Author Topic: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A  (Read 1360 times)

Offline crosswick

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"Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« on: January 07, 2018, 09:49:20 AM »
Hi all,

A discerning customer just pointed me to this page detailing some interesting low noise mods for a Wurli 200A:

https://illdigger.wordpress.com/2016/07/03/wurlitzer-200a-piano-repair-and-low-noise-mod/

Have these been discussed here before? I couldn't find anything about it through searching. Also, has anyone tried these? Any opinions? Is there any more information available on which parts are required exactly, like the low-noise transistors?

Or perhaps the maker Johnny Illdigger would be available to offer some more info? Looking forward!

Offline Jenzz

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2018, 10:42:28 AM »
Hi .-)

Ist all in the text.... He's just doing what an audio-experienced tech should do to every Wurly. He just used quality parts at the important spots and did a clear re-wiring of power and audio cables.

No rocket sience... ;-)

Jenzz

Offline crosswick

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 12:38:25 PM »
I see, thanks... I was thinking that perhaps someone had already made a list of specific components like the low-noise transistors that he mentions, which I couldn't find in the text. Perhaps I could make one down the line.

Do you personally prefer a method like this over swapping the entire unit for a remake from VV, EPS or Retrolinear for instance?

Offline cinnanon

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #3 on: January 08, 2018, 10:14:17 AM »
If you do this all day every day, then it's easy stuff. If you don't, it's a waste of your time unless you're willing to learn and have the angst to do so. I'd have no idea where to start. I'd love to be that knowledgeable about this stuff, but i'm not.  I'd like to see the type of amplifier this person can come up with for a wurlitzer.

I've tried replacing the usual suspect components, but don't have the patience to fiddle fart around with it all day when I could be doing mechanical adjustments. It takes alot of time unsoldering, cleaning, and resoldering components in the cramped workspace. The action could be beautiful, but nothing is worse than some hum.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 10:17:07 AM by cinnanon »

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #4 on: January 08, 2018, 11:32:04 AM »
I know Johnny, he's a clever guy when it comes to building amps.

You should check out his custom build of some studio gear on that site, pretty impressive stuff.

I've done a few of them and I've managed to get a late 200 amp incredibly quiet (albeit with the shields added too!)
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Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2018, 09:44:44 AM »
Changing parts on anything will change the sound.

One has to decide whether changing the original character of a preamp or amp, even the speakers, the circuit constants (how long the original wires were and their gauges) is something one wants.

A trade-off is losing that "sound" when going after hum and/or upgrading a Wurli for one reason or another.

There is a software called Broken Wurli  by Soniccouture that has sampled a Wurli sound featuring the faults of Wurlis as a positive recording tool including the distortion and the buzzing with a modeled noise output.



That said, would like to hear a clip of the Illdigger mods.

« Last Edit: February 02, 2018, 04:30:28 PM by Electrickey »

Offline pnoboy

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #6 on: February 20, 2018, 07:17:20 AM »
Changing parts on anything will change the sound.

One has to decide whether changing the original character of a preamp or amp, even the speakers, the circuit constants (how long the original wires were and their gauges) is something one wants.

A trade-off is losing that "sound" when going after hum and/or upgrading a Wurli for one reason or another.

There is a software called Broken Wurli  by Soniccouture that has sampled a Wurli sound featuring the faults of Wurlis as a positive recording tool including the distortion and the buzzing with a modeled noise output.



That said, would like to hear a clip of the Illdigger mods.

I would say that the mods discussed don't change the sound, but improve the sound.  Do you think that hiss and hum are good things?

Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #7 on: February 20, 2018, 10:13:19 AM »
I would say that the mods discussed don't change the sound, but improve the sound.  Do you think that hiss and hum are good things?

If the original had inherent hiss and hum for what was normal for that model, then that is the characteristic sound of that instrument. Like the sounds of air blowing through the pipes of a pipe organ. Or the "leakage" that was considered a huge problem to Hammond engineers eventually became a desired sound to the musician to the point that in a Hammond clone "leakage" has its own knob.

That's why I asked to hear a clip of the piano after the mods so I can judge for myself. If the mods did in fact improve the sound or did it change it and take away its character?

So far from what I've heard from the aftermarket preamp/amps for Wurlis, is yes no noise but the sound has changed because the circuitry is not the serendipitous tone of the original with all its quirks, cheap components and bad design.

And along with the change in sound is the change of the interaction of the musician with the instrument.

Whatever was inherent in the original circuitry that was in good working condition, with the inherent hum within reason is the character of that instrument.

When you say "improve the sound" what does that actually mean? Does it take the original sound and enhance it or does it take it in a different direction?

Joni Mitchell's Woodstock:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q3SjqGfe-yM

With the original circuitry, the Wurli gets that ethereal tone of the notes bleeding into the next with ghost noises.

It is a function and sound of the sum of its parts.

When Wurlitzer, like so many other companies who invented instruments without really knowing how they would be accepted designed their instruments, they were thinking of costs and with the available technology then. Then out of that soup of engineering and accountancy comes this "jewel" that gets adopted by musicians who were inspired to write on those instruments, the songs becoming hits and the instruments becoming stars in its own right, quirks and all.

I'm not against improvements but at what cost?

I was talking with a known touring band's techs last Saturday. They toured with this green 200a that was MIDI'd, nice action, tremolo speed mod...but they couldn't use it over time as the piano got "hot" meaning it would pick up all sorts of extraneous noises. You would think that the mod engineer who is known among the best musicians for keyboards would've figured that out. But changing the original did not help the musician in all aspects.

To its credit, using another 200A, they did make hit music using the tremolo speed mod to an advantage. But then the band was about new music, synthesis, record scratching, sporting a clone Mellotron, a clone Hammond B3 in a Nord C2D through a Leslie 3300 for its overdrive, a clone Prophet in the new digital version of the Prophet modules.

All a departure from the original, mutations if you will. In fact part of their rider was a real Hammond B3 but they wanted one with an effects loop so they could add effects to it. Again, a mutation. They were better off with the Nord.

Joni could've used a Bosendorfer or a Steinway for her hit Woodstock, but she used a Wurlitzer.

And it's the only instrument on the track. Well recorded for the time yet you can hear the inherent Wurli noise floor being gated but it is still part of the chord bloom.

And the rest...





Offline cinnanon

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #8 on: February 20, 2018, 12:07:04 PM »
She is recording through the internal speakers. You can hear the hammer-hitting-the-reed harmonics that the pickups don't pick up, specifically at 52-54 seconds of that video. That being said, who knows what this thing sounded like through the line-out? I think it was her speakers that gave her that buttery tone more-so than the amp. I will say I notice a different between old/worn speakers and new reproductions speakers.  I'm happy that there are new amplifiers these days that are more trust-worthy than the originals. If anything, I think the new amplifiers bring out the full sonic capability of the reeds/pickups more-so than the originals.

Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #9 on: February 20, 2018, 12:45:07 PM »
She is recording through the internal speakers. You can hear the hammer-hitting-the-reed harmonics that the pickups don't pick up, specifically at 52-54 seconds of that video. That being said, who knows what this thing sounded like through the line-out? I think it was her speakers that gave her that buttery tone more-so than the amp. I will say I notice a different between old/worn speakers and new reproductions speakers.  I'm happy that there are new amplifiers these days that are more trust-worthy than the originals. If anything, I think the new amplifiers bring out the full sonic capability of the reeds/pickups more-so than the originals.

Hum and noise comes out of speakers as well.

The Broken Wurli sounds were through speakers hence the choice of "speaker" and "line out" on that plugin.

Recording through speakers is normal for anything with speakers.

Who makes the repro speakers for a 200a?

