Sabtu, 15 Desember 2012

RIP Dave Brubeck

We as an audiophile who loves Jazz music must have been enjoyed Brubeck's tunes. Most notably Paul Desmond's "Take Five" from the 60's. Superb recording that almost indispensable as a reference track. One of Dali reference CD has his tune, yup..the Take Five, good for younger generations ensuring continuation of many jazz legends.

From where I've first knew Brubeck tunes? from my hero Miles Davis many early albums leads finally to Brubeck :). Too bad I do not have many of his album, but thanks to you-tube you'll find it almost everything you want to hear and see from him.

Listen to Take Five, then you'll be amazed how so many late 50's and 60's sound recording beats everything made in 21'st  century...with compressed digital recordings..and loudness war.!..gone are the life and souls. Want the musician soul back? listen to the legends then on vinyl and good CD's, one of them : Dave Brubeck.

Here are some links:

Minggu, 18 November 2012

Shigaclone? no, this is Shaggyclone

There is a megathread at After Gainclone which refers to 47Lab GainCard, this innovative company develops CD transport called Shigaraki , please read it here .

Same as GainCard with its LM3875 chip turns out that Shigaraki's heart is a cheapo CD transport, Sanyo to be exact found in JVC boomboxes, hence the follows the Shigaclone, a DIY version of Shigaraki.

To be honest, what we have here is far from that, maybe steps closer. It's a Philips Soundmachine CD-MP3 transport, yes, in original state it's sucks. I've got this Philips AZ1037 in junk state from an artist friend with the intention to use it's speakers for his second artwork with audio thing. I've helped him to achieve that.

Here is the junk, also the speakers turns out not worthy at all. This AZ1037 can not read CD as well.

Sorry to mother earth, all but the CD transport & speaker were thrashed away, sure they will be recycled somehow. Next, some lens and track cleaning does wonder..

Hey..let's see what kind of chip it's a Toshiba all in one TC94A77FG, no, you can not find the datasheet,  I've search high and low  found only pin outs from other model, sure nice to try modding this one, a Toshiba should not be taken lightly ;).

So the usual caps replacements, you know..Oscons, Muses, Panasonic FC's and most important : cutting the track to AZ1037 3W chipamp and bypass directly to RCA after replacing the yucky coupling capacitor to 10uF Silmic2 bypassed with Wima FKP. Marantz use this Silmic2 even on their best sue me :), what else? oh yes diodes 1N4004 replaced by Schottky ones, still using original transformer, blue-tacked the crystal..

Bypass operation, pin 22 (L) pin 24 (R) pin 14 (A-Gnd) , adding heatsink to servodrive chip (right above) and shielding the cute Toshiba chip.

Too bad, no data sheet and only this pin out, please let me know if you guys can find the digital out pins..( greedy...ha ha..)

How is the sound? far better than original, worthy enough for my 1 Bit CD player for listening and testing, a box for a top loading CDP is very nice ..isn't it?. Need a CD player? then my know what to do, thanks for reading.

in the pipeline :
SIT amp, here is a 1 channel peek

Senin, 24 September 2012

Aikido in Jfet version

This is one of my dream, to have a full solid state setup. Before, all my pre amplifiers are tubes driven, and hybrid one.
Don't get me wrong, I love my Aikido tube amp, this John Broskie baby served me very well, beside this Aikido is my first ever tube pre amp, quite a memorable and unforgettable experience I have. For example I remember when I got the breadboard working I'm kind of hypnotized watching all 4 tubes glowing in the dark, also I hand built my self special chassis for it. Here are the pics and imho the measurement speaks for it self.

So why then a solid state pre amp? It's just a next stage for me, more and more I need transparency, transient , better rhythm and pace. It is the rhythm and pace in reproduced music that make your head nod (or banging listening to Metallica) or tap your feet, hell, even did an ugly dance with it he he..

Aikido and the rest of my system provide that let says 7 out of 10, but not every time and not with every music genre's. And this already with deliberately tweaked to  fast sounding Aikido. I have listened to friend's tube pre amps at home, man..most of them are soo slow. I know I'm into a tough challenge now with solid state and limited knowledge, but my experience with Jfet on DAC output stage is encouraging me :).

