Thursday, July 1, 2021

TIP - Effective USB powered FM signal amplifier

Had previously bought the following USB powered FM signal amplifier, as part of a antenna kit, to overcome the loss of access to the building FM antenna facility (REF:

I can definitely recommend this USB powered FM signal amplifier as it is works very well and is a cost effective solution. Even bought a 2nd unit for another tuner in the house!

It is basically the no-frills version of the FM signal amplifier which was originally intended for use in motor vehicles but altered to draw power via USB. Hence there is no need to buy the expensive radio signal amplifiers or antenna kit as the total cost for all the items in the pix(s) below cost less than the price for a single signal amplifier unit (only) at the local shops!

Note - May need to purchase connector adapter(s) to enable connectivity and an external antenna

For the 2nd installation I used a salvaged WIFI 5dB antenna, mounted on a external SMA-connector type WIFI antenna kit - see items below. Works great and the solution does not cost "an arm-and-leg"😁

Salvaged 5dB WIFI antenna on SMA mount

Bare SMA connector and mount kit fitted with adapter(s) for connecting to tuners 

Blue-tooth receiver with audio player and ESS DAC

Just received my new Trasam DAC2PRO earlier this week. 

Trasam DAC2PRO (silver) directly connected to the Sansui B-2101 amplifier

The DAC2PRO provides a blue-tooth upgrade to my existing hifi setup with RC and remote volume control.

In addition, the unit has the ability to playback FLAC, MP3, WAV, M4A encoded audio via a ESS based DAC. The on-board DAC processes input received via a soft selector for COAX, OPT and Blue-tooth😑.

I ordered a unit with audio quality components from the Chinese eBay equivalent - came with black colour Nichicon EC capacitors on the power circuits and a OracleII-02 op-amp on a DIP-8 mount (phew!). Rest of the components are SMD types.

Was quite disappointed there was no MUSES op-amp provided with the unit. Hence I ordered a MUSES-8820 and 8920 as these are quite affordable nowadays as these have been superseded by the newer (and more expensive) MUSES-01 and 02.

Will update with more pix(s) and feedback of the sonics with the Oracle vs the older MUSES op-amps once I have the opportunity to perform the review.

In the meantime, I will have a play with my new toy 1st....😀

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Changing OP-Amp(s) on the DIY TDA1541A DAC (***Update***)

Since spending more time online nowadays (due to COVID resurgent worldwide), I chance upon some good deals for better OP-Amp(s) from overseas. This was a good opportunity to swap-out the default NE5534P on my DIY TDA1541A DAC with USB interface, as I have (more or less) done all I can with capacitor replacements - not in the blog but had swap out the output capacitors for Elna Stargates since the last post for the DIY DAC.

Have decided I was not going to spend silly amounts on buying blackcaps, silver cabling or anything fancy of that sort since I wanted to see how far I can improve the unit on a budget. So will not splash out on Burson op-amps, MUSES-03 or alike.

Thus have ordered some Philips NE5534P, JRC 5534 and  OPA604AP.

Will update once I received the goodies and can do some swap-outs tests.


Received the above op-amps and did the swap tests.

Ti NE5534 The default which came with the kit. My personal take is that it was the "Jack of all trades" but "Master of None" with a skewed HF reproduction and bass which was not flabby nor tight.

JRC NE5534 The minimalist choice. Has better overall balance than the Ti but came with a "English"-like reserve. Again nothing really wrong but did not excel in any particular area(s).

Philips NE5534 Best way to describe this would be to say it's alike the "Toyota Corolla" of 5534(s). Prefer it over the previous version of 5534(s) but know I could get a better replacement.

BB OPA604AP Initially the HF sounded thin with non-existant LF. After a couple of days usage, the sound stage surfaced. After another few more days, the most astonishing thing happened - the DIY DAC now sounds pretty close (after the unit has warmed up) to my Meridian 602 when performing an A-B comparison, with a slight difference in the output volume during the A-B comparisons.

