Cut your own vinyl

We’ve written before about the resurgence of interest in vinyl and we’re going to be featuring a series of blogs about this next week. Meanwhile, how about cutting your own vinyl?

This the Easy Record Maker, an instant, record-cutting machine – possibly the first time a domestic vinyl cutter has been made available. It has a cutting arm and a playback arm, and can record via the built-in USB interface. Playback is via USB, a headphone jack or the built-in mono loudspeaker. Think of it as a Polaroid camera for records and you won’t be far off.

It’s manufactured by Gakken in Japan and designed by renowned artist and electronic musician Yuri Suzuki. Yuri has always been interested in the technology of sound, as well as its applicability to art, and has recently become a partner with Pentagram, the famous design agency in London (whose founder, Kenneth Grange, designed some of the early B&W loudspeakers such as the DM7).

The turntable/cutter is supplied as a kit together with a set of two-sided, blank, 12.7 cm discs (which are available in a groovy range of colours). The little machine records at 33 and 45 rpm.

Cut your own singles or, if you’re feeling particularly evil, record some streaming music and then amaze your audiophile friends by how much better vinyl can be!

 

Join us again on Monday for the first in a series of guest blogs about turntables, vintage audio and the best way to get started in vinyl.

UPDATE: Thanks to Susan Parker of Audiophonics for alerting us to another domestic record recorder, the Pye Record Maker. Here is a photo from a recent eBay auction:

Eikona MiniLine loudspeaker

The Eikona MiniLine is the latest in a series of transmission line loudspeaker developments which began in February 2019 with the Eikona Transmission Line Array. From a floor-standing, 1.2m-high loudspeaker to a compact, stand-mounted version has been quite a journey.  Both versions – as well as the TL2 and TL3 – boast similar qualities. These designs are, for transmission lines, relatively straightforward to build and have been designed with DIY construction in mind. These loudspeakers are capable of excellent performance and in every case, the alignment has produced bass that exceeded our expectations. The MiniLine, for example, is capable of clean bass to below 40 Hz despite its compact dimensions.

The other common factor is, of course, the use of the Jordan Eikona full-range drive unit. In the MiniLine, only one Eikona is required per enclosure (the TLA uses four). The Eikona handles all frequencies from over 18 kHz down to 40 Hz. The lack of crossover or additional drive units makes the construction much simpler and gives the final result a delightfully natural sound.

The MiniLine has exceptional bass reach and control, aided by the Eikona’s transient speed and carefully chosen parameters. Comments on the fetching grey prototype shown below include:

“As to sound?  Typical Eikona with a surprising amount of bass from such a little cabinet – the TL configuration helps of course … it works very well indeed.  Plenty of output at 40 Hz, then a distinct drop at 30 Hz.”

“Seriously though, if your room or wife will only allow a stand mounter then these are a very good proposition. My room is 16 x 12 feet and they filled it with a lovely, open soundstage with surprising bass for the cabinet size. “

“They certainly had the Jordan family sound, fast, detailed and with a beautiful mid range.” 

The MiniLine Design Guide can be downloaded here and Eikonas ordered here.

A translam Eikona TL3 loudspeaker

A standard and translam TL3

There are many ways to build a loudspeaker cabinet. Most are rectangular, some are more interesting shapes. The majority are made of wood and a few of concrete. One famous example was made of ceramic.

Cabinet design is an area which is always subject to a manufacturer/designer’s own particular philosophy. One of the most interesting is trans-lamination (or translam) as used by manufacturers such as TAD for their upmarket designs. It consists of taking a sheet of material (such as ply or MDF) and cutting out shapes which when stacked (usually vertically) form the completed cabinet. The exterior can be shaped and the interior of the cabinet is formed by the hole in the centre of the successive slices.

 

A fine example is the Eikona TL3 translam enclosure built by Ian, our Gloucestershire-based demonstrator. In an email Q&A, we asked him to share some details.

What made you decide to try this?

I’ve liked the look of translam cabinets for quite some time not least because, for an amateur builder, it gives a relatively simple method of getting away from a rectangular box.

Any specific difficulties encountered?

No real difficulties as I had the slices cut by CNC. The holes drilled at the time made for easy location of each slice using dowels in the holes. Probably the hardest part was fitting the internal divider although once I’d figured it out it was quite simple to do.

What would you change if you did it again?

I’m not sure I would change anything but I did consider putting a layer of MDF over the baffle in order to recess the drivers. Cutting the holes was straightforward using a hole saw but I decided not to risk routing the rebate as I suspect the ply edge would have torn. In any case I’m happy with the looks and performance.

What were the overall benefits?

