Find your Album Art with BLISS

My music collection is on the Computer now. Grown over years, it’s a collection of all sorts of music, ripped with EAC and that means no Album Covers. And as I’m very lazy, I never found the time (and the motivation) to sit down for hours and search for Album Covers on the net.

Good decision, because now there is a program that does it for me automatically. It’s called BLISS and it’s more or less free – at least for the first 500 fixes. The program runs on JAVA, so make sure your computer got it (also for the browser). Once it’s running, it searches your music collection and finds most missing covers. The user interface is a bit rough, but to me it looks that the program is at the beginning and will grow in the future. Runs on LINUX and Windows, but a MAC version is coming.

Now I need another program that streamlines my folder structure and corrects errors automatically. Let me know if you know one.

Effect of Thermal Compression in real world subwoofers

Whenever we at FAC design a subwoofer, we test after finishing the equalizing what the loudspeaker does at higher levels. The best method is to do a compression measurement. During this measurement, the input level of the subwoofer is increased and we check if the output level changes follows

A subwoofer after filtering

If you normalize the results to the starting value, you can get a nice picture of what the sub does in real life.

Compression test with the subwoofer shown above

There are two obvious sources of compression. First of all – in case of a ported design- the port starts to fail at higher levels due to too high air velocity, with the result that the region around the tuning frequency does not go loud enough.
The second effect is the thermal compression. The coil get’s hot, therefore the resistance rises and the result is a lower level.

But if you carefully compare the response curve of the compression measurements, you see that there is a difference. Even so the “static” measured curve looks flat, ALL compression curves – even the low level ones – show some slightly falling character.

So what happened? Well, in case of this particular measurement, the driver is measured at each individual frequency with all the defined level steps. During that period from small voltage to larger voltage, the temperature rises in the voice coil. When jumping to the next frequency, even at the lowest level, the coil is still hot and so the level is slightly reduced. So far, so good, but due to the impedance curve of the subwoofer, this change in level is not constant over frequency. At the impedance peak around 60Hz, the level difference is much smaller. As a result, this level stays more or less even at higher levels, but above and below, the levels goes down, depending on the temperature of the voice coil.

Impedance of Subwoofer without amplifgier

One the measurement below the following test was done: The green curve shows the standard measurement with a relatively low input level of 0.1V. The red one was done  again with 0.1V just after finishing a high level faster sweep  with 1.5V. The blue curve shows the same, but this time the high level sweep was done slower to give the coil time to heat up.

One could say this is a fault in the measurement and maybe it needs to be changed to avoid that effect, but if demonstrates nicely what happens in the real world with music or a movie. The coil get’s hot during peaks or heavy bottom end and the resulting response curve is changing. For the design process it means to make sure that from the frequency of the high impedance peak, the “static” response rises slightly around 1dB. That means in real live you get a better balanced behavior.

Compression curves after filter modification

This modification might not make a good subwoofer starting with a bad one, but a carefully look at thermal compression cannot be wrong and it is not a lot more work to take care about the effects.

Thanks to Christian Gather, who made all the measurements and had the initial idea.

Stitching together nearfield and farfield loudspeaker measurements – Part 1

Nearly everybody in our industry knows the AES article about nearfield measurements of Don B. Keele introduced in 1974. In his article, he described a way to make a nearfield measurement of a speaker and he compared it with the farfield response of the same speaker. He came to the following conclusion:

Based on that conclusion, a lot of speaker engineers started using the nearfield measurement of a woofer to stitch it together to a farfield measurement made in a anechoic chamber. This was to overcome the limitations of a real world chamber at low frequencies (below 100-200Hz, depending on room size).
Unfortunately, many did not take into account that a nearfield measurement of a todays size loudspeaker does not represent the farfield result even at low frequencies. The limited front baffle has a major effect on the farfield response.
Funny enough, Mr. Keele included that already in his article:

He mentioned “half space” and that means the speaker should be on a big baffle. But normally a speaker box is measured free standing in 1m distance, and that’s full space. The difference to a half space measurement is huge!

Mr. Keele showed clearly what he measured – you just have to carefully look at it.
The speaker tested in this example was a 4.5″ in a cubic enclosure of roughly 22cm. The farfield result can be seen in measurement a. The nearfield result in in b. In c, the small enclosure was mounted into a bigger baffle of roughly 1.2×2.4m to “support” the the small enclosure. Only now, nearfield and farfield looked similar.

It can be said that the work of Mr. Keele is still valid and true, as long as everybody understands that nearfield and farfield measurements are only comparable if you have made the farfield under half field field conditions or found a method to recalculate a nearfield measurement into a farfield version.

A good exercise to understand the influence of the baffle to the farfield response curve is the nice little program called “The Edge”. This free goodie can be used to calculate a baffle step compensation, but also shows nicely the effect a limited baffle size has already at low frequencies. There are other nice free programs at the same site – it’s worth going there.

All quotes of Mr. Keele have been taken from his original article, the two pictures of EDGE can be found on the web site of Mr. Tolvan. Part 2 will show a way to re-calculate nearfield measurements into farfield versions.


Carsten Hicking of DigitalHighend published a page with links of websites for High-Resolution Audio downloads. Please support him if you find more and let him know, so the page can be updated. HighResDownload

On the left the company dog of DigitalHighend 🙂

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AMARRA goes version 2 soon and adds FLAC

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I promise to work harder – latest news


OK, it looks like I’m a bit lazy and I did not write a lot here during the last few month . However, I’ll try to do more now and I’ll also get help from Christian Gather, our lastest team member, who was Editor in Chief of Germanys most successful speaker magazine KLANG UND TON before he moved to our company.

With many years experience in designing speakers, a good ear and with fresh ideas, he will spend the next weeks with learning all the measurement setups we are having here.

Our latest kit is the QC-system made by KLIPPEL. Even so, we don’t make speakers here, we need to specify tolerances, measure pre-production samples and small runs of High-End speakers. The system is the best we know on the market and the only one to measure the position of the voice coil and the suspension system in 2 seconds on the production line.

Also new is the setup to measure small drivers and tweeters in vacuum with our KLIPPEL R&D-System. This helps to find out the parameters without airload. Most earphone drivers cannot be measured properly with air load.

Not really that new in our team (6 month) is Bernd Sander, who is head of electronic development now. He worked for 15 years as chief engineer  in one of Germans highest standard High-End companies.

AMARRA software makes your Mac a High-End Muiscplayer

Yes, I know, the traditional Audiophile needs a CD-Player and a turntable, but if you are looking for a really good solution to play the music via a computer, give AMARRA a try.
This MAC-only software comes from SonicStudio  a company well known for Mastering Software used in the recording industry. Jon Reichbach (left on the photo), the brain behind itjonmuc, started ages ago to write software code for best Audio performance from a computer. AMARRA links itself into ITUNES, so it’s easy to use, once you understand how to get your CD-Collection into your computer.

It’s not cheap – around 1.500$ per license, but it’s worth every penny if you are looking for quality. The preferred interface for AMARRA is Firewire and there are a few recommended units. I tried the WEISS Minerva/DAC 2 with very good results. Both AMARRA and the WEISS unit support 192kHz.
Since a few days, there is also a new light version called AMARRA Mini. It only supports 96kHz. But even I have only 3 tracks with 192kHz, so it might be good enough for todays high resolution software you can download from sources like NAIM or LINN.
I’m still trying to find the best solution via USB or Optical link – once I have the results, I’ll come back with some recommendations. So far I can say you get stunning performance with AMARRA Mini, as long as you follow some rules.

See you in Munich


if you would like to meet us, you have a chance during the High-End show in Munich. The show starts on the 21st and ends on the 24th.

Here are some details: HighendSociety

You will find us at the Thorens booth, showing the new Thorens turntable.

So, see you in Munich!

Swinging Tonearm

During the development of the new tonearm for a Swiss client, we had to think about a new method to measure the resonances in a tonearm tube. exciter The literature and the Internet did not help us a lot. Black Art, Voodo, all sorts of different philosophies, but no real engineering approach. At the end, we dicided to do our own measurement setup, using our Scanning Laser Vibrometer and a self made exciter ( photo on the left).

This exciter was a NXT exciter in it’s previous life and with the weight of 6g including fixing bar close enough to a half way normal cartridge.

It was very exiting for us to see the results. First of all, it was surprising that we had strong resonances in the region around 6-8kHz and not only at a few hundred Hz as everybody was expecting.

Here are two examples:

771 Hz

7.1 kHz

Below, you can see the spectrum of the resonances in a 10 mm Aluminum tube with 1mm wall thickness.


The next picture shows the result after we added compliant mass absorbers and surface damping:

More information will be posted, once the product is out in the market. Introduction is in Munich on the High-End Show 2009