OPA604AP x 4 on the DIY DAC PCB

Yup, left the OPA604AP(s) in-place  ....😁

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Proof-of-Concept (POC) of another alternate CD transport (***Update***)

Old Sharp VCR with TOSLINK for audio output


I obtained the old Sharp DV-NC80 from a neighbour who converted to using a cable video streaming service. The unit had a CD/DVD player with TOSLINK output and I was curious as to it's viability as a transport.

Hence I tried using the Sharp as a transport paired to the Audiolab 8000DAC. Much to my surprised, the resultant audio reproduction was clean and the Sharp performed much better than the Samsung DVD player when used it as a CD transport!!! Does sound pretty decent when amplification is via the EL34 integrated valve amplifier pushing the DIY LS 3/5A with AB1.

As there was no remote, I could only use the Sharp to play a CD end-to-end. Due to it's age, I do not think the Sharp will last for many more years so will not search for it's RC and just enjoy it while I can.

UPDATE #1 - 11Nov2020

Out of curiosity I tried a putting some songs on a CD-RW and stuck that into the Sharp - much to my surprise (again), it played without issues....

Saturday, August 1, 2020

Pioneer F-223

I recently acquired a Pioneer F-223 digital tuner from a friend.

Front view of Pioneer F-223 with main portion of test cable for antenna on top of unit
View of internals from the top

Was surprised the F-223 was "Made in Japan" (on the label, on the back of the tuner). Not much luck Google-ing for additional information or checking FMTUNERINFO but did managed to locate the service manual at HIFIengine.

F-223 Made in Japan
Voltage selector on the bottom of unit, towards the front as indicated by arrow

 The F-223 has the looks of an average tuner for the era. Extremely easy to use without the necessity to go thru the manual 1st. A big bonus of the F-223 is the large number of memory storage for stations eg 24 per band. After a station has been detected, you need to press MEMORY followed by a storage location before the details will be kept.

Was considering recapping the unit but discovered the capacitors on the audio path (red-line in the service manual schematics) had been recapped using Panasonic equivalents when the rest of the unit had used the old fashion ELNA(s) throughout.

The tuner seem to be pretty good at picking up the signals of the main stations easily via the AUTO-TUNE facility using nothing more than a short piece of wire - see pix. It did not pickup stations such as 89.3FM but to be fair, I was just performing an initial test and it was not connected to a proper antenna setup. Believe the F-223 would perform much better if I had done so.

Using a short piece of cable for initial FM tuner testing

Surprisingly a pretty good unit which just works with above average performance.

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Follow-up of DIY LS 3/5a (*** Update-1***)

As Singapore was in "Circuit Breaker" mode (aka govt movement restriction due to COVID-19), I had more time on hands (don't we all...😒) and could follow-up on some hifi add-on items for various (more or less) completed projects. 

One such "missing link" was the tweeter felt squares for my DIY LS 3/5a. 

In the past I did not purchase these tweeter felt squares since I had categorised them as a "nice to have but not essential" to complete the project ... and they were a little costly once you factor in shipping etc.

During my free time browsing the net, I came across the below which were made using wool, roughly about 5mm thick. 

True, the O-square may not be perfectly cut but for the price difference, I could cut them myself or just let them be- good quality material as well 😁 

Delivered with the solid rectangle to protect the "O" 

Attached to the DIY Ls 3/5a without adhesive - corners of the rectangle are held by the velcro on the LS 3/5a baffle

What's the effect on the tweeter output?

The O-rectangles "clean-up" (not clear-up) errant sound which were dispersing to side-way(s), resulting in pretty much total silence between songs and quiet passages👍👍👍

Monday, June 1, 2020

TIP - Internet radio for newbies

Since most of the world is in one form or another of COVID movement restriction scenarios, it is a good time to explore the world of internet radio - why limit one-self to only local radio content?

You can easily test the waters via websites on the PC such as the following examples which is just a small sample of available websites.

or simply enter internet radio online website on your favourite search engine.

Alternatively, you can download internet radio apps onto your smartphone from GooglePlay and IOS - best to monitor your mobile data usage, and, stream the internet radio broadcast to your hifi set via a stand-alone bluetooth box.

