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  • Deja Vu Audio

    I had a great time visiting Deja Vu Audio in Mclean, Virgina. The owner, Vu, specializes in both modern and vintage equipment. He has many current products on display for demo, such as Audio Note, Harbeth, Synthesis, Clearaudio, Conrad Johnson, Jolida, etc. Also, he has tons (and I mean tons) of vintage setups in many rooms - restoring many turntables, speakers, amps and preamps from the 1920s - 1980s to current specs, refinishing the cabinetry and woodwork. I believe they also fix broken equipment, so if one has trouble with a component, may want to give them a call if you can't work with your manufacturer for some reason.

    I was quite amazed hearing the horn speakers he restores - parts from the 1920-1960s. There is no harshness to it at all - it so smooth yet so alive at the same time. The bass, though from a specs standpoint doesn't go low, I heard more than an enough bass that I would ever want. The highs seem to extend with ease due to increased airflow from the design. I was quite enamored with what I was hearing from the restored speakers. Sadly, most of the parts cannot be obtained today and also some have been banned by the EPA. This has contributed to many making speakers that are inefficient, requiring a lot more power. With that increased power has forced tube amplifiers to been driven harder, using the KT88 based tubes, and having a different sound than traditional tube amplifiers. Many love this combination, but I'm realizing why I've had a hard time matching the sound I like with modern products on the market. Current horns I've heard tend to have an unpleasant shrillness that I can't seem to get over. Not with these horn speakers. The price tag is pretty steep for these vintage horns, ranging from $12,000 - $75,000. However, the cabinet is completely refinished and you can customized the wood and color to your liking. If you are ever in the Northern Virginia or DC area, I highly recommend a visit. Vu was such a pleasure to talk with. He always shows at Capitol Audiofest, so stop by if you're there. Here are some photos from the visit.

  • #2
    Western Electric 16A Horn
    ---
    Considered to be one of the rarest of Western Electric vintage horn. One of the few in existence. This horn is alnmost 100 years old and it's still sound great! Introduced in 1929, the W.E. 16A Horn was intended as a compact solution for a horn speaker system to be mounted behind the movie screen in the early days of "sound movie" (as opposite to "silent movie"). "Introduced in 1929, the Western Electric 16A horn is a product of the early days of talking motion pictures. The 16A was intended as a compact solution for a horn speaker system to be mounted behind the movie screen hanging on chains. At 400 pounds and almost 3 meters wide, the idea "compact" is relative. The WE 16A could be loaded with either two or four WE 555 field coil compression drivers. This horn has a unique dual horn construction which allows it to be used today for single point stereo. The Western Electric 16-A Horn was available in two different configurations. The Part number 6016-A Horn consists of 16-A Horn and 2 9-A Receiver Attachments (for 2-555 Receivers). Air Column Length is approx. 12"-11". The Part number 6116-A Horn consists of 16-A Horn and 4 8-B Receiver Attachments (for 4-555 Receivers). Air Column Length is approx. 11"-10"."

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    • #3
      GATES Vintage Turntable

      From the golden era, this is a Gates CB-500 3-speed 16" table with platter.

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      • #4
        Restored horn speakers with finished gray oak. Drivers/parts from the 50s and 60s. Price is $12,000.

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        • #5
          WESTERN ELECTRIC 22P Preamp
          Western Electric Company (sometimes abbreviated WE and WECo) was an American electrical engineering company, the manufacturing arm of AT&T from 1881 to 1995. It also served as the purchasing agent for the member companies of the Bell System. In 1929, Western Electric was also a big player in early cinema sound systems. It created the Western Electric Universal Base, a device by which early silent cinema projectors could be adapted to screen sound films. It also designed a wide-audio-range horn loudspeaker for cinemas. This was estimated to be nearly 50% efficient, thus allowing a cinema to be filled with sound from a 3-watt amplifier. This was an important breakthrough in 1929 because high-powered audio valves were not generally available back then. Western Electrics’ reputation for sound management was such that in 1949 President Truman requested that Western Electric manage a major defense laboratory, Sandia National Labs.

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          • RandyRobinson
            RandyRobinson commented
            Editing a comment
            This one went to 20 long before Spinal Tap

        • #6
          I met Vu at the last LA show, he has a sister store in La Jolla, CA. Joshua runs it, his passion is infectious and he's into this for all the right reasons...the music! he'd rather talk records than gear which is a problem if you don't have 2+ hours to kill - like I did the time I was there


          "One of the great challenges of this world: Knowing enough about a subject to think you are right, but not enough about the subject to know you're wrong" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

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          • Analog21
            Analog21 commented
            Editing a comment
            You are right about that. I was there for about 2 hours and still need to go back to hear more. He had been doing horns for over 20 years, so really want to demo the $12k speakers more. I plan on bring my cd/dac and spend a lot more time with the equipment to see if I want to take the plunge. His record collection is also immense and really loves to talk music. Fun time!

        • #7
          Do these guys sell the vintage WE stuff?
          Analog21 And did you get to hear the any of the large horns, like the 16A?
          Love the look of that preamp. I don't know if the description you provided of the Universal Base is equivalent to the stacks of WE electronics that are human-sized- would love to hear a set up in top working order.




          Click image for larger version  Name:	DSCF0305.jpg Views:	1 Size:	445.4 KB ID:	61923

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          • Analog21
            Analog21 commented
            Editing a comment
            Here is what Vu said about your questions: "we do sell WE when we have to. WE gear is really hard to come by so I sell part of my collections when cash is tight and if I need to buy more vintage parts for our use. Most of WE stuff we have at the shop is part of my personal collection. I will probably save most of it and give to my kids. Original WE gear is the best sounding college fund!!!
            The large horn system you heard is a vintage horn; we are making these horns at the moment. We use vintage alnico WE 555 type drivers with these large horns.
            That WE 22 was a mic preamp from a radio station, we rewired to use as mono preamp. the large human sized system is my reference WE mono system. I will get that back working when I get a proper tweeter installed back."

