Shellac gig at The Fleece in Bristol, 7th October 2017

My friends and I went to see this gig last Saturday. It was amazing.

Before going in, we had a quick beer and then went to an Italian restaurant. After chatting a while about Shellac, Todd Trainer came past and said hello – he’d been sitting behind us and could not help overhearing our conversation.

The guy came across as being really decent and sincere and before he went offered to put us on the guest list. We already had tickets so didn’t need that but it was a generous thought – it is after all, how they make a living. We all really appreciated it.

He’d let us know roughly when they were going on so we had another beer and then went to the gig. I am a photographer (as in I like to take photos – no more) and although not a pushy one at all I thought this was an opportunity not to be missed so I slowly slide between gaps to get right to the front. I’d like to say a big thanks here to all those that let me do that, everyone was really kind and let me through. I hope you enjoy the photos enough to feel it was worth it.

Todd Trainer of Shellac, The Fleece, Bristol, October 2017.

The gig was just great, I took loads of images, all in black and white and the music was awesome, totally awesome. Steve Albini, Todd Trainer and Bob Weston seemed like they’d had a good time and came across as professional, open and honest, sociable and above all – kick-ass musicians. Thanks guys.

This Liquiphonics account at WordPress has become squashed together with my photography blog ‘matalimages’ and my blog for my friends poetry ‘geoffspoetry’ – Google did that, the b*’s ūüėȬ† Don’t know how it happened. So you may know how to get to my Shellac photos but in case not, here are some links:

Liquiphonics HiFi on Facebook (22 images):

Liquiphonics HiFi’s WordPress Blog (30 images):¬†¬†

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Goodbye Walter Becker

I got into Steely Dan after coming across the stunning album cover for ‘Countdown to Ecstasy’.

Steely Dan's 'Countdown to Ecstasy' album cover.

Steely Dan’s’Countdown to Ecstasy’ album cover.

Their music was a variation on the Americana mix of jazz, rock, blues.  It had style, humour and a crisp, clean sound Рthey were really fussy when it came to sound quality.

Their music led me on to Donald Fagen’s; I love ‘The Nightfly’ and ‘Sunken Condos’ but I never even thought that the other half of the band could have his own solo albums. ¬†I’ll need to have a listen to them.

Sadly, Walter Becker has now gone and far too soon at the age of only 67.  Thanks for the fun Walter.

Here is an interesting post about Steely Dan’s track ‘Deacon Blues’ and why it is used as an audiophile standard for comparing HiFi equipment (thanks to Graham for pointing me in this direction):

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Clean Mains Connections = Good Sound

I recently bought a second-hand tuner, an Akai AT-550.  The condition of the mains plug pins was the worst I have ever seen.  Even though the connections pass relatively high voltages, they still need to be clean or sound quality will be affected.  I am particularly fussy about the earth pin connection.  Here is a picture of the tuner:

Akai AT-550 Tuner.

Akai AT-550 Tuner.

To clean the brass pins of corrosion and dirt, I use a fibreglass stick but sandpaper or even a knife can be used. ¬†If you have the confidence, it’s worth taking a look inside the plug to make sure all three connections are good and that the fuse connections are not corroded or lose. ¬†This shows the plug:

Showing the mains plug earth pin badly corroded.

Showing the mains plug earth pin badly corroded.

Showing the mains plug earth pin partially cleaned.

Showing the mains plug earth pin partially cleaned.


Showing the mains plug earth pin fully cleaned.

I cleaned all three pins, not just the earth and when finished, they were all shiny.

If anyone needs an explanation of how to connect a mains plug properly, please do ask me and I will upload a post showing how to do it – not everyone knows.

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Every band member should read this . . .

. . . and anyone who loves music also, so they get to know what really goes on in the music business.

A good friend of mine has brought an article to my attention, written by Steve Albini; an American singer-songwriter, audio-engineer, band member of Shellac and much more.
It outlines (some of) the massive problems faced by up-and-coming bands trying to break into the music industry, at any level above playing pubs and clubs.

I recommend it:

‘The Problem With Music’ by Steve Albini

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Basic Media Amp and Speakers Idea

I finished working out the Box Construction Jig and found I had some 12mm MDF wood left over on the sheet. ¬†I have some nice parts left over from the design of the Boombox and coming system so I thought I’d use the spare MDF to build a simple, compact HiFi system for our kitchen. ¬†Nothing fancy, just an On/Off switch, a selection switch for only two inputs – Bluetooth and USB and that’s all. ¬†The design is now complete and I’m about to add it to the cutting information for the MDF sheets.