Since I loved my Aikido and the way it works I want to have the same, instead of 4 tubes/8 triodes now I will have 8 jfets. Searching the net I found schematic from Juma at diyAudio ah ha...So it goes, I made a neat PCB, populated it and tested it...and?

And yes!...NO sound comes out!  what a disappointment, not even a hum. So before long the PCB is in pieces, all the drain and source resistors were replaced by trim pot , ah something comes out, a loud hum and faint music, what happened with that supply noise cancelling that 'trade marks' Aikido?.

After a few weeks with no success taming this board, that includes using 24V car battery I gave up on Juma's schematic and begin to look at the original Aikido schematic and modified, meaning I made a mess off jumpers on existing pcb to suit John B's original. I run some simulation on Orcad to get all the resistor values, improving the supply ..yup, finally it sing! comes the lengthy 'get that sound' tweaks.

I found out, although an experienced friend already told me, that individual matched Jfet sounds different. Out if 20 jfets, I have 4 pairs of matched ones and tried each and every Jfet at every possible position to get 'that sound', not to mention testing various resistor values, then resistor type and in the 4th month and the sound is just ok, no more and no less. With tube, when you're off by a margin it still will sing, often quite beautiful. Not so with solid state. I think somebody highly experienced told me that back then. Here is the so-so sounding AikiFet.
With next tweak, a CLCLC psu, or what ever it may be, getting closer..(large inductors are on my Aleph J clone psu) I can dance now :)
Now, even closer with GAD Vifa, MBM pio make place for K42-pio, better transparency..Pink Floyd anyone?
 These blue Bourns trim pot on the 'front' Jfets are my ticket to dance floor..
Measurement of the final AikiFet, not quite like the tube version, this at above my normal listening sound level btw. AikiFet needs the second harmonic a bit to sweeten the sound.

Topping it off, this AikiFet finally came to fulfill my dream, so a nice box is appropriate. I'm tired watching naked AikiFet all these months.
 Sing, baby sing..

Is it worth it to have an AikiFet? I'm biased of course but it's worth my every penny and pain. Thanks to my friends who gives critical reviews and suggestion on this pre amplifier, and thanks for reading.

Selasa, 31 Juli 2012

AD1865 round up

After missing June for writing, now it's time for my recent DIY audio adventures. I've kind of settled now with my DAC, both TDA1541 and AD1865. For the former I have made nice small enclosure and kind of throwing everything inside, except for 5676 DHT pencil tube filament supply, which must be fitted outside and battery powered. Here are some pics.

Bit messy there, with small enclosure of my ex Sony CDP-M75. On the left is the shoebox power supply from a Pioneer LD player for DAC section, middle part from top is a loaner high & low voltage transformer for tube & B1 lightspeed buffer, below that my favorite common gate Jfet I/V and below that the DAC itself, the one that using 74HC04 chip that I find sound best (story here).

On the right hand from top, yup ..that famous lightspeed Pass clone B1 with Silonex LDR, at the middle is the DHT tube stage, 5676 tubes in anode follower topology. Like this AF better than the cathode follower, especially with 'slower' AD1865 dac. At the bottom is the B+ supply for tubes. Black round thing is a rheostat. With this I can change B+ on the fly, while watching 1kHz spectrum with Visual Analyser & of course to find by ear that famous sweet spot ...and..poof! Nelson Pass said :)

I have 2 outputs here, direct from tube or from B1 buffer. From DAC current out goes to Jfet I/V, to the 5676 while another leads from tube out goes to B1 buffer. Output voltage of the I/V is set so low that the tube out gives 3Vpp since the AF tubes gives bit of gain, enough kick to drive my Aleph J clone direct from DAC with B1 volume control.

 Battery for heater

 Black anodized, Pass style face

That sweet sounding little DHT 5676 tubes

My other project is to have a full solid state pre amplifier that I always wanted to have, but this is for next time ;). Here is a teaser : Jfet version of John Broskie's famous Aikido. Not an easy project, believe me, tube version is easier. Until next time & thanks for reading

The 'AikiFet'

Rabu, 09 Mei 2012

Vinyl pressing overview

About 2 weeks ago on Sunday I got visit from my DIY audio friends , my wife was out of town, kids were up stair, so that Sunday was Dad's day :D. Goodies are PCM1704 tube & opamp output DAC, balanced AD1865 DAC with Joyce & Moza output stage, fine and toasty DIY F5 with a pair of gigantic choke on its supply. Also my friends TDA1541-S1 balanced. Branded fine interconnect and digital cable also proved to give improvements.Too bad I forgot to take pictures.