          • Bill Hart
            Bill Hart commented
            Editing a comment
            Thanks for taking the time to investigate that. I think Vu's answer is exactly what I would say if I had a pile of that stuff. Was his reference to the "large human sized system [that] is my reference WE mono system" something similar to the stack I depicted? That piece- non-working as far as I know, was hidden deep in the bowels of the Library of Congress archive. They had to drag me out of that room. I posted a diagram of one set up below in a separate reply.

        • #8
          The stuff I saw/heard used orig WE trafos and they have a guy (in Italy?) that builds it using WE schematics. The chassis are interesting in and of themselves using repurposed (old) boxes from antique electronics etc. the stuff I saw was painted hammertone and the rust cancers were sanded off to give it the 'barn find' look. def not for everyone, personally it looked cool as hell to me even if it just sat there didn't make music.


          "One of the great challenges of this world: Knowing enough about a subject to think you are right, but not enough about the subject to know you're wrong" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

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          • MylesBAstor
            MylesBAstor commented
            Editing a comment
            Vu has those Italian WE copies too. He had them at last year's CAF on the NOLAs.

        • #9
          It's a great shop to visit. My friend and I call it the Disneyworld of vintage audio! They saved my butt with some headshell leads on a Sunday, not long ago. Three floors of audio fun.
          SOURCE: VINYL - EAT C-Sharp with, EAT LPS power supply, My Sonic Lab Signature Gold
          DIGITAL - Auralic Vega G2 DAC. Schiit Yggdrasil DAC. Bluesound Node 2i streamer
          PHONOSTAGE: AudioNet PAM G2 with AudioNet EPX power supply.
          PREAMP: Audionet PRE G2.
          AMPLIFIER: Audionet MAX monoblocks.
          SPEAKERS: YG Acoustics Anat III Signatures (upgraded to Sonja 1.2) SVS SB-4000 subwoofers (x2)
          CABLES: Kubala-Sosna.....Audio Desk Systeme RCM, Adona Rack, GIK & Acoustimac room treatment, Isoacoustics

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          • #10
            I've heard Deja Vu systems including the WE speakers at Capital Audio Fest the last couple of years and thought they were the best of show in 2015 and second best the following year. We've come such a long way since the '20s....

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          • #11
            Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
            Do these guys sell the vintage WE stuff?
            Analog21 And did you get to hear the any of the large horns, like the 16A?
            Love the look of that preamp. I don't know if the description you provided of the Universal Base is equivalent to the stacks of WE electronics that are human-sized- would love to hear a set up in top working order.



            More: Click image for larger version  Name:	IMG_0014.JPG Views:	1 Size:	42.4 KB ID:	61930

            Comment


            • #12
              There's a fellow in Korea who makes replica WE16a horns. Since original Western Electric horns are hard to find and very expensive when one does find them, this seems like a good alternative for those with the budget and space for this kind of system.
              https://we16ahorn.blogspot.com/2013/...-rare-and.html

              ---Gary
              Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
              Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
              Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
              Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
              Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
              Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, Audiomeca Mephisto
              Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

              Comment


              • MylesBAstor
                MylesBAstor commented
                Editing a comment
                Ki would know but I think Peter Cheong at KLaudio has those Korean horns. There should be some pics of those horns in my Pacific Northwest vacation thread. Peter was using the horn in mono.

            • #13
              Originally posted by GaryB View Post
              There's a fellow in Korea who makes replica WE16a horns. Since original Western Electric horns are hard to find and very expensive when one does find them, this seems like a good alternative for those with the budget and space for this kind of system.
              https://we16ahorn.blogspot.com/2013/...-rare-and.html

              ---Gary
              And that's still only part of it, right Gary? I mean vintage compression drivers (and associated components) are pretty astronomical assuming you can find the pieces. GIP and GOTO are two companies I'm aware of that make reproductions. We are getting into deep waters here....
              I find the antiquarian stuff fascinating.

              Comment


              • Analog21
                Analog21 commented
                Editing a comment
                I found it fascinating as well Bill. Hope to get back soon for a more extensive listening session. Now I know what I'm for when I go back 🙂

            • #14
              Originally posted by Bill Hart View Post
              And that's still only part of it . . . vintage compression drivers (and associated components) are pretty astronomical assuming you can find the pieces. GIP and GOTO are two companies I'm aware of that make reproductions. We are getting into deep waters here .... I find the antiquarian stuff fascinating.
              Bill - I agree completely. Although it's unlikely I'll ever own a western electric horn system, I really enjoy reading about them and very occasionally actually hearing them. The monster horn systems that I have heard capture a sense of realism that I find compelling. For those who like to live vicariously, here's an article describing Chris Sommovigo's adventuring chasing WE16a horns in Japan. It's a fun read. http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/japan1/1.html
              ---Gary
              p.s. another company making replicas of WE drivers is Line Magnetics
              Analog: Scheu + Immedia RPM tonearm + Koetsu Black + Pass Xono or Threshold FET 10pe
              Amps: First Watt F7, HK Citation II
              Pre-Amps: CJ Premier 14, Threshold FET 10e, DIY 417a with output transformer
              Speakers: Horning Eufrodite, Reference 3A mm de capo
              Tuners: Sansui TU9900, McIntosh MR78
              Digital: i7 Server (Roon) + SSD, Sonore urendu + Mutec MC3+ USB + Berkeley Alpha Dac, Audiomeca Mephisto
              Power: Audience AR12, Torus Tot, DIY filters

              Comment

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