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Upcycled Audio

Upcycled Audio at Plasma Music

Plasma Music's Upcycled Audio project is my humble attempt to buck a relatively recent trend of throwing away perfectly good gear just because it's old and apparently out of date, while at the same time offering audio enthusiasts, modern convenience with traditional quality and style.

Like many, I find the "It's old. I need a new one" attitude, a bit upsetting, hypocritical and quite honestly, extremely vulgar, especially with everything that's going on with planet Earth at the moment.

Over the past thirty years or so, stuff has been designed with obsolescence built in as manufacturers regularly compete to shove the latest style and convenience down our throats. In fact, a whole generation has grown up prioritising convenience over quality.

I'm currently designing and prototyping a series gadgets which are intended to revitalise some retro gear. Perhaps not all of them will reach fruition and become part of my Upcycled Audio product range. Perhaps not all of them will be everyone's cup-of-tea! On the hand, the stuff I'm doing will hopefully give some otherwise unwanted but quality vintage equipment, a new lease of life and allow this gear to find homes with people who really appreciate it.

As soon as I've built and tested a few of my ideas, I'll post them here and on Plasma Music's Facebook page so stay tuned to find out more. Yes, I know I'm being a little cryptic but if you get where I'm going and the idea appeals to you, hey perhaps you even have ideas of your own, please don't hesitate to get in touch.

UPDATE - 23rd February 2023

Over recent months, customers popping over to drop off or pick up gear, have all commented on the collection of vintage hi-fi speakers in my lab.

Hi-Fi Speakers at Upcycled Audio, Plasma Music
Donors for my first Upcycled Audio project.

Well, my first Upcycled Audio project involves converting some vintage but lovely passive hi-fi speakers to Bluetooth!

One of each of a matching pair of these speakers either has been or is being fitted with a Bluetooth 5.0, 2 x 30W amplifier module.

Upcycled Audio Bluetooth 5.0 2 x 30W module
Bluetooth amp module fitted with matt-black anodised aluminium ('posh') knobs. Perhaps a little impractical in the dark but... they look cool.

Most of the speakers are Mission M72s. That's because I know them very well. If you know your hi-fi, you'll notice a pair of smaller Mission M71s next to the M72s on the left. There are also a pair of Tannoy 631s and a pair of Jamo Cornet 30s (far right). I'm only interested in speakers that had a reputation and that are in reasonably good condition.

Upcycled Audio - Mission M72
The Bluetooth amp module is built into only one of the speakers.

The crossover in the speaker that houses the module has been modified so for stereo operation, all you need to do is link the speaker terminals between the speaker with the module, to the speaker without the module. 2m of high-quality speaker cable terminating with 4mm plugs on each end is included with the speakers.

Link Speakers via speaker terminals for full stereo
Simply link the speakers via the speaker terminals for full stereo.

The crossover in the speaker that houses the module has been modified so for stereo operation, all you need to do is link the speaker terminals between the speaker with the module, to the speaker without the module. 2m of high-quality speaker cable terminating with 4mm plugs on each end is included with the speakers.

The crossover mod' doesn't affect the sound. All I've done is cut some tracks and add a couple of links, so that one channel of the module can be wired internally, while the other channel is directed to the cabinet's speaker connections and hence, the other speaker.

Upcycled Audio Speaker Connection

The module is powered by an included 12V power supply with standard 5.5mm x 2.1mm DC plug.  A small blue LED that deliberately isn't bright and obtrusive, confirms power status. I hate big shiny lights on gear!

You'll also notice a 3.5mm jack socket (AUX IN) on the module panel so YES, you can plug in an analogue stereo feed.

The module can be powered by any DC voltage between 9V and 24V but I found that 12V at 3A, provides the best results.

Despite this being a new project, prototypes have been extensively tested and I'm delighted to report that these things sound AMAZING!!!! 🙂 I'm not just saying that. I'm shocked at the quality of the Bluetooth 5.0 module and the D-class amp. The sound is solid, defined, crisp and well, just sweet. Forget your cheepo, Buy On-Line, made in the far east, crap. This is proper hi-fi!