After hearing all DAC, we found that Alex's PCM1704 DAC sounds very well and the owner challenges his1704 against Vinyl. This is an opportunity to hear what friends think about various pressing since I have planned to write about this on my own. I have some vinyl and it's CD version, so comparing is easy.

The gears are F5 power amp, Aikido tube pre, PCM1704 DAC, modified Azur 540P phono pre, Thorens TD320MK2, Kiseki MC cartridge & Scanspeak Elan speaker.

Here are the latest of my Azur, now with 2SJ74 JFET 's before LME49720 :) replacing original BJT's, note that 74s dancing legs and 2x 11 blue Siemens film cap :). Plenty room for improvement still, constant current source on the SJ74's, Salas Shunt regulators, better transformer also dearly needed.

The CD-LP's :
CD Tonny Bennet, Duets II, 2012 Grammy winner duet with Amy Winehouse (rip), LP Amy Winehouse, Lioness, Hidden Treasure, same track, Body and Soul. More about this 180gm 45rpm new pressing with digital recording and mastering. See her video with Tony here


Verdict : Friends says vinyl sounds finer, no hard glare & digital edges compared with PCM1704, formidable opponent to his DAC says the owner. I noticed that my MC stage need more gain when paired with F5 power amp.

Next is CD / LP The Other Side of Round Midnight, 1986, Dexter Gordon movie sound track, Blue Note, track "What is this thing called love" with Bobby mc Ferrin, same verdict, better sound than Amy's LP. No wonder this CD/LP is recorded analogue, but mastered digitally.

Now the full analogue LP's, I have no CD version on them : Azymuth, Rapid Transit, Milestone Record 1983. Latin-fusion with fast and furious percussion. My friends seems to be feeling not so warmed up with previous LP's. This time it's different, the true analogue sound quality is way beyond the sound DIY DAC ..wide, deep, layerings, speed with tons of details, no harshness what so ever, and those cymbals....

Unfortunately, as with CD even a full analogue vinyl does not always sounds good, that usually depends on the recording label, the engineers and pressing. But old analogue vinyl pressing sound quality is well documented, just Google "vinyl", or check out online hifi magazines where they have music review. There are also good sounding new pressing, check out Classical Record.

Now about the music.
Why Amy Winehouse? it's about feeling and emotion, not all song sounds good and the real treasure in this LP is the track Song for You, I got hell of hairs rising on my neck and hands when listening to this track the first time. The song was recorded in Amy's house, wide - very analogue sounded, and as is recorded with Amy's bri'-ish' chatters at the end of the track. There is a guitar played faintly on the background, not very well played but tuned to the music though. Could this her guitar played half drunk? I don't know. In all this is a historical record, worthy to listen and its all about music, Amy's emotion and ours. Thank you Amy !.

Senin, 30 April 2012

Another design problem

This is a long due write up on design thing, postponed several times because of my diy audio adventure :), nonetheless still a fun part to write about design thing in and around our home.

My wife bought a nice plastic utensil, its a spoon, knives & fork container, the one that usually you use on your dinner table. Good product those containers with various approaches. Its spares you from visiting kitchen drawer every time you want to eat something. So here are the pics, more than words.

 Nice and tidy...

 open it, and the whole thing spreads apart..

 then try to close the cover...really a  hassle..!, hate it, what a waste

Another problem is this cooking gas/ propane regulator. Indonesian Industry Certified, cheap, must be safe. The packaging and the instruction sheet is inside, quite consumer friendly with consumer contact number and all, as required by law. But what happened was that when I put it to the gas bottle nozzle, I can not lock it and heard a 'snap'..what the...

Open the ***** thing, found a broken hook, made of diecast metal. It is this hook that should lock into the nozzle.

Upon closer look, as usual, poor design as mentioned many times in my write up...stress concentration, due to sharp corner. As simple as that, just add a rounding , or fillet there, none of this will never happened..sigh..

 Thanks for reading..

