I missed the mission of the week, but this is a picture that was taken with my worst camera - my Nokia Lumia 925. Not a bad camera, per se, touting glass optics, which is one of the reasons I got this phone, but what camera took the picture is not the point of this post, the point is what I've been doing lately and why I haven't been posting up here lately.

Pictured above is a Bravo Audio V2 Tube Amplifier, good for use as a headphone amplifier or a preamp for a larger system. See, recently, I've been taking an interest in high(er) quality audio. It started off with a simple whim one day, where I decided that my car's sound system needed a tad bit more bass. Don't get me wrong, the stock 10-speaker sound system is decent, but it just didn't have the low end 'thump' when I drove on the highway. So, I remembered I had a low power 12" sub sitting in a crawlspace somewhere. I went there and picked it up. My brother offered me a sealed box to house it and I ran to best buy to pick up a small amplifier and wiring kit. I walked out with a 600-watt (RMS, I never reference peak values) monoblock.


Now, my amplifier was too big for the 300-watt sub I had, so I upgraded the sub to an NVX VCW124, which is capable of 800-1000 watts. One Polk Audio PA D1000.1 amplifier later, and I was able to push 1000 watts (measured) to the sub. Built a better box for the sub that was ported to place emphasis on the very low frequencies (think 20-35 hz).

The Polk amp has a fairly high signal to noise ratio, which made me able to immediately pick up the flaws in the stock door speakers. I decided it was time to upgrade the doors, but I wasn't sure what kind of speakers to get, so I started building a high(ish) quality stereo for the house. I settled on Micca MB42X bookshelf speakers and a Class T 50-watt x 2-channel amp.

Next, I couldn't listen to music on the speakers all the time, so I picked up a set of cans, NVX XPT100's to be exact. Which lead me to purchase this amplifier.


I've never used a tube amplifier before, so I was unsure of what to expect. Like picking up a film camera for the first time, it's a little... strange at the beginning. However, this amplifier is awesome. I noticed the warmth that the stock tube added to the sound, even though many audiophiles frown upon the stock tube. I'll be trying out more tubes as I get more into it, but I have to say, there's a problem with today's technology... It lacks soul and character.

Yes, a Canon 6D is a great full-frame camera and it does its job well, but it doesn't give me the same feeling as when I use the Canon AE-1. It's almost indescribable. In the same regard, the Class T amplifier does its job well, but it doesn't sound as nice as the tube amplifier.

I think I know why, too!

Being an electrical/engineering/science oriented person, I realize that technology, specifically digital technology deviates from reality. In a film camera, when you take a picture, the light reacts with the film and creates an imprint of the exact moment. When you take a digital photo, the light reacts with photo-sensitive electronic components, which create a voltage. This introduces loss of detail in itself, as you can only have a finite number of significant figures for the voltage that is captured. When it's read by the processor, it goes through an ADC (analog-digital converter). This converter has a set number of possible values. For instance, an 8-bit ADC can produce values from 0b00000000 to 0b11111111, or 0 to 255, if you don't speak binary. Or, if you prefer hex, 0x00 to 0xFF.

The same principal is applied to digital amplifiers. They have a set switching frequency and number of possible bit combinations to reproduce the voltage that is input. Granted, if you're using a digital media player, the sound first goes through a DAC (Digital-Analog Converter) to convert the signal to analog, then through the amplifier, it goes from analog to digital and then back to analog again to the speakers.

This amplifier is a hybrid tube amplifier, as it contains transistors, though I'm almost certain they're in the preamp section of the circuit (audiophiles that know more about this, please correct me if I'm wrong), however, simply cutting out just one of the transitions from analog to digital and back creates a noticeably higher quality sound.

Another thing I noticed (I'll be short with this one, I promise), is the ability of analog devices to tweak the output by changing parts. With film cameras, different films produce different results, contrast levels, grain patterns, etc. With tube amplifiers, replacing the tube with produce a difference in how the sound is reproduced. It's really a cool aspect of older technology that many people forget in this world of iPhones, high-powered computers, and the internet.


Ones and zeros can approach near-perfect simulation of their analog counterparts, however, no RAW file will replicate the amount of detail that is contained in a film frame.

Anyways, that's what I've been doing. Lots of old tech and philosophizing.

Congrats to anyone who made it through this little tangent.