So you know I said that I'm rather familiar with the Mission M72s. Well, that's because I've been using a pair in my control room for many, many years. They're great to check mixes on hi-fi speakers. In fact, you might have already noticed one in the background image of this website!

Plasma Music limited - Recording studios in Hertfordshire
I've been using Mission M72s professionally for decades.

My Upcycled Audio speakers are supplied with a standard set of glossy black aluminium knobs, a 12V / 3A power supply and 2m of high quality speaker cable that's terminated at both ends, with 4mm connectors. All you need to be up 'n' running is a music source. 🙂

Customers will have the option to buy longer speaker cables, DC cable extensions and what I call 'POSH' knobs.

Upcycled Audio by Plasma Music Accessories

Standard knobs are shown in the image below. The posh knobs (featured in the pictures above) are brushed, black anodised aluminium and have a slot as the position marker as opposed to a white line. To be honest, while they look mega-cool, they're not too easy to visually adjust in the dark (go figure)!

Upcycled Audio - Mission M71 with Standard Knobs
Here's the back of a Mission M71 with Bluetooth 5.0 2 x 50W module and gloss black (standard) aluminium knobs. These guys have a white line position indicator.

If these speakers are destined to sit on a shelf, then you may be interested in a set of optional, self-adhesive rubber feet.

If these speakers are destined to sit on a shelf or a similar flat surface, then you may be interested in my optional, self-adhesive rubber feet.

Upcycled Audio Foot (optional)

If you're going to be putting them on speaker stands, then you shouldn't need the feet.

With standard accessories, a pair of these speakers will cost no more than 400 GBP excluding delivery. Being quite substantial, shipping is going to be a lot so at the moment, I'm not looking to export these. Being quite substantial, shipping is going to be a lot so at the moment, these will be 'collection only' and I'm not looking to export these.

Labour intensive, these Bluetooth hi-fi speakers will be slowly trickling into my e-store over the next few weeks so for the time-being, please just contact me if you're interested. 🙂

Upcycled Audio Mission M721 Black with Bluetooth amp built in
Here are a pair of Black Mission M72 that have also been converted. In fact, these were my prototypes.

UPDATE - 2nd April 2023

When I was driving around buying my first batch of speakers for my Upcycled Audio project, I came across and subsequently fell in love with a pair of Tannoy 603s. Perhaps the smallest of the famous Tannoy 'Sixies', these speakers are visually quite unique, what with their trapezoidal design, apparently to reduce internal acoustic reflections,  they looked amazingly cool. When I tried them out, I just loved the sound.

Upcycled Audio Tannoy 603 speakers at Plasma Music
The Tannoy Sixies have a unique trapezoidal design to reduce internal acoustic reflections.

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to modify the crossover in the speaker that would have housed my Bluetooth audio amplifier, simply because it was quite impossible to access.

Disappointed, I still wanted to find a way to Bluetooth these gorgeous speakers and decided I'd build my module into a small ABS enclosure. Why ABS? Well, metal would have just been too expensive and the whole point of this project is to upcycle. To do that, you need to keep costs down, right? Secondly, I was concerned that the Bluetooth might have problems hooking up to anything, if it was surrounded by metal!

I was able to source a suitable box and knocked up labels for the front and rear, printing them on to vinyl.

Cosmetically, the results are okay but do still look rather homemade. Hey, it's upcycled, right?

Venus-3 Upcycled Audio stand alone Bluetooth 5.0 2 x 30W amplifier
Here's the front of my Venus-3 stand-alone Bluetooth 5.0 2 x 30W amplifier module.

With all the features of my built-in Bluetooth audio amp, the stand-alone version is of course a little more versatile as it can be connected to virtually any hi-fi speakers. It also features both front and rear stereo 3.5mm analogue inputs. Weighing in at less than 450g, it's also very light.

Venus-3 Upcycled Audio stand alone Bluetooth 5.0 2 x 30W amplifier
And here's the back ready to connect to a pair of hi-fi speakers.

It's not financially viable to offer my stand-alone Bluetooth amplifier module as a separate unit and so this particular one is being sold with the Tannoy 603s. On the other hand, if you'd like easy and convenient but high quality Bluetooth access to a pair of much loved hi-fi speakers without hacking them, then just talk to me. 🙂

Upcycled Audio products can be bought here.