Vintage delights with Terry Bateman

I was reading the letter sent in by Andy Greensmith regards Hi-Fi quest in the May issue of Hi-Fi Choice (wherein Andy explains that he prefers the sound of an 80s Rega Planar 2 with a Clearaudio Aurum Alpha MM cartridge to his more expensive Nottingham Analogue Spacedeck with Rega RB303 arm and Hana EH moving coil). Like yourselves I found it an interesting question and thought I would share a hi-fi equipment designers perspective on this question (Terry designed the majority of Rega's electronics range). 

Of late I’ve found myself listening to Radio Caroline on AM and hearing tracks like The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway by Genesis – this would have sounded far better on the hi-fi system but I suppose the nostalgic effect and hearing  the music in the ‘other’ room syndrome are at play here.

 Hearing of the sad loss of Steve Priest, bass plyer for the Sweet brought back memories of playing Blockbuster on a 1958 valve amplifier salvaged from a Decca stereogram found at the local council tip in 1973. It used an Acos ceramic cartridge of some sort fitted to a Garrard autochanger turntable. The speakers were a pair of 8” drivers, salvaged from another radiogram, fitted in a pair of cabinets made in woodwork at school. Compared to the equipment I design now it would have been somewhat lacking, but at the time it sounded great and it was one of the sparks that got me into making my own gear.

Thanks to the British Vintage Wireless Society I was able to locate the same model Decca stereogram so I have the same amplifier again (top image) and I’m in throes of restoring it to see if it still sounds like it did in 1973. I’ll have to get my Sweet singles out! Note to budding enthusiastis: the Decca in it native form is dangerous as it uses the old live chassis system of powering it from the mains – so it must be used with an isolation transformer or – as I’m doing – using a replacement transformer which provides isolation.

PYE_SE_EL34_Amp.jpg

During lockdown I’ve built (upcycled) a 10 watt per channel singled EL34 Class A amplifier (above) using the chassis and transformers from pair of amplifiers salvaged from a PYE Super Black Box. This amplifier has rather decent transformers. I found one amp at the Audio Jumble and the other on eBay. In my mind I was once more back in 1973 making an amplifier out of bits I’d salvaged.

Terry Bateman