This will probably the final Beta update and 100% equivalent to the Summer 2021 official release. Before you update, be sure to write down your cartridge logged hours or they will be lost.
If you find any "beta bugs" please contact me via email with your Puffin settings and a description of the bug when you encounter one. You can just use the Contact Us form as I get these immediately and can track things much easier than via Facebook. Thank you so much and hope you enjoy the new features!
Beta D notes:
I streamlined the clip reset functionality, so now a press of Select on the Gain menu immediately clears the clip indicator as well as the clip count from the levels menu. It's effectively a double-tap, as you press Select to clear and then a second time to exit the Gain function. This clip reset also occurs when changing the Gain (as it has been behaving) as well as when clearing the clip count when on the levels screen. Trying to not exasperate folks with clip indications - just lower gain if you are getting a constant stream of clips and happily ignore it if it's just from needle drops or scratches. Also corrected a bug in the new Grade pause function where the timer did pause correctly, but if the record was still playing and Magic was on, then the defect counter was still active. I missed this as I was always stopping my turntable when pausing.
V1.30 Beta D Changes (5/20/2021):
Beta B and Beta C notes:
Discovered a bug that dates back to V1.00 of the Puffin code where the LCD gets blasted with data before initialized from a timer interrupt. This remained hidden until V1.30 when this bug could manifest itself as an incorrect ASCII character or two in the "Volume" entry at power up. But the error would disappear after use and didn't affect operation. I cut an internal release to ship this code for one customer, but discovered another bug a couple days later (thank you Mark!) that sometimes garbled the Lo filter selections. Also correct a minor bug that didn't increment the hours exactly on the cart timer edit function. This was a remnant from some earlier code and required a simple fix.
V1.30 Beta C Changes (3/26/2021):
V1.30 Beta B Changes (3/23/2021) - NOT PUBLICLY RELEASED:
V1.30 Beta A Changes (3/1/2021):
For the cartridge timer, use "Cart log" (item #23 on the menu). Once you select it, the timer becomes active and will log time whenever you are playing a record - you needn't mess with it again. Total hours will also be shown on the Puffin's splash screen at turn on, too. There's a bit of a detection scheme and moving coil users should use 200 ohm loading for best detection. If you select the timer when it is active, a cursor will appear in the hours column permitting you to quickly edit the total hours. You might do this to either reset to zero (CW turn with knob) or to add hours for a cart you've already logged (CCW turn). Also useful for adding an hour profile after re-flashing your Puffin (as flash contents are erased), so be sure to write down your logged time before doing firmware updates. Also, if you press select accidentally and don't mean to edit the time, just press select again. For a full time reset, hold the select button for 10 seconds. Note: Preset default loads (i.e. MM and MC) will wipe out all current settings including the logged cart time. I *think* this makes most sense, but may change this. Definitely don't want folks to accidently wipe their logged hours.
The Easy menu (selected via item #21 on the menu) is just an abbreviated version of the main menu but just with controls that you personally use. You can customize it as you like. When on the Full menu (traditional Puffin main menu), you'll notice the item number and a period. The period can now be a large period or a small period which act as identifiers whether the item is on the Easy menu or not. Large period means the function resides on both the Easy and Full menu, and small period means the function is only on the Full menu. Hold the select button for 1 second to toggle the period size, thus deciding if the function is on the Easy menu or not. When on the Easy menu you can also press the select button for 1 second to "pop it off" the menu. Note: 1) the Test menu and it's functions can't be put on the Easy menu, 2) the Menu function can't be removed from the Easy menu, and 3) if the Grade function is actively grading, the 1 second press pauses the grading so it must be non-active to alter its menu status.
Renaming Tilt to Warmth was something I had wrestled with even before the Puffin's launch back in 2018. I'm greatly influenced by Don Norman's The Design of Everyday Things and believe controls must be intuitive. Tilt isn't an intuitive control name - though truly descriptive of the actual filter and known in the audio realm by some. Meanwhile Warmth tells us a bit more about itself and intuitively a higher value will be "more warm". But the functionality is the same other than it is inverted form the previous Tilt settings (e.g. Tilt -3 is now Warmth +3).
The new Test function is a collapsible menu with some handy functions (item #24 on the menu).