As one of the sites inform,

Over 30,000 Stations Worldwide. For free

Do explore and enjoy the various internet radio stations worldwide!

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Tips for implementing a secure Mesh WIFI setup

Since we are required to stay home more during the current COVID19 outbreak, decided to take the opportunity to inform of a MESH WIFI network (link to Wikipedia) I have setup in my home to eliminate WIFI blind-spots and simplify connectivity for the home (as well as the Android audio-video box for internet radio).

For most of the us, the following would be the typical home WIFI setup.

From Google ... why re-invent the wheel?

However the typical home WIFI setup is not ideal - the signal weakens the further you are from the WIFI router, irregardless of whether you are trying to access the old 2.4Ghz or newer 5Ghz channel(s).

You could add WIFI Repeaters into your WIFI setup but that means you need to switch to a different SSID for every different repeater you need to access (at different parts of the house). 

Furthermore, the fast WIFI Repeaters are quite costly - especially if you require a few to provide decent WIFI coverage in the house.

MESH WIFI was introduce to address the above issue(s).  In theory, with a MESH WIFI setup you can be communicating seemlessly via WhatsApp video chat and walk to all corners of the house without issues - WIFI signal strength will be good anywhere in the house.

The following would be the typical setup for a MESH WIFI network in your home. Number of nodes or slaves requirement would depend on the size of your home.


Sounds to good to be true, right?

Well, yes and no. 

WIFI coverage will be good and speed will depend on the specifications of the MESH wifi you purchase.

You will lose many of the security facilities normally available on the "run-of-the-mill" WIFI wouters. For instance, most MESH WIFI will have only very basic firewall facilities (some don't). In addition, some MESH WIFI actually run slower when the security facilities has been enabled. Others may have some limitations if you require to run them in certain configurations.

Furthermore, most of the MESH WIFI units lack any decent (or any) "Quality of Service(QOS)" facilities which are bundled with most of the current "run-of-the-mill" routers.

No problemo ... there is a solution - please refer to the pix below.

CUT&PASTE from Google

As per the above pix,  I repurposed my existing WIFI router to became the "gate keeper" with all the security and QOS facilities enabled. Hence best of both worlds via the old and new WIFI routers.

NOTE - Some MESH WIFI routers will need to be setup in Bridge Mode in order to function properly when configured as per the last pix

Been using the above setup for more than a year now. No performance or security issues .... so far.

FYI:- I am not using TP-Link or Google WIFI products, the above pix are for illustration purposes only as I Google-d for configuration illustrations for the discussion

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Obsession with Digital-to-Analogue (DAC) converters?

A friend recently asked why do I prefer using DAC(s), to using a dedicated player as I seem to have gained a few el-cheapo DVD players as transport? My friend still uses a vintage Marantz CD-72.

The summarised the PRO and CON(s) after a long discussion are:-

- Using a DAC, your favourite sonic signature will be preserved

- Not necessary to use a expensive and/or hard to repair player to act as transport

- Unlikely to break down often as a DAC does not have many physical moving parts

- Can replace the transport with a decent DVD player that's pretty affordable nowadays since DVD players are no longer the flagship players

- Can be part of a AV setup as long as your Audio-Video equipment has a SPF/DIF output eg android box, streamer etc

- Much improved audio presentation as a DAC hifi component has been optimised for the sole purpose of production of audio only eg best example is the Marantz CD-94 being enhanced with CDA-94

- When your favourite CD/DVD/transport dies, the cost for repair and/or replacement will be expensive

-  May not be able to rescue the player due to way most companies operate today eg stock min parts

-  Need to evaluate many players before you can find a satisfactory audio quality compromise (if not repairable)

I look at it is a way to "future proofing" my setup and preserving the preferred audio signature.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Another low cost DIY tube buffer kit (***Update***)

Bought a different version of the low cost DIY tube buffer kit to try.

The new toy uses two  Chinese 6J3 tubes, with option of US made 5654W(s). My initial purchase was with the default Chinese made 6J3.

