Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Interview: Gregory Lomayesva of Drip Electronics

I found the Drip Electronics stuff through talking with some cool pals that are slightly more DIY than I am these days, and after I checked out the website I really wanted to know more about who was behind this stuff.As it turns out, Gregory Llomayesva is a totally amazing character, right in line with what I had hoped was the personality behind these killer designs.

Who the heck are you?
     Well .... I am: A Hopi Indian artist, musician and love-torn individual, with a stand-alone complex and obsessive compulsive behaviors. I'm pretty much a human pattern recognition system.

How did you get started with DRIP?
     Years ago, I had a recording studio stocked from floor to ceiling with Avalons, Manleys and every major piece of recording equipment in between that I had collected over the years. Seven years ago, in a bad turn of events, I had to let all of that go.

...Insert love gone wrong story 'here'...

     After that, I couldn't afford any of the equipment I once had, but finishing the album I started was still a high priority in my life. I became interested the possibility of 'DIY' equipment. Necessity was the beginning of DRIP.
     I got my start in a forum for audio circuits. The folks there gave me some great support, and the haters provided great insight in understanding the similarity between electronics design and the art world I was already familiar with. That's when I realized that I could really succeed at producing these designs. I never let jerks keep me from trying out an idea. After a few years in that forum, I'd gained a following and felt it was time to move on and start my own  gig. And there was born Dripelectronics.com.

Your PC boards look incredible. Did someone design them or did you find the technology on a captured spaceship that you don't want us to know about?
     I design everything myself with good old pencil and paper and an expensive CAD program. I’m proud to say I have everything manufactured here in the USA using aerospace firms, and the highest grade materials I can get my hands on. I tend to memorize the things I draw, so it makes working with the designs and schematics easier. I feel that in order to excel, one must practice constantly. I design, listen to my design, accept that I make mistakes, correct, repeat, etc., until I can no longer distinguish any anomalies.
     I've seen many circuit boards inside some of the major companies' products. Hell, I used to own them all. The components on top tend to look very nice, but when you flip the board over, you discover how freakin’ messy the wiring really is. Most tend to look like a drunken spider designed them.
    As an artist, this revolted me! I was shocked such high end companies would dare put a $4K plus price on those 'designs'. It was like someone said, 'Hey Bob, I have all these nice parts, let’s just crap out a pcb and stick it in a nice case, put some glow tubes in front and add some nice aluminum meter guards! No one will ever know how much time we didn't spend on it!'
     I thought to myself, 'No wonder point to point wiring is said to sound better than a pcb; folks are designing circuit boards that look like shit!' So I hypothesized that the reason audio sucks on most pcbs is that the sound is going through zigzagged, sharp corners. An effect called 'ringing' or ' reflection' occurs on these sharp corners, and audiophiles believe you can hear this. Organic layouts function better. I take an example from nature, and use order, spacing, smooth corners, and elegance. (I keep the Fibonacci ratio when I design) It's a fact, the more simple a circuit is, the better the result.
     For myself, pcb design is an art form, and this is where my abilities flourish. I have yet to see a design that cannot be created with elegance. I've found that the more elegant a design, the shorter the connections, and the higher the performance. Thus, my designs are safer, more efficient, and quieter. I never use auto-routing (never, ever, ever), and I never use more than one layer. This isn't a fucking iPhone, it’s a high voltage recording device, and it needs to be perfect!
     Over the years I've gained quite a following of people - both famous and underground – who not only appreciate but rely on this high quality and the beautiful tone of my work. I'm very proud to give all my customers the best of the best.

