“Good news!” Stephen exclaimed, the second I walked into his office. I saw my Usher S-520s plopped lovingly in my cubicle. “Check your email,” he instructed.
An email from JA read:
I couldn't find anything wrong, Ariel. I measured both speakers and also listened to them…they match very closelyas well as the individual responses of the tweeter and woofer of the sample that didn't have the biwiring jumpers connected.*
Could that have been the problem?
Could this have been the problem…
Could this have been the problem?
COULD THIS HAVE BEEN THE PROBLEM?!
Uuuggh. I felt like such a fool. Rushing to Stephen last week like some sad puppy with a frown on my face complaining about speaker woes, spending hours at home fidgeting with different options, and then asking JA to take my speakers home and figure out what was wrong with them when all I had to do was look at them.
The truth is, I still would not have known the cause of the problem even if I looked right at it (which I probably did). As a noob to all of this hi-fi stuff, most everything is still a mystery.
So I asked JA for a solution, and he told me: “Just get a paper clip, and connect the two posts so that the woofer is connected to the tweeter.”
“Is the signal transferred through that paper clip?” I asked cautiously.
Constantly surrounded by components and different purchase options while working on the Buyer’s Guide, you begin to believe that audio options can only be purchases, often at uncomfortable prices. Instead, this one was simply stolen from Liz’s office.
So I took a taxi cab home early from work to go play with my new toys. Stephen told me to try and mimic the shape of the jumpers with the paper clips. The jumpers gripped to the exterior edges of the top binding posts, flanked downwards parallel to a sharp concave edge, and then extended back outwards leading to the bottom binding posts.
“I can do this. All I have to do is bend a paper clip around some stuff. Can’t be that hard.”
Well the task ended up being an “exercise in frustration,” mostly due to the concave wall of the speaker's terminal housing. Once I thought I had a good hook around the top binding post, the paper clip would reject my wishes to bend back evenly along the angles of the speaker wall, and as I screwed down the post on the bottom end, this horrible “eeecrrrawwwww” sound grated my ears. It sounded pretty darn similar to a screw being stripped, so I stopped this strategy immediately.
I diverged from SM’s advice, as it wasn’t working with these speakers due to that nasty little bent wall and the limitations of my paperclips. Back to square one. I removed all of the binding posts.
A light bulb flashed above my head. With wide circular openings now available in the middle of each of the posts, I threaded the paper clip graciously from the bottom post into the top one, just like a guitar string. The posts were screwed down, paper clips pressed down tight. Music ready to be made.
I was slightly worried about the presence of the paper clips in the middle of the binding posts, thinking the clips would interfere with the banana plugs, but then I just reasoned with myself: it’s all electricity anyway, and it’s going to get transferred through the paper clip one way or another, with or without direct contact to the plug. Maybe the connection is not quite as solid as it could have been with a correctly positioned paper clip jumper, but the slight scratches on the back of my loudspeakers, as a result of the previous attempts to connect the paper clip “correctly,” told me to leave it as is.
I placed the speakers on my new Target Hi-fi FS Series speaker stands, with a slight toe in. Connected the Blue Jeans Cable locking banana plugs to both the posts on the backs of my speakers and my Cambridge Audio 540a v2 integrated amplifier. On the left hand side of my system was my Rega P1 connected to a Bellari VP129, which was in turn plugged into the amp with more BJC stereo cables.
Oh, what record to play, what record to play…? My fingers tingled, just thinking about touching those cardboard sleeves. Unfortunately, I had no time for such heavy decisions. It was another open mic night, and I had to try out a new song I had been working on. I plugged my iPod in through the Y-cable, gave a quick hear to make sure all was clear (which it was), and bolted out the door.
*Congratulations to Robin, blog commenter, on figuring out the solution right after my first post. If I had a prize to send you, I would do it. For now, complete awe and appreciation is all I have to give you for your soothsaying abilities and obviously, incredible knowledge.