DIY JLM Baby Animal and other DIY.

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Mully
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2009/05/28 07:23:37 (permalink)

DIY JLM Baby Animal and other DIY.

Thought it might help the DIYers out there or those thinking about it to log the Baby Animal kit from JLM Audio here. Joe Malone runs some very nice gear out of Brisbane and you can find him here: www.jlmaudio.com

I'm in the progress of tidying this one up after a successful test run and the results were very good.

Hope this can be of some interest to anyone out there and let me know if there's something in particular you want to see etc.

Happy solder trails.

Here's how the kit (and some other bits) arrive once unpacked. Note the output transformer up the back!

post edited by Mully - 2009/06/21 07:46:54

ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/05/28 07:55:48 (permalink)
    This is the Baby Animal ready for testing prior to inserting the actual op amp module.
    These pres are described as Neve like on major steroids! Cracks me up every time... the Neve really is a bench mark for some things alright.


    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/05/31 02:14:53 (permalink)
    The Baby Animal is now racked and in service and sounding very very clean indeed. Doing some comparisons between the MOTU 8Pre and the BA show the 8Pre to actually be a bit muddy (in comparison to the BA) which was probably expected but it results in me being very keen to get this room tuned a bit flatter because the BA has opened this user's ears to detail... might be a curse?

    Anyways, if any forumite wants to see pix, let me know.

    Also just finished one channel of JLM VU meter kit... about time I got some proper metering sorted.

    Cheers.


    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/01 00:07:41 (permalink)
    Hey Mick,

    Looks interesting! Yeah post some more pics if you get a chance. Also what about price on these suckers?

    OK, i just checked out their website and prices. A single channel for $75 is excellent. I'm assuming this doesnt include power supply, correct?
    post edited by millzy - 2009/06/01 00:28:46

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/01 06:58:04 (permalink)
    Yo Millzy, how's Melbourne? I'm from Gippsland originally.

    The BA in the config I've picked is a bit more than $75 or I'd be building a stack of them. I included a 1:1/1:4 output transformer as well as the 99V amp and the total was around $400 which was still incredibly cheap given the sound of this thing and the options with it... FET DI, impedance adj etc.

    Rack is a 1RU from Altronics and I'll put some pix up tomorrow. They show the beast in a case ready to go etc.

    JLM have the power supply (http://www.jlmaudio.com/shop/index.php?_a=viewProd&productId=30) and it does the job nicely and I'm still stunned just how quiet this thing is. Might mount the supply in the case yet... although it does get warm.

    If you are looking for a detailed pre, then the BA is right up there and is all Oz as well.

    Thanks for the interest Millzy. Sometimes posting this sort of thing can feel a little self indulgent.

    Cheers.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #5
    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/01 18:50:04 (permalink)
    Sometimes posting this sort of thing can feel a little self indulgent


    Not at all, I love reading what people are buying/building etc. These forums are an absolute gold-mine of information due to people sharing their stories!

    If you can post a few piccys that would be awesome. Yeah i figured $75 was a tad cheap. I cant get my head around the "options" side of things yet, however i havent really had a detailed read of anything either.

    BTW Melbourne is cold at the moment!

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    droddey
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/01 21:48:59 (permalink)
    I didn't realize that they had a card based set of pre-amps. I was thinking that the Baby Animal thing was just pre-amps built into a single enclosure. Do they have more than one type of pre-amp?

    Dean Roddey
    Chairman/CTO, Charmed Quark Systems
    www.charmedquark.com
    #7
    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/02 07:31:36 (permalink)
    Hey thanks for the words fellas.

    Hopefully as an answer to both questions:
    The options revolve primarily around (a) choice of preamp module and (b) whether or not to use an output transformer. Other options are if you want a DI and an impedance pot really.

    I've read a lot of people can't pick an audible difference with the o/p tranny but I figured it can't hurt to have some extra iron on the way out and it can give you some gain option with the alternate 1:4 option which you select by connecting to different terminals... super simple.. even for me.
    The module choice personally was simple as the 99V gets a lot of raves... lots. The beauty is that the next one I build will be configured with a different pre module and you then get options.. a choice of two different quality flavors both in the same rack space.

    Thinking keenly about the Dual 99V preamp too... that thing sounds like it's a major bit of kit with dual amps.

    Have taken some mobile phone pix but can't get them off until back at the laptop tomorrow.

    Cheers

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/02 20:40:42 (permalink)
    Thanks Mick, yeah i might do some more reading on these projects, particularly if you're saying they sound good. Like you, I am not in a position to spend a ton of money but would like a nice pre (at an affordable cost.) I'm an ex Telstra tech so soldering etc is no problem, in fact i'd rather enjoy dusting off the soldering iron! And if you do get a chance to post a few pics that would be great. Cheers mate.