Which thing you make is the most popular? Which do YOU think is the coolest and why?
     My most popular design: My version of the LA-2A compressor design (the Drip opto 4) is a great starter, and the pcb has shorter connections than the original, but is still identical in circuit and provides an amazing performance. This is the one most folks get their feet wet with. It’s not terribly difficult to build, and I've seen many successful builders who had never touched a soldering iron before. The LA-2A is just such a great all around compressor. It’s like the universal 'Give that track some balls!' machine. The Drip one can be built for between $500 and $800. Folks that have used the famous Sowter audio transformers, say that it kicks the shit out of some of the major companies designs costing four times as much. Some even say it's better than the original (but I use that statement lightly, 'thou shall not blaspheme')

As for what i think is cool ...

     The Drip 670 compressor pcb is my hands-down favorite! It was just so damn hard to pull off! Hell, it was a joke that I was just musing with. At first, I thought it couldn't be done in two dimensions (Which means I couldn't do it, with my 'only one layer' rule). That design took about a year of full, eight-hour days, not to mention almost losing my house twice, trying to fund my research. I didn't want to have to charge $20,000, like some of the current re-issue models on the market. My goal was to make a 670 - identical to the original circuit - that performs just as good, if not better, that you can build for less than a fifth of that price. And I pulled it off. It is the most beautiful design work that I have done to date, and it performs as well as it looks. A few builders have just finished the first Drip 670 builds, and I'm so happy for them!

Do you think jail is really an answer to crime prevention?  
     At fourteen, I made some 'home made fireworks' and blew someone's mail box up. Then, at fifteen, I made a 'home made flamethrower' (after seeing 'Alien ,' the movie) and proceeded to torch things. (Didn't know that a flame thrower needs blow back control ... Oops.) At sixteen, I stole a few cars and was finally handcuffed in front of my mother at the police station, and read my Miranda Rights. "You have the right to remain silent.... " echoed in my ears. The idea of jail has kept me on the right side of the law since. (Those Mercedes were freakin’ awesome though!) So yes, I think the threat of jail is a very good way to prevent crime. I, for one, would never want to put my family through that process again.

If you could be the leader of any country in the world for a month, which one would you choose and why? 
     I haven't had a vacation in four years, so i would say Bora Bora (French Polynesia). I think I might have to run all of France, since they own Bora Bora. Anyway, I'd say "Sorry, honey. I have to go to Bora Bora this week for some 'drinks' ... I mean 'meetings' ... I mean diplomatic support."

What's next for Drip?  
Fortunately, the future of Drip is yet undefined. However...
  • STA-level / STA-level stereo
  • UA 175b / 175b stereo
  • Drip opto 5 (LA-2A) mastering compressor (with 3 T4Bs per channel (fast, med, slow) and a fully tubed power supply (no chips)
  • REDD47 pre-amp - 3 pack version of the Drip fourseven
  • MEQ5
  • Pultec EQP1A stereo - beginner version / mono unit
  • Drip recording channel - REDD47 (Drip fourseven) pre (or v72) to LA-2A (or variable MU compressor) to EQP1A, all in 1 unit. 
  • A special top secret hybrid unit TBA.
     These designs are either complete, or almost complete, and in the prototyping phase. They will all be coming out this year.
     I would [also] love to go into manufacturing sometime in the next two years. Plenty of folks would like to use my designs, but are unable or unwilling to build one themselves. I think this would be
the next logical step for Drip. I want to do both boutique styles for the 'pimps of audio', and economy models (still pimp) for the folks on a budget.

Would you rather ride a unicorn through the desert, or ride a manatee with an eye patch and a bent crown around the Atlantic Ocean? Why?   
     Definitely a unicorn. I'd eBay his ass if he got sassy. Local pick-up only.

Gregory Lomayesva

Gregory: thank you for making good recording stuff, and thanks for being the type of person that makes gear and the recording world fun to exist in. I look forward to getting a couple of your kits into Studio G Brooklyn, and I would urge anyone to look into your stuff!!!

Visit Drip Electronics on the Interwebs
Or send an email to info@dripelectronics.com!

1 comment:

  1. Awesome read, I'm giving myself 5 years to have built 2 Pultecs and 1 Fairchild 670. So glad this guy decided to start this company!