The main PRO for this 2nd DIY set is more space around the capacitors in the audio critical path eg the yellow poly(s), permitting a much larger variety of potential substitution choices.

Initial kit purchased

Similar layout to the previous kit but with more space for swapping the critical capacitors

Uses non-mainstream EC capacitors on the PCB

The default 6J3 purchased with the kit

Assembled kit in-action 

This new kit has the same power requirements and input-output layout(s). However, the output volume for the new kit is much lower than the previous. The potentiometer output is even at low volumes and cames with a volume knob which also functions as a power-on/off switch. To enable more space on roughly the same footprint, the new kit uses SMD resistors which were pre-soldered onto the PCB.

How does it sound?

Best way to describe is as if someone enabled a "tonal normaliser" on the output😬.

When I contacted the seller, they assured using the US made 5654W would make a "night & day" difference. Many online reviews does mention the US made 5654W(s) are worth the upgrade. Thus I placed an order for a pair since these did not cost an arm or leg!

Will update next month once I received the 5654W(s) and give them a spin.


6J3 (LHS) vs 5654W (RHS)

Been using the buffer kit with the newly installed 5654W(s) for past few days and can confirm they do produce a remarkable improvement over the 6J3(s). Received the 5654W(s) quite a bit later than usual and suspect that is due to the decrease in the number of shipments from PRC with the on-going trade-war between the two big economies. 

Thus did not have the opportunity to run-in the 5654W(s) properly before this update. At the moment I can safely say that the "tonal normalisation" has been removed. The DIY kit is beginning to sound like a proper tube component.

Will allow the 5654W(s) to settle in before deciding if to start substituting the capacitors in the critical path.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Low cost DIY tube pre-amp / buffer kit

While trawling the PRC eBay, I came across a low cost DIY tube pre-amp kit which was advertised as a possible tube buffer as well. Definitely easier and cheaper than try to procure a X10-D from the used market, as those goes quite quickly once listed.

The completed DIY unit mounted using magnetic feets on top of a cheap DVD player

Received the DIY kit with all parts as per advertised which does not include the 12VAC 0.8-1A power adapter, potentiometer knob, mounting feet nor the plastic casing.

The good news is the PCB is well adorned with marking of component position and values. And the potentiometer has a built-in ON/OFF switch.

Bad news is the PCB is extremely compact, with most of the critical components located very close to the others. Would help if you used a soldering iron with a fine or small tip.

Close-up of the DIY kit; 2 of the audio path critcal capacitor on top with the other 2 on the bottom side of the PCB (not visible)

One minor minus point is that the potentiometer does not came with a knob and volume at the lowest setting was not balanced. Hence once switch on, you need to turn the volume up slowly until you could hear a balance volume on both LHS & RHS speakers.

Another minor minus point is that there were no labelling for the INPUT and OUTPUT terminals on the PCB or the optional casing. It's only stated on the instruction sheet (provided in Chinese), with schematic of the PCB. The design uses the X10-D methodology for doubling the input voltage but implemented for a lower cost 7-pin valve instead.

The major minus point is the location and available space for the 4 critical capacitors on the audio path - 2 for input and 2 for output. Due to the severe space restrictions, your choice of capacitors are severely limited by physical size, lead length and available values (if you wish to keep everything on the PCB). In addition, the compact PCB makes swapping capacitors a "pain in the neck".

How does the default kit sound when used as a tube buffer?

Reproduction is surprisingly clear with good details BUT with a heavy HF bias. The default Chinese 6J1 provided seem to be adequate for the moment.

Am still performing substitutions and listening to the new components (once they have settled) on the audio critical paths. Once done, will then decide if the supplied Chinese 6J1 x 2 should be swap out.

Post to be updated at a later date.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

DIY - possible simple solution for deteriorating sound from the channel of a Leak integrated amp

Recently I had an inclination to go listen to my Leak Stereo 30Plus setup in the spare room.

