Do-it-Yourself (DIY) Electronics -- modification and review pages...
A Beginner 6BQ5 SE Amplifier
Articles / Guides:
Home Theatre and Video
Phono (turntable, cartridge, vinyl, record care)
Vacuum tubes (valves) and related equipment
Solid state (transistor)
Radio and wireless
Music and Recordings
"Gammelectronics.com" is now Gammelectronics.xyz -- please update your links accordingly .. thx!
QUICK DIY AUDIO PROJECTS
Building a Legacy--Interview with Bill Dudleston by Tom Nousaine (Audio magazine, Dec. 1998)
Interview with Andy Kotsatos of Boston Acoustics (early 1998)
HISTORY of AUDIO
(based on Audio1 magazine 100th anniv. issue articles, May 1997)
Hot Tip!!! DIY audio (RCA/phono) interconnects
What to use:
WIRE: I use JSC Wire--Multi-Conductor
Overall Foil Shield 75°C, 300 V, PE Insulation (the version shown here is more than two conductors)...
PHONO (RCA) CONNECTORS: Neutrik, Switchcraft, Canare, etc.
OTHER: Heatshink tubing; high-quality (silver) solder
How to wire: Blue is signal - tip on plug; Screen (shield) is return (ground) - outer on plug. So, how about white? Wire it to the outer at the signal (source) end only, making the cable "directional".
References: audioasylum.com article/thread
Shown below: inexpensive but effective Switchcraft 3502 RCA plug...
Classic review: Sony DVP-S7000 DVD/CD player
Classic review: Jamo Concert 8 and Concert Center Speakers
Classic review: Carver A-760x amplifier
Classic review: Mark Levinson No. 31.5 CD Transport
21st-Century Cinema Design--Viewing and listening requirements for a THX-quality theater design.
DIY DAP—A Do-It-Yourself Digital Audio Player: Build an embedded hardware/software system for 16-bit digital audio.
The Willowhill Pre-amp -- A high slew-rate JFET pre-amplifier
Rebuild an Old Turntable -- A simple circuit and some tinkering allow clean analog sound.
All About Speaker Cones -- Let's examine loudspeaker materials, fabrication, and quality
Ultra Low-Noise Phono Preamp [theory, concept, design and DIY project]
Wadia 27 D/A converter [review]
Theta Digital Casablanca [review]
Anthem Pre-1 Preamplifier [review]
Parasound HCA-2200-II Amplifier [review]
PS Audio Ultralink D/A Converter [review]
Benchmark DAC1 USB [review]
Audio Engineering Guide: Playback of Analog (vinyl) Records
Sound Ecology: environmental and health factors affecting your hi-fi equipment, your listening, and the planet
Low-Level Analog Effects Switching project (for electric guitars)
CD player round-up (early 1989): A subjective review -- players—from Magnavox, Adcom, Yamaha, and Onkyo—are in four different price ranges.
Understanding Tube Electronics (adapted from New York Audio Labs 1984 booklet, by Harvey Rosenberg): The State of Audio Technology; Tubes Versus Transistors -- Is There an Audible Difference?; A Vacuum Tube Audio Primer
The Cathode Follower and Its Weaker Siblings (Test results confirm that cathode followers are even more capable of driving capacitive loads than equivalent common-cathode amplifiers.)
Decca Stereo and the Los Angeles Philharmonic (1960s and 1970s sound engineering)
Yamaha CD-X1 Compact Disc Player -- vintage second-generation CD player; review from Audio magazine, Aug. 1984.
Mark Levinson Reference Digital Processor No.30 [adapted from Audio magazine profile, Jan. 1993, by Anthony H. Cordesman]
Optimus DCT-2000 DCC Recorder (lossy=good???) [adapted from Audio magazine profile, Jan. 1993]
Dynamic Bias Control with HX Professional (analog tape at its best!)
"Audio Talk" from audio-technica (info-ads series on phono cartridges)
The Cartridge Chronicles: Part II [two fixed-coil pickups—of the moving-magnet variety—and a single moving-coil]
Digital Up-manship (an article from Audio magazine, Jan. 1994)
Computing audio's future (an article from Audio magazine, Jan. 1994)
The Audio Bookshelf (missing some titles on your Kindle or bookshelf? read more ...)
CD (optical disc) longevity -- How durable and reliable are they? (read more...)
Old / vintage gear reviews -- WHY they are important
QUESTION: Why resurrect old equipment reviews?
ONE SIMPLE ANSWER: To keep the industry in check.
Old-is-new trends are common in all eras, gadget genres, and formats.
Gear "collectors" may be motivated by nostalgia or boredom or re-sale value (eBay stores)... but let's set these excuses aside, and simply ask this fundamental question:
How much technical progress has really been made in audio science and engineering -- that is, does modern equipment really sound better?
