Category Archives: diyparadise

have you been to my site lately?

just revamped the main site. diyparadise. check it out!

 

the previous site has been plagued by clutter so hopefully this revamp solves this problem. feel free to share your thoughts! the “contact us” page is on the far left side of the page.

 

on another note, the discreet monica was reviewed here. or click on pic below.

discreet monica

Schumann Resonator reviewed

Remember I experimented with a Schumann resonator some time ago? That was in January 2011, almost a year ago! Well, I didn’t do much with it, except built a few for friends and customers to “play” with.  One of those Schumanns I sent to a friend and later… he reviewed it for the local paper – If the Schu fits.

Suddenly, I got this deluge of emails! Many questions, many requests… The timing is kind of off as I don’t happen to have any unit at the moment (except the one permanently residing in the bedroom). The timing is off as I’m busy prototyping a new DAC which is very very interesting…

Anyway, feel free to read the review and the article on my site, both linked above. My Schumann article also references the 6moons review where the Acoustic Revive’s version is the subject of the review. The idea of bifilar windings on the PCB I got from the AR version.

Not surprisingly, there is a clone of my design! It’s built exactly the same, same PCB layout, same circuit… the only difference is that their PCB has 4 mounting holes while mine has 2. These guys even have the cheek to advertise it for sale.

Hey, 7.83Hz isn’t that difficult. Can’t think of other circuits?

i stole your i2s-eiaj convertor design?

there has been allegations that i copied someone’s i2s to eiaj convertor and passed it as my own. and according to the accuser, this scheme was posted on my forum in 2009.

so i was the criminal who copied a schematic posted on my forum, then made a pcb and sold it as my product. hmm…

i see… but first thing first, why would i want to copy someone else’s design when i already have an i2s to eiaj convertor myself?

first thing first, i2s and eiaj are just digital analog convertor (dac) chip’s input format standard. i2s is the most popular but the dac chip i like, tda1545a, uses eiaj, so i got to use eiaj.

now way back in 2007, i did a usb monica.  this design uses the pcm2706 usb receiver and i used its i2s output to  convert it to eiaj, then feed the tda1545a dac chip. so i already have an i2s to eiaj convertor. because if i didn’t have such a convertor, i would not be able to make a usb dac using tda1545a.

i was even bold in 2007 to make this claim that my usb monica is the first usb dac in the world to use a non-i2s input dac chip. in my case — tda1545a.

(i2s input chips like tda1543 and tda1541 can be hooked to the pcm2706 directly, thus no need for any data conversion.)

so if you just apply some logic thinking…

2007, i introduced the usb monica, which has an i2s-to-eiaj circuitry in it.

2009, this accuser posted his version on my forum.

and I COPIED HIS DESIGN?

does it make sense?

besides i have been selling online since 2002 and built up a reputation. would i be so stupid to soil my name, built over almost 10 years, for a product selling for  sgd43 (~usd30)?

if you look at the pcb module above, there are 4 chips. 3 chips to handle flip flop duties and 1 as a buffer.

the accuser’s design uses 6 chips.

besides, i made a mistake in my i2s-to-eiaj convertor which makes it stand out from the rest. the Left/Right channel is supposed to be swapped as this is one of the difference between the 2 data formats. i forgot to do this. this mistake is seen in usb monica as well as this module above, named black crow.

so based on time line,  mine came first by a good 2 years.

based on motive, i hope you could give me a bit of a credit and not regard me to be so stupid to sell out my good name for such a low priced product!

based on the number of chips alone, it’s different!

i rest my case.

i have no further comments on this. if you still think i’m a rascal who stole someone else’s design, after all this explanation above, nothing further i write could convince you.

Improved Merrill DCA4 and DCA5.5 loudspeaker drivers!

Late 2009, I bought the rights to the excellent sounding Merrill DCA drivers of which there are 2 models, DCA4 and DCA5.5. If you have ever listened to them, you’ll realize these are great sounding drivers, hence I have no problem ploughing down money to buy the rights. I blogged in the past about why the rights was for sale..

