Schiit Happened: The Story of the World's Most Improbable Start-Up
May 18, 2021 at 10:57 PM Post #76,906 of 79,799

macdonjh

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You don't really need a very dark place to see the Milky Way. I can see it out here not too far out of town, and sometimes in town if I'm on the hills above the city lights. We also have a south facing shoreline, and observing over the ocean has lots of advantages, so seeing the Milky Way in the summer is not too uncommon for us. One underappreciated aspect of observational astronomy (as opposed to astrophotography) is viewer experience and training. Over time, you learn how to see things better that you may not have seen when you're beginning. Seeing the Milky Way with your naked eye is not one of those things that's hard to see, but it helps to have a knowledgeable friend with a laser pointer and it will suddenly appear for you.

Once we can mingle again, try to find a local astronomy club and go to one of their star parties. You can look through $$$$ scopes and more importantly learn the night sky: they're always happy to show new people the hobby, and it tends to be a friendly (and older) crowd.
+1
 
May 18, 2021 at 11:07 PM Post #76,908 of 79,799

earnmyturns

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Someday I will visit a dark park and actually see the Milky Way w/o the aid of optical enhancements.
Best (Southern, forked) Milky Way: dark winter night here. Other memorable views: childhood summers near https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sintra, before light pollution blocked it; winter backcountry ski trips in remote British Columbia and Norway locations. Recent: North Sonoma coast, CA, no flights required.
 
May 18, 2021 at 11:07 PM Post #76,909 of 79,799

AndreYew

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California Tri-tip
For me, the canonical California BBQ experience is Santa Maria tri-tip with a bottle of central California coast red zinfandel. BTW, red zin is not the abomination of a wine that is white zin: it's a jammy wine with black fruit and berry notes that's great for any kind of BBQ.
 
May 18, 2021 at 11:19 PM Post #76,910 of 79,799

jmarcusg

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Oh yes, it is best to visit Switzerland when on a company expense account. :)
My son attends graduate school in Geneva. The food can be very expensive. Pints of Ice Cream near 10 USD and he sent us a picture last week from a store that specializes in fine American cuisine. 14.00 CHF = ~15.60 USD! :scream:
cdfd88f9-50a4-4d37-9611-5240b96144bb.jpg
 
May 18, 2021 at 11:26 PM Post #76,911 of 79,799

JamminVMI

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For me, the canonical California BBQ experience is Santa Maria tri-tip with a bottle of central California coast red zinfandel. BTW, red zin is not the abomination of a wine that is white zin: it's a jammy wine with black fruit and berry notes that's great for any kind of BBQ.
Honestly, Lodi’s got some pretty reasonable Zin coming out of it these days, too.
 
May 18, 2021 at 11:30 PM Post #76,912 of 79,799

JamminVMI

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My son attends graduate school in Geneva. The food can be very expensive. Pints of Ice Cream near 10 USD and he sent us a picture last week from a store that specializes in fine American cuisine. 14.00 CHF = ~15.60 USD! :scream:
cdfd88f9-50a4-4d37-9611-5240b96144bb.jpg
Daughter did a semester abroad there, told me not to show up, after she saw the price of peanut butter (which
i love)… But the grocery she frequented had an aisle and a quarter of chocolate! Mmm, dark chocolate with pistachios!
 
May 19, 2021 at 12:33 AM Post #76,913 of 79,799

Crowbar44

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Still nothing to write home about
I'll second that, Amazon HD still has a very sucky Windows player, but such a great Classical Catalog!
 
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May 19, 2021 at 7:40 AM Post #76,915 of 79,799

Timster

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Mine is a 12" diameter column, 6'-6" below grade, 42" above grade. A rebar cage made from 6 ea #3 vertical bars and cyclone fencing for the stirrups. I also embedded two conduits (2" and 1") for power and data cables. I wanted to minimize digging, so no spread footer for me. I also wanted stability, so I went fairly deep to increase skin friction, lower the center of gravity of the system and increase the mass of the pier/ foundation. It's worked well.
Sounds like a good turntable shelf to me :sunglasses:
 
May 19, 2021 at 7:52 AM Post #76,917 of 79,799
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2021, Chapter 8:
An Inauspicious Number?

Back in the old days, we wouldn’t do a 4.

