Lars Tørressen – an audiophile and a lute maker
Lars Torressen is 43 old architect but also, occasionally, a lute-maker and a player. Here he tells about his audio hobby than has taken him to experiment, among other things, with tubes and horns.
Lars grew up in a home filled with tube radio transmitters and could hardly see his father through the thick solder fumes in his workshop. Curious as he was, he remembers unrolling his father’s paper in oil capacitors. “I saw the delicate silver foil tangle in the breeze. He allowed me to use all his tools and gave me the basic skills. I was hooked.”
The first amp Lars made himself was a copy of the counterpoint SA-1 tube preamp, a circuitry quite popular in the US at the time. “In my father’s workshop I also made uni-pivot- and even tangential tonearms on his turning lathe, using jewels from discarded clocks as pivots.” The lesson he learned in these early attempts was that nothing is impossible if one is dedicated and patient. “Later I have of course learned that there may be some unachievable goals due to time constraints!”
In retrospect, Lars feels having been somewhat constrained by the assumption that a DIY project had to copy a typical HiFi product. “The most interesting DIY creations are in my view the opposite, for example using three phase power supplies.”
Lars’ DIY 2A3-amp for the DIY tractrix horn with extra long throat, and Altec 299 driver.
The first significant turning point in Lars personal audio history was in the early eighties when he saw the first issues of the groundbreaking French magazine “L’audiophile”. From then on he had just one goal in sight. Being a student for the next eight years he didn’t, however, have the resources to buy or even find the sort of special transformers needed for the SE-amp projects depicted in L’audiophile. The long wait was later rewarded.
“My thinking about audio today is still based on the ideas from that magazine which can be summed up as: use high efficiency speakers preferably driven by simple single ended circuits, and sophisticated power supplies”. For Lars making a sound system is a perfect hobby: it’s a balancing device between his interest in music, design, and electronics, and it enables him to use his practical skills refined by years of lute making.
Lars’ current system is a mix of DIY and professional equipment. There are several reasons for this. Take for instance his EMT 930 turntable (with 929-arm and TSD 15 –pickup), which is designed not only for flawless sound reproduction but also for years of duty and abuse in a professional environment. “It is a perfect cornerstone in a family sound system. Contrary to most vinyl players you can buy with flimsy arm lifts, it’s rock solid and easy to operate. Even my children can use it.”
Ten years ago Lars learned from friends that the world of professional audio had never accepted any compromise in the department of acoustic power, dynamics and flexibility of a system. This harmonized with what Lars had learned from studying L´Audiophile, but now it was easier than ever for Lars to get a good sound from horns in a living room. It’s called a loudspeaker management system, it is digital and its getting cheaper and cheaper.
A four way passive volume control with an ordinary cheap log. pot on top of the CD player and BSS 355 cross-over.
The most accessible is the Behringer Ultradrive 48/96 but Lars uses BSS 355. “Crossing the border to the pro-world made it quite easy for an amateur like me to find the sound I had been hunting for years. I also use a automatic room correction unit from Behringer, that comes with a measuring microphone. I use it as a measuring tool, plotting the measurements into my BSS 355 and keeping it out of the system when not in use. A revelation that I can’t recommend enough.”
As to professional equipment and especially horns and compression drivers the art to Lars is to domesticate these beasts. The digital EQ and filtering come at hands as the basic tool to make horns and dipoles work at all and still look good in a normal living room.
More on Lars views on his audio hobby, see the interview.
The living room is 7x 3,6 x 2,4m, half of that devoted to the listening space. The horn drivers are 2,8 m from the hot spot. Listening a horn speaker from that distance is made possible by means of the room correction and EQ. The CD player is Tascam CD-601.
A view to Lars workshop. Note the mono amp "parking lot" breadboards resting by the window. Lars actually uses the 300B Torsten Loesh "legacy" copy seen in the front. In the background there is a 813 SE on the left, and a Williamson KT66/partridge on the right.
Lars’ bass amplifier is DIY Hiraga 8W Class A PP.
Dipole correction for the bass.
Lars' Futterman OTL.