GUILD PLATINUM BRAIN AWARD:
The inspiration for this much deserved award, which is being given to a thermionic savant whose work will shift the course of the thermionic arts, was initiated by this email,
Dear Dr. Gizmo,
My name is Grebnor, and I am the guy who invented the first spear, and my bros' hunters, all of whom used clubs, thought I was crazy, or didn't know how to use my new tool, or were embarrassed to try my new tool .or too clumsy to learn how use it I got a lot of resistance at first but ho, ho, ho, who has the last laugh now?
Grebnor, The Spearmaker
A NEW TOOL THAT EXPRESSES
John Broskie is a direct descendant of Grebnor.
This email got me thinking about the evolution of thermionic consciousness which is virusing through the Internet. I am asking you to deeply consider the glorious complexity of male intelligence which has a long and glorious historical track record of taking its need for beauty very seriously. Let me say this another way because you can see the pattern in all other art forms when any creative expression deeply affects our emotions we begin to study its nature and that is as true for classical oil painting as it is small block Chevy motors to tube circuits to Shakespeare's writing.
So it naturally follows that because tube circuits are pre-eminent in the creation of musical beauty, it is essential for us to study their true nature and by that I mean the how of how they operate so we can enhance our ability to create thermionic poetry hot rods..monuments dematerial three dimensional harmonic art forms.
Many of you are now getting a tight feeling in your scrotum, because when ever you think you are going to get into "technogeekiness" you are going to get confused or feel stupid. Which is why I suggest you open a brewky, light a fine cigar, take a chug, a puff. and chill while I aggravate your orthodoxy and transformer you from Clark Kent to Tube Superman.
WHAT AUDIO TIME IS IT?
We are still listening in our stone age caves we are still at, after only one hundreds year, the dawn of the audio arts we are still hunting for ecstasy with stone clubs in a very primitive, yet intense tribal culture
Want me to prove this to you with a glimpse of near future?
You will go to your computer, open your Glassware Tube Cad program let's say you design a single-ended circuit, using the program you then download your circuit drawing to a printed circuit board manufacturer, and one week later your circuit board arrives or/and you download the circuit's parts list to Digi-Key or Mouser and you decide to hard wire the circuit it is your call. You have been transformed from Clark Kent to Superman because your Glassware Tube Cad program has given you the power to design your own dream circuit. You have been transformed from tube couch potato to Tube Michaelangelo and all it took was some blood, sweat and overcoming fear.
Is this any different than designing your custom hot rod, or motorcycle? That is point my dear Michaelangelo soon there will be no reason, no excuses for any artistic limitations those imposed on you by having to buy a new showroom model which is anathema to the man who has creative fires burning in his loins as we do.
What is the meaning of life? To express the unique work of art that thou art!
REFLECTION ON THE TRUE NATURE OF THE MALE EGO
Girls, can we be honest? Owning cool toys is really important because it is how we men establish our position in our tribal hierarchy. Conventional male wisdom, for decades, during the time of 3rd Wave Modality thinking, was "He who has the most expensive toys, wins", but that is now obsolete thank God, in Her Wisdom because we know too much now. The new 4th Wave Modality rule of hierarchy coolosity is, "He who has the most pleasure wins and this implies "He who knows how to create what he needs wins". This major shift in male tribal consciousness was stimulated by the Internet.
Consider the magnitude of my responsibility, as the Guildmeister of the Triode Guild .my job is to turn you on to audio-meta-gizmos of enormous coolosity; those which express 4th Wave Modality thinking.
The day when some audio dude would boast "I own the latest Audio Research $2OK amplifier" is kaput, because the dude who shouts out " I use the Glass Ware Tube Cad program to design my own circuits" has now leaped to the top of the thermionic hierarchy of coolosity for only $49. Viva La Revolution.
Now let me talk to you as a member of a ancient culture, the Jewish people, who invented "shopping below wholesale", which is really a metaphor for hunting with ultimate cunning. The point being I can think of no other meta-gizmo that creates this much coolosity for so little money. What a bargain (shouted out in the best Brooklyn dialect). Here we have a case of the coolosity/cost benefit ratio that reaches new heights .which is why I am giving John the highest possible Triode Guild award.
And because I have compassion for the American male ego, I suggest you buy this program, just to be able to claim that you use it..even if you don't..that is how cool it is..and how affordable. Sometimes it is okay to fake it to satisfy our male social needs as you well know.
