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  1. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Might just note that I've reached the target that I placed up in the first post here - that "What I'm aiming for is to get the sound to be pleasurable to listen to". If every tweak is in place then I have no trouble just leaning back and soaking up whatever track is playing - all the right things are coming through, and minimal bad things are happening ... this everyday laptop is getting the job done of delivering the sound that's on the recording without intruding any more than minimally - quite remarkable, really ...
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    Posted 3rd May 2015 at 01:27 PM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  2. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    This one's for fdegrove ... - tried some Piaf tracks, and apart for some slight resonance did well. One track, L'Homme de Berlin, is of very poor recorded quality - but the playback was as good as I've heard this ...
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    Posted 3rd May 2015 at 07:08 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  3. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    I'm impressed!!! ... Just tried another one of my "difficult" CDs, https://musicbrainz.org/release/e6cd...2-f4964e281161, Harry James going at maximum rev's, from a broadcast recording! Doing remarkably well, easy to hear the flaws of the recording media, but this doesn't get in the way of the music - good stuff!
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    Posted 3rd May 2015 at 12:56 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  4. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Since the sound from the laptop is now good enough to be taken seriously, another exercise that makes sense, apart from backtracking with "undoing" in turn each of the tweaks, will be to develop test signals, in the normal sense of the word, that will emphasise these artifacts of difference and make it easy to feed into a system to try and catch them out. Hopefully, something that can both be heard, and recorded with a reasonable setup, making analysis a bit more "rational", .

    I've had this idea before, but there was no neat, easily used, convenient environment in front of me for doing it, so I haven't bothered so far. The laptop can be used to both create the test waveforms, and then play them back in the right state, for immediate feedback. So, could be interesting ...
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    Posted 2nd May 2015 at 03:56 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  5. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    One of the" fun" bits of doing this sort of thing is fighting the computer, Microsoft ... ! I had just noticed that every time the display was turned off, to see if this possibly helped or altered the sound, that the disk activity light was going crazy - needed a bit more checking, yes, the disk drive was going mad for many seconds most times when trying this - why ??? I want the computer to shut down unnecessary activity, not go in the other direction !!

    After some detective work, turned out to be Microsoft's malware "protection" service, using the display off as a trigger to go into a mad fury of scanning the drive ... okay, this makes sense, but I want to shut down this behaviour, to give myself a level playing field, for evaluating relevant factors. So I need to disable Windows Defender Service ... long story short, this took a couple of hours of fiddling to work out how to do this - but, finally, killed it!

    Result, hard disk now doesn't go for a frenzied dance, predictably so ... progress made!

    Apart from that I'm pleased with the sound quality at the moment - from a cold start, it does remarkably well now, good clarity, standard of low level detail, sense of depth and space. Again, I had no expectations when I started this exercise that it would do this well ...
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    Posted 1st May 2015 at 11:51 PM by fas42 fas42 is offline
    Updated 1st May 2015 at 11:55 PM by fas42
  6. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Continuing on the theme of running with a track, as a tool, that is on the edge of being dirty enough to, literally, cause headaches - I am now focusing on that Count Basie track. This is track 15, "Sixteen Men Swinging", a live recording from 1956 - one that was not included on the original vinyl release, and that may have been, as seems to be the case from the playback here, because that recording was not taken in the best circumstances.

    As the name implies, this is a full on, driving swing band production, brass going full tilt, and the drummer going for it too. There is a version of that number on YouTube, but this is not the same session - completely different sound to the recordings. My CD's one has picked up nice and gutsy bass drum hits, the transients are well conveyed.

    The sound on this can be rapidly wearing, plenty of natural echo, plus the drummer is working hard, a very dense combination - when it's replaying better one has an immediate sense of relief!!

    This is an ideal test signal, at the moment, for fine tuning of of laptop settings, etc.
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    Posted 1st May 2015 at 07:19 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
    Updated 1st May 2015 at 07:23 AM by fas42
  7. Old Comment
    rjm's Avatar

    Building a vacuum tube amp vs a solid state amp

    For power amps, I think tube circuits make easier diy projects. Typically point-to-point wiring, lower parts count, lower bandwidth, lower feedback. Less debugging, less worry.

    With transistor power amps you need to add reliable thermal and over-current protection, and test the heck out of it for stability into the worst possible case loads. Ok, you could use a pre-designed module and hope that its all worked out for you, just add power supply and heatsinks... but there's less satisfaction in that, since its basically just component assembly.

