In search of synergy…

Slightly off-topic post, but I have written a few times about how I think that system-matching is much more important than any “absolute” sound quality, at least as far as enjoying the music is concerned. Well, today was another reminder that I still think this is the case 🙂

A couple of months ago I got new speakers, trading my old (and much-loved) standmount Sonus Fabers for some floor standing Scansonics that offered a bit more low-end slam. I was quite happy with the trade from the beginning and I have absolutely no regrets, but after a time the inevitable restlessness sets in and you start thinking about change (at least I do…). I’ve been running the Scansonics with a simple 125ASX amp on my Harman/Kardon preamp, but just to try it I dug out another ICEpower-amp from my collection, this time based on the older 200ASC-modules.

Although I would definitely still class the 125ASX as the better amp overall, the Scansonics (which are just a little bit bright) immediately benefitted from the more “closed-in” presentation style of the 200ASC, so as usual after initially listening to half a track I started to go through my normal playlist of tracks I know well and just enjoyed listening to some music that I would normally say I know back-to-front already.

To be fair I am honestly not surprised at this, because I saw the same change when I switched from the even older Elac speakers that much preferred the warmer sound of a 50ASX amp whereas the Sonus Fabers really came to life with the more lively presentation of the 125ASX. However, I still think that it’s nice to be reminded once again what really matters when putting a well-rounded system together and of course experimentation is always fun (although it can sometimes be very expensive as well…)

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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 😀

Distractions….

Once again I find myself in a period where “real life” is intruding significantly on my build time. Not only at work (which is the normal reason), but also in my personal life. Therefore, the progress I am managing on my projects is mostly so incremental that it doesn’t really make sense to write about it – it would be the DIY-equivalent of a book with every page as a separate chapter!

However, the inspiration for projects is still there and both the various online forums and my blog-feed serve as good sources of new ideas and inspiration. One recent example that I specifically think is worth mentioning is this post on Arduino “watchdog timers” for standalone Arduino projects where a self-reset capability in the event of an error is a good idea. Like all the other posts on the site, this is very comprehensively documented and easy to follow and in this case it’s a topic that I didn’t think about but immediately thought would be useful.

And the best part is that even if you are busy, sketching out a simple PCB doesn’t take that long – does it? 😀

(note: hat-tip to the referenced wikipedia-article for the image below)

(Yet another) anniversary!

Yes, it’s that time of the year again – and this year it’s the fourth anniversary of the blog 😀

Not a lot to say that I haven’t already said the last couple of years, but I still expect to continue writing as much as time allows. I am also still very excited and greatly appreciative of your questions and comments, so keep it up 🙂

Picture below is of what is (currently) sitting near the top of my project pipeline, namely four 4U diyaudio special-edition pre-drilled heatsinks. These are specifically intended to accelerate (as much as possible) the completion of my Pass VFET project as well as one other Pass project using boards from the diyaudio store that I have wanted to do for some time now 🙂

Happy New Year!

Yes, another year has gone and so up comes another opportunity to reflect on the status of the blog 🙂

Well, sort of anyway. I would like to have said that I am writing this on New Years Day from my desk in the middle of a build, but I’ve actually decided to write this in advance, let WordPress handle the logistics of posting and then bugger off to Italy for New Year’s instead 😀

This (well, last) year I feel I have been a little bit more limited in terms of time to post, but I still have plenty of projects in the pipeline, plenty of ideas I want to realise, plenty of experiments to be done etc. Heck, even the bank balance looks in reasonably good shape 😀

The only things generally lacking are time (not much I can do about that unfortunately) and then space for the projects that I finish (I might be able to do something about during the coming year, who knows?). Overall though, I think there’ll be plenty of stuff to write about during 2017 as well.

I’m still excited to see that both visitor numbers and views are steadily increasing and I think that I manage to keep the signal/noise ratio quite high here – I hope you agree!

All the best to everyone reading and best wishes for 2017 🙂

Gold glitter Happy New Year 2017 background. Happy new year glittering texture. Gold sparkles with frame. Chic glittering invitation template for new year eve.

Paypal grumble…

Slightly off-topic post, sorry. Like most people that shop online (especially on Ebay and from private sellers on discussion forums) I use Paypal extensively. Normally it’s relatively easy, safe and convenient. However, earlier this week I started getting error messages that the two debit/credit cards I have linked to my account were no longer usable as payment. I managed to link a third card and complete the transaction, but I started wondering what was going on.

It turns out that Paypal at some point last week have made the default option for transactions the same currency that your credit card is issued in, even if there has for a long time been an option to set this per credit card you use. I’m sure that somewhere this is listed as a “customer service initiative” or “security initiative” (yeah!), but nevertheless it is one that just happen to give Paypal a further few percent commission on the exchange rate (I haven’t calculated it exactly but it looked like a 3-5% markup depending on the currency). This is of course unacceptable when I pay fees already (or the seller pays them, which means in the end I pay them).

Fortunately after some googling it turns out there still is a way to pay the actual transaction amount and let the card issue handle the conversion (which in my case they do with 1% commission on the official rate from the National bank). Before completing the purchase, click to change payment method and then click the exchange rate to change back to using the card issuers rate. I haven’t tried with a direct Paypal transaction (only via Ebay) but I will be keeping my eyes open in the future….

Oh and, needless to say I will from now on always avoid using Paypal if there is another payment option listed where I shop…

EDIT 29/11-16: Have now tried to send money via Paypal directly and here I can’t change the conversion option. Then I spotted this in the latest revision of the user agreement “Where your payment is funded by a Debit or Credit Card and involves a currency conversion, by entering into this agreement you consent to and authorise PayPal to convert the currency in place of your Credit or Debit card issuer.” Which basically means that they decide the exchange rate and if you don’t like it you can f*** off…

Anyone know of any good alternatives to those Paypal bas***ds?

New AKGs are in…

It’s been a while since I last added to my already sizeable (and frankly unnecessary) collection of headphones, but now was the time.

Although new models come on the market regularly, the one “top of the line” model that I really wanted to get was the AKG K812. Up until a few months ago they have been very expensive and were only sold at RRP, but as they have started appearing at discounted prices I’ve renewed my interest. Although I’ve been eyeing them for a while now, it wasn’t until last week the stars finally aligned (or at least the combination of bank balance and foreign exchange rates 🙂 ) and I could finally press the “buy” button.

When it came on the market some of the first reviews of the K812 mentioned harsh treble, but on the few occasions I’ve demoed them it didn’t sound particularly harsh to me. To be on the safe side I’ve bought one of the later-model “Made in Slovakia” ones, mainly on an assumption that any treble issues might have been teething problems in the first production runs of the original “Made in Austria” series.

I’m quite a big fan of the AKG house sound – and I have been since I first bought the K501 model when it was “flavour of the month” on head-fi a little over 15 years ago (yes, time flies…). I also own the K701, K550, K495NC and a few others and just as I expected my initial impressions of the K812 are that they are “more of the same” but better. As is the case with most other large AKG models (at least for me) the K812s are very, very comfortable once properly adjusted and I think I can wear them for a long time before they start being uncomfotable. For someone who wears glasses, this is definitely not a given when you buy a high-end headphone.

Obviously this purchase impacts the audio-related budget for my next big trip (in a couple of weeks) a little bit, but that’s ok – I’m sure it’ll be worth it once I get to spend a bit more time with these new AKGs 😀

k812