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    The Computer Audiophile

    Meet The Audiophile Style Community | Volume 13

    Welcome to the thirteenth installment of our Meet the Audiophile Style Community series. All previous installments can be found here, in the series index.

     

    Please send me a message, email, or telegram if you'd like to participate. The response so far has been wonderful. It ranges from hardcore audiophiles to those who are more interested in numbers and graphs, and even people in the industry are eager to participate. This series is all about getting to know everyone and sharing a bit about yourself that others will find interesting. 

     

    Thanks for participating. I look forward to publishing more of these in the coming weeks and months. 

     

    Thanks to Audiophile Style community member @StephenJK for participating in volume thirteen of this series. As always, I love reading this stuff even more than publishing it. I say to myself after reading each one of these, you guys are so much more interesting than me. If I had half the talent of Stephen at home renovations, I'd be a happy guy. I also love his listening to Jazz stations from Boston and Chicago on the console stereo. Great stuff. 

     

     

     

     

     

    1. General area of the world in which you live?

     

    North Bay, Ontario

     

     

    2. General description of what you do or did for a living?


    R&D for development of automation schemes for mining machinery and support systems for field projects.

     

     

    3. What are your hobbies?


    Home renovations.  I do everything from framing, drywall, wiring, plumbing to ceramic tile and fine woodwork. 

     

     

    4. When did you start this wonderful journey into music listening?


    As a kid growing up in northern Quebec.  On cold winter nights the console stereo could pick up jazz stations in Boston and blues stations in Chicago.  Went to bed most nights with the bedroom door open and listening to music playing.

     

     

    5. What was your first “album?”

     

    Long time ago!  I remember by older brother had Elvis’ Golden Hits and my sister had Best of the Animals.  I remember my father bringing home Bob Dylan and explaining that he had something interesting to say. 

     

     

    6. What does your music collection look like, number of physical records, CDs, etc... and number of “favorited” albums streamed?

     

    We have around 1,000 CDs and 1,500 LPs.  All have been ripped or recorded and stored away.  All of that music is stored on a USB drive (many backup copies in other locations!) and played back from a laptop to the stereo system.  Just started looking into streaming from outside sources such as Tidal – it’s early days but so far most are poor quality and hard to listen to.

     

     

    7. What was your first audio component / stereo?

     

    First real stereo that I bought new was in 1978.  A Sony PS-X6 turntable, Koss CM-1020 speakers, Soundcraftsmen PE2217 preamp/equalizer and a Crown PS-400 amplifier.

     

     

    8. Is there one component that you no longer have that you wish you wouldn’t have sold or that you wish you still had?

     

    Yes – a pair of Klipschorn speakers that I completely rebuilt a few years ago with updated crossovers, new diaphragms for the squawkers, new tweeters and a full cabinet rebuild and refinish.  We downsized our house and those monsters just don’t fit into many homes.  Reluctantly they were sold to a willing buyer.  The speakers I have now are better, but those Klipschorns have a unique sound.

     

    Second would be a Revox B77 reel to reel (1/4 track, 3-3/4 and 7” ips) that I bought new in the early 80’s.  It had the optional remote control, digital real time indicator, aluminum editing hubs and dust cover.  I don’t know that I would use it if I still had it, but suspect that I would.  I do remember what a pain recording, splicing and editing was like but maybe these days I could find pre-recorded stereo tapes that I never could before due to living in smaller communities.

     

     

    9. Is there one current component that you wish you had in your system?

     

    No, I’m happy with the system I have now.  It’s been a long development path of upgrading for my wife and I and we’re happy with the system we have now.  The goal has been twofold, to improve the stereo and at the same time get ready for downsizing and retirement in the next four to five years. 

     

     

    10. How much time do you spend listening to music each week and on which systems does this listening take place (main system, car system, mobile system, office system, etc...)?

     

    We listen to music every day, but often as a background to our evening meal and conversation about our day.  The TV is in the basement, the stereo is in the living room. 

