Parts for Vintage Equipment

Where to get vintage gear spares?

Over the last 6 months I have received quite a few mails from desperate individuals wishing to restore their old radios, tube and semiconductor, integrated amplifiers, turntables and tape decks.

Honest Sam's Top Notch Sales - Cars in Unbelievable Condition
Honest Sam’s Top Notch Sales – Cars in Unbelievable Condition

Belts and power supplies and many semiconductors have equivalents but we get stuck with Germanium, decals, knobs and switches with most gear and then the mechanical parts to decks and turntables. In South Africa we have to turn to eBay where often shipping charges become exorbitant. Continue reading “Parts for Vintage Equipment”

Ampacity and Current Handling of Conductors

Live shows, domestic and industrial power – it’s all about Ampacity

Report: 2013:- South Africa has approximately 60 000–80 000 unnatural deaths per year, with an average of approximately 70 000 per year. There are currently 36 registered forensic pathologists in South Africa. An electrocution death is considered an unnatural death and is, therefore, referred for autopsy
examination in South Africa. Continue reading “Ampacity and Current Handling of Conductors”

What’s in a Vocoder – voice synthesisers and Robots

Kraftwerk, Styx and My Vocoder – Shaping human voices

Generating and shaping audio and RF wave patterns has long been an interest for many and is seen in the medical, military and commercial industries.

Not wanting to re-invent the wheel but rather looking at another spin, what is the appeal?

Although there are many makes and models, dedicated or otherwise two entry level but well rated models are the Roland VT-3 and the Paia Vocoder designed by Craig Anderton. Check out an upcoming series as we attempt to build our own.

An off-tuned SSB received signal through the BFO will create vocals which sound like monkey chatter or off pitch. It doesn’t take radio students long to see the multiple effects ring modulators and different tones have on the output.

Circuits and Kits

Instructables – Build and Analog Vocoder by Planetone

MFOS – Music from Outer Space / Article / Makezine

Ghetto Talk Box

Muffwiggler / Elektor 10 channel vocoder

And of course….

Crank That Soulja Boy Talk Box (from Ghetto Talk Box)

Audio Tools

Two of my favourite audio tools would be Audacity (free) -multitrack recording which allows effects and of course, Reaper, a fully equipped DAW.  Free for 60 days then although not crippled, $60.00. You will not find this kind of software anywhere for this price.

Both the above allows vocoder inserts and with proper manipulation are exceptionally good.

 

Further Reading

How Vocoders work – Craig Anderton (Paia)

The MicroKorg and other Best Selling Synth

Korg M1 - By Deepsonic, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66234414

Best selling synthesisers of all time

Just in case you may have the MicroKorg don’t be too surprised to know that it may just be one of the best selling synthesisers of all time.  Without having the data from any manufacturer readers may not be entirely convinced but considering that they have been manufactured since 2002 reflects the popularity of this model series.

The pure versatility that digital or DSP driven synths brought to the market ensured a very quick surge in sales especially in the home and garage band amateur and pro space. Having purchased a CZ1000 in the mid 80s whilst in Yokohama it became more a showpiece until a musician friend showed me the full potential. Sadly it was stolen about two years later, possibly as a result of its popularity. 😈  Continue reading “The MicroKorg and other Best Selling Synth”

More about DACs – the A/D Converter

M-Audio Fast Track Duo

The A/D Converter – pushing vinyl to digital

The common and garden DAC can be picked up cheaply at most electronic stores, ready to run straight from your CD player through optical (Toslink) or coax and used to drive your analogue only system.

Although these little units are cheap by comparison to high end products being portable they can be used in most cases where a device does not have an analogue output so you really don’t have to trash your vintage equipment.

Going higher end there are literally hundreds of different brands to choose from, most having bidirectional data lines through USB which allows one to input binary and output analogue or vice versa through ADAT (Toslink) usually.

