Making My Office At Work Feel Like Home

I’m always excited to embark on little personal projects and this one really made a difference for me. I figured that if I am going to spend 9 hours a day, 5 days a week at the office, I might as well make it feel like home.

I’ve just won an auction and received an antique art mirror of Francis Barraud’s “His Master’s Voice” with ornamental engraving to add a touch of class to my desk.

01 Victor Talking Machine His Master's Voice Antique Art Mirror on Red Velvet Chair

Hanging the antique piece proved incredibly challenging, as the frame is real antique wood and the art mirror is incredibly fragile. I didn’t dare attempt to drill / screw / hammer any nails into the piece to add mounting hardware.

It took an hour and a half at my local hardware store but four different staff took great interest in my project and worked together to develop a solution that wouldn’t risk damaging the valuable piece. (I made sure to submit a customer survey of thanks and to write a review of the store in gratitude.)

It took six attempts to arrive a potentially viable solution. First, we tried these hardware items and kits…

02-03-04-05-06 combined (for BBCode)

I bought and returned each of the items above one at a time trying each on the antique in the store. But none of the above would penetrate the wood without risking cracking the frame or shattering the glass. It was only the final item – one associate’s bright idea of using Command Hooks which would be removable without marring the original work.

The nylon hanging wire didn’t end up working with the plastic Command Hooks but thankfully I had more fine and pliable beading wire on hand at home from a prior crafting project.

After a good night’s rest, I trekked to work and hung the new art mirror in my cubicle. Tragically the Command Hooks couldn’t bear the weight and instantly tore from the cubicle wall, but thankfully it didn’t shatter.

I improvised, realizing that I could knot the spare beading wire around the heavy metal staples affixing the mirror to the frame. The simplest solution proved the strongest and this is how it ended up:

03 Back of Art Mirror Fixed with Beading Wire Directly Applied to Staples.JPG

Here’s the piece displayed proudly:

04 Art Mirror Hung at Office

It complements my other cubicle adornments, which include:

– my newly-antique-framed custom-printed portrait of my favorite modernist author, James Joyce

05 James Joyce Portrait Framed at Office.JPG

– a pair of handsome wood speakers with copper cones for a regal finish

06 Speakers with Copper Cones.JPG

– an engraved wood felt-lined tea chest filled with my favorite variety of teas

07 Engraved Tea Chest Closed and Open.JPG
– a framed collage I put together showcasing portraits of a few figures in the 20th-century experimental music scene.

08 The Rest Is Noise Framed Collage
– and a 24×36 framed print of Miles Davis in New York in 1948 from the Herman Leonard Collection

09 Miles Davis 24x36 Poster Framed at Work.JPG
The next investment for my office should arrive this autumn. I’ve located a craftsman in Norway who custom designs rosewood headphone stands and will be commissioning one for the ORA Graphene Q cans once they ship.

It’s a cozy space and I’ve really made it my own! ❤

10 Cubicle Full Shot.JPG

Vintage Receiver Upgrade – Norwegian Wood

It’s an exciting day at Innerspace Labs! Our latest vintage amplifier upgrade provides clean and detailed sound and gorgeously complements our Denon DP-60L turntable as both units feature a rich rosewood finish, further mirrored by the liquid wood ear cups of our AudioQuest Nighthawk closed-back circumaural headphones and our pending order of ORA GrapheneQ wood ear cupped cans presently forecast for delivery later this year from Kickstarter.

Long-time readers may recall that our first receiver upgrade took place in 2009 when our beloved and trusty Yamaha CR-840 (1979-1981) Natural Sound Receiver was replaced with a McIntosh 4280.

Here is the Yamaha –

Yamaha CR-840 and Denon DP-60L Rosewood Turntable 04-09-19.JPG

And the MAC 4280 –

McIntosh MAC 4280 Front lg.jpg

Sadly, the amp had some issues and after 3 years of service attempts at McIntosh Labs headquarters it was declared dead.

In 2012 I was generously gifted a replacement MAC – a MAC C39 pre-amplifier paired with an Integra adm2.1 power amplifier. They made my Focal 814v Chorus series floor speakers sing beautifully.

McIntosh C39 Pre-Amplifier.JPG

Integra ADM2.1 Power Amp.jpg

Focal Chorus 714v b.jpg

Eventually, that MAC was retired as well, and I returned to my beloved Yamaha which, with only a single transistor replacement around 2006 and a Deoxit cleaning in 2019, it has served me faithfully for nearly two decades, and has been kicking since it was built 38 years ago in 1981.

But Sunday evening it occurred to me that I had one more component I’d never tried with my system. This is the Tandberg TR-2060, manufactured in Norway, which debuted in late 1977 and was introduced to US markets until about 1981. It originally retailed for $700 in 1977 ($2,919.85 in today’s dollars.) Though fairly scarce, they are available on the used market at an affordable price and perform impressively well. I found it for a few dollars at a junk sale several years ago.

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 01.JPG

The amp has two sets of speaker outputs with a power output of 60 watts per channel into 8Ω (stereo). The only snag is that the inputs are DIN connectors. Thankfully, I remembered precisely where I’d stored a pair of DIN-to-RCA conversion cables which I’d ordered years back when I originally acquired the receiver.

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 05.JPG

I polished and connected it and was really pleased with its powerful sound. The classic Yamaha Natural Sound receivers of the same vintage are far more neutral, and there is really something to be said for the stunning rosewood cabinet of the Tandberg matching the finish of my Denon. (I am an unabashed fanatic for rosewood.)

Tandberg TR 2060 Vintage Receiver 04-07-19 10.JPG

It’s always a thrill to incorporate new vintage gear into my setup, and I’ll be curious to see what I think of the punchier, bolder sound this amp provides over the more transparent signature of the Yamaha, and to test various favorite recordings with both the speaker and headphone outputs. It will be a fun project for the spring!