Rabu, 29 Februari 2012

Audiophile Last Frontier? Phono thingies, Azur 540P tweak

What I called last frontier here is in fact returning to old format : vinyl. While today and in upcoming years the CD life is on a count down to and end.

Ironic isn't it? media format that was 'killed' by CD has since experiencing revival once again and this time I think for forever. There are new pressings both 45rpm 180gr disks, 33rpm of relatively new artist. Also there are so called Remastered ones, of course from old but still selling artists.
Why? Not just nostalgic I think, there are qualities in vinyl that sets them apart, even new young generation who never heard vinyl before begins appreciating the vinyl, spurred by many 'indie' bands that issues that odd media. A Retro-Cool aspect might play a role here, but old die hard audiophile always know better things :). Read here my write up on the 'perfect sound forever vs vinyl'. I was pleasantly surprised that young people aged 20-30 years old are enthusiastically digging old records, looking for 'roots' of today's music. They looks for van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix..., Neil Young,..hell...they even look for Miles Davis's Bitches Brew !...some roots they look for :).

For me it's just a returning audio life cycle. I always loved the sound of old vinyl, no CD beats a good set up turntable-cartridge-phono pre and a good pressing, preferably all analogue ones.

Unfortunately, we're living in digital world, so most of the new pressings and remastering were done in digital domain. But how about the groove and the needles? Aren't they analogue? Yes, they're full analogue, but the groove cutting head is driven by an amplifier with industrial DAC, and thank God, with no less than 24 bits resolution. So you always can expect better sound of new pressing than the CD :).

So, what next? get those friendly priced turntables, get a cartridge, MC or moving coil type is better, MM or moving magnet if budget is tight, and last but not least, a Phono pre amplifier if your pre-amp do not have phono input. But a separate phono pre is better though :).

Some years back I've bought this Cambridge Azur 540P MM phono pre. Very basic and so-so sounding, but the DIY soul in me got that itch, I want to tweak it to the max possible, that includes adding a MC input!. here are the story.

before tweaking, all standard cheap components, there are 2 op-amps, the famous 5532 they're replaced by Burr-Brown OPA2134 and the final op-amp is the sweet LME49720

After some tweaks, my tweak reference is from VinylEngine, check out page 28 and on
and also after adding a separate MC input in this small box, using Salas Simplistic NJFET MC gain stage, many thanks boss! . This hard wired MC gain stage is using the now rare quad match Toshiba 2SK170BL jfet's, the output of this stage is directly goes to the MM input through a switch.

this one is still fed by 2x 9V battery, does not last more than 7 disks, so next step is adding separate power supply for MC stage, here testing a pair of output capacitor :
And I let this combination quite a while before my last tweak :)

Last tweaks were replacing BB-OPA2134 with LME49720, C out to stacked blue Siemens 0.33uF, 11 pieces per channel, no big film capacitor will go in this small box!..and after some discussion with my DIY audio guru, Mr DWA, the diode's are replaced with schottky type, the blue Elna RE3 is replaced by Phillips 10.000uF/16V, last but no least, the 2SA970 transistors on the MM input will be replaced by even rarer Toshiba 2SJ74 :)...hmmm..yummy,...thank you pak Dhe!..

and now spin that disk , sit back and relax :)

Thank you  for reading !

in the pipe line :
Vinyl, new pressing vs digital mastered-direct metal mastering vs pure analogue...

Kamis, 05 Januari 2012

Battle of the old NOS legend? Part 2

After the new year woes over, now it's time to write again about our good old NOS DAC's. I have listened extensively to my NOS TDA1541 hardwired prototype, NOS AD1865 with 74HC04 and 74HC02 glue logic. Are there differences between them? Yes...quite so, even between the two AD1865, how so? It's just there and measurement proves that.

Last month in 2011 I just listened to 2 or 3 CD's, with 3 DAC in turns. For critical listening I listened to the following CD's :

Herbie Hancock , Possibilities. This is a cool jazz - kind of progressive jazz rock mix with famous singer on each track. There is a movie version as well. I listened tracks with Christina Aguilera here (yup..WOW...that Christina..), now you know why I like her..:). Also the Sister Moon with Sting here. Highly recommended if you bored with the usual mainstream jazz. Believe me, this is a very good CD both music content and sound quality, not to mention the swingin' , and some kick in the *ss quality..

