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Publishers Letter

Do-it-yourself amplifiers: a new approach

By Leo Simpson

Do-it-yourself amplifiers: a new approach

This month we have taken quite a different approach to the construction of a high-performance amplifier, starting on page 16. As indicated in the March 2000 issue, we have housed the amplifier in a computer case rather than a conventional amplifier chassis. We have taken this approach for two reasons. First, custom metalwork for large projects like stereo amplifiers is now quite expensive and is the major cost in a kit for a project like this. Second, there are tens of thousands of computer cases going begging as people upgrade to ever faster machines. These computer cases are often beautifully made and I hate the thought of them being wasted, as so many of them are.

Admittedly, we did not actually recycle a case for this project because we decided that the case we had in mind was a bit tatty and might not photograph all that well. But I hope you will agree that the finished project really does look the part and shows what can be done. Of course, if you don’t like the idea of a beige computer case, you can always check the spray paint shelves at your local auto accessory shop – fancy a metallic gold finish?

By the way, I apologise to all those readers who were disappointed about the article not appearing in April but the sheer size of the article and the number of detailed diagrams prevented it happening in time. I hope you find that the wait was worthwhile. If you have comments on the presentation, don’t hesitate to drop us a line, by email or conventional mail.

The Dolby Headphone story

Another unusual story in this month’s issue is the feature on Dolby Headphone. When I first read about Dolby Headphone it sounded like an April Fool story, except that it wasn’t April. Until you hear the simulation of five channels of surround sound on headphones it is just not possible to conceive that it works but it certainly does.

The really gratifying aspect of this story is that the whole process was developed by a small Australian company, Lake Technology Ltd, based in Sydney. And not only have they licensed the concept to Dolby but they have taken it to the airlines as well and if you travel overseas on Qantas or Singapore Airlines you will experience recent release movies with Dolby Headphone surround sound – a big feather in their caps.

In fact, this story gives the lie to the recent softness in the Australian dollar which has been ascribed to overseas currency dealers regarding Australia as an "old economy" not strong in new technology. What rubbish! These people wouldn’t know where to look when it comes to old or new technology and they are just not aware of how Australian companies are "punching well above their weight" on world markets.

And when it comes to companies adopting new technology to obtain productivity benefits, Australian companies are generally far ahead of their counterparts in the USA or Europe – but the currency dealers wouldn’t know about that!

Leo Simpson

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