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Tube amp progress

Posted 21st September 2012 at 03:19 AM by wlowes

In the past few weeks I have made progress on by OTL amps. The wooden bases are finished, and I am very happy with the finish.

I reformed and tested all the big can caps. The Nippon Chemi Caps are fine. The big old Samgmo caps make me too nervous to consider using them. They may be serviceable, but have a high leakage current compared to the Nippons and do not seem to hold a charge. Perhaps I'll use them in some other project. I will buy 2 x 2200 caps for each rail. 4 per mono and 8 in total. This caused yet another redesign of the top plate. I have now got room to place a big heat sink on top. It will disipate heat from bridge rectifiers and big resistors used for soft start.

Finally I started to build. While all point to point wired, the amps will be modular. I am using wood blocks as the base for each power supply circuit. I laid out the supply for the small tube anodes and wired them up. This way the caps are well supported and vibration damped....
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My 6c33c OTL project

Posted 21st September 2012 at 03:03 AM by wlowes

I am starting this blog to create a record of my first tube amp project. The project is to build a pair of 110W 6c33c OTL monoblocks based on Bruce Rosenblit's patent. I am starting the blog at the stage that I am well into the project. I started planning and collecting parts well over a year ago and am at the stage where execution is under way.

So how did I end up with this choice? My DIY audio experience got under way with a Peter Daniel chip amp which I enjoy to this day. Along the way I discovered the Lampizator site leading to the creation of a 1541A DAC with 6np2 tube output. When this sprang to life I was hooked on the idea of building a tube amp. I have never actually heard a tube amp. The look is very fundamental. I want to experience the additional nuances in the music reported by tube amp fans.

I wanted to start with something simple but good quality for my first project. I also wanted to keep costs in check. I figured that good quality...
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Akihabara, lost to the maids.

Posted 20th September 2012 at 11:51 PM by rjm (RJM Audio Blog)
Updated 23rd September 2012 at 11:24 PM by rjm

A maid cafe is, as far as I can make out - and wikipedia confirms - a cafe/light restaurant staffed by girls who dress up as anime characters or doll-like maid costumes. Chatting with customers is encouraged, so the atmosphere is more social than a regular cafe. Its also more expensive, and the food worse. (from what I can judge from the menus: its what my nine year old daughter might make if left alone in the kitchen...) They advertise by by having the staff stand around - in costume - on busy street corners nearby handing out small cards.

This is a phenomena that started about 5-6 years ago, or at least started to go mainstream then. Ground zero for maid cafes is the "nerd districts" where computers, comic books, and video games were sold: Akihabara in Tokyo, Nipponbashi in Osaka.

Growth appears to be exponential: every time I visit either region (I'm in Tokyo right now, staying near Akihabara) the number of maid cafes (and therefore maids on the street)...
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Finally packaged up "new" ADAU1442 DSP

Posted 2nd September 2012 at 08:11 AM by googlyone
Updated 15th September 2012 at 08:10 AM by googlyone

Wow - it has taken me months to finally get around to packaging up my latest DSP. With work, travel and holidays I have a huge bag of excuses, but I guess the actual reason is that my old DSP using the Analog Devices AD1940 actually works just fine.

The results are I think pretty neat:

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The case was made from leftover bits from the last set I built - the sides are simply timber with a groove routed for the top and bottom panels to sit in, and the front and rear panels screw into the timber sides. It makes a change from the multitude of "all metal" cases that litter my workroom and playroom.

The implementation here has one analogue to digital converter and four digital to analogue converter cards.

These can be seen here:

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Where the ADC is the first vertically mounted bard on the left with the slightly scruffy IDC cable. The four DACS...
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NXP's innovation in smart phone sound - any implication for the high-end?

Posted 2nd August 2012 at 05:13 AM by abraxalito

EET seems to be on a run of interesting articles of late - and here's the latest, about NXP's latest digital amp for smartphone speakers:

Achieving loud, rich sound from micro speakers

So yeah, smartphones are a long way from the high-end you say, so why talk about this at all? Well one sentence at the end caused me to pause and wonder how long before this kind of technology gets used where sound quality (rather than quantity) is paramount. I quote:

This leap in performance illustrates an important design trend. The days of stand-alone amplifiers and converters designed in isolation have gone.

The writer has put his finger on a major reason why the high-end of audio is a relatively stagnant pool for innovation. Pretty much everything's designed in isolation - players, amps, speakers. What if those days really are coming to an end, not just in smartphones but in quality audio too? Smartphones have the volume so there's economic...
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Cirrus now Apple's poodle

Posted 1st August 2012 at 04:53 AM by abraxalito

Cirrus (familiar to us in the audio world as a major ADC/DAC and codec supplier, formerly Crystal Semiconductor) has engineered itself into a tight corner by having over half its sales come from Apple - but its not permitted to mention its largest customer by name due to Apple's draconian NDA.

I wouldn't say things are looking very bright for Cirrus - to be that dependent on one single customer who is that much more powerful than you and a known corporate bully strikes me as poor strategic thinking.

Apple captive Cirrus gagged
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Insider story on Intel's FinFETs - allegedly...

Posted 27th July 2012 at 05:00 AM by abraxalito

Here's an interesting article where Warren East is commenting on ARM's competition with Intel. But for the sting in the tail, scroll down to the comments. The first one appears to be from an Intel insider - fascinating stuff. Let's hope it doesn't get pulled

ARM, TSMC lead Intel in SoC, says CEO East

He (nc3) says :

Intel's 22nm also has much higher leakage, cost, worse analog, worse RF, worse high V transistors in terms of specs and the type of devices offered.
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Ceasar II 300B SE mono block upgrade Part #2

Posted 24th July 2012 at 06:01 PM by dvb projekt
Updated 13th November 2015 at 09:41 AM by dvb projekt (New photo source)

A short quick upgrade for my Ceasar II Mono´s
to push the sq to the limit...

In the meantime...

As you could see in the Upgrade Part #1, the printing of the Sophia Electric Royal Princess 300B
is 90 degrees different to the Emission Labs 300B-XLS.

Not a big thing, but it´s not looking good!

Unfortunately i have only two holes for the Tube-Socket. Therefore i made two small adapter to rotate the Tube-Socket.

Click the image to open in full size.

Click the image to open in full size.

Now the printing faces to the front!

Click the image to open in full size.


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Nvidia wants a divorce from TSMC?

Posted 18th July 2012 at 03:08 AM by abraxalito

This article is a fascinating peep behind the curtain of the current economics of semiconductor production through the eyes of a major IP player - Nvidia. More evidence that Moore's Law is grinding to a screeching halt I suggest.

Nvidia deeply unhappy with TSMC, claims 20nm essentially worthless | ExtremeTech
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Upgrade Fluke 510A AC voltage reference

Posted 16th July 2012 at 04:45 PM by 1audio

While doing some research on making an ultra low distortion analyzer I stopped to look at the Fluke 510A that has been siting on my shelf for years. Lots more on the 510a here:

In short a low distortion (.005% or better) 10V +/- .002% reference oscillator. There are very good numbers and by 1970 standards exceptional.

I was looking at it because I was researching AGC circuit for oscillators. This is an interesting implementation with its standards lab precision accuracy and stability. However its not simple and the critical parts are expensive (an ultra stable voltage reference, ultra stable resistors etc.)

In any case I was wondering if the distortion can be reduced still further. At the time it was built .002% was about as good as possible in practice and better would be hard to verify.

In short, after a number of experiments I got the distortion down to .0003% THD (30 KHz...
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