When I switch the unit on, the LHS works fine. The RHS channel let out a few muffled grumbling sounds before turning silent. Repeating the procedure produced the same results. I then tried various settings on the balance control as well as turning the volume up and down. There were extremely low squeaks from the RHS output.

Thus I suspect the issue was similar to that of my Quad 33 (post in the past) - due to oxidation of the contact points on one of the boards of the Leak. The internal setup of the integrated Leaks (Stereo series and Delta series) are all similar.

Please power off the unit and disconnect the power before proceeding any further.

General layout of the integrated Leak amplifiers, with the L&R boards on the LHS of the unit

Since my unit had issues with only the RHS channel, I concentrated on the two boards with "R" on the top of the grey plastic bar. To access the boards, you need to gently lift the plastic bar (which is held down by a gentle spring).

I pulled only the "R" boards from the motherboard and sprayed a little contact cleaner into the board cradle of the motherboard. Then returned the boards to their cradle and return the grey plastic strip onto it's grooves - the way I found them.

Left the unit alone for about 30min or so before restoring all the connections ... all's well again!😄

So before you head out to visit the repair shop for a similar issue, give the above a go 1st.😉

Monday, July 1, 2019

Revisiting Marantz CDA-94 - Transformer failed (again)

A couple of months ago, I was enjoying the pleasant results from the CDA-94 when the front display suddenly went dark and there was no longer any music from the hifi set.

I powered off the unit, disconnected the power line (VERY IMPORTANT) and checked the unit's main fuse with a multimeter eg F001 - it was fine. Was puzzled. Hence I reconnected everything and tried to use the DAC again. Still "dead in the water", I repeated the previous check and discovered F001 blew this time. F001 is supposed to be 250V 200mA but had been previously replaced with a 250V 500mA since the 200mA fuses are pretty hard to came by (where I am).

Next I proceeded to check all the fuses on the various PCB(s) with the multimeter; all the existing fuses were fine. Hence suspect a shorted transformer, most probably L001 again since it had been replaced long ago and another visitor on my previous post informing of the same issue. Since I had some spare 500mA fuses handy, I could replace F001 but this time, remove the power to L001 before performing the power-on test. Bingo! The unit could be power-up without L001.

First a recap. When L001 was replaced years ago I did not have access to the Marantz CDA-94 service manual (courtesy of HiFiEngine) and thus did not know how to proceed as there was no information on L001 as there were no markings on the bloody thing!! A retired repair techie from DIYAUDIO advised to use a lower spec transformer instead. Hence I purchased a 12V 133mA toroid with dual secondary(s) from Element14. In those days there were not many choices and you had to pay thru your nose for the part (since they charged for courier delivery if you did not meet the minimum purchase sum). Since the replacement transformer had dual secondary(s), the kind DIYAUDIO techie provided guidance on how to connect the new dual secondary transformer (the original transformer had 3-cables, the replacement came with 4-cables). I have since learnt that the replacement transformer with dual secondary(s) was connected using the center tap technique

Fast forward to the present - was checking the internet for replacement recently ... boy has times changed! You would be overwhelmed by the available choices and surprised by how much prices has lowered!!!

Previously would have loved to install a Talema 7XXXX-series replacement but the cost was prohibitive then since the local agent had minimum purchase requirement(s) etc etc while eBay shipping from overseas was quite expensive. Nowadays it's possible to procure the OEM equivalent for a pretty decent price. 

While trawling the net for information, came across a translated site informing all the transformers used in the CDA-94 were with 1A output. 

Hence settled on the 15W version with 15Vx2 secondary(s) and 500mA output per secondary and the matching mounting PCB - see pix(s) below and additional information on the respective caption(s).

L001 replaced with the blue OEM transformer

Replacement transformer on mounting PCB attached to chassis bracket using plastic screw with additional washer between PCB and the chassis mounting bracket

Close-up of the replacement transformer and cabling

"Center tap" technique hookup at terminator end; fuses after the termination point upgraded from 500mA to 750mA

Please note the cabling used for the replacement transformer were salvaged from it's dead Noratel predecessor.