Here is a suggestion for single men who are always on the prowl..keep the Glassware Tube CAD diskette in your pocket and at bars and parties when you are tracking down a major game; when you finally close in your opening should be " Excuse me Miss Beaudacious and Fertile, are you interested in musical ecstasy I am look here (while taking your Glassware program out of your pocket and showing it) I design my own tube circuit". Trust me you will be a major hitter on the Scoresville Baseball Team, in just a few hours because women love creative, sensitive men like you.
On the other hand, old audio farts, like us, who are either married, or are living in a co-dependent relationship with a hound dog can enjoy endless hours exploring the frontier of the thermionic arts and what could be cooler than that?
THE STRADIVARIUS IMPERATIVE
Why are there so many books about exploring the mystery of this violin's tone? Why have so many scientists attempted to analysis this violin's construction and components in an attempt to explain its "voice"? Why is there a magazine THE STRAD devoted to the mysteries of this instrument?
Why are so many hi-IQ men staring through telescopes at the stars?
As Buddha says "If I have to explain forget about it, dude"
The Stradivarius imperative applies to tube circuits, because tubes are the only path to achieving the single most important musical attribute in audio circuits HIGH QUALITY TONE and it naturally follows that we must use GLASSWARE as tool in our hunt because there is a "mysterious" relationship between the proper design of tube audio's circuit simplicity and the tonal quality achieved.
It is this inherent simplicity of tube audio circuits that makes subtle variations so obvious, which means that they are just like real hot rod motors change the carburetor setting, or cam timing and you have dramatically altered your performance profile.
Why are hot rod motors now achieving such high states of performance? Every hot rod shop, every designer of high performance equipment, is using computer programs to assist in the design process. You've seen the programs on TV where the race car's motor tuners connect their portable PC to the motor and use the PC to monitor and tweak the motors performance and how different "performance profiles" are used for different race tracks.
That is exactly the type of high performance capability John Broskie has created for you .if you know what type of performance you are seeking..and your choices are unlimited .
And let me give you a concrete example: I believe New York Audio Labs was the first audio company to use the White Cascode Follower for a tube preamp output stage, and then we used it as a driver stage for our Moscode hybrid amplifiers. Jon Syder was responsible for discovering this circuit, in 1979, which was originally created by Bell Labs for telephony, and it first appeared in our TUBE GOD NB-1. There were no PCs back then, and there were no GLASSWARE programs.
I noticed that John Broskie had published a series of articles about the virtues and limitations of cathode followers, including the White Cascode follower, and had done some computer simulations, and revealed what we all know no circuit is perfect and the best way to tweak one and optimize it is with a computer simulation which would have been a tremendous benefit to the NYAL design team because we would have improved the performance of the White Cascode Follower.
Do you get my drift sailors? Where can you buy such a high powered design tool for $49?
Or, can you think of any other place where you can learn about the compromises inherent in all tube audio design
Or think of John's work as the spark that ignited a fire which will grow in intensity and it just another facet of emerging 4th Wave Modality thinking which is all about you having the power to create the audio circuits that reflect our unique and personal vision of musical beauty .
Once again let me demystify the process with John's help and it is again much like building a hot rod or custom motorcycle
Today's most sophisticated hot rod custom shop will sit you down in front of their PC so create your dream machine on the screen and you can play as long as it takes for you to discover what expresses your vision of beauty you can play with various combinations of body elements, engines, transmissions and paint schemes.
So it is with John's program play with different input stage and output stage confirmations. Spends lots of time exploring different output tube choices. You must play with different power supply designs. Which is right for you Push/pull or single-ended? What driver tubes do you like, and in what configuration? Are you ready to design your own unique custom hot rod phono preamp?
GETTING A GOOD BASIC THERMIONIC HIGHER EDUCATION
One of the most often asked question of Dr. Gizmo, is "Where can I get a basic education in tube circuits?". Now you know the answer, because with each program comes a basic course in tube circuitry which will explain the operation of some of the basic circuit "building blocks" which compliments the TUBECAD web site.
Why is this so important? There is a clear relationshiip between how much you understand about motors and how much horsepower you obtain and how much you know about tube circuits and how much pleasure you obtain integrity in the arts is all about integration of mind and soul.
