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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
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Old 15th April 2021, 05:02 PM   #1
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Default Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin

Good day all,

While there is a nice discussion about the Muses electronic volume control designed by our friend @meldano here, I am going to take the opportunity to document my build here for anyone considering doing the same. I wouldn't expect it to be a @6L6 quality build guide, but will follow my adventures while building this quality project.

Muses Volume

I'll be honest, I've grown lazy and find that devices without remote controls aren't as favorable as those with. So I went on a journey to discover VCs that supported remote controls. I found a few really nice ones, some less so. And then my friend @dBel84 suggested I take a look at the above Muses-based electronic attenuator project. Programmable features, input switching, remote control learning... I was hooked. So I reached out to @meldano and was able to secure a board set. After placing a parts order, I was ready to begin.

Since this is my first adventure with SMD devices, I practiced on an old circuit board with some leftover parts from other projects provided by a friend after watching hours of YouTube videos on the subject. Turns out it's not so hard.

So I am starting with the Main Board (input switching, power supply) to get good at wide-pitched devices first. Between both boards I used a combination of soldering iron and hot air rework machine. Soldering iron is much faster if you have the right size and types of tips to work with. But the soldering paste and hot air are fun to watch do their magic, even if you're waiting several minutes for things to come to temperature.

Thanks to @dBel84 for the suggestion to start with the larger components first. The rationale, which is a little different from conventional thought, is that larger parts require more heat to apply (if using hot air) and you're more likely to blow small parts off of their spots with the excess heat needed for larger ones. So I started with the larger LED driver chips and the power regulators.

Next step is to start placing the smaller SMD resistors and capacitors before moving to through-hole components.

Disclaimer: While I know what the device does, I'm not intimately familiar with how it does it outside of the high-quality documentation that @meldano provides in the above-linked post. I'm just following the directions and shooting for a working device when it's done.

I may deviate from the normal a little bit during this project. The preamp I have chosen to put this VC into uses the attenuator after the gain stage, and this one was designed to go before the gain stage. The input switching circuits feed into the attenuator stage, and then the output is meant to feed whatever gain stage you have. So I will be deviating from the plans a little bit to separate the components in a way that will allow it to work that way.

Typical:
Kit Input Switching > Kit Muses Attenuator >Preamp Gain Stage

My configuration:
Kit Input Switching > Preamp Gain Stage > Kit Muses Attenuator

I've figured how to do this without too much issue, but for purposes of this discussion I'm just going to build it so you can see how it goes together.

Enjoy!
~Chris
Attached Images
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Last edited by Chris In Milwaukee; 15th April 2021 at 05:12 PM.
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Old 15th April 2021, 06:41 PM   #2
dBel84 is online now dBel84  United States
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The quality of your first attempts at SMD puts my early efforts to shame

looking forward to watching the evolution of this project and the final choices for preamp

..dB
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Old 16th April 2021, 04:23 PM   #3
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Wrapped up the SMDs on the main boards this morning (two required for balanced applications). Those parts sure are tiny! The diodes were a hoot to work with. Since they have little tiny feet, they don't necessarily lay flay after working them with a hot air machine like the caps and resistors do. So after I got them attached, I applied flux, went back with the micro-chisel tip on my iron, provided some top pressure with tweezers, and reflowed the pad while gently massaging the diodes into a better position. Yes, they would have worked just fine. But I prefer them to be as flat on the board as possible. Went back with a multimeter and made sure none of the components were shorted beneath. All good.
Attached Images
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Aleph J Build | Muses v2 Volume Control Build

Last edited by Chris In Milwaukee; 16th April 2021 at 04:29 PM.
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Old 16th April 2021, 06:51 PM   #4
ItsAllInMyHead is offline ItsAllInMyHead  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Great looking work! Following along.
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Old 16th April 2021, 06:58 PM   #5
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Thank you, sir!

Quote:
Originally Posted by ItsAllInMyHead View Post
Great looking work! Following along.
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Aleph J Build | Muses v2 Volume Control Build
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Old 19th April 2021, 09:02 PM   #6
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Finished up the main boards today. I've not yet installed some of the headers as I have yet to figure out exactly how I'm going to integrate it into my preamp. The X3 and X4 connectors circled in the images below are responsible for moving the audio signal in and out of the volume attenuator boards from the main board. As mentioned earlier, this device is designed to go before the amp/buffer. Since my preamp uses this volume control after the amp/buffer, but still keep the input switching before it, I need to split the setup in two, and this is where the signals need to be extracted for that (X4, specifically). So once I design exactly how that's going to work with my setup, I'll determine how those last two 3-pin connections will be utilized.

The euro connectors accept the input from the power supply(s). It's actually quite a smart circuit because you can send it either AC or DC. If you send it AC, there's a bridge rectifier in the circuit to do the conversion. If you send it DC from an outboard supply, leave the diodes off the board and install a couple of jumpers per circuit to feed DC in. Linear regs down stream massage the final circuit voltages.

Next up, Volume Control boards.
Attached Images
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File Type: jpg IMG_4392 4.jpg (1.01 MB, 83 views)
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Aleph J Build | Muses v2 Volume Control Build
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Old 20th April 2021, 01:48 PM   #7
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Turns out I "overbuilt" one of the boards. If used in a balanced configuration, you only need the switching devices and the connection risers on the second board (p.13 of the documentation--I overlooked it). So the power supply components are redundant.

Thankfully I have a third board so I can build that one up with those parts. Now I can use this board in a separate single-ended project.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_4397 2.jpg (1.01 MB, 111 views)
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Old 20th April 2021, 05:08 PM   #8
passive420 is offline passive420  United Kingdom
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Very nice clean work Chris, also interested in what gain stage you choose, Wayne's BAF linestage would be good depending how much gain you need. Simple diamond buffers work very well on the Muses output.
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Old 20th April 2021, 06:17 PM   #9
Chris In Milwaukee is offline Chris In Milwaukee  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
Thanks a million. Right now my choice is Aleph P. It tends to be pretty high gain, though, even though you can tune it down. When I called NJR, they said Muses will handle 10V on the inputs without issue, so we'll see how it goes.

Appreciate the line stage suggestion. It seems highly regarded. Others have suggest Iron Pre as well. Reckon I'll play it by ear (so to speak).

Quote:
Originally Posted by passive420 View Post
Very nice clean work Chris, also interested in what gain stage you choose, Wayne's BAF linestage would be good depending how much gain you need. Simple diamond buffers work very well on the Muses output.
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Old 20th April 2021, 06:41 PM   #10
poseidonsvoice is offline poseidonsvoice  United States
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Muses Electronic Volume Control Build from Wisconsin
For a newbie, this guy acts like a pro. Notice the blue ESD pad he has; notice the soldering gear, the hot air rework station, etc...

There is no need for sloppy work even for newbies!

Very classy. Well done.

Best,
Anand.
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