Thursday, May 28, 2015

That Class A Feeling

I've been getting that feeling.  That same feeling I got when, as a kid, I wandered into Mel Shillings' fabled Music and Sound, which had relocated…into my neighborhood in Southern California!  They had the huge amps, the planar speakers that created extraordinary stereo images (about the first decent stereo I had ever heard), and something else I forgot about until just now…

Air Conditioning!  Running my Krell with typical power consumption in the 600-900W range is generating a lot of heat.  And, since my listening room is the living room, which happens to have the thermostat, almost as soon as I turn the amp on the Air Conditioning comes and and pretty much stays on as long as the Krell is running.

Well I'm sure the Krell loves being the center of attention again, right in the center of the room, getting the main blast of cooled air from the ceiling vent on the other side of the room.  But while it's bracing to sit down into the stream of cold air, and brings back memories, it's also expensive and it even seems to make me a little sick.  And when I'm done listening the rest of the house has been chilled about 3 degrees below normal.

The problem here that I hadn't quite solved when I tried moving the Krell into the corner--shielded from cold air by the couch and then thought it was overheating--is that the thermostat is right on the opposite side of the same room, and the fully air conditioned air hits the Krell and practically bounces right back to the thermostat.

Back then I did get a new thermostat installed…but it never quite satisfied me wrt programming (it was basically impossible to program on the wall, that's another story for my Computer Critical blog).  What I really wanted then, and now, was a portable "personal" thermostat I could locate to another room.  The perfect other room would be my bedroom, which often doesn't get warm enough in winter, but isn't much bothered by heat from the Krell.

Well they do make such a thermostat system now, the Prestige IAQ 2.0 System, which has a portable thermostat called the Portable Comfort Control.

OK, I could just turn the thermostat up, but I hate it when I forget to do that.  And what if I'm running the Krell all day???  I think thermostat in the master bedroom is the perfect place…I could just leave it there always except during parties I'll put in back in the living room.  Or if a friend is doing lots of baking in the kitchen.

When the AC isn't running, the Krell could still use some air movement, so I just bought the Econo-Cooler from Cool Components (these aren't sold by many online stores btw).  I've generally hate fans in equipment.  But I'm OK with fans I can dial down to the lowest speed myself…and if it's noisy I'll try something else.  I only wanted to start with one Econo-Cooler (CP-EC) but it didn't seem like I could order just one and get the full ps-300 power supply which has many possible voltage levels.  They also have control modules with digital temp readout, thermostatic control, and triggers, but I'm worried about the difficulty of getting the thermostatic control to work properly.  I don't want to put it directly on the Krell--that might fry it (the thermostat).

Another thing is to have connections for my "backup" amplifier, the Aragon 8008 BB.  It doesn't generate quite as much heat in operation (about 1/2 the amount of idle heat) and it has now been moved into the corner where it probably won't affect the thermostat as much.  I'm thinking that in the long run I want to have it hooked up through my QSC ABX box (but not directly) so I can actually do ABX tests.  But I don't trust the speaker relays in the ABX box (nor the connectors, nor the box itself) so what I'd do is use the box to switch a DC current which would then control a pair of 300V 40A DBDT relays right behind each speaker.  For decent ABX tests, I might eventually have to have my own computer control that "works" the relays a bunch of times so you can't figure out A/B just on the relay sound (even the QSC ABX box itself has this problem a bit…with some practice you can hear the difference in the relay sound).

Well I looked at lots of things, starting with pins that could be directly inserted into the cheap 5-way binding posts at the back of the Acoustats (still one of the best options).  Finally I decided to use a familiar old solution--banana plugs.  I'll "stack" the plugs (plug one plug into the holes on the other) to connect the speaker to the A amplifier or the B amplifier.  The Acoustats will remain connected with bare wire that goes to one plug, and so will the Krell.

(BTW, no use in plugging bananas directly into the 5 way posts on the Acoustats.  Heavy banana plugs don't take long to fall out of those cheap posts, and are often hanging part way out.)

The only local Radio Shack had hardly anything anymore (sad!!!) so I ordered these from Parts Express.

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