Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. Read 2724 times.

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« on: 10 Apr 2019, 03:43 am »
Hello everyone,

I’m Tom. Some of you may know me from DIY Audio or elsewhere, where I'm known for my Modulus-series of ultra-low distortion audio power amplifiers. I run Neurochrome, which I started as a self-sustaining hobby in 2012. Neurochrome has been my only source of income (by choice) since 2015.

While I was in graduate school pursuing a PhD in electrical engineering, I was offered an internship at National Semiconductor (now part of Texas Instruments). I wasn’t really getting anywhere with my degree, so I decided to skip the PhD and design precision opamps for National instead. My first project was the LMP2021 zero-drift opamp. My focus, both in my undergraduate and graduate work, was always precision DC and audio frequency circuits, so the job at National was a really good fit for me. I ended up spending a bit over ten years at National/TI before having the desire to do something else.

I was getting quite burned out at TI, and had developed a strong interest in psychology, so I decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree in that field. Thus, I quit my job at TI in 2015 and went back to school. This made Neurochrome my only source of income. Having a student's schedule and the summers off also allowed me to put more effort into Neurochrome, and it has grown steadily since then. I’m now about to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and am looking to push on Neurochrome for the foreseeable future.

While I certainly enjoy my current success, I believe Neurochrome has potential for further growth, in particular if I expand beyond the Do-It-Yourself world. That leads me here. I am planning to launch a couple of commercial/retail products – headphone amplifiers – this fall and I hope to start an industry circle soon.

While I do acknowledge that the subjective perceptions of an audio product are important, I tend to approach audio from a scientific angle, thus rely on measurements in my design decisions. I think the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of reliance on influencer opinion rather than measurements when it comes to evaluating the performance of a piece of audio gear, and would like to nudge the pendulum the other way a bit. I think there’s a market for well-designed audio gear that’s fully backed up by measurements.

You can find my website here: www.neurochrome.com
If you would like to be the first to know about my upcoming products, I encourage you to sign up for my newsletter here: www.neurochrome.com/newsletter
Neurochrome is based in Calgary, Canada. My products are designed and manufactured in Canada.

Thanks,

Tom

JLM

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 9043
  • The elephant normally IS the room
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #1 on: 10 Apr 2019, 10:17 am »
Welcome.

Your links are too thick for me, but an interesting switch from EE to psych.

dburna

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #2 on: 10 Apr 2019, 12:35 pm »
Tom, I have one of your Neurochrome amps, and.....it is brilliant. I am very, very happy with it. I wish you the best as you roll out your commercial (non-DIY) products. Knowing your reputation, I'm sure they will be every bit as wonderful as your existing DIY amps are.

Best wishes, -dGB

Phil A

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #3 on: 10 Apr 2019, 01:15 pm »
Welcome!

Mike B.

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #4 on: 10 Apr 2019, 02:51 pm »
Good luck in your audio venture Tom.

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #5 on: 10 Apr 2019, 03:44 pm »
Tom, I have one of your Neurochrome amps, and.....it is brilliant. I am very, very happy with it.

Fantastic! I'm glad you like it.

I wish you the best as you roll out your commercial (non-DIY) products. Knowing your reputation, I'm sure they will be every bit as wonderful as your existing DIY amps are.

Thank you. Yeah, my plan is to leverage the reputation I have in the new venture.

Good luck in your audio venture Tom.

Thank you. I'm in for a ride for sure... :)

Tom

Norman Tracy

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 259
    • Audio Crafters Guild
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #6 on: 10 Apr 2019, 09:21 pm »
Welcome to AudioCircle Tom. I have admired your Neurochrome designs over on DIYAudio.com for some time. Your bio with all those years at National and TI fits right in to the design ethos your work demonstrates.

During my time with Amoco I visited Calgary and onto the Canadian Rockies to your west. Such beautiful country. Normally I'd insert a dig about the cold here but cold winters are perfect for staying inside and designing then listening to HiFi.

Your engineering to psychology path is one my brother-in-law took and it worked out quite well for him. Do you intend to practice or hold that perspective in your tool kit while focusing on Neurochrome?

