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DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby maskedwarrior » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:59 am

hi I'd like a simple, easy to reach switch to disconnect my monitors from my basic interface when I record. I had in mind wiring two channels of balanced jacks into a mint tin or something and including a simple switch to break the connections. Or would i have to use a switch for each channel?

Simply, is this a good idea and could anyone point me to a circuit diagram or something like that, or give any suggestions?
Thanks, Tony
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:10 am

Hi Tony,
In theory to kill a balanced feed to the monitors you would need a double pole switch to break each "leg" in each channel and you can indeed get 4pole DPDT switched quite readily.
However, I will bet you a tin of mints that your AI, if indeed it is balanced,is "impedance" balanced so you only really need to break the hot, pin two XLR wire and thus a very common DPDT switch will do you fine. Were I able to post attachements you could have scrawl this instant!

But then surely this is the sort of thing SoS should be doing, DIY articles? There are a myriad passive circuits the the home studio jockey could build given a bit of guidance. OTTOMH...

Ton's box but with mono and dim.
Volume pot box (simple stereo ubal and a 4gang balanced special)
DI box
Re amp box
Transformer earth isolator.
Breakout boxes of all descriptions.

I dare say we would punt £3.99 for a "special"?

Dave.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Wimek » Sat Aug 11, 2012 7:15 am

great idea Dave, all sorts of wiring issues come to my mind and I'm sure many of the forum readers would be interested in such an SoS issue! In addition to Dave's ideas:

A passive summing mixer
Passive guitar circuits

B.t.w. maybe simple active electronic circuits could be considered...
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby maskedwarrior » Sat Aug 11, 2012 11:15 am

OOh I hope I've sparked off a great chain of events here!

But on a less far ranging note for the time being, how would one confirm whether 'impedance' balancing is indeed what I'm working with?

Ohhh.... and a mono switch would be swell tooo.... How would you wire that?

So setup would be:-
- mint box (recommended minimum size to minimize 'cross talk' or interference or the like??

-4 balanced connections - 2in/2out (i'll be using balanced jacks)

-2 or 4 pole switch (depending) to cut connections (best place to buy?)

-switch to create mono (how to do this?? exciting!)

-well insulated wire to make connections (recommendations?)

And I've just thought of a different question along this line, will start a new thread for that though, please a look.

Thanks very much!
Tony
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Wimek » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:28 pm

Other topics that come to my mind for such an SOS issue:

How to prevent earthing problems
How to prevent/handle noise and hum problems in DiY projects
Studio setup best practices
...
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sat Aug 11, 2012 12:58 pm

"Ohhh.... and a mono switch would be swell tooo.... How would you wire that?"

(me and my big mouth!)HI Tony! It's tricky because it involves shorting two outputs together. This will do them no harm (as a rule! I promise NOTHING!)but could result in a distorted mono signal which is not conducive to critical listening!

I think the best thing is for you to PM me and then we can interchange diagrams via email....
In the meantime! Can we pass on the mint tin idea? You can get a perfectly nice diecast box from Maps for fiver. I will leave you all with one "law" of DIY electronics "The Box is ALWAYS too Small"!

Meantime we leave the SoS bods beavering away ready for a stonking mag about November time!

Dave.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby zenguitar » Sat Aug 11, 2012 1:18 pm

I'd agree, I'd like to see DIY projects in SOS. Especially in these cash strapped times. And if you go back 25 years or so to when the magazine was launched DIY had a much bigger role in home recording and synthesis. There just weren't options available off the shelf for many people.

So +1 to DIY in SOS.

A mix of DIY basics and projects at different levels would be great. From basic soldering and making leads to assembling kits for studio processors, synth modules and so on. And then there are other DIY projects like studio acoustic panels, speaker stands, making cabinets and enclosures, planning a studio build. How about projects that use micro-controllers like PICaxe, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, etc to make custom interfaces and devices for performance, disability etc.

Enough for a basics article and advanced article every month for several years. Could bring in some new advertisers (especially kit manufacturers and parts suppliers) and would build up to a DIY archive on the forums.

Certainly worth a thought.

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sat Aug 11, 2012 2:02 pm

Hi Andy,
There is another, deeper IMHO point to DIY electronics, the hobby has all but died out.

The "kids" can get almost anything they can dream up from ToysRus or off the Web. There is but one electronics component "high street store" left in the country and their inventory of components shrinks weekly (the catalogue is now 20mm thick, it was twice that ten years ago and full of handy formulea and facts)and what they DO stock is in ones and twos,WTF is the good of THREE control knobs!)Then we are beset with overzeolous safety rules (they don't do mains transformers anymore). There is no better way to learn about audio than making something.

Not for nothing were the guys at Abbey rd called Audio ENGINEERS!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Aug 11, 2012 3:53 pm

ef37a wrote:But then surely this is the sort of thing SoS should be doing, DIY articles?

We've discussed the idea often before. However, all the DIY project suggestions you make are readily available on the web, and when we've canvassed opinion on this before the response was not great. Added to which, we have enough trouble fitting in the regular reviews and features!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:52 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:
ef37a wrote:But then surely this is the sort of thing SoS should be doing, DIY articles?

