VU Meters Vs Bargraph

Volume Units and Decibels

My first peek at a Nakamichi was in Japan.  Sparse in detail, no flashing lights, VU meters or fluorescent displays.  Just so damned gorgeous. OK, then you have the PA-7, industrial strength, industrial looks and what a beauty. But if you one needs to really capture beautiful looking amplifiers, then look no further than the McIntosh range. Black in finish, blue lit VU meters.

Mcintosh MC2300
Mcintosh MC2300 – wiki commons awgrasso

So what to do if you need that really cool look and have a budget of a few ZAR?  Unfortunately VU meters, really good VU meters are not cheap. The question about where to source comes up often on the web and besides eBay where you may not necessarily get exactly what you are looking for, Meter Sales or Instrument Meter Specialties in the USA may be your answer. In South Africa the Model 543 is going to land at about R1 800.00 ex duties and VAT.  So make sure your amplifier is worth it.

The bargraph, long being favourite for many enthusiasts is your economical solution in most cases.  Why have a VU anyway if a bargraph is a better solution in many ways?  It all comes down to vintage. In the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s most equipment was still analogue where the outputs were designed to be fed into an analogue recording device.  Analogue recorders are a lot more resilient to input overloads, in some cases even done deliberately. Not so with digital devices where the results are painful to listen to.  VU meters are very slow and don’t necessarily slot in well high with speed transients but they are brilliant for monitoring the average output amplitude.

VU meters with peak overload, monitoring the 0VU perimeter and making sure the VU meter is correctly calibrated is all part of your sound engineering experience. Continue reading “VU Meters Vs Bargraph”

Micro and Mini sound systems versus Dock

Logitech Bluetooth Receiver

The iPod Dock and Other Things

One of our readers,  13 year old Craig wants to know why we don’t do reviews, especially on docking stations.  Unfortunately as we don’t retail products and neither get support from resellers or manufacturers in this beautiful land of ours this can be pretty difficult unless we go out and buy the stuff ourselves.

Castle Knight 1
Castle Knight 1

What I can tell you is that over the years a common problem picked up is dirty or broken contacts in the dock which although replaceable does make it a weak link in the interface.  Line inputs are a better way to go but now that from Bluetooth 2.0 and up, wireless seems to be the cheaper and more practical way to go.   Docking stations are still popular but the home user wants more exciting permutations. Continue reading “Micro and Mini sound systems versus Dock”

Class G and H Audio Amplification – Gimmick or Wizardry

Texas Instruments TAS 2559

Class G and H Audio Amplifiers

One design that has been out for eons and still catches us off guard is the rail shifting Class G or class H boost supply amplifier.  Most purists agree that this concept is ideal for PA work but not high fidelity audio.  To a certain degree I must agree but then this would imply that class D is also in the same boat. There I disagree, they are in the same boat but some very high quality amplifiers are class G, H as well as class D. What is this class stuff anyway? Continue reading “Class G and H Audio Amplification – Gimmick or Wizardry”

Line and Microphone inputs

What is the difference between Line and Microphone Inputs

This is a question often asked in the forums, not necessarily as simplified as this but there is often ambiguity in the replies. So here we will look at what not to do and hopefully this will prevent mishaps in the interwiring of consumer and professional audio goods.

Behringer DI-Box DI100
Behringer DI-Box DI100  (Sweetwater)

Firstly, the tried and trusted Decibel (dB) Continue reading “Line and Microphone inputs”

“Sound City” – A forgotten Art

Sound City and analogue mixers

I watched this movie a few weeks back and it had me intrigued on many levels.  Not just the snippets of famous and much loved musical genius but the mere fact that one went to Sound City Studios to make music first and secondly to become famous.

