'Hidden Sanctuary' in Bengaluru? - yes true
This pic will answer it, taken just outside the venue which happens to be the gated community in which Prakash (one of the prime organisers of the meet) resides.
Yes this serene neighbourhood is full of trees and birds not commonly seen in Bangalore and some monkeys as well, is very much in Bangalore.
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Before I begin, a very special thanks to the three musketeers 'Shreekanth Nagaraj (online handle 'SoundsGreat'), Shiv and Prakash' for making it possible.
I know I just can't express the gratitude with a simple thanks and I am sure all members will agree to it. They were selfless, modest and very kind to us all, especially all of us born with greedy stomachs.
The food served for lunch was sumptuous made with the loving hands at home and the cake in the evening also took care of the non-eggitarians.
Such was the care they had taken to the minutest details.
Before I summarize the day a special mention of all the members who attended the event. Most of them were meeting in person for the first time but it was like a camaraderie, as if we knew each other for long though there were interactions over WhatsApp before the meet.
The mutual appreciation, respect and new found physical friendship was infectious irrespective of the age, especially for someone like me who is looking at the other side of 50 and there were many in the mid 20s to 30s.
It was as much a meet of music lovers and not just enthusiastic audiophiles, and that is what set apart the get-together.
The Gang - All from Bangalore except me
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Top row: Vivek, Shobhit and Suman
Middle Row: Balaji, Srikant, Manju, Kannan (that's me), Srikant Nagarajan, Rachit, Dinu, Harsha and Sumith
Bottom row: Naresh, Maneesh, Shiv - (my pre-event host) , Anil, Som (my post-event host), Madhur, Suresh (now popular as 8watt guy), Prakash
Missing from the picture: Two camera-shy audiophile fore-fathers sitting on a tree branch above.
Possibly many are members of hifivision as well though I don't have their handles.
Picture of most of all the DIY gadgets comprising of speakers, amps, pre amps, DACs and cables. The TV can be ignored.
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The gadget list: (Sorry if I have missed out on some)
From extreme left:
1, Xavian 2-way BonBonus bookshelf speakers on the black stands: branded owned by Naresh
2, On top of the Xavian: 2-way Bookshelf speakers designed from ground-up by N. Shreekanth
3. The next two 2-way transmission line floor standers also designed from ground-up by N. Shreekanth
4. On the Stool: 2-way Bookshelves (black colour) made by me (Kannan) using vintage Infinity drivers based on the vintage RS series designed by the late Arnie Nudell
5. On top of the Infinity: Full range bookshelf with Alpair driver made by Som
6. Behind and to the inner side of the Infinity: Transmission line full range Alpair designed by Vivekanand
Not in pic:
2-way speakers designed for active stage (no crossovers) made by Shiv
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2-way full rangers with Altec driver, Ambipur AMT (air motion) tweeter and a rear passive radiator designed by Vivekanand
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A full range Karlsonator designed by Balaji
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Amplifiers and Preamplfiers:
On the floor in the main picture: Two Hirga 30W pure Class A mono blocks with one passive pre made and by Som
Next to the Higara: The Adcom GFA535mkii power amp (black) and Nelson Pass design AmpCamp (red) on top of it, both belonging to Kannan (that's me)
On the big desk in the middle (from left): Tube amplifier made by Harsha.
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In the middle of the desk: Eight Audio amp (wooden front), Denon CD player on top of it and Vincent tube CD player on top of the Denon, all belonging to N. Shreekanth
To the right side on the desk: The 8W Class A amp designed by Suresh, with its power supply module and pre on top.
On top of the lot is the hybrid amp with 6J1 buffer stage designed by Vivekanand
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The 8 watt amp, power supply and pre
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The V4 amp designed by Shaan and assembled by Shobith plus the eye catching VU meter
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The DD (discrete amp) designed by Aniket and built by Anil.
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Dayens Menuetto integrated (made in Serbia) belonging to Naresh
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A pic of a handmade speaker cable by N. Shreekanth
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One DIY Car Audio Setup
The total DIY 4-way active car audio setup in my Indica that I drove from Chennai to Bangalore.
Sadly could not demo this as it was too late in the day when the meet got over.
Only Prakash's son heard it from the sweet spot while couple others heard it from the rear seats.