We've discussed the idea often before. However, all the DIY project suggestions you make are readily available on the web, and when we've canvassed opinion on this before the response was not great. Added to which, we have enough trouble fitting in the regular reviews and features!

Hugh

So, a special?

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat Aug 11, 2012 6:05 pm

ef37a wrote:So, a special?

Yes, we could create a bookazine-style special, or a supplement. However, the story remains much the same. We would have to be confident of achieving a good number of sales to justify the cost and time of creating it... and sadly, very few people are genuinely interested in home electronics and DIY anymore.

The best thing is probably just to point the few interested people in the directions of the relevant on-line resources and to assist with specific queries in forums like these.

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:00 am

Well Hugh,
I do not recall seeing any market reasearch as to whether we wanted the monitor/headphones or microphones specials? How did those come about? (and this is NOT sour grapes but I did not think they were all that well done)

TBH this this sounds like the response I got from Maplin when I complained about their contracting component service "The electronics hobby market is a declining one sir". Maybe, but they are not bloody helping are they?!!
Self fullfilling prophecy.
Sure people can find things on the internet but can they trust what they read? I am forever falling foul of bloody Chrome and earlier Computer Mechanic etc when downloading stuff because I know jack about computers. I would LOVE to get rid of BTs entreaty to use their new email system (it's rubbish) but I don't have a clue how.
People wiil trust technical information in SoS. (even if they are still wary of "da magagement"!)

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Wimek » Sun Aug 12, 2012 7:51 am

Hugh, I understand your reaction. In the end you are running a business... However, I do want to make a suggestion and have a question.

You first try a (small) series of articles like "Engineering SOS". Besides building relatively simple electronic circuits, you could visit audio engineers and technicians to discus best practices in studio setups...

And the question: How do you determine whether a series of articles is a success?
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:23 am

Both yours and Dave's comments are entirely valid -- of course. As for the research, we haven't asked the specific question on our regular reader surveys (and perhaps we should next time), but we do talk to readers regularly and pick up feedback from countless events we attend, as well as getting feedback from the forums.

As you can see from the DIY forum, there is an extremely low level of interest in DIY projects if you compare the number of posts to those concerning buying speakers, or interfaces etc.

However, we are still planning to run a tutorial series on basic electronics (it's really just waiting for me to get my act together and finish it off...) and it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we get to that.

As for success... I guess that comes down to increasing sales!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 12, 2012 11:36 am

"As for success... I guess that comes down to increasing sales!"

About which you cannot know unless you do it!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:05 pm

ef37a wrote:About which you cannot know unless you do it!


True... but taking something out of the mag that you know generates reliable revenue, in order to install something of a gamble takes a brave publisher in these cash-strapped times... And we've been bitten before that way... like reacting to reader surveys that said they were interested in video!

And let's not forget that SOS has never been an electronics hobbyist mag, unlike some of its predecessors.

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Wimek » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:15 pm


And let's not forget that SOS has never been an electronics hobbyist mag, unlike some of its predecessors.


I was more thinking about embedding electronic/technical projects into stories about and interviews with engineers and technicians...
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Sun Aug 12, 2012 12:16 pm

My heart bleeds Hugh!

You ever see a publisher on a bike unless it was a 2grand mountain job?

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby shufflebeat » Sun Aug 12, 2012 1:07 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:However, we are still planning to run a tutorial series on basic electronics (it's really just waiting for me to get my act together and finish it off...) and it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we get to that.


Sounds good.

Hugh Robjohns wrote: taking something out of the mag that you know generates reliable revenue, in order to install something of a gamble takes a brave publisher in these cash-strapped times... And we've been bitten before that way... like reacting to reader surveys that said they were interested in video!


Ooh 'e loiks stirring the ol' brown stuff, don't 'e?

Well just for the record I learned about as much as I needed to from the video series and considered it pretty vital for most working musos.

The DIY section on the forum is underused, not least by me and could stand some promotion rather than committing anything to actual paper.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby tomas » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:49 pm

shufflebeat wrote:[I learned about as much as I needed to from the video series and considered it pretty vital for most working musos.

Seconded. I think it was great. It covered stuff I found interesting to read about. Continuing and going deeper would have taken the focus of the mag away from sound.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby tomas » Sun Aug 12, 2012 3:54 pm

How about some articles about gear in kit form? There are some interesting synths, preamps and compressors that are only available as kits. Some suppliers might be very interested in having write about the experience of building and using such products.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Martin Walker » Sun Aug 12, 2012 5:27 pm

Hi tomas!

We do very occasionally cover kit-building in SOS (watch out for a relevant review from me in the near future )

However, having challenged Hugh and Paul myself just a couple of months ago about the popularity of DIY electronics among the SOS readership, I have to reluctantly agree that it's still a niche interest, so it seems we can only justify doing such reviews on an occasional basis.

We DIYers are sadly in the minority


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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:18 pm

ef37a wrote:My heart bleeds Hugh!

