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May 7th, 2021, 7:46pm
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1  Linuxslate.com Reviews & Commentary / Review Discussions / Re: Mini Review:  PALESSE 26K-86 Geiger Counter
 on: Apr 13th, 2021, 2:36pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
Mini Review:  PALESSE 26K-86 Geiger Counter
Part 2 of 2

Note:  Part 2 was lost due to administrator error.  What follows is a rewrite.
The enclosure of the PALESSE 26K-86 is not as sturdy or industrial as the other units I have reviewed.  The entire front of the PALESSE 26K-86 is actually the translucent red plastic typically used as a bezel filter for LEDs or LED displays. In the right light, you can actually see the components inside.  This also makes it much thinner than the plastic used on most of the other units.  The PC board is not conformal coated.  These factors all make for something that has a definite consumer or household feel to it.  It don't think fare as well as the SEARCH-2 or Rodnik 3 if it were dropped onto a hard surface or if it were sat on.  Mine arrived with some small chips out of the corners, and the case creaks if squeezed slightly or otherwise manipulated.
The PALESSE 26K-86 runs on 4 standard 'AA' batteries.  As I mention in the Buyers Guide, in a Civil Defense emergency, having a unit that runs on readily available batteries could be important.  
Overall, the PALESSE 26K-86 is fully function for both finding radioactive objects, or sampling ambient radiation levels in an area.  Both the PALESSE 26K-86 and the SEARCH-2 use only a series of LEDs as a display, and while the PALESSE 26K-86 has 14 LEDs compared to the 9 LEDs in the SEARCH-2, that is probably still not sufficient resolution to detect the radiation in a bundle of bananas or that stack of tile you are considering for your bathroom remodel.  
In the review of the SEARCH-2, I state the following: "In an actual radiation emergency, it would be better than nothing, but for those wanting to explore the ever present, but unseen world of ionizing radiation that surrounds us all, or have a true concern about encountering hazardous items or places, a more functional Geiger counter and true dosimeter is recommended.". While I would probably say the same about the PALESSE 26K-86, I will add that if it were a little more durable, it would actually be a good thing to have in a radiation emergency.
So Have I Found Anything Radio Active?
Obviously, a device like the PALESSE 26K-86 proves its worth by actually finding something radioactive. So have I actually found anything radioactive with my PALESSE 26K-86? --- Well -- Sort of.
As mentioned in the other review updates I like to take a radiation meter with me when going to flea markets and antique stores. I went to the same flea market where I found my "bit of hyperactive nature", and this time I was carrying my PALESSE 26K-86.  As I walked down one of the isles, I overheard one vendor loudly and emphatically telling another vendor "It's Radioactive!  Look it says it right here. It really is Radioactive!"  As you can probably guess, this got my attention.  Having actually past the booths where where this conversation was happening, I turned around, and went to see what the vendor was going on about.
The vendor was waiving around an old yellow Civil Defense (CD) radiation meter.  As these meters often do, it had a small test sample attached to the side. The vendor did not have any batteries for the CD radiation meter, so I offered to show him that the test source was in fact radioactive.  I produced my PALESSE 26K-86 from my back pocket (fortunately, my tactical pants have very large back pockets), and the PALESSE 26K-86 reacted almost immediately to the test source.
The vendor seemed very gratified by this, and mentioned that he had a dozen or so of these CD radiation meters.  I answered a few questions for him about replacement batteries, the headphones that can be used with these meters, and their value in working and non-working condition.
I also found out that the discussion about radioactivity actually started because the other vendor had some Vaseline glass tableware.  I placed the PALESSE 26K-86 on top of a stack of Vaseline glass plates, and after a short time, it indicated a few LEDs higher than the background level.  The vendor selling the Vaseline glass seemed to be a little disappointed at loosing the radioactivity contest.
I explained that the PALESSE 26K-86 reacted only mildly because first, most Vaseline glass is only mildly radioactive, and second, the PALESSE 26K-86 did not have any way to expose the Geiger-Muller tubes, and much of the radiation for Vaseline glass is alpha (α) particles.
So it's a bit of a stretch to say that the PALESSE 26K-86 "found" the radioactive item, when that item was bright yellow and being waived around by someone yelling "It's Radioactive!, It's Radioactive!", but it does show how a use for the PALESSE 26K-86 happened in a totally unexpected way.
Another product will be reviewed soon here on Linuxslate.com and a review/usage video will be posted to YouTube.  To be alerted to the video and review, subscribe to the CarCynic YouTube Channel.
And ... Yes, there will be both a Radiation, and a Linux aspect to it.   Wink
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2  Linuxslate.com Reviews & Commentary / Review Discussions / Mini Review:  PALESSE 26K-86 Geiger Counter
 on: Apr 13th, 2021, 2:07pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
Mini Review:  PALESSE 26K-86 Geiger Counter
Part 1 of 2

