Poll

What is your interest in learning audio amplifier and speaker design

I live in the Bay Area and would like to attend your school
7 (38.9%)
I know someone who would be interested and I will forward this information to them
0 (0%)
I would like to study but do not live in the area
4 (22.2%)
I do not live in the area but could take a weekend intensive course
2 (11.1%)
I would like to make a set of transformers for my own amplifier
1 (5.6%)
I think this is a great idea but impractical in today's world
0 (0%)
I would like to classes online
4 (22.2%)

Total Members Voted: 18

School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 7135 times.

Roger A. Modjeski

School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« on: 15 May 2014, 09:49 pm »
It has been suggested by many who know of my work that I should teach the art of high-end audio design. To answer that call I am in the process of forming a non-profit school in Berkeley. I have sufficient equipment, tools and parts collected over the years to set up several lab stations for those interested in building their own amps, preamps and speakers. Tuition is planned to be very reasonable and there will be internships available. This is about education, not making money.

There will be classes at several levels as some students just want to understand how things work while others want to build. Going beyond building some want to learn how to design and hopefully some want to take on audio as a profession and advance the art as I have.

There will be classes in amplifier design, transformer design and winding methods, chassis fabrication and all aspects of making amplifiers and speakers including electrostats. We will work with whatever technologies bring the best results. Amplifier designs will include traditional single ended and push pull designs and advanced classes will offer OTL and designs using transmitting tubes like the 833. Here are some pictures of 833 amplifiers. I have a working prototype that produces 100 watts per channel, class A single ended at lower distortion than the WAVAC.   
https://www.google.com/search?q=833+amplifier&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS544US544&es_sm=122&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ei=1Ud2U_euF8HvoATnpoKICw&ved=0CAoQ_AUoAw&biw=1517&bih=666&dpr=0.9

As an example: A 6 meeting course covers the design of an output transformer and power transformer for a student amplifier. The students could then wind their own transformers and build them into the amplifiers in a second course. In a third course they could learn the fine points of circuit optimization and end up with something better than they might buy on the open market.  I think it would be a great experience for those interested in building an amplifier from the most basic materials which means they make their own transformers, chassis and perhaps their own circuit design.

There will also be classes in repair where the instructor helps with finding the problem while the student does the actual physical repair. Diagnosing the problem is the hardest part of most repairs and under proper guidance many are able to effect the repair themselves and further gain knowledge to do simple repairs themselves. In many cases the cost of the class will be a fraction of the cost of taking the unit to a shop where work of unknown quality might be done. Good students will be able to repair several units per session.  I have taught similar classes in Santa Barbara where each student did several repairs per semester saving hundreds of dollars in service costs and often improving the equipment in the process.

For those in or out of the area we can offer a weekend intensive where one could build a set of transformers in the space of two 8 hour days. In that case we would skip the design aspects and get right down to the building.  There could also be weekend intensives for amplifier design, tube application or transformer design.

I am interested in hearing of any class topic and depth of topic suggestions. This is a school that can be tailored to the needs of the students.

The school can begin classes as soon as we can find a location of about 1500 SQ FT in the Berkeley, El Cerrito, or Emeryville general area. Any assistance in this endeavor would be appreciated.
« Last Edit: 2 Jun 2014, 11:52 pm by Roger A. Modjeski »

soundofrockets

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 263
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #1 on: 22 May 2014, 04:51 am »
I have large enough garage that can accommodate few people easily.  I will be open to the idea especially for smaller weekend type courses.

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #2 on: 22 May 2014, 05:18 pm »
I have large enough garage that can accommodate few people easily.  I will be open to the idea especially for smaller weekend type courses.

Thanks for the nice offer.

I am looking for the following to set up a non-profit school and DIY Community Center. Perhaps a club-house environment where people share ideas, where we help one another, where there is a skilled, knowledgeable staff to help and guide. In most of the DIY circuits I see there are just one of two things that if changed would make an enormous difference in the results.

In  many cases someone embarks on a design where the basic circuit is the wrong thing for what he is trying to achieve. Or it's the right circuit with the wrong values and a few component changes would make a big difference. But how is he to know unless he is skilled in Electronics? I recently took a home-built amplifier and reduced the distortion from 1.5 % to 0.05% with just a few resistor changes (not brands, but values). The amplifier was also unstable and by reducing the value of coupling capacitors by 5x made is stable and improved the bass.

