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June 29, 2020

The Retro Evercade Console is Here!

I've been waiting for the Evercade for quite a while and it's FINALLY here! 

It's pretty darn close to what I expected. The Evercade is a value-oriented product, so there are a number of compromises necessary to hit that low-cost sweet-spot. What really matters though is if it scratches that nostalgic itch and does a decent job of presenting the games, especially to those who may have never played them before. Get a low-down below of where Evercade really hits the mark and where it falls a little short:

Evercade Console
The Evercade console in white

What's great:

  • Huge selection of cartridges right out the door (10 available, 4 coming in Q3)
  • The console has a decent weight to it and the build quality is solid. There’s no quality concerns like with generic consoles from China like the SupaBoy (e.g. hair or dirt behind screen, smudges in finish, etc.)
  • The buttons have a great feel and response. The response similar to an Xbox controller, which is high praise.
  • The L+R buttons have a little less weight but make a satisfying clicky sound
  • The cartridges are a good size, maybe around the size of a Game Gear game (not tiny and easy to lose like the Switch)
  • Easy-to-access menu during gameplay
  • Nice looking, quality boxes for the cartridges and color manuals
  • Rechargeable battery
  • HDMI output
  • Low priced games and system. The system is about $100 with three cartridges, and the cartridges are $20 each. The system with all ten games is $200.

cartridge case

evercade cartridge case
Love the cartridge cases!

What could be better:

  • Cartridge fit is fairly tight… not on the contacts, but the left and right sides are lacking adequate clearance.
  • D-pad feels a little mushy, about what you’d expect from a 3rd party value controller
  • Screen angle viewing isn’t great, but you’re going to be head on playing this thing so not a big deal
  • Screen could be a little larger
  • There seems to be only one save state per cartridge, vs. one per game
  • Sound quality isn’t the greatest. Granted these are 8 and 16 bit tunes, but they can still sound better with a little more wattage and a larger driver.
  • A number of the games are two-player, but I don’t think there’s a way to link up two of these puppies.


Evercade Console Back
That cartridge fit is tight!

Overall I think the Evercade is a really nice gesture to the retro gaming community. It’s a solid product with a price-point that’s accessible to many and already has great support from developers. The whole premise reminds me a bit of the NEO GEO X Gold, which was a nostalgic system released mostly for collectors where games were sold separately via cartridge. While I love SNK and the Neo Geo, I think the Evercade has more going for it than the X Gold with access to a variety of publishers. 

The real litmus test is in the games, and Evercade already has 10 titles available at launch (very impressive) and 4 more which will be releasing in Q3. Not only are there classic games, but new titles like Xeno Crisis and Tanglewood are being released. I’d really like to see it succeed so we can have even more newly released games and more classic collections to check out. I think the unit’s success in the market will be dependent on gaining more buy-in from devs so there are more carts available to consumers.

Storage Case
The storage case is a nice option

What could Evercade do to make a very solid release even better?

  • Allow a save state for each game and enable two player via a firmware update.
  • Offer a premium stand-alone console later down the line that addresses the compromises (screen, d-pad, speakers, maybe include a bigger battery) and sell for $199-$249. Collectors aren’t as price sensitive as normal consumers.


Currently available cartridges

  • Atari Collection 1 (with 20 games)
  • Namco Museum 1 (with 11 games)
  • Data East Collection 1 (with 10 games)
  • Interplay Collection 1 (with 6 games) 
  • Atari Collection 2 (with 20 games)
  • Namco Museum 2 (with 11 games)
  • Interplay Collection 2 (with 6 games)
  • Mega Cat Studios Collection 1 (with 10 games)
  • Piko Interactive Collection 1 (with 20 games)
  • Technos Collection 1 (with 8 games)


June 12, 2020

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

When it comes to passive balanced switchboxes, there aren't a whole lot of off-the-shelf options out there. It's not uncommon to just build them from scratch with a nice switch and point-to-point wiring as they're not terribly complicated.

I recently learned of a Japanese audio company called Audio Design that offers a simple but solid 3 in, 1 out balanced switchbox. The outside is a straight-forward design with a dark blue and silver aluminum box with a brushed aluminum front panel. The only control is the single selector knob up front to switch between the 3 outputs. What counts though is the inside, where there is a high-quality Seiden selector switch, some high-quality Neutric XLR jacks, and some thick copper wire... which appears to be 18 or 20 gauge. 

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

One of my clients owns the unit, and wanted to take it to the next level. The Seiden switch is already top-notch, could stay, but we'd replace the copper wire with solder core silver wire in Teflon tubing, the XLRs with the shiny and beautiful Cardas XLRs, and the generic plastic feet with EAR isodamp feet. 

I will say in advance, if you will be using the Cardas CM F and CM M XLRs, you better have a solder pot. The rhodium plating is not terribly interested in taking on solder so the areas where the wires connect need to be submerged in very hot solder for 10-15 seconds before they will be responsive. I personally use an American Beauty MP-9 solder pot for small jobs like this. I turn it on to the highest temp and let it warm for an hour before using. Kester low dross solder works well. 

Once all the Cardas XLRs had been prepped, the old Neutrik XLRs were removed from the rear panel and replaced. They are the same DIN dimensions, so no need to change the hole sizes or shapes. Note that the Cardas units have pins can comply to some extent thanks to a soft material surrounding them. I don't know if this was done for vibration damping or maybe the tolerances aren't super tight, but just an observation. 

The 24 gauge solid silver is then hand-sleeved in Teflon tubing and attached to each terminal. One should note to not make the paths too short or tight, as this will pull on the decks of the Seiden switch and cause there to be less surface area for the gold plated contacts to press upon. I chose to add heatshrink tubing over the solder contacts as silver will oxidize over time. The oxidation is still conductive, but it doesn't look as nice. Also it keeps the joints secure when shipping. 

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

Balanced XLR Switchbox - Audio Design HAS-3LB

The feet on the unit are attached with screws into threaded holes. There are no nuts or lock washers to worry about, so switching them is quick and painless. 

Whether modded or not, I think the Audio Design HAS-3LB is a very solid unit with no real shortcomings other than a slightly vanilla design. Should you wish to extract every bit of performance out of a stock unit, reach out to zynsonix.com for pricing information. 

Disclosure: Please remember that building/modifying circuits can be dangerous to you and/or your surroundings and should only be performed by a certified technician. The owner of this blog and all associated parties can not / will not be held responsible if you attempt a build or modification posted above and cause physical harm to yourself or your surroundings.