Here on Linuxslate.com, I have reviewed a number of Geiger Counters/Ionizing Radiation Detectors/Dosimeters from former Soviet Union countries.
Here are the links to some of these reviews and also a couple of unboxing videos:
Overall Buyers Guide (Covers more than just the Soviet/Eastern ones)
Review DRSB-88 (Russian)
Review Ecotest МКS-05 "Terra-P" (Ukraine)
Review Rodnik 3 (Russia)    -     Unboxing Video Rodnik 3
Review Soeks 112 (Russia/USA)  -  Unboxing Video Soeks 112
Review SEARCH-2 (Belarus)
Now it's time for a confession:  When I purchased the SEARCH-2, I didn't want the Search-2. I wanted the PALESSE 26K-86 (Cyrillic: ПАЛЕССЕ 26K-86).  At the time I couldn't find anyone selling a PALESSE 26K-86.
Only a few months after I purchased the SEARCH-2, the same Etsy Vendor offered a PALESSE 26K-86 for sale, so I went for it.  This actually worked out pretty well since each detector has its own strengths a weaknesses.
I would also like to mention that the unit arrived from Belarus in about 10 days.  Etsy seller vasiltubes deserves a mention.
Due to the rarity of the PALESSE 26K-86, I don't think a full review is necessary. The following mini-review is all I plan to do for this collectable vintage Russian Geiger Counter.

          PALESSE 26K-86
As with all of these devices, the PALESSE 26K-86 is often referred to as a "Dosimeter".  It even has Dosimeter written on the back label in Cryllic lettering. However, of all of these devices mentioned above, only the Ecotest МКS-05 "Terra-P" is capable of measuring accumulated dose.  The PALESSE 26K-86 only shows an instantaneous radiation level reading.  Yes, instantaneous or acute dose, is still a dosimeter, but I just wanted to make the distinction clear.  These devices do not work like, nor perform the same function as a dosimeter pen or badge.
The PALESSE 26K-86 is, however, a true Geiger counter.  Like the SEARCH-2, it has 2 Geiger tubes that run most of the length of the device.  But the Tubes used in the PALESSE 26K-86 lack the open ends of the SBM-9 tubes in the SEARCH-2.  In addtion, the plastic case of the PALESSE 26K-86 completely surrounds both of the SBM-20 tubes.  The result is a unit that is very sensitive to Gamma Radiation, but not Alpha or Beta.
In a nuclear accident or attack, this would be advantageous since the real (acute) harm is done by Gamma Rays. For a use like Antique shopping or mineral prospecting however, one would want something like the removable door of the Terra-P, the open ends of the STREAM-2, or the slots on the back of the Rodnik 3.  Overall, however, Size matters in Geiger Tubes, and having 2 SBM-20's makes the  
PALESSE 26K-86 very fast and sensitive for it's intended purpose.
The speed at which it gives a valid reading is demonstrated when it is first powered on.  The unit starts with the top most, or highest level LED flashing.  Assuming  (hoping) you are not in an area of extreme radiation, it begins dropping.  This accomplishes two things:  First, it serves as a test of each LED.  Secondly, it never shows a falsely low radiation level -- it errs on the side of caution.
If the unit is started in "Search" (поиск) mode, and you are not in an area of high radiation, it will count down through each LED, until the last one goes out.  It is important to start the unit in Search mode (Right switch down).  Search mode has both a higher scale range, and a shorter time constant than "Measure" (измер).  If the unit is started in Measure mode, it will take quite some time for the reading to settle out into anything meaningful.
Regardless of mode, a piezo speaker gives audible clicks for each event detected as one would expect for such a device.  As mentioned, there is no accumulated dose, and no settings for alarm level.  A dangerous area or object would result in a steady stream of clicks -- just like in Chernobyl -- the place or the movie.
As a reviewer, I also need to point out the size of this device.  It is overall about twice the size of the SEARCH-2 or the Terra-P (about 190mm long).  It is not going to be carried in a pocket, or carried or used discretely at all.  That said, it is a nice size to hold, and it has the advantage of getting the device a bit closer to an object or area without the user getting quite as close.
Continued Below.
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3  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: Malachite DSP - SDR  Radio Receiver
 on: Apr 7th, 2021, 1:32pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
Here are the change log notes for 1.10b and 1.10c.  Note that 1.10c is "Under Development", and not yet available on the Yandex Disk site.
The 1.10c change log is translated by Yandex Translate.
- fixed error in the S-meter readings for frequencies above 30MHz;
- the panorama scale injection has been changed - now instead of x1, x2, x4, 160kHz, 80kHz, 40kHz are shown;
- in SSB the 100kHz step is excluded and the 25Hz step is added;
- the touchscreen sensitivity is lowered again Smiley;
- added synchronous AM detector;
- the frequency at which the low-pass filter 500000 is turned on is increased to 540,000, for better suppression of signals above the frequency of 500 kHz;
- added Auto Notch filter to the Audio menu;
- stretched grunginess adjustment;
- added DSB mode - as a kind of SSB;
- added CW mode - as a kind of SSB;