Oh here we go. False presumptions of grandeur again....

You ever see a publisher on a bike unless it was a 2grand mountain job?

I'm not sure I could imagine our publisher on a push bike. Not his style.

However, let me remind you that SOS is very small, privately owned publishing house, working from a small industrial unit outside Cambridge. Unlike many of our major competitors, SOS isn't subsidised by dozens of other titles, and the infrastructures cant be amortised over dozens of titles either.

The fact is that magazine publishing is a much tougher world today than it was ten years ago. Many of our competitors have already been forced to close or merge, too. Thankfully we are holding our own in the UK at the moment and still growing in the US, but I can assure you that none of us is able to take holidays in the Bahamas!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sun Aug 12, 2012 6:21 pm

tomas wrote:How about some articles about gear in kit form?

We have done some of these I the past -- I've done a couple of kit preamp reviews, for example -- and I'm sure well do others in the future too.

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby ef37a » Mon Aug 13, 2012 7:10 am

Ok, so you are all working out of a shed in squire Walker's back yard, fine.

But, the magazine cover price has not increased in ever such a long time. Now we none of us want to pay more than we have to but £4.99 is £1.26 less than some of the (not nearly so good!)competition and maybe another 51p would make "risks" a bit easier to take?

Then SoS peeps, I think you are missing a big part of the picture. You say DIY is not patronized? However, if you read many of the other sections it is plain that most people do not have clue one about electronics, even the simplest of concepts defeat them. This is allied to a common lack of "diagnostic" ability in that it is very often necessary for Hugh or someone else to step in and get the poster to organize his wording. I will mention just one area. Hum loops. Because the average punter knows jack about what "wires" do and how they do it they are scuppered from the start.
Were there a newb section I am convinced that you would see even more evidence of this ignorance(I use the term in its proper, not derogatorial meaning).

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Aug 13, 2012 9:18 am

ef37a wrote:But, the magazine cover price has not increased in ever such a long time. Now we none of us want to pay more than we have to but £4.99 is £1.26 less than some of the (not nearly so good!)competition and maybe another 51p would make "risks" a bit easier to take?

It might... but at the same time it would also break that magical £5 threshold and that might well make people decide not to buy it at all. Another major gamble, and probably not one worth taking at the moment given the current financial climate. The current offering provides excellent value for money and is widely perceived as such. That's a good place to be.

if you read many of the other sections it is plain that most people do not have clue one about electronics ... allied to a common lack of "diagnostic" ability ...

All true... and equally almost none of these people have any real interest in learning the technicalities involved either. Most just want someone to tell them what to plug where or what cable/adapter/bodge box to buy to fx thier problem quickly, easily and cheaply. They simply don't want lectures in electrical circuit theory -- that's plain from the responses to the forum threads you mention.

It's a frustration to old solder-sucking duffers like you and me, but that's the disposable and instant-gratification world in which we live.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Mike Stranks » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:29 am

I agree with everybody!

On this and other forums I inhabit it's clear that many people have no understanding at all about basic electrical principles, the difference between balanced jack and stereo jack connections etc etc. But it's equally true that most don't want to... just give me a gizmo or an adapter to make this work please.

In my informal consultancy work if I use the "S" word - solder - the reaction is often akin to if I'd suggested they perform brain-surgery with a penknife - sheer terror/horror.

I did suggest to Hugh some time ago that a "back to basics" article/series on Ohm's law and it's linked simple equations, series/parallel etc would be useful. His response was positive so this could well be the series he's referred to above.

For us BOFs, back in the day the only way we could do certain stuff was to make the bits ourselves. It's also true that then basic electronics and the ability to fix things was very much seen as part of the process of recording/amplifying music - it's no longer the case. I think there's an analogy to motoring. When I started with the man with the red flag, cars were still somewhat temperamental and you needed to know certain basics of how they worked to do quick fixes or adjustments. Now almost no-one knows or cares - the cars are either too reliable or so complicated that "user fixes" aren't practical. I know I generalise, but I think the point is valid.

Are articles on basic "sums" and DIY a good idea? For me, definitely! Would anyobody apart from those who know it all anyway read them? Hmmmm...
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Richie Royale » Mon Aug 13, 2012 10:53 am

Perhaps it could be inserted as an addendum to the home visits.
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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:24 pm

Yes, Mike -- it is that article idea I'm working on. Basically, I'm aiming to cover the kind of basic introduction to electricals/electronics material that might be included on a half-decent audio engineering degree (as opposed to a full-on electronics degree). From the basics of electrical principles through to conceptual overviews of audio electronic building-blocks. Avoiding as much maths as possible, but with plenty of sign posts for further self-study for anyone interested in taking things further.

It's a lot of writing, research, checking, and drawing... but I am getting there, slowly!

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Re: DIY Mint Tin Monitor Switch?

Postby The Elf » Mon Aug 13, 2012 12:40 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:we've been bitten before that way... like reacting to reader surveys that said they were interested in video!

Ooh! And when I think how that inclusion was so vehemently defended!!
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