1. A permanent space donated or at reasonable rent.
2. A person or persons to help set up a non-profit.  Just want to cover costs and pay a small staff. utilities, etc.
3. People to get the word out to the community that this is available if we make it so.

I would like to see this become something unique in the audio community. What I see in the DIY forums is very interested people who could have much better results given a little direction from a professional. I would like to see people build things that are better than what they can buy. It seems today that good (and not so good) sounding equipment is often dressed up in such expensive clothing that it is un-affordable, over-built, ponderous in size and impossible to service.  With proper direction people can build equipment that is great sounding, low cost, customized to their needs and self serviceable. How many of you would love to say "hey I built all this stuff we are listening to"? Lets make equipment that is better than what you can buy.

For those who don't know me you can read my bio at. http://www.ramlabs-musicreference.com/bio.html

I took my BSEE degree from University of Virginia, did graduate work and taught a lab at Stanford University.  Ben, my assistant is skilled in music writing, performance and recording. He has a great ear and has been very helpful in constructing my amplifier projects. In his second year as my apprentice, he is learning the art of building amplifiers, winding transformers and studying circuit design.

« Last Edit: 22 May 2014, 07:40 pm by Roger A. Modjeski »

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #3 on: 20 Jul 2014, 06:10 pm »
Update on the school. (at 455 views)

This week I am going on my third trip to look at spaces for my school in the East Bay Area. I hope to combine Music Reference, Ram Labs, a classroom, a work-space for students and a listening/showroom. I would also like to provide an alternative to the high-price audio salons in the area where listeners could audition equipment and get help with their systems.

I would love to hear from anyone in the Bay Area on their thoughts.

bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #4 on: 20 Jul 2014, 06:23 pm »
Wow, this is enough to get me to consider moving back up to NorCal. Unfortunately, it's a notoriously Professional Music Career-unfriendly place. The last band to come out of it was The Doobie Brothers, and that was over 40 years ago! Okay, Greg Kihn and Jellyfish, but where are they now? Asleep At The Wheel (Berkeley) had to move to Austin to go Pro. The Grateful Dead don't count.

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #5 on: 20 Jul 2014, 06:44 pm »
Wow, this is enough to get me to consider moving back up to NorCal. Unfortunately, it's a notoriously Professional Music Career-unfriendly place. The last band to come out of it was The Doobie Brothers, and that was over 40 years ago! Okay, Greg Kihn and Jellyfish, but where are they now? Asleep At The Wheel (Berkeley) had to move to Austin to go Pro. The Grateful Dead don't count.

With all the college kids and alternative people I would think it would be better. What is un-friendly there?

Alan

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #6 on: 20 Jul 2014, 08:05 pm »
You might look at doing this in cooperation with a local makerspace or hackerspace. It could save you a lot of headaches.

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #7 on: 20 Jul 2014, 09:08 pm »
You might look at doing this in cooperation with a local makerspace or hackerspace. It could save you a lot of headaches.

I have looked into the hackerspace here. Time permitting I would teach some basic electronics and parts application classes. However there is little interest in high end or audio in general. I took my plasma speaker there and got a little interest.

Do you know of some specific ones in the Bay Area?

bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #8 on: 21 Jul 2014, 01:09 pm »
With all the college kids and alternative people I would think it would be better. What is un-friendly there?

