Al Grasso

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Al Grasso

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  • 05.29.2015
  • Mojo, voodoo & secret sauce: The quest for the perfect guitar tone
  • On the issue of the quality comparison of audio between solid state and tubes, there is an element of subjectivity which is dominant, in my view. I agree that the harmonic contents are different between the two, and also one has to bear in mind that the valve circuitry makes use of two ultra linear transformers, which of necessity, act also as filters via a vis the solid state circuitry. I remember when I was postgraduate the famous Led Zeppelin had a Wurlitzer Juke Box in his barn and he could not get the sound right. I was eventually invited to his barn and fix the amp as a special favour. I went but to me it sounded fine. Yet, how was I to say that it sounded fine to a famous musician. So I started changing a few components here and there not based on analytics but on looks. Afterwards, he was most satisfied, it sounded as a Wurlitzer should sound. What did I do? To this day I don't know other than changing some Rs and Cs. Perhaps polarisation, or lossy coupling or decoupling capacitors; what else can I say?
  • 05.29.2015
  • Mojo, voodoo & secret sauce: The quest for the perfect guitar tone
  • Actually it is more correct to say that thermionic tubes were mainstream technology for three quarters of the last century. It was not until the mid 1970s that solid state consumer goods started to become the new choice and primarily in the audio field. I still have the book by F. Terman on thermionic tubes, more commonly called valves. That is when I started studying electronics and take Terman's handbook to bed with me! Later I ended up designing Op Amps, obviously with semis, and given the nickname "little Burr Brown!"
  • 04.25.2015
  • Is dark matter about to be discovered?
  • It seems to me that lately there has been too much of the Marketing of Physics, perhaps to justify the large budgets required to undertake such research. I think it is time that physicists and engineers take a more "gravitas" approach to disclosing research results until they have something they can disclose like the certainty of Maxwell's equations.
  • 08.16.2012
  • 555 timer inventor Hans Camenzind remembered
  • I still have the Interdesign manual bought as part of the kit at the time Ferranti acquired Interdesign. I used it to design an instrumentation op amp. Perhaps I should scan it as a PDF and make it available. I do remember Plessey buying from Ferranti. At the time Plessey was selling the TBA 800 audio ic and I used it to make stereo record players. I wonder if modern EE still have to study Maxwell's equations as we used to. Understand these equations makes you understand how God works. Alfie (UK)
  • 02.12.2013
  • Tablets' ascendancy: due in no small part to PCs' stagnancy
  • I don't quite agree with all points raised in the article. I think Windows 8 is a brilliant piece of OS. Very fast indeed: my top grade Lenovo boots up in about 50 seconds under Windows 7 and in about 10 seconds under Windows 8. In my experience W8 is a robust and very fluid OS. The problem with the Ultrabooks is that they are trailing behind in hardware and form factor. Retina display is now a must and you cannot find a good retina display Windows 8 based laptop. This is key factor for not creating new demand. Form factor is also another consideration. For example the new Surface pro is a beautiful little machine which I was planning to buy but the external display resolution is limited to 1600x900 or something of that order. That becomes a limiting factor. So my quest for a top of the range Windows based Ultrabook continues. I hope PC manufacturers such as HP, Dell etc. get their act together and start designing some good hardware using Windows 8. That combination will be more than a match for the Apple retina display MacBook. A great piece of hardware which I considered buying when it launched in May last year. But then I found out that to run Windows I had to download 1 GBytes of drivers and that put me off. So PC makers, get your act together and start designing some good hardware. The retina iPAD is a useless piece of machine for doing any work other than browsing or email. But I love it and I enjoy the brilliant resolution. Another mistake PC manufacturers are making is the form factor 16:9. This result in a very narrow vertical. They should choose 16:10 form factor. Yet again Microsoft has made another mistake with the Surface Pro: The 16:9 ff is unacceptable for creative work. You are for ever scrolling up and down the page.