I'm interested in the attempts to come up with parts for Wurlis.

But as we upgrade we leave behind the classic sound and tend to forget what that is until we happen to revisit it down the line.

The more things change, the more they remain the same.

The amp/preamp/transformer/wire has as much say in the matter as does the speakers. A guitarist will always mention an amp and then call out the speaker name, model.

Again, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Do It Again:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sil76t2X_DE



« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 01:17:51 PM by Electrickey »

Offline Tim W

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #10 on: February 20, 2018, 08:54:06 PM »
Well there goes this whole thread...   :o

Disclaimer:  I am here trying to clear some things up with regards to this topic.  I will state that I am not a believer in audiophile fairy dust or the like.  I don't think there is magical mojo that can't be somehow explained in audio or that, for example, cloth covered wire sounds better than plastic covered wire. Electrons are electrons, and they move based on the laws of physics.  Yes, of course, some things sound better and some worse, and there are reasons for that- scientific, emotional, psychological.  I cannot explain one's emotions or the psychological aspects thereof, but the science and engineering can be explained and reproduced, provided the proper study and time is dedicated to a given subject.  Human hearing is excellent, no doubt, but that hearing changes with the time of day, one's state of mind, whether one has eaten, what influences one is under at a specific time, etc.  Please try to keep that variability in perspective when considering specific arguments as far as sound goes.

The image attached below is, in my view, quite a funny but true reflection from Ethan Winer.  If you haven't read his book, "The Audio Expert", you may want to consider taking a look...




"Do It Again" was recorded on a Pianet, not a Wurlitzer.  It was Fagen's rig at the time.

If that clip is being used as a reference to the 'original' Wurlitzer sound, I don't think the merits of this 'old' or 'original' sound can be argued from a position of strength when the correct instrument isn't even properly identified in the first place.

For those out there that use our replacement amplifier boards, Thank You!  They were created from a need to make the 200 usable and recordable in today's recording and performing environment.   I designed it in 2006 after trying to rebuild my own 200 amp and getting inferior results.  Feedback from Ken Rich helped us dial in the design so that it really sounded right and was easy to install.   The pros love them.  Finally the FOH and monitor engineers can relax about the Wurly.  No one is asking "Where's that darn hum coming from???"  although the language is usually more colorful...  And the recording engineers in the studio don't need to play 'tricks' to make the piano work in the mix.  No notch filters at line frequency or its harmonics.  No mixing in 'reverse phase' hum to cancel the hum that is there.  No noise gating.

The original 200 design is horrible.  The architecture of the circuitry - not even the parts -  makes it high noise.  The vibrato huffs and puffs.  Even putting military spec $10k gold plated parts won't make that design low noise.  OK- maybe a little lower, but still not low.  Why the heck did Wurlitzer have 5 versions of the original 200 amp if it wasn't a problem in the first place?  Why did they bother with the 200A if the 200 wasn't inferior?

It is true that original 200As can be stuffed with better parts to make them perform better with a lower noise floor.  Fortunately the noise levels are improved thanks to a better circuit architecture.  Mr. Illdigger happened to publish his findings in this instance.  Many others that figured this out years ago didn't.  200As are still unreliable, however, for other reasons- especially in the power amp stage.  We did the parts swap routine on original 200As for years before releasing the 200A amplifier.  The 200A was added to the lineup at the request of techs that wanted better performance and reliability, and also did not want to waste time working on original boards that were flaky to begin with.  i.e.- people who were sick of the BS, the emergency service calls, and constant need to go back in and fix something else.

I have heard lots of stories about things that were done to make Wurlis quiet back in the day - remoting the transformer, remoting the amp, removing the amp and using something else (phantom power, anyone?), adding foil shields, changing the amp, etc.  None of us really know how these things were set up or recorded, and under what conditions.  What mic did they use?  Was it direct, was it through another amp?  How was it EQed?  The list goes on and on...  It is all assumptions and guesswork on our part, unless there is someone who can verify the history of it all AND back it up with photos or some other original records. And memories are generally very foggy now- so maybe they can't even (or don't want to) remember....

As for the speakers, the original Wurly speakers absolutely sound better than any of the reissues out there.  They have the right sensitivity and frequency response, and work well with the 'cabinet' - i.e. lid and piano.  The problem is they dry out, crumble and tear.  Or they warp, and then you have voice coil rub.  There are not too many originals left working properly anymore.  Busted speakers were certainly not a part of the classic Wurly sound, since they weren't busted in 1972.

So, if you want a Wurly with speakers, you use what you can get.  As long as it actually fits...

The cost to actually reissue an original Wurlitzer spec 4x8 oval speaker is out of this world.  No one would want to pay for it.  Thus, we are left using what it already available and customizing the specs with simple manufacturing mods that are in a very narrow design space.  Basically voice coils and dust caps- that's it. If anyone out there can figure out how to actually reissue the 200 style alnicos, with the same frequency response and sensitivity as the originals (as well as the other essential Thiele/Small parameters), have it actually properly fit inside and mount in the piano, and do it at a reasonable cost, PLEASE DO IT!

The truth is, different pianos sound different MORE because of the way they are set up than the electronics (if the electronics are working properly).  The pickup alignment to the reeds is far more critical to an individual piano's sound than the electronics.  The original Wurly amps, with all of their noise and other undesirable behavior, have a certain frequency response.  If you build another amplifier with the same frequency response and input/output impedance characteristics, the piano will sound the same as far as its character goes.  Yes there are non-linearities tied to certain designs that can have an effect on the sound (this is the whole concept of distortion), but our testing and research has shown that these electronic non-linearities were not a dominant factor in the overall sound of the piano.  In addition Wurlitzer reeds changed dimensionally in their manufacturing throughout the lifetime of the instrument, which is also why different pianos from different eras sound different- not so much because of the electronics.

Just for the record, it isn't often I get up on a soapbox... but we have been dealing with all this Wurlitzer stuff long enough now that I can speak from a pretty strong position- and we have the data to back it up!

Thanks for listening,

Tim
retrolinear.com
« Last Edit: February 20, 2018, 10:38:14 PM by Tim W »

Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2018, 12:43:26 AM »
Well there goes this whole thread...   :o

Disclaimer:  I am here trying to clear some things up with regards to this topic.  I will state that I am not a believer in audiophile fairy dust or the like.  I don't think there is magical mojo that can't be somehow explained in audio or that, for example, cloth covered wire sounds better than plastic covered wire. Electrons are electrons, and they move based on the laws of physics.  Yes, of course, some things sound better and some worse, and there are reasons for that- scientific, emotional, psychological.  I cannot explain one's emotions or the psychological aspects thereof, but the science and engineering can be explained and reproduced, provided the proper study and time is dedicated to a given subject.  Human hearing is excellent, no doubt, but that hearing changes with the time of day, one's state of mind, whether one has eaten, what influences one is under at a specific time, etc.  Please try to keep that variability in perspective when considering specific arguments as far as sound goes.

The image attached below is, in my view, quite a funny but true reflection from Ethan Winer.  If you haven't read his book, "The Audio Expert", you may want to consider taking a look...




"Do It Again" was recorded on a Pianet, not a Wurlitzer.  It was Fagen's rig at the time.

If that clip is being used as a reference to the 'original' Wurlitzer sound, I don't think the merits of this 'old' or 'original' sound can be argued from a position of strength when the correct instrument isn't even properly identified in the first place.

