Featured Member BigVulcan: High Hanging Audio

Audiogon Featured Member, BigVulcan, has been interested in hi-fi since he started building electronics as a kid.  He’s now created and built a unique hanging trough to hold his mighty McIntosh gear, save some precious space in his home, and keep everything out of reach of little fingers and wagging tails.  Read more about how he got this idea and more below.



McIntosh: 2-MC7300’s for front and rear LaScala’s, MC2205 in mono for the center channel to power the Klipsch KLF-C7 center and Heresy center, MX130 Control amp.
Klipsch: 4-LaScala’s for front and rear, two Heresy’s hung from the ceiling for surrounds (not seen in photo), Klipsch SWII sub, KSW 200 sub (subs not in photo)
Pioneer Elite DV-47Ai DVD/CD player with 6 analog out. A Harmony One remote replaced all the other remotes, and works great.
Samsung 58″ plasma, Sony HD radio, misc stuff pretty much to look at for the hell of it. HA!
I’m refurbishing my MR73 with new bulbs, not shown. That tuner sounds more holographic than the tuner in the MX130!


AUDIOGON: Could you give a little background on what you do, where you live, and how you got into audio?

BigVulcan: I’m an Omaha, NE resident who built a non-powered crystal radio set in Cub Scouts, and began my hi-fi journey right then and there.  I went on to build my first amp from a kit at 14, and recognizing that I’m 59, there was not much available back then.  As a kid in the mid 60’s, I had speakers all over the basement and blew up a few amps (much to mom’s dismay), learning (self-taught) about impedance, speaker shorts, wiring loads and how all of them interacted to affect sonics and amplification.  I was blessed with a good ear for sound.

A: Tell us a little bit about the interesting hanging method you’re using.

BigVulcan: My current system is hung from a trough I built years ago. 1.5″ angle iron cut to order length from the forge here in Omaha, with 3/4″ plywood and 4″ holes cut into it under the amps for more ventilation.  Then painted to match the living room.  Log chains secure it to the ceiling studs with 3/8″ x 8″ eye lag bolts.  I recognized that just two hold up a porch swing for two people, so six should be enough to hold the heavy McIntosh gear.

A: How did you come up with that idea?

BigVulcan: I own a small-ish home and wanted to save the tremendous amount of floor space my nearly 5′ wide, 2′ deep, and 6′ tall stereo shelving was taking up.  Plus, it looked simply terrible with wires everywhere, etc. and being single with a big above-ground pool in the backyard, often my dates would bring their kids along to swim.  I wanted to keep their little curious fingers off ALL the knobs and buttons to eliminate those nasty start up surprises at full volume or looking for which button was pressed to explain why no sound was permeating the room…or to find a toggle switch had been bent or a knob forever lost or broken.  I had to do something, and after some analysis, I came up with the current idea with the chains and trough built from angle iron, plywood, and bolts.

I felt that the LaScala’s needed to be higher off the floor than the previous Cornwalls, so I watched Craigslist and when someone had some decent matching end tables with drawers, I snapped them up, did my measurements, and cut the legs off to match my needs.  I also ended up with more living room storage space with the drawers, so the stands do double duty in my small home.

To hide the wiring, I used PVC in places and along the floor I used 1 1/4″ JC Whitney auto wire loom that matched the carpet I had at that time.  I just recently replaced the bungee cords suspending the center channel speaker with 1″ black nylon strap, and it looks nicer, while still assisting in isolating the vibrations from the center channel away from the electronics above.

I saved all that floor space, evaded the dreaded fingers of death, and created a cogent location where the rear panels of the gear was easily accessible at all times by simply standing on a riser.  This is also handy when one has a new puppy!  HA!

A: Do you have any room treatments? Did you have to make any adjustments for the trough?

BigVulcan: I have two MOVING room treatments, and they are called dogs.  The German Shepard must have been born next to a nuclear power reactor, because he is 122 pounds and not fat.  The Belgian Malnois is more normal size but is still over 90 pounds.  Even God would not be able to help the poor burglar that might sneak in here, were that possible – which it is not.  I would fear the Belgian more than the German Shepard.  Anyway, they both do a terrific job of blocking the sound at times.  They have a dog door and when it gets louder than they prefer, they just go outside and chill till dad is done goofing off.

The blue backlighting behind the speakers are LEDs that only take a few watts each, plus give the hounds a bit of light at night to navigate.  The backlighting is used on all 4 LaScala’s, and I should be in audio heaven before they burn out.

