Another anniversary…

Here we go again! It’s now been seven years since I started writing here and in a few months I should hit 300 posts (!) which I think is pretty good for a hobby project 😀

The past year has been a bit special and a bit weird in some ways, because during 2019 I honestly wasn’t making much progress on anything (too busy with other stuff) and when there’s no progress motivation generally also tends to drop. However, I think it’s safe to say that 2020 so far has managed to make up for it. The last couple of months of corona-enforced lockdown changed the balance a little and so the last few weeks I have done so many things that I think that compensates for the poor showing of 2019 🙂

Having rediscovered the motivation – and the mountain of unfinished work – it looks like we can keep going for (at least) another year! As always thanks for reading, commenting and asking questions – that’s what really makes it worth continuing here 🙂

 

Happy New Year!

This year’s new years destination is something a bit closer to home – Berlin! Partly because I haven’t been here for a while, partly because I haven’t been here for New Years but I have heard a lot about it from friends and family.

I don’t expect a lot of diy audio related stuff to happen on this trip, but hopefully that means I’ll come back with the batteries fully recharged and ready for more projects in 2020 🙂

As always, thanks to everyone who reads, follows and comments on what I do here and best wishes for 2020.

Buying “suspicious” parts…

With the current trend in audiophile parts being that all the “old” audio grade parts that we know and love are either being discontinued outright or at least replaced with something in impossibly small surface mount packages, it’s almost inevitable that we all at some point face a choice between giving up on a project and sourcing parts from “questionable” channels such as eBay or Aliexpress.

Here are the questions I personally ask myself before buying something and while they are definitely not a guarantee against wasting your money, they might help someone decide when to take a (calculated) risk and when to pass up what otherwise looks like a good opportunity.

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Trial and errors….

Like most blogs, social media showcases etc. this page is to some extent a massive display of selection bias – you only see the stuff that works, and only when it works. You never (or at least rarely) see the things that don’t work. Because of that, I just thought it would be funny to at least give you a few examples of the memorable mistakes I’ve made during the life time of this blog – along with the lessons I’ve (hopefully) learned from them.

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Happy New Year!

My New Year’s travels are a recent, but by now well-established tradition. This year I am a little closer to home than last year, which is to say in London. It’s one of my favourite cities to visit – much to the surprise of many of the locals I have to say – but there’s tons of stuff to see and do and I really like the vibe of the place (again, to the surprise of many 😉 ).

I’m here for another couple of days and I have absolutely nothing audio-related planned but that is on purpose. That said, I am of course keeping an eye on the local sales ads just in case there is something on sale that I did not know I needed, but that’s about it 😀

Best wishes for a happy new year to all my readers and I hope to be able to bring you more interesting posts in 2019 🙂

Fifth anniversary!

Yes, this blog is now five years old! I’ve made over 200 posts – mostly on the intended topic of the blog – and I still plan on continuing.

So, what else has happened in that time?

  • I’ve moved into a house, so I have much better working space than when I started in the apartment (and much less money to spend on DIY audio…).
  • I’ve learned how to program an Arduino (well, sort of anyway…)
  • I’ve tried to program a Raspberry Pi (and decided that I really can’t be bothered learning that…)
  • I’ve had my designs copied and sold on ebay (although I should stress that this was solved amicably)
  • I’ve had one of my designs referenced in AudioXpress!

…but most importantly, I have received a lot of great feedback from people, a lot of positive responses to designs and builds, and had a lot of opportunities to connect with other people around the world that share this hobby. That in all honesty counts for a lot more than many of the other things and is what really motivates me to continue writing (which I definitely plan to do).

Last but not least – and in response to a question that no one has asked in five years 😀 : The grey background for nearly all of the pictures on the blog is my coffee table which is made from recycled slate roof shingles by a local-ish Danish designer. Originally the table was just the best place that was close to natural light, but now I think it provides a good contrast to the green PCBs – not to mention that it makes the pictures easy to recognize in google image search results 😉

Signs of life?