Sorry no pictures to share now.
Now to the meet
I am not offering critical opinions on any of the gadgets as that was not the intent of the meet according to me.
It was a meet to get into the real world, meet, see, seek and enjoy the fruits of DIY.
I will give a brief on what I heard to my capabilities and also encourage the participants to share their views in the thread.
There were some gutsy designs on display like
The Altec with rear passive radiators
The hybrid amp served on a plate of wood
The open baffle full range with custom phase plug and a unique design in the rear for a ported woofer
A half-cooked hurriedly assembled DD amp which showed the true spirit of DIY.
At the other extreme were the ground up professionally designed speakers of Shreekant and his cables.
It was like the spirit of the country...'Unity in Diversity'
How the day unwound
It initially started with each member introducing himself and giving a short brief on his DIY journey and equipment.
Since there were too many possible combinations and there was paucity of time, it was decided to stick to a particular chain to test speakers. As there was tracking problems with the Vincent CD player, the final chain was SMSL USB DAC with the Hiraga 30 watt mono block Class A amps and a passive pre.
The room was not resonating much and to an extent the speakers were reasonably isolated from the room.
Since the track list was not finalized earlier before the meet, there was some delay in finalizing it and around 7 songs were settled upon for listening.
Possibly not all members were familiar with all the tracks, but due to time constrains it was the way it proceeded.
The test covered all the speakers listed above with the above mentioned chain starting with the bookshelves.
Each speaker had its own flavor and was enjoyed by the members.
There were those ooomps, aaahs often from the crowd to show something was extra appreciated.
We employed a miniDSP to power an active speaker.
Some impressions from my side on the speakers:
1, We had Alpair full range in a bookshelf design and in a transmission line.
The full range sounded very good but the T/S was a revelation. The bookshelf design can be improved to the level of the T/s, but I think Som has made up his mind to go the T/s way.
2, The Xavians sounded superb, a very balanced sound, but can do with a sub, if the listening space is a little big.
3, The bookshelf designed by Shreekanth had good dynamics and will need careful pairing
4. The Alpair full range with the AMT tweeters had nice mids, was slightly shy in the lower mids, the highs were nicely complemented with the AMT though they were fixed at an 180 degree wrong angle, the dispersion improved further after it was corrected. Vivekanand had cut off the axis matched coaxial driver as he found it to get shouty. My recommendation would be to use that, it will create incredible point source effect, ease the woofer bandwidth and improve phase coherence. Any peaks can either be equed down or shunted with a notch filter. Very good speakers and a superb DIY effort
I will reserve the opinion on the DIY Infinity speakers that I got to the other members.
The Karlsonator were screaming at the designer to show some mercy. They had very good midrange spoiled by the resonance of the box when it was trying to play the lows. These need a more sturdy wood than the thin wood used on them. But a big salute to Balaji...improve on it and you can have some great music pumping on your desktop.
The transmission Alpairs were brilliant. Sounded excellent off both SS and tube amps. If Vivekanand had blinked his eye a bit, there were many member who would have packed it home including me. It just sounded a bit congested at heavy sections, a caveat of F/R drivers. It however was the show stopper for me, no doubt
The active trial with miniDSP and Shiv's 2-way did not go as expected. We could not find a combination of pre and power to drive the woofers, so gain matching and overall db levels became an issue, so we did not delve much into it.
Like his bookshelves, Shreekanth's towers had superb dynamics. He gave us a detailed explanation of the design concepts and was not actually happy with the chain of playback. Anyhow a dedicated demo of his speakers after popular demand by the members is underway.
In-between we broke for lunch,
The next session moved on with checking out the amps.
Essentially Shreekanth's two tower speakers and the Alpair full range were used to test them
In-between we broke for lunch,
The next session moved on with checking out the amps. Essentially Sreekanth's two tower speakers and the Alpair full range was used to test them
The Hiraga mono blocks drove anything that was thrown at it. Very well built and balanced sound and for me the clear show stopper of the event
The V4 was the fastest and had great control over the speakers with excellent bandwidth. But sadly sounded edgy and was ruthless on Sreekanths speakers which were voiced to be dynamic. The full rangers also sounded quite bright on them. But a plus on its side would be that they were still raw with just 2 hours of run-in. With so many superb revies on the V4 around, there was something not correct about this one....maybe the bias or even the LPS.