I mean, Mike mandated that the Theta DS Pro Generation 3 jump to Generation 5 to miss the dreaded 4. And we even did the same thing when we went from Gen 3 to Gen 5 on our USB inputs.

Aside: to be fair, the 35 transitions above were pretty huge, in one case going to discrete analog for the first time and in the other going to electromagnetic and electrostatic isolation for the first time. Both were billed as “changes so big we have to skip a generation!” Yay, marketing.

So why skip 4?

Same reason a lot of hotels don’t have a 13th floor. In some cultures, 4 is…not a good number. So we chose to avoid it.

Fulla4-front-1920.jpg


So why is there now a Fulla 4, and not a Fulla 5?

For the same reason I think that hotels should go ahead and start building those 13th floors. And, more importantly, because this is the 4th generation of Fulla, which is now the most-revised product in Schiit history.

It’s also seen the most changes.
  • The original Fulla was a simple USB dongle-DAC, one USB in, one 1/8” headphone out, volume knob, done
  • Fulla 2 introduced the all-in-one concept with a new desktop size, analog input, full-size ¼” output, variable and fixed DAC outputs, and unique single-or-dual-cable connection (plug in a second power USB to make it report as a 0mA device, making it easy to use with phones and tablets that have limited USB power)
  • Fulla 3 added a microphone input and dropped the fixed DAC output, becoming a gaming and communications device—and it lost the ¼” headphone output in favor of a 1/8” version—and it was only available in black
  • Fulla 4 drops the analog input and adds an optical input and UAC1/2 autoswitching, making it compatible with many gaming consoles, smart TVs, and monitors—and it brings back the ¼” headphone output, in a significantly revised chassis that now sports Hel 2’s color scheme
So yeah, Fulla 3 goes up a full number revision, because it has additional inputs. (That’s the rule, if the functionality is the same, it gets a +, if the functionality changes, it gets rev’d up one)

So that was the first decision when it came to updating Fulla 3: should it be a 4?

After agonizing over it a little bit, I put “Fulla 4” on the first prototype board. It felt fine. It didn’t feel bad. It didn’t feel inauspicious.

So Fulla 4 it would be.


The Question of Optical

But first, the new price, $109.

Yes, we know it’s stupid. But we kept adding more and more and more and more to the Fulla, so something had to give. So you get this weird $109 price. Not $99, and not $119. Price theory probably says we should go with $119. And early drafts of the product description had it at $119.

But $109 is really what it should be…so there it is.

Consider this an extension of the IEMagni Thunderdome. What happens when we break the two-digit barrier? Do sales tank, because it’s a powerful psychological point, or does it matter very little, since sales have to include shipping and tax anyway.

Aside: just a reminder there is no such thing as “free shipping.” There is “price-inclusive shipping.” Maybe one day we’ll play with that, though I don’t like it fundamentally…people close by pay more to subsidize people who are far away. And there are additional complexities—surcharges for Alaska/Hawaii and international locations. Also, refunds—they have to take into account the shipping cost that’s been baked into the price now. I get it that other companies do price-inclusive shipping, but it is something I’m not sure we want to take on. Bottom line, if we do that, prices go up.

Aside to the aside: and tax. Yeah. In the USA, we have to collect sales tax and remit to all states that charge sales tax, including all their wild sub-dominions which result in thousands of different local tax rates. Fun fun. Yes, I know, you hate it too. Yes, I know, someone isn’t charging. They won’t be so happy when they have to pay all that back tax they should have collected. Internationally we don’t charge tax—if you’re paying something, it’s your own VAT and/or customs.

So. Yeah. The price. We’ll see how it goes.


The Big News is Outside

In addition to adding an optical input, Fulla 4’s big news is really on the outside. It’s a whole new chassis—again.

This is a chassis that came about because the optical input simply wouldn’t fit. The Fulla 3 chassis, like Hel, had two purely cosmetic “tangs” on the back panel that finished off the look and made everything seem a bit neater.

But, with the tangs in place, there simply wasn’t any way that I’d be cramming an optical input in there. Not even if I dropped the line in.

“You could just leave it off,” Tyler said. “It doesn’t have to have all the features of Hel.”

“But it’d be really nice to have a small device that can do everything,” I told him. “With an optical you can use it with a TV.”

“And most people listening to TV are just using the speakers built into their panel, or maybe plugging headphones into their Roku remote,” Tyler pressed.

“Are they still doing the headphones-in-remote thing?” I asked.

