Design Ethos

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Art, Audio, Philosophy

Analog Ethos is for enthusiasts and makers interested in custom stereo tube amplifiers and loudspeakers. It’s a way for me to share what I’ve learned, my designs and the inspiration and philosophy that goes with them. The fundamental experience of hearing is physical, and there is beauty, history and authentic quality in the engineering of vacuum tube amplifiers, loudspeakers and other analog components.

 

I value great quality sound and am on a continual learning journey in electronics and physics, but am not an engineer by training and prefer not to use the label "audiophile." I would call myself an artist, and this is my background and starting point. Many will debate concepts of "the best sound" and pursue ultimate performance, often resulting in great-sounding but visibly ugly or physically obtrusive designs. My objective is to pair high performing analog audio equipment with visual designs that makes the end product something that delivers pleasure and a moving experience both through the sound and the product's visual presence, and all through a process that involves patience, exploration, inspiration and a reflection of history and culture.

 

My design philosophy is also shaped by the underlying motivation for this activity in my life. This is not my full-time job, and in fact is an escape from it. Like anyone, I face daily pressures, responsibilities, successes and failures. I needed a way to channel myself into another space, to reject negativity, stress or other emotional punches of life, and be in a place where I'm creative, in control, and can be completely myself.

 

We all have varying escapes or inspirations. Something that has stuck with me a bit for some reason is the movie, The Big Lebowski, and the experience of its hero, The Dude. (I'm not into "Dudeism", though this movie has certainly inspired a broader philosophy of life for some fans!) The Dude abides in his time and place. He can't be bothered by anything, life goes on, man! And when things start to get really bad, his friend Walter brings it all back into perspective saying, "F- it, Dude, let's go bowling."

 

So I've used The Dude as a coping mechanism and as an inspiration for the visual design of one of my amplifiers. I have have noted below some design principles using lines or themes from the movie. Say what you will, at least it's an ethos.

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Perry Board

Analog Ethos

Analog Ethos LLC is a small independently owned and operated business located in Malvern, PA USA

Design Principles

That rug really tied the room together.

Look to have a theme, purpose, inspiration or something that the design is built around and all the parts should fit together cohesively. The inspiration will carry you through the entire design and creation process. Without something to tie it together, it will be a generic design. This can be ok sometimes as a functional piece of equipment, but it will likely not transcend to feel like art.

Well, that's just like, your opinion, man.

It's easy to be motivated or shaped by what others think. Don't let that happen. It doesn't matter what others think. Do what you think is right for the design and the inspiration.

This isn't Nam, there are rules.

Bringing balance to the previous principle, while you should feel empowered to reject the opinions of others, still you can't ignore the laws of physics and principles of design. You have to follow appropriate rules and design considerations to have a high quality result. This includes both circuit design (ohms law, tube characteristics, circuit design, etc.) and art principles (color, shape and form, pattern and texture, etc.)

You want a toe? I can get you a toe.

Nearly anything is possible. You can do it if you are willing to learn, try, fail, try again, and have incredible patience and determination. There are ways to do just about anything (subject to some rules!) Once you start making things, you will realize there is little you can't make, and your knowledge, experience, and abilities will grow.

Strikes and gutters, ups and downs.

Your projects will sometimes be going great, and other times not so great. Things will work or not work. Ideas pan out or they don't. It looks and sounds great or looks and sounds awful. That's just how it is. You can't get all strikes. Enjoy the journey and learn from the gutters.

You're entering a world of pain

Take safety seriously. Working either with workshop tools like table saws, or with high voltage in a tube amplifier circuit, always remember that if you are careless or don't follow consistent safety practices, you'll enter a world of pain. In the case of high voltage, it can even be deadly. Have fun with this hobby, but be safe for your own good and for those around you.

F it Dude, let's go bowling.

Allow the emotion of life to be channeled into your creativity and projects. It's normal for any of us in life to feel angry, hurt, disappointed, frustrated, embarrassed, confused, annoyed, tired, or any other emotions that daily life is likely to bring (along with hopefully a lot of happy ones!) These emotions are powerful and you shouldn't try to suppress them; give them an outlet. If you can talk about it, that's great. But sometimes, if you need to, you can just say F it Dude, I'm going to my workshop. Find your bowling.