The CDA-94 back in business again ... now considering procurement of  some heatsinks for the opamps, TDA1541A and the SAA7220 chips.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Add-on heatsinks for Audiolab 8000A

I usually rotate the amp in-use (in the hall) every once in a while. Currently it's the last series of UK made Audiolab 8000A with 'F' in the serial number.

The external casing of the 8000A was running quite warm in the local tropical weather. Hence I search for suitably large piece of heatsink to assist with heat dissipation - inspired by the design of the casing on my long ago Musical Fidelity X1A.

After checking a number of websites, I had to give up my initial idea of acquiring a single largish  heatsink. Discovered that could became a rather costly exercise, with possibly pricey postage too!

About a week later, I came across a PRC website which had some attractive looking heatsinks on offer but these were smaller than what I had in-mind. Then the idea hit me - I could arrange several of these smaller heatsink(s) in such a manner that they could assist with heat dissipation from the critical areas of the 8000A, as if a single large piece of heatsink was deployed.

Each heatsink is anodized aluminium and measuring 150mm x 70mm x 11mm. Used 6 of these heatsinks and arranged them (as per pix) with a spacing of 1-3mm between them. As most of the heat on the external casing were from the LHS of the 8000A, I arranged the heatsinks on the LHS closer to it's neighbour vs those on the RHS.

8000A with several add-on heatsinks

Aesthetically pleasing too, no complaints from the boss ... yet😁

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Minor maintenance of a Quad 33 (on behalf)

Was assisting a friends' friend with minor maintenance on his Quad 33.

Sounds ok initially after power-up but takes about 25-35min before sounding right.

Hence only replaced the two main EC on the PSU and a few of the older poly(s) on the DISC board (see pix below). Used an older generation of poly(s) for the DISC board, to maintain the sonic charm as much as possible.

Sound surprising decent with clearity once more.

They don't make them like they used to these days - not put together with "love and tender loving care" these days, just mass production for the sake of profits.

Initial testing after minor maintainence
New EC caps on the PSU
"Newer" poly(s) on the DISC board

Friday, February 1, 2019

Alternate analogue FM reception for the living room (***Update#2a***)

First a background of the change in the existing setup.

In Singapore, most of the population (>90%) live in a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat aka government flat. Traditionally there would be standard antenna access points for FM and TV in every unit which are clearly marked in the living room. These antenna access point were supposed to be connected to the antenna at the top of every HDB building.

Traditional FM & TV antenna connector in HDB flats

On the Sunday morning of 6Jan2019, all I was able to hear was static from the FM radio via the access point marked FM in the living room.

When I contacted the authorities the next working day, I was informed the reported service disruption in my apartment was due to the withdrawal of all cable services by the telco Starhub. Only catch was I did not subscribing to any services from Starhub at the present time.

Hence when I visited several electronics DIY shops in the Sim Lim Tower and Sim Lim Square area, the shops informed many experience the same issue as myself. Thus indoor FM antennas and boosters😵 were flying off the shelves!

Prices were better online and I ordered a set. While awaiting the delivery, I had to use a DIY FM antenna - basically just hookup a 3m cable to the antenna socket of my Kenwood KT-5020. It's doing a decent job for the station I wanted to listen to but did not fare well for distant stations.

The order is scheduled to be delivered tonight. Will update once I have time to setup the item(s). For non-Asian visitors, this is a very busy period in the Far East as it's Chinese New Year week eg our version of Christmas😄!

Apologies for the delay for this month's post😞

Update (11Feb2019)

I purchased the following package online which includes a signal amplifier and a "multi-purpose antenna" (according to the seller's website). The signal amplifier provides 20dB boost and is powered using a typical USB phone charger - great for making reception possible in "poor areas".

Signal amplifier and "multi-purpose" antenna purchased online

Assembly of the components is "easy as 1--2-3" and all that was required was a USB charger.

Unfortunately the new components did not deliver a complete solution. Signal strength on the tuner is full but no stereo light on the tuner.

