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Paul R

First Blog - perfect storm of bad choices on my part!

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You know how they always say every dark cloud has a silver lining? Well, I guess it must be true, because an unfriendly cloud seems to have visited our domicile this past few weeks, but there is a great silver lining to it. First, the storm...

Here I was a very happy man, with great equipment, lots of music, and no urge to upgrade or change anything. Well, until I got a too good to be true offer for a Wavelength Cosecant DAC. To fund that purchase, it was advantageous to sell my little Wavelength Proton, which I did. Exactly 18 minutes after I posted it on Audiogon. And a few days later, the so and so that was supposed to sell me the CoSecant, and had already taken my money, sort of “disappeared” after telling me “oops!” He rather inconveniently also forgot to return my money.

I also had a brand new tube based pre-amp. Those tubes kept glaring at me like evil eyed Cylons from the 1970s. The pre-amp did not take long to clearly reveal itself to be a mistake. As it turned out, I just didn’t like it at all.

So back it went, with unfortunately, a rather hefty financial loss. Not that much of a problem really, but still a loss.

I also had a most lovely pair of Magnepan 1.7 speakers that played music with such beauty, they could upon occasion bring me to tears. Unbeknownst to me at the time, they could also bring my lovely wife to tears, but for an altogether different reason.

The Maggies also sold, for cash, for a very reasonable cost within 24 hours of posting them. Either I priced them too low or they are just very much in demand. I think the later.

And we said hello to a set of PSB Synchrony 1B speakers. The PSB speakers turned out to be more expensive than the Maggies and required a significant cash outlay over what I sold the Maggies for. They are beautiful though, and Karen loves them. Indeed, I think she might pet them before we go to bed at night... (grin) they also sound very good indeed.

Then, because of the good graces of certain people, I was able to obtain a new Wavelength Proton. My ears were very very pleased, and so too were Karens. The Proton is a very synergistic match for the PSB speakers.

Okay, so I am out a couple grand at this point, but everything is Okey Dokey and we have plenty of beautiful sound around the house. But wait, that silly dark cloud had one more good downpour left in it...

A few weeks ago the PC running Vortexbox and driving almost all the music in the house had a hardware problem. This was annoying, but not a disaster. There are enough spare computers around here to drive a moderately large accounting firm. Out came the Macbook, I restored the ALAC copy of the music library onto a couple 1tb firewire disks, hooked it up, and we were back in the music business.

The Macbook of course, runs iTunes as a baseline music server. Annoyingly, iTunes sounded better than the Squeezebox Touch boxes we were using. Very annoying, because that was not true with the Maggies. It was true with the PSBs though!

That led to experimenting again with all the music players, Amarra, Pure Music, Audirvana, BitPerfect, etc. They all sounded different of course, and most of you know my favorites.

We also loaded a PC with J.River Media Center and loaded a copy of the music files on it. That turned out to take a bit of doing all by itself - Windows has issues with long path names and filenames that contain non-ascii characters. Thanks to Chris’ guide and a bit of stubborness, that got down. JRMC of course, also sounded great, but I don’t have a quiet PC and I won’t have a mini hurricane in my living room.

But amazingly, iTunes sounded very very good indeed on the Macbook, especially when sent to a remote Airport Express connected to a PeachTree DAC*IT, and thence on to one of the other systems. MMM....

Not to be outdown by a mere PC, the Macbook got ornery and over heated the battery to the point the battery split its seams. Never seen that one before!

Not willing to get over excited about that (or buy a new battery) I simply left the Macbook running on wall power. No big deal, I thought.

Then of course, the Macbook melted down a bit more. I think a cat helped it along a bit, launching the poor rhing on a ballistic trajectory across the living room. I think it being on a set of Barry D.s hip joints might have aided that furry menace...

And of course, every other current model Mac in the house is otherwise engaged right now, and cannot assume duty as a music server.

Now comes the silver linings!

I have a few spare older Mac Minis, with PowerPC chips in them. I loaded one up with MacOS 10.5.4, loaded iTunes, and opened the iTunes library on the external disks.

Worked like champ!

More, iTunes from the old PowerPC sounds better than it ever did on the Macbook - as good in fact, as the better players sounded on the Macbook. Playing through the Wavelength Proton of course. (Caveat, with the Proton, I have iTunes up-sample all the redbook music to 88.2K., and set the volume controls at just over 90.1%.)

