Newsletter Archive

Firewall module reviews; Echo's End awaits CNC upgrade & precision resistors; USB Firewall Key News!

Dear esteemed customers,

It's very nice to see so many Firewall module reviews coming in so early. Thank you. Although ​some​ have stated that burn-in takes quite a while, others say a few days is enough for them to make a good evaluation of the potential performance boost.

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Here are some early examples:

"The only word I find is MAGIC."

"The precision of instrument placement was almost visible."

"I am now absorbed completely in performances."

"The enhancement in the overall sound quality and listening experience is in fact astonishing."

"Most important for me: A stronger connection with the music emanating from my speakers, it is another step closer to live music, and I just have to listen into late hours."

"The result is more than words can describe. A Must Have!"

"They exceed the noise and distortion reduction of anything I and some friends have tried at any price even up to six-figure US dollars."

"Depth and exceptional realism of the venue can almost be frightening if you are not familiar with the score."

"The music is extremely dynamic. All ranges are effected. The bass is solid and the treble on piano is exquisite. The mid range is lifelike."

"Natural & NON-fatiguing presentation where the listener can get lost for hours literally!"

"Over the next several days I found that I was listening much more to digital music and for much longer periods of time."

"I was gobsmacked by the incremental improvement in the sound after the firewall modules were installed one at a time to each audio component. With the full complement of four modules, the sound was stunning."

"I heard and felt much more ambient retrieval and the sound staging was better defined and different instruments were easily discernible."

"The instrument separation is way more distinct. The overall image is crisper and more dynamic. The bass is deep and well defined, making me feel part of the stage. Midrange and highs are also substantially improved. I honestly did not expect that much Improvement."

"My Rehdeko full range speakers talking to me: 'Well, finally, 20 years, we have been waiting for!'"

"EXCEPTIONAL progress on every aspect which determines the quality of the system: dynamics, spaciality, transparency, and musicality."

"Absolutely no downgrade to detect. Only pure wonderful musicality. I'm absolutely sure that the Firewall module will receive several Product/Bargain of the Year awards."

Please add your voice, when ready

We are not in the stores with this item, so the only way more people will find out about us and our high performance aspirations is if you please share your experience on our bulletin board or in some other forum online. Thank you!

Echo's End, the DAC that is already taxing the industry!

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We are fortunate that two things coincided recently with regards to the Echo's End discrete precision ladder DAC project. One has to do with the CNC milling machine, and the other to do with availability of the numerous most precise and stable resistors needed.

Devious milling deviations

We have been busy going back and forth between the milling station and testing several prototypes for accurate fit and seamless assembly.

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A curious thing happened. After a few iterations and corrections of exact locations for small fastener holes, it seems, like Beethoven in some of his phases of undecided composition, that we were running in circles. All of our corrections were based on results, but the results seemed to change sometimes even if we did not indicated them. Aha! After a few rounds like this we realized that it must be the milling machine itself having lost some accuracy and repeatable precision.

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This machine is large, at over 2 by 3 meters in active area, and obtaining the tight tolerances over this large distance is a feat of mechanical engineering.

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Keeping them that way requires more than mere calibration before beginning each job. Calibration occurs on the Z axis​ each time, for each job​, but, on X and Y, you can only give the machine a single zero coordinate. After it goes off into ​the far corners, it has to count its own steps backwards to come back to zero. Those steps are numerous, so any slightest deviation in the mechanics of the parts, or even in the bearings of the motor​s​, will set it off slightly​ over the long distance​.

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Shutting down the plant

As in every business, occasional servicing is necessary. Today was the last day of operation until after New Year's. Come tomorrow, both machines (there are two) will be entirely dismantled, critical parts upgraded to more precise ones, and electronics upgraded as well to account for the new tighter tolerances. This will take up all the free days (not counting vacation days) from tomorrow until ​Jan. 4.

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​At that time, we resume with a few prototypes to test for reliability with the Echo's End enclosure. ​If we get a green light from assembly, we then begin making the first batch of a couple hundred enclosures.

At the same time, as though serendipitously...

The rare precision resistors we need have been previously confirmed by our supplier to remain available, but now that we have plac​ed​ concrete orders and ​expectantly peek from time to time into our mailbox for the delivered parcel, we are met with unexpected contradictions and a newly materialized lead time which seems to have ​self-​assembled from a fog of nebulous supply and demand predictions. Together with our customers' enthusiasm we have skewed the numbers for the precision resistor industry, it seems. This is now a hurdle for us to overcome because these extremely precise resistors needed for distortionless R-2R conversion at deep bit depths are not used for anything much besides some sensitive satellite tracking technologies out in orbit, and high end audio. They are among the most rare parts in existence. We'll try to get a shorter lead time, but due to the Christmas season a lot of people are taking days off and communication has slowed.

