PHI Audio | Bespoke High End

"the devil's in the details"
Embrace the past.

Browsing the World Wide Web one never fails to discover some circuit made famous by a legendary musician and resurrected from anecdotes and memories (some more dubious than US policy) and lovingly re-designed as a little effects box redolent of the original icon. Circuits like the FuzzFace come to mind. Today many of the parts that compose these circuits are obsolete. Should one be lucky enough to find working examples of such components (such as germanium transistors and paper capacitors,) one must expect to pay the price.

One sad thing that digital technology has brought, is a belief system that seems to be woven into the ease and power with which these methods of creating sound are credited. A belief that anything can be created digitally; that measurements are the only musical truth; that functionality trumps quality; that analogue is some old dusty concept lingering only in the minds of the nostalgic. Fortunately the world of musicians seems to be the domain least stricken by this unfortunate untruth and even the hi-fi community has realised that some things analogue equipment are capable of can never be fully emulated by digital means.

This is not a plea for substituting the advances made possible by the digital revolution with a return to the use of analogue equipment. It is, however, an invitation to a re-discovery of the vitality innate in analogue sound production. A call to difference - to the unique - in stead of a thoughtless dependence on the reliable and repeatable.

We invite you to share in this experience.

Jacques van Zyl
  Dewald Visser's
Zauberfløt TQWT
A quick week-end's work for Dewald - the drivers have just arrived. A reasonably standard TQWT (well, it wasn't, but then the "wrong" drivers arrived and modelled better and with a more standard response, in the same pipe!) with 5 inch Visaton fullrange drivers. Waiting for the verdict, but I think I know.
  Robyn Williams's
MuthaFonken Fullrange
Robyn designed and built these behemoth Fonken-style loudspeakers around two 5" 100W fullrange drivers and a 160W dual magnet 12" woofer. PHI is now developing a similar loudspeaker, but in a tapered quarterwave pipe, with the addition of a supertweeter. I'll have to fly to Wales to go listen, but listening to my own smaller version, I might just do that. We'll post pictures as soon as these are painted.
  The Knapkas
A device built in collaboration with musician Brendon Bussy. It employs a simple inverter-based neural net with voltage and light inputs to create a plethora of sounds. It's built into a Genius computer loudspeaker enclosure (in accordance with Brendon's made-at-home approach) and has turned out a quite endearing little device. Thus the name.
  The Macronova audiostAMP

Below: A new version we're working on, in wood.

This is Vulpecula's headphone amplifier utilising a single (dual) operational amplifier as the only active element. The sheer simplicity of the circuit and the use of hand chosen components has created an amplifier that's very difficult to beat in terms of sound quality.
The phiFACE is a project under development for Vulpecula. The name derives from the famous Fuzz Face circuit used by guitarists. The phiFACE is a basic guitar pre-amplifier module capable of overdriving some of the active components: a MOSFET pair and a germanium transistor. Hard fuzz is not the object (we're still deciding how much is enough) and the unit is geared for richness on acoustic/lead guitars. But we'll see where things go.
  Single-ended Amplifiers
We came across a huge stash of vintage military valves. Many of these eminently suited for audio, particularly as applied to guitar amplifiers. The plan is to build custom, one-off, guitar amplifiers, letting our customers guide us in terms of output needs and voicing. It promises to be a very unconventional approach to the guitar amp we know. Watch this spot.
  Circuit Bending
  We will be hosting a series of workshops on circuit bending. It will be aimed at beginners initially and we're hoping to be able to do this in Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town. We will be trying to involve established musicians and special courses for schools are also on the cards. We'll post updates as this project develops.
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