mwaller

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About mwaller

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  1. Turntables and Vinyl

    I prefer bookshelf-type speakers with a powered sub-woofer. I think this gives you have more flexibility with speaker placement, and it doesn't tax your amplifier with the job of producing the lowest tones. This is especially helpful with tube-based gear, which generally doesn't offer the same level bass punch that solid-state can. My personal speakers are rather esoteric pair of AudioMachina CRM II monitors paired with a REL subwoofer. I don't have any direct experience with either ELAC or Focal, but an audiophile friend of mine recently got a pair of the ELAC Debut monitors and was very impressed with them. He is particularly sensitive to 'bright' sounding speakers, so I gather the ELACs are fairly neutral in this regard. From what I've read, Focal tends to have a brighter sound. Good luck, and let us know if you have any more questions!
  2. Turntables and Vinyl

    Agreed. Rega makes great sounding tables. If you're inclined to tinker, there are also many aftermarket upgrades available. I have a P3-24 that has been heavily modified. It has always been an incredible sounding table. I can't imagine being disappointed with P3-24 or newer Planar 3. Unless you are trying to squeeze out the N'th degree of refinement from your sound system, go with an integrated amp. There is no practical reason to purchase a separate preamp and power amp unless you are in love with the sound of a particular component that is not offered in integrated form.
  3. Cigar Seeding

    I'm by no means an expert, but I've read that there are two primary enzymes that are responsible for the aging behavior. As long as moisture is present, both enzymes remain active. One enzyme is much more active, but can be denatured at relatively low temperatures (150F, but don't quote me!). When tobacco is flu-cured for cigarettes and pipe, this enzyme is is destroyed. That is why it remains yellow, rather than turning brown. You can naturally age tobacco by simply hanging it in an environment with adequate moisture, but this can take many years to achieve acceptable results. I don't know if the end result is different, but I suspect the differences are minor.
  4. Cigar Seeding

    Most of the 'fermentation' that occurs in a commercial "pilon" (leaf pile) is the result of natural enzymes breaking down various compounds in the leaf. This process generates heat, which in turn accelerates the enzymatic process. Most home growers do not have sufficient quantities of leaf to create an effective pilon, so they use a tobacco kiln to accelerate aging. The kiln is simply an insulated box that contains a controlled source of heat and humidity. Old refrigerators are popular for this purpose; Crock-Pots are frequently used to provide heat and humidity. Kilns typically operate at about 125F - this temperature suppresses mold growth while creating an ideal environment for enzymatic activity. 30 days in the kiln is typical, and is roughly equivalent to about 1 year of natural aging. A lot of trial and error is required to get this right; but it seems to work for most home growers. I discovered a minor disaster in my kiln yesterday. Evidently, I packed the kiln so full that air couldn't circulate properly, Leaves that were pressed against the side of the kiln became saturated with condensation and began to mold... :-( I trimmed the moldy parts off and reloaded a fewer number of leaves. I hope the rest turn out OK!
  5. Cigar Seeding

    There are a couple of strains "Corojo" floating around that probably closer to what was grown in days past. The feedback I've read is that they grow well and taste fine, but aren't "better" than newer hybrids, which are more productive. Corojo 99 was my best performer this year, and produced some truly massive tip leaves (aka Medio Tiempo). Remains to be seen how they taste.
  6. Cigar Seeding

    Try Davidoff Nicaragua sometime. I smoked the Toro back-to-back with a Partagas D 4, and found them to be in a similar vein.
  7. Cigar Seeding

    That is very hard to say. Most of Cuban-type seeds available to hobbyists are descendants from seeds that were donated to the US government around the time of the revolution. Until roughly the 1930's when "Corojo" was developed, Cuban tobacco was an open pollinated and likely a mix of different strains. "Criollo" is said to be the original Cuban tobacco that dates back to precolumbian times. In the 20th century, crop diseases and increasing demand motivated efforts to conscientiously develop hardier and more productive strains. Most of what is grown in Cuba today are hybrid strains that have been carefully developed through selective breeding to exhibit the desirable smoking characteristics of Criollo and Corojo while resisting various diseases. Genetically, they are quite far removed from the native strains that were cultivated 600 years ago. The Vuelta Abajo strain discussed in this thread is said to be an "heirloom" varietal from Cuba. The seed for this varietal was donated to the US in 1964, so it's history before that point in time is anyone's best guess.
  8. Cigar Seeding

    Thankfully, bugs were not a problem. I had two Vuelta Abajo plants that became infected with some sort of virus, but otherwise no issues with disease or pests.
  9. Cigar Seeding

    Ditto... that's going to be the next challenge! What are you using to string your leaf? I'm using 17 ga. aluminum wire, and it works great. Light, strong, and stiff enough to punch through any leaf stem without difficulty.
  10. Cigar Seeding

    Those are some huge Vuelta Abajo leaves! My harvest has been in full swing for over a month now. Only a few upper stalk leaves remain to be harvested. The color curing has generally gone well, though I've had to compost a few greenish leaves here and there. My first batch of color cured leaf went into the kiln around the 1st of September. The grassy smells have largely burned off, and the scent is approaching that of finished tobacco. I plant to pull the first load from the kiln at the end of the month. Fingers crossed that they actually taste like a cigar when burned....
  11. Auction in Canada today for Pappy

    Thanks! Yes, I do like all of those except for the Stagg Jr. Perhaps its the high proof, but I just don't enjoy that one. Agreed - regular Buffalo Trace is one of the best, albeit somewhat inconsistent from batch to batch.
  12. Cigar Seeding

    Did these color cure properly for you? What variety?
  13. Auction in Canada today for Pappy

    Do you have any recommendations that aren't for the super-wealthy?
  14. Auction in Canada today for Pappy

    That's crazy... A few years ago, I ordered a bottle of the 15 year for about $65, which seemed like a lot to spend on a bottle of bourbon. I really enjoyed it, and tried to order another bottle. I was shocked to find that the going rate was many hundreds of dollars... not sure what happened.
  15. Ditto. Epicure Especial is great creamy smoke. I don't think you will find caramel flavors without significant age...

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