I did make up a standard cabinet using MDF to test the design so I do have a handle on the differences a translam build provided. OK, I’m comparing MDF and ply as well as the construction method but the translam cabinets feel a lot more solid and, more importantly, the sound more solid! I think the extra stiffness of the cabinets has reduced colouration a little so that micro-detail is easier to hear, which gives a greater sense of space. That’s not to say that the standard box cabinet does not produce a very fine-sounding speaker.

A fellow audiophile commented:

 “All I can say is that Ian’s dual Jordan speakers are incredible.

I appreciate what full range drivers can do, with no smearing of phase response due to cross-over effects. I have heard Ian’s 4 speaker units before but these sound more balanced and don’t suffer from any lack of bass extension. The translam construction is so inert as to be completely out of the picture regarding any cabinet resonance. There is a fantastic immediacy to the sound which is totally beguiling.”

 

The CNC cutting was done by CKJ in Stroud, who generously made their CNC files available. These, along with Ian’s original drawings, are available to download as a ZIP file here.

Read the Eikona TL3 blog for plans and background to the design.

 

Eikona TL3 transmission line loudspeaker

Our highest-performing loudspeaker design to date is the Jordan Eikona TL Array, launched in February this year. It features four Eikonas and is capable of bass to 30 Hz. Its considerable power-handling enables it to tackle the full range of music, from orchestral and rock to string quartets and solo voice.

The challenge subsequently became to design a loudspeaker that retained many of the TLA’s qualities whilst making something more compact and less expensive to build.

The first of these was the TL2, which has the same bass extension and height but a shallower enclosure with only two Eikonas per cabinet. Although a very capable performer, at 1.2 metres high, it is still too large for many listening rooms. After a bit more prompting from customers, we now have the more compact TL3.

The Eikona TL3 is a custom-aligned, tapered transmission line with a cabinet only 826 mm tall. It’s straightforward to build and the internal structure gives the cabinet considerable rigidity. The performance gives full freedom to the Eikonas, allowing them to perform at their best. Early feedback  has been extremely positive and here are quotes from two listeners:

These have the Jordan sound in spades, very fast and articulate with bags of detail with a large soundstage with good depth. The surprise was the bass … these speakers shook the walls with deep, ultra clean bass when we pushed the volume past sensible levels. How these small cabinets were producing it is beyond me.”

“I do really think this is a major step forward for Jordan. Powerful bass in a compact cabinet but with the air that has always been more noticeable in my single Eikona SL cabinets. Cheaper to build and more room friendly that the big 4-driver TLs.”

The photograph below shows the prototype of the new TL3 alongside the existing TL Array.

Click here for the TL3 design guide and plans.

 

Jordan Aurora Array loudspeaker system

Two of our customers (and brand ambassadors, as they are both able to demonstrate systems to potential customers) have recently got together to compare their respective Jordan Eikona systems.

Ian uses the Jordan Transmission Line Array, featured on our blog here and Mike has an Aurora 800 system, which we described on the blog in its original form. 

Intrigued by the extra depth and sensitivity that the Eikona Array brings to Ian’s TLA loudspeaker, Mike has recently modified his Auroras to create an Eikona Array. This entailed turning the reflex 800s into sealed cabinets and supplementing the bass with a pair of BK XLS200 subwoofers.

On the improvements the Array made, Mike says:

“I was genuinely surprised by the difference. I’d expected more weight and sense of scale but hadn’t expected better height (a little more) and depth (quite a bit more). What particularly surprised me was the additional clarity and separation. Listened first to a Warren Zevon track (Disorder in the House). It’s from his last album and Bruce Springsteen guested on that track – and plays amazing guitar breaks as well as singing – I’d never thought that Springsteen could play guitar like that. What was particularly noticeable was the clarity of vocals when Zevon and Springsteen were singing in unison.

What was going to be a quick test turned into a 3-hour listening session – differences were more on some music than others but, overall, felt like more improvement than I had expected.”

Here are Ian’s comments on Mike’s system:

“Mike uses modified (as in 2 extra drivers) Jordan Aurora 800 cabinets and very good they sounded too.

I say very good, in fact they were quite stunning.  Given they were wall-mounted, I expected a rather flat soundstage but that couldn’t be further from the truth.  They had more air than my TLs but lacked their bass weight even though two subs were linked in – see the white boxes in the furniture.  

Nevertheless, integration between subs and Auroras was excellent for most of the music heard apart from a few tracks that caught the subs out.”

Our own thoughts on Mike’s system is that it requires further integration. The Auroras are run full range, without any roll-off other than that provided by the sealed cabinet loading. The subwoofers roll in at 80 Hz, so there is going to be some overlap which probably contributes too much bass in the 60-100 Hz band.

Mike is aware that the system requires further refinement and we look forward to reading how it develops.

 

Click here for more details on the Aurora systems.

Sequerra – a rare vintage

Of all the legendary hi-fi products, one of the best known is the Marantz 10B FM tuner. Renowned for its fabulous performance (and its built-in oscilloscope), the 10B was designed by Richard Sequerra, who later went on to launch his own DaySequerra tuner (updates for which are still available).