1.10c: (under development)
- improved graphical display of the spectrum
- improved algorithm optimization, improved display speed
- added the ability to determine the type of activation - by one or three clicks. If PD15 (pin 7 of the RESERVED field) is open, the activation is performed by one click.; if this pin is closed to a common wire, then switching on by three clicks
- improved the HARD menu
- changed the battery indication - the voltage is indicated on top of the picture
- added the ability to control user equipment using a discrete signal-PD14 (pin 8 of the RESERVED field)
- a button for switching the audio output has been added to the HARD menu. It duplicates the switching of the audio output. Made at the request of users.
- added SAM-U and SAM-L modes
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4  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: 6П14П Amplifier build
 on: Mar 14th, 2021, 7:49pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
This project is complete.
First, here is the Switch Mode Power Power Supply (SMPS) that this amplifier uses:

Photo from vendor ad
...And here is the completed amplifier:

Photo: linuxslate.com 2021  - Click for a larger image.
The amplifier includes a built-in USB DAC (Analog RCA inputs are provided, too.)  Using (2) 6П14П's per channel running at almost 300V should provide about 12-14 Watts/channel.  A Realistic APM-500 audio power meter confirmed at least 11.5W/channel without noticeable distortion.
I build my amplifiers to produce bass, and while the budget OutPut Tranformers (OPTs) used in this build are not the beefiest iron available, it is capable of producing bass you can feel as well as hear.
  • The power supply does work to run a basic power amp that is no bigger than a very basic "small bottle" Push-Pull amp with no other tubes.
  • All of the outputs collectively drive the feedback, which means that the load on one affects the others. There is a collective adjustment only, which in a manner of speaking makes it work somewhat like an unregulated linear supply. Strange and possibly damaging output voltages will result if the output loads are not "typical".
  • The "group regulation" also causes startup transients that may momentarily apply excess voltage to the heaters and B+. Without significant external clamping circuitry, I don't think there is anyway around this, and designing/building such circuitry defeats the purpose of a compact, $40 PS module.
  • The SMPS definitely has some advantages. In addition to the wide input voltage, it is also very compact. I think it would be very difficult to build an EL84/6BQ5/6п14п P-P amp in this small of a chassis with a conventional power transformer. (Note that the chassis also includes a DAC and LED VU meter)
  • It also runs fairly cool. The SMPS transformer does get warm to moderately hot, but I have run it for several hours with everything closed up, and nothing reached a temperature that would cause me any concern. In fact it's the coolest running tube amp I've ever seen. Nothing but the power tubes themselves get significantly hot.
  • This cool operation is also shown in very low power consumption for an P-P tube amp. I show ~55W AC Input draw with the amp playing music very low (essentially idle).
  • It's certainly not "HiFi Clean". Even with external Inductors and Capacitors, switching artifacts are present. Keeping the SMPS further away from audio circuitry would probably help, but again, that negates the advantage of the compact size.
  • The SMPS has an over current shutdown. This seems to work very well, but it has the side effect of preventing the amplifier from starting if the Power tubes are hot.