    Transistor power amps are fun if you really get into it, do the design and testing yourself, but that's a step above doing the same kind of thing with tube amps in terms of complexity and investment.
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    Posted 30th April 2015 at 12:07 PM by rjm rjm is offline
  8. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Confirming the early comparison between CD-ROM drive and HD, I tried a playlist of alternating a particular track which is not the best quality, from Count Basie in London, a live show in Sweden(!!); ripped, CD drive, ripped, ... . Definitely a step up using HD, this track has significantly cleaner sound from the hard drive.

    Note, for some reason the playback glitches at times during CD-ROM playback, no obvious reason, because the data has already been read from the disk - whatever's causing this might be dragging the quality down a bit ...
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    Posted 30th April 2015 at 06:37 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  9. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Okay, time for another step in the exploration: so far I have always been using the CD-ROM drive as the source - MediaMonkey buffers the data in whatever manner it has chosen to do it, so it's not continually reading from the drive - and, perhaps m/c activity there makes a difference. At the moment I'm listening to a "dodgy" Country & Western CD, many of the tracks are obviously recorded from a needle drop, so mastering is very sus. So, for a pretty chewy track thereon I used EAC to rip to hard drive - does it make any difference playing from CD drive, vs. hard drive?

    Boy, does it ever! Not even in optimum play status, but "chewiness" has lifted by quite a bit, a distant backing drum has a much cleaner hit, and the very distant audience cheering for the, live, recording is much more distinct - looks good!
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    Posted 29th April 2015 at 06:16 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
    Updated 29th April 2015 at 06:18 AM by fas42
  10. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    I'll just point out, that right at this moment I can "destroy" the SQ in a matter of seconds. How? In the optimum state the m/c is not usable, especially to do anything on the Net - so all I have to do is restore the settings, which takes a matter of a few seconds, to bring the laptop into a usable state, and I've lost the listenability - it's evaporated!

    As an example, at the moment I have on some "ambient" classical pieces, from the main repertoire of this world of music - and I'm getting very soothing, "creamy" string sound from the massed playing - lose the best settings, and we're back to "classic", "digital" sound - it's right, but it's not right! There is an irky, irritating quality to the sound, which would make me switch the playback off very quickly, if I can't "fix" it ... which I will, in a moment, after posting this ...
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    Posted 29th April 2015 at 02:12 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  11. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    A couple of things ...

    What's still catching it out is the resonance problem - I have a cheapo CD of Mario Lanza on hand, and the big notes from a full throated opera singer cause grief - faulty bzzz'ng happens, and I need to establish the whys and wherefores of this.

    When I get it to a stage where I feel there is nothing significantly more to be gained without a major hardware alteration, then I'll start going backwards - undo a single tweaking step only, and describe what the impact of that lone, "degrading" reversal does to the sound, as best I can. Then I will restore that tweak, to get back to optimum, and move to undoing the next tweak, etc.
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    Posted 28th April 2015 at 11:26 PM by fas42 fas42 is offline
    Updated 28th April 2015 at 11:30 PM by fas42
  12. Old Comment
    LucasAdamson's Avatar

    Stock Status

    But Oliver, there is a possibility that it may never return to the level it was a year ago!! What to do!?
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    Posted 28th April 2015 at 12:05 PM by LucasAdamson LucasAdamson is offline
  13. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    I must say I'm somewhat surprised, intrigued that the sound is doing so well, so far. From a cold start something like Kocsis Plays Bartok, a Denon digital recording from 1975(!) of small piano pieces comes across very well. Nice and spacious, all the elements of "correct" piano sound are there, in particular the bass notes are fully convincing - way superior to what I would typically hear from a pretentious, high end audio setup! The only thing missing is volume, I keep wanting to grab some magical volume control, and wind it riiight up!!

    It's in the good position now that it's so pleasurable to listen to, that I need to be motivated to want to improve it - I could quite happily just keep playing music! So, I need to pull out some my killer CDs, the nasty ones, to expose deeper weaknesses.

    I hadn't expected that this level of quality to be realised so easily ... a nice surprise ...

    Edit: IOW, this sound is "good enough", all a system would have to do is replicate this, say up to 20 or 30 dB louder, to be satisfactory.
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    Posted 28th April 2015 at 02:41 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
    Updated 28th April 2015 at 02:48 AM by fas42
  14. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Very pleasing, it seems that a certain setting for MediaMonkey is making a substantial difference - and the latest round of listening has been positive! This was a trial and error thing, the why is unknown, at the moment. Also, it now makes a strong difference whether the display is on or off, possibly meaning that the balance of power draw in that mode suits the battery/charger setup better.

