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April 15, 2022

High-end Custom Audiophile Headphone Cable for HiFiMan Susvaras

High-end Custom Audiophile Headphone Cable for HiFiMan Susvaras

If you are looking for high-end audiophile wire, ultra pure ohno cast copper, aka UP-OCC, should be on your shortlist. The copper is drawn from much larger crystals so it has a much smoother and cleaner appearance under a microscope versus standard oxygen free copper with a more grainy texture. See below: 

Thanks to it's long grain structure, UP-OCC is commonly used for higher-end audiophile cables. But what if we wanted something even better? Zynsonix now has access to ultra pure, ohno cast silver (UP-OCS) wire known for even better conductivity. 

For this post I'll be assembling a Zynsonix UP-OCS Centurian Octet headphone cable for the HiFiMan Susvaras, easily one of the best headphones on the market. The Susvara's are known to be very unsensitive so that's why the Octet formation is recommended to get the extra juice from your headphone amp or speaker amp to the headphones. 

At the start we will need to hand-braid the UP-OCS silver wire, this is a pair of litz quads which will be running in parallel. 

I like to give the cable a nice snug PTFE Teflon wrap to help reduce unwanted vibration and microphonics. 

Next comes the sleeving. We went with ViaBlue's patterned black, red and white patterned sleeving

The next step is to add the Zynsonix blind embossed leather tag and Y-splitter.

And we can terminate the cable with some Cardas Quadeutectic solder, 3.5mm connectors and a Furutech rhodium plated 4 pin XLR for balanced audio. 

This is an extremely high performing audio cable that does the HiFiMan Susvaras justice. It's also relatively light despite the extra conductors thanks to the hand-braided UP-OCS. If you'd like to hear the best your Susvaras can sound, please check out the Zynsonix Imperial Legate. It can be terminated in any balanced or single-ended rhodium connection including 4 pin XLR, dual 3 pin XLR, 6.3mm TRS, 4.4mm TRRRS, 3.5mm TRS, 2.5mm TRRS, bananas/spades, or SpeakON connector for Benchmark AHB2.


March 18, 2022

Headphone and Speaker Switchboxes for HiFiMan Susvara

I wanted to show a few different solutions for headphone and speaker switchboxes for the HiFiMan Susvara headphones. Everyone knows these are basically the least sensitive headphones on the market so they need to be powered with a speaker amp to sound their best. Speaker amps weren't really made to power 60 ohm headphones, so it's nice to keep them happy with a load closer to what they were designed to output. Also, if you are using multiple amps or one amp for both headphone and speaker duty, it can be pretty annoying to have to get behind your equipment and swap the spades or bananas every time you need to switch. Thus the need for high quality switches that won't degrade the signal. 

First use case is a gentleman who likes very minimalist looking equipment, thus the limited printed letters on the front. He wanted to be able to use one amp and switch between his Susvaras and his speakers, so simple single switch operation. The headphone outputs are for low sensitivity (Susvaras or HE-6) and high sensitivity for regular headphones. 

This chassis has a 10mm front panel and 2mm for everything else so it has a nice weight to it. This is good for those of you with thick speaker cables. 10mm really has to be machined/milled, most panel mounted parts aren't compatible. In this case we milled so the 4 pin XLRs could be flush mount, and the switch needed some inletting from the back. On the back we have the splendid Cardas CCGS binding posts which are milled copper block covered in gold and rhodium. They're my personal favorite; pricey but you get what you pay for. It also has nice thick aluminum feet with ring dampers but they are hiding underneath. Inside is hand-sleeved high purity soft drawn silver. 

Next we have a slightly more budget oriented build that will allow the user to select one of two amps to either power a pair of speakers or the Susvara headphones. It also has a subwoofer output and an RCA is on the back so the user can ground the chassis to a grounding system if desired.

Engraved brass plates provide identification for the inputs/outputs and functions. This unit utilizes a set of EAR isolation feet.

This one isn't necessarily for a Susvara but it allows the user to select between 3 balanced headphone amps and 4 balanced headphones. It features nice Grayhill switches and hand-sleeved high purity soft-drawn silver. The knobs are milled aluminum. The 3 inputs are on the back of the unit. Remember to turn down the amplifiers before switching for two reasons, one tube amps need a load, and two, you could inadvertently switch to a higher sensitivity headphone and the high volume could harm it. 

I make a lot of these types of projects but these I found to be some of the more interesting ones. As always you can order a speaker amp to headphone converter that can switch between low and high sensitivity modes, and can switch between 4 pin and 1/4" outputs. This one has a speakON connector for use with a Benchmark AHB2 Amplifier. The Benchmark is a popular choice to use with the Susvaras.

I hope you enjoyed this little gallery. If you need a custom high-end headphone or speaker switcher you know where to find me :) 

If you are trying to power low-sensitivity headphones via a speaker amplifier, please check out the CBOX at Zynsonix.com. It provides a safe consistent load for your amplifier while delivering the juice your headphones need. 

January 18, 2022

The MOD Rock Bottom Guitar Effects Pedal

Today's post is a guest post from my bud Ryan Price and covers the MOD Rock Bottom Pedal. Ryan's been getting his feet wet in the DIY audio scene and doesn't shy away from some classic point-to-point wiring.

Please excuse the possible lack of common decorum for a post.  This is my first one and it’s a learning process.  I picked up a DIY guitar pedal build kit by MOD from Amplified parts.  I chose the Rock Bottom pedal for a few reasons.  First is I wanted an analog Fuzz.  Second is the extended low end so I can use it with both bass and guitar.  the “3” rating seemed like a challenge for a pedal build novice with some soldering experience.  Considering that I have plenty of time to kill as I’m currently recovering from a recent heart transplant, I went for it even if it was gonna be just outside my skill set so far.  I was able to finish it over the course of about 4-6 hours over a few nights. 

The Pedal Kit

Now for the breakdown.  The MOD kit comes with everything you need minus tools and solder.  I used a Hakko 888D soldering iron but for this application most would suffice I believe.  Hand tools I used were a MusicNomad guitar multitool, strippers, dikes, hemostats, and some modified pliers.  I put a bit of shrink tube around the jaws so as not to damage wire and components.  While the kit comes with everything you need the wire is not easy to work with if you don’t have a solder pot.  I own one but did not have access to it at the time of the build.  I substituted the wire with some I had left over from a previous project.  Its if a smaller gauge but of much higher quality.  That’s the only substitution I made. 

Tools of the Trade

The build is rather straightforward.  Starting with terminal strips, switches, and connectors.  The layout is very straight forward and with some planning can be a super clean build.  

Classic Turret Strips

Next they have you measure out the wire.  As I followed the directions closely up to this point I found the lengths a bit on the long side (editors note: you can make the wires shorter depending on your OCD level). But I can see why as its easy to trim to size.  Not so easy to add length!  Now I got ahead of myself and terminated both ends of the runs as I was building.  For my next build I plan to take things a bit slower.  Before terminating any connection I will dry fit all components, bend and run, then get a plan of how to go forward.  The directions are decent there are a few times you run into overlapping components. 

Wired Up

Component layout is definitely the most difficult part of the build and you should take your time.  Plan ahead and follow the directions.  That will make this build a breeze.  Don’t get ahead of yourself and begin terminating at a whim like I did as you will regret it.  It will also take more time than doing a layout before assembly.  Trust me on that one!  

All Parts Installed

Once I fixed all my errors (there were many) it came together nicely. Powered right up and gave me sweet, sweet two transistor Fuzz! This pedal is a massive bang for your buck win. I can recommend it 100% to all but the most novice of DIY people. I can’t wait to build another MOD pedal in the near future. Amplified Parts has a great selection of all related components and tools (Editors note: if you're a knob snob they have a nice selection). As well as super solid shipping. I can’t recommend them enough.

Finished Up

So if you’re got some soldering skills, desire to DIY, and a few hours I say go for it!  

I left the sticker off.  My wife is an artist and I’m going to have her paint and label the pedal!

(Editors note: we'll update the story when Ryan and his wife are all done.)