Even though I now have a compact, nice looking, efficient, and very inexpensive tube amplifier, I do not recommend this power supply for the reasons mentioned above.
For a full detail of this build, please visit the build thread on AudioKarma.com
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5  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: Malachite DSP - SDR  Radio Receiver
 on: Mar 12th, 2021, 10:35pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
Firmware version 1_10b has been posted to the Yandex Disk site.  As usual, it can be found in the Firmwares folder:
https://yadi.sk/d/4ZgsrswxYClG1Q/Проши[ch1074 ]ки(FIRMWARE)
The strange thing is that all of the older firmwares have been removed.
Apparently, the authors have gone to some sort of time-limited code to unlock the firmware.  I'm not sure how this works because the Malachite SDR does not retain the time if the battery is disconnected.
I am also interpreting this to mean that there are codes or code generators out there someplace for the older versions of the firmware.  As I predicted in post #9, it is not going to be possible to stop people from unlocking/copying/modifying the firmware.  I really wish George and company would put their efforts into making this a great platform instead of playing a game with the hackers.
George (rx9cim) does say that the new firmware should not pose any problem for people who have already registered a previous firmware.
Please don't ask me how to hack the codes or where to find them.  I don't know how to hack the codes, and I am not going to look for them on the internet.
To be honest, It is not worth the effort for this radio.  It is easier to buy a Raspberry Pi and a USB SDR stick and install Gqx for Raspberry OS.  You then have a more flexible and expandable portable platform that is fully (or at least mostly) open source.
In fact, I was considering building a table radio around another Malachite SDR, but even before this latest firmware shenanigans (I hope shenanigans translates to Russian -- I do know a stronger Russian term, if needed), I had already decided on going with a Raspberry Pi 3 and a USB SDR stick. It would give me Shortwave, aircraft, and everything else I can do on a Malachite SDR, but it would also be a media player and Internet Radio player. Adding things like ADS-B (aircraft location) should also be possible.
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6  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Rowe/AMI R-4359 beautification project
 on: Feb 8th, 2021, 8:36pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
I'm building Tube Amps, and I can't stop!
In addition to building a small amplifier based around Russian military tubes and a Chinese SMPS, I have been accumulating parts to build a EH 7591a based amplifier.  The Output transformers will come from a Rowe/AMI R-4359 amp chassis that came from a jukebox.  The original amp was based on 7868 tubes.  7591's and 7868's are electrically very similar, just in a different basing and envelope, so I also plan to stick with the R-4359 schematic fairly closely.
Output Transformers, and the basic circuit design of each channel is where the similarities to the Jukebox Amp will end.
The amplifier will be built in a rack-mount chassis (which is also surplus).  I am not using the Power Transformer, 5AUG Rectifier tube or any of the original power supply circuitry.  Instead, the needed voltages for the tubes will come from a combination of Switch Mode Power Supplies, as I have done for my other projects.  A 20Amp rated SMPS will provide 12VDC from a 100-240V input.  The 12VDC (at lots of Amps) will power a significantly modified Chinese Inverter module along with a rectifier, filter, and feedback system of my own design.  This will provide approximately 380VDC to the plates of the EH 7591a's.  Other modular SMPS's will provide the ~6.3V needed for the 7591's heaters, and a +/- output for the tube biasing circuit.
It will also contain a high performance DAC to allow USB Audio, as well as Optical and Coaxial SPDIF inputs.  Of course there will be straight analog inputs, too.  A digital, audio grade relay board will allow push-button switching between the digital inputs and 3 analog inputs.
It will also have a VFD Spectrum display on the front panel.
Yes, it's an ambitious project, and it has to wait for other projects ahead of it, but in the meantime, here is a rendering so that you can at least see some artwork:

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7  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / 6П14П Amplifier build
 on: Feb 8th, 2021, 8:12pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
One of several projects in work here at Linuxslate, is a basic tube amplifier built around actual Russian military surplus 6П14П (6P14P) tubes, and a Chinese SMPS that is at least theoretically made specifically for tube power amplifiers.
Here is a picture of the amplifier during a recent "glow test".  While it looks pretty complete, nothing is wired except the tube heaters.