     Oh, for playing live it is definitely better. You actually get paid! In L.A. there are so many bands willing to play for free, to get exposure, or doing showcases for record company talent scouts or management people, that you have to do private affairs to make $. But if you want to become, or remain, pro you have to live here, for the same reason actors do. It's where the business is done. I've gotten work on soundtracks, etc., just from being in close proximity to the people who do the hiring. You're not going to get the call if you live in Berekely! There's somebody else just as good who lives 15 minutes from the studio. If there is an audition for road work, you're not going to know about it if you're not here. Plus, you know, networking with everyone you know, hustling for work. When McCartney's drummer is not on the road with Paul, he does session work and teaches.
     In addition, record company people have a somewhat negative attitude towards the Bay Area; I think it has to do with them feeling like they can't control the "talent" up North, that they won't follow orders, etc. So bands are expected to move down here (the band is often rented a small tract house in the San Fernando Valley to live in while the album is being recorded, the rent to which is taken out of the first accounting statement after the album escapes---old joke. By the way, almost NO ONE ever sees a royalty check. EVERYTHING is charged to the band, from the pressing of CD's, the making of promotional videos---even the promo CD's that are sent to radio stations, advertising.....everything you can think of, and some you can't) to be under the watchful eye of the master, but also to be close to the recording studios to which they are given to-be-paid-for-later use of (be sure to have your lawyer look over the contract real, REAL carefully, fellas. And then have another lawyer keep an eye on your lawyer).
     An insight into record company people, a true story as told by Rick Nielson of Cheap Trick: A honcho comes into a recording session to let the band know the company is behind them (and to check on the progress of the album!), and says "Let me buy you guys dinner". When the band gets the accounting for the session, sure enough, the dinner is charged to the band. They are utterly shameless, taking credit for every success, but blame for no failure. It turns some perfectly normal people into the most cynical human beings you can imagine. I did a session with Emitt Rhodes, an unbelievably talent. He recorded his first 1971 album by himself, in his home (but professional quality) studio, writing every song, playing every instrument, and singing every vocal, and then doing the mix. He delivered it completed to one of the majors, and it did very well. Emitt was hailed as "The one-man Beatles", and it received better reviews than McCartney's first solo album. Emitt had spent a couple of years making it, but when it was time to record the follow-up, the company expected it in six months. Emitt had, unfortunately, agreed to that (what WAS he thinking?) in writing (no lawyer), and when he didn't deliver it on time, was sued by the company for breach of contract. He finally finished the second album, but to punish him the company did no promotion---no free lunches, dinners, or vacations to radio station programmers; no promotional copies of the album and single were sent out, no advertising, nothing. And no tour support---it costs money to tour, the money provided up front by the company, to be deducted from the mythical royalty payments. They buried it, and the third. Emitt has never seen a dime in royalties, for anything.
     When an album stiffs, the band goes back home. If the album succeeds, and the band's lawyer doesn't disappear with the money, the band is locked into the L.A. money-go-round. The best songwriters, singers, and musicians I've known have not been willing to pay the price to their mental health, not to mention their souls, so become weekend warriors, working a day job, playing for their love of music. Now, if they would just get better Hi-Fi's! Musician's, in general, have the worst systems of everybody!! But the best record collections!!!
« Last Edit: 21 Jul 2014, 03:23 pm by bdp24 »

Roger A. Modjeski

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #9 on: 21 Jul 2014, 03:04 pm »
Thanks for the insight into the recording world in LA. Music professors have bad audio systems too. My though on that is when they hear a particular instrument through their system they substitute the sound of a good one in their head.

bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #10 on: 21 Jul 2014, 03:38 pm »
Thanks for the insight into the recording world in LA. Music professors have bad audio systems too. My though on that is when they hear a particular instrument through their system they substitute the sound of a good one in their head.
Hearing it in their head is exactly it. The best writer I've known (a music major at SJ State, then UC Riverside), and by far the smartest (member of Mensa, whatever that is :wink:) person I've known, had one of those all-in-one compacts, with the hinged speakers and flip-down record changer (oy!). I would lean forward when he would put on some J.S.Bach, trying to hear what the Hell was going on. He would be sitting back, knowing what was written on the sheet music, filling in what was supposed to be audible. Too much work for me! He was one of the guys I was talking about, who chose not to pursue music professionally. He just got a Teac 3400 and a couple of mics, and recorded Bach Concerto's for his own satisfaction. He went to work at Hewlett-Packard, designing programs. Died at 56 of natural causes, having used up his brain, I guess.

