playback gear


4 jan. 2006, 7h01m

forgive this entry. i'm about to geek out a bit.

so what are people using to listen to music?

here's my setup:

i have a home office, so i listen to music mostly on the computer. i use the excellent amarok as my music player on fedora core 6. in fact, it's thru amarok that i found out about audioscrobbler! i feed the digital signal from a Santa Cruz sound card to an Onkyo TX-S575X receiver, and that's got a pair of energy take FPSs. The bass module from a Cambridge Soundworks THX 250D 2.1 set pulls in some low freqs.

next is my living room setup. i have a squeezebox 2sending analog signals to a pair of Outlaw Audio M200 monoblock amps. and to the amps i have a pair of omnisat v2 sat speakers. i also have an anthony gallo mps-150 subwoofer. the living room is my favorite place to enjoy music, and the speakers sound (and look) great.

i'm a big fan of slimdevices... in the kitchen, i've got another squeezebox 2 hooked up to an old receiver with a couple of mirage nano sats. the garage has an sb2 also, and i've put a first generation squeezebox in my daughter's room. (it's amazing how much you spend on 'kid' music. now it's easy to bring up her favorite playlists).

my most expensive rig is in the basement, where we have a home theater setup. the setup's obviously for movies, but i sometimes listen to music down there, too. i play music through either softsqueeze or mplayer or amarok on a computer hooked up to denon 3805 receiver with a digital coax cable. up front i have a pair of b&w 603s3's, which sound great. (i was pleased to see that stereophile, a mag that regularly reviews $6k speakers--no way am i spending that much on speakers!!-- gave a 2005 budget product of the year award to the 603s.) the 603s are joined by an lcr60s3 center channel speaker, a couple of 601s3 surround speakers, and a pair of ds6s3's in the back. an outlaw lfm-1 brings in the bottom freqs. aside from listening to music with the computer, it's fun to put the receiver in dolby pro logic IIx mode and pop in a music dvd, eg my Pavement "slow century" dvd or my New Order 316 dvd to watch a concert and hear music from all the speakers.

i rip all my cds to the flac format. i figure i'm basically archiving my cds, and i want all the bits to be there when i'm playing back on my equipment. a computer with a bunch of seagate hard drives and running CentOS 4 is used to serve the music to my office computer, the home theater media computer, and the squeezebox devices. so in my office, living room, basement, garage, kitchen, and my daughter's room, i have access to almost my entire library of cds (haven't ripped all the mofos yet). the slimserver software also lets me listen to internet radio (like kcrw's feed or somafm's indie pop rocks) and now radio with's latest music player.

i travel a lot for work... when i'm traveling, i convert music to ogg format and stick it onto my samsung yepp mt6z player. when i'm on a plane or train (ie, loud environments) i plug in my etymotic er-6 earphones. they sound crystal clear while sealing out ambient noises. plus they're way smaller than those bose noise-cancelling headphones that people seem to like. when i need to be able to hear someone trying to get my attention, like when i'm in the office or when i'm walking in the streets where a car horn can mean the difference between life and death ;), i put on my sennheiser px-100s. these guys are lightweight, collapsible, and sound great... nice, full sound.

btw, anyone with an audiophile ear (not that i have one) and similar music tastes have favorite "reference" tracks that you play through your gear?

some of the tracks i used when i auditioned speakers included
Jimmy James, Michael, Left Behind, Deception, The Hitcher, Howard Hughes, Good morning, Song for Lindy, Come Into My Life, and Mellow Song (amongs many others).


  • p090

    you answered the question I was going to pose to you concerning your ripping... Flac or shn is essential when playing music through a decent system. I do not have to shout about, (everything save the turntable) is circa 1988). However I have a damn decent amp, I need to get some higher wattage speakers and I could shake the neighbors. Point being of course, mp3 conversions are great when I am playing my tiny computer speakers, and makes due in a pinch, like on the ipod in the car. However, playing stuff on the computer in mp3, vs. the CDs themselves on the stereo.. It's no competition, you can tell there is some difference. I sort of like it when I finally find a release of something I've been playing on mp3 and get a chance to listen to it on the stereo from the original disc.. It's subtle but it provides almost a new experience listening... I thought about this and decided that starting with the new year, I am going to keep track best I can of stuff I play on the stereo by ripping (if not already) the disc and putting it into the computer, I can run the albums I've played while I am asleep or out and thus better track my listening habits. I further rationalized that I will only keep track of what I listen to in the house, so when driving in the car with the iPod or something like that, won't count. (Too much work for me maybe? hah) I usually find myself shuffling everything anyhow not playing full albums, if I did that, maybe I would start tossing them in a queue to log on not that difficult at that point. So.. now that I've pretty much derailed your topic with nonsense that only I care about, I bid you good day sir! :)

    7 jan. 2006, 1h01m
  • hasuf

    holy smokes! enjoying some music, then going back to the computer to play them while you're sleeping so you can update your profile... man, that sounds like a lot of work! i understand where you're coming from, though. its too easy to tell the difference btw cds and most mp3s. yep, i'd say grabbing a squeezebox and a big drive and ripping to flac would be your best option. ;)

    10 jan. 2006, 2h47m
  • p090

    it is actually a lot easier than it sounds.. Since eventually I will have ripped more and more of my CDs so I could make the tunes portable, what have you. If I get them into the computer, that is half the battle, call it extra incentive... Now that I've been figuring out with these other tracking programs how I can update the iPod playlists (I did some manually much like the albums.. aLOT harder with shuffle play involved.. i must be a sadist). Yeah some day when I have lots of money to spare I can dream of vast vast drives of space just for my music... :)

    10 jan. 2006, 7h21m
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