For those out there that use our replacement amplifier boards, Thank You!  They were created from a need to make the 200 usable and recordable in today's recording and performing environment.   I designed it in 2006 after trying to rebuild my own 200 amp and getting inferior results.  Feedback from Ken Rich helped us dial in the design so that it really sounded right and was easy to install.   The pros love them.  Finally the FOH and monitor engineers can relax about the Wurly.  No one is asking "Where's that darn hum coming from???"  although the language is usually more colorful...  And the recording engineers in the studio don't need to play 'tricks' to make the piano work in the mix.  No notch filters at line frequency or its harmonics.  No mixing in 'reverse phase' hum to cancel the hum that is there.  No noise gating.

The original 200 design is horrible.  The architecture of the circuitry - not even the parts -  makes it high noise.  The vibrato huffs and puffs.  Even putting military spec $10k gold plated parts won't make that design low noise.  OK- maybe a little lower, but still not low.  Why the heck did Wurlitzer have 5 versions of the original 200 amp if it wasn't a problem in the first place?  Why did they bother with the 200A if the 200 wasn't inferior?

It is true that original 200As can be stuffed with better parts to make them perform better with a lower noise floor.  Fortunately the noise levels are improved thanks to a better circuit architecture.  Mr. Illdigger happened to publish his findings in this instance.  Many others that figured this out years ago didn't.  200As are still unreliable, however, for other reasons- especially in the power amp stage.  We did the parts swap routine on original 200As for years before releasing the 200A amplifier.  The 200A was added to the lineup at the request of techs that wanted better performance and reliability, and also did not want to waste time working on original boards that were flaky to begin with.  i.e.- people who were sick of the BS, the emergency service calls, and constant need to go back in and fix something else.

I have heard lots of stories about things that were done to make Wurlis quiet back in the day - remoting the transformer, remoting the amp, removing the amp and using something else (phantom power, anyone?), adding foil shields, changing the amp, etc.  None of us really know how these things were set up or recorded, and under what conditions.  What mic did they use?  Was it direct, was it through another amp?  How was it EQed?  The list goes on and on...  It is all assumptions and guesswork on our part, unless there is someone who can verify the history of it all AND back it up with photos or some other original records. And memories are generally very foggy now- so maybe they can't even (or don't want to) remember....

As for the speakers, the original Wurly speakers absolutely sound better than any of the reissues out there.  They have the right sensitivity and frequency response, and work well with the 'cabinet' - i.e. lid and piano.  The problem is they dry out, crumble and tear.  Or they warp, and then you have voice coil rub.  There are not too many originals left working properly anymore.  Busted speakers were certainly not a part of the classic Wurly sound, since they weren't busted in 1972.

So, if you want a Wurly with speakers, you use what you can get.  As long as it actually fits...

The cost to actually reissue an original Wurlitzer spec 4x8 oval speaker is out of this world.  No one would want to pay for it.  Thus, we are left using what it already available and customizing the specs with simple manufacturing mods that are in a very narrow design space.  Basically voice coils and dust caps- that's it. If anyone out there can figure out how to actually reissue the 200 style alnicos, with the same frequency response and sensitivity as the originals (as well as the other essential Thiele/Small parameters), have it actually properly fit inside and mount in the piano, and do it at a reasonable cost, PLEASE DO IT!

The truth is, different pianos sound different MORE because of the way they are set up than the electronics (if the electronics are working properly).  The pickup alignment to the reeds is far more critical to an individual piano's sound than the electronics.  The original Wurly amps, with all of their noise and other undesirable behavior, have a certain frequency response.  If you build another amplifier with the same frequency response and input/output impedance characteristics, the piano will sound the same as far as its character goes.  Yes there are non-linearities tied to certain designs that can have an effect on the sound (this is the whole concept of distortion), but our testing and research has shown that these electronic non-linearities were not a dominant factor in the overall sound of the piano.  In addition Wurlitzer reeds changed dimensionally in their manufacturing throughout the lifetime of the instrument, which is also why different pianos from different eras sound different- not so much because of the electronics.

Just for the record, it isn't often I get up on a soapbox... but we have been dealing with all this Wurlitzer stuff long enough now that I can speak from a pretty strong position- and we have the data to back it up!

Thanks for listening,

Tim
retrolinear.com

Thanks for 'clearing' up the DO IT AGAIN song. It's listed on the net as being a Wurli. Hard to know unless you dig. Thanks for digging. We all benefit. Some don't remember what they did on albums so there's that avenue to walk down which is why listing instruments used is a good idea for posterity's sake. But how many did/do that? Then we get situations like this. Then the keyboard community stands corrected if it is in fact the truth and not fake news so that we all know what we are talking about, and much less about sticking one's face in something.

As for "fairy dust" and amp models being so "awful" it is a dichotomous discongruity when one endeavors to create a "better" version of said amps further exacerbating the already misconception posed that all this is neither here nor there and psychology be damned.

Here we have again the engineering POV of what is going on within a circuit, oxygen free copper wire vs gold plated jacks and silver solder. These go to 11.

In the digital age most older gear are noisy and "inferior" all because the digital domain has now rendered it such. Does not address the sonics of something just because the noise floor is gone much less the character of the original version of the instrument and the way the musician interacts with any one instrument.

Reliability is always an ongoing issue no matter what era the instruments come from which is why redundancy is maintained no matter how "reliable" something is said to be. FOH signals now no longer a multi-pair snake but a single ethernet cable to get 100 inputs to the mixer out in the middle of the arena. But there is the second ethernet cable in place, "just in case" latency for the new system notwithstanding. And there might be a redundant computer running said mixer..just in case.

The more things change the more they remain the same.

What a person hears is what is important to them. If one can satisfy themselves with changing the original character of the instrument just to get rid of the noise, then that person cannot hear the original nuances of the instrument enough for it to matter to them, only the fact there is less noise. Two sides of the same coin. Then you'll get those that can hear the original character and will suffer the noise considering that to be part and parcel of the original character.

And explaining it in terms of circuit design does not change the fact that any one amp or instrument is going to sound different for a host of other reasons which is why many artists go on this trek for the grail of whatever instrument they are after. The same "improvement" in a dozen units will not guaranty that the improvement will work for all 12 in certain aspects of the instrument. The Goldilocks paradigm.

Who can honestly say they hear a slight 60hz hum in the FOH once the band is playing at full blast and the crowd is screaming at the top of its lungs?

Granted one has a right to offer to the planet their version of the next better mouse trap, but if the one whose ears are better suited to certain arrangements in an instrument hears what they claim to hear, then all the work put into that trap goes uncelebrated.

Rest assured that there are those that can hear the differences in the original circuits and the newer attempts at fixing a few problems.

While we applaud any efforts, it is not the end all be all nor the last word on the topic of this thread. And if the thread was created to post a landmark discovery enforcing a touchstone, we might just have to agree to disagree.






« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 12:46:50 AM by Electrickey »

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2018, 04:15:08 AM »
Anyway.......  ???


Excellent response Tim, that should be pinned up on the forum as it has come up so many times.

Now can we get back to talking about these mods? Seems like the thread has de-railed.

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Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2018, 08:03:57 AM »
As mentioned previously, how about posting some audio clips with the illdigger mods?

No one bothered to read anything into that.

We've all heard the VV and the Retro clips.

If you post an "ad" for a product it should come with some substantiation.

Don't you think?

I thought this was a forum for electric pianos and not just a venue for corporate posturing.

Other forums take care to make sure that an advertiser does not arbitrarily take over the forum and become the status quo.

And they provide stickies to that directive, that ads should appear in a "new products" section so as not to come off as being the last word and only reason anyone joins the forum.

Be that as it may that one's experience has allowed them to talk with a few artists and help them with their gear, it does by no means follow that said people have all the answers nor the final say on an instrument or any mods. In fact it is merely only their opinions and their stylized approach for a new idea.