     

     

    11. What’s the first concert you ever attended, best concert you’ve ever attended, most interesting concert venue you’ve ever attended?

     

    First was Bachmann Turner Overdrive, in Winnipeg in 1975.  Coming from a small northern town I expected a rock concert to be something magical.  It wasn’t – it was awful.  Somebody named Bob Seeger opened for them, nobody had heard of him but I thought he had a great sound.  BTO came on and I think maybe played for a bit over an hour with a couple of encores.  It was a “going through the motions” type of thing and a disappointment for many in the home town crowd.

     

    Best concert?  That’s a hard one.  Certainly David Gilmour’s concert for Rattle That Lock in Toronto in 2016 would be up there.  There were only a few dates in North America and the skill, passion and musicianship of that concert was stunning.  Wilco in Toronto last fall for their Ode to Joy tour were everything you would want from a live concert.  No chit chat, just music.  We have all of their catalog on CD, but the energy and passion they pour into their live performances makes it so much more enjoyable. 

     

    Other memorable concerts would be the first time my wife and I attended the Opera in Toronto.  We had season tickets for a number of years but the very first was the Canadian Opera Companies rendition of Lucia di Lammermoor sometime in the late 90’s.  The soprano (Sumi Jo) made it absolutely clear why people say the best instrument is the human voice.  It was the first time I actually thought someone with that type of range, power and musicality to break a glass as in that Aretha Franklin commercials for Memorex tape.

     

    Most interesting venue?  Without a doubt the Winter Garden Theatre in Toronto with Daniel Lanois in 2005.  The Elgin and Winter Garden Theatres are the last Edwardian stacked theaters built in the vaudeville era of 1913. 

     

    https://www.seetorontonow.com/listings/elgin-winter-garden-theatre-centre/

     

     

    12. What components are in your current audio systems and can you provide a photo?

     

    The last and big change was trading in a Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista Phono, Musical Fidelity Nu-Vista 800 integrated amp and a PS Audio Directstream Jr. for a pair of Devialet Expert Pro 440 DSP monoblocks.  There were a few minor technical issues as in how to still be able to record LP’s but the sound is wonderful and continues to adapt to our needs. 

     

     

    sjk-HERO.jpg

     

     

     

    13. Anything else you’d like to say?

     

    I appreciate the opportunity to share my thoughts with fellow enthusiasts!  Growing up in northern mining towns where even TV was a single channel that went off the air at 11:00 PM meant that other entertainment options were needed.  Music has, and always be an important and enjoyable part of life for my wife and I.

     

     

     



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    Stephen, an excellent device to record LP, or any source, is the Tascam DA-3000.  I record DSD128 to memory card, edit with Vinyl Studio Pro, and output 192/24 for playback.

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    I see you still have your turntable ( what is it btw?) in pride of place. Does that mean you still prefer to play a record rather than the needle drop? 

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    Growing up in Toronto myself I was always curious about what goes on in those northern areas. I met a few kids from up north during the university days. Reading this was also very interesting.

     

    Love those KEF Blades. I hope to get a pair of those in 2021 maybe with the Meta drivers.

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    This was a particularly interesting one for me.  🙂

     

    Firstly, I too have the Blade / Devialet combination here in the UK.  Secondly, I have a brother who lives in Toronto.  

     

    It's a small world, as they say.  I tried a lot of amps with the Blades before deciding to get my first Devialet.  For what it's worth, I was not particularly taken by Devialet's "chrome pizza box" looks or it's all in one functionality, but I bought one anyway because I could not find anything that sounded better with the Blades for similar money.

     

    @StephenJK - You mention an issue regarding recording LP's, I presume this is solved now as you mention this in the past tense?  I am only asking because this should be reasonably easy to do with the Devialet, so I guess I am slightly curious as to what the issue might have been.

     

    A nice system, although the Eligin & Winter Garden is something else, I have to say!

     

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    My strange mind is struck by how the carefully cultivated symmetry of your setup is unbalanced by the wooden table added to support one too many components than can fit into the rack. 😁

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    I apologize for not having replied to these comments sooner - for some reason Outlook was blocking mail from this site.  The stereo is more or less the same but there was a plan to make a couple of improvements - those are now done. 

