Category Archives: Review

Jaycar Electronics JV60 Speaker Kit Review

I'll start off this post by saying that my wife and I had a 5.1-channel satellite and subwoofer setup for quite a long time at home. After a few years I decided to upgrade to a stereo setup with decent left and right drivers. You heard right: upgrade to stereo. Our dominant use-case at home is listening to music rather than watching television and movies and satellite systems absolutely suck for music. If you purchased one of these systems with the puny 1 to 2 inch drivers I am so sorry that you have to listen to such inferior quality audio. I took the bookshelf speakers which I was using for my digital-organ and put them in our living area along with the existing subwoofer to create a 2.1 channel setup. Guess what: it was even better with television as well.

After about 6 months, I really wanted to play organ again without needing to use headphones so I started searching for some decent speakers which I could replace the bookshelf speakers with. After plenty of googling around and showing the specs to some of my work colleagues, I decided to DIY and get a Jaycar JV60 Speaker Kit (the cabinets are also available from Jaycar). The kit is a three-way design utilising 2 Vifa P17WJ speakers and a Vifa D25AG tweeter. The supplied crossover is designed such that one woofer provides only sub-200 Hz frequencies and the other provides sub 3 kHz frequencies i.e. there is an overlap in the bass frequency response. The manual states "This has been done to achieve a strong and extended bass..."

Picture of the JV60 kit packaging.

How the JV60 speaker kit is packed.

Picture of all of the included JV60 kit components

Included JV60 components.

Personally, I don't understand why the tweeter is in the middle of the cabinet rather than the top. I figure that the typical use-case for these speakers would be floor standing in a living space featuring an epic couch. Our couch is by no-means epic, and is actually quite low. Even so, when I am sitting on the couch, my ears are above the height of the tweeters. I would have expected that the most directional speakers would have been placed either on axis or slightly above rather than below the height of even the head of a child sitting on a couch.

Building the Speakers

I thought this was going to be a trivial exercise that would take an hour or so - but it took me quite a bit longer. This is likely because I've forgotten how to use a screwdriver. Long ago are the days where I was apprenticing for Peter D Jewkes pipe organ builders... my hands still have blisters.

Cabinets

Picture of the JV60 corner joinery details

The speakers are well built for the price.

Front-on picture of the JV60 cabinets

The cabinets have a gloss finish on the front and matte finish on the rest.

Mounting the Crossover

Picture of the JV60 crossovers exactly as they come with the kit

This is exactly how the JV60 crossovers are shipped with the kit

First step in the manual is mounting the crossover on the back of the speaker. You are meant to pre-drill holes for the screws to mount it inside on the back wall of the cabinet - but good luck doing this unless you have a miniature drill that you can fit inside the cabinet. I managed to get the supplied wood-screws straight into the back panel with a bit of force. The kit was missing the nylon spacers which were meant to separate the crossover from the back wall, but fortunately I had some spares in the garage.

Issues with the Speakers

Dead Tweeter

After building the speakers, I set about testing them out. Test one was loud electronic music - worked beautifully. Bass was clear and the break as mid frequencies lead into the tweeters was fantastic. Second test was some Bach organ chorales, this test did not go so well. I kept hearing some distortions in the audio; at first I wondered if it was the recording or encoding artefacts but then I noticed it was only coming from one speaker. So I fired up Adobe Audition, created a sine sweep and sure enough one of the tweeters was just totally distorting in the 2-5 kHz region. I got the speaker replaced and all was fine.

Damaged Grill

When I got the speakers, one grill had damaged connectors which attach to the pins on the speaker cabinets (see the pictures). The plastic connections look like somebody had just hacked at them with a hammer and forced the grill on - even though it wasn't even close to being aligned to the pins. I managed to fix these up by inserting a screwdriver into the connectors for a while to restore their original shape... but I was still pretty annoyed that they were so broken when I got the cabinets.

Summary

These speakers are amazing... once they are built and working. I doubt that I would be able to get a better sounding pair of speakers for less than 2 to 3 times the price I paid for these. However, if you decide to build this kit: insist on checking that all of the components are present and that there are no defects in the cabinets/grills. Make sure you do heaps of listening once you've built them to ensure the speakers are all working and there are no unpleasant distortions or leaks in the box.