I'm a member of a forum where some members are designers, sellers of electronic products that desire to be a benefit for the instrument the forum was created and have witnessed the owner of the forum deleting photos of products a member posts that come off as advertising.

Post some audio of the illdigger mods. It only makes sense, in this modern age of wireless.



 :)

Offline Tim Hodges

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2018, 08:42:19 AM »
If you post an "ad" for a product it should come with some substantiation.

Don't you think?

This isn't an ad by any forum member, Crosswick has just posted a link to a page which shows some recommendations in improving a Wurlitzer's stock amp by a fellow electronics enthusiast.

I thought this was a forum for electric pianos and not just a venue for corporate posturing.

I don't think any one of the posters is trying to show off or mislead. We all just want to talk about the electronics of the amp.

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Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2018, 08:50:35 AM »
If you post an "ad" for a product it should come with some substantiation.

Don't you think?

This isn't an ad by any forum member, Crosswick has just posted a link to a page which shows some recommendations in improving a Wurlitzer's stock amp by a fellow electronics enthusiast.

I thought this was a forum for electric pianos and not just a venue for corporate posturing.

I don't think any one of the posters is trying to show off or mislead. We all just want to talk about the electronics of the amp.

Affirming The Consequent

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2018, 12:07:08 PM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.

Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #17 on: February 21, 2018, 06:29:17 PM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.

Again affirming the consequent, if not appeal to complexity, moving the goalposts. Fallacious arguments.


As previously explained it was because digital has spoiled the ear to pick out noise immediately. Already explained inherent noise in pipe organs, leakage in Hammond organs, for some reason is being missed in the information uptake. Yet for generations, noise in everything electronic audio was accepted and overlooked. Records with pops and clicks. And still long playing records have a sound that digital has not duplicated yet. We have left behind a fuller sounding medium for no noise and ease of cartage and fooled one's self that things are as best as they can be.

The issue I have with changing the amps/preamps in a Wurli is the way the keyboard sounds react. I have not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player of the piano, (with or without the noise). It is similar to how some guitar pedals will adversely affect the sound of a guitar and a hunt for something else or a mod is done as the player does not like the way his guitar now reacts with certain pedals in the chain.

Unfortunately there isn't a giant industry of mods for Wurlis as there are for guitars. You don't have 100's of companies adding to the mix their take on a Wurli preamp/amp. You only have two so far.

The cymbal story only proves one thing, that in any situation, the best of the lot presented will be chosen.

Granted making a new circuit is fraught with many constraints and when economics is concerned you have a company that has sleeping stock of units that need to be moved to recoup R&D, from a niche market. But that is not a good enough reason to want to change a Wurli's innards.

Some can't tell that the sound/reaction has changed (to the player) and it won't matter to them. That will be a Wurli mod company's market as small as it is. The biggest selling point is there is "no noise." Reliability may or may not be a close second.

Touring equipment gets beat no matter. The original designer was not thinking that their instrument would be travelling long distances for years being dropped and bumped.

As mentioned, working production for a named touring band supplying them with a Wurli just last Saturday, they merely asked for a backup Wurli at the ready, having brought their own "modded" 200A with tremolo speed knob. Someone we know of must've been the one who worked on that Wurli but here you have the band wanting a backup nonetheless.

So much for "reliability."

Everything audio has been based on a signal to noise ratio. But if like the guitar player the Wurli player does not like when he strikes the keys and the sound does not react the way he's experienced before, he will not be satisfied and will want to move on.

Explaining things as seen through a scope is not the touchstone. It is the ear's ability to discern as the final arbiter. And using one's hands, your fingers need the feedback it once had with the stock setup in order to go through a passage. If the mod supersedes the stock, so much the better. If it does not, back to the drawing board.

Society is getting cattle prodded into trusting their gear more than themselves. Happens all around.
"Well, the app says this so it must be true."

Even shielding a guitar for example changes the sound of that guitar's pickups. You'll either like it or not. But to say "it has less noise" as the only indicator of improvement is a weak reason to change things. Not unless you are okay with what the shielding did to your guitar's sound. And in a Wurli we are working with pickups at the vibrating source aren't we?

In the end when the band cranks up, you won't hear the noise and if you can still hear it then there's something wrong with your WURLI. As already experienced by the above mentioned band who toured with a MIDI'd 200A done by a keyboard tech that when on stage the 200A sucked up so much noise from all the gear on the stage, it was unusable. Sounded great on the bench, did not work as planned in situ.

It appears we are discussing apples and oranges here. If mod companies have the funds to research more to appeal to the others in the market who are not happy with just fixing a noise issue, then perhaps a better unit will be discovered. And why not? But discovery takes a lot of time and MONEY!

Serendipity is just as it is defined. It is a chance happening, an accident. The Wurli being a serious pro instrument is serendipity as was its design but it was not designed to be "pro" at the outset.

A/B a restored stock 200A with a 200A with a new design amp/preamp.

You decide which you like best. Acid test. No scopes, no tech talk.

No one got, it seems, the photo of the blind men and the elephant.

And if one did, well...






As time goes on it will be a luxury to haul around a Wurli or a Hammond, maybe even a closet full of guitars. And it will all be samples out of a digital device, no noise, lightweight, nothing to fix, just download an update.


We will have mutated into interacting with a digital device with a screen, not a vibrating source.



Back from the future, I like playing my Wurli. I know we all do.

We are lucky we have these instruments and those who wish to provide better solutions for them.





« Last Edit: February 21, 2018, 07:55:37 PM by Electrickey »

Offline Tim W

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2018, 11:58:40 PM »
First, a response.  Second, my take on the Illdigger mods.

I guess it is unfortunate that all of our advances and years of technological development have led us here. 

By extension of some of the arguments being made, we might as well go back to wax cylinders.  It seems that even if one were to change one or two components from the original amp it might adversely affect the sound and hamper the musician's ability to be inspired.  How do we even know if a working, original amp still sounds today the way it did when it was new?  We don't, and should not use that as a guide.

The merits of playing a real mechanical/electro-mechanical instrument vs. playing a digital simulation or sample are not being argued here.  The real instrument is better from a musical experience- period.  Real instruments allow nuance and infinite resolution of dynamics.  If you hit a key really really hard on a Wurly, it will respond accordingly.  Often, the reed may even break.  On a digital simulation, it plays the sound for velocity 127.  You may hit the key even harder next time, but its still 127 to the computer.  Eventually the key will probably break off.   Of course-- real pianos sound better.  Real pipe organs sound better.  When the guitarist complains to me at the gig because I ask for help moving all these heavy old keyboards around I tell him when he replaces his guitar with an iPad I'll leave the heavy stuff home.

BUT, in order for the real instrument to do what it is supposed to, it must be properly maintained and set up.  If the piano must be in tune and sound good, a Nord can and will outperform a real Wurly if it is compared to a real piano that has not been maintained.  Same with a real piano.  Same with a real pipe organ.  Often this is the case, unfortunately, and the digital electronics win out.  And, in all fairness, some of the new stuff is quite excellent- despite it not being the real deal.

One of the most obvious examples of all this is a Rhodes Stage piano.  It doesn't have any active electronics.  Only 2 passive pots and a cap.  Depending on how it is set up, it can sound VASTLY different.  Thin, round, even, uneven, clanky, clinky,  barky, bell like, thunky, crappy dynamically, great dynamically, good sustain, poor sustain.  It's all in the setup.  The Wurly, although different, has many of the same properties due to the mechanics and setup.  Again, I will restate that the sound of each individual piano probably has more to do with the setup of the reeds, pickups, and action than an original amp (properly working) vs. a new amp.  The electronics either get the sound out of the piano or hide it beneath noise and artifacts.  Again, a properly operating vintage amp does not contribute appreciable distortion (unless pushed too hard- but then the speakers also contribute to the distortion) - but it is still NOISY regardless.  Hard clipping is hard clipping in the solid state world, and is generally considered offensive.

