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Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

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L4R3L2

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Post Wed Apr 17, 2019 4:55 am

Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

I think I'm ready to play with an amplifier. I'm on a budget, but don't want one that just overmodulates noise. I have a lead on a Lock-Amp, but it appears to only have a volume control. Is anyone here familiar with them?..if they are decent units?..or how much a used one would typically cost (USD)?
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Oldfast

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OldddffAASSTT the Spin Master Extraordinaire and American Lock Slayer
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Post Fri Apr 19, 2019 12:52 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

L4R3L2 wrote:I think I'm ready to play with an amplifier. I'm on a budget, but don't want one that just overmodulates noise. I have a lead on a Lock-Amp, but it appears to only have a volume control. Is anyone here familiar with them?..if they are decent units?..or how much a used one would typically cost (USD)?

Which one you talkin' bout Terry? Is it the EZ-Amp? Maybe it is... that's the only one I'm aware of that has a single knob (which serves as both on/off and volume control). Both the pickup and amp are built into one compact unit.

Brand new, they run about $120 now. A used one should be a fair amount less (in my opinion anyway). Otherwise my train of thought has always been, "Well for X amount more, I can just get one brand new and know what condition it'll be in".
" Enjoy the journey AS MUCH as the destination."
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Jaakko Fagerlund

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Post Fri Apr 19, 2019 9:42 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

The EZ Amp I have no experience with, it just looks like the same unit that is sold in eBay/Alibaba, just with a magnet added. If there is a high pass filter, I don't know.

I just went with the Lockmasters Pro-Amp. A bit pricey, but works great. Very sensitive to high frequency noise such as metal to metal contact, and can get the volume from nearly zero to your-ears-pop. This is a simple amplifier made from LM324 op-amp and a handful of discrete components and the box is size of a deck of cards. The headphones that come with it have mono/stereo setting and volume control per side and are extremely comfortable to wear for hours due to their padding and the strap is adjustable.

The only huge minus with the Pro-Amp is its case. It is the cheapest hard plastic case which is a tad small for the headphones and the surface looks like those cheap automotive tools you find from dollar stores. There is no place for anything inside, everything is just thrown in and close the lid.

I went bought myself a Pelican case for this, now everything sits nicely, fits all my other tools, has a nice label on it and nothing clangs around the box :)

I also added couple of magnets on the amplifier box to have it attach to the safe door, as on normal safes one can put it on top of the safe and hope it doesn't fall, but on a vault door there is no shelf for it. If you put it in your pocket, you will hear your shirt rubbing the cables in your ears.

TL;DR: Get the Pro-Amp, but get a new case for it from somewhere.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri Apr 19, 2019 11:45 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

Yup, the EZ Amp looks like https://www.aliexpress.com/item/Portabl ... 32061.html .
The sound quality of this amp is horrible. Lots of noise.

I am using this https://www.roland.com/global/products/r-09/ as an amplifier. I bought it used. Great sound quality. Input and output amplification can be controlled independently. Basic filter. It is an older model. When new it was probably in the price range of 300-400 USD. There are plenty models of portable sound recorders available.
In case you wonder ... Martin Hewitt is a fictional detective in stories by Arthur Morrison:
Martin Hewitt, Investigator Chronicles of Martin Hewitt
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madsamurai

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Post Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:57 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

One thing I learned working in the fly fishing retail industry... if you add the words "fly fishing" to a common, cheap item, you can charge a lot more for it... this industry is no exception to that marketing strategy. You'll pay a lot more for a "locksmith" or "safe tech" amp than you will for the exact same thing without those words on it. I worked in audio for a good bit, and the truth is a piezo transducer mic or surface mic with a pocket guitar amp (clean, no reverb or any other nonsense) will get you pretty excellent results for well under $50... add an EQ and you'll be able to fine-tune to enhance or reduce specific sounds.

