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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Camping in my room

Earlier this year, I told a friend that I was pretty much camping in my room. He soon discovered that I wasn't joking. As the picture attests — bikes dominate my room in Singapore. (There are actually 2 more bikes outside.)

After cracking my head on handlebars one too many times upon waking in the morning, I ordered one of these, together with the optional accessories for additional bikes.

Half a world away, my room in Santa Clara, California is totally different:

The back of the door to my room is mounted with 4 inch (10.16 cm) thick acoustic tiles; hollow sections within the door are filled with sound-damping, self-curing foam; double weather seals and an aluminum threshold with a double sweeper render it airtight and acoustically isolated from the rest of the apartment. The triangular pillow-like item hanging above the door is an acoustic device to control corner (sound) reflections; wherever 2 walls and the ceiling intersect, one of these devices would be installed there.

First reflection points (midpoints of the ceiling between speakers and listening area) are tamed by acoustic tiles. The midpoint of wall-ceiling intersections have also been acoustically treated to break up standing (sound) waves.

Some CDs. (This pic has been posted before.) 3rd column from the left consists entirely of works by Philip Glass  :-P

Audio equipment and paraphernalia dominate the room. A 2 inch (5.08 cm) thick Gabbeh wool rug hangs from the wall to further dampen (sound) reflections. While it isn't completely anechoic, with the door shut, the room is so incredibly quiet that I can hear the hum of wall transformers; during musical passages, I can hear breath instrument artists inhale. You can clap until your hands bleed but there would be no echo in this room. I only have to unplug my landline (phone) and I would be instantly whisked away into my own world: quiet, serene, free from distractions; free to compose; free to research; free to write; free to think.

I was really into audio then. With a pair of steady hands, a nice Hakko 936 ESD soldering iron, and lots of advice and guidance from my EE housemate, I built a hybrid vacuum pre-amplifier with outboard high tension power supply; 4 monoblock amplifiers; a new power supply for the Digital to Analog Converter (DAC); upgraded the DAC and transplanted it to a superior chassis, yielding space for larger, better components; using eutectic solder, reworked the circuit board of the CD transport with superior components (e.g. tantalum resistors, teflon and film capacitors, better electrolytic power filtering capacitors, et cetera). After discovering that my bed was skewing the frequency response of the room, I threw it out and got a shikibuton instead. The shikibuton was only slightly better, so it, too, was thrown out, and a sleeping bag was rolled out every night  :-P

Maybe I just get along with passionate people. A friend who lives in San Francisco owns no furniture apart from a couch. One half of the couch is filled with his clothes. He sits on the floor for dinner. He owns no TV. But he has a US$300,000 stereo, thousands of LPs, more than 4400 CDs and SACDs. That's what I call passion.


Blogger MARLIN THE FISH said...

yo! so when you wanna fix that pole?

September 26, 2007 10:33 PM  

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