Sorry, but removing hissy noise and AC hum does not lessen a musician's experience, it improves it.  In our experience, not one client has ever wanted to go back to the original amp after hearing ours properly installed.  In the 10 year history of production, now with nearly 1000 amps in the field, we have only ever had one person return an amp to us for a refund, and that was without a clear reason.  If that one person didn't like the sound of our amp, which may be the case, then that person is the 0.1% outlier in our data set.  Of course, there are probably 1000s more out there that have not purchased our amp because they don't like it.  But perhaps they haven't heard one live in person, they bought a new amp from somewhere else and they are happy with it,  have heard an improper or poor installation, or tried it on a piano that was really bad.  Or maybe they have preconceptions or misconceptions about the sound- how it sounds, or how it should sound because it isn't an original stock factory amp.  Or maybe they just plain old don't like it.  Maybe they think it is too expensive.  That's fine, and, there are other options.  Everyone can do what they wish.  But I will always defend our product and our reputation if I feel it is being misrepresented or criticized unfairly. 

If a new amp or component or whatever is designed properly, it will not change the desired character of the sound.  It will only remove the undesirable side effects.  If a person likes side effects, stick with the original.  Can't help anyone here.  I don't think side effects are a musical source of inspiration, however, unless one likes timing their music with AC line frequency artifacts or puffing vibrato.  Maybe avant garde types?

As for the tricked out Wurly discussed having problems with noise on stage, there are various reasons why it might be noisy, even with a new amp, if it even has one.  We have never done a MIDI install on a Wurly, so it isn't our work.  There are 3-knobbers out there tied in to original 200A amps as well as other 3 knobbers that aren't ours.  Maybe a ground went open somewhere inside.  Maybe the MIDI system was creating hash and interference due to a failing power supply wall wart.  Maybe another connection came loose.  Maybe the volume pot was going bad.  Maybe the IEC inlet was busted and the ground was intermittent.  Maybe it didn't have reed bar shields.  Maybe the keyboard player left his cell phone on the top.  Who knows?  It wasn't right, but it could probably be properly resolved by someone with the right skill set.  If all the noise and interference was desirable, they wouldn't have asked to use a backup piano!

Backups are often needed for various reasons. Subs are generally kept on standby for quick swaps when things go south.   What if reeds break?  What if a key gets stuck?  What if the piano gets knocked over and lands upside down?  Rain at an outdoor show.  What if the original amp blows up?  What is the artist has a fit and wants a new piano because the guy running monitors wasn't looking?  LOCUSTS!!!!

Nothing is fool proof or bullet proof, but we'd like to take as much precaution and do whatever can be done to achieve the highest possible level of reliability.  Old electronics are one of the biggest failure points.

As for the Illdigger mods, here is basically what he is doing, quoted direct [sic], followed by (>>) my comments:

It should be noted that in this rebuild process, it appears that there are no changes to any component values from those originally specified.  So he isn't really modifying the design, but rather blueprinting it.  The only modification appears to be low noise transistor substitutions.

First, Mr. Illdigger's editorial:

1.  You can read all over the net that wurlitzers are noisy and you can’t do anything about it. B.S !

>>  Agreed.  But there are limits to how far you can go with the original circuit and equipment.

2.  all you see on forums is people telling you to just replace the whole preamp/amp board with newly made ones. no offense to these people or the board makers but to me this is HERESY.

>>  Disagree, but we make and sell boards.  We are admittedly biased.  It must be considered also, however, that what is being proposed here by making improvements to the original equipment is also heresy to some.

3.  I personaly wouldn’t want op-amps in my wurly.

>>  Disagree.  A properly designed circuit with a quality opamp SELECTED for the job can and does work better than the original Wurlitzer circuit.  Opamps are just great when used properly.  Any recorded audio we hear has likely already gone through 100s of opamps.  Anything used improperly will be bad.  Sadly a lot of audio equipment is also bad.

4. This is a good discrete transistor design and there’s still a lot you can do to lower the noise further.

>> Not really a good design.  The front end isn't too bad- it is a marked improvement over the 200.  Overall it still has many weaknesses.  You can, however improve the noise.

5.  It’s just that normal repair guys don’t want to go through all that trouble or simply don’t have the knowledge to do it.

>> True.  It is a lot of trouble. And some guys don't have the knowledge.

6.  Or they would have to charge too much because it’s a big job.

>> Also true.  It takes many hours to do a rebuild cleanly and properly.  By the time you pay for labor and parts (especially some of the parts that have been chosen here), a new amp board will actually be less expensive, perform better, and have better long term reliability.  It is possible that once Mr. Illdigger does a few dozen rebuilds, and deals with cracked boards, improperly removed boards, improperly shipped boards, other flaky components and intermittent problems that start acting up AFTER he has rebuilt it and sent it back out, and flaky clients, he will likely start telling people to buy a new amp board.  Unless he really enjoys that sort of thing, which he honestly might.

And now the technical details, aside the normal repairs, clean up, and recapping he has discussed:

1. Replaced the transistors with modern low-noise ones (drasticaly reduce hiss)

>> Probably 2N5088s or BC550s.  These aren't particularly modern, but are solid performers.  There are many others...

2.  Replaced all signal carbon resistors with high quality film ones ( the red ones, in key spots, especialy the first ones, drasticaly reduces hiss.

>>  Absolutely, but the expensive resistors he is using are probably overkill in this application.  Any decent metal film will do- very accurate, and lower noise.  Thermal noise of all resistors, regardless of type, is the same.  There are other mechanisms for noise in different types of resistors with regards to construction and materials. 

The first resistors in the signal chain are the most important, because any noise they create will be amplified as the gain is highest from the input.  If it's along for the ride with the signal from the pickups, it will be amplified just as much.

For those that care, you can look up the theory and math. 
FWIW, carbon comps are among the noisiest.

3.  The combined effect of the new transistors and resistors is very noticable in lowering the background hiss).

>> Yes.

4.  replaced the electros with high quality Nichicons

>> Great.  Nichicon makes a great cap.

5.  All coupling caps replaced by high quality bipolar Nichicon muse capacitors.

>> Not sure there is a real advantage here.  The datasheet and technical specs for these audio caps are not much different than Nichicon's regular caps, except for flowery language like "Tighter bass".  Maybe they are lower ESR and ESL or have different dielectric absorption characteristics resulting in better frequency response.  It isn't obvious from the datasheets.  It may just be marketing to sell the same cap as their commercial line at a higher price to audio types.

6.  All the ceramic feedback caps were replace by film and polystyrene capacitors (for mojo!)

>> Probably not necessary, unless the ceramic caps are damaged or highly microphonic.  Yes, ceramic caps can be very microphonic.  'Mojo' is not a valid reason in my view, although others are likely to disagree.

7.  replaced the aux and driver transitors with low noise ones and matched the pair of drivers to fix the crossover distortion some wurly can have getting older.

>>  Yes.  Keep the signal path as clean as possible as we head downstream.  We'd also replace the gain trimmer (R-11) which gets flaky.  The crossover distortion definitely gets worse as the amp ages.  One of the weaknesses of this design- transistor parameters that drift start causing bad behavior.  Better designs avoid this from happening by designing around or compensating device characteristics that drift with time and temperature. The crossover distortion will likely creep back in after a while.