The second CD is very old classical promo CD, by Teldec 1991, the title is Jonge Mensen op het Concert Podium. free translation : Young people in concert podium...and what a young people they were and are today !
I listened to tracks of the (then very young) celloist Matt Haimovitz on Max Bruch's Kol. Nidrei, op.47, and the barely (then) teenager violist Midori on Frederic Chopin, Nocturne, op. Posth. in cis.

See the Midori video here , too bad I can't find the exact video of Matt. Both player's were passionately deep in playing their instruments, that can be heard !, bristles of Matt's vest against the cello and his gasp for air were repeatedly heard. While the tiny Midori accompanied with piano and several noises and coughs from the audience really wonderful, and then that applause!.... You know these music can make you little fingers so beautiful music...

Here are the cheapo but very good sounding CD :

To me, the above tracks and Herbie's album and a few more are my "eargasm" ticket after a long hard day..

My system is as usual, Sony CDP950-digital out, Aikido tube pre-amp, Aleph J clone and the gentle giant ScanSpeaks Elan.

After some quick evaluation, the Vout AD1865 / 74HC02 is not very good, it's noisy and I'm not using any filter on the output (120uH and 0.01uF ?) so I changed analog out to SE JFET, sound better but the noise stays. AD1865 / 74HC04 sounds very good indeed, no noises but tiny bit lacking attack & speed compared with TDA1541 and AD1865 / HC02.

In term of speed, attack and timbre the verdict is TDA1541 followed by the noisy AD1865/HC02 and the calm AD1865/HC04.

On staging, details, separation : AD1865/HC04-gracefully wide, then TDA1541 and AD1865/HC02, maybe this is why most of DIY DAC pcb's with AD1865/HC02 always using SPDIF pulse trafo and output filtering.

On foot tapping and musical involvement, this is my get into the music quality and personally I rate this highly above details, staging and separation : TDA1541A, then AD1865/HC04 and last AD1865/HC02

By no means one or all the DAC were sounds bad, they are the legend!, only my power supply is right out mediocre :) told you that in Part 1, and these King DAC does not deserve it at all.

I did measure the contenders, here are they and with surprises ha ha..some predicted and some not :).

The Silence (of the lamb...he he..)  : both channel measured

Woow...uugglyyy..!...this one is TDA1541A hardwired..a very far cry compared with Salas previously measured here, I'm surprised, strangely it's quite ok sounding, specially with frantic and very fast details on Herbie/Sting Sister Moon...already went to some haziness I admit.

 This one is from AD1865/ 74HC02, best of the contender
This one is from AD1865/ 74HC04, notice bumps on 50 and 100Hz, that's the power supply...hmm, the only difference with HC02 is decoupling bypass, red wima mkp on HC04, and green Wima FKP on HC02, the lytics are Nichicon Muse KZ, 47uF. So get that green Wima's guys!..

Conclusion , this confirms my suspicion, AD1865 gives better performance with mediocre power supply, while TDA1541 ask a lot more to get in par.

The square 1kHz signal, I can't see any particulars, all DAC's are multibit's, very little pre and post ringing and fast!, maybe we can see the rise time difference ? from what I've listened AD1865/ HC04 is a tad slower than the rest, so the square flank should be less vertical.


My favorite, 500Hz 0dB, now the results were predictable, especially that noise of AD1865/74HC02

 yup..there it is again...uuuglly...:), TDA1541A with garbage...
And this one? AD1865/74HC02, not very pretty as well, you see (too) many spikes also small ones before and after main harmonics, that's where the noise come from, also note that the 50 and 100Hz bumps re appears! In my simulation the data stream, particularly on the left channel have a very short duration pulse before each left channel MSB, I'll update about this later. Maybe that explain the inherent noise.
The winner is.....AD1865/74HC04, in spite of my 'prediction' of single data line for both channel it doesn't reflected much here, and this with no SPDIF pulse trafo and output filtering

I'm now listening to Christina & Herbies A Song for You on TDA1541A..that vocal quality of TDA1541A is really hard to beat, but in my case here, AD1865-N-K with single logic gate 74HC04 is the clear winner!

Thanks for reading & have fun..