Do you understand the power that John is bestowing on you..the power to realize your dream . for $49
WORDS OF IRONY BY THE THERMIONIC MASTER
The irony fascinates me. Two issues ago in The Tube CAD Journal ( www.tubecad.com) I joked that my tardiness in bringing out that issue was due the failure of the MacArthur Foundation selection committee, the "genius grant" people, to recognize the journal's contribution to the understanding the thermionic arts. Of course, such a joke begs ridicule from those who disagree with you. Having now received the even more prestigious Platinum Brain award from Dr. Gizmo himself, I expect to be doubly lambasted. Still, my only real regret is that "Platinum Brain" does not fit on a personalized license plate.
While Dr. Gizmo received an e-mail from Grebnor, the spearmaker, I get many e-mails from the club-bearers, who want me to throw the spear for them as they are unwilling even to hold a spear. The causes are many: ignorance, fear, confusion, and sometimes, paradoxically, arrogance. "Just as I would never dirty my hands by checking the oil level in my car's engine, I would never tire my fingers or brain on a hand calculator."
Really, the question is a simple one. Active or passive? This is the question that the faced by the designer of a phono equalization network, a speaker crossover, or even a line stage. It is also the question that you face, as a serious listener, as an audiophile, as a seeker of audio bliss. Do you try to understand the vast intricacies of audio gear and then create a plan, an approach, a bridge to the audio nirvana across the chasm? Or do you, credit card in hand, faith in those more knowledgeable, march into the audio salon and spend five figures on what you are told you will like or should like.
A true exchange overheard after a lecture on wine given at an exclusive, big-buck, wine salon: "Which wines will I like?" The puzzled lecturer replied, "I don't know; what type of wines do you presently like?" The eager wine purchaser was undaunted, "You're a wine expert, so you should know what wine I will like." With more patience than I would have shown, he replied, "True, I have spent almost every waking moment over last ten years, thinking, studying, and experimenting in an attempt to make sense of grapes and wine barrels, so if that makes me an expert, then I am an expert. But listen, you are going to have to work with me a little. Tell me what kind of wines do you like now and I will try to make some recommendations based on those likings." The Platinum Visa card bearer struggled to hide his growing impatience and growled, "The best wines of course!" The wine expert only raised his open hands and said nothing, while the disappointed consumer walked away muttering the word "moron."
If the thought of being told what you should like makes your hand unconsciously clinch into a fist, then you realize that to be active means that you count, that you and your preferences are primary, that to be active means more than just existing, that it means fighting to make you and your preferences triumphant. If, on the other hand, the phrase "what you are told you will like or should like" sounds comforting and reassuring, then I have nothing to offer you but open hands and silence.
The webzine and software I write have absolutely nothing to do with Absolutes. They are tools that aid you in your quest to understand tube audio and to express your preferences, prejudices, desires, and longings with audio circuitry and components.
"Wait a minute," some will be thinking, "are we talking about art or science?" At their best, art and science are more alike than different; at their worst, worlds apart. Both, at their best, are imaginative efforts that are nonetheless true, true to the facts, whether those facts observed through a microscope, telescope, oscilloscope or observed psychologically, existentially, intuitively. The best science is imaginative: Newton, Darwin, Einstein, and Heisenberg; and the worst art is false: far too much of modern TV shows, movies, paintings, and novels. (For those interested in this issue, any book by Jacob Bronowski?The Ascent of Man, The Visionary Eye, The Common Sense of Science, The Poet's Defense, or Science and Human Values?well illustrates the similarity between science and art.)
That science and art meet in the making of a violin, most will agree. But what of the designing of a stereo system? Some have told me that actually neither understanding or art are necessary. "Understanding isn't necessary, as all you have to do is use the best parts with existing circuits and you will get the best sound." Really? While it is true that electronic parts make different contributions to the sonic mix, is there a best? Here is an example from cooking. (By the way, audio and cooking have more in common than we might imagine at first glance: a little olive oil here, a little oil capacitor there.) After many a false start at making the Italian hot egg custard, zabaglione, I asked my favorite waiter, Tony, at my favorite Italian restaurant in San Francisco, Basta Pasta, where was I going wrong. He listened to my procedure and then asked which Marsala wine I was using. My answer shocked him and he replied, "That's the most expensive Marsala available." I was stupidly proud of my purchase but I was then crestfallen to hear him tell me to use the vastly cheaper Marsala instead, and in fact to dilute it with some sweet German wine! "But that's the Marsala that winos buy," I stammered. "So, what?" was his reply. His point was simple: did I want to use the best wine or make the best zabaglione. Tubes, chokes, oil capacitors, carbon resistors, air-gapped output transformers?all are universally acknowledged as falling short of being the best devices in terms of measured performance; yet they can make magic, as we of the thermionic guild well know. But where they are placed and how they are used is all important; when misused, they make the rabbit inside the table underneath the magician's top hat all too visible.
