Mini Hi Fi: The Chase
Posted on Aug 31, 2008
It all started a couple years ago when the SI Tripath Amp emerged on the market. It was a little amp that was reviewed as being MUCH bigger than its cost or its physical size. It was about 40 bucks at target and reviewed the same as amps costing thousands more. Pretty sweet.
I purchased a couple of these and immediately blew at least 2 of them fucking around, recasing and generally attempting to make them sound better than they sound stock. After giving my final one away to a former coworker of Hiromi’s - I stopped paying attention to the various blogs and audio reviews of the T Amps.
Until about 1.5 months ago. heh.
The T-Amp article lead me to start reading diyaudio.com for about 2 weeks straight. It was madness. I stopped programming, stopped hacking stuff and just started building out a new HiFi system in my head.
I read a bunch of reviews about amps, speakers, and all sorts of random topics - until i found this awesome 6moons review of the Trends Audio TA-10.1. The thing that was interesting about this review is that the 3rd page of the review mentioned some Klipsch speakers that i happen to own and have in my living room. The review mentioned how awesome the TA 10.1 was when matched with the Klipsch speakers, especially in a horizontal bi-amping configuration.
So I went ahead and picked up two of them from Audio Magus to bi-amp my klipsch monsters. I also picked up a CHEAP preamp from phonopreamps.com. In total i spent about $325 and picked up 2 amps and 1 preamp.
After they arrived, i was able to hook everything up and after a bit of burn in really hear how awesome it actually is. I am very happy with the results. I am not going to talk about soundstage or anything like that - just that it sounds awesome.
Since I am bi-amping my speakers - I went ahead and set both amps as poweramps (by a jumper inside the amp) and am using the preamp as the volume control. This works very well. My only gripe is that there is no remote, but that is a future addition.
For audio sources, i have an airport express, my turntable and a poor CD player.
The future of this system is exciting.
I am planning on getting a solid preamp. Probably a Dared SL 2000A. It seems that adding a tube preamp to my “digital” amp setup could offer some warmth to the system. It also has a remote for volume control. The only downside is that it only has 2 channels for input - which means that I will have to figure out one source to get rid of (turntable most likely).
The next thing I would like to add is a couple DACs to do the D/A conversion for my Airport Express and my CD transport. I am looking at the Super Pro DAC707SE. It is cheap, well reviewed and has USB support if I choose to add the DAC to one of my computers as a source. Having a DAC should make my Airport Express experience better when listening to lossless audio files. It will also make the shitty CD player sound a lot better. Ultimately, I would like to get a better cd player - which leads me to my next plan.
The CD transport is world is pretty nuts. It seems that every single transport available is in the thousands, and that there isn’t any really a DIY CD transport option that is accessible. There is one compelling option for DIY - the Shigaclone. It is a direct clone of the Shigaraki Transport, however the insides are from a JVC boombox (JVC RC-EZ31). The details are at diyaudio. Unlike the other clones out there, the Shigaclone seems to be VERY hands on and just a bit past my skill level. I am waiting for a dedicated howto that explains all the various parts of the shigaclone and how I can make one without reading 1800 forum posts. In the meantime, i will have to find an alternative.
The alternative I have thus far is a 1994 NEC Multispin CDR-401G external CD-ROM. It has play/pause/forward/back buttons and has a digital coax out. It apparently sounds terrible, however once it is hooked to a DAC, it works wonderfully. It is VERY hard to find.
So for a CD transport, unless i want to spend a million bucks, I have two choices. Build a clone or buy a vintage CDROM.
I decided that the part of this i liked the best is the chase. I am very happy that I have a good sound system, but I am MORE excited about attempting to find the best system for cheap. Its a GREAT game.
I just need to make sure that i don’t fall for the tricks. I don’t want to spend ANY money on cables, nor money on speaker wire. Metal is metal.