21 November, 2008

Home Visit: Western Electric


Western Electric
106 preamp
124 amp
755A loudspeaker

My friend M (in NYC) is a really crazy guy. His entire basement is stuffed with vintage audio and parts. For regular listening he uses the WE 106 preamp, paired with the 124 amp. Please note the more desirable silver version.

For speakers M used all sorts of things. Recently he bought from his friend a pair of Vandersteen 2CE (with Sound Anchor stands) that performed admirably. These are interesting speakers in having kind of a bi-polar character and open baffle for the tweeter and midrange. They are really even handed speakers suitable for all kinds of music, fullrange, at a very cheap price, a veritable bargain. The 124 had surprisingly good power to drive these to concert hall level.

While most people know the 124 amp, the 106 preamp is the real gem/rarity here. The dual mono and very high gain nature means it is a pain in the ass to use, but the sound! Even without the best tubes, 106/124 goes directly to the heart of music, missing almost nothing in nuance.

While I was there, M took out his single silver WE 755A (alnico) and we dismantled the AR-1 and took out the grey Altec 755A (alnico). A mismatched pair (the WE stronger on nuance) but sound was still really beautiful. It's debatable whether you should enclose the 755A. Many real experts use the original cabinets that house them (the ugly square grey boxes) to good effect. Open baffle is another choice. You might have seen Art Dudley's large baffle (in Stereophile) he used for the Altec 755C (not A, non-alnico). here on the floor and "time-aligned" the image was tall and there was enough bass and Salena jones was ravishing.

More later on this rig; and a surprise appearance of HMV speakers. have you heard of that?

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