November: Digitizing Vinyl

Our very own president, Oliver Masciarotte gave a presentation on digitizing vinyl from his experience as an audio engineer.  He also included an impressive demonstration using pro or semi-pro sound cleanup tools on poor recordings.

Board member Chuck Bottemiller also gave a presentation on a simpler cheaper way to do it using a Pro Audio interface (Focisrite Scarlett 2i2) and the freeware recording tool Audacity.

Both presentations had in common:
Realize that ripping vinyl or tape is done real time so it takes a loooong while.
Get the disc as clean as possible
Use the best gear/turntable/recording devices available within your budget.
Plan on spending almost as much time separating tracks and adding metadata as you did making the recording.

A lively Q&A followed, including feedback from several working mastering engineers from the audience.

October: JRiver

Special guest Jim Hillegass from JRiver, the popular enthusiast media player, joined us to demo and discuss their popular software. Questions varied in depth, and we covered everything from media tagging to equalization to audio drivers.

We appreciate JRiver's presence, and the group discussion that followed became a point of departure for all topics computer audio.

September: Audio by Van Alstine

Frank Van Alstine will be presenting his ABX Comparator as well as a few other products by his brand Audio by Van Alstine. Comparisons are fun, and it should be a breeze with this nifty tool. And it's always a treat to have a presentation from one of our own.

Don M. provides a brief synopsis of the events:

Frank showcased some new products including a combination DAC/Preamplifier, the ABX Switchbox Comparator, and a prototype pair of 1 kilowatt monoblock amplifiers.

Frank first described his new VisionDAC/Preamplifier that has a built in DAC using a pure Class A analog output section and single coax input for digital. It also features an optional phono preamplifier with adjustable gain for both moving magnet and moving coil cartridges as well as having an array of cartridge load settings. Other options available include buffered tape outputs, remote control, and stereo phase inverted balanced outputs. Digital inputs can also be customized. The retail price as shown (DAC/Preamp plus phono in silver case) was $1999.

The ABX Switchbox comparator was also described in great detail. The unit has inputs and outputs that enable comparison of pairs of preamplifiers, stereo power amplifiers, and up to three sets of speakers simultaneously. A/B switching is done via a remote control. Single and Double blind testing can also be performed. Great care has been applied to assure an invisible sonic imprint as well as masking any ability for the listener to detect which device(s) are in play based on switchings. The retail of the ABX Switchbox Comparator is $999.

Frank started the Switchbox demonstration with a comparison of his prototype monoblocks to an older AVA stereo power amplifier. The differences in sonics were quite obvious and favorable to the new monoblocks.

The club also supplied some preamplifiers and amplifiers to be compared. We listened to an all tubes based linestage preamplifier, a hybrid preamplifier, a sample of our in house DIY BA-3 project preamplifier, and a DIY version of an Icepower stereo class D amp with linear power supply. Differences in sonics between compared units ranged from barely perceptible to fairly perceptible.

For double blind testing, LED's are off and when the user performs a switch, the comparator randomly chooses to switch devices or not. Once eight listening sessions are over, the user can then use the remote to reveal the order of the devices played. For example, ABAABBBA would be a possible order. The idea here is for the listener to take notes durring the session and then compare those notes to the order revealed.

The value of such a versatile and high quality switching device became quite obvious to many in the audience.