Breathing New Life Into Some Old Design Acoustics

IMG_20161226_160904606As you probably know by now, I spend a fair amount of time checking out the various thrift stores in Des Moines and Ames. While I will bring home just about anything that interests me, last summer’s Nakamichi find has sent me on a quest to put together the best system I can for under $100.

Normally I’d peel the price tag off, but in this case, I think I’ll leave them on.

Late last August, I stopped in at a nearby Goodwill and discovered a pretty good selection of stereo stuff someone had gotten rid of, including a pair of Design Acoustics PS-10 speakers. These little cubes are a three way design, with a 10″ woofer firing out of the bottom of the cabinet, which is elevated on a pedestal about an inch and a half from the base. The speakers themselves were in decent shape, but the foam surrounds on the woofers had rotted away many moons ago. Still, for a price tag of $6.99 for the pair, how could I go wrong? I quickly grabbed a cart, loaded them and a JVC cassette deck up, and off we went.

After procrastinating and putting it off for a couple of months, I finally hauled these speakers down to my brother’s place, where we performed the minor surgery. Not only did Bro have the tools and the space needed for the repairs, he’s also done this before, which gives him a leg up on me.

Here’s what we found after removing the woofers from the bottom of the cabinet:


Yeah, those foams are toast! Getting those black seals off wasn’t so easy though. After breaking one Xacto knife and still getting nowhere, I tried prying it off with a screwdriver, which wend much smoother. Soon, after a little bit of elbow grease, we had the edge down to bare metal.

Before clean up
After clean up
The speaker cabinet mid surgery.

Next, we centered the foams, and glued them to the cone, making sure the seal was consistent the entire way around the diameter. A second set of hands is a big help with this, as it allows one person to hold the cone while the other applies pressure to the new foam. Once the glue set up, we went ahead and did the same to the outer edge of the foam and applied it to the metal ring of the speaker. This was a pain in the tuckus, as the glue really didn’t want to stick to the metal, so we re-applied the black plastic ring  and set them upside down on the floor of the garage. This kept a steady pressure on the glue while it cured, and seemed to work fairly well. We only had one spot that needed a little extra glue afterwards. And no, I don’t know why I didn’t get a picture of these two stages either.

After the glue had set and we checked our seals one last time, we re-applied the black ring and put it all back together again, ending up with these:IMG_20161226_152816675

As you can see, we left the original dust covers in tact. Replacing them would be for nothing but aesthetics, and since these woofers are buried in the bottom of the speaker, that wasn’t a concern. besides, new dust covers didn’t come with the foam kit, so there was that as well.

Bass? What bass?

So was all of this work worth the effort? Absolutely! I listened to Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band from the Mono Box last night, and was very impressed with their sound.  That enjoyment carried over to the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, where I could hear that wonderful third dimension that is so elusive in many recordings. No, they don’t have a lot of bass, but considering the dimensions of the cabinet, that’s no surprise either. What bass their is though sounds very pleasant, and should improve as the foams break themselves in. For my ears, I don’t feel like I am missing anything. Overall, these are a definite upgrade over the Mordaunt Short Pageant 2 speakers I had been running, and those weren’t bad sounding speakers either.

After adding up the original cost of the speakers and the price of the new surrounds, I have about $38 wrapped up in these, and they are well worth the price. Not only are they a fine improvement to the < $100 system they’re connected to, I’d say they’re worth the $150 they seem to command these days.


First Impressions of the HyperChiller

The HyperChiller, ready to deliver Iced Caffeine to my bloodstream.

I don’t know about you, but my Facebook ads are very hit or miss. Sometimes they try to sell me women’s handbags (miss), or toy trains with a Pittsburgh Steelers logo on them (MISS! MISS!!), but then they’ll come through with a product that is actually interesting to me, like the HyperChiller. This little plastic canister promises to make iced coffee quickly, and without diluting it with a bunch of melted ice cubes. It also promises to work with most of the single brew coffee machines out there, like the one we have in my office. Being the unrepentant iced coffee addict that I am, I decided to take the plunge, and pick two up from their website, which were delivered yesterday.

hc cutThe Way the HyperChiller works is pretty ingenious. The exterior black plastic container houses three separate compartments, two of which you fill with water and freeze. The third container is nestled in between these two frozen sections, and is where you pour your coffee. This puts your coffee in contact with a lot of frozen surface area, dropping the temperature by up to 130 degrees in just a minute or two. Of course, this means you will have to fill the two sections with water and freeze them before hand, but a real caffeine addict is always thinking about their next fix, so this shouldn’t be an issue. Soon after they were delivered yesterday, I set one up with water, and put it in the freezer to get it ready for this morning.


Anxious to put my new gizmo to the test, I took my new HyperChiller out of the freezer and went to put it under the Keurig dispenser. Wouldn’t you know it, when they say “most coffee dispensers”, they meant all of them but ours. This means that I’ll still be making coffee in a cup and then pouring it in, which is certainly doable, it’s just messier. Coffee cups are not designed for pouring, and the lid of the HyperChiller is designed for a slow, steady trickle, not a deluge. Still, I managed to get most of that sweet, caffeinated goodness into the chiller with minimal spillage.

The instructions call for you to gently swirl the coffee every once in a while to aid in the chilling process. And by gently, they definitely mean GENTLY. I filled the chiller with 10 ounces of coffee, which is designed to hold 12.5, so it wasn’t full by any stretch. Even so, I still managed to spill some even though I wasn’t overly aggressive in my swirling. Again, not a big deal, but we all know that every drop of coffee is as precious as the tears of baby Jesus Each one lost is another tiny cut in the fabric of  our soul. So please, folks. If you buy one of these, be gentle.

After the longest couple of minutes of my life, it was finally time to pour myself a nice cup of iced coffee. Using the incredibly scientific temperature measuring devices at my disposal (namely my finger), I can tell you that the coffee felt, well, cold. Not freezing cold, but definitely cold. I suppose it would’ve been colder if I left it in the chiller a while longer, but I’d waited long enough, thank you. I did notice that a little water leaked out of the container while I was getting the last drops of coffee out of the chiller, but I don’t know if that’s a design flaw or operator error on my part, as it is possible I didn’t tighten down the lid.

In the past, I have been making iced coffee here at the office by simply pouring a cup of hot coffee into a steel tumbler full of ice. It works, but it definitely loses something in translation. The HyperChiller gave me a stronger coffee flavor, and a lot less melted ice. In other words, SUCCESS! I am now able to make it through the rest of my morning with a nice iced coffee buzz, and may even be able to get a second round out of it before I have to let it freeze up again.

the HyperChiller is available from their website for about $30, which is kind of steep for what you get, but its a bargain compared to Starbucks. The chiller also seems to be a pretty quality built unit too. Aside from the leakage while pouring (which could’ve been my fault anyway. Time will tell.), the Chiller seems like its built to last, using BPA free plastic and stainless steel. It’s also designed so your hot coffee spends most of its time in contact with stainless steel surfaces, minimizing contact with the plastic. That’s a nice touch. The threads of the screw in containers and lids seem solid as well, which is also nice. Besides, most importantly, its a magical device that delivers me undiluted iced coffee. How can you put a price on that?

Now, if you will excuse me, I think it’s time to see about having that second cup.