So if understanding is required, is it all that is required? In other words, does art have a place in the design of a tube amplifier for example? Let's answer with another question: Can art enter the design of a car, motorcycle, airplane? These are difficult questions. Some immediately answer yes; others, just as quickly, no. And both can be right. At its best, the design of an amplifier, car, motorcycle, an airplane expresses the designer's own viewpoint, the taking apart of the World and the reconstructing of it. The art inherent in an amplifier lies in imagination using components and topologies to express an individual viewpoint. In designing that amplifier, every detail and decision must be carefully and imaginatively made to further that expression. This not pure engineering, the act or practice of determining the cheapest effective way of achieving some predetermined goal; it is something altogether different and more difficult.
But making this feat happen requires more than just having a viewpoint it; it takes at least working knowledge of the craft. Not the complete mastery of the craft? No. Just as artists, composers, and writers of great technical ability can create works inferior to the less technically able but more inspired creator, technical mastery of electronics can be eclipsed by inspiration. Of course, when technical ability meets inspiration, masterpieces ensue. How does one obtain a working knowledge? My recommendation is to try The Tube Cad Journal.
The publishing of this free journal hopes to fill an existing need?namely, the instructing of audio novices in the art and practice of tube electronics. (Actually, the intended audience encompasses more than just novices; and as time passes, we hope to pull up the novice into the ranks of practiced thermionic crafters.) Why bother? Certainly not for money, as there is no money in it. One small reason is that the more knowledgeable the tube fancier, the more likely he will need the software I write. The bigger reason is that I believe that an understanding of tube circuits is vitally important to improving the sad state in which audio finds itself today. A few years ago, a many degreed, highly gifted and intelligent senior electrical engineer sat on my coach, belittling the premise that I would waste my time designing and building an SE tube amplifier. But as the music filled the room, he shut up. Ten minutes later, I killed the music and I was about to offer a rebuttal, when he plaintively cried, "Nooo, don't! Why did you turn the music off? That was the first time in decades that I actually enjoyed listening to music." How very sad, when you consider that he might never had the luck to break the decades-long fast. (Once he recovered from his emotional outburst, his embarrassment well hidden, he challenged me to a contest: he would use solid-state devices and I would use tubes and the goal was to see who could make a better Op-Amp. "Sure," I replied, "as long as one of the design objective is the ability to swing 300 volts peak-to-peak at the output.")
For now, the Tube CAD Journal's main concern is to teach the grammar of tube design; later, it will also attempt to teach the rhetoric of tube design. In other words, first what is possible; later, what is preferable. If the journal is the grammar book, then the GlassWare software is the word processor. The output characteristics of a split-load phase splitter are of no use if you do not know why a phase splitter is needed in a circuit. Not that the programs do not educate?they do?but their usefullnes really requires some overarching undestanding of tube circuitry. Nonetheless, even if you do not now grasp the flow of electrons through the tube, here is a plea: do buy the software, as it will hasten you coming to that understanding. (An additional reason to buy it is that it can only be improved if there is a reason, a justification to invest the time and effort needed to improve it. Version 2 requires some success from version 1. Something of a catch-22 isn't it.)
Last words: does it strike you as odd that Dr. Gizmo is endorsing a hardcore, almost academic set of tools to better understand and create tube audio gear? It shouldn't. He and I are really the two sides of the same coin. He jokes, shocks, and teases his readers, and their inertia, because he is deadly serious about the ultimate aim of all our efforts: the complete enjoyment of the musical experience. Experiencing all that the music can bestow is his goal and mine as well, but as my task is different?the teaching of tube circuitry?I must present a serious face about what tickles and pleases my soul.
The style is the man. Rather say the style is the way the man takes himself If it is with outer seriousness, it must be with inner humor. If it is with outer humor, it must be with inner seriousness.
e-mail Dr. Harvey "Gizmo" Rosenberg: firstname.lastname@example.org
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