- The three RPM controls are fast and accurate: just select while playing in a runout groove and it measures the distance from click-to-click using the Puffin's 50 ppm oscillator. With an auto return turntable that can't use the runout, use a record with a bad scratch instead. I typically check it three times to make sure I get good, consistent readings. 33 and 45 RPM mode will show speed deviation in tenths of a percent. Meanwhile 78 RPM mode will show actual RPM (to hundredths) in order to fully support all the different standards, e.g. 78.26 is the US standard. I do recommended using LPs even for 45 and 78 rpm measurements. It is possible that some records may not give good results (not enough runout click), but I think the vast majority of LP runouts will work well.
- There's now a dedicated Azimuth control that shows the separation the Left and Right channels have from each other. The Ultimate Analogue Test LP and the Ortofon Test LP both have very good azimuth tracks (one channel has 1kHz signal and the other channel is silent). Try to get these as values high and balanced as possibly. I no longer recommend the old "null method" due to cartridge and LP channel imbalance.
- Another new test function is Sweep. It measures the frequency and relative level of signals from a test record, so it's perfect for you to see the frequency response of your cartridge. Usually the test LPs start with a reference 1kHz signal, so you start Sweep once that begins and it makes that the reference level (e.g. "1000 Hz +0.0 dB") to calculate all the others (e.g. "5000 Hz -1.1 dB"). The slower the sweep the better. The Ortofon Test LP sweep is pretty quick and heavily weighted towards the high frequencies, so less useful. Meanwhile the Vinyl:Check seems a very good one. All the filters are functioning, so EQ:Line In or EQ:Phono affect the results (some records want one or the other). Also, you'll adjust your Hi and Lo filters if looking at the extremes of frequency response (less than 50Hz and higher than 15kHz). Note: you'll be surprised at the response of your cartridge and actual test LP error is a bit of an unknown variable.
- The Skate measurement helps adjust the anti-skating on your turntable. Works with the 300/315Hz tracking test on LPs like Ortofon Test (Tracks 9 to 14) and Vinyl:Check (Side 1 Track 6). Shows which channel - right or left - starts to distort first and whether to add ('+' symbol pops up) or remove ('-' symbol pops up) skating force. In my limited testing, this distortion really only shows up at the very end of the tracks. This function is a high pass filter beyond the fundamental frequency and you can select common test LP frequencies, like 1kHz, and then read the residual THD+N in dBFS. So it may be useful for some type of VTA adjustment or other experiments, too.
- FineBaL lets you balance the channel levels. Typical error here (in descending order): 1) cartridge imbalance, 2) record imbalance, and 3) Puffin imbalance. I plan to document a good method to evaluate these errors.
How to Update the Puffin's Firmware
Using the supplied allen key and USB cable, the Puffin can be updated via an internal micro USB header with either a Windows or macOS system. Note that updating your firmware will erase old settings saved in the Puffin's memory, so write down any current settings that may help you set up after flashing the new firmware.
Note: Skip step 2 for recurring firmware updates (i.e. you only do this step once).
macOS (10.11 & higher) Method:
Important: Skip steps 3 and 4 for recurring firmware updates (i.e. you only do these steps once).
Initial release. SP
Added flash saves at Set?>OFF, Set?>LOAD, Set?>SAVE, and main menu Gain change. Moved phase polarity to pre-DSP so we can get 2H cancellation. SP
Fixed Load setting bug where 200 ohms setting could be overwritten to 47k. SP
Screen refresh timer was active during standby sleep. Would cause faint flicker on LCD if Puffin turned off with main menu set to Set? or Signal Levels. SP
Added immunity to static electricity discharge that could put unit into Standby state. SP
-Added adjustable RIAA eq function
-Added adaptive Bass Boost
-Added Pink Noise for Room EQ
-Added Null to Phase controls
-DSP code re-written for speed in assembly SP
Fixed Tube 2H function. Right channel had bug which could add extra non-2nd harmonic distortion. SP
Saved FPU registers to stack during DSP interrupt that could have caused "no sound from Puffin" when adjusting menu.
Adjusted Tube 2H and Tape 3H constants for much less distortion. SP
-Added Magic pop and click minimizer
-Added Grade which is a record grading function
-Added new clip alerts with asterisk * at
Volume (output/DAC clip) & Gain (input/ADC clip)
-Changed TF to fx: think Effects or f(x)
-Lowered 2H Tube distortion (7%THD at full signal)
-Fixed 3H Tape distortion (3.5%THD at full signal)
-Removed 2H&3H from fx
-Added Out function & merged with SPDIF branch
but Out:SPDIF is disabled on non-modded Puffins
-Fixed FPU memory stack bug
-General bug fixes and tweaks
-Added many new Lo filters SP
Bug fix for digital output SPDIF (analog users unaffected). Memory alignment issue dropped 25% of Magic corrections. SP