap out my existing 300 for an already restored 300 sitting on his shelf. He also guaranteed that the exchanged 300 would sound at least as good, if not better, than a new 300. I just got the exchanged unit back from him today and anxiously set it up to my bench speakers, a set of Optimus Pro 77's. The package also contained a binder with a user's manual and sets of schematics, a nice touch. Well, it worked for about a minute. Then, when I went to boost the lower frequencies by tuning the Bass knob, the potentiometer felt glitchy and a a few seconds later a large booming sound came from the speakers. I powered down the unit, waited a few minutes, powered up, and the same thing happened, this time immediately. I sent an email to David Eaton with a video showing the scratchy Bass control, since you can actually hear the scratchy potentiometer. He replied immediately, apologized, and told me to send it back to him for another unit. So, what happened? Even though it was packaged carefully, it was probably damaged during shipment. In the meantime, I still can't wait to get my Advent 300 hooked up again as a preamp to my more powerful HK 3490. I'll post again with a report when I get the refurbished 300. Still can't wait.
  5. I have a set of EPI M100 Speakers in walnut veneer. I purchased them in the fall and rebuilt them over the winter. The original grill cover fabric was in good shape, but I've never been a fan of the EPI black fabric so I replaced it with an off white linen, very similar to what you would find on early AR speakers. I did not add the EPI logos that came with with the speakers to the grill cloth so the look is very clean. Also, the linen had a good WAF compared to the original black, so it was a keeper.
  6. Jordac, thanks for the in the info on David Eaton. I contacted him early this morning and he got back to me within a couple of hours. If anyone else reads this and has information on David Eaton's work, please feel free to chime in. Thanks!
  7. I recently acquired an Advent 300 receiver as a throw in on another vintage audio purchase. When I hooked it up I discovered that the tuner was missing a channel, as the previous owner had warned me. Not a big deal since I essentially got the Advent for free. The Advent 300 is a low powered receiver (15 watts per channel) that was sold in the late 1970’s. It’s not noted for very much, other than it’s preamp, designed by Tomlinson Holman, who later went on to develop the LucasFilm THX sound system. The 300 receiver was a Henry Kloss product, which meant it was a good value product, not noted for outstanding quality of workmanship. The preamp, however won rave reviews at the time, far outperforming other preamps at its price point, and giving some state-of-the-art preamps a run for their money. (BTW, hat tip to JKent here. I had read about the Advent 300 preamp in the past, but a mention by Kent regarding the 300 got my gears turning about using it’s preamp separately.) I hooked up the 300 to some KLH Model 17’s and was surprised at how good it sounded. That’s when the light bulb went off. What would happen if I used the preamp in the 300 and bypassed the preamp in my main basement receiver, a HK3490? The HK3490 is a solid state, high current amp putting out 120 watts per channel. It used to be part of my main system before I purchased a number of vintage tube receivers. It’s now relegated to my basement collection, accompanied by 2 turntables, other receivers, power amps and multiple speaker sets. The basement is sort of my “lab”, probably like a lot of other audio enthusiasts. The results were better than I imagined, especially with the phono stage using my Technics SL-230 with an Ortofon 2M Red cartridge, and stacked Advents. I think the Advent preamp is giving me enhanced bass and more detailed, clearer midrange and high frequencies compared to the preamp in the HK3490. I have not done an A-B test yet using the HK3490 preamp, but that will come later when I can set that up. Besides, I’m pretty sure how that will turn out. In the meantime, I’m enjoying listening to my vinyl with my newly enhanced basement audio system. Final thought: even though the preamp was designed by Tom Holman, the 300 is still ultimately a testament to the genius Henry Kloss, who managed to create audio magic with so many things that he touched.
  8. Sounds like you got a good deal on all that equipment, although how good a deal really depends on the equipments condition and how much work it needs. But overall, sounds like a pretty good score. Good luck with the equipment, please post some photos and let us know how everything sounds once it's hooked up! I have 2 sets of Model 17's. As you probably know, since you've referenced Roy's Goo in the link, they will probably need to be recapped.
  9. Here's a direct link to the site JKent was referring to: http://baselaudiolab.com/ADVENT_LA_XO.html I had the site saved in my browser since I have changed a number of Advent capacitors. As a matter of fact I'm pretty sure it was JKent who referred me to the site originally! As you will see, Advent changed crossover units during the production run in the OLA, so there is no way of knowing what you need without opening up the cabinet.
