M-Audio StudioPro 3 repair

First of all, let me say “hi there, Googlers!”

I owned the M-Audio StudioPro 3 speakers for quite a few years before they started to fail on me.  They were not too bad, gave decent sound at reasonable desktop volume.  In the last year or so, the right speaker conked out.  Well, it played, but was really really quiet.  I replaced the cable a few times, and tested with an oscilloscope that yes, it was actually receiving signal, but very weak.

I opened it up and couldn’t see any immediate issues, like loose connections or popped capacitors.  I tried making a better solder joint on the wire leading to the right speaker jack, but didn’t notice an improvement.

I would probably have been wise to obey this

Much of my research leads to the understanding that these units will eventually fail, even if I fixed it now.  I decided I might as well convert the speaker into a passive speaker, and bypass the amp entirely.  I first thought this was as easy as attaching the speaker terminals, then I realized I still need the crossover, of course.  I just needed to find it on the board.

With the help of this page (thank you Yashar), I found at the very bottom of the page a rough estimation of what the crossover will look like in this speaker.  It is slightly different from the AV40, but the general layout of the two inductors helped me locate the general area I was looking for.

Armed with that and a little function generator I was able to find the spot after the power amp and before the crossover.  Here it is, with the original output wire removed from its spot and soldered on to an existing joint.

I removed it shortly after and threaded the wire through the hole alongside the zip tie for a small amount of strain relief.  Now the 1/8″ jack, instead of sending amplified signal OUT to the right speaker, is an input for amplified signal.  In other words, it is now a passive speaker, just like the right side one.

I can leave it unplugged from AC and still use it, as long as I have a small amp, like the little LEPY amps on Amazon/AliExpress.  The speakers seem to be rated 10W and 4ohms so I certainly can’t drive them hard with that little amp, but I think I can easily get a lot more life out of them, especially with the right one being significantly less dead than before.

I can’t guarantee that I did this right, and maybe someone will correct me, but I think I found a simple solution to save these.

Here’s the full bottom side of the PCB

A Dip in the Music Stream

Music streaming has become a big deal in the last few years.  People don’t seem to care about bandwidth, they know its a resource that seems to be basically infinite (if metered).

My problem is that it almost seems like the users are treating music the same way.

I reflect back to my discovery of music.  It started off as a social thing – you wanted to hear the new stuff that other people were talking about.  These were the days of carrying a boombox around so you could play your tunes for everyone who surely would like it as much as you, right?

After not long though, I realized there were things that others liked that I didn’t.  Why?  If it was popular, wasn’t it automatically good?  I realized that music can be something very personal, you can find some lyrics or tones that speak to your soul, but not those of the people right around you.  And, you know what, that cut both ways.  Maybe music I really enjoyed was never going to be the favourite of others 1.  I think I am still learning this, actually.

This is not to say that music lost its social aspect, sometimes it defined it.  This may have been an operation of the teen years as well, but there were times I selected or prioritized friends based on their music tastes.  I want to reject this as immature, but perhaps there is some small bit of validity to this…

Nevertheless, over this time, I began curating my own collection.  Thanks to Columbia House and BMG I gained a stack of CDs (vinyl was from record stores).  Much of it was familiar but I could afford to experiment a bit.

Music was tangible.  Music had a measurable value.  When I got a physical CD, it was an investment.  Sometimes I didn’t really like it on first listen, but since I paid for it, and I only had so many of them, I’d better get into it.  Sometimes I loved it from the first listen – yet I would usually limit myself to one listening a day, so I didn’t get tired of it.  Leaving it running all the time was absurd and wasteful.

To me, digital music downloads were the same thing, the lack of a physical disc didn’t cause a disconnect between the music and “some thing of value”.

This finally leads back to streaming.  I have tried a few services.  I ran Rdio for a long time, it was quite good, and I discovered some new artists I really enjoyed.  Then I tried Spotify for a month, it was also good, and I occasionally used some of the stations.  I ended up getting Xbox Music Pass for a year.  I tried Apple Music, and Google Play Music.  Back to Spotify for a few months.

But sometimes when I listen to stuff on any of these streaming services, I can’t shake the feeling that lots of this music isn’t worth much, and that has absolutely nothing to do with the compositions or the performance.  It seems very temporary, and that bothers me a little.  Why am I wasting my precious listening time on “throwaway” music?

I’m slowly coming around to the value of streaming.  I have discovered a few outstanding bands and songs that are valuable to me and exist only in that context.  But like air and clean water, maybe it’s something we have to stop ourselves and think about their value.

In the meantime, I’m gonna dial up some Big Country and Flock of Seagulls.  Enjoy, my public.

  1. I know, seriously?

Bass Insanity

Having a regular RSS feed of the local music classified can be dangerous to the wallet. This bass caught my eye:

Brice Bass

The price seemed nice, so I did some research on Brice basses. The TalkBass forums were full of glowing comments (and stunning photos). I figured they’d know this stuff.

I took the leap and grabbed it. It needs some tuning up but right away this thing is soooooo much fun. It has loads of great tone and way more notes than I need at any one point in time. I like it that way.

The pickups are active (switchable) and are clear and loud. When I have a dirty amp tone it sounds better with the pickups in passive mode, but then again I haven’t had the chance to tweak ideal amp settings for the active settings.

I did a little research to try and figure out what it is.  The guy that sold it to me called it a “Prestige”.  I asked the guy at Rondo Music what it is, and at first he said it was a V2, but there are a few features that are better than that offers, the bridge, the finished headstock and the active electronics.  He then said it may have been an early bolt-on version of the Z6 (which is a neck-through).