Hence I bought the indoor antenna originally recommended by a number of stores, the Daiyo EU-1703.

EU 1703 Digital Indoor Slim Passive Antenna FM + DVBT 2

I then proceeded to test various combinations to determine which would provide the best reception - DIY antenna (with/out signal booster), digital antenna  (with/out signal booster), and Daiyo antenna  (with/out signal booster).

Best combination seem to be pairing the signal booster with the Daiyo antenna. Not the perfect solution as was able to receive most of the available stations with high signal strength, and,  about 90%+ in stereo.

Luckily my favourite stations were not among the low number of casualties😀

Update#2 (23Mar2019)

This diagram explains why I can no longer use the traditional designated FM and TV ports in my apartment. Starhub was using them (aka SCV port in the pix) as their "new transfer facility". Don't the residents get any say about this?

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

JVC XL-MV33 (Part-2)

Continuation from JVC XL-MV33

My skeptical friend finally decided to get his toes wet with minor recapping on the MV33 to improve reproduction.

Upon reviewing the PCB with the output RCA connectors ... I found some typical Japanese poly capacitors encase in a yellow plastic casing. These type of poly capacitors were common in Japanese brand products from the 1980-1990's (see my past article on them) and are most likely the culprits of the audio reproduction barrier - not all need to be swap out unless they are in the audio pathways.

Original output PCB

Part of output schematic for MV33 audio reproduction

The MV33 schematic from HifiEngine confirms only the ELNA EC (47uF 50V) and the yellow encased poly (1500pF) are on the audio pathway between the JRC OPAMP and the RCA outputs. The 220pF capacitors on the schematics were not present on the PCB - replaced by resistors.

As my skeptical friend was unconvinced of how much improvement can be obtained, I proposed initially changing only the two poly capacitors on the audio pathway (1500pF) - should be quite a revelation for him. Used a pair of BC (aka Philips) 1500pF poly for the swap-out. 

ELNA EC and the Japanese poly swapped out

For the first 30mins after the swap, voices were high pitched with the rest of the material sounding a little off-pitch. Thereafter the reproduction was much improved with the HF(s) sounding more natural and precise.

Even so, the overall presentation seem incomplete ... as if there was still some fog in the area. Next the ELNA EC(s) were replaced with audiophile grade Nichicon MUSE and a bypass ... the presentation improved quite a lot - reproduction was now much cleaner and begin to sound more like a decent CD player.

PCB after capacitor swap-outs

As my friend was not adventurous, we did not proceed any further. He wanted to enjoy the new improvements for the time being.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Alternative universal RC

I had recently bought a Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 smartphone.

One unexpected bonus for this average smartphone was it's RC app. The RC app can most useful and handy eg if you had misplaced the original remote (or when someone else monopolised it)!

We used it last month to initiate the testing of the LG-V522P. 

RC app main screen on smartphone

Initial screen to add a new device
Mi App generic screen for the LG-V522P

It's most unlikely you would lose your smartphone as most owners would have it handy. And it's locatible via the various "find my phone" facilities eg ring as loud as possible facility!

Thus this sort of smartphone is a keeper once retired from it's primary duties - it's your "new" universal RC!!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Another budget CD source - LG DV522P

I was introduced to this budget CD source, the LG DV-522P (with co-axial digital output) by a neighbour. He wanted to determine the quality of audio output from it.

The LG DV-522P is a budget DVD player with literally no visible display, only a red LED once power-up. There is provision for a USB source. The unit is RC capable but he had misplaced the RC. Hence we used my "newish" universal remote instead (works like a charm - topic for another post).

No display with only LED to indicate piower-on

Only basic RCA outputs on rear

As my neighbour does not own a DAC, we decided to test the unit via the analogue L-R outputs hooked up to my budget valve EL-34 integrated amplifier (... budget src to budget amp, fair right?) which was paired to the DIY LS 3/5A and matching subwoofer.

I must say I was quite impressed with the results. The presentation was respectable for the price range😮😲!  Who would have thought such a budget combination could deliver any impressive result.