Anyway, after buying the rights, I was surprised to learn that the factory producing these drivers have closed down. Imagine my disappointment! I asked and asked around but couldn’t make any headway.

Well, needless to say, it took me quite a while and to make a long story short… I finally found the factory and they are still in operation! Well, this is after many expensive international phone calls. Fortunately they could understand my gibberish Mandarin.

After a visit to the factory in Shenzhen and procuring some samples, I requested the factory not only to reproduce these drivers but to improve them.

IMHO, to nitpick, the disadvantage of these drivers is the stamped frame which is not surprising at this price point. To get something better, meaning if you want better frames, expect to pay a lot more (how about at least 3x? or show me a cast alloy frame driver at this price point!).

Fortunately the factory could fulfill my request and since we eliminate the middle man here (I used to get the drivers from twobaldguys), not only I could offer you alloy cast frame but at a cheaper price too!

For more detail and specs of the drivers, visit the main site.

To order, visit the e-store.

Opened up the Squeezebox Touch

Having used the Squeezebox 3 for a few years already (and almost modified it to death),  I look forward to the new Squeezebox Touch.

Touchscreen, 24 bit/96 kHz, capable of playing off HDD, SD card… Now that’s a lot to like about it.


But the sonics (I’m using only SPDIF output), though much better off the stock Squeezebox 3) still leaves a lot to be desired. With my pulse trans tweak, I was able to improve its sonic immediately but I just have to do more!

But opening up this bugger isn’t like the SB3 at all. There are just a few screws on the SB3 so it’s really easy to take it apart. This fella, you need to be very careful. Thanks to John Swenson who described in detail what’s the journey ahead of me.

After quite a while fiddling with it, I finally managed to open it. And here’s what I see.


The flexi PCB cable, which links up the touchscreen to the main PCB, uses a scary tiny connector. You need to lift up its hinge to free the cable.


Front view of the PCB.


Rear view of the PCB. I could see the DAC is AKM4420.

As you could see, lots of scary IC packages inside. TSSOP, TQFP, BGA… All this makes modding difficult. 0805 package SMD components look really big compared to the little fellas here.

If you want to tap the I2s signal, you could refer to the AKM4420 as this chip uses I2s format. I still couldn’t figure what’s the SPDIF circuitry inside. There’s definitely no pulse trans but since this could be installed externally, may not be that big of a problem. I would love to remove the SPDIF RCA socket and replace with a BNC.

Oh well, have a look at it and let me know what you think could be done to it.

I bought the rights to the Merrill DCA speaker drivers but…

Have been dabbling in diy audio for more than 10 years now. When I first started, I was already keen on high sensitivity drivers but choices are… let’s say I have better chance of finding a virgin in a crowded university disco club!

But over the years, we have been served a platter of various choices. Some are excellent, some are memorable while many are passable.

And the one that has value-over-price ratio screaming off the charts is none other than the excellent Merrill DCA speaker drivers.

Over here at diyparadise, we are lucky we got to know of Dave Merrill who, sadly, passed away too young. Before he passed on, Dave handed over the rights of the drivers to his friends, Harry and Kent from twobaldguysaudio.

So twobaldguysaudio have been carrying the torch for the Merrill DCA drivers for the past few years. Then we came in as we took over the international distribution of the drivers as we have been set up to deliver worldwide (where Fedex would go). It helps that one of our business partners have known Dave and has tried his design over the years.

Fast forward mid 2009, diyparadise acquired the rights to the Merrill DCA drivers, having been approached by twobaldguysaudio.

And we have big plans for the drivers!

But fast forward today… we hit a snag.

We are almost sold out of the DCA4 but we couldn’t re-order them. The factory that makes them has gone bust! twobaldguysaudio were caught surprised too as this is something they didn’t anticipate either. To make matters worse, Dave Merrill didn’t leave the construction plans of the drivers.

So we are in a quandry now.

We still have lots of DCA5.5 so plans for this driver could still be set in motion but for DCA4, we got to hang on first.

I hope this explains clearly what happened to these excellent drivers. We really wish we could offer more DCA4s for now but until we could get this production issue sorted out, we are keeping our fingers crossed!

looking back at 2009…

wow! another year goes back just like that! actually 2009 just whizzed back to me.