Tyler shrugged.

“And it doesn’t matter. We aren’t for people who listen to built-in speakers,” I told him.

“Your wife sometimes listens to music on her iPhone.”

I cringed, knowing where this was going.

Tyler continued: “I mean, on her iPhone speakers, not even on earbuds.”

“Yeah, yeah,” I said, waving that away. “But Fulla 4 needs the optical.

Tyler shrugged. “Then you gotta figure out a new chassis, don’t you?”

Yes. Yes I did. The problem was that I didn’t really want to trash the overall look. I like the way Fulla and Hel look. I didn’t want to do something completely different. So the challenge was to keep it looking similar, while eliminating the tangs to get me the room I needed for optical input.

Now, we’ve been working with a great metal stamping company, and I knew that they could do some fairly amazing things. I seriously think they are helping us revive the whole metal stamping genre in manufacturing, which is something that seems to have been abandoned in the rush to mill-it-out-of-a-solid-block-of-aluminum-in-China fervor.

I mean, I get it, I like milling. But it’s so….wasteful. I mean, you’re making an aluminum billet, then putting tons of machining time into it, to create a pile of aluminum shavings perhaps bigger than the final part, taking energy and machine time, wearing out machine tools, and so on.

Stamping? Make a tool, throw in a sheet of aluminum or steel, blam, done. You can form in standoffs, clips, tangs, alignment guides, logos, debosses around volume knobs, tons of stuff. And sheet aluminum and steel are standard. There’s no custom billet. There’s no hours of machining. (And the largest sheet and roll steel manufacturer in the US is, I believe, is opening shortly in Corpus Christi.)

We’ve used some of these stamping tricks on our older stamped parts, but there were tons of parts where we were simply replicating our old CNC chassis. CNC is a simpler process where you start with the same sheet, but each hole, each line, each deboss is done by a computer-controlled tool. It takes longer to do, but it’s more economical for shorter runs. Stamping is hard tooled—you want to make a bunch of whatever you do by stamping.

Now it was time to see if we could use a few more tricks.

I drew up a Fulla 4 chassis that used the Hel 2/Magnius/Modius formed-in standoffs, and then changed both the top and bottom to eliminate the tangs and replace them with a rolled top and a single screw mount that replicated the same back curve of the old Fulla 3. Getting everything to line up in assembly meant taking some liberties with the sheetmetal CAD, so I wasn’t sure if we could actually make it work.

So, with some trepidation, I gave it to Matt, the guy who runs our stamping partner.

“I’m not sure if we can do this,” I told him. “The front and back have to meet up pretty precisely.”

“It doesn’t look too hard,” Matt ventured.

“Just let me know if you run into problems,” I told him. “I can always modify it.”

Matt looked at it a bit harder. “Maybe just the way the screw and the deboss work on the back.”

“Yeah, that’s a pain,” I said. “It needs to clear the USB ports, but it also has to clip together from the front.”

“Maybe not that big a pain,” Matt said. “It’s just the profile might have to change.”

“As long as it clears the USBs, I’m fine.”

In the end, I gave Matt a 3D print of the chassis, together with a Fulla 4 prototype board, so he could see what we were up against.

And yeah, there were iterations. The first prototypes didn’t hinge over the jacks in front very well, the second were a bit too long (my mistake, I didn’t account for removing the two back tangs.)

And at the very end, I realized: I’d really like this to look like Hel.

I called Matt.

“Have you painted the Fulla 4 bottoms yet?” I asked.

“No, they’re just going out.”

“Cool! Can you paint them Hel red?”

And that’s how Fulla 4 became a tiny Hel 2—complete with optical input and color scheme.

Now, as far as stamping goes, the adventure with Fulla 4 showed me that we were only using a small part of our overall chassis design capabilities—so don’t be surprised to see even more interesting, and even more adventurous, chassis coming in the future. Chassis that don’t need to be milled from a solid block of aluminum.


Oh Yeah, and Topology Changes

Fulla 4 also sees significant topological changes—it really is now a mini-Hel. It uses the same OPA1656 outputs, as well as an OPA1654 for summing and voltage gain. Fulla 2 and Fulla 3 used some (very cool, but kinda noisy) DSL line-drivers (not kidding) as output gain and buffer in one. Now, the functions are separate, as in Hel, Magni Heresy, and IEMagni.