I will leave it to Shaan to pen his thoughts as its designer on how this can be improved. It however has immense potential
The Discrete DD amp was an absolute marvel. It was brilliant on the Alpair full rangers but a bit reduced on dynamics when paired with Shreekanth's speakers. But it was running off a basic passive gang for volume as the active pre board was still not ready. I dislike basic gangs as they usually have stereo imbalance (sometimes up to 20/25%) and often constrain the bandwidth. Good gangs come in very expensive, so passive volume controls should never be compromised on cost.
Going active or using the digital volume control is a better solution. (Ofcourse these are my preferences).
The tube amp was the most liked by the members on the Alpair full rangers. The magic of secondary harmonics were into play that add that midrange magic, but the lows were more mushy than taut as from the DD amp. It was though more lush sounding. It did not do as well as the DD or the V4 with the tower transmissions.
The 8watt guy or the mini Hiraga sounded close to the 30watt monoblocks, but were a bit under stated in scale, dynamics and bandwidth. They would sound brilliant in a normal room in a house though. A superb effort by Suresh.
After the Hiraga, the DD was the clear winner. It is a much simpler solution over the Hiraga if you are not a Class A freak like me and want to save on real estate.
The Dayens were only played for a short period, but I have heard it in Naresh's house. It is a very good amplifier and comes highly recommended from me.
Again I will leave the impressions on the AmpCamp (which I got) to others, by just adding that it personally surprised me by its dynamics in two heavy metal tracks driving transmission line speakers and easily filling the room.
A special mention for N. Shreekanth alias SoundsGreat
His were total DIY, but very professionally made speakers and cables:
He has designed his speakers from ground up, which means even the drivers and the machining have been done by him.
He had brought three of his designs, one bookshelf and two floor standers all 2-way designs.
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The tweeters from the floor standers
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Top class machining
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The Cables handmade by Shreekanth:
Wow...the builds were phenomenal and my jaws dropped when he said they were handmade.
He uses multiple silver quoted pure copper cables hand braided together of different thickness and insulating materials and has 3 to 4 grades of cables to suit multiple budgets and chain of equipment.
The terminations were top class and would give a run for any high end branded cable.
It includes speaker cables and interconnects.
Here are some bigger pics:
Sample of the internals, the hand braiding
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The superbly finished speaker cable. Weighs a ton.
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The good quality interconnect screw lock connectors
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Overall it was a great experience and worth the night ride from Chennai to Bangalore.
The true spirit of DIYers bold in their approaches and not shy to display their wares and willing to learn, ask and query was the highlight of the event.
The primary reason to share this event was in the hope to wake-up members from the WhatsApp and online world into the real world to meet and enjoy.
Most of the members were from Bangalore and had been in contact over WhatsApp for a long time but met only at the meet.
I hope that more such meets happen all over India.
One most important observation was to pre decide the song list well before such meets.
Comments and suggestions are most welcome.
Cheers to all.
Kannan (A penniless audio maniac)
Ah...Somehow totally missed on the woodwork beauties displayed at the meet.
A special mention should go to our 'Woodpecker' Mr. Harsha.
He is the man for the woods. Excellent fit and finish.
The only thing that were not wood in his build were the components, I am sure next time you will see a wood finish over them as well including the tubes
His eye to details was exemplary to the fact that he had also added a wooden knob for the volume control.
His amp sounded very musical on the Alpairs and was evident from the responses and cheers from the members.
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Beautiful finish, look at that knob..wow
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So much detail to the contours, edges, lacquer and a fine polished look.
This is what I call a wife friendly finish....
Can be a benchmark for many who want to delve into wood work for their amps, pre etc.
Salutations Harsha....Our little woodpedker
Here the man himself...with a wood-top finish from Tirupati...
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There were many more with wooden facia, Vivekanands hybrid on wood surface, a DAC on wood, couple more amps..all made well.
but this one above was true professional finish...
Sorry for my delayed reply. 8W Hiraga was not designed by me. It is Om & Sachin's design and built by Raghu. And the pre is Kuartlotron buffer again by Om & Sachin, built by Raghu.