2009 has been a disappointment for me. so many things i wanted to do but accomplished so little.

the usb-eiaj module, the spdif-eiaj module were supposed to be ready this year but got stuck. got the pcb built but couldn’t work! spent quite some time debugging but just couldn’t find anything wrong. sigh…

every other product seems to have little problems of its own too. developed and got the 6 channel beyonce working. wanted to incorporate the apple remote control as the blaupunkt remote isn’t exactly quality stuff. over time, the flexible pcb just doesn’t get so flexible anymore… after a few days of scratching my head, finally got it working but now couldn’t get it to repeat nicely. it either loops till the end or doesn’t do anything at all. so near yet so far!

i guess all of this have to do with just less time for myself. for the past few years, on and off, i have had the opportunity to work from home, interspersed by occasional out-of-town trips, but since the company that i work for have been bought over by our much bigger rival, you bet things will change!

and changed it did. we lost so many good guys. retrenchment, layoff, work force management, cut cost… whatever you call it, we lost so many guys. those that were left behind just got their work load doubled, or even tripled. and with new management and new colleagues, came new challenges!

all this meant that i devoted more time to my day job than before, thus leaving less time for diyparadise.

and with this new company, came a few new policies. though i love cars, i have not owned a car for the past 3 years as my wife and i could get by with just one car. but no chane of that now! got to get a car for my own use and i ended up getting a 20 year old merc, which has its occasional tantrum and requires lots of my attention, t l c and also some wads of cash. sigh…

so all in all, 2009 just whizzed back too quickly. so much to do, so much wanted to accomplish but so little time. and all this to the detriment of diyparadise.

well, the year wasn’t really wasted. on a personal level, began paying more attention to food and own health. do visit my blog here, http://bleedinggumsmurphy.blogspot.com

anyway, i’m just hoping 2010 will be better but need to adopt a few changes first!

Thanks for the flowers!

I was really surprised by the elicit exclamations of “approval” to this article I posted 2 months ago. Bruce Lee and Our DIY Audio Journey. Have a read there if you haven’t.

Here are my comments.

I may have not written well enough but it is my intention to spread the message to audiophiles not to concentrate on the technology of music. Just focus on the end result. It’s much better this way. Here’s another quote from another famous Chinese which perfectly describes what I meant.

It doesn’t matter if a cat is black or white, so long it catches mice

— Deng Xiao Ping

Also I meant to say that throughout our audio journey, the more we learn, the more we unlearn. Somewhere along the journey, we’ll discard thoughts that we held close to our hearts. Somewhere along the journey, we’ll embrace stuffs we thought we’ll hate dreadfully.

So it just doesn’t make sense to hold on to a strong set of beliefs that certain technologies or components is superior to the rest. You just lose out in the long run. Be open minded. Be receptive to new ideas.

Unfortunately such a simple idea got some very strong comments as you could read on the site.

I thank the folks who defended what I wrote and what I stand for.

For those who criticize the article, thanks for taking your time to read and share your thoughts.

Another guy mentioned that we build our products to certain price points. This isn’t true. We just build the best we could at the time. You know we are always learning so naturally, later on, we’ll improve on our products but we don’t set a price point and build around it. Look at my Monica DAC. I spent thousands just to purchase enough Black Gates caps for the output. Do you know of any manufacturer who offers such Black Gates caps in his offerings? Even in this day knowing that they are now out of production? At any price point?

There was one guy still asking about how to build his own LDR volume control. I thought I did a basic explanation on this. All about Volume Control. I’m sorry if I’m not thorough enough.

However, this diy audio site has all the info you need.

Lastly, Thanks for the flowers!

BlackBerry Withdrawal Sympton

BlackBerry 7290 

 

I have had the privilege of using a BlackBerry for the past 4 years. This particular model above. When I first started using it here, it just looked weird as QWERTY type keypads weren’t the rage then. I still remember young school girls giving me the bewildered look as if I was talking to my calculator!