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1963
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #11 on: 22 Jul 2014, 02:52 am »
I think the center of electronics design in America is in Silicon Valley. As part of the training I hope you get  a guest lecturer on industrial design. There's just way too much hideous looking hifi out there. Proportions way off, buttons and connectors in strange places. Stuff you'd learn in design 001.


bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #12 on: 22 Jul 2014, 02:40 pm »
Just my opinion, but Silicon Valley type designers are working to make electronic products which are smaller, cheaper, and easier to sell to Joe and Jane 6-pack. Their products are not designed to compete in the High-Performance wing of consumer electronics, nor can they. Tubes and SV? Oil and water! I wouldn't mind seeing the design of the packaging (casework, etc.) of Hi-Fi products be given to artistic types, graphic or fashion designers. This is already done in Europe, with outstanding results. Of course, the High End being what it is, the designs are sometimes unnecessarily expensive to build, and therefore buy. But look at Roger's RM200 amp. Elegant, graceful, a pleasure to look at whilst (the British are so good at keeping the English language dignified, aren't they?) listening to music.

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1963
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #13 on: 22 Jul 2014, 05:00 pm »
I didn't realize that companies like Spectral, Monarchy Audio, Parasound and Nuforce were not competitive in the high performance wing of consumer electronics? You can hate Monster but FWIW they have received accolades for their Power Conditioners from the Absolute Sound and others. All based in the Bay area and companies that immediately come to mind.



Industrial engineering is all about how to figure out how to make something look good without it costing a fortune to manufacture.

watercourse

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #14 on: 22 Jul 2014, 05:09 pm »
East Bay is likely the best location cost-wise, but also having access to a younger community that appreciate handcrafts. Hate on the hipsters as much as you (and I) like, but at least there could be a return to handmade industries here locally, like in Portland.

Which is a stark difference from the software-driven enterprises that have changed the cultural and economic landscape here in the Bay Area. San Francisco and Sili Valley are the epicenters, of course. What exactly do they make anyways, other than money?

bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #15 on: 22 Jul 2014, 06:57 pm »
I didn't realize that companies like Spectral, Monarchy Audio, Parasound and Nuforce were not competitive in the high performance wing of consumer electronics? You can hate Monster but FWIW they have received accolades for their Power Conditioners from the Absolute Sound and others. All based in the Bay area and companies that immediately come to mind.



Industrial engineering is all about how to figure out how to make something look good without it costing a fortune to manufacture.

Oh, well, if that's what was meant by Silicon Valley. Being from Cupertino, home of Apple, etc., I took Silicon Valley more literally, especially the Valley part, as in The Santa Clara Valley, wherein Cupertino is located. The whole Bay Area is now considered the Silicon Valley? I did not know that.

bdp24

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 883
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #16 on: 22 Jul 2014, 07:23 pm »
East Bay is likely the best location cost-wise, but also having access to a younger community that appreciate handcrafts. Hate on the hipsters as much as you (and I) like, but at least there could be a return to handmade industries here locally, like in Portland.

Which is a stark difference from the software-driven enterprises that have changed the cultural and economic landscape here in the Bay Area. San Francisco and Sili Valley are the epicenters, of course. What exactly do they make anyways, other than money?

Bravo!

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 1963
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #17 on: 22 Jul 2014, 10:54 pm »
East Bay is likely the best location cost-wise, but also having access to a younger community that appreciate handcrafts. Hate on the hipsters as much as you (and I) like, but at least there could be a return to handmade industries here locally, like in Portland.

Which is a stark difference from the software-driven enterprises that have changed the cultural and economic landscape here in the Bay Area. San Francisco and Sili Valley are the epicenters, of course. What exactly do they make anyways, other than money?

You don't really want to know the answer do you? It would ruin your image of the area being filled with companies void of usefulness to society.

watercourse

Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #18 on: 22 Jul 2014, 11:09 pm »
You don't really want to know the answer do you? It would ruin your image of the area being filled with companies void of usefulness to society.

Try me, I'm open to new information. I do work in and around Twitter, Yelp, and the soon-to-be LinkedIn buildings, so I've got a pretty bead on the typical staffers. But I guess more to the point, do you think they would be a better target population than the Berkeley or Oakland communities for Roger's endeavor?

Guidof

  • Jr. Member
  • Posts: 75
Re: School for Audio Engineering in Berkeley
« Reply #19 on: 23 Jul 2014, 12:00 am »
Update on the school. (at 455 views)

. I would also like to provide an alternative to the high-price audio salons in the area where listeners could audition equipment and get help with their systems.

I would love to hear from anyone in the Bay Area on their thoughts.

YES!!! (I'm in the North Bay).