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Run of the Mill
Jonathan Weiss opens up Oswald's Mill once a year for what he's dubbed a Tube and Speaker Tasting. People travel from far and wide to attend: New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, the Carolinas, Portland, Berlin and more. The things to be tasted at the Mill include audio, music, amazing food, drink, smoke and most importantly (it appeared to me) good company.

When I say Jonathan opens up his home, I mean that quite literally. There's nothing off limits, no "be careful on that carpet", no locked doors. Part of the reason is that there's vintage audio to be seen. Everywhere. Piles of it. Rows of it, stacks of it. And we're talking about an RCA professional and industrial products-centric collection with some rare and nearly extinct species. Out of 150 plus pictures I took, I probably missed - um, nearly everything.

I should point out that this is an invitation-only event. For me, a phone call from Jonathan Halpern served as my very extended invitation and since his travels took him within a few miles of my front door, I met up with Jonathan and his most jovial and vintage-audio-obsessed friend Mark Donen for the ride. (Photos inscribed with JH and MD respectively were taken by these two.)

Oswald's Mill is located in Eastern Pen just under 2 hours from New York City (well, under if Mark Donen is doing the driving). According to Jonathan Weiss' research, The Mill may very well be the single remaining "House Mill" in North America. Built in the 18th Century from stone and hand-hewn beams, you'll find no Tyvek house wrap, Pergo or any other building materials in need of a trademark after their name. The Mill is simply 10,000 square feet of breathtakingly marvelous live-in history.

The 2008 Menu
If it's a tasting we're talking about, then I sampled but a sip. These events are weekend long (and longer) and systems and gear and people change throughout. So consider this more of a snapshot/photo essay accompanied by my typical off-topic comments. For the real deal on the full event, check out the Oswald's Mill website.

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In brief, we listened to the main floor systems during our visit which included a pair of Oswald's Mill Audio (OMA) speakers incorporating the Cogent field coil compression drivers; the DS 1428 with a 300Hz conical midrange horn and a DS 1448 with a 100Hz conical Horn both incorporating a cast aluminum throat from Bill Woods and his Acoustic Horn Company and Oswald's Mill solid walnut horns also designed by Bill Woods. From Jonathan, "the Cogent drivers and OMA horns were part of a larger 4-way system OMA is doing, with a horn-loaded sub and a custom ribbon actively amplified with our own triode electronics. You only heard the midrange components of that system this weekend."

From the Mill's website: "Cogent True-To-Life Loudspeakers was formed by Steve Schell and Richard Drysdale with a simple, ambitious goal - to build a modern version of the field coil compression driver speaker designs pioneered by RCA in the late 1930s. These designs were never surpassed for sheer quality of musical reproduction." The Mill's vintage RCA horn system unfortunately sat idle in its respective corners during our visit.

The 2nd (inside) pair of speakers were a plywood prototype of a model AC1 from OMA. This is a three-way design incorporating a 15" Alnico woofer, a ribbon tweeter and an RCA compression driver and the OMA 300Hz conical horn. The production speakers will be solid wood, "...everything we make is in solid wood, horns included." For pics of a production pair, check out the OMA products page.

Electronics included the Mill's own amplifier which stands taller than most men. From Jonathan: "The Mill's electronics include a glass-enclosed amp rack housing a homemade driver amp with an AL4 mesh plate in screen grid mode driving a single ended 300B (circuit designed by Paul den Hollander of Leiden, NL), driving the big RCA 845 pp booster amps. The rack is enclosed in glass for safety reasons (the RCA 845 amps were originally in a metal cage with pressure switches to shut off power if the cage was breached). The RCA 845 amps were first used in the Disney Fantasia road show, a legendary production which was arguably the very first time multi-channel super hi fi was attempted. Each amp weighs over 150lbs. Output in class A is a minimum of 60 watts."

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