I got to use one as my day job (not diyparadise) pays for it. The convenience of reading/replying emails on the go was fantastic! Needless to say, I quickly had it set up to “push” my other non-work related emails too, like the diyparadise email accounts, yahoo email accounts… Guilty as charged! But then have you ever wondered how I could sometimes reply your email barely seconds after you send it out? Now you know!

But all good things will come to an end and in the latest bout of cost cutting, this has to go. 

So I got it cancelled and…

 

Now I’m suffering from BlackBerry Withdrawal Sympton.

 

Over the past few years, without me even realizing it, I have taken to the habit of taking a look at my BlackBerry almost every few minutes, looking for the red blinking LED, cause if it I see it, this means I have mail! Someone wrote to me! Bet it’s important! Could be some big order! Could be some customer complaint! Could be some diyer has discovered another nice tweak and wants to share with me! Needless to say, I check my BlackBerry almost hundred times a day. Every day. Why heck, I even bring it to the toilet with me!

Then there is this excellent Meteor Crusher game! I’m proud to say after hours spent blasing meteorite rocks, killing alien spaceships, yours truly now ranks at World No 138, but this ranking I’m sure will slip pretty soon due to my recent “retirement”.

So now, just back to regular cellphones, without the instant access to emails/Internet, I feel soooooo…. disconnected. So disoriented. So helpless. 

It’s like you let me drive a Ferrari until I love the speed and the sound of the engine, then suddenly you take the keys away from me. 

It’s like you introduce this drop dead gorgeous babe whom we have just so much to share, and then she suddenly disappears without a trace.

 

Yup, it feels like that. It feels like I need to punch someone. Or at least the bolster my wife hugs to sleep.

 

But then, I slowly realized I now talk more to people around me. I learn more about them, seeing sides of them which I was blind to before. I also became a bit more productive and spend more time doing… whatever’s more productive then checking my BlackBerry. 

Hey! Slowly I gained a life! Even my wife says she’s glad I no longer have my BlackBerry. Geez…

But hey, this phone I got, it has sudoku…

You Wouldn’t Believe Whom I Met!

About 10 years ago, I began my first foray into DIY audio. I built a Darling amp. There’s quite a lot of articles on Darling amps on the net, just do a search.

Even though I’m trained in electronics, I was totally fresh out of school and damn wet behind the ears. Yes, the schematic looked simple enough but at 250VDC, this isn’t the time and place to “experiment”, so I thought.

And building my first amp, I had so much to worry. Guess what? I found this guy, possibly the first guy to build a Darling amp in Malaysia, willing to help me build my Darling amp. But only from a distance as he stayed hundreds of miles away from where I was.

What followed was a long exchange of emails, asking all sorts of questions, to clear any lingering doubt and gain more confidence before tackling the project. Like I said, at 250VDC, my apprehension should be understandable.

Now, Shamsul is not only a very patient guy, answering all the emails, he’s enthusiasm just “pops” out of the emails he writes. You must be a piece of dead wood if you don’t get infected by his enthusiasm.

Couple weeks later (I’m slow you see), finally got it built and voila! It works!

I was so excited I even built a page for it (and it’s still there today!)

My first DIY amp!

You could see, I was so lazy I didn’t even got the wooden base built for it. Just a top plate, supported by rubber door stops and playing music! Ahh… those carefree days…

Anyway, my friendship with Shamsul didn’t stop there and we continued to exchange emails on many topics, even outside audio.

Then suddenly for some reasons, all communication stopped. Shamsul sort of went “missing in action”. He was sooooo quiet that, forget about the Darling amp, even a 0.00001W amp is louder!

Many years later, I was surprised to get some comments on my blog. From the initials and the wordings, I guessed it’s him. And it’s him! Shamsul’s back!

And  what a coincidence! He has been working at an office just 2 miles from where I work! For the last 5 years!

So yesterday, finally met him face to face for the FIRST time. The guy who set me right on the path to DIY audio. My humble thanks to you for guiding me right on this journey.

Now Shamsul, it’s MY turn to corrupt you! Will get you to my place some day and corrupt you with big fat evil horns!!!