  10. Welcome to the forum! Your speakers were probably made in the mid-60's. From what I have read the original Model 6's had the woofers epoxied into the cabinets. Your drivers are screwed into the cabinets, so they definitely date from 1964, or after. However, they were probably manufactured not long after 1964 because the rear metal plate is mounted flush to the cabinet along with a speaker terminal configuration that allows you to bypass the tweeters and use the woofers only. If I am not mistaken, some time in the mid-to-late 1960's KLH Model 6's recessed the metal plates into the cabinet for the terminals, and the tweeterless connection option was eliminated. So your speakers probably date between 1964-1968. You will want to get a matching black enameled tweeter to match the one you have. Some Model 6's, including the set I own, have silver colored tweeters. The tweeters are the same ones that were used in the KLH 17's and 20's, and you will find both black and silver tweeters in those models depending on their dates of manufacture. The capacitors in the crossover unit will certainly need to be replaced also. KLH speakers are notorious for using incredibly cheap caps. Not sure from the photos, but it looks like a previous owner may have coated the cloth speaker surrounds with something other than an ideal sealant. If you post again, please include a close up of the surrounds to see if that was done. Except for a few ported designs, all acoustic suspension KLH speakers need a relatively airtight seal with the cabinets to sound their best. The original surround sealant was a specialized "dope" that KLH would add to the porous surround fabric to keep them airtight. Some people used a rubberized sealant on the fabric to keep them airtight once the seal from the factory "dope" deteriorated. If your woofers were treated with something other than the real KLH stuff, the performance of the woofers may possibly be somewhat compromised. Hard to tell from your photos, but they look kind of suspicious. Hope this helps.
  11. I own both OLA's and NLA's and have never heard of anything other than foam surrounds for either set of speakers. Both sets of surrounds in my speakers have been replaced. Frankly, I'm surprised you only got around 12 years out of a set of foam surrounds. I would think 20 years or more is closer to the norm. At least that what I got out of foam surrounds for other speakers that I've owned. Perhaps humidity and temperature may affect the service life of a set of surrounds. Personally, I don't think I would try to replace foam with another material. If the speakers were originally designed with foam surrounds you may significantly degrade the sound by going to another surround material. Besides, if rubber or cloth performed as well as foam on Advents, I imagine we would be inundated with both advertisements from vendors and claims by enthusiasts on how well they worked, both on this forum and others. IMHO, stick with the original foam.
  12. Thanks for the info, JKent. I wanted to reply to you earlier, but the site has been closed down. Didn't realize I missed checking in every day until it wasn't there. The newer Model 17's (newer for me) are the ones with the silver faceplate tweeters. They are still in my garage and I have not yet had a chance to take them apart and look at the SN, since I'm still preoccupied with working on the original 17's I purchased. One of the tweeters from the first set of black screened 17's has a date stamped on the back, April 10, 1969. I've already assembled the other restored speaker, so I don't have a date for that tweeter. BTW, using the center channel from my Fisher 500B, I connected the finished and assembled 17 to a restored Heathkit W5M mono tube power amp, and it sounded fantastic! Not quite as good as my KLH 6's, the main Left and Right speakers for that setup, but better than I remember my old KLH Model 20's sounding. But that's only from memory, and a distant memory at that, since I got rid of the 20's over fifteen years ago. The equipment I have now, compared to what I owned then, may also account for some of the difference. At some point, when everything is done, I'm looking forward to doing a side-side comparison of the two sets of Model 17's. If there is a difference, I'll probably keep the subjectively better set, and either sell or gift the other set. It's funny, I got into this hobby of restoring speakers with the idea that I would sell them after restoration. Aside from the problem of there not being much of a market for the restored items, I kind of like having them around. I may run out of room soon, but I am having trouble parting with my work.
  13. I've been searching the site but have been unable to see a thread about the different colored Model 17 tweeters. i just purchased a second set of Model 17 speakers and the tweeters are silver colored. The tweeters in my existing Model 17 speakers are black. Thirty years ago I owned a set of Model 20's, which are almost identical to the 17's except for a 4 ohm woofer, and those tweeters were black also. Does anyone know if there is a difference between the different color tweeters? Is it merely a different generation of speaker, or are there differences in sound? BTW, my KLH Model 6 speakers have the silver colored tweeters. Thanks!
  14. Interesting that you should mention Roy's goo in relation to the Model 5. When I first heard the Model 5's, only about 5 months ago, I recommended Roy's goo to the owner of the speakers. He purchased a jar, but I've yet to hear back from him regarding the results. I should visit him to get another listen. I was not aware of the Cambridge Sound Works Model 6. Something new to research online. It's not like I don't have the spare time to investigate new things since I have been at home constantly the last 3 weeks! I look at eBay, Craigslist, and Estatesales.net every day looking for new speaker projects. But I haven't been out of the house to pursue anything for a while. Thanks, and stay safe JKent.
  15. Thanks for posting this, JKENT. I've only heard the original Model 5's once and was not that impressed. I'm more partial to the sound of my restored Model 6's. Having said that, I'm not sure that hearing a speaker only once is a fair. So much depends on the listening room, the electronics driving the speaker, and the music itself. Nevertheless, I would still love to hear the new Model 5's, as well as the old Model 5's in a different listening environment. I'm also really pleased to hear that someone is committed to bringing the KLH brand back to what it once was.
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