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Off the grid...or nearly so


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I have an interesting new project - design a computer-based audio system for a weekend/vacation property which is nearly off the grid.


Imagine a small (15x20) studio (read 'empty') - with a single AC circuit currently being used by nothing - into which I'd want to install a relatively portable (excepting speakers) system of which only a single component would be connected via AC during listening.


computer -> DAC -> amp -> speakers, e.g. Mac Mini -> Proton -> battery powered amp -> speakers


question #1: which single component would you connect to AC - power amp or computer?

note: yes, I know, using a laptop computer seems obvious, but let's be creative.


question #1a: what power amp would you recommend for off the grid use? note: this allows me to use Mac Mini with the AC, or alternatively, use a laptop and leave the grid entirely, or use the AC for lighting. :)


question #2: battery power: black lightning or ???


question #3: what other particularly interesting products should be considered?



Products already in the arsenal: Wavelength Proton USB DAC (battery powered), Metric Halo ULN-2 (firewire bus powered OR AC with custom linear supply), Mac Mini, Macbook Air, PowerMac G5 (not exactly portable).


Speakers would likely be high (>90 db) sensitivity, 8 ohm load.


any thoughts are welcome,












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Have you considered looking at high end In Car power amps?






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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"Have you considered looking at high end In Car power amps?"


hmm, no I haven't. you get extra credit for being creative.

might be overkill to drive high sensitivity, perhaps even single driver, speakers.


OTOH, do any auto installations utilize the smaller of the single (as in full range) drivers?

I always meant to try that and never got around to it.


I have considered the Red Wine amps Abstraction mentions.


hmmm.... the Black Lightning (Red Wine's SLA solution to supply other amps with battery power) only supports up to 24V, as far as I can tell, which seems to eliminate the Class A amps I'm fond of (unless I"m showing my total ignorance on this).


thanks for the responses,






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Definitely go completely off the grid!

One amp recommendation might be, although it's not your class A variety by any means, is the best (and very inexpensive) amp that Virtue Audio sells. They have gotten some pretty good reviews from folks using really high efficiency speakers (esp single driver or horns). It's capable of easily running off of battery and there's plenty of discussion on AC of them being used in this fashion (and various mods to get them there). I recall one guy with a $75 to $100k 2 ch system saying the little amp equaled/exceeded some very serious gear he had driving his horns.


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thanks Jason, Geoff, Scot,


The Dodd stuff looks interesting, with emphasis on 'looks'.


Scot, I"m not great at taking care of batteries, but I never let that stop me from buying products that are battery powered.


Geoff, thanks for the reminder about Class T amps. I may look into a chip amp, i.e. Gaincard clone or similar, unless their power requirements exceed the Black Lightning's capabilities.







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