Dick Sequerra has also produced some innovative loudspeaker designs over the years, one of which was the Sequerra Pyramid Met 20, designed in collaboration with Ted Jordan.

The Met 20 was released around 1990 and features the Jordan JX53 and JX150 drive units. As far as we know, only seven pairs were ever made.. The JX150 is used over a wider bandwidth than usual, being allowed to roll off naturally until the crossover kicks in around 5 kHz. The JX53 crosses over at 2 kHz, instead of the 500 Hz Ted Jordan used to recommend. That greatly increases the power handling of the entire system, which is quoted at 200 watts (peak).

The unusual cabinet shape (it’s a truncated trapezoid or trapezium in the UK) is instrumental in spreading internal cabinet reflections, giving a cleaner sound, free from resonances. At 58 cms tall, it’s large for a stand-mounted speaker, but the shape would look well on top of a suitable subwoofer – as in this Eikona design from one of our customers.

Dick Sequerra has had a long and interesting career in hi-fi and there is a fascinating interview with him on the Stereophile website. At one point he says something which Ted Jordan would certainly have agreed with: 

“The notion that audio is simple and easy to do is a big fantasy. There are very few people who have ever done it really well.”

If you would like to buy a rare piece of audio history, the very first production pair of the Sequerra/Jordan speakers are currently for sale on eBay in the US.

 

Postscript: We received a message via Facebook from the seller of these Sequerras:

“When I spoke to Dick 3 weeks ago he told me the ONLY reason he designed them was to show what the Jordan drivers could do in a single sealed enclosure. He said “Ted Jordan was an absolute genius”. Dick is 90 now and selling his studio.”

“The audiophile bargain of the millennium”

It’s always good to receive testimonials from customers and never more so than when they come from professionals within the hi-fi industry. 

We have just received the following from just such a professional who has a great deal of experience in both the design and audio evaluation of a number of well-known, high-end products:

“I have been using the Eikona drivers (2 pairs) in cabinets of my own design for the last couple of years. I used to own a pair of Electrofluidics Sonolith 2.2’s and have built a pair of VTL’s using the previous JX92S drivers. 

Back in the mid 90’s I was involved with Tom Evans and Patrick Handscombe doing listening tests for the Acoustic Precision Eikos FR1 loudspeakers, also using the 92S driver. When I got back home and fired up the Electrofluidics all I could hear were the crossovers. 

So when the Eikona 2 was released I just had to get my hands on some. 

I was not disappointed. In over 2 years of critical listening, they have never given themselves away. They cope with everything I throw at them. They truly are the audiophile bargain of the millennium.”

Project – A Jordan loudspeaker with Italian flair

Fabio, one of our customers from Italy, was in touch about his Eikona MLTL38 loudspeaker project. He requested permission to use the EJJ logo on his cabinets. Intrigued by this thoughtful finishing touch, we asked for details of his project. Here is what Fabio has to say:

 

Nothing is missing from the small Eikona 2, the coherence and the timbre are of the highest level ….. the speed of the transients will make you jump from the armchair, particularly on those majestic passages of great orchestral music ….. 

How can a single, 10 cm driver produce bass worthy of note? … in my room, it almost seems to have a subwoofer; nothing is missing, they are ideal for medium-small rooms.

LISTENING:

Martha Argerich and Friends – live from the Lugano Festival 2008: the violin and the piano are reproduced with grace and elegance, there is no difficulty in listening; the piano plays warm and round, while the violin is never harsh, the timbre is perfect and the speed of the Eikona is surprising. 

Minnesota Orchestra – Showcase Eiji Oue – Reference Recordings: track no. 6 of this HDCD, literally leaves you speechless because it is “The Firebird Suite” by Stravinsky, in fact just listening to this piece, it seems to have a hidden subwoofer, it is impressive how these little drivers manage to reproduce the continuous bass drum beats in a as authoritative as it is lightning, without the sound of rumblings, “tails” and “blows”.

Tracy Chapman: well she is there in front of me with her deep and unique voice; one of the first CDs I listened to with these speakers was just this and I remember that in more than one passage I got goose bumps. 

John Coltrane – Blue Train, Miles Davis – Kind of Blue, Michel Petrucciani – Live Blue Note: the instruments are real, alive, the details are heard until the last touch on the drums.

CONCLUSIONS:

These Eikonas will print a permanent smile on your face. I admit that I was initially doubtful about the choice, because in fact, it might seem that they are small, that they do not make it, and the cost, well … But there is an old saying goes, “in the small barrel there is good wine” – here this barrel does not contain wine but it will make you very euphoric. 

