January 16, 2017

When your IR repeater is slow and unresponsive

So you've decided to finally get your act together and make your AV system spouse friendly. That might mean hiding all your audio equipment inside an entertainment unit without having to open the doors for your remote to work. Perhaps you've even installed it all in a dedicated cabinet completely hidden from view. You need an IR repeater.




Above: a wireless IR repeater.

The concept is simple. A receiver senses the signal from your remotes and then relays them to your equipment via a number of emitters attached to each device. Some relay the signal wirelessly, others via included cable or though existing HDMI or ethernet network cable. Integra AVRs also allow you to direct wire the signal.

Sounds so simple, what could go wrong?! If you use Foxtel, you should be aware that not all IR repeaters are compatible, so check before you buy. Another potential problem is interference from devices near the IR receiver. When this occurs, you'll notice that the response is very slow. You may have to press a button multiple times and it appears to work very slowly, very hit and miss.

To test if this is your problem try this:

1. Move the IR sensor away from all other devices

2. Aim the remote at the sensor at close range (say 100mm away) - aim carefully

3. Does it work now? If so, gradually move the unit closer to its intended position. You may find that the problem comes back as it gets close to other devices.

4. Is there an alternative position that avoids the problem?

5. The sensor may require shielding. A quick experiment is to line it with aluminium foil as shown below.





We know, it's not pretty! We suggest this not as a long term solution but as part of your troubleshooting process. If this solves your problem, then you know you have an interference issue. If you have DIY inclinations then you might consider a longer term mod, like installing the IR receiver in a DIY metal box or you might come up with some simple DIY shielding. Many at this point would simply take the device back.

August 1, 2016

What drivers do you use?

One of the questions we are most often asked is "what drivers do you use?" We get this question most often from DIYers. We understand why people are asking. It's one of the first questions a DIY enthusiast will ask to gain a feeling for the quality of the speaker. It's a short cut to making a comparison to other products on the market.

There are many problems with trying to evaluate a product in this way. Here are some

1. False sense of security


Using drivers that are DIY favourites does not guarantee a good result. There are many poor or average implementations of very good drivers. We've experienced many. We've had customers come to us with speakers that should perform much better. They use very high quality drivers but it's very easy to overlook the importance of crossover design.

2. Undiscovered gems


There are many undiscovered gems. Many DIYers are uneasy about heading into unfamiliar territory. This is why most head onto the forums and watch what others are building. The decision to go ahead comes after a lot of reading.

Yet there are many drivers unknown to DIYers with very good performance. Many are actually better than the drivers that get rave reviews. Generally, this isn't realised because comparisons aren't made very often. And when a comparison is made, it may only apply to the specific implementation.

3. OEM drivers are not available to DIYers


Some drivers can only be purchased in commercial quantities. These may carry the branding of the loudspeaker manufacturer or they may not. The drivers may be modified in some way to make them suit the application. It could be a superficial change like a different coloured woofer cone. It could be a modification to the TS parameters to make it better fit a particular design. In some cases, the change is so significant that it effectively becomes a new and unique driver. It may share the same basket or cone but be radically different in the areas critical to performance.

In a DIY project, it often pays to play it safe. You don't want to buy some unknown driver and find out it's a dud. However, when we put a product onto the market, we always test it first. The easy way is to go with something familiar but often we are looking for something more. So we take a risk and try unfamiliar drivers and very often if you are smart about it, this can be very worthwhile.

And then again, sometimes you hit a dead end. Earlier this year we did some experiments with some new mids for PSE-144. We were hoping to find some midrange drivers for a signature edition. Unfortunately none of the drivers we tested were even able to match our current driver.

Most of the drivers we use are OEM. When it comes to woofers are top models use Acoustic Elegance drivers.

July 14, 2016

DIY point source horn pre order

We've had a good response to the concept, so we've now moved on to start developing our DIY point source horn kit. Here is our initial concept sketch:




The horn is 500mm wide and has a 60 x 60 degree beam width. Kit will include an integral stand along with an assembly jig that will make it easy to glue the panels.


June 1, 2016

EOI: DIY point source horn kit

The last time we talked about offering a point source horn kit, it turned into something quite spectacular. It attracted a crowd and this launched PSE-144:


 We realise some people like to roll up their sleeves and build something. We also realise, not everyone has the budget for a statement horn with Ferarri curves.  

Now we're again considering launching a DIY kit. This kit would be offered on a pre-order basis, including flat pack, mid drivers and an option for a passive crossover. Please keep in mind some details of the offer are likely to change as we progress. 

