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MDAC First Listen (part 00111010)

Discussion in 'audio' started by JohnW, Jun 9, 2018.

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  1. misterdog

    misterdog Not the canine kind

    My impression is that John is providing super regulation of the PSU on the main PCB (which is the best place for it). Though the board will still require rectification from the Audiolab AC power brick.

    Hence an external DC power supply (Calex or other) will have 'less' impact.

    Battery power can provide even cleaner supplies than the best LDO super regulators :)

    Anyone need a used Calex supply. :rolleyes:
  2. wintoid

    wintoid pfm Member

    Great! I'm one of those who really wants an outboard detox, so if you're making cases in small numbers, I'm in (if you'll have me)!
  3. iansr

    iansr pfm Member

    If I recall correctly John has opined in the past that battery power is not the PS panacea that it’s made out to be, although I can’t recall his reasons for saying that. Perhaps John will remind me?
  4. davidjt

    davidjt pfm Member

    Maybe partly to do with the hefty demands of a class 'A' amplifier. In which case the same would presumably apply to supercapacitors, although that technology is clearly improving all the time. But I don't expect to live long enough to see MDAC3.....
  5. Ian M

    Ian M pfm Member

    I’m not sure I’ll live long enough to see the FDAC! :). It certainly won’t be this year.
    HarryB likes this.
  6. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    As we FINALLY move towards completion of the MDAC2 project with all the pieces falling into place - I need someone who can help with the Touch panel based UI - in exchange for "Free" hardware....

    I really fear that the MDAC2's will be shipped with our engineering UI which would be a real shame (much as happened with the little ProJect DAC "UI". It was intended that a real graphics designer would cleanup / improve the display, but this never happened so it ended up being shipped with our "engineering" display "designed" by Jarek, Renata and myself - still its Colour, well atleast the opening splash screen :)

    If there is anyone interested I must forewarn that there is alot of work as the design has many features (much not revealed yet), so lots of custom icons and graphics... menus / options.... but you can be assured of having the first hardware and lots of things to play with (access to many hidden engineering modes / APi extensions).

    Any work must be confidential until released - and best if you use Skype for video conference calls while we work together on the project development.

    If we cannot find a UI designer then it will be shipped with our unimaginative "Engineering" UI :( Yep - I'm not very artistic or imaginative in these matters !!!

    The Local UI framework is running QT - we can do the actual coding what we need is the artistic input... :) we just need "image files" which we will turn into code.

    Anyone interested would need to understand HiFi products and have a basic understanding of the advanced features so the UI design is logical and simple to use...

    Good Ui design is really an unappreciated Art form... once the MDAC2 UI is designed - we should really turn our attention to Volumio's UI which is pretty poor IMO WRT user experience...

    The Local UI can also be expanded to included more advanced streaming functions if we wanted to open that Can of worms...
    jackbarron and Rune like this.
  7. uwe061

    uwe061 pfm Member

    John, I sent you a message.
  8. StephenB

    StephenB Pointy birds...........

    If the design is same as the one John sent me last year you wont make it for £80, there are a few areas that are for function rather than designed for manufacture

    I concur a billet of al 6082 for the body should be around £15, base and panels can be laser cut, but then there's a whole host of countersunk holes to factor in, along with the same number of tapped holes in the body

    bear in mind we are a proper machine shop and even allowing for a batch of a dozen , IIRC my calcs where coming out nearer £200 inc anodising etc

    CNC cycle time for a body was over 2 hrs, so hourly rates play a big factor, a small factory with small overheads and not looking to make big profit would no doubt be cheaper but not for £80 based upon the design I saw
    Mark Dirac likes this.
  9. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member


    Just replied :)
  10. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    John I'll do any artwork you need, I just need the design specs, sizes, file formats etc, menu listing and a timeline for delivery. 2d, 3d, icons whatever, it's all just pixels.
    Rune likes this.
  11. ti33er

    ti33er pfm Member

    Bring it on John!! :) Albeit I may need to sell my beautiful Subwoofer now, but it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make ;-) looking forward to hearing about this progress, exciting...!
  12. Rune

    Rune pfm Member

    Good initiative, UI is important!

    But I thought that Volumio would be used on the Touch panel as well which would mean access to all the MDAC2 functions through a menu in Volumio.
    Which has the advantage of being able to control the DAC/Streamer from the armchair with a laptop/tablet/phone which is how I will use my DAC 99.9% of the time.

    Is my usage scenario really the corner case, not sitting within arms length from the DAC while listening to music?

    OK so the Touch panel UI is using QT, does it have access to the same now playing info as Volumio so that cover art and play progress can be shown on screen?
    I am just trying to understand the need for UI using two different frameworks. Beside that Volumio UI is an acquired taste.
  13. sam_cat

    sam_cat C'est Crounchifique!