Is there such a thing as "timeless high-fidelity?" Perhaps, yes, if one is talking about: vinyl on classic Thorens turntables, played on decades-old electrostatic and horn loudspeakers, and (of course) through vintage vacuum-tube gear. This old stuff, when functioning properly and reliably (and maybe restored), can directly compete with many contemporary models.
Much old gear can be found on eBay and Craig’s List for considerably less money than band new (or even used-but-modern equipment, as in the overpriced used/2nd hand/trade-in section of hi-fi shops).
Knowing when to invest in old gear takes practice and skill (sometimes literally: as in using a soldering iron!). But the economic and self-accomplishment rewards are well worth it! You many never buy new gear again!
Electrodynamic / Orthodynamic:(aka planar magnetic, like Audeze brand)
This type of headphone is essentially in the same family as the moving-coil type, except that the coil has, in effect, been unwound and fixed to a thin, light, plastics diaphragm.
The annular magnetic gap has been replaced by opposing bar magnets, which cause the magnetic field to be squashed more or less parallel to the diaphragm. The " coil " is in fact now a thin conductor zig-zagging or spiraling its way across the surface of the diaphragm, oriented at right angles to the magnetic field so that sending a constant direct current through the conductor results in a more or less equal unidirectional force, which displaces the diaphragm from its rest position. An alternating music signal therefore causes the diaphragm to vibrate in sympathy with it, creating a sound-wave analogue of the music. (read more...)
PEAR PRESSURE: SAINT-SAENS OBSERVED HE PRODUCED MUSIC THE WAY A PEAR TREE PRODUCES PEARS.
(an essay about psychoacoustics...)
We are tremendously concerned today, when audio communication is merging ever more inextricably with the visual, as to exactly how the human senses work-the ears, the eyes, the mind itself, and especially, all three together. This involves all sorts of ancillary combined perceptions in which it is hard to tell where, so to speak, the eyes and the ears begin; in nature they invariably work as one and with them the mind, which infers such things as space, location, distance, size, direction, and even reality itself. (And now there is the "virtual" image.) We are working everywhere in the relevant sciences today, but nature is still well ahead of us. We take the complicated scientific way; nature is casual, instantaneous, direct. What a contrast! Unbridgeable? Not quite. We are getting places.
A perception that any old normal human body can make in so many seconds without the slightest calculation may take years of study to re solve into some sort of predictable scientific exactitude. Painful! Scientists who deal with perceptions in the human system are even worse off than the medicos who study diseases. Perceptions cannot be seen or heard. Nor even described in easy words that are scientific. Good! What does that mean? Good HOW? Yet the experience itself is so simple, so direct. We live with our perceptions, and we must marvel at them. Unbelievable, when you think about it. And so effortlessly accomplished! We must really envy our own perfection, a fait accompli, laid down a million years ago and still in place, before we can even start our tortuous science. Yet now is the time when it seems we really are getting things together. By which I mean, ever closer, more useful relations between direct human perceptions and measurable engineering parameters that can explain and, more important, predict how those perceptions will work. Selectively and analytically. This is the very essence of scientific method.
You will note that the 95th Convention of the AES, the Audio Engineering Society, which was held in all its enormity October 1994 in the Big Apple, made all the above essentially its theme, though not in so many words. "Audio in the Age of Multimedia." That is, how do we bring together sound and sight and more? Together with a reasonable subtheme, audio-only, the newest research into hearing, listening, auralization, that being a recent new term that may be ugly but is no doubt useful. (Another I had not seen was codec, not related to codex. I'm still working on this one, though I do grasp a certain algorithmic slant to it.) An astonishingly large segment of the AES sessions was given over to such matters as psycho- acoustics, and others even more "perceptual," al ways the relations between what we see and hear and the scientific analysis of the same. Good old familiar AES areas--such as signal processing, recording, and assorted distortions-barely hold their own. We have more important things to untangle.
Note too that in Europe the 12th AES Conference was held June  in Copenhagen, exploring very much the same exciting new areas of basic research, if on a much more intimate scale. Judging by accounts (and pictures), the animated talk in Copenhagen never stopped. It went on day and night over coffee, wine, champagne, and maybe even Coke.
Somehow, you see, the advent of digital audio, though late, opened up such huge, almost infinite new areas for our expansion-like, say, four channels to 1,000 or plenty more-that an intense new wave of research into just how we hear, and see and think, was set off. How we have floundered in the past, particularly in connection with that all-natural art, music! Floundered in concert halls, made progress in stereo, but on the whole without too much successful, interrelation between nature and science. Now, we start to go.