    P.S Played a gig down at Morwell last night at a Bushfire recognition benefit put on by Rotary.

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/02 22:18:34 (permalink)
    Hey Millzy most Telstra techs I know can solder properly so you will have zero problems with one of these.

    Here's some shots. Apologies for the cruddy quality, the phone camera sadly struggles a bit.


    Here's the 1RU with the cover off when testing things.
    You can see a back angle in the inside rear which is pre drilled for future output trannies.
    There'll prolly end up being four pres in this rack... still thinking about that.


    More of the same just with better light (maybe) on the desk.
    The front panel is only a letter stamped 'draft' and the final panels (front and rear) will be milled up once I've decided on the final layout that works the best etc.
    Also building up a CNC mill primarily for this stuff.


    This is the beast with the lid now on after all tests passed.
    Not much to test mind you... dead quiet, all controls do something, DI works (very well I might add) and it sounds sweet.
    Got a '79 Strat with Lace Sensors plugged into the DI on the RHS... sounded very fresh.

    Things I'm considering for the final 'production' unit are:
    a) Additional input XLR on the front to alleviate patching and cabling to the rear?... maybe still leave a rear XLR there though and have either one isolate the other when used?
    b) Keep a DI option on all other pres that go into this rack? Obviously handy with level 'issues' but space gets compromised.
    c) Use a 2RU just to have a bit more breathing space? 1RU gets tight but so does rack space.
    d) Mount the JLM supplied PSU in the actual rack and just plug in via single IEC plug?
    e) Other stuff I haven't thought of yet....
    f) Use bigger knobs on the impedance and gain pots? The MOTU has small knobs and they don't bother me so I've put these two vertical to save space.. not sure I'll fit four pres and four I/P XLRs and mount all pots horizontally.
    g) Add peak indicator?

    Any thoughts, please fire away. This is a total work in progress.

    At this point I'm leaning towards a 2RU for 4 pres just to get all options covered but am I going a little over the top I wonder? Do I really need impedance and DI on all channels for example. Rarely do I track a full kit etc...

    Will see about putting some samples up maybe.

    Thanks again for the interest, cheers!
    post edited by Mully - 2009/06/03 06:31:51

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/06 08:28:29 (permalink)
    Thanks for the photos Mike, good job!

    Personally I wouldn't compromise rack space for di's on every pre, maybe one or two, but you can always purchase some decent inexpensive external di's later on if you need to. I've been reading about the JLM 99v pre which looks good. Anyway keep us posted with your project!

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/07 05:12:36 (permalink)
    Hey thanks for the feedback Millzy... good point about doing external DI's.... strangely didn't really weigh that option up before. Thanks.

    I've been shopping for a Cole Clark Angel last week so am very keen to create a really good front end for it.

    DIY status right now is that the CNC unit is under construction, spent all day on it. It's job will be to mill up the panels for this and the projects to come.... got a patch panel into the new mp room to do etc.... gonna make things kinda swish for DIY.

    I'm thinking that dual 99V could be a goer alright and I'm starting to lean on making this job a 2 channel rack. Two very nice pre's with different flavors combined with the MOTU will prolly cover all I need which is mostly the odd band demo and the seemingly regular accompanied vocal demo type project.

    Cheers!

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #12
    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/21 07:34:05 (permalink)
    Quick update... the CNC is nearing completion and then the pre can have a new face. Final DIY job will have two different pre amps in the same 1RU... still deciding on the second pre.

    Panel face design is done in CAD, just needs to be checked again for scale etc then ready for a test run on the new mill.

    After this it's the small VU metering project... in between some actual tracking.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Brett
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/21 12:15:44 (permalink)

    ORIGINAL: Mully

    I've read a lot of people can't pick an audible difference with the o/p tranny but I figured it can't hurt to have some extra iron on the way out and it can give you some gain option with the alternate 1:4 option which you select by connecting to different terminals... super simple.. even for me.


    Even if an output transformer can't be heard, they are still a good option for balanced output. The alternative is to have a circuit that inverts the sound exactly matching the level and impedance of the original. It can be done but the BA circuit is pretty simple and a (good) transformer would definitely be better.


    I looked at the BA pre but decided against it because it's such a simple circuit, I've bread boarded the same basic circuit dozens of times. I'm not knocking it as such as to be honest putting it all together into a working unit is a lot of effort. The Five Fish X-12 looks more interesting to me.