The area that looks like a window or display will house an LED VU meter.
I have discussed the particular power supply used in this project on my "Modern Power for Tube Projects?" thread on AudioKarma, and I will not reproduce it here.  The unit in question can be found on sites such as AliExpress by searching for "tube amplifier switching power supply".  This is the 250W version.
The short version is that the SMPS will produce the appropriate voltages for a modest tube power amplifier, but is struggles to power the heaters of these 4 power tubes, and since the feedbacks of all of the outputs collectively feed the drive (primary) of the SMPS, it will not produce the correct voltage unless all outputs are loaded appropriately.  In order to take the picture above, I had to use a 1.5K ohm power resistor to load the B+ (300V) output.
In reviews on AliExpress, others have mentioned that the transformer at the center of the SMPS gets very hot with even a moderate load.
At least in theory, this power supply should have some benefits for someone looking to build a small tube amp project on a budget.  The SMPS itself sells for about $40-$45 (not counting shipping), and has the advantage of operating from 100 - 240VAC.  That means that your project will not only work anyplace in the world, but it should have consistent behavior even if the line voltage changes.
So While at this time, I cannot recommend this power supply, the build shall go on.  I plan to work at a very leisurely "hobby" pace, so I wouldn't recommend compulsively reloading this page looking for an update.
I also have a couple other Tube Projects going on.  You can Read about a larger, more powerful SMPS 7591 Tube Amplifier build here, and Read about a concept for the "Does Everything" Tube Table Radio" in this thread.  (Links to be added soon).
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8  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: Malachite DSP - SDR  Radio Receiver
 on: Jan 18th, 2021, 6:56am 
Started by Administrator | Post by Rod
Thanks for the great information you have shared.
Using the above information, I was able to upgrade from (the supplied) 1.0c to 1.10a.
It's a great little device, and getting better with firmware upgrades.
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9  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: Malachite DSP - SDR  Radio Receiver
 on: Jan 17th, 2021, 3:22pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
Firmware 1_10a  Quick Look report.
Refer to the Change Log.

  • There is not a setting for the sensitivity of the encoder wheels as previously reported.  That was based on a miss-reading of the translated Russian in the change log.  Other than putting the encoder wheel direction options on a single button, there is no noticeable change in encoder operation.  I have no idea what the Note referring to "wheelbarrow" is supposed to mean.
  • The Auto Scan feature for FM tuning would be a great idea, except it doesn't work.  We have many strong stations in the area, but in trying with both a whip antenna and my outside wire antenna, numerous scans found exactly zero stations.   There is now a function to change the color of the FM "Retro" scale.  It's nicely implemented with little "preview" icons.  I'm not sure if that was in 1_0f or not.
  • The bandwidth shadow now reflects the currently set audio bandwidth.  I don't remember this working before, but I may have just not noticed it in previous firmwares.
  • Yes the spelling of "Standard" is correct, but with the nomenclature as-is, it is still not going to be intuitive as to what that setting does without reading it in the manual.
  • They have improved the nomenclature for some of the RF Gain Settings in the "HARD" menu.  There is a PREAMP Enabled/Disabled setting, and a PRE Gain setting.  Does the PRE Grain setting adjust the gain of the Preamp?  if so (as one would think), then why are those 2 settings not near one another?
  • One of the Gain settings (the one closest to the Preamp button) has been changed to "ATT", but I am still confused.  Does the Preamp attenuate the signal?!  Maybe I need to read (translate) an updated manual, but it is still far from user-friendly.  The HARD menu should be updated so that the order of the functions having to do with RF gains/attenuation follow the flow of the signal left to right.  The other buttons should be moved to accommodate this.

