I’ll finish up the REV33 writeup shortly- my conclusions are still the same, it’s basically just some passive EQ in a little potted module. No more, no less. Other things have gotten in the way of me finishing that, most notably the recent arrival of an Audio Precision APx515 analyzer and an APx1701 transducer interface for an AudioXpress review. Since the AX review focuses mostly on the remarkable APx1701, I’ll make a few comments here about the APx515 and its APx500 software.

My wife, the long-suffering Cynthia Wenslow, is a professional artist (among other skills) and a former performing musician- we got into a discussion yesterday about the interaction of artist (of any sort, visual, sonic, gustatory…) and tools. Art happens when the artist and tool become a gestalt so that the art flows without the artist having to think about the mechanics. When you’re not thinking of the brush or your wrist, but rather, only about the shape you’re creating on a canvas, then the art will flow naturally, the artist’s expression fully realized.

I think there’s something analogous in engineering. When we don’t have to fuss with our measurement gear, when things can be setup, modified, parameters varied at will, and graphs scaled and displayed without much more than thinking about what you want and how you want it, the data chase becomes productive and often insightful. And that, more so than the stunning specs (distortion, noise) , is what has made the ‘515 such a joy to have here. Probing the performance of an amp I had on the bench led me to poke at root causes for every performance imperfection. A few minutes hooking things up and that was it- everything could be stimulated, outputs acquired, and data manipulated with almost no effort at all. I just didn’t think about the instrument. This was particularly surprising because I had been hearing for years about how difficult the AP software was to use- apparently, either this has been addressed with the APx500 software or there’s something strange in my mind with fits the idiosyncrasies of their GUI designers.

There’s a remarkably geeky satisfaction in this, a beautifully designed tool which just feels… right in my hands.