Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Grado SR60i Mods

I had a sick day from work today and couldn't sleep. I put on my headphones, the Grado SR60i, to listen to some music and found myself wishing they had better bass. I've read of several mods in the past and decided it wouldn't be too hard to do these on a sick day.

Coin Mod

This one was very simple. All that is to be done is to remove the ear cushions. Place a coin in the middle of the cushion, press down hard and use a knife to cut around the perimeter of the coin. The point of this mod is to remove a filter between your ear and the driver.  You can see below that a grill cloth still remains on top of the plastic. Some people appear to remove this cloth as well, but I intend to make wooden cans to replace the plastic ones and decided to leave the cloth in place for now.

Vent and Damp Mod

This next mod is what brings out the bass. After all is done, I seem to have a little harsher high frequency sound. I would have added some felt for dampening the plastic chamber if I had some, but since I intend to build wood cans I felt this would do for now.  Overall the sound is much improved with these mods.

1. First I had to pull open the plastic cans. I used a hair dryer to heat the plastic and glue and then had to use some force to pull them apart.

2. Once the cans are apart you'll notice that there are 10 holes lined around the driver and a cloth covering all 10 holes.  Use a screw driver and gently twist and puncture the cloth over 2-3 of the holes. Some folks appear to knock all 10 out. I punched out 3 on each side and was happy with the outcome. This may be personal preference. I also affixed a small amount of blue-tak on the back of each driver to help dampen the sound. I was sure not to cover the holes on the driver.

3. The last thing I did was punch out the plastic grill on the front of each can. Grado glues a small plastic circle in the middle of the grills and I was concerned I didn't have a good way to dampen this. I will probably find something interesting to put in place of the plastic grill at some point.

My first test track of the Gloaming by Radiohead and the bass was amazing!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New Stereo Setup

I call my website "The Stereo Lab". This was an idea of mine during my wife's first pregnancy. I pictured our home having a large room with a stereo and work spaces for each family member. No TV!  I pictured us creating, making and learning together in this room as a family. We recently had our 2nd child and when I returned home from a long stay in the hospital I was ready for a mini-project. Mini-project because I have no time for real projects right now.  I decided that we would need something other than a laptop with USB powered speakers if I wanted to make a real life Stereo Lab.

Here were my problems:

  1. All of my music is digital and stored on a personal computer not available for family use. This is the computer I use to rip CDs and purchase music on. I needed any changes to this music library to be mirrored on the device serving the music in the family room.
  2. The only device I had to serve music to the family room was a laptop with a non-functioning keyboard and trackpad, and with a broken screen.
  3. The only speakers I had were USB powered and sounded awful.
  4. I had only $180 to use towards this project.

1. Automatically Syncing My Media Library with the Family Room Stereo

I turned to a free tool to accomplish this task:  SyncBack Free by 2BrightSparks.  This is a great piece of software that lets you easily backup, synchronize and mirror directories either on the same local machine or across your network.  In my case I created a share on the broken laptop and had SyncBack Free mirror my music library to this directory daily. Any new music I add to the collection or unwanted music I remove is then added\removed from the laptop's library within 24 hours. 

2. Accessing Music on a Laptop with No Working Inputs and a Broken Screen.

I considered attaching a computer monitor and external keyboard and mouse to the laptop. This takes a lot of space and was not an option for me.  I have a Nexus 4 phone and my wife a Nexus 7. My next idea was to use these devices to control the stereo. 

I first needed to setup my media player on the broken laptop. The player that best fit my needs was foobar2000 which is, in my opinion, the best media player for windows. It is open source, light weight, and very customizable. It is also free!
On the Android side, I installed an app called foobar2000 controller PRO by Sergi Mola. It costs $1.49 per device and was a great bargain. From this app on my android devices I can access my foobar music library and network shares. It has a lock screen widget and a standard widget with the PRO version. A free version is also available for testing purposes.  Note that in order for this app to work with foobar I needed to install the foo_httpcontrol component and follow these instructions.

3. Stereo Equipment

To obtain a more enjoyable listening experience I needed to upgrade from my USB powered speakers. Being somewhat new to this area I decided to consult Professor Google for an education.  I knew I wanted a 2.0 or 2.1 setup, but I was unfamiliar with which equipment and brands were desirable.  The consensus seemed to be to purchase used equipment in good shape. Craigslist had slim pickings and I wanted something setup before my baby came home.  Then I came across a very well informed gentleman by the handle of Zeos.   I followed a thread he started on his subreddit.  He also has some enjoyable reviews on his youtube channel.

I pieced together this system:

Behringer UCA202 DAC -- $29.99 (to convert my digital collection to analog)
Topping TP21 Amp -- $71.50 (to power the speakers)

I did not have enough money for the 2.1 system, but when I buy an amp I most likely will go for the Dayton Audio Sub-1000.

In 2 days time everything was delivered and setup. The system sounds amazing, especially for the price. This will also allow me to make modular upgrades as funds become available.

4. I spent just under $180 for everything shipped.

I had a good time learning a little about audio equipment. I can say my music sounds significantly better with this equipment and the family is really enjoying gathering around the stereo together.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Learn to Code Online... For Free

I was looking for a online community to participate in while brushing up on my coding skills when I came across Code Academy. The Code Academy offers lessons in learning to code in java script, html/css, python, ruby, jQuery, and with projects such as building web applications.   The lessons range from basic to moderate levels of difficulty and both helpful and fun.  This would be great for children to learn to code as well.  Give it a try.


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Gateway GT5628 and Windows 7

This is just a note to everyone out there who owns a Gateway GT5628 and cannot get windows 7 installed.

You are probably getting this error:

“A required CD/DVD drive device driver is missing. If you have a driver floppy disk, CD, DVD, or USB flash drive, please insert it now”

After hours of cursing and troubleshooting I figured out this is because you have an ATA\ATAPI DVD drive. I googled around for awhile and most people were recommending purchasing a new SATA DVD drive. However, you do not need to do that.

I tried tons of different drivers off of the Gateway website, because of course the ones it says are drivers for this model's DVD drive are not.  Here are the drivers you need.

Enjoy Windows 7.