    B
    #14
    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/06/22 07:27:04 (permalink)
    Yeah I think the 'magic' to speak of is in the potted op amp module Joe's come up with, the rest of it is very straight forward for sure. There's a bunch of these potted op amp variations out there and Joe guards his like most... but the sound is pretty good I must say especially for the overall price. Mine will total around the $500AU with all the trimmings etc which I can't get near for anything off the shelf (in Oz anyway) that sounds like this anyway.

    The Five Fish gear looks excellent.... that whole overall design impression/style also is very good. Only read good things about Owel and his Five Fish gear and would love to give one a go. Read with interest his CNC journey (http://fivefishstudios.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=494) ... easy to relate to at present.

    His idea I think is different to the JLM though from what I can tell.. his interchangeability with op amps (from what I can see) is based on existing designs? His design primarily provides an alternative path and other features including a 'standard' style alternative? Not aware of the full picture with Five Fish but either way, he's doing good things.

    Agree too on the tranny for balanced output.

    Cheers.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/01 11:04:15 (permalink)
    Alright, one more update.... last night I put the humble Rode NT1a into the Baby Animal and I have to say the result was very pleasing. This mic into this pre sounds (to my ears anyway) very good... loads of depth and detail... definitely the best vocal sound this poor Sonar addict has had in his humble studio.

    As a result I am going to put a JLM 1290 pre into the other channel slot. It has excellent reviews also and I think will make an excellent partner to the BA... just waiting to hear back from Joe about a couple of questions about this combination and the order can go in.

    Also the CNC machine is nearly finished.... on final drive connection stages and the panel can be milled up....!

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/02 00:31:59 (permalink)
    Hey Mick,

    Good to read all is going to plan. I'm going to go down your path shortly - just ordered a custom mic from Ben an Beezneez, and will then ramp up my pre-amp search. Can I ask why you chose the 1290? What kind of sound are you looking for?
    post edited by millzy - 2009/07/02 00:44:01

    Millzy

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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/02 06:41:11 (permalink)
    Hey Millzy, how ya fella? Been throwing some crazy weather your way...

    Those Beezneez mics are 'sposed to be good... read a favorable review in Audio Tech just recently. Didn't know they did custom jobs.

    The 1290 was primarily to get a second option along with the BA in one rack, no point having two with what I do. The BA on the Rode really surprised me coz the NT1a is a good mic but I haven't heard it sound like that before.. not that I've had this one for long. Looking into a good DIY compressor too to follow up with... now that the mill is nearing completion.

    I heard an uploaded sample of the 1290 on acoustic on one of the dozens of forums and it sounded pretty good alright... and liked the attack on the strings I could hear (to my ears anyway) so I'm keen to have the alternative option in the arsenal. Just bought a Cole Clark Angel so am keen for options just for it alone.

    Everywhere I've read too, finding an Oz supplier too is definitely a much cheaper option once you add all the govt costs etc so am very glad Joe is in business. Not that I've bothered with doing the sums mind you... just keen to build 'em.

    Stay well mate.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/02 07:19:21 (permalink)
    Part 2 Millzy.... here's a 1290 link I found with none other than our very own Qwerty: http://www.recordingproject.com/bbs/viewtopic.php?t=17660

    Have a listen and see what you think.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/02 10:41:50 (permalink)
    Finally got a sample of the Baby Animal here: http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7781026

    It's a new Cole Clark Angel into the DI of the BA. Gain on BA is about 3 o'clock and impedance fully anti clockwise. Angel has pretty well mid settings on all controls except I've cranked the on board pup mix control to give some more bottom which is quite noticeable in the sample.

    Nothing flash, just a quick couple of finger picking muck rounds and you must please excuse the insane fret buzz. This neck needs a serious tweak and is still brand new outta the box... this is also a VERY quick plug in and play thing too so it's nothing great but might give you some idea of this pre although it's (much) better than this MP3 would imply and some proper mics will be next to bypass the guitar's pre.

    Anyway... back to it and thanks for listening.

    Cheers.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/04 23:39:26 (permalink)
    Hey Mick,

    Nice playin there mate! Like the sound too, i'm going to give Joe a call next week and run through a list of questions I have. Appreciate the effort you've put in to demo the unit and it's sound, thanks heaps. I'll let you know how i go!

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/05 06:28:45 (permalink)
    Thanks mate. I'm re-setting up the studio in amongst everything else going on and realized how quick and nasty the samples were when I listened on another PC. Oh well... In the process of trying to flatten the mixing space out a bit as well.

    Today I pulled the BA apart and I'm not happy with the 6.5mm for the DI... too bodgy to tighten properly but I understand it was the only viable one they could find for PCB mount with those functions. Will look into options... might even leave the DI off... still deciding on that as I have also decided to put an input XLR on the front (might have stated this already). With just two pres going into this rack, there's plenty of space for a front XLR and it makes sense, particularly with respect to phantom power as every other pre here I never phantom via the patch bay. Had trouble with the 8Pre today doing just that.