My current setup is this $3 instrument mic with this $19 Joyo mini pocket amp. Works a treat, and I'm under $25 for what I can almost guarantee is the same electronics as the EZ amp, plus I have tone/gain control in addition to volume, which helps focus on useful frequencies. I'm probably going to add an EQ similar to this one but I'm trying to find one a little cheaper if I can. Still under $100 altogether if that's the best I can find...

Just my opinion, of course, but I don't like to pay extra for fancy words ;)
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AL usher69

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Post Sat Apr 20, 2019 9:53 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

The free education I get, is great thanks guys
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castagnojohn

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Post Sun Apr 21, 2019 6:57 pm

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

Great information madsamurai , I just ordered the amp and pickup. I ordered the microphones sold on ebay a few years ago and that was a mistake, they amplify everything . I will give these a try, I was about ready to order a pro amp. Now I have an extra $325 to spend on locks for spinning. :hbg:
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L4R3L2

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Post Thu Apr 25, 2019 6:05 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

I was gone camping for Easter. Thank you for the replies. I ended up getting the Lock-Amp. I'll post photos when I get a chance. It's nothing fancy, but it was designed for safe work. Sad to say, preliminary experiments with my OC5, 0402, and S&G C85 and C71 yielded nothing promising so far.
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castagnojohn

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Post Tue May 14, 2019 10:10 pm

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

I finally got my setup in the mail today, Thank you for the post on this subject and thank you madsamurai, this set up you posted about is incredible. It is so much better than the crap I bought on ebay. :cool:
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AL usher69

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Post Thu May 16, 2019 1:30 pm

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

Do the amplifiers make that much of a difference. Right now I can only imagine the sounds you can hear. I'm for any advantages I can get..
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mdc5150

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Post Fri May 17, 2019 2:12 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

AL usher69 wrote:Do the amplifiers make that much of a difference. Right now I can only imagine the sounds you can hear. I'm for any advantages I can get..


Yes.
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Visitor

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Post Fri May 17, 2019 10:04 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

Yes although its the right answer isn't a full enough answer.
Yes they make a big difference to the point of opening a box in minutes against hours.
BUT
Only on locks that an amp works on which aren't that common these days. Listening to most boxes makes no difference so dont expect some magic wonder tool.
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MartinHewitt

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Post Fri May 17, 2019 11:06 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

It helps with many mechanical locks as it can make easier determining the contact point in combination locks and if a tumbler has the correct position or not in key locks. I don't know of any electronic lock where a mike helps. The difference can be open a lock in hours against not at all, e.g. I don't think I would be able to manipulate an S&G 6630 without mike.
In case you wonder ... Martin Hewitt is a fictional detective in stories by Arthur Morrison:
Martin Hewitt, Investigator Chronicles of Martin Hewitt
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AL usher69

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Post Fri May 17, 2019 2:48 pm

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

MartinHewitt wrote:It helps with many mechanical locks as it can make easier determining the contact point in combination locks and if a tumbler has the correct position or not in key locks. I don't know of any electronic lock where a mike helps. The difference can be open a lock in hours against not at all, e.g. I don't think I would be able to manipulate an S&G 6630 without mike.

Thank you that's the answer I was looking for...
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L4R3L2

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Post Mon May 20, 2019 4:39 am

Re: Let's Talk Audio Amplifiers

Thanks for the replies. I apologize for my absence, but I've been super busy lately. I've been trying to make a quick, daily visit to keep up on what's new, though. I like madsamurai's idea, and may pick up the parts to put one of those units together. It would be nice to compare it to what I purchased, and hopefully it will be an improvement.

I did use the Lock-Amp to help open a particularly stubborn 6730 on a Major Fire Safe I picked up locally. The right contact point was pretty soft, and I ended up graphing this spin. It was readily apparent how much more consistent the graphs were when using the amplifier, seeing the exact position of the dial when hearing the "tink" at the precise points of contact.

I'm dying to share that experience/ordeal in a thread, but it will be a while longer before I can write it up.
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