Audiophile power conditioners.

voltsGiving 5oo€ for a audiophile power conditioner sounds crazy but depending on the tech inside it might actually help prolong the lifetime of your Hi-Fi gear. Yes, I actually wrote that and I’m not joking.
Archimago’s blog has a great objective test and review about a power conditioner from a very reputable brand called Belkin.
Belkin unlike some audiophile brands actually has some pretty amazing engineering behind their surge protectors and power conditioners.

Sadly its not always the case with audiophile brands, often selling their so called filters and cheap surge protectors inside glamorized power strips.
Anyone with a little knowledge about electricity will notice the ripoff on the components and so called tech. I had the sad vision of a so called power conditioner selling for 5oo€ that had a very minimalist construction, so minimal that my Lidl brand surge protector power strip might have more engineering inside.

Audiophiles will buy that kind of gear and expect better sound because the power line is being filtered, but the gear in question is so basic any DIY enthusiast can actually build something similar from way less money and do a better job at filtering and surge protection. I won’t point fingers at bad brands because I don’t want any legal problems but I advise anyone who really needs a solid power conditioner to search for reputable brands like Belkin or APC.

I also advise anyone who doesn’t have a surge protector to buy one for their sensitive gear, I might actually save the day, specially during thunderstorms.

My workbench these days.

My electronics and little project desk on my rainy living room.
Not shown are the 4 boxes with drawers I got on the other side of the room, those are where I keep most of my DIY stuff.
I can use my attic for storage space but only for power tools and heavy tools I don’t use often. Sadly the attic is a blazing hell reaching temps of at least 50º Celsius during the Summer so I’m limited to the stuff I can stash here, on the other hand my attic is an amazing place to dry clothes!

Today my dad gave me 8 wood boards that I needed to work on the side of my house. He just saved me 100€. I can finally work to solve some problems my 40 year old house has on the outside walls and roof.

Laptop stand.

My laptop runs hot in the Summer and I mean forge hot, so I had to build this stand for it.
IKEA plastic stand, Cooler Master fan I had around and a 12V transformer.
It works, I really need to practice my drilling without a drilling stand. 😄
Little detail you don’t see easily, the fan is mount on silicon pads.

Audio server.

I will put a power switch on the thing for safety reasons, half ass shielding for the wolfson card, 3 RCA output, one for TV and two for audio.
The connections I wont use will not be on the back panel, this way I’ll minimize stray interference aka the cable antenna effect.  If by any chance I do need any outputs I’ll add them later.

The audio server will not have a “power on” LED, mostly because the switch will control the TFT, and believe me the thing has enough blue LEDs for rave party. The switch will be sideways this way shit (accidental shutdown) happens less.
Damn that shielding looks nice for my headphone amp…thank you Sony for the inspiration! 😄

Geocities and audio Projects

Before wordpress, blogspot , facebook, myspace and livejournal there was a place called Geocities, on that place one could (and still can via mirrors) find lots of audio projects. If you enjoy some nostalgia do search for mirrors of Geocities or just visit the wayback machine. 

These day I browse the geocities a lot. You guys/gals can call me an old timer because in a way I am.

Raspberry Pi my future audio server.

So the other day I gave the raspberry a little spin…still need to test the DAC. The mark on the TFT is just a sticker btw.

Stuff I learned from the 1st hands on…Cold power off will corrupt the system so any power switch should be on the back panel.
One shouldn’t mess around too much with themes.
LAN access should be given during the setup. I want this box away from the internet so I’ll just update it from time to time.
The thing is fast for such a little card.
I need to test my 80Gb Lacie HDD from the dark ages and see if it’s compatible.

DACs and “burning in” gear.

So I was reading some forum posts about the Raspberry/Wolfson combo when I found a jewel of a post, The people who write there show a lot of knowledge about tech and computers, so I’m sure they aren’t the typical “plug and play” kind of persons, but still these informed audiophile talk about “burning in” DACs for hours and how they sound better and other similar BS.

