Friday, April 22, 2011

Capricorn

There's this CD you'd really want to have. But it's not available for download, or to be found in any shops. Now what? I've been there before...

While searching for information and music from a Dutch band called The Frog I came across fonos.nl. Lo and behold, they can supply me with a copy. Yep, that's right, a copy! Fonos.nl sells fully legal digitised music from LP's and CD's from Dutch artists. The copies are burned on a CD and mailed out. No downloads, yet. I ordered Capricorn by Rickey and the Frog. I have some fond memories of that music. The Frog featured Michel van Schie on bass.

IMO Michel van Schie is the best bass player from the Netherlands. Here he is getting side- tracked and discussing music theory with a fellow bass player while playing a DeGier BeBop bass. Interesting Marcus Miller bit at the end: Michel thinks that apart from playing style, the block inlays have a greater influence on Marcus Miller's sound than the maple fretboard on Marcus' Jazz bass. He may have a point here...

My copy of Capricorn got here today. I must say they did a great job @ fonos.nl, even the cover art is nicely reproduced. Cool. The music is still great. Too bad the band never got a real chance from a record label.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Not Exactly Rocket Science

Brilliant sketch!

Digital roll of film

Looks like the best invention since pre-sliced bread, but is it a real product? I think it's a piece of concept artwork. Or a really good prank coming late for April Fools.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

GrubDAC

I've made myself a GrubDAC last friday. I'd been eyeing the AMB Gamma-1 DAC for some time, but was put off because it's not available as a complete kit. I decided to buy a GrubDAC instead. The GrubDAC is available as a kit with all the parts needed. The Gamma-1 is more versatile but is more expensive to make. The GrubDAC is much cheaper to build but it's a one-trick pony. It can only serve as an external USB sound card.
The doublesided GrubDAC PCB measures 50 mm x 26mm and most of the parts are SMDs. The package sizes are 0805 and 1206. FYI a 0805 measures 2.0 mm × 1.25 mm, a 1206 measures 3.2 mm × 1.6 mm. Needless to say soldering SMDs requires patience (a lot!), a steady hand, a magnifying glas and a pair of pointy tweezers. Once I got it working after a bit of debugging (mainly removing solder bridges) I was greeted with a great sounding miniature USB sound card. Much better than the popular AC'97 solution on motherboards. It must be the Wolfson WM8524 DAC chip and the lack of output coupling capacitors. In Win XP it shows up as a USB audio device. The GrubDAC is plug & play, no need to install a driver under Win XP. The GrubDAC is USB powered, no external PSU is needed.
What can you use a GrubDAC for? Well, you can connect your powered stereo PC speakers to it or connect a headphone amp to it. It's even possible to drive a pair of headphones right from the GrubDACs output. The GrubDAC puts out a line level signal, that's 2.1Vrms at 0dBFS for "us geeks". Quite an accomplishment. For a high quality setup, connect the GrubDAC's output to the input of a Mini­­³ headphone amp. Now play some digital audio files from your PC. Wow! Your PC never sounded so good.