A picture is worth 1000 words, so here is a picture that shows the concept of what I am thinking of.  Note that this is a 5 minute drawing for illustration only, not the exact implementation.  I tried to be consistent in capitalization (Ahem), and to suggest alternative nomenclature in some places.  I did not refer to the schematic or MSI001 datasheet while making this drawing.  Blocks may not be in the right order.

The signal path line could be animated to show the Preamp being in the circuit or not,   Alternatively, a red "X" could simply be drawn to show the path that is not active.  What is important is the button order.  The signal path line would be completely optional.
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10  Original Projects and Builds / Other Builds and Projects / Re: Poor Man's version of the Monster GO DJ
 on: Jan 17th, 2021, 1:57pm 
Started by Administrator | Post by Administrator
The folks that run the local True Value Hardware Car Shows continue to hire me to DJ, and I continue to bring my PM GO DJ as a "Back UP".
I am also bringing a Samson L1200 Professional Mixing Console.  Yeah, that's overkill for a neighborhood Car Show, but in addition to being able to use more than one microphone, I can also have the PM GO DJ and the Stanton SCS.4DJ connected simultaneously. This gives me 4 player decks, as well as the other features (such as Bluetooth) of the PM GO DJ without switching or downtime.
In fact I find myself using my PM GO DJ more than the Stanton SCS.4DJ.  This isn't a conscious decision just so I can use the device I designed and built.  I really find myself naturally or subconsciously gravitating back to the PM GO DJ.  There are a few reasons for this:
-- The larger text on the player modules that comprise the PM GO DJ.  I'm not a young DJ.  I can read the small text on the Stanton, but having the larger text on 2 separate screens is much easier for me.
-- I don't have to continuously switch between the "Waveform" display and the "Browse" screen like I do on the Stanton.  I actually think it is about the same number of button presses to cue up the next track, but on the PM GO DJ it's all on the same screen.  That makes it ergonomically easier.
-- As previously mentioned, the Chinese media players are very quick at moving through the tracks.  The Stanton skips, and does not scroll smoothly.
Lastly, I'm beginning to think that my PM GO DJ actually sounds better than the Stanton SCS.4DJ.  Yeah, OK -- I know the response to that.  I'm not an un-biased, or objective observer here.  It could be totally opposite.  Also, I generally connect the the PM GO DJ to 2 channels of the Samson mixer, and the Stanton to the "CD/Tape" input.  All of the EQ controls for the 2 channels are set to null, and the pans are set so that each channel is properly mixed by the Samson, but it's possible that the Samson just does not have as good a quality components on the CD/Tape input as it does on the actual mixer channels.  Obviously more objective testing (and a far more objective tester) would be needed to determine if there really is a perceptible difference one way or the other.
A few more notes on this:  The PM GO DJ players will play FLAC files, which the Stanton will not.  Using High quality FLAC files *will* make a
difference in the sound as compared to an MP3.  Objective or otherwise that is an objective fact.  However, very few of the files loaded onto the PM GO DJ's SD cards are FLAC.  90+ percent of them are the identical MP3 files loaded onto the Stanton.
Actually none of them are FLAC.  I attempted to load some FLAC files, and they would not show up in the Media Players.  As of right now, I don't think this actually will play FLAC files.  It may still play other lossless formats such as WAV.
Another Edit:  Sorry to keep changing the story on this, but here is the issue:  The Chinese Media Players will play FLAC files.  However, the players are limited to 24 bit samples.  The FLAC files I was attempting to play were 32 bits/sample. They would probably work fine if I used ffmpeg to reduce the depth to 24 bits/sample, but of course that would probably "hurt" the file (reduce fidelity) almost as much as just re-encoding it as a high bit rate MP3.
It's also an objective fact that there is a *lot* more digital circuitry on the Stanton between the digital source files, and the output jacks.  I'm not sure if the Stanton implements it's tone control in a DSP environment, or with analog components.  I can tell you that I don't remember seeing groups on OP amps and analog circuitry.  I also know that the Stanton is very slow at scrolling, scanning media, etc.  It seems very limited on computing power for the job at hand.  If the Stanton is trying to do a lot of real time signal processing on a system that seems to be somewhat limited, then it is very likely that my PM GO DJ really does sound better.
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