But I think this would be a good production model and many others should find it a useful little amp.

So there are now two additional amp models, here are their salient points:

  1. a 14Wrms/channel and a 60Wrms/channel amp,
  2. only Bluetooth and internal DAC (USB fed),
  3. no tone controls,
  4. front panel has only On/Off and input selection,
  5. my amplifier PCB and top quality parts,
  6. small full range loudspeakers (Peerless?) with optional stands that include subwoofers,
  7. as small a footprint as possible given the internal components.

The MDF layout is almost finished, I’ll post pictures as it’s constructed.

Posted in Amp Cabinet, Amplification, Design, High Definition Sound, Loudspeakers, Media, Power Amplifier | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Box Construction Jig Design

My next job is to build the boombox cabinet (or box).  It will be made from 6 and 12mm MDF and I need to make sure that when glued together, all the sides are exactly perpendicular and not leaning over at all.  Over distance, a very small angle can make a big difference.

I am designing a jig to make this gluing job easier and more accurate. ¬†It will also be of 12mm MDF. ¬†The ‘Ls’ will be 10cm deep so won’t flex longitudinally at all. ¬†The four ‘Ls’ will slide into each other like two combs coming together. ¬†That can only happen in one direction so the upper two ‘Ls’ are broken and need bolting or gluing together once in place – you can see three holes in the corner, on the drawing below.

Box construction jig bracing.

Box construction jig bracing.

The above bracing will then be faced with 12mm MDF (as shown below).  This surface will allow me to push the panels that need gluing, up against the facing knowing it is absolutely perpendicular.  The jig will be laser cut by Exeter Laser so will be reliable true.

Each facing panel will be glued to the bracing at a distance of 30mm away from the other two facings.  This will allow up to 25mm MDF sheets to be glued together without becoming glued to the jig.  Any excess spilling out of the joint, can then be removed after the glue has set.

Box construction jig facing.

Box construction jig facing.

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CS4397/8 – A DAC Good Enough to Include?

I am a big fan of people with a passion for what they do, being enthusiastic about it and doing their best to do it well.  One such person I have come across is Lukasz Fikus who runs a family business dedicated to high quality HiFi and their web site is (new window).  On his site he talks about the sound and build quality of CD players he has come across or more specifically Рtheir DACs.

On the page (new window) he talks about the DAC chip CS4397 and CS4398 from the IC manufacturer Cirrus Logic (a quick explanation of what a DAC is and why you might need one is given at the bottom of this post).

I wasn’t going to include a DAC into my boombox as the digital audio world has been changing so rapidly recently that¬†I thought it best to concentrate on the amplification system and let people chose the input they want/can afford. ¬†There was also the extra cost involved, both monetarily and time-wise, as I would have to buy and listen to a few to find one suitable.

But having been reading Fikus’ ramblings for a while now I have come to respect his authenticity and lack of sales bias and now feel that if he says this DAC is that good, I should be comfortable in including it into the boombox. ¬†Most importantly, it is the right price!


CS4398 DAC Board

It will be a squeeze to get it in since most space has already been taken but I’m sure I can do it and this will give the boombox complete usability as it will be possible to connect it direct to a computer via USB as well as the current Bluetooth, Phono, 3.5mm jack, 6.5mm jack combination currently catered for. ¬†It is important for me to include a DAC if possible as I see the prevalence of computers being the future source of music listening (I’m not alone in this, it doesn’t take a genius to have worked that little gem out). ¬†I know vinyl is resurgent and many argue that the sound quality is better than digital and in some ways I agree and in some ways I very much disagree – but that’s a different argument and the fact remains; if done right, a digital signal source is at least as good as an analogue one and in many ways (not least the convenience but also sound quality) is much better. ¬†Digital amplification is a different argument and not one I will tackle here.

Actually, having thought a little about what to say when it comes to what DACs are and why they are needed, I think it best to make that a separate post as it will need a little thought and effort on my part to explain. ¬†So maybe the next post? ¬†Sorry to disappoint but I’ll have to make images and make sure the language is correct and not too technical.

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