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #7 on: 11 Apr 2019, 02:28 am »
Thank you.

My original plan was to become a counsellor. In Alberta, I can practice with a Master's degree. But a couple of things happened that made me change my plans. First off, Neurochrome started growing. I also discovered that I don't need a career change. I just need the autonomy that comes with being self-employed. I love the engineering. I've been tinkering with electronics since I was five years old and with audio since my early teens, and I obviously have a passion for it. Also, University of Calgary does not admit anyone to the Master of Counselling program this year, so the stage is set for me to see where I can take Neurochrome.

That said, psychology has already been enormously helpful to me. When you're trying to market your goods to humans, it does help to have a little insight into how humans work. A bit ironically, psychology has also taught me statistical analysis and experimental design. All that seems glossed over in engineering as it is exceptionally rare that your voltmeter doesn't indicate the actual voltage at the tips of the probes. On the other hand, in psychology you have to validate your instruments both before you use them and as you are using them. I would love to see more science applied in audio, in particular regarding listening tests, so my background will come in handy there.

Cold winters... Yeah... It does get a bit nippy at times. The last few years, we've had some 3-4 week stretches of daytime highs below -20 ºC during the winter. But then a chinook rolls in and the temperature goes from -20 to +20 overnight. That makes Calgary a very nice place to be during the winter. We do get snow. But it's that super light power stuff. Not the white concrete they get on the coasts. On the plus side, we get 300 days of sunshine a year here. :)

Tom

WC

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #8 on: 11 Apr 2019, 02:31 am »
Welcome, Tom.

Finally decided to finish up the stereo Mod86 build. Also will be doing Mod686 monoblocks. Depending on how things turn out, my other pair of Mod86 boards will either join the Mod686 or the Mod86 amp. I have other amps to finish also to compare them against. I tried my new JBL Studio 530s with my ACA amps and concluded that the speakers need more power. So hence the impetus to complete another amp.

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #9 on: 11 Apr 2019, 04:20 pm »
Nice! It's good to see some of my builders here too. I'm glad you like the Modulus-series.

On speakers, my LXmini just scooted over by the TV as I got a screaming deal on a pair of KEF R700. Holy moly! R700 + Modulus-686 is an amazing combination!

Tom

dflee

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 930
  • What's this we shit kemosahbee?
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #10 on: 11 Apr 2019, 04:53 pm »
Welcome Tom.
I have been quite interested in your product for some time. Alas, I am not
a DIY type guy so am glad to see your going to produce your amps. There are
a number of fans of your amps here that I'm sure will be posting soon.
Good luck with the endeavor and I do hope our paths cross in the future.

Don

Doublej

  • Full Member
  • Posts: 2162
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #11 on: 12 Apr 2019, 11:54 am »
Nice! It's good to see some of my builders here too. I'm glad you like the Modulus-series.

On speakers, my LXmini just scooted over by the TV as I got a screaming deal on a pair of KEF R700. Holy moly! R700 + Modulus-686 is an amazing combination!

Tom

I think you should do a write up comparing the LXminis to the R700s once the latter are broken in.

DavidS

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #12 on: 12 Apr 2019, 04:24 pm »
Hi Tom - used to own your headphone amp - it was a great one, and will probably regret selling it.  Have read on your site that there is a new version (or two) in development for this fall or winter.  Look forward to reading more about it here on AudioCircle.

David

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #13 on: 12 Apr 2019, 06:46 pm »
I think you should do a write up comparing the LXminis to the R700s once the latter are broken in.
Nah. I suck at writing sappy marketing verbiage, so I'm not your go-to guy for subjective reviews. Everything you need to know is in the directivity plots anyway. :) You can find Stereophile's measurements here: https://www.stereophile.com/content/kef-r700-loudspeaker-measurements
You can find the measurements of the LS50 here: https://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/Directivity/KEF%20LS50/index.html. The R700 uses the same driver as the LS50 but adds two 6.5" woofers. It would be nice with a similar set of measurements for the R700. However, given the performance of the LS50 and the use of the same driver in the R-series, I would find it doubtful that KEF dropped the ball on the R-series. This also seems to be backed up by Stereophile's measurements, which indicate stellar performance.

