Wednesday, August 27, 2008

New iPod Extreme - Docking Connector Line output cables

iPod Extreme Audio cables for Home and Car Stereo

We try to keep busy in the summer doing the usual summer stuff, and a lot of us do it with our iPods. If you also like to do things with your iPod, we have something new, right off the drawing board you might find enhances the relationship!

The Home Audio iPod Extreme - Awesome noise free sound with extremely wide bandwidth.

Due to the big difference in audio quality available from the iPod Docking connectors "line output" compared to the headphone output, we have designed these cables from the ground up to give you the ultimate sound quality from your iPod. We offer two types - one designed primarily for home audio use to your stereos left and right stereo audio RCA connector inputs, and one designed for Car audio with a mini stereo plug for your cars "Aux" input. Both are made with the same high grade silver plated Teflon twisted pair wires.

And the Car Audio iPod Extreme:

Mini Plug Stereo Connection for Car Audio "AUX" Inputs.
Same great sound, Same nice looks, Same durable construction. Available now to hear your iPod like you never heard it before!

· Silver Plated Copper wire
· Teflon Insulated
· Dual Twisted Pairs for low noise, excellent sound quality
· Silver Soldered
· Techflex Jacket
· Super low Capacitance for wide bandwidth
· Custom made to order in the USA!

iPod Extreme mini
iPod Extreme RCA

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Setting up your new/old turntable and cartridge

Setting up your new/old turntable and cartridge
I received the old Denon DP-45F turntable I mentioned in the last blog entry and a new Grado Cartidge (RED) I bought on ebay and hooked them up to my Denon 3805 Receiver. I use this system for my Computer audio and iPod audio while working or using my computer. The speakers are Reference 3A Dulcets - it's a nice sounding little system.

While spending 5 figures on a turntable, tonearm, cartridge and ancillaries seems easy for some, it is not my cup of tea. Plus, I cannot afford tea like that! There are plenty of great, old turntables that are easy to afford for those interested in testing the waters of "analog audio" - "LP records" to us normal people.
Ebay is filled with plenty of Thorens, Dual, Garrard, Pioneer, Technics Turntables and all sorts of other brands from yesteryear that probably only 40 somethings or older may remember. There are plenty of yardsale or fleamarket options, but in all cases you have to be careful to not get a "project" TT - a turntable that needs repair. Do your homework before buying a turntable. Get a top model Turntable from the mid to late 70's and up and it should have a pretty nice tonearm. Get a new Grado Black, green, blue, red or Shure M97XE cartidge online for a good price and you have the basic hardware for high quality playback. You'll also need a receiver or amp with a good "phono" preamp section for best results.
Getting Started:
Setting up a cartridge in your new/used turntable is unfortunately a bit of a PITA. You have left CD world and are in a new land of DANGER. It would not be so difficult if your needle were indestructible, but unfortunately that is not the case. It's a teensy weensy little diamond glued onto a glob of material glued to a teensy weensy little shaft, etc. We are talking FRAGILE.
You have to get the wiring right, and you need to be very careful with the tiny gauge wires involved - they break very easily. The little sockets involved are certainly strange to a newbie (or more accurately - non oldbie?). The wires are color coded and the cartridge should come with a wiring guide. The markings on cartridges are so small they are hard to see and are sometimes incomplete enough that relying on them is tricky, so hopefully you have the paperwork on your cartridge.
Alignment and Setup:
Alignment in the head shell is necessary so that the cartridge stays as close as possible to 90 degrees perpendicular to the record grooves while traversing the record and parallel to the platter/record. This is not fun to do, and particularly dangerous for the needle. You can buy numerous alignment devices, but there are also easy to use printable pdf versions that you can print out, and as long as you are very careful, and can find a way to accurately poke out the "center hole" for the spindle of your turntable, they can do the job very well.
Setting up the proper "tracking weight" (how much weight the needle has applied to press down into the record groove) is hugely important to how well the needle can track the grooves, as well as how much the needle may adversely effect the wear on the grooves. It's a balance between the two you need to achieve. Too light - and you get distortion as well as groove damage since the needle has limited groove surface area contact and tends to get bounced around. Too heavy and the needle is just not compliant enough to follow the grooves with all the weight applied and scrapes off the sharp edges (dynamics and high frequencies) until you get - mush. There are digital gauges which are nice, but a bit pricey. They should work very well. Then again, "manual" gauges like the Shure SFG-2 can be had for less. The negative part is they are not "brain dead" setup gauges. You will need to be careful with your needle, you may need to read and understand directions - and at this point you are probably pretty tired of "tools" like that! In any case, a manual gauge is not going to ever stop working unless you lose it.
BIG NOTE: Always RAISE the needle before making adjustments. It will take more time, but your needle will survive the process!
Anti skating - Easy - Just set it equal to the Tracking force you use. Most turntables should work very well set this way.