     

    This is the living room of our downsized home in the burbs.  I tore out the old oak strip flooring, installed new pre-finished white oak, painted the room, installed valence lights, ran a CAT5 cable down to the fiber hub and replaced the laptop with an Intel NUC that is running Roon with their Roon Optimized Core Server (ROCK).

     

    The valence lights are a funny story.  The house was built in 1963, and a switch was installed to a pancake box that was spotted up in the picture window valence.  Lights were never installed because in those days people installed sheers and drapes on the ceiling, leaving no room for the lights.  For over fifty years people have puzzled over what that extra switch was for.  I installed blinds with the rail supported from the wall and dimmable LED's - it works great.  

     

    As you can see, the little table is gone, the extra chairs are stored away and this is the "final" configuration.  

     

    Edit:  How could I forget the Gaia II footers on the speakers - major improvement in bass response and delivery.

    Stereo Updated.jpg

    Lights.jpg

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    On 12/15/2020 at 12:39 PM, Confused said:

    This was a particularly interesting one for me.  🙂

     

    Firstly, I too have the Blade / Devialet combination here in the UK.  Secondly, I have a brother who lives in Toronto.  

     

    It's a small world, as they say.  I tried a lot of amps with the Blades before deciding to get my first Devialet.  For what it's worth, I was not particularly taken by Devialet's "chrome pizza box" looks or it's all in one functionality, but I bought one anyway because I could not find anything that sounded better with the Blades for similar money.

     

    @StephenJK - You mention an issue regarding recording LP's, I presume this is solved now as you mention this in the past tense?  I am only asking because this should be reasonably easy to do with the Devialet, so I guess I am slightly curious as to what the issue might have been.

     

    A nice system, although the Eligin & Winter Garden is something else, I have to say!

     

    The issue with recording LPs ended up with discovering that the USB connection to the Devialet Master monoblock is bi-directional.  In other words, as you play a record the analog input is digitized and then has the RIAA equalization and cartridge loading done in the digital domain.  That signal that is then passed along to the DAC for output to the speakers is also available on the USB cable as an input to a computer.  

     

    I continue to use VinylStudio, but now instead of a digital recorder can record directly to the hard drive of a laptop.  It's a bit clumsier than using the digital recorder, but with over 1,500 LPs recorded I just don't have that many left to do.

    Stereo Updated.jpg

    Lights.jpg

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    On 12/11/2020 at 7:38 PM, Rexp said:

    I see you still have your turntable ( what is it btw?) in pride of place. Does that mean you still prefer to play a record rather than the needle drop? 

    Turntable is a Clearaudio Innovation Compact with the Universal tonearm, VTA lifter and a Dynavector Te Kaitora Rua cartridge.  Without a doubt the best sound I have ever had from a turntable/cartridge combination.  

     

    I still enjoy playing LPs, but the goal was to digitize them so that they would sound the same in the analog or digital world.  The LPs were recorded at 1 bit, 5.66 MHz, converted to 24/96 FLAC, mastered and saved in that final format.  I tested recordings with 24/192 but really couldn't hear any difference between that and 24/96.  

     

    Of course, a lousy LP sounds poor regardless.  The LPs I had the worst luck with were the mono Classical and Opera titles.  A lot were thrown away.  Oh, and the frustration with everything more or less OK until side 5 and then disaster.  The software I use, VinylStudio can handle clicks, pops and scratches but the LPs played on that old console stereo with the ceramic needle - those cause a lot of damage that makes the record unplayable.  

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    On 12/12/2020 at 11:48 AM, LoryWiv said:

    Beautiful set up. Framed "Blues For Allah" cover is a very nice touch!

    That is a limited art print by Philip Garris that was used as the cover art for Blues for Allah. 
     

    I bought that from an ad in Rolling Stone back in the late 70’s. It’s been reframed a couple of times, and is due for a change. 

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