In a subjective matter I’m sure anything will sound better after 50 hours of “burning in” mostly because we want it to sound better. On the objective side without measuring the difference that’s complete and utter BS.
I thinks this “burning in” BS comes from the “tube” time, when stuff needed some warming up to be up to specification.(It still does, because tubes never actually died)

I should burn in my computer, I’m sure it will be way faster and stable after some hours of “burning in”…it will sound better also…You can imagine me doing a face palm because I’m doing it.

Now if you say that it will show flaws that’s another story, but it won’t perform better after burning in, if it did my old computer would be on turbo mode now.
I shouldn’t be so mean about this kind of thing, but if everybody remains quite about this kind of BS it will become a true fact without objective tests.
I suspect of any type of “burn in” with exception of loudspeakers but even with those I’m sure only calibration equipment will detect the subtle changes.

Some audiophile should “burn in” their minds and pick up a soldering iron, now that burns in fine when you pick it wrong!

Raspberry Pi and some thoughts.

So I got the the B version of the Pi and the compatible Wolfson Dac board.
I also have a 12V 7″ TFT that I’ll plug to the analogue video out because I didn’t find any hdmi TFT around my area. Besides that I have a shitty keyboard and a mouse for my laptop that I might change for something smaller on the long run.

For power supplies I bought a second hand 5V 1.5A Sony PSP one for the raspberry (will solder a new jack) and a 12V 2A one for the TFT (It was originally made for cars)

For OS I’ll use Noobs and try stuff, the thing that works better with the DAC will be my main choice. I don’t need a pretty GUI, I just need a GUI to choose songs and a decent player for Flac files.

The box will be the same model I used to built my headphone amp, so I’ll have to extend those A/V output/inputs to the back plate via cables. the USB/LAN ports will be facing the back for easy access. I need to think about the access to the SD card but I think I’ll just cut a hole on the bottom of the box for easy access.
I’ll use a dual switch to power the boards and the TFT but no PSU will be inside the box.
I should actually shield the boards and I have the materials to do it but first I want to test the setup.

If the thing actually boots OK and the DAC runs fine I’ll think about those little details, if people put raspberry Pi inside Lego boxes why should I worry about shielding.
I should make a power supply for the raspberry…but first I want to see if noise goes to the outputs of the DAC…Fingers crossed because I don’t want to spend any more money.

I do have a little problem because I only have two USB ports, so I need one for the HDD and one for at least a mouse, keyboard will be only used for setup I hope.
Setup will be something like, run audio player on boot (If the OS lets me do it) and mount HDD.

Thats about it…I hope….sometimes I hope too much..

The crazy bat audiophile syndrome and the Raspberry pi.

Did you ever noticed people looking at you in a strange way after you talk about your audio hobby to them? That “you are a crazy bat” look after we talk about audio gear or something related?
I find it funny people don’t look that way when someone says they spend all their savings on a collectors car or other collectors items.
Expensive cars are ok for most people but audio gear is for crazy bats only!

I bought a raspberry Pi B, a Wolfson DAC card and also had to buy a 7″ TFT, when I explained the application to the seller she looked at me like I was crazy to spend 85€ on a screen to control a micro computer…I felt a bit sad because of her look, sad because I know many people think the same about other people who enjoy building stuff for audio. From my point of view I would be even more crazy if I spent 2000€ on a Sony ES audio server when I can build one for about 250€ and use some external HDD I had laying around, plus if I get tired of it I can always use it for another task unlike the Sony one.

The raspberry pi is an amazing platform I always wanted to try, I could use the OS Volumio but I don’t want more LAN cables around my house, plus it still needs a tablet or PC to work and I don’t want that because my kids tend to kidnap my desktop to watch Disney stuff.
The raspberry/Wolfson/TFT combo is also a way to save some money on the long run.

Audio servers are expensive, laptops don’t enjoy running for long periods of time, desktops need lots of juice and make too much noise, plus my living room has too much moist during the winter so I must be careful.

Now I look like a crazy bat again…I should buy old cars I know…