We've not yet set a price, but we believe it will sit in a range that most can afford.

If you'd like to jump on board, please contact us to express your interest. We do require a certain number of adopters to make the project feasible. The price gets better when the group gets bigger. 





April 7, 2016

Introducing AV10 and AV12

We're now launching AV series. This is a range of speakers designed with serious home theatre in mind. Shown here is AV10 on the left and AV12R on the right. These will shortly be installed in "the red room" ready for audition. 

AV series concept


AV series represents smart design with serious home theatre enthusiasts in mind. All models are intended to be able to reach THX reference levels even with modstly powered AV receivers. In fact, even our smallest speaker in the range can be expected to exceed the capability of nearly all other speakers on the market even where they are given the advantage of a very high powered amplifier. 

Design brief


We've designed AV series to offer:
  • exceptional value
  • extreme output capability
  • vocal clarity
  • neutral and accurate sound
  • consistency across a considerable listening area
  • superior dispersion control
 

Options


AV series is offered as DIY kits or fully finished. Kits include:

  • DIY Flat pack 
  • Drivers
  • Terminals, screws, hardware
  • Pre built handle made passive crossovers (active versions available by request)
Finished versions come with a choice of finish:
  • Sprayed satin 2 pack finish
  • Sprayed piano gloss black
  • Selected veneers in satin or gloss finish
  • Custom finishes available also
Photo above shows kits that have been assembled with textured black finish. This is not the finish that we provide with the finished version but demonstrates the finish that is easiest to achieve. This finish is quite accessible to the average handy man with no special tools.



March 18, 2016

DIY remote speaker switch box


 

How do you switch between different sets of speakers without getting out of your seat and unplugging? And why do you need it?

Why is it needed?

 For most there is no burning reason for a speaker switch box. In our case, we needed a solution to switch between speakers. We are installing two speakers from our AV range inside a bass trap. There will be no way to access the terminals and we need to switch between two models chosen for demos. 

How it works

The switch device is based on relays and a remote controlled board. This means being able to switch remotely. Unlike typical products on the market, the relays are rated to 10A.

A 12V plug pack powers the board and we are going to use 4 pole speakon connectors. A single 4 pole cable can be installed for a pair of speakers.



The board with four 10A relays:

Our MDF box soon to be sanded and painted:

The board does come in its own box but it didn't really allow enough space for decent cables, so we made a bigger box to allow some space and provide for speakon connectors. We like speakons for their ease of use. Once wired correctly, there is no way to mess up polarity afterwards.

February 20, 2016

Air tools vs electrical tools

 

Have you ever considered using air tools? Most DIYers only use mains powered tools and if you don't have a compressor then it's probably a good idea to stick to them. However, if you already have a compressor, this is something you might consider.

Now, of course every workshop should have a power drill, jigsaw and a cordless driver. But when it comes to these:


 You might think about some air tools.

Why air tools?


My interest in air tools began with a conversation with a factory worker who uses air tools a great deal. He was talking about some of the more expensive sanders and polishers like Festool. Outch - those are expensive! Yet in his opinion, in terms of professional heavy duty use, he describes them all as crap. 

The beauty of air tools is that they don't require an electric motor and they are inexpensive for their robustness, reliability and quality.  

Reliability and bang for buck are very good. 

Downsides


The downsides are fairly obvious. They aren't mobile. You need the compressor, mains power and a hose. You probably don't want to take air tools on the roof.

When your compressor breaks down, all your air tools are useless. 

Reliability, robustness and value come into play with some tools more than others. My orbital sander and a rotary tool both get very hot with extended use. Often I've had to stop working when the tool gets very hot.

 
The Ozito has a great range of attachments. The air tool version is similar in price but it can handle more extended use.

What air does best


Very handy in the workshop is a simple blower:

Quickly and easily removes dust or sawdust. I use it all the time. You want to be careful you don't blow dust into your eyes. Once you have one it may surprise you how often it's useful.

Handy assembly and fixing


This stapler and brad nail gun are also very handy. If you want to temporarily hold an MDF brace in place, the brad gun is handy. MDF tends to split when you screw into it, but you won't have that problem with a brad. The stapler is handy for temporary attachment of rubber sheets to the inner walls of a speaker box, whilst the glue sets. I use this often in prototypes.




The Ryobi orbital sander shown above is another tool that is not very heavy duty. The air version costs about the same, but it doesn't overheat quickly.

 If you are a serious DIY enthusiast and you find one reason why you MUST have an air tool, you will quickly discover there are many more tools that will also work with your compressor.