Behringer U-Phoria UMC20
Behringer U-Phoria UMC20 – Audio Mart and Sound Select

For anyone wishing to record vinyl to their computer one would need a RIAA spec preamplifier. For tape or cassette deck the line outputs would suffice but in most cases non-professional decks would need further amplification. Why? Continue reading “More about DACs – the A/D Converter”

DIY DAC for Audio

Bits, Bytes and Sampling – DIY DAC

To kick off we need to piss of a couple of people, one being the high end user wanting the fastest sampling rate possible and the second, that cheap means nasty. A DIY DAC may mean a purchase and mod with better supply or even a build from loose components up.

Some Capable DACs - purchased but not a DIY DAC
Some Capable DACs

 

When we went into the Philips Hi-Fi arena 50 years back the CD disk was supposedly going to be the end of our woes, high definition audio at a sampling rate of 44.1kHz and in total using 16 bits to reproduce simply put pitch, loudness and quality.   16 bits of binary, looking at the analogue breakdown would equal to over 65 000 variants of a signal at 44.1kHz sampling.

For a stereo system we calculate the bitrate as being 2 x 44100 x 16 or 1411 kb/s or 1.411 Mb/s. Continue reading “DIY DAC for Audio”

Gibson files for Bankruptcy Protection

Gibson Brands Inc files for Chapter 11

The iconic USA manufacturer of guitars , electronic audio and DJ equipment has filed for bankruptcy protection caused by losses of nearly $500m through Gibson Innovation, their consumer and DJ division. Gibson Brands Inc filed for Chapter 11 according to news reports, allowing noteholders to continue the business and replace stockholders, including Henry Juszkiewicz, the CEO for the last thirty years.

Bloomberg press release

Transistor Equivalents – old equipment restoration

Where to find transistor equivalents?

Restoring old gear can be a nightmare when it comes to some of the more obscure transistor types, and a pretty expensive exercise as well. Transistor equivalents for substitution is often a necessity when repairing vintage gear. This applies equally well to silicon devices and not just Germanium.

Years back we were confined to telephonic conversations or writing letters to the supplier, the snail mail variety.  In South Africa we are fortunate enough to have proactive suppliers in the electronics industry, unlike in the motor or metal industries where staff are still learning how to send emails, except if they see a big sale pending. Continue reading “Transistor Equivalents – old equipment restoration”

Speaker Impedance: 4 Ohm or 8 Ohm

Speaker Impedance and amplifier design

 

There’s been a lot of techno speak on the various forums to readers about the advantages of using loudspeaker impedances of specific values, some even discussing the merits of 4 Ohms as only being used in very high end systems. The question here is based on another question:  If a great sounding system works well driving an 8 Ohm why would you then think a 4 Ohm would make it sound better?

2 Way loudspeaker crossover
2 Way Loudspeaker crossover – Wiki Commons German Wiki Frank Klemm

Certainly car audio is often found with 4 Ohm speakers, sometimes in parallel to get 2 Ohms.  Does it sound better than 4 Ohms?

Is a system designed to drive an 8 Ohm speaker then  inferior to that which can drive a 4 Ohm speaker? Continue reading “Speaker Impedance: 4 Ohm or 8 Ohm”

Vintage Audio Vs Modern Technology

Is vintage audio better than modern releases?  (post 2000)

This reminds me of the first argument I had regarding the merits of mechanical VU meters over LED.

Yeah, we like vintage stuff, especially with those big VU meters. Hell, I was looking at the specs of the Pioneer SX-1980 the other evening and thought  what a beast this must have been in the 1980s. At 270W this is certainly by no stretch of the imagination much in modern times thanks to PWM, Class D and mounted on a one inch square heatsink.

McIntosh_MA6800
McIntosh MA6800

en:McIntosh Labs MA6800 amplifier. *Source:  *Credit: [http://www.flickr.com/people/ux/ Akira Kamikura] *License: cc-by-2.0 {{cc-by-2.0}}

Continue reading “Vintage Audio Vs Modern Technology”