Neve 8078
The legendary Neve 8078 in The Way Recording Studio, London.  (Wiki )

You had one take.  Now with our DAW, digital mixer and a host of plug ins one can become famous from your bedroom. And it happens. It just so also happens, and not because of my age, that much of the music made then rather than now is timeless.  Here I’ll single out Fleetwood Mac.  Who didn’t have a crush on Stevie Nicks in the 70s, girls and guys.  But we must stop and consider the impact that the aristocratic Michael Fleetwood had on this group. Co-founder and driving force,  I always visualise this goliath behind a drum set and mixed through a Neve 8028.

David Grohl really does a fantastic job in this documentary, a must see for not only 70s music and audio enthusiasts but budding sound engineers as well. Continue reading ““Sound City” – A forgotten Art”

A Lecture on IoT- where we are headed

The Internet of Things – better things to come still

We recently ran an article called “IoT – A cynics viewpoint of the Internet of Things“. The thing is it wasn’t that cynical.  Nowadays we have Cloud Services, simply put, running our applications on a rental server.   As luck would have it, both are a going to be a requirement, if not now, in the very near future.

IoT or The Internet of Things is a required training program I need to pass on to colleagues at work. Yes, my real job, the one that pays the bills.  Question is, where does one start? Continue reading “A Lecture on IoT- where we are headed”

Hacking your HT or audio Pre-amp

Rebuilds and Tune-ups for Pre-amplifiers

There seems to be a stigma about buying lesser known brands.  The fact that someone designed a device at home doesn’t mean it’s inferior.  I had a Rotel amplifier which vaguely looked like a WooFlungKak and inside it actually looked the same. In fact it was the same except for the power supply where many short cuts had been taken. Taking out the bits, strengthening the supply and re-case the whole lot and you have a good home brewed amplifier.  But I am looking at pre-amplifiers here, a commodity which isn’t that common on the shelves in thrift stores. After a few nasty surprises through Gumtree I decided on Crusaders and Converters. Continue reading “Hacking your HT or audio Pre-amp”

Multiplexer and Demultiplexer switching (follow up)

Using Electronic switching to route signals

As a follow up to our article on multiplexing (and demultiplexing) or MUX/DEMUX and running my own experimentation with a CD4051 it comes as no surprise that this chip works well but there are limitations.

As I am no expert in this field I must confess that the biggest obstacle IMO when switching or routing signals is not the degrading of signal quality necessarily but the dangers of phantom power.  As most microphone preamplifiers use an XLR plug or TRS combo, the TRS does not pass the +48V but the XLR does.  Now if someone unwittingly connected his expensive tape deck to XLR outputs and then into an XLR mic preamp there is a chance that they would end up with a toasted front end to the deck. Yes, we all like XLR plugs but this can be a problem. How to eliminate this problem? Continue reading “Multiplexer and Demultiplexer switching (follow up)”

Bose Speakers

Why Bose speakers are so expensive

Recently whilst trolling through Quoro I came across this gem, written by Neya Rangesh.

https://www.quora.com/Why-are-Bose-speakers-so-expensive

For many of us the article resonates (pun intended). I have owned a set of speakers which was supposedly entry level but which sounded on par or better than some of the more expensive out there. In fact I have build my own speakers which sounded better than most out there using simple pine wood. If braced properly why not? (audiophiles cringing?).

Yes, I do believe human experience is the best measure of a loudspeaker system and the 901s prove it.

https://www.quora.com/Are-the-Bose-901-speakers-still-considered-among-the-best

Bose 901

Power supplies for projects

+10V to +60V 600W boosting circuit.

Cheaper alternatives for supplying power to projects

Let’s face it, EI and toroidal transformers break the budget.  Going back a few decades I always recall my own projects being run from batteries.  Family would give me their faulty gear to strip and if I was lucky I could get away with a transformer or two.  Maybe this is the case for many of you but the fact is, the supply can be a wallet killer.

Always amazed at the amount of money enthusiasts sink into their audiophile equipment it’s no wonder that R3 000.00 for a toroidal doesn’t raise an eyebrow.   Continue reading “Power supplies for projects”