8.  replaced all the resistors in the bias/psu with higher wattage and matched where applicable. High quality Draloric 0.1% resistors for voltage reference and bias, to realy put back the wurly up to specs intended by the designer, and not the stock 20% resistors which can be up to 40% appart when they should match.

>>  Don't think any original resistors on a Wurly 200A board were as bad as 20% tolerance.  All I have ever seen was 5% or better, except for some 10% carbon comps on the HV supply where are not critical.  It is possible they drift out of tolerance further than their marked tolerance.  Not going to take the time to figure that out.  Replacing them can't hurt, but 0.1% tolerance is probably overkill.  The transistors vary more than those tight tolerances can likely account for.  But again, haven't done and won't do the analysis.

9.  brough the tremolo circuit back to spec, changed and matched the oscilator transistors and matched the resistors.

>> If it starts up quickly and oscillates at the right frequency and amplitude, no need to touch the oscillator.  But the trimmer that feeds the opto is usually flaky.  We would replace that.

10.  redid all the power wiring cleaner and with more rubust wire where needed

>> Cleaner absolutely.  Never thought the 18AWG wiring throughout the piano wasn't robust enough, however... the fuse blows at  1/2A.  If its the right fuse...

11. All signal cables redone with high quality shielded wires routed as far as possible from power cables. (this is realy key to reduce hum, a stock Wurly is full of problems)

>> Maybe if the original wiring is bad.  The original 200A audio wire has a foil shield with 100% coverage, can't get much better than that.  His final pics also show the original wiring in the audio path still in the piano and being used.

12.  The piano was now fully working and very low hiss but a bit of hum still remained low in the background. The stock Wurlitzer is grounded in way too many spots, through the cable shields, the harp etc. Which causes internal ground loops (HUMM..).

>> This is true.  Our 200A replacement amp comes with new ground wire and instructions for properly routing it using a different scheme.  The transformer, when *physically* inside or part of a ground loop will induce hum from the field it generates.  The loop with the transformer inside must be open.  The ground can be reconfigured around the transformer without affecting the integrity or safety of the ground.

13.  Instead of putting another neon bulb powered from the mains like the original, (Neon bulb induce noise in the circuit by themselves, plus the additional mains voltage in the wires which could induce humm in the audio) I replaced it with a big orange led powered from the psu.

>>  We've never had a problem with the neon bulb.  But if it is dim, flickering, missing, or blown we will often put an LED in its place and tap power from the amp board.  If the original is still good we will leave it in place and clean up the AC wiring.


That's a wrap!

Tim




Offline pnoboy

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2018, 06:58:17 PM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.
Again affirming the consequent, if not appeal to complexity, moving the goalposts. Fallacious arguments.
Fallacious in your opinion.  If I affirm the consequent, so do you with your unsubstantiated claims.  Also, I didn't move the goalposts, I merely asserted that one can ascertain the behavior of an audio amplifier by measuring the appropriate parameters.

As previously explained it was because digital has spoiled the ear to pick out noise immediately. Already explained inherent noise in pipe organs, leakage in Hammond organs, for some reason is being missed in the information uptake. Yet for generations, noise in everything electronic audio was accepted and overlooked. Records with pops and clicks.
Not true--noise was not accepted and overlooked in the pre-digital era.  Audio amplifiers and receivers often came with pop and click filters to reduce the undesirable sounds of scratched and/or dirty records.  Amp designers went to great lengths to minimize hiss and hum, and the reviews of audio products typically measured and published the value of hiss and hum of reviewed products.

And still long playing records have a sound that digital has not duplicated yet. We have left behind a fuller sounding medium for no noise and ease of cartage and fooled one's self that things are as best as they can be.

Many would disagree with you.  Although some listeners say that CDs have audible flaws, there are other digital reproduction standards that outdo CD quality such as SACD and DVD audio.  I believe the best digital reproduction can withstand double-blind testing.  You do believe double-blind testing, don't you?

The issue I have with changing the amps/preamps in a Wurli is the way the keyboard sounds react. I have not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player of the piano, (with or without the noise). It is similar to how some guitar pedals will adversely affect the sound of a guitar and a hunt for something else or a mod is done as the player does not like the way his guitar now reacts with certain pedals in the chain.
This is simply asserted by you without proof.  Further, unless tested in a double-blind way, your statements carry little weight.  You say you have "not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player..."  That is a phenomenally broad statement that hardly seems believable.  Either you have only heard poorly designed mods, or your conclusions are likely prejudiced by your expectations.  Psycho-acoustic testing and decades of audio testing have shown that humans are incredibly suggestible.

The cymbal story only proves one thing, that in any situation, the best of the lot presented will be chosen.
Quote
Perhaps I didn't adequately describe the situation.  After the musician tried all the examples of a particular cymbal, he was not told that he would then try the same ones to pick the best, or, perhaps, the least bad of the lot.  Instead, he was presented with the same cymbals without being told that he already tried them.  Often, he would find one of the cymbals he previously rejected and now thought was just what he wanted.

Some can't tell that the sound/reaction has changed (to the player) and it won't matter to them.
..but you, with your superior hearing can tell, no doubt?

As mentioned, working production for a named touring band supplying them with a Wurli just last Saturday, they merely asked for a backup Wurli at the ready, having brought their own "modded" 200A with tremolo speed knob. Someone we know of must've been the one who worked on that Wurli but here you have the band wanting a backup nonetheless.

So much for "reliability."

You have no specific information as to the reliability of Tim W.'s circuit.  It may be 10x the reliability of the original.  I surely don't know, and neither do you.

Everything audio has been based on a signal to noise ratio. But if like the guitar player the Wurli player does not like when he strikes the keys and the sound does not react the way he's experienced before, he will not be satisfied and will want to move on.
This is surely not the case.  SNR is one of the many important parameters of audio equipment, but hardly the only one that audio designers have paid attention to and have striven to optimize.

Even shielding a guitar for example changes the sound of that guitar's pickups. You'll either like it or not. But to say "it has less noise" as the only indicator of improvement is a weak reason to change things.
If that's true, then the shielding changed some other parameter(s) that are probably not that hard to measure.  Sound reproduction is not magic.


Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #20 on: February 23, 2018, 10:43:22 PM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.
Again affirming the consequent, if not appeal to complexity, moving the goalposts. Fallacious arguments.
Fallacious in your opinion.  If I affirm the consequent, so do you with your unsubstantiated claims.  Also, I didn't move the goalposts, I merely asserted that one can ascertain the behavior of an audio amplifier by measuring the appropriate parameters.

As previously explained it was because digital has spoiled the ear to pick out noise immediately. Already explained inherent noise in pipe organs, leakage in Hammond organs, for some reason is being missed in the information uptake. Yet for generations, noise in everything electronic audio was accepted and overlooked. Records with pops and clicks.
Not true--noise was not accepted and overlooked in the pre-digital era.  Audio amplifiers and receivers often came with pop and click filters to reduce the undesirable sounds of scratched and/or dirty records.  Amp designers went to great lengths to minimize hiss and hum, and the reviews of audio products typically measured and published the value of hiss and hum of reviewed products.

And still long playing records have a sound that digital has not duplicated yet. We have left behind a fuller sounding medium for no noise and ease of cartage and fooled one's self that things are as best as they can be.

Many would disagree with you.  Although some listeners say that CDs have audible flaws, there are other digital reproduction standards that outdo CD quality such as SACD and DVD audio.  I believe the best digital reproduction can withstand double-blind testing.  You do believe double-blind testing, don't you?