OK. So here's my attempt at sappy marketing verbiage: For the $500+work a DIY pair of LXmini will set you back, you get quite a bit of performance, but there is no doubt that the extra ~$3500 (based on the original list price of the R700) buys you a lot of additional performance. The imaging of the R700 is absolutely amazing, but vertically and horizontally. The R700 is also the first speaker I've had that did not change sonic character as I turned up the volume. The R700 just gets louder... Amazing how well science can work when you apply it. :)
For those looking to buy a finished pair of LXmini (now called LXsirius, currently priced at ~$2600/pair) might want to consider getting a pair of closeout R700s instead. Or have a look at the new R-series (R3, R5...).

Tom

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #14 on: 13 May 2019, 10:29 pm »
Wow... I didn't mean to completely kill the buzz... :)

As I mentioned in the first post, I'm looking to get a couple of headphone amps going. Thus, I've started a little market survey to get a handle on what people's expectations of such amps are. If you have 15-20 minutes to spare, I would greatly appreciate your input in the survey. You can find it here: https://forms.gle/JNNLwjdJpLraw6Cm8

The survey requires a Google/gmail login. Your email address is NOT logged, however. All your responses in the survey are anonymous.

Thanks in advance.

Tom

mresseguie

  • Volunteer
  • Posts: 3366
  • D Sachs amp/pre + Daedalus Audio Speakers = HEAVEN
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #15 on: 14 May 2019, 02:29 am »
Tom,

Welcome to AC.

I filled out the survey as well as I could considering I haven't purchased anything from you before. Call me potentially in the market for an <$1000 headphone amp. For this price level, I would want a good volume pot and a decent DAC....or excellent volume control and the ability to drive a separate amp to power desktop speakers/subwoofer. [I'd use my own DAC.]

Regards,

Michael


Hogg

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #16 on: 15 May 2019, 12:54 am »
Hi Tom.

     Welcome to AC.  I have one of your amps; it's a fine performer.  Do you have plans to branch-out from the TI LM3886 line?

                                                                    Jim

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #17 on: 15 May 2019, 03:37 am »
Welcome to AC.  I have one of your amps; it's a fine performer.  Do you have plans to branch-out from the TI LM3886 line?
Thank you. I've had a design for a non-LM3886 power amp kicking around in the simulator for a year or two. It performs well ... in the simulator. It has yet to meet with reality. I need to look at what it would take to turn that into a product. Mainly it hinges on the chassis manufacturing.

I filled out the survey as well as I could considering I haven't purchased anything from you before.
Fantastic. Thank you. As they say in the advertisements, "no purchase necessary". :) In fact, hearing from those who have not purchased anything from me yet is really valuable.

Call me potentially in the market for an <$1000 headphone amp. For this price level, I would want a good volume pot and a decent DAC....or excellent volume control and the ability to drive a separate amp to power desktop speakers/subwoofer. [I'd use my own DAC.]
Very cool. Stay tuned. I plan to have at least a small prototype batch assembled for RMAF (early Sept). I won't have my own booth, but will likely provide amps for Redscape Audio.

Tom

Nick77

Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #18 on: 15 May 2019, 03:55 pm »
Quote
         Fantastic. Thank you. As they say in the advertisements, "no purchase necessary". :) In fact, hearing from those who have not purchased anything from me yet is really valuable.
                                                             

Cool, i filled out the survey as a "non-purchaser to date" also. But i am really looking forward to the high end diy solution coming up. I exited the headphone portion of my system recently, but its tugging on me.   :thumb:  :popcorn:

tomchr

  • Industry Participant
  • Posts: 17
Re: Tom Christiansen - Neurochrome Intro
« Reply #19 on: 16 May 2019, 04:41 pm »
Awesome. Thank you. Also thanks to everyone else for their participation in the survey.

Tom