    As an aside and to keep things interesting, the CNC is nearing completion so thought I'd put a couple of quick snaps up. This little beast is going to route my pre amp rack panels and then mill me a dual VU panel. After that, the tracking spaces will get nice patch panels!





    Stay well Millzy... and anyone else vaguely interested in my DIY rantings.


    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/16 08:51:17 (permalink)
    This is a longer recording of the Baby Animal. It's the Cole Clark Angel via an NT1a close mic'd into the Baby Animal: http://soundclick.com/share?songid=7838977

    A bit too close actually but I was keen to see how much I could capture playing soft as possible and at the same time capture a quick demo of the Pendleton instrumental (before I forget the basic idea for this song ) so apologies for all the extra noises going on.

    Rhythm is a thumb strummed pattern doubled for left and right with no effects etc while the solo stuff is center with slight reverb for a bit of space. Otherwise there is no processing at all and is not intended as a final effort by any stretch of the imagination.

    Hopefully it gives you a better idea of how the BA sounds.
    Thanks for listening.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #23
    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/19 05:13:23 (permalink)
    Hey Mick, i like it!

    What about your 1290? Did you buy it? Is it still under construction? Very interested in a comparison.

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
    #24
    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/19 08:14:19 (permalink)
    Thanks mate. The BA was quite surprising with it's attention to attack I thought.... didn't seem to miss anything and showed some incredible detail. I actually did some comparisons to the (highly rated) Cole Clark preamp straight into the 8Pre with no MOTU flavoring and have got to say that the BA absolutely slaughtered it in every way. Was stunned by the difference actually even though they are two very different things. The contrast was significant and tried some different mics too for a bit of fun (forget the 57 in this setup ) and the Rode was brilliant even with as a quick throw together.

    The 1290 I've put into the cart on the JLM site about 5 times and haven't hit the button yet (thankfully) due to the final layout of the new rack only now being locked in. I was really reluctant to go ahead until I knew exactly what I wanted plus the CNC journey was nearing completion. Anyway, I think the week after this one I should be ready to order the 1290 as I'm very keen to get it into the rack and then push on with the demos.

    Are you still looking at options?

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #25
    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/23 02:49:18 (permalink)
    Hey Millzy the 1290 is on it's way mate. Spoke to JLM today and it's is shipped today after ordering it last night. Sweet.

    Talking to the boys there it sounds very good with some sweet sounding mid range with the transformers ans sounds MUCH more Neve like in style than the BA so I am looking very forward to it landing. Also ordered the final VU kit, these are excellent and simple and am desperate to get my levels and metering all sorted etc as part of the studio revamp.

    It'll be an LA 2A after this I reckon but I'm going to look a bit deeper into the JLM compressor kit option. Sound interesting.

    Cheers.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #26
    millzy
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/23 03:15:04 (permalink)
    Thanks for the update, i've written to Joe and am waiting on a reply. I'm interested in the 1290 and the dual99V and want to do what i think you wanted which is to have the two in one rack. Anyway will see what he comes back with - also asked him some questions re case and transformer options. Anyway, good news for you on your purchase - i cant wait for a further update from you!

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
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    Mully
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    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/25 02:50:13 (permalink)
    Hey the order arrived the next day (Express post in action for ya!) and today I built the boards up for the 1290, 1 x VU, the FET DI for the 1290 and the Go Between Plus for the 1290... as well as a TREX to supply the 1290 from the existing BA 48V.

    Got a gig tonight but tomorrow hope to start rack layout and prep for testing.... can't wait.

    ASUS H270, i7-7700, JLM BA & 1290, LA2A Opto4, loads of guff.
    #28
    millzy
    Max Output Level: -73 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 890
    • Joined: 2005/01/28 20:32:51
    • Location: Melbourne, Australia
    • Status: offline
    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/26 05:19:32 (permalink)
    Fantastic! Sounds like you've quickly rushed out to the shed and soldered those suckers up! Good work, i cant wait to sort out my **** and be in "building" mode.

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
    #29
    millzy
    Max Output Level: -73 dBFS
    • Total Posts : 890
    • Joined: 2005/01/28 20:32:51
    • Location: Melbourne, Australia
    • Status: offline
    RE: The JLM Baby Animal Pre DIY 2009/07/26 05:20:53 (permalink)
    Hey just noticed my 4 letter swear word got beeped out!

    Millzy

    i7 3770K, 16gb ram, Samsung EVO SSD, 2 x WD drives, RME Babyface, Win 10 (x64), Cakewalk by Bandlab, heaps of other stuff.
    #30
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