No formal room treatments.  The only adjustments I made with the trough/hung shelving was to be sure to order the cut to length angle iron correctly.  I DID make the trough/shelving intentionally tilt down in front a bit – I think I took out 2 chain links in back.  Until I got the Harmony One all in one remote, I had an oak and plexiglass rack I built for my many remotes that pretty much tilted up off the table to match the tilt down of the equipment.  Did not need to pick up the remote to “aim” it at the unit above.  The Harmony One easily replaced all my remotes and works great.




A: What equipment did you get on Audiogon?

BigVulcan: I’ve bought and sold some nice items on Audiogon, including buying a nice sounding Cambridge CD player, power cords, and selling B&O turntables and a B&O 8004 cassette.  There were more items that escape me right now.  I have a 5 star rating on Audiogon, and intend on keeping it that way.  Thankfully, the people I have purchased from on Audiogon feel the same.

A: What is your favorite component and why?

BigVulcan: Probably a tie with the McIntosh MC  7300’s and their massive endless power and sweet matching with the Klipsch LaScala’s.  I am still breaking in my brand new OPPO 105, and that is quite the source as well, but not inexpensive.

The McIntosh and Klipsch Heritage marriage is a good one, and they complement each other nicely. Horns can be a bit unforgiving with brittle amps, but the McIntosh are anything but brittle, and 300W per rail is wayyyyyy more than the LaScala’s need with their sensitivity of 104dB.

I used to have 8 Klipsch Cornwalls, with two stacked on top of each other in every corner of the living room, so at that time I needed more power. I found the 4 LaScala’s, which needed some elevation, actually sounds superior compared to the 8 Cornwalls. Rather than build some stands to elevate the LaScala’s, I killed two birds with one stone and found the right size end tables on Craigslist for cheap, cut the legs off to my specification after some height testing, and ended up with some much needed extra storage room.

A: What is your favorite music to listen to?

BigVulcan: Classic rock, new rock, light rock, pop, blues, modern C&W, some light jazz, female vocals and a smidge of New Age.  I have 1,600 CD/SACD and 300 live concerts on DVD.  I have many movies, too, and True Lies with Arnold was a very nicely mastered movie soundtrack that works out your subs to boot!  DVD movies on this system are stunning, and the DVD DTS live concerts are sooooooo much fun to watch, listen to, and crank up!  Now and then it is great for the soul to “feel the power” and let er rip!!!  Wheeeeeeee-ooooooooo!

My neighbors over the hill inform me they now know all the words to Pink Floyd songs.  HA!  Even though I am aging, I still like to rock full bore now and then, but it is far more about quality than quantity.  No matter the mood, I do turn it down by 10 PM.  Good thing I am single – boys and their toys!

A: Is there any rule, theory, or advice you abide by with the set up of your system that you’d like to share?

BigVulcan: I think in today’s state of electronics for a newbie starting out, get the best speakers and multi-player you can, then go from there.  I don’t think it’s fair to take advantage of a shop’s staff and time to audition equipment, then run home and place the order online somewhere else.  You want personal service; find the good local shops near (hopefully your town has some) and do business with them on new items.  While important, don’t go overboard on interconnects as there is a point of diminishing returns on those, and the profit margin for the manufacturers is enormous.  But do get some decent interconnects from some nice seller on Audiogon as they do make some difference.  You don’t run a Ferrari on cheap gas.

A: Any final thoughts?

BigVulcan: Please bear in mind when looking at my setup, that I am certainly NOT one of the wealthy folks out there with gobs of disposable cash taking up space in that big box in the closet.  If I was, I would not live here and would also have a massive wall built cherry wood structure that would inspire awe, and a Viper in the garage.  I say this because a wealthy person would be critical of my system’s obvious shortcomings and shelving design, etc.  In fact, one audio mag actually sent me an email and totally insulted my system and setup after I submitted photos.  I am just a normal guy who had a normal job, and built this system over time, which is why I bought McIntosh.  I knew it would grow with me and not peter out and have to be thrown out like the lower end electronics.  My center channel amp, the MC 2205 is 28 years old.  Been back to see the McIntosh doctor for a minor repair and new bulbs and meter bluing once and is used daily.  Try that with most other brands!  Thank you for looking.


Bonus – check out this cool arcade game turned into stereo rack BigVulcan also built!

Arcade game to stereo rack...


Thanks again, BigVulcan, for sharing your story with us!  To become our next Featured Member, click here.

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