    Please please please make it compatible with Android icon packs, and allow user to choose background and font colour. Makes it very easy to customise to our own tastes/needs :)

    At the very least take a look at some of the open source icon packs, LOADS of good icons that all follow a theme and look really good. Should move than cover your needs for the display and could save a bunch of design time.
    Mark Dirac likes this.
  14. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member


    The Local display panel is interfaced to the CM3 - I've worked with the guys at RPi for over a year to open up the GPU core to allow two separated Video Frame buffers so we can have fully independent displays. The team at RPi have been proactive and now the dual frame buffer mode has been in Beta test for a good few months now and seems to work well :D .

    The MDAC2 / FDAC has to be operated WITHOUT any external device - hence the need for a front panel with user controls. For sure the Volumio session has access to the APi commands to also allow control of the MDAC2 hardware functions - but I have real troubles with the Volumio UI - responsiveness etc. it offers a poor user experience to an old timer like myself...not good and I'm just tired of trying to get things improved where others don't see a problem...

    Life is too short to have to face the task of revamping the Volumio UI, so at this time I have no plans of adding the MDAC2 control UI to Volumio - although later we might find the means (software programmer) to create a MDAC2 / FDAC plugin for Volumio.

    In public I'm not yet prepared to discuss some of the MDAC2 / FDAC more advanced features - but there is extensive graphics and UI required so I'm VERY happy that our Uwe here on PFM has offered to help with the graphical design :) (Uwe - A MASSIVE thank you :D )!!!

    The MDAC2's front panel screen resolution is 1440 x 240, I'm not sure if album art can be formatted to fit on a screen this "Size", the aspect ratio is just wrong - but to be honest at this time I'm not thinking about streamer functions - but rather the basic hardware user controls (there will be user controls to operate the USB CDROM drive as a "Simple" CD player).

    There is nothing to prevent full streamer operation from the front panel - just that it opens a huge Can of worms at this time and would really complicate the UI... That said I will not limit Uwe - If Uwe has better vision then myself then we will all be happy :D

    Once the basic hardware UI is completed I think its natural there will be more features added over time :) If your attending Munich :) then you can talk with Micheal Angelo about adding the MDAC2 control layer - but he really needs to improve the basic streamer UI first without adding an extra layer of complexity !!!

    I should point out that it will be possible to control the MDAC2's basic functions from Volumio UI - such as Volume level, inputs and possibly digital filters... but some of the other features will be quite graphics intensive.
  15. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    I really want to give Uwe a clean sheet without imposing too much, I like clean simple UI like Apple used have before the death of Steve jobs... Uwe has a nice Website and I really like the simple clean "European" design... I'm also not sure of the limitations of QT... but QT seems very powerful so I'm not expecting that QT will be the limiting factor.

    You have to factor we will always be limited by the 1440 x 240 of the MDAC'2 front panel - and there have to be fixed Icons for Standby and input selection, Menu, Home etc.... It would really be great to sit down with a group of people (such as at Munich with the unit in front of us) to workout a basic UI structure - my mind is not free enough at the moment to be able to see the UI operation clearly... based on past projects, considering all the in's and out's of the UI is a massive task which can all too easily develop into a massive Rabbits warren !

    I hope to have a basic UI ready for Munich - but I have much to get ready for Uwe before then.
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2019
  16. JohnW

    JohnW pfm member

    Hi Simon,

    Thank you :D - Uwe has offered to work on the UI, but I could really do with your help with the instruction manual which will be very extended due the DAC's unique feature set!!! Hopefully once we get the basic UI operational Uwe will be able to supply you the lineart and I'll need to get an early prototype over to you.... but it will be after Munich (I'll be happy to have the first ready for Munich)....
  17. sq225917

    sq225917 Bit of this, bit of that

    No worries, easy to knock up in Indesign. English only or multi language?

    I'll try and get over for Munich.
    JohnW and Rune like this.
  18. Rune

    Rune pfm Member

    Hope to see you in Munich.
    JohnW likes this.
  19. Rune

    Rune pfm Member

    Yes please simple and clean interface that is how we prefer in Scandinavia.
    Great idea to look at a UI mockup in Munich if possible.
    It is best to leave the streaming stuff to Volumio at least it ticks most of the boxes and it is to big a task to write a streaming solution from scratch.
    For me RoonReady is the real scoop in the Volumio package;)

    Regarding DAC controls in Volumio; Volume control and input selection is sufficient.
    JohnW likes this.
  20. mattgbell

    mattgbell Help the elderly and unwell!

    John, if you want an experienced copy editor to go through the manual once it's drafted, I'd be happy to look at it when the time comes.
    Mark Dirac and JohnW like this.
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