I had some doubts that haunted me, but reading the reviews on EJ Jordan’s website and having an amplifier that is the ideal companion for these little gems, I embarked on this venture. I am not a technician in the field so I have tried to take care of all the details to get the most out of these objects that I now call “magic”. So with my friend Fabrizio we started the construction of the piece of furniture, taking care of all the details that a Hi-End speaker cabinet must have.

I have to say that after listening to them for a few days, one of the questions I asked myself was “but if a single driver can do so much, how will the larger Line Array sound?”

I’m not sure, but if in the future I have to have a larger environment in which to put my Hi Fi and a more muscular amp, I would definitely consider one of these projects.

DESIGN OF MY CABINETS:

I started from the design of the MLTL38 and keeping the volumes, I tilted the front and the rear panel by 5° trying to create fewer parallel faces. I inserted perforated bulkheads both to support the sound absorbency and to break down resonances, creating surfaces not parallel to the rest of the cabinet walls.

WOOD: a 26 mm thick  Okoume plywood is very robust, multilayered and heavy.

SOUND ABSORBENCY: of the 3 internal sections that I created, I covered the first 2 starting from the top with sound-absorbing panels in bituminous material plus felt, about 1 cm thick (normally used to soundproof car bodywork).

As suggested by EJJ, I inserted a cylinder of sound-absorbing Dacron, behind the Eikona and another under the driver so that all unwanted midrange frequencies do not pass from the first volume to the other 2.

EXTERIOR FINISH: the cabinets were then veneered with real rosewood and impregnated with a red colour with subsequent transparent bottom and glossy varnish … many coats of glossy varnish!

To embellish the whole, I added aluminium plates with the technical characteristics. At the base I put a 5 mm black Plexiglas plate, a small wooden riser and then a 12 mm iron plate to which some decoupling tips were added. The part of the screw that came out of the plate was hidden with full aluminium feet used as a blind nut, which is very Hi End ….. in short, we Italians always have an eye on the finishing touches.

Jordan Eikona TL2 transmission line loudspeaker

The Eikona TLA is the highest performing loudspeaker design we have published for the Jordan Eikona full-range drive unit. It is capable of magnificent performance across a wide range of musical genres and its transmission line alignment gives clean bass down to 30 Hz.

A number have now been built across the UK, Europe and USA and we have a testimonial page dedicated to the design. There is even a Pentagonal TLA under construction. However, we have had requests for a slightly smaller TL which will be easier to accommodate in smaller listening rooms. 

The TL2 is the same height as the TLA (1.2 m / 47 inches) and is therefore capable of achieving the same low bass response, but the use of two Eikonas instead of four gives it a much smaller footprint. Power handling is reduced from 400 watts (peak) to 200 but that is more than adequate for most purposes in medium-sized rooms. The Eikonas can be wired in series (to give a nominal 16 ohm load) or parallel, if your amplifier is capable of handling 4 ohm loads. The 16 ohm option is ideal for tube amplifiers and the result is a very easy-to-drive loudspeaker.

The TL2 Design Guide is available to download now. 

As ever, if you decide to build this or any of our designs, we are happy to answer any queries and would love to receive photographs and listening impressions – we’ll then add your loudspeaker to our expanding gallery of customer projects.

 

 

Home Theatre – Preview

Building a home theatre system can be a daunting undertaking. A major advantage of using the Jordan Eikona is that it’s a straightforward, single speaker driver installation. Cabinet volumes can range from 5 to 15 litres, depending on what you want to achieve. It’s simple yet flexible. We have a number of customers who have used 5 or more Eikonas for their home theatre systems. 

Currently, Jim in the USA is building a house on the edge of the Arizona desert. The building is being made from traditional adobe brick and will include a home theatre system. We received a fun email recently about progress on his home theatre and he was kind enough to allow us to share it:

“I got impatient waiting for the house to be completed so I put together a make-shift home theater system including left, right and center speakers.

I have to say I am thoroughly enjoying listening to the Jordan Eikona speakers. They sound fantastic. They sound entirely neutral, detailed and flat across the frequency spectrum, at least to my ears. Most home theater speakers and sound bars sound over-hyped. But not the Jordans. They really sound good!

I really do enjoy the Jordan speakers. Their ability to produce a natural sound is uncanny. Pianos, strings, drums, whatever, all sound like they do in real life. When you listen to other speakers, you realize how colored their sound really is. For the fun of it, I went to a local hifi shop and listened to some speakers that cost up to $5000, including some Bower & Wilkins. I did not like any of them. In comparison, they lacked clarity, coherency and were fatiguing. Besides watching movies, I have also been streaming a lot of music. No matter the source material, the Jordans are easy on the ears.”

We’re supporting Jim with advice and recommendations during his home theatre project, something we’re very happy to do for all our customers. If you would like to find out more about our speakers or what we can offer, do get in touch or sign up to the newsletter.