back to article Build a bonkers hi-fi

And lo the command came from El Reg to assemble a hi-fi so extreme, so “bonkers” that only oligarchs, rock stars and the sporting elite would actually be able to afford one. So, avoiding the obvious temptation to simply cherry pick telephone number hardware, I’ve assembled a sound system of such extravagant exquisiteness I …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Headmaster

    Pesky spelin chekur

    distinctive copper heat syncs

    Sinks?

    1. