Friday, November 8, 2013

AT LP120-USB Turntable Mod

I got a sweet deal on an Audio Technica LP120-USB turntable from Essex, a place that sells factory rejects, refurbs, and other "almost new" products at a steep discount. The dust cover was busted up*, so I assumed that was why it was there. Unfortunately, it also exhibited some infuriating behavior whereby the left channel would randomly cut out, though I didn't discover this until much later. :(

I suspected the internal preamp was the most likely culprit, so I followed this tutorial describing how to bypass the preamp entirely and push the untouched phono signal straight out to the RCA cables (which I may replace with jacks soon, instead). Honestly, there's not much too it. You just cut out the board and splice up the RCA cables directly to the red/white/ground wires.
The removed preamp board.

I was pleasantly surprised when, in addition to fixing my channel dropout problem, the sound quality seems considerably better in the high frequency range. This improvement is why most people do the mod in the first place, and the above link contains some pre-mod and post-mod recordings to help potential modders decide if the improvement is worth their time and effort. I could not distinguish between the two recordings in ABX testing, but the difference in person is easily noticeable. For example, the natural crackles and pops on the records were very subtle and difficult to hear pre-mod but are easily audible post-mod. This may not sound like a particularly positive development, but it's unsettling to think that I was losing that much sound off the top before.

*I was able to piece everything back together with some super glue, but you can also purchase them new from Audio Technica (you can email their customer service) for around $30.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Quark Shaders for Higan/bsnes v093+

As of v093, Higan (previously known as bsnes) includes a new shader format based on OpenGL 3.3 / GLSL 1.5. This format is nice, powerful and roughly as flexible as RetroArch's Cg support. Hyllian, aliaspider and I set to work converting many of the most popular shaders to the new format, available from the Quark Shader Github repo.

If you're not familiar with git, you can download the full repo by clicking on the 'Download ZIP' button in the right-hand margin.

To use these shaders, place the entire *.shader directory into your Video Shaders directory. One caveat: the handful of shaders that utilize motion blur won't work with v093, but should be functional with v094+.

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