Nature is simple-or so it seems. Nature is direct. It is much the same with our most pervasive audio "message," the art of music. It is indeed all-natural! To a musician, music is not a thing that has to be explained: It is. (Or should be if it isn't.) In its way, music too is simple and direct, no matter how verbose the accompanying publicity. Camille Saint-Saens, as you will often hear, observed that he produced music the way a pear tree produces pears. Has anyone yet synthesized a pear, via scientific research? Maybe, with gene splicing, you could create a pear for the market out of soybeans? Maybe, but nature does it better. And quicker. As an art, music of any kind shares much with nature and the operations of our perceptions. Music is indeed a product of those very perceptions.
Take rhythm. Some people have it more than others. I have a lot, and as a sometime conductor, it comes out of my hands as well as the rest of me. The other day I took a test for blind spots due to glaucoma. Phew! The engineer who designed that computerized machine was no musician. The machine accurately zeroes in on the blind areas via flashes of light, small bright circles that you either see or don't see, and maps them out via computer feedback- immensely ingenious. But the damn thing has rhythm! It goes calunk, da-dah, calunk, da-dah, and you are supposed to press a button when you see a dot. No, I didn't tap my feet to this beat; I kept pressing the but ton in time with it-involuntarily. Until I thought to ask the technician to slow down to half speed. That gave me time to think, not merely perceive, and so defeat my own senses. See what I mean? Many musical experiences are more complicated than that. But though they are often learned, over long periods, they work in the same all-natural way. Instantly, with out thought. There is nowhere in the adaptation of music to the current age that has seen more scientific floundering than in the design of new, modern (in style) concert halls, supposedly by scientific calculation for the most desirable acoustics.
We began, after World War II, with the brave but hideously misguided Royal Festival Hall in London, which almost instantly built itself a dreadful reputation among musicians. What went wrong? Do I need to tell you? Lack of rapport between musical perceptions and scientific analysis of the causes of those perceptions!
WE WORK EVERYWHERE TO EXPLAIN HOW THE HUMAN SENSES WORK, BUT NATURE IS STILL AHEAD OF US.
Long before that, in the mid-'30s, our own audio engineers and their architect colleagues collectively stuck 'their heads into an even worse sonic morass. On the nice theory that a dead "studio" would al low a, maximum of musical clarity and a minimum of blur and confusion (reverb), they built NBC Studio 8H for Toscanini and the NBC Symphony. Totally dead. And very large. Every detail was thought of (except one); even the programs were printed on sheer silk, so there would be no noise. (What they had to ignore was the human cough. No cough drops.) Was there ever a more total discord between the all- natural art of music and the all-engineering broad profession? Eventually, NBC got the message. Toscanini was moved to Carnegie Hall, not scientifically designed but New York's best, even so. My children, reverberation- noise-is a part of music. By now all audio people know this, and so we progress.
As you may know, the Royal Festival Hall led to the still-young art of synthetic concert hail reverberation. A scurrilous story says that one great German conductor, who was horrified, came back a few years later and pontificated that the building's surfaces must have weathered and mellowed, to produce such an improved sound. Do you know the rest? It was the surreptitious electronic reverb, the very first. Deliberately, it was kept a dark secret.
Not so with the much heralded Silva Hall acoustics in Eugene, Ore., of a dozen years or so ago, the first building designed deliberately for electronic reverberation. Christopher Jaffe, who improved on the Festival Hall electronics, was the designer of this superb building's three-way system. Eugene's multimillionaires love publicity, and pay for it. At first they were ecstatic. But now the place is, acoustically, a wreck. When a few misguided musicians objected (true, they could not hear themselves well enough, an understandable oversight for a first try) and then the local symphony conductor came out adamantly against the whole thing and refused to play unless the electronics were entirely turned off, the local paper printed a scathing attack that I found really agonizing. So much worthy effort gone to naught! Last I knew, the entire electronic system was turned off, inoperable. Concerts are simply held without it, and listeners don't like the sound. Why should they? Now, you must go to Alaska ( Anchorage) to hear a newer incarnation of the Jaffe system. If it is still working, that is.
You know, engineers and scientists have their perceptions too, their special sorts of instinctive genius. Einstein, the tax collector. Richard Feynman, that prankster and humorist from Brooklyn, one of the century's real mathematical, scientific geniuses--all-natural, you might say.
I repeat an account of some years ago. I then thought, and still think, that Christopher Jaffe's huge "portable" outdoor sound system for the New York Philharmonic and Met Opera is an unheralded stroke of genius in our field. By ingenious delay lines, a genuine stereo impact over acres and acres of New York parkland without any sense of walls or borders, and evenly wherever you may listen. Who else has produced such a remarkable sound?
Links and references for audio/video and related electronics:
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Updated: Saturday, 2016-07-23 17:07 PST
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