Editor's Note: Bob sent me this update over the weekend, while I was on a little vacation at a cabin in the woods of northern Minnesota. The cabin was powered from solar panels and had StarLink internet. I call it off the grid, but perhaps a better term would be, disconnect from public utilities. Anyway, the one thing this cabin lacked was a stereo of any kind. Using StarLink internet, I streamed Qobuz high resolution to my phone / headphones for much of the time, without any issues. While Bob calls this his budget basement system, I sure could've used it as a budget cabin system. If only I owned a cabin to put such a system in. I'm willing to bet there are some really neat cabin systems put together by members of the Audiophile Style community. I'd love to see them (hint). Anyway, here's Bob's latest update. - CC
Budget Basement Entertainment System
“Variations on a Theme” by Bob Fairbairn
I have changed my implementation of the audio chain and added video and gaming! This is a near- to mid-field system for both serious and casual listening.
The Speakers are now Kali Audio IN-5 studio monitors on stands with Herbie’s Audio Lab gliders under the stands so they can be moved out into position and stowed back against the wall. I have also added an S.M.S.L. DO100 DAC.
In my original article (link), there was a criticism that I did not include pricing. For this update, I have tallied the costs as best as possible:
- 24-inch Touchscreen monitor (borrowed from another project) $300
- Google Chromecast with Google TV. $50
- Nintendo Switch in its dock $350
- Nintendo pro controller $70
- HDMI audio breakout-box (SPDIF with 2-channel setting) $25
- HDMI switcher $50
- *** S.M.S.L. DO100 DAC pre-amp $225
- Teac PD-501HR CD Player $500 closeout
- Transparent Powerisolator 4 used TBD
- Raspberry Pi 4 $75
- Allo Shanti supply for the Pi4 $160
- *** Kali Audio IN-5 (2) $850
- 24in Speaker stands with spikes, gliders, and an MDF DIY top plate. Free
- Cables and accessories $150
- Pangea X-Brace rack $250
- Rug for comfort and some acoustic treatment. $100 w/pad
- Chairs Free
*** New Purchases for the system changes (June 2022)
Here we are on the 4th of July of 2022, and it feels right for the first time.
Over time I have developed a fondness for 3-way stand-mount speakers like the Kali Audio IN-5 monitors. I pre-set the levels on the speakers, so there is no need to use their level controls unless you have balance issues. The IN-5 speakers have a set of DSP control DIP switches to adapt them for placement and room. These are studio monitors, so they might feel different so some listeners.
The S.M.S.L. DAC forms the core of a small system rather nicely. The DO100 measures well; it has four inputs; USB, TOSLINK, SPDIF, and Bluetooth, with a simple remote for control.
Hopefully, adding the Nintendo Switch to the system will FINALLY let me finish “Breath of the Wild.”
The Teac CD player is an homage to the past and simple to add CD playback functionality.
Finally, the Chromecast with Google TV brings a wide range of video and audio sources at a minimal cost.
The system experience is excellent. The sound quality is better than I had hoped. The range of the IN-5 speakers is almost surprising; imaging and soundstage are above par!
At idle, the system draws a conservative 24 watts. I use a TP-Link KASA switched outlet at the wall to monitor and control power.
Editor's Note: Here is a one minute video of Bob's updated basement system - LINK (75 MB)
Note 1: The monitor could be a TV of some sort. The key will be if I can find a small TV with optical out that will deliver 2-channel audio not encoded. And If I decide to spend more money.
Note 2: Thanks to @Archimago for the DAC review on his blog. It is perfect for this use case. OH and SMSL, the connectors are close together on this one too, but it seems OK. Also, S.M.S.L., can you maybe show the volume and bit rate on display rather than bit rate only? It would be good to know that you are at 100% volume by accident. OH, and when it starts, I get a loud POP on the output LOUD.
Note 3: I need to put connectors on the Shanti outputs and change out the DC cables that bother my sensibility.
Note 4: INSANITY — The system has five remotes, a game controller, and an iPad. Ten devices need AC power.
Note 5: Pricing does not include the cost of my Roon server, streaming service fees, internet, etc.
Here are some reviews and info for the gear in the system.
**** ONE MORE THING ****
The room and the stereo are now ready for me to start evaluating the TigerFox Immerse 360!