The Mega-Box-Set Post

Recently, while exploring the early Miles Davis recordings, I discovered the Miles Davis Quintet LPs released on the Prestige label in the years before his signing with Columbia.
For the past several months I’ve been enjoying the 72-disc Complete Columbia Recordings Collection so I picked up a digital archive of the Miles Davis Quintet albums and enjoyed the sessions very much.

Their final four albums released on the Prestige label were Cookin’… (57), Relaxin’… (’58), Workin’… (1959), and Steamin… (’61) …with the Miles Davis Quintet.

cookin

relaxin

workin

steamin

A quick scan of discogs.com made it clear that original pressings were out of my budget, but that remasters were pressed throughout the 80s and early 90s and readily available, still sealed, for around $20 apiece.  The total with shipping would be $86 for the remasters, so I spent a few extra days investigating a cheaper option.

The following Saturday I found my answer!  In 1972 and 1974, Prestige released two double-LPs with matching artwork and typography remastering all four of the albums I was after.  Better still, I acquired both sets in VG+ for a total of $21.

R-595825-1166182613

R-1436533-1304538088

Proud additions to my Miles Davis collection!

Next I jumped at the opportunity to order a copy of Moondog’s second self-titled LP from 1969.  It was my first exposure to the legendary blind avant-garde classical street performer and Odin-impersonator, and I knew I had to have it for my library.  The LP was reissued in 2003 but I secured a clean original pressing for $50, so I was happy.

R-1078494-1190462193

Later, while discussing early German avant garde-music with a coworker, he mentioned The Second Viennese School, which I investigated as soon as I was home from work.  There is a digital Collection available which includes Webern: The Complete Works (a 6-disc set), Schoenberg: The Piano Music, and the 1909-1935 Berg Collector’s Edition, (an 8-disc set).  I will be exploring these recordings while reading about the composers more in the coming weeks.

Out of curiosity I searched for the term “avant-garde” in the digital marketplace and found a wonderful set to further my education.  The Progressive/Kraut/Avant Garde/Psych Collection contains 753 albums totaling over 517 hours of material, most of which are out of print on vinyl.  Resources like these are excellent starting points for those taking their first steps into progressive rock and who learn best by actually listening to these rare recordings before ordering the original pressings.

Also on the subject of volumous box sets, there is a magnificent 8-DVD collection which I can’t recommend enough for listeners looking to explore the psybient genre I featured in my previous post.  The discs are expertly organized – the first disc compiling the works of Simon Posford (Celtic Cross, Dub Trees, Hallucinogen, Shpongle, The Infinity Project, etc.)

And DVD #6 is a compilation of fourty official psybient various-artists collections.

In all, the set contains over 329 hours of psychill albums and is an essential collectable for archivists or for anyone in need of some meditative chill-out music to spin while they’re working.

And the final multi-disc set of the week is the limited-edition Klaus Schulze: Ultimate Edition which compiles 50 CDs of previously unreleased or limited-release recordings into one massive set of ambient bliss.

I’ll be playing each of the collections highlighted above at the office for certain.

And to celebrate my new career (and having my own office for the first time in my life), my girlfriend presented me with a 24×36 framed print of a young Miles Davis to hang behind my desk.

Miles Prints sm

I added a framed original pressing of Birth of the Cool to the adjacent wall and picked up a new pair of speakers for my desk.

Image

I’m going to like it there.

An Audiophile Christmas Story

I’ve spent the last few years tracking down my most favorite LPs but have kept them all sealed waiting for a system that would truly do them justice.

A few years ago, a WONDERFUL friend gifted me a McIntosh 4280 amplifier, a DAC, and Focal speakers for being the Best Man at his wedding.  Sadly the MAC was faulty and after 3 years of servicing it at McIntosh headquarters, it was declared dead.

The beautiful McIntosh MAC 4280... now retired.

But on December 23rd, 2012 he drove 9 hours across the USA and delivered me a replacement MAC and new cables to go with it!

I had also recently upgraded my linear turntable to a glorious Denon and picked out the best cartridge I could afford.

FINALLY after 5 years I’m removing the shrink and spinning my favorite LPs!

The new setup includes:

Denon DP-60L Rosewood Turntable w Ortofon 2M Red cartridge
and my trusty Yamaha CR-840 integrated tuner/amplifier
(The Yamaha was my first so I keep it around but powered off)

Denon DP-60L Rosewood Turntable and my Yamaha CR-840 integrated tuner/amplifier

Cambridge Audio DACMagic for my Music Workstation

Cambridge Audio DACMagic Digital to Analog Converter
McIntosh C39 pre amplifier w remote and manual

McIntosh C39 Pre Amplifier
Integra adm2.1 power amp

Integra adm2.1 Power Amp
Harman Kardon Solo
(repair in progress)

Harman Kardon Solo
Sonance Sonamp 260
(repair in progress)

Sonance Sonamp 260
Focal 814v floor speakers

Focal 814V floor speakers
Sennheiser HD 380Pro studio monitors
(I LOVE these headphones!)

Sennheiser HD380Pro studio monitors
Pair of XLO Ultra 10′ speaker cable

XLO Ultra 10' cable
AudioQuest Python interconnects


AudioQuest Python interconnects
and Tributaries Silver Series RCAs

(from the early 2000s before Trib became stupid)
NOTE: Sample image not an exact match – mine have silver caps on the connectors

Tributaries Silver RCA
Next I plan to order a VTI 304 cherry audio rack, one of the few units which can accommodate the mammoth size of these vintage components.

VTI 304 Cherry audio rack
THANK YOU, dear friend.  You made my Christmas one to remember!