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Old 4th December 2007, 12:37 PM   #1
SY is offline SY  United States
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Default ETF07 brief summary

I'm just returned from this year's version of the European Triode Festival. That makes me ready for detox. As part of my 12 step program, I thought I'd make a few brief comments; more detailed stuff and photos will follow.

As usual, the social aspect was superb. Lots of cross-pollination of ideas, notebooks filled with scribbled schematics, and impressive quantities of alcohol. It was particularly nice to see so many diyAudio people that I hadn't met before or who I see very rarely. It certainly advanced several discussions.

Best sound: For me, no question, it was Arend-Jan's Quad setup, run by DHT Rob's amps. Really delightful, if occasionally straining at AJ's preferred volume settings. The last tune I heard on it was, inevitably, the infamous cover version of the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to ****." There was a concrete horn system from the French group that seemed promising, but I didn't get a chance to do extended listening in the sweet spot. Some very, very nice jazz being played in there.

Most impressive amp: The Birdcage (that's my nickname, not the designer/constructors'). I'll post some photos later, but photos would not do it justice. It was perhaps the single most lust-worthy amplifier I've ever seen. Transmitting tubes, vapor rectifiers, meters the size of a basketball, absolutely stunning visuals. It was apparently built in a wrought-iron etagere made for plants. The measurements were a bit... frightening, but with a few days of diddling, they could be brought into something reasonable. Stunning, just stunning. I feared for the mains circuit when this bad boy was switched on... The other design that stood out to me was Pete Millett's hybrid, using some of the most unusual tubes I've ever seen and switching supplies.

The talks: A much more mixed bag, and frankly, not quite up to past events. The real lectures included:

Morgan Jones's very informative presentation on transformers; I really envy his ability to put together a coherent talk with a minimum of notes. As usual, he did a great job of correlating theory and practice. Some people are just born teachers, and Morgan is certainly one of those.

Jan Didden's talk on error correction; Jan gave a stunningly clear overview of feedforward techniques and error corection methods in general. His own views were ways in which different methods were complementary and how they could be used as effective design tools. It was particularly nice to get cross-pollination from guys in the solid state world.

Yves Monmagnon showed off his tube curve tracer research, a work in progress. He has some really original and clever ideas on how tube testing should be done, and has put together a very impressive and useful system that seems to be well beyond anything which is commercially available.

Eduardo Limas talked about error cancellation between amplifiers and speakers, his company's raison d'etre. He presented his method of series connecting two amplifier outputs to allow the user to dial-in the distortion. Although I remain unconvinced of the technical merits, there is no doubt that his knobs will audibly change the sound and that they'll provide hours of entertainment for the well-heeled audiophile.

Menno Vanderveen gave an... unusual talk which attempted to tie together design philosophy, the Kabbala, human sexuality, and deities. This was clearly over my head; I would have preferred to hear about toroids. In one of our late-night beer sessions, he brought in the concept of amplifiers and semen, but that sounded both disgusting and dangerous.

Arjen Verhoeff presented a history of Sakuma, a Japanese cult figure seemingly better understood as a performance artist than as a designer or engineer. Cinema fans will think more of Marguerite Duras than Francois Truffaut.

The beer: This year, I started the trip off by an expedition to Belgium, guided by Pete Millett and accompanied by Morgan Jones. We managed to thoroughly impress the saleslady at Golden Carolus by the sheer number of bottles we were able to pack into Pete's Fiat. Admittedly, the car's suspension was bottomed... In any case, the GC Christmas beer might be the best beer I've ever tasted. We bought in magnums and managed to drain every one of them with seemingly no effort.

I'll add more to this as I recover and go through my notes and photos.
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Old 4th December 2007, 03:22 PM   #2
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Default Re: ETF07 brief summary

Quote:
Originally posted by SY

[...]
In one of our late-night beer sessions, he brought in the concept of amplifiers and semen, but that sounded both disgusting and dangerous.

[...]
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Old 4th December 2007, 04:46 PM   #3
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Default Re: ETF07 brief summary

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Originally posted by SY
... version of the Dead Kennedys' "Too Drunk to ****."
That alone accounts for it being the best sound.
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Old 4th December 2007, 05:00 PM   #4
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Hi SY,

another report w/ pics can be found here, and DHTRobs pics are here.

Within a few days, probably some more links can be found here.

See you @ ETF08

Tom
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Old 4th December 2007, 07:15 PM   #5
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nice to see some usual suspects here and there ...... sometimes I feel as part of two worlds .......

anyway - just curiosity talks form me - can ya imagine Santa on Toob Fest ?


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Old 4th December 2007, 07:51 PM   #6
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The biggest surprise of all is your choice of best system. I love the original Quads but few are further from what I've come to understand as your design outlook than a cap-skinner/repacker like DHTRob! Looking forward to reading more.
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Old 4th December 2007, 08:46 PM   #7
SY is offline SY  United States
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Quote:
can ya imagine Santa on Toob Fest ?
Funny thing was, I was standing outside the front door one evening after the lectures, chatting with the smoking contingent, when my cell phone rang. It was John Curl. When the guys asked who was calling, I responded, "The Antichrist."


Quote:
few are further from what I've come to understand as your design outlook than a cap-skinner/repacker like DHTRob!
True, I'm more-than-skeptical about the efficacy of that stuff. But it's not like it ruins the sound in the way that some design fashion does, it's just (IMO) a waste of time and effort. I should be fair and point out that most systems there were horn-based and I just don't like the sound of horns when reproducing anything but... horns. So the bar was set low. Nonetheless, I'm very familiar with Quad ESL57 sound and these were great. Arend-Jan has every right to be very, very proud of his work.

BTW, I spent some time chatting with Rob and found him to be a witty and perceptive guy.
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Old 5th December 2007, 12:09 PM   #8
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Thanks for the kind words, SY. After all the effort that I put into them it means a lot. And apologies for the volume setting - at some point it was really terrible. This is one of the limitations of the design, but I have some ideas amongst others to improve it some. Just need to find the time to get to it.

I concur on Rob's amp. His SE GM70 sounded very good and, suprisingly, had better bass definition than my 300B push-pull amps. I think it's the shear power (30W!) that does the trick.

Another thing for Quad owners that I really can't emphasize enough is that you have to get them off the floor. Preferably even higher than on those stands (which are the 'Rupert' stands from One Thing).

I agree on the french horn setup. That guy has an impressive music collection, very very nice! At some point he was my 'private DJ' while the band was playing. From some French local jazz band to Elvis to Clapton. And a lot of other musicians that I never heard before. I just could not leave.

The Carolus beer is certainly nice, but IMO not the best. I say next year we'll have a beer shootout. Right after the regular shootout on friday evening, giving us ample time to recoop before the voyage home

ETF was a blast - the social aspect being the nr.1 reason for me to go in the past, now, and keep going. Would not miss it for the world; ETF ROCKS!
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Old 5th December 2007, 01:45 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally posted by rdf
cap-skinner
Could be worse, think Tulip fiber paper and Gouda cheese electrolyte.
Sticking things in wood is a tradition in some parts.
Cees Soeters' Burmester-Pre probably does not go down well either.

Menno's stories are likely more up my alley, i notice he's still not eating.
TY for linking all the pictures, the Dune Tube session looked like fun.
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Old 6th December 2007, 12:12 AM   #10
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Qualifiers are always advisable! Rob isn't as out there as a 'few' who come to mind and isn't meter-phobic. It was a pleasant surprise to see his work meet tough standards and the 'Odd Couple' vibe was too good to pass up. I still resent the Quad envy arend-jan stirred up though.
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