This change isn’t all positive. Fulla 4 puts out a bit less power than Fulla 3, because the OPA1656 aren’t as stout as the LMH6643 in the previous Fulla. The OPA1656 are, however, quieter, and we think they sound better, so there’s that.

Aside: and Fulla (1, 2, 3, or 4) is not what you’re going to be using to drive hard-to-drive or high-impedance headphones to ear-bleeding levels, anyway. If you want that, there’s Hel 2. And the Magni family. So slightly less power for better quality was a tradeoff we were willing to make.

Add in an auto-switching circuit so the Fulla 4 defaults to a live optical output, and there you go—it’s a whole new game. New chassis, new topology, new capability, new price. There’s nothing we haven’t changed about Fulla 4.

So now it’s a shiny new device, ready for the future, right?

Well…ah…yes, but…


The 4-4e Transition

Here’s the thing. Fulla 4 is great. Nothing really wrong with it. Except you may have noticed that it’s based on the AK4490, and AKM burned down in November.

And I expect some of you might be excited, thinking this means that we know (a) when AKM is coming back on-line, (b) that we’ll be able to keep using the AK4490, and (c) supply of those devices will be fine in the new wacky world we live in.

Ah, well…no.

Here’s the thing: Fulla 4 is starting as an AKM device. But, sooner than later, maybe just a few months, it’ll be an ESS device.

Yes. ESS. Specifically, the ES9018K2M.

Now, some of you are probably running around screaming and pulling your hair out, expecting vastly different sound from ESS as AKM.

Remember, ESS DACs have vast, vast options in implementation, far more than AKM, so we have a lot more ability to play. I’m not sure how much we can talk about, but Mouser has some ESS datasheets online, so you can see just how much a software machine the ESS DAC is. If you’re expecting to use hardware control and “plug and go,” like AKM, your results will be, er, not optmal. If you are comfortable with software control and customization, the possibilities are nearly endless.

Aside: I did not expect this when we started working with ESS.

So, at some point in the future, Fulla 4 will become Fulla 4e. But we won’t make such a huge deal out of it. We’ll change the specs, change the serials, and let people know what they’re buying, but there won’t be a huge relaunch.

Same goes for Hel 2—don’t be surprised when it goes to Hel 2e as well.

With respect to other devices, other DACs, other plans, I’ll leave that to Mike and Dave. But for our affordable, gaming- and communications-oriented DAC/amps, ESS is in the future sooner than later.

And, of course, True Multibit continues on (as soon as we get it back in stock, have patience, we’re getting there. Yes, including Gungnir, to kill some conspiracy theories.)

But for the moment, we have Fulla 4. If you’re looking for a small, affordable, do-all desktop product for communications or gaming, and you want an AKM 4490, now’s the time. If you prefer ESS, wait a bit. We’ll get there.

Enjoy!
 
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May 19, 2021 at 7:57 AM Post #76,918 of 79,799

Timster

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Personally I prefer Korean BBQ. Don't know if that's been mentioned but that's another contender for the throne
Korean BBQ is great, and it may have been mentioned a while back (like a a few thousand posts ago) when I tried to push Aussie BBQ to the top of the pile. However, 'round these parts, there is a very loud and determined TX vs NC BBQ battle going on, so getting in an alternate view point will take some doing 🤣 :astonished::sunglasses:🤣🤣

But, push on, we need all view points to be represented. If you bring tubes, that may garner you some favour.
 
May 19, 2021 at 8:34 AM Post #76,919 of 79,799

Varejao17

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Personally I prefer Korean BBQ. Don't know if that's been mentioned but that's another contender for the throne
Speaking as someone that loves making and eating Korean "BBQ" - it's grilling, not BBQ in the strict sense of the word.
 
May 19, 2021 at 9:00 AM Post #76,920 of 79,799

Paladin79

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Some nights, you've just got to let the cat pick out the tunes.
IMG_2096.jpg
Some time ago I began listening to Rickie Lee Jones because of her association with Tom Waits and Chuck E. Weiss.
Finnegan is more likely to go for Year of the Cat since it was produced and engineered by Alan Parsons. :ksc75smile:

I have been meaning to check out Roon, I have 50k complete albums on a music server my son built.

Today @AudioGal should receive a sample amp I sent out, I hope to build one more for other friends when the sawdust settles from my last few projects.
 

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