This turned out to be a longer break than I had expected – sorry. Turns out that buying a house and moving is a bit of a slow process (at least for me) and throwing in a job change, a holiday and a few other things as well probably didn’t help…

So, what has been been going on since last time? Well, not as much as I would have liked, but a few things nonetheless:

Back in October diyaudio member Michael Rothacher posted this article on the “MoFo” class A MOS-FET follower and kicked off a very long thread on diyaudio. The MoFo is a very simple design that is immediately appealing to me and so rather than wait for “official” boards (which are now for sale at the diyaudio store) I decided to do my own. To be honest, even if the design hadn’t appealed to me I would still be interested because of the article and its obvious nod to Corey Greenberg’s original Stereophile article on a buffered passive preamp which I really like (if you are lost now, read that here 🙂 ) I have most of the parts for the MoFo on hand except the transformers, so hopefully I can put the boards together and check whether they work in the not too distant future. This is just an experiment for now anyway, so I just have to get it to produce sound and then we’ll see about a chassis later on 😀

Also, for whatever I eventually end up doing with my ICEpower 700ASC modules, I will probably at least experiment with adding an input buffer. A very nice design suggestion arrived some time ago from a blog-reader, namely the “Kuartlotron” (which sounds like a device used by a mad scientist in a sci-fi movie by the way). I’ve made some boards, but haven’t tried them yet. They should sound marvellous, so I am looking forward to that – loads of impressions from others here by the way 🙂

Another diyaudio-thread that I managed to keep up with was on a small and very cheap DAC-board based on the new ESS ES9038Q2M dac chip (the “cheap” version for e.g. mobile devices). I mainly bought a board because there is a simple onboard volume control, but the sound quality I think warrants further investigation. Unlike most other of these boards I buy, I actually have something approaching a real need for this one 😀

Last but not least I am – slowly but surely – working my way through the piles of half-finished projects I moved out of my apartment and I am finding plenty of things where I don’t really have many good excuses for not just finishing them. so fingers crossed I will be able to start making some progress here as well. I don’t plan on spending all of my easter holidays doing gardening, but let’s see if that holds 😀

Happy New Year!

Once again a new year is upon us and I’l like to wish everyone reading the blog all the best for 2018! 🙂

The new year also means that I will hopefully start posting audio topics again soon. My house move is more or less completed and all that remains is to unpack and sort about twice as many DIY-related moving boxes as I was expecting to have 🙂

First up though is a couple of weeks of travelling, so the new year for me started 7 hours earlier than usual and also meant I could watch quite a different fireworks show at midight than what I usually see at home. Fireworks coming off a 500m tall building is really quite impressive!

 

A brief intermission…

Over the next weeks until Christmas things are likely to be even more quiet here than usual as I will be moving from my current apartment to a (small) house 😀

It’s only a few miles away but since I have to juggle all the moving tasks together with my normal job it’s going to take some time and focus away from other tasks. Also, given the sheer amount of audio/electronics stuff and (mostly) half-completed DIY projects that I have to pack up and move as part of the process then it is going to be a bit of a challenge. On the plus side once I’m settled in I should have a bit more space for my parts and projects 🙂

There might well be updates in the mean time as I have several projects in the works that are nearly ready to write about, but I can’t really guarantee anything at the moment. Since winter is getting closer it also means just taking pictures in daylight is more or less reserved for the weekends 🙂

Last, but certainly not least, I’ll finish 2017 and start 2018 with a two-week trip to Asia which normally ends up being a little audio- and DIY-related so maybe there will be some updates from that as well.

In any case, “normal” service – whatever that means – should then resume some time in January 😀

Small thing – big difference

I don’t normally write (much) about the commercial gear that I buy, but for once I’ll make an exception.

I’ve actually owned both the previous versions of the Audioquest Dragonfly (DF) USB DACs but sold them after a relatively short time because I did not really need them anyway. Thanks to an ad on a local classifieds page I now find myself as the owner of the third generation DF as well – the Dragonfly Red. Apart from the new looks – which I really like – the new series of DFs also have the benefit of much lower power consumption, meaning they can be used with mobile devices.

I therefore tried hooking up the DF to both my iPhone and iPad. To be honest I wasn’t expecting that much, but it really does make a significant difference to the sound quality. The downside is of course that your phone becomes quite a bit less portable with a couple of extra dongles and adapters hanging off it, but the benefit in sound quality seems worth it. I wouldn’t use it every day, but if I really had to travel light then using the DF would save me packing and carrying a separate music player which could be very handy.

Photo of the device and a “real” red Dragonfly as well for comparison 😉 (that picture was taken by yours truly in Hong Kong – coincidentally exactly two years ago today)