Maybe we should take a holiday break, too, for once... ​ That's an idea!​ :)

​I'll make more announcements about progress as we learn more about the results of these inquiries. ​It is imperative that we use the very best resistors and we will not make compromises just because of a ​temporary stock issue. We are going all out with Echo's End, regardless of what it takes. Sure, there are available other options, but they influence the sound​ for the worse​, and we are not interested in compromise, nor in anyone who​ suggests​ this.

A creative use of ​leftover oakwood!

​The Firewall enclosure production leaves over these frame​-shaped boards​. An ingenious use of them has been found: drill bit sorting shelves! ​(​Maybe we can sell the idea to Ikea.​)​

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Speaking of oakwood... ​ have you ever heard of Bog Oak?​

A testament to the immense power of the passage of time

Many thousands of years ago the East Anglia fenland basin ​and other areas of northeastern Europe were very densely forested by gigantic Oak trees.

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Approximately 7000 years ago a rise in sea level relative to land level caused the rivers to back up and flood​. ​C​onsequently​, the trees died standing and then fell into the silt of the forest floor and many have been preserved under anaerobic conditions until now.

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Bog Oak has been buried in a peat bog for hundreds or even thousands of years. The anaerobic conditions of the bog protect the wood from organic decay, while the underlying peat provides acidic conditions where iron salts and minerals react with the tannins in the wood, gradually giving it a distinct dark brown to almost black color.

The preserved trees can on occasion have a branchless length in excess of one hundred feet, the canopy having long since decayed. These colossal examples hint at the extraordinary grandeur and density of these​ prehistoric​ high forests.

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Since there is such a limited supply of the wood—with Bog Oak essentially being the very early stages of fossilization—prices for this type of wood are very high.

Extraction of natural bog oak from nature is extremely difficult. Because the wood has changed structure over numerous decades or even millennia, it is some 15-20% denser than raw oak, and thus sinks to the bottom and is often found buried under flowing river beds or is discovered by farmers tilling fertile soil.

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Technological know-how for extracting Bog Oak from riverbed sources and safely transporting it through remote muddy bog conditions adds to its expense and rarity. After all, Bog Oak needs to be found, which means much time is spent during thorough inspection of the deep depths of a considerable underwater area, usually in unpredictable conditions.

Then it is vital to create all necessary conditions on the river bank for the safe lifting of the multi-ton extraction, strictly observing requirements of safety precautions and ecological norms. Often it is even necessary to prepare access roads and a stable industrial platform.

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​Radiocarbon dating of Bog Oak can reveal specimens over 6500 years old. These appear completely black but are not yet petrified, and can be carved, though with difficulty.

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Some of the wood has ​very striking ​varying color, fading from black on the outer annual rings to dark brown at the heart. ​The flames can be richer in appearance than raw wood flames. Smokey, rich, and deep color tones combine into an historical artifact of natural beauty.

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USB Firewall Key to be made of Bog Walnut!

Using Bog Oak or Bog Walnut is made viable through a patented industrialized process developed here in Lithuania. The process has no relation to other dyeing processes which use ammonia or other chemicals and heat. In this case, it is the exact same process which happens naturally over thousands of years under the earth, but in controlled conditions where much more usable wood results in a predictable fashion. The process is protected by patent and materials have ​recently ​been presented to LessLoss for trial.

We have plans, right after the New Year, to begin milling the blocks pictured below. The black is not only on the surface. It goes all the way through the block and should make for extremely beautiful enclosures, each looking unique.

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The one with more ornate and deep color has a tiny amount of oil applied. Such beauty to behold! And how it feels in the hand, just noble!

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These are just telephone snapshots. Later we plan to make nicer pictures​, but already you can see the potential of this rich material​.

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Many beautiful items are made from Bog Oak.

Very special knives​...​

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​Some of the most ornate pipes in the world are made from Bog Oak​...​

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Such elegance.

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​And s​tately ​forms.​

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Probably, much commentary is not required below. Maybe I'll choose to refrain from using bold letters here.

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Gorgeous fountain pens, too.​

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​​Hand made musical instruments such as electric guitars and drums.

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We'll let you know how it goes. We're excited by the prospect of using Bog Wood as the enclosure material for the USB Firewall Key. This will all begin after New Year's. We'll make the pre-order announcement when we have our first pictured prototype.

Here is a picture which inspires us as a design reference. If you look at it one way, you see hardwood. If you look at it another way, you see marble. But any way you look at it, you see elegance and attention to detail. Something that reflects its functionality, and, hopefully, something about its noble purpose of use.

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Happy Holidays to all!​ See you in 2016!​
Sincerely​ and with joy,
Louis Motek  |