In adventure sports, fun is broken down into three categories.
If one were to translate these categories into building audio components, then constructing cables would be type-2 fun.
The object of today’s exercise was a Tri-Planar rewire and conversion to a DIN connector.
It’s all in the details …
The amount of labor involved in building a custom interconnect from scratch is a well-kept secret. I describe it to my customers as being the audio equivalent of building a ship in a bottle. We’re not talking about a commercial, manufactured, jacketed cable (a simple matter), but rather something one constructs in its entirety, and in this case with ultra-fine litz wire.
It’s such a complex process, that in developing our Wind River interconnects, it took 15 builds to finalize the step sequence, and I created a 17 page assembly guide. Miss one step and scrap your work.
So many toys …
My customer was musing about what to do with his Tri-Planar which was “retired” in favor of his new arm. His Mk I Gavia was converted to Mk 1.5 status which precludes mounting a second tonearm. We took on the project to fabricate a free-standing arm block so he can run a dual tonearm rig.
While we were waiting for manufacture of the arm block, I suggested a tonearm rewire with Cardas Clear wire. My customer mentioned that his current phono stage has balanced, XLR inputs, but that the sound card he uses with his AnalogMagik software has RCA inputs.
Type II fun, here we come …
One could easily purchase conversion connectors, but knowing that we’re audiophiles (and never leave well enough alone), I suggested that we future-proof the modification by converting his Tri-Planar to a 5-Pin DIN connector.
As much as I’ve advocated a straight run of wire from the cartridge clips to the RCAs/XLRs, my experiments with the 4Point Hybrid tonearm showed me that we may be chasing ghosts in this regard. Color me surprised – at least when Cardas DIN connectors and cartridge clips (along with ETI RCAs and XLRs) are employed.
The main challenge with this job involved fabricating the DIN adapter the old fashioned way (with the tools in the first photo, above).
This was a design activity, in the sense that some fiddling would be involved in determining the dimensions of the adapter, where to locate it on the tonearm’s base plate, and how to anchor it.
I had a solid grasp of the basic concept, but I’ve done enough work like this, to know that some prototyping would be involved. You don’t run multiple prototypes through your machinist for a “one-off” job – unless you’re willing to wait for weeks, and then pay a heavy premium. I was encouraged by the first try which was close (but nothing I’d sign my name to). That I succeeded in my second attempt came as a pleasant surprise.
Finis (or so I think) …
Finding a good location tonearm’s base plate for the connector took a bit of finagling in order to clear the counterweights while allowing for free movement of the wire. I’m quite proud of the end result.
I mounted the arm and installed/aligned a cartridge, and the results are consistent with my previous experiences with Cardas Clear, which is to say very, very good.
Another thought …
Every arm stub / counterweight mod that I’ve seen (or performed), where the lossy connection was eliminated has yielded an improvement in bass characteristics, with no down side.
The only thing that’s kept me from putting this Jelco modification into production is the fact that people refuse to believe this. I’ll wait until we re-open our doors (post-COVID) to demonstrate it.
We have a limited stock of Jelco SA-250s (Artisan Audio branded) which would greatly benefit from this. I’d go so far as to put up a rewired Jelco (Cardas Clear) with the arm stub conversion and counterweight mod up against an Ikeda. It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.
Now, if I can only get some quick turnaround time from my machinist, I’ll submit the Tri-Planar counterweight modification to him. I’ve been pondering this – seemingly forever.
This would only be type-1 fun, after all.