What I really love about these speakers is how the mid woofer covers such a large frequency response and how well that response leads into the tweeter region. The drivers themselves are clearly of an epic quality: the tweeter is not harsh at all and both the woofers and the tweeter don't appear to have any horrible peaks in the frequency response. Even soft organ reeds with frequency content which covers the whole audible spectrum sound really natural.

Eaton 5115 powering Ubuntu Server 11.10 with NUT

A couple of months ago, I bought a UPS for my server at home. I'm running more remote services on it and figure that anything I can add to protect it is worth while. I bought an Eaton 5115 500 Watt tower model. Only the "Powerware" branded model is listed on the NUT support page but I was banking on the newer model being compatible. For those out there wondering: yes it is.

  1. Install NUT and then configure as per the instructions given here here. For the Eaton 5115 connected via USB, bcmxcp_usb is the correct driver. On Ubuntu this was just a matter of apt-get'ing the "nut" package and modifying ups.conf, upsd.conf, upsd.users, upsmon.conf and nut.conf as specified on the previously linked documentation page.
  2. Disconnect and reconnect the USB connection from the server to the UPS (I had to do this to get everything working).
  3. Test that everything worked by running:

    $ upsc { ups name }

    Where { ups name } is the name chosen for the UPS in ups.conf.

As for the UPS itself: it seems pretty good. I was concerned when I first plugged it in as the fan whirred quite loudly at full speed for a few minutes - but then it slowed down to a very quiet speed. The voltage regulation feature has kicked in a few times (my line is supposed to be a nominal 240 Volts but more often floats around 250 Volts) which I thought was pretty neat.

I haven't got figures on battery length... might edit this when I do.

Thank you DrayTek

Our home is a wireless nightmare. We have several simultaneous dual-band routers which we used to spread the wifi throughout the house. All of these are running dd-wrt because their stock firmware cannot do what I want them to do. We have:

  • A Cisco E4200 which is the main internet router and is positioned in the middle of the house. It provides two separate wireless networks.
  • A Cisco E3000 which is bridged to the N network. This provides another G network and also acts as our print server (printer is connected to a USB port on the device).
  • A Netgear WNDR3700 which is bridged to the N network and provides yet another G network. Our TV is also connected to this box so it can talk to our media server.

All of these devices are fantastic. I have never needed to reset any of them (yes, never). They just work all the time. However, the above description of my wireless setup is not the point of this post. While I have had a good experience with the reliability of my "routers", my experience with modem/router combo devices tends to have been less positive: they have never been particularly reliable when placed under load. Using a router, however, means that a separate modem is required to connect to the internet.

Over the last few years, I have had a bunch of different modems and almost all of them have been complete rubbish. Here are the last four which I have had:

  • A Netgear DGND3300. This is actually a modem/router, but it can be placed into a modem only mode via a hidden page (http://(ROUTER_IP_ADDRESS)/setup.cgi?next_file=mode.htm). I used the device initially in the normal modem/router mode until one of its wireless devices started to fail. At which point, I bought the WNDR3700 and continued to use this device as a modem. It lasted probably a year and then it started to crash (the modem had to be power cycled on a more-than-daily basis) but I have a feeling this was triggered by a surge. I give this device a 3/10 - I don't blame Netgear for the modem component of the device failing, but I do blame them for the wireless giving up so quickly.
  • A Netgear DM111P. This thing was a complete pile of rubbish. From the day it was bought, it needed to be power cycled at least daily. I give this device a 0/10 - it was almost totally useless. This is also why I started to buy Cisco gear.
  • A Cisco X2000. Again, this is another modem/router which can be placed into bridge mode (much more easily than the DGND3700). I thought it was going to be great when it held the connection for 3 days... then it crashed. We kept the device for a few months and it would last anywhere up to 7 days before crashing. I give it a 1/10. It gets one point just to make it clear that it was "better" than the DM111P.
  • A DrayTek Vigor 120. This is the latest modem I have bought. I've had it for a couple of weeks now and it has been rock solid. I get good speeds and it holds the ADSL connection excellently.

Unstable modems suck - especially if you are running remote services from a home server. If you go away from home and the modem dies - you're stuck being unable to log in until you can manually reset the modem. So yeah, thanks DrayTek for making my wireless setup something I don't need to think about anymore.