Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Preserving High-end History - Part 4

In previous editions of this series, I talked about locals who focused on the high end audio. But there are others out there who focus on restorations and maintaining pieces of history as they were originally created. Such folks give a nod to these classic designers of this early gear since they are the shoulders on which high-end designers of today stand. One individual who is fascinated by old gear and chooses not to alter but rather preserve these pieces of history is 28-year old Victor Rucinski.

Victor is - by the literal meaning of the word - an enthusiastic entry into the field of historic preservation. One of his most recent efforts involved the restoration of an AR-XA turntable, a piece of gear near and dear to my heart since I owned one of these while going to college. Along with a Shure V-15 Type III, it provided many, many hours sonic of delight through my Sansui tube integrated amp and Acoustic Research AR-5 loudspeakers.

Victor's vintage 1973 AR-XA Turntable Restoration

In a phone interview with him, I discovered that he is a musician, a drummer turned technician. From necessity, Victor dabbled in equipment repair being a classic starving artist at the time (his day job was in construction). Tired of paying a local shop $100 for telling him his gear was broken (duh!), Victor decided to start fiddling with solid state gear. At the time he was working in a recording studio producing demo tracks for local musicians when something happened that literally changed his life: he heard a tube guitar amplifier.

You see musicians ears are a mixed bag. Some are so focused on their art they are oblivious to the instruments or the technology and focused completely on the interpretation and art (ever heard a good recording played with a guitar string out-of-tune?). Some are technical perfectionists striving to capture not only the artform but also the perfection of an instrument (why concert violinists prefer old violins). Victor is a musician that hears everything. Much like Eddy Van Halen strives to bring new sounds to old instruments (remember the electric drill used in the song "Poundcake?") Victor leans more to technical and artistic perfection. But his lack of formal training did not impede his passion.

Undaunted by the challenge of learning something new, Victor cruised old book stores and flea markets for manuals, guides, and information from the 1930s and 1940s on the art of designing tube gear and was rewarded handsomely for his efforts. After over a year of studying these classic publications he moved from the Providence, RI area to Boston, MA and started repairing tube gear, mainly for other musicians. Not satisfied with what he knew, Victor sought out a mentor from a local hi-fi shop who took him under his wing and passed on techniques and knowledge as only an original "old school" technician could. Now Victor could not only learn about the technology he loved but get paid for it at the same time!

With his eyes on audio gear, Victor focused primarily on making broken things work again. his personal reward was seeing how delighted the eyes of his customers grew as the tubes glowed and the music flowed. He was hooked and his insatiable curiosity fueled his drive! Victor wanted to understand more than how to revive something, he wanted to know why a design worked and why it sounded as it did - a true passion combined with a level of detail that even some of the best electrical engineers fail to embrace (he is a real fan of John Milton Miller, originator of the "Miller Effect" theory that describes the impact of capacitance on bandwidth limitations).

Armed now with this knowledge, his skills were honed to a level that few technicians achieve. His Polish roots caused him to develop a variant to his name and developed a small business known as Wiktor Amps. His company specializes in all things audio, from tube amps to turntables and everything in between, and can repair or modify your audio equipment to make it perform like new again.

Victor's Facebook Page is http://www.facebook.com/pages/Wiktor-Amps/212601215460278, he can be reached by phone at  508-333-2603, and his email address is vrucinski@gmail.com. If you live in the Boston area, make sure you give Victor a shout.

Yours for higher fidelity,

Philip Rastocny

I do not use ads in this blog to help support my efforts. If you like what you are reading, please remember to reciprocate, My newest title is called Where, oh Where did the Star of Bethlehem Go? It’s an astronomer’s look at what this celestial object may have been, who the "Wise Men" were, and where they came from. Written in an investigative journalism style, it targets one star that has never been considered before and builds a solid case for its candidacy.


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