We’ve all seen the excesses that the Golden Ears set revel in; the five-figure power conditioning boxes, the gold-plated HDMI cables. As covered by the Washington Post, however, [Ken Fritz] may have gone farther than most. Before he passed away, he estimated that he spent a million dollars on the greatest possible hi-fi setup he could imagine.
There’s plenty of hardcore gear in the rig. Massive cabinets loaded with carefully-tuned speaker drivers. A $50,000 record player built into a 1,500-pound weighted base for the utmost in stability and vibration resistance. Expensive cartridges, top-tier reel-to-reel decks, and amplifiers worth more than most used cars.
As the piece explores, [Fritz] knew that none of that was enough. Sound is all about the space as much as it is the equipment. Thus, the family home itself was transformed to become the ultimate listening environment in turn. The listening room got everything from concrete floors and its own HVAC and electrical systems. Much of the equipment was custom built to avoid wasting money on overpriced name-brand gear. The story of the kit was also the subject of a documentary shared online, by the name of One Man’s Dream.
The piece examines what goes into a top-tier setup like this, while also exploring the human cost that [Fritz’s] passion had on him and his family. The ending is sad and brutal in a way you wouldn’t think a story about hi-fi gear ever could be. It’s an education in more ways then one, and teaches us that it’s worth keeping an eye on the rest of our lives while pursuing what we enjoy the most. Video after the break.
Continue reading “How To Spend A Million Dollars On The Ultimate Stereo”
Sitting on a train leaving the Hackaday Berlin conference, and Hacker News pops up Julian Shapiro with a guide to HiFi. What Hackaday scribe wouldn’t give it a click, to while away the endless kilometres of North European Plain!
It’s very easy as an analogue electronic engineer, to become frustrated while reading audiophile tracts, after all they have a tendency to blur superficial engineering talk with pseudoscience. There’s a rich vein of parody to be found in them, but nevertheless it’s interesting to read them because just sometimes the writer gets it and doesn’t descend into the world of make-believe. Continue reading “It’s Difficult To Read An Audiophile Guide As An Analogue Engineer”
Thanks to a feature by Prusament because it uses their filament, we’ve been interested to read about the SongBird turntable from the British outfit Frame Theory (Note: at time of writing, they have an expired certificate). It’s a commercial product with an interesting twist for the Hi-Fi business: buy the completed turntable or buy a kit of parts and print the rest yourself.
We’re always interested to see new things here at Hackaday but we’re not in the business of promoting commercial products without a tech angle. This turntable has us interested then not because it happens to be 3D printed but because it’s instantly raised our curiosity over how suitable 3D printing is as a medium for a high quality audio component. Without descending into audiophile silliness we cannot overstate the effect that rigidity and mass of turntable components has on its audio quality. Take a look at this one we featured in the past for an extreme example.
So looking more closely at the design, we find that the chassis is aluminium, which makes sense given its visibly thin construction. Close examination of the photos on their site also reveals the tonearm to be made of carbon fibre tube, so it’s clear that they’ve put some effort into making a better turntable rather than a novelty one. This does raise the question though: manufacturing practicalities aside could you 3D print the whole thing? We think that a 3D printed chassis could replace the aluminium one at the cost of much more bulk and loss of the svelte looks, but what about the tonearm? Would one of the carbon-fibre-infused filaments deliver enough stiffness? It would be particularly interesting we think, were someone to try.
Carver is a famous name in audio equipment although they have been known to use odd names for things. For example, the 1980’s vintage M-400 magnetic field power amplifier that [JohnAudioTech] is repairing (see the two videos below). That sounds like something off a bad Star Trek remake, but, apparently, we weren’t alone in thinking that, judging by this 1982 review of the unit from a UK magazine.
Still, it is an interesting high-power amplifier and we love seeing gear of this age torn apart. The beast is rated at 201 watts — you have to wonder if the extra watt is another marketing ploy.
There were actually two units and they looked pretty good for four-decade-old boxes. One sounded pretty good outside of some noticeable buzzing. The other had something shorted inside. If you enjoy watching repair videos, you’ll appreciate this two-parter.
We have to admit — and it may be a personal bias — there is something more pleasing about seeing a PCB populated with a bunch of interesting-looking through-hole components. Modern boards with a sea of surface mount parts tend to look a little bland, aesthetically speaking. Of course, when it comes time to make our own boards, we are happy to use SMD and forego all that hole drilling!
We like watching computer repair videos, in particular. Or sometimes, something really exotic.
Continue reading “Carver M-400 Amplifier Repair Keeps The 1980’s Alive”
As you know, here at Hackaday we take our audio equipment very seriously indeed. We’ve seen it all over the years and have a pretty jaded view of a lot of the audiophile products that come past our door, but once in a while along comes something that’s a bit special. That’s why today we’d like to introduce you to a new product, The Hackaday Passive Aligned Ferrite Active Quantum Crystal Nanoparticle Reference Sticker.
Here’s the problem: we’re surrounded by electrical noise. You can’t see it, you can’t touch it, and you can’t hear it, but your audio equipment can, and when that happens it will degrade your listening experience without your realising it. You might have shelled out your life savings on a top-end Hinari amp, Marc Vincent surround sound processor, Friedland carillon wire cables and a set of Saisho floor-standing speakers, but if you haven’t dealt with your system’s magnetic compatibility they’re never quite going to reach their potential and you’ll always be left wondering why your broader soundstage just doesn’t zing. You need an HPAFAQCNRS.
Continue reading “Introducing The Hackaday Passive Aligned Ferrite Active Quantum Crystal Nanoparticle Reference Sticker”
The 20th century saw some amazing technological developments. We went from airplanes to the moon. We went from slide rules to digital computers. Crank telephones to cell phones. But two of the most amazing feats of that era were ones that non-technical people probably hardly think about. The transformation of radio and TV from mono and black and white, to stereo and color. What was interesting about both of these is that engineers managed to find a way to push the new better result into the same form as the old version and — this is the amazing part — do it in such a way that the old technology still worked. Maybe it is the rate that new technology moves today, but we aren’t doing that today. Digital TV required all-new everything: transmitters, receivers, frequencies, and recording gear. Good luck trying to play the latest video game on your 25-year-old PC.
It is hard to remember when stores were full of all sorts of audio and video media. We’ve noticed that all forms of media are starting to vanish. Everything audio and video are all streamed or downloaded these days. Records, 8-tracks, cassettes, and even CDs and DVDs are vanishing. However, vinyl records have made a come back in the last few years for their novelty or nostalgic value.
Continue reading “Retrotechtacular: Stereo Records”
One of the problems that has accompanied the advent of ever more complex home entertainment systems is the complexity of the burgeoning stack of remote controls that manifest themselves alongside your system. It doesn’t matter if you have a fancy does-the-lot universal remote, you are still left with a slew of functions to perform before you can sit down to enjoy the music.
[Robert Cowan] had this problem with his whole-house audio system. Playing music required a fiddle with the remote, and the moment was gone. What was needed was an automatic system that simply issued the relevant commands to the stereo without all the fuss.
His solution was to have everything happen when an audio output was detected from his Sonos Connect streaming media player. He tried rectifying its line output to detect music but hit problems, so instead used a SparkFun audio detector module. This in turn speaks to an Arduino, which then talks via a level shifter to the stereo’s RS232 port. [Robert] included all the relevant parts, schematic, and software is links in the video description. It’s a project that should almost be a feature built into a decent stereo, yet the manufacturers prefer the awful interfaces of their remote controls.
Continue reading “Whole House HiFi Tamed Without Fuss”