    So what is the key criterion that I'm focusing on at the moment? The clarity of low level detail - when not in the "groove" the sound has a fog, somewhat unpleasant, "blurring" the tiny stuff that's happening - very quickly one's brain says, I don't want to keep listening to this! But get the settings, the environment right and that cloud lifts - you can hear "into the sound", there's a pleasure in picking up little details of what's going on in the sound space.

    Also, as mentioned before, the experience with one's head merely inches away from the keyboard is like wearing a pair of high quality, open style of headphones - the sound surrounds your head, you're "inside" that music space.
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    Posted 26th April 2015 at 10:55 PM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  15. Old Comment

    Superregs for your line-level projects

    Hi Jan,

    The links, both in the web store and the blog, for the BOM and schematic are not working.

    Regards,
    ym
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    Posted 26th April 2015 at 04:01 PM by ymwong ymwong is offline
  16. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Today turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag, at times getting somewhere and then seeming to fall behind again. This is also fairly typical of a certain stage of the tweaking process - one is still learning what the key factors are, and how they may interrelate; it's like juggling, say, 10 balls and working out the precise sequence of hand movements to keep the show running: get the sequence right and it's remarkable to watch; get it wrong and you just have an embarrassing mess up !!
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    Posted 25th April 2015 at 11:01 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  17. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Back on track ... yesterday I just consolidated my sense of confidence of what was needed as regards a charger and battery strategy for the moment, I was consistently getting a certain, acceptable SQ. There is still a resonance issue in the speakers at times, very dynamic solo piano brings this out, but I still don't know whether long term conditioning will resolve this, or whether a bit of physical fiddling with the driver is needed.

    Tried a CD that is truly close to being a 'bad' recording, and still not quite sure how this will turn out - I only acquired it fairly recently, and haven't the confidence to say how "good it can get". It's a John Buller Trio live recording, in 2005(!!) at a Swiss music do ... and why is it bad? Because, at first glimpse it sounds technically very competent, but where the signal was tapped from the PA system used is too far down the chain it seems, and it's quite dirty, and grungy - there's an irky, low level unpleasantness which comes and goes. It's very much like listening to good quality PA speakers, which means the denser the sound the more it clogs up - perhaps they wanted the listener to feel like they were in the crowd. But I have heard plenty of other recordings of this type do this far better, the sound doesn't need a patina of crappiness to convey the right atmosphere ...
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    Posted 25th April 2015 at 12:10 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  18. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    What's the PSRR of an emitter follower?

    Hoo boy ... is that ever relevant when listening to "pro" sound! Mucky sound, amplified to a level to make sure everybody in the place has an unpleasant time of it - the few times they get it right doesn't make the risk of suffering it worthwhile.

    The real downside is that I'm sure that most people now expect sound reinforcement to be bad - they would feel cheated if it wasn't like that - they weren't getting the "live" experience, !!
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    Posted 24th April 2015 at 11:40 AM by fas42 fas42 is offline
  19. Old Comment
    abraxalito's Avatar

    What's the PSRR of an emitter follower?

    Speaking of Audacity, here's a beautiful thread with the OP's wife making the following comment which tickled me senseless :

    "I didn't know that the music didn't have to hurt while listening to it"

    https://community.klipsch.com/index....-tracks/page-2
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    Posted 24th April 2015 at 04:50 AM by abraxalito abraxalito is online now
  20. Old Comment
    fas42's Avatar

    Exploring laptop sound

    Yesterday was not the best day, I had lost ground, it seemed! The sound was not coming on song as it had the day previously, and there didn't seem any obvious reason for that. It was only towards the end of the day, and when I had lost a lot of enthusiasm for the business that the light dawned - I had determined that the charger in operation was helping the sound, aided by simple filtering. So that's how it was running all day, but I was getting sludge quality, no matter what. Ah-ha! The battery was fully charged all the time, and the charger was just idling, in another "mode" of just ticking over with only enough juice to keep everything in balance. When the charger first was a positive factor the battery was way down, so the charger was going flat out refilling the battery, its plastic case got to a very cosy temperature from the output regulators doing their work - so, I now discharged the battery somewhat, and a good measure of the SQ was restored.

    Meaning, the whole power supply side of the laptop, and sound is in fine balance, in its raw form - the interference factor jumps a great deal if the battery and charger currents are not at a relatively high level. Now, the "proper" solution would be to sort that out, but I'm not going to do such - my aim is to find a balance of the environment that means good sound comes out; to see how far the sound components of the laptop can be pushed. It's not worth "fixing" the m/c, this is just an exercise in investigating what factors contribute to the quality of the sound.
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    Posted 23rd April 2015 at 11:43 PM by fas42 fas42 is offline
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