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Old 29th June 2006, 01:45 AM   #1
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Join Date: May 2006
Default Equipping a new Audio (and some video) Bench

I have an "all purpose" bench that supports some woodworking, electrical fix-it stuff when things break around the house, and other general-purpose jobs (creating system to pump water out of out lake and into our decorative waterer, powered by the same circuit that also provides some nice music to the remote area at the same time, for instance).

But I want to get serious about this audio stuff. I've got tons o' books (2/3 of which still need reading), lots of mag's, hours of 'net 'cruising and I am (re)hooked (since I actually built my first speaker over 20 years ago, just before I was legally able to drink beer). So what do I need that I don't have?

I have a pretty decent Fluke DVM that'll handle most anything DC/AC. (Plus a backup VM for when I blow the Fluke's fuse and realize I've run out of spares). Then I have this laptop that after all my net cruising seems like ought to be able to do a lot of neat stuff in the frequency generation and reading areas. I've got an Audigy 2 pcmcia card in the side of the PC for full-duplex in/out audio (and even spdif if I want/need it).

I've got a Behringer Shark DSP110 filter and a Behringer EC8000 (the former I use to provide phantom power to the latter, though I have done some neat things playing with the Shark, I'm definitely glad I got it instead of just something to provide +45v, its ability to create notch filters at will is really interesting.

OK, so now what else do I need? First thing that seems majorly missing to me is a regular variable DC power supply. How many outs do I need and at what ranges? (This is where things start to vary from my normal PC background to the audio area in terms of requirements).

Also, do I need/want a frequency generator? What specs?

'Scope? Specs?

And how much of the above (particularly last three paragraphs) can I do with my laptop and by definition do it nitfier?

I await thine inputs,

-tlp
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Old 29th June 2006, 09:07 AM   #2
lndm is offline lndm  Australia
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: nsw
Hi tlparker,

You can do all your frequency generating and scoping with your PC, but I think you'll appreciate having dedicated units.

The frequency generator I use at present I built from a kit. It is flat from 20 to 20 and also produces a tidy square wave. Triangle waves can also be useful.

Audio is not too demanding on a scope and any scope, new or old, will be useful. That said, scopes working into the 100's of MHz can have their benefits, and don't forget to consider dual channels.

Another thing I like to have is plenty of alligator clip jumper leads (obvious, I know ). How about a solder station?
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Old 29th June 2006, 03:46 PM   #3
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Join Date: May 2006
Quote:
Originally posted by lndm
Hi tlparker,

You can do all your frequency generating and scoping with your PC, but I think you'll appreciate having dedicated units.

The frequency generator I use at present I built from a kit. It is flat from 20 to 20 and also produces a tidy square wave. Triangle waves can also be useful.

Audio is not too demanding on a scope and any scope, new or old, will be useful. That said, scopes working into the 100's of MHz can have their benefits, and don't forget to consider dual channels.

Another thing I like to have is plenty of alligator clip jumper leads (obvious, I know ). How about a solder station?

Thanks. Yep, got a nice solder station with the variable temp control (which is great, what a difference). I've got pretty much everything you need to repair pinball machines, which often calls for the soldering iron, but rarely (as in never) the oscilloscope.

If I do buy separates for the freq gen, 'scope, etc., I would still think I'd want some way to interface them with the PC, if only for data collection. There just seems to be so much PC software out there these days that will help all the way from speakers and speaker box to room placement and room sound design (which is where I'd like to be -- in the process from beginning to end). I'm seeing something like speaker / sound system integration at the architectural stage, then final tweaking at the design/decorating/furnishing stages.
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Old 29th June 2006, 11:38 PM   #4
lndm is offline lndm  Australia
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: nsw
Yes, a temp controlled solder station is a breath of fresh air over my old 'flame thrower'

As far as PC output is concerned, I find it is useful for pink noise, tone sweeps and MLS bursts. For inputs, I like FFT spectrum analysis, possibly the quickest way to view frequency response in a domestic situation.

I am sometimes skeptical about the quality of a sound card, and I tend not to use my PC as a scope. Response compensation is possible.

I would not recommend dual channel work on a PC as I have found channel separation in the average sound card as poor.
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