The issue I have with changing the amps/preamps in a Wurli is the way the keyboard sounds react. I have not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player of the piano, (with or without the noise). It is similar to how some guitar pedals will adversely affect the sound of a guitar and a hunt for something else or a mod is done as the player does not like the way his guitar now reacts with certain pedals in the chain.
This is simply asserted by you without proof.  Further, unless tested in a double-blind way, your statements carry little weight.  You say you have "not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player..."  That is a phenomenally broad statement that hardly seems believable.  Either you have only heard poorly designed mods, or your conclusions are likely prejudiced by your expectations.  Psycho-acoustic testing and decades of audio testing have shown that humans are incredibly suggestible.

The cymbal story only proves one thing, that in any situation, the best of the lot presented will be chosen.
Quote
Perhaps I didn't adequately describe the situation.  After the musician tried all the examples of a particular cymbal, he was not told that he would then try the same ones to pick the best, or, perhaps, the least bad of the lot.  Instead, he was presented with the same cymbals without being told that he already tried them.  Often, he would find one of the cymbals he previously rejected and now thought was just what he wanted.

Some can't tell that the sound/reaction has changed (to the player) and it won't matter to them.
..but you, with your superior hearing can tell, no doubt?

As mentioned, working production for a named touring band supplying them with a Wurli just last Saturday, they merely asked for a backup Wurli at the ready, having brought their own "modded" 200A with tremolo speed knob. Someone we know of must've been the one who worked on that Wurli but here you have the band wanting a backup nonetheless.

So much for "reliability."

You have no specific information as to the reliability of Tim W.'s circuit.  It may be 10x the reliability of the original.  I surely don't know, and neither do you.

Everything audio has been based on a signal to noise ratio. But if like the guitar player the Wurli player does not like when he strikes the keys and the sound does not react the way he's experienced before, he will not be satisfied and will want to move on.
This is surely not the case.  SNR is one of the many important parameters of audio equipment, but hardly the only one that audio designers have paid attention to and have striven to optimize.

Even shielding a guitar for example changes the sound of that guitar's pickups. You'll either like it or not. But to say "it has less noise" as the only indicator of improvement is a weak reason to change things.
If that's true, then the shielding changed some other parameter(s) that are probably not that hard to measure.  Sound reproduction is not magic.

More fallacious arguments, strawman, resorting to AD HOMINEM. Geeze...

i THINK YOU NEED A CRASH COURSE IN LEARNING HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention.

Nothing you said made sense as regards what I said.

Learn the difference rather than put words in people's mouths.

AD HOMINEM!

Look it up!




Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #21 on: February 23, 2018, 11:21:42 PM »
The merits of playing a real mechanical/electro-mechanical instrument vs. playing a digital simulation or sample are not being argued here.  The real instrument is better from a musical experience- period.  Real instruments allow nuance and infinite resolution of dynamics.

Agreed, was merely pointing to the future as I see it, meaning these vintage pieces are going to be replaced down the line with something artificial by the next generations. Am sure others see this too. As time passes, the original sound will be forgotten.

I have been to your site going on years, and know what you are capable of. I for one am not doubting your abilities. I am not an electronics designer. What you and others do is a talent unto itself.

I also know who MIDI'd that Wurli but do not wish to give anyone a bad name. Times are tough enough. People try their best.

What I wanted out of this thread is to hear some clips from the Illdigger mod. Reading a blog about what was done is only half the story.

I did though preface my take on what I was hearing from the existing clips of the other preamp/amp designers.

While I respect anyone who endeavors designing and putting such out in the market, I still need to make calls for myself if it is something I can use. And believe me I wish that they'd succeed. But I have to be honest to myself.

I was able to get the thunderstorms out of my 200a after acquiring it by re-flowing all the joints on both preamp and amp using one of those computer controlled soldering stations so as not to overheat the parts. The parts are all original, even to the neon pilot light.

Yeah she hums but only if you put your ear up to the speakers. I've heard it over large arrays with a known pro touring band. No hum that I could hear. And they didn't complain either going line out.

All it will take is for someone to record a hit song with an aftermarket Wurli amp and the path beaten will be to your door.














Offline pnoboy

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #22 on: February 24, 2018, 07:32:43 AM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.
Again affirming the consequent, if not appeal to complexity, moving the goalposts. Fallacious arguments.
Fallacious in your opinion.  If I affirm the consequent, so do you with your unsubstantiated claims.  Also, I didn't move the goalposts, I merely asserted that one can ascertain the behavior of an audio amplifier by measuring the appropriate parameters.

As previously explained it was because digital has spoiled the ear to pick out noise immediately. Already explained inherent noise in pipe organs, leakage in Hammond organs, for some reason is being missed in the information uptake. Yet for generations, noise in everything electronic audio was accepted and overlooked. Records with pops and clicks.
Not true--noise was not accepted and overlooked in the pre-digital era.  Audio amplifiers and receivers often came with pop and click filters to reduce the undesirable sounds of scratched and/or dirty records.  Amp designers went to great lengths to minimize hiss and hum, and the reviews of audio products typically measured and published the value of hiss and hum of reviewed products.

And still long playing records have a sound that digital has not duplicated yet. We have left behind a fuller sounding medium for no noise and ease of cartage and fooled one's self that things are as best as they can be.

Many would disagree with you.  Although some listeners say that CDs have audible flaws, there are other digital reproduction standards that outdo CD quality such as SACD and DVD audio.  I believe the best digital reproduction can withstand double-blind testing.  You do believe double-blind testing, don't you?

The issue I have with changing the amps/preamps in a Wurli is the way the keyboard sounds react. I have not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player of the piano, (with or without the noise). It is similar to how some guitar pedals will adversely affect the sound of a guitar and a hunt for something else or a mod is done as the player does not like the way his guitar now reacts with certain pedals in the chain.
This is simply asserted by you without proof.  Further, unless tested in a double-blind way, your statements carry little weight.  You say you have "not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player..."  That is a phenomenally broad statement that hardly seems believable.  Either you have only heard poorly designed mods, or your conclusions are likely prejudiced by your expectations.  Psycho-acoustic testing and decades of audio testing have shown that humans are incredibly suggestible.

The cymbal story only proves one thing, that in any situation, the best of the lot presented will be chosen.
Quote
Perhaps I didn't adequately describe the situation.  After the musician tried all the examples of a particular cymbal, he was not told that he would then try the same ones to pick the best, or, perhaps, the least bad of the lot.  Instead, he was presented with the same cymbals without being told that he already tried them.  Often, he would find one of the cymbals he previously rejected and now thought was just what he wanted.

Some can't tell that the sound/reaction has changed (to the player) and it won't matter to them.
..but you, with your superior hearing can tell, no doubt?

As mentioned, working production for a named touring band supplying them with a Wurli just last Saturday, they merely asked for a backup Wurli at the ready, having brought their own "modded" 200A with tremolo speed knob. Someone we know of must've been the one who worked on that Wurli but here you have the band wanting a backup nonetheless.

So much for "reliability."

You have no specific information as to the reliability of Tim W.'s circuit.  It may be 10x the reliability of the original.  I surely don't know, and neither do you.

Everything audio has been based on a signal to noise ratio. But if like the guitar player the Wurli player does not like when he strikes the keys and the sound does not react the way he's experienced before, he will not be satisfied and will want to move on.
This is surely not the case.  SNR is one of the many important parameters of audio equipment, but hardly the only one that audio designers have paid attention to and have striven to optimize.

Even shielding a guitar for example changes the sound of that guitar's pickups. You'll either like it or not. But to say "it has less noise" as the only indicator of improvement is a weak reason to change things.
If that's true, then the shielding changed some other parameter(s) that are probably not that hard to measure.  Sound reproduction is not magic.

More fallacious arguments, strawman, resorting to AD HOMINEM. Geeze...

i THINK YOU NEED A CRASH COURSE IN LEARNING HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention.