Here are some good links to more info to help you out.
Align Your Turntable Cartridge:
Tonearm Alignment:
Cartidge Setup:
Record Cleaning:

Hopefully you have local used record stores that have bins and bins of records for $1 for you to hunt through.
Have fun, and happy listening!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to connect your Computer to your Stereo

We updated our Howto page: "How to connect your Computer to your Stereo"
[Why? I bought a turntable on ebay]

Well, we finally got around to an update of our popular "How to connect your Computer to your Stereo" page. Not a huge update, mainly added some extra info on connecting your Turntable to your computer and added links to some good free software.

It should be getting some further updates pretty soon. Why? Mainly because I just bought a turntable. Yeah, maybe I'm crazy - they are noisy, inconvenient, and can get to be an expensive hobby all in themselves, but I just miss playing records.

What brought all this on? Well, I was browsing around in the used CD store when I just couldn't help but browse through some of those $1 records they had virtually tons of. I kept finding old records I liked until the next thing I knew I was browsing through the $2-$5 sections. I stopped myself before I went crazy, since I gave up on my old Garrard Belt drive turntable years ago and had nothing to play them on.
What is it, nostalgia? I know there is a big vinyl resurgence lately, but I never once was tempted to shell out $25 for Norah Jones latest on 180g vinyl, and $2500 for a turntable. Don't get me wrong, I always enjoy listening to high end audio systems at all the high end audio shows, but give me an sacd, DVD audio or hopefully soon some Blu Ray Audio disks - nice clean digital audio on click and pop free disks! Well, I guess I miss the whole reverential process involved that I remember so well from my youth. You find that big 12"x12" square among all your other records, take it out and figure out the tracks you like, clean the disk carefully and set it down on the platter. Then you cue up the arm and move it - just right there - carefully to right over the gap in the tracks and let it slowely drop down... ahhh, I miss that.

No, I'm not one of those that thinks analog just has to sound better. I'll get back to you on that, I guess, since I don't even have a needle yet... Maybe I'm getting old and want to go back to my youth, but then it seems that a big part of the vinyl comeback is amongst the young. Young people were scouring the heck out of those huge bins of LP's. Maybe size matters? I always did miss the SIZE of Records - CD's were more like little toys. You can hardly read the writing. And Digital downloads? Yes, I have my share, but that's even more of a disconnect to having something palpable in your hands - something to sit back on the couch and look at while the record played.

So, while I don't even have the turntable I "won" on ebay - a nice Denon table (the nice Duals were just too high) that was quite nice and a bit expensive in its day, and I have not even ordered a cartridge for it yet, I am definately looking forward to getting it all together and working (supposing it arrives in one piece) .

Yes, I may get bored with the whole thing very quickly, and go back to strictly iPod, CD and my skimpy sacd and dvd audio disk collections for the ease of use, but I may not. Perhaps I'll ride out the recession picking up old $1 records that maybe I never checked out in my youth. Maybe I'll splurge on a few $3 and even $10(!) records that I know I enjoy. In any case it's not going to cost me a fortune to check it out.