Would have loved to have more listening time with this little mighty mouse...

Monday, October 1, 2018

Technics RS-M02

The RS-M02 was the top end cassette deck for the Technics Concise series (small-size or micro components).

Pix from VintageTechnics

Apologies for the pix from the internet as it's kind'of small and can be difficult to locate in the storeroom (aka the blackhole!!). Will update with pix of the internals once I came across the little critter.

Don't be fooled into thinking the RS-M02 is a lightweight due to it's smaller dimensions. It's a solid performer weighing 5.5kg!

Think of the RS-M02 as a miniaturized RS-M65 without the fine bias and headphone output volume controls but was upgraded for Metal Oxide tapes. Hence the RS-M02 has all the performance of a high-end Technics cassette deck, for the Concise Series.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Celestion SL-6s

In the late 1980's I literally fell "head-over-heels" for the Celestion SL-6 after listening to a pair at my friend's place in NZ.

By the time I scaped enough to buy a pair with a proper amplifier for them, the SL-6 was no longer available and had been replaced by the SL-6s. Hence I bought a pair of SL-6s instead, with the metal sand filled stands from the local NZ agent via the home based hifi dealer at the shore (aka North Shore to Aucklanders).

I still own that pair of SL-6s but have not used them since about 2006. Hence I enclosed pixs from the net till I have the urge to drag them out for a spin.

Pix of the SL6s from the internet

As there are so many articles and reviews on the SL6s, there is no need to repeat the obvious. I will just add on item(s) I discovered along the years of ownership.

I always admired the beautiful wooden finish as the bark rings would flow seamlessly from one panel to another, on each of the speakers. Many a visitors who's seen the pair always pester for a sale (told them if you want them, compensate me for my loss as I never put them up for sale)... still have them, these are REAL KEEPERS!

From memory the SL6s require plenty of grunt to be be driven properly, rather than Watts. Once so, they are real pleasers. The bass deficiency can be addressed using a active sub (suitable for hifi not HT). If I remember correctly, the active sub need to be set to somewhere in the region of 125-150Hz  with volume just about 1-o'clock - TBC once I dig out the sub as well!!!

For instance, I was using the SL6s with a Sansui AU-555 before putting them into storage. Watts was not so much the issue as grunt. The AU-555 is rated as 20W per channel with only a Damping Factor of 12. Many advise using an amp of atleast 50-60W for the task. Yet, the Sansui AU-555 could drive the SL6s beautifully to decent volumes with the volume knob at 10 o'clock and/or above. No issues doing so for atleast 8hrs a day on the weekends.

Another surprise was when I swap out the SL6s (86dB) with the Meridian A500 (89dB) - the output volume remained roughly the same.

Hands getting itchy now since this bring backs bloody fond memories of my years spend with the SL6s ...

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Carver C-2 pre with M-200t power amp

While in NZ, I finally settle on the combination of a Carver C-2 pre-amp partnered with a Carver M-200t power amplifier. Could only afford this budget combination then which was able to drive the Celestion SL6s decently.

Both the pre and power amplifier had an external pewter finish on the front plate which was pleasant "eye candy".

The C-2 pre-amp performance was about average, not the best at what it does but the sonic results were acceptable. The four square ON-OFF toggle switches provided quite a flimsy feel. Usually left the C-2 in tonal bypass mode as I did not like the sonic signature from them.

I think the M-200t power amplifier was the better half of the combination with enough grunt to drive the Celestion SL6s decently. When place into mono-block mode, the M-200t truly sounds amazing! My major complaint were the el-cheapo clip-in speaker cable connectors. They could have used slightly better speaker connectors. Sigh ... could not afford 2 of these power amplifiers at the time ....

I enclosed the following pix(s) from Googling the internet as I did not have any pix(s) of my units,

Pix on internet via Googling - front

Pix on internet via Googling - rear of the units

Sold the combination Carver pre and power amplifier in the Wellington area before heading off overseas to take up a  MNC job offer in late 2000. Not much of a choice then as the NZ job market was not great at the time ...