So a 7 year old Mac is sitting on the audio rack, playing our entire iTunes library, including streaming audio and video around the entire house.

I was - and still am! - amazed.

Oh yeah, the rest of the silver lining? Well, I get to go buy a new Mac or other machine to be a quiet music server. I am of course, prejudiced towards a Mac, but I think I might consider a JRMC machine (perhaps a poor man’s CAPS v2) or something else.

I have also thought that a new Mac Mini might run iTunes, Amarra, and Logitech Media Server for remote streaming all at the same time. Or just iTunes all by itself, if it sounds as good as the PowerPC Mac Mini.

Lots and lots of wonderful choices. Which, once chosen, are not gonna get changed again. This is fun stuff, but it takes too much time away from listening!

I am thinking about swapping out the Odyssey Khartago SE++ amp though. It drives Maggies just beautifully, but it is overkill to drive the PSBs.

What do you think? I hope you enjoyed the little story above. It seems like inanimate objects “have it in for me” the past few weeks, but of course, that is only a seeming.

It’s just been a streak of odd luck, but very odd luck indeed!

Yours
-Paul

Edited to correct typos on 11 July 2012 @ 22:09 CDT.

Updated 07-11-2012 at 11:10 PM by Paul R

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Comments

  1. babybear's Avatar
    Paul,

    If you have an amp (Odyssey) that sounded good with your Maggie 1.7 speakers and I would assume it sounds good with your PSB speakers - why would you sell it? What do you mean that it is overkill for the PSB speakers?
  2. chg's Avatar
    Hi Paul,
    I am thinking about swapping out the Odyssey Khartago SE++ amp though. It drives Maggies just beautifully, but it is overkill to drive the PSBs.
    I was wondering the same thing as babybear. Would you care to expand on that comment? Is the Odyssey too much power, not a good match, or just that the speakers don't take full advantage of amp capabilities (i.e. overkill)?

    One question about the Odyssey: I was thinking of placing a pair of Khartago in a sealed cabinet (sealed, other than hole in back for wires and slight gap around door) and I'm wondering how warm the amps might get? Does the amp stay cool, warm, hot?

    Thanks
  3. Paul R's Avatar
    Hi Arnie - it just isn't a good match for the PSBs, or for my current wants and desires. It does drive the PSBs very nicely, but I am thinking about one of the Rogue Audio hybrid amps. But as you have suggested, whatever replaces it will be from a local or well trusted dealer. :)

    Hi Chg - The Khartagos run in ClassA most of the time, and produce significant heat. I would not recommend putting them into a sealed enclosure under any circumstances. They need good ventilation!

    -Paul
  4. chg's Avatar
    Thanks Paul. That's what I thought, but hoped, maybe, somehow, this would be the one and only cool running class A amp.
  5. Jud's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by Paul.Raulerson
    Hi Arnie - it just isn't a good match for the PSBs, or for my current wants and desires. It does drive the PSBs very nicely, but I am thinking about one of the Rogue Audio hybrid amps. But as you have suggested, whatever replaces it will be from a local or well trusted dealer. :)

    Hi Chg - The Khartagos run in ClassA most of the time, and produce significant heat. I would not recommend putting them into a sealed enclosure under any circumstances. They need good ventilation!

    -Paul
    OK, two things I am not understanding at this point:

    - Please tell me why these two phrases don't contradict each other - "it just isn't a good match for the PSBs," and "It does drive the PSBs very nicely...."

    - You figure inanimate objects have it in for you (to the point a MacBook kind of explodes), and you want to get an amp with tubes?
  6. Paul R's Avatar
    Hi Jud - A "good match" to me is an amp that isn't too big, nor too small for the speakers. Compared to the big Maggies, the PSB's are a much less demanding load, and some other amps are a better match. The Bryston for example, threw a much deeper soundstage, and the RA, a much wider soundstage. Also, it may be with all the changes, I just don't really like it as much. It will stay though, until I find just the right system to replace it.

    The Rogue Audio stuff is supposedly a hybrid, and no tube maintenance required. I am not sure I believe that, but it sounds quite nice. :)

    Obviously, I don't really believe any equipment is "out to get me" - it just struck me as a bit humorous when I was writing in my journal and noticed this perfect storm of nonsense happening. :)

    -Paul