Nothing you said made sense as regards what I said.

Learn the difference rather than put words in people's mouths.

AD HOMINEM!

Look it up!
You say, "You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention."  All I did was quote you word for word--nothing added, nothing deleted.  Additionally, I showed your whole post, so the context of your statements would be clear.  You then go on to accuse me of ad hominem, whose meaning I don't have to look up, when the folllowing are the things you said about me,

"i THINK YOU NEED A CRASH COURSE IN LEARNING HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention.

Nothing you said made sense as regards what I said.

Learn the difference rather than put words in people's mouths."

Those are quite a string of insults!
  None of them are true, IMO.  I am happy to let other readers of this post draw their own conclusions about my ability to communicate and the content of my posts.  In any case, I am calling a truce--there's nothing more I need to add, and I will graciously allow you the final word if you so choose.

Offline Electrickey

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #23 on: February 24, 2018, 08:21:34 AM »
I have to say that I agree with Tim from Retrolinear.  I think there would surely be broad agreement that hiss and hum are not desirable.  Would anyone want a stereo system with hum and hiss?  The most likely situation is that players of the Wurli put up with the hiss and hum because they didn't know how to get rid of it.  I suspect 99% of Wurli players would be happy to get rid of both it it was free and simple to do.   As for other aspects of the amp, as Tim stated, if you duplicate the input impedance, the gain and frequency response of the whole amp as measured with its speakers connected (some amps behave differently when connected to a complex load as compared to a resistive load), its power output, and its distortion characteristics, then your amp will sound the same as the Wurli amp.  Distortion is often misunderstood--it you can't hear it, it's of no consequence, and in general, I don't think Wurlis had or were played with noticeable distortion.  I had a Wurli once, and played it through a guitar amp to get enough volume for gigging.  Clearly, this amp had different characteristics than the built-in amp, but in no way did I feel that it detracted from the Wurli sound.

I am reminded of a story that a former colleague of mine told me.  He used to work at the Zildjian cymbal company, which would allow some musicians to come in and select the cymbals they liked the best.  Often a musician would go through all the cymbals of a given type looking for the best one.  If they didn't find one out of their stock, the company would start giving the musician the same ones they had previously tried.  Often, the musician would find the "best" one and leave a happy camper.
Again affirming the consequent, if not appeal to complexity, moving the goalposts. Fallacious arguments.
Fallacious in your opinion.  If I affirm the consequent, so do you with your unsubstantiated claims.  Also, I didn't move the goalposts, I merely asserted that one can ascertain the behavior of an audio amplifier by measuring the appropriate parameters.

As previously explained it was because digital has spoiled the ear to pick out noise immediately. Already explained inherent noise in pipe organs, leakage in Hammond organs, for some reason is being missed in the information uptake. Yet for generations, noise in everything electronic audio was accepted and overlooked. Records with pops and clicks.
Not true--noise was not accepted and overlooked in the pre-digital era.  Audio amplifiers and receivers often came with pop and click filters to reduce the undesirable sounds of scratched and/or dirty records.  Amp designers went to great lengths to minimize hiss and hum, and the reviews of audio products typically measured and published the value of hiss and hum of reviewed products.

And still long playing records have a sound that digital has not duplicated yet. We have left behind a fuller sounding medium for no noise and ease of cartage and fooled one's self that things are as best as they can be.

Many would disagree with you.  Although some listeners say that CDs have audible flaws, there are other digital reproduction standards that outdo CD quality such as SACD and DVD audio.  I believe the best digital reproduction can withstand double-blind testing.  You do believe double-blind testing, don't you?

The issue I have with changing the amps/preamps in a Wurli is the way the keyboard sounds react. I have not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player of the piano, (with or without the noise). It is similar to how some guitar pedals will adversely affect the sound of a guitar and a hunt for something else or a mod is done as the player does not like the way his guitar now reacts with certain pedals in the chain.
This is simply asserted by you without proof.  Further, unless tested in a double-blind way, your statements carry little weight.  You say you have "not heard a mod that retains the basic character and reaction to the player..."  That is a phenomenally broad statement that hardly seems believable.  Either you have only heard poorly designed mods, or your conclusions are likely prejudiced by your expectations.  Psycho-acoustic testing and decades of audio testing have shown that humans are incredibly suggestible.

The cymbal story only proves one thing, that in any situation, the best of the lot presented will be chosen.
Quote
Perhaps I didn't adequately describe the situation.  After the musician tried all the examples of a particular cymbal, he was not told that he would then try the same ones to pick the best, or, perhaps, the least bad of the lot.  Instead, he was presented with the same cymbals without being told that he already tried them.  Often, he would find one of the cymbals he previously rejected and now thought was just what he wanted.

Some can't tell that the sound/reaction has changed (to the player) and it won't matter to them.
..but you, with your superior hearing can tell, no doubt?

As mentioned, working production for a named touring band supplying them with a Wurli just last Saturday, they merely asked for a backup Wurli at the ready, having brought their own "modded" 200A with tremolo speed knob. Someone we know of must've been the one who worked on that Wurli but here you have the band wanting a backup nonetheless.

So much for "reliability."

You have no specific information as to the reliability of Tim W.'s circuit.  It may be 10x the reliability of the original.  I surely don't know, and neither do you.

Everything audio has been based on a signal to noise ratio. But if like the guitar player the Wurli player does not like when he strikes the keys and the sound does not react the way he's experienced before, he will not be satisfied and will want to move on.
This is surely not the case.  SNR is one of the many important parameters of audio equipment, but hardly the only one that audio designers have paid attention to and have striven to optimize.

Even shielding a guitar for example changes the sound of that guitar's pickups. You'll either like it or not. But to say "it has less noise" as the only indicator of improvement is a weak reason to change things.
If that's true, then the shielding changed some other parameter(s) that are probably not that hard to measure.  Sound reproduction is not magic.

More fallacious arguments, strawman, resorting to AD HOMINEM. Geeze...

i THINK YOU NEED A CRASH COURSE IN LEARNING HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention.

Nothing you said made sense as regards what I said.

Learn the difference rather than put words in people's mouths.

AD HOMINEM!

Look it up!
You say, "You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention."  All I did was quote you word for word--nothing added, nothing deleted.  Additionally, I showed your whole post, so the context of your statements would be clear.  You then go on to accuse me of ad hominem, whose meaning I don't have to look up, when the folllowing are the things you said about me,

"i THINK YOU NEED A CRASH COURSE IN LEARNING HOW TO COMMUNICATE.

You take a sentence, change the intent and then substitute something else as if that was the original intention.

Nothing you said made sense as regards what I said.

Learn the difference rather than put words in people's mouths."

Those are quite a string of insults!
  None of them are true, IMO.  I am happy to let other readers of this post draw their own conclusions about my ability to communicate and the content of my posts.  In any case, I am calling a truce--there's nothing more I need to add, and I will graciously allow you the final word if you so choose.



You still don't understand where you're wrong as you still don't understand what a fallacious argument is much less what an ad hominem is, yet you post:

Quote
Those are quite a string of insults!
after posting this:
Quote
..but you, with your superior hearing can tell, no doubt?

Then you commit another fallacy of argument one of appealing to the crowd (Argumentum ad populum) when you posted this:
Quote
I am happy to let other readers of this post draw their own conclusions


While you are watched chasing your own tail, this, you may ponder.



Offline Cormac Long

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Re: "Illdigger" low noise mods for Wurlitzer 200A
« Reply #24 on: February 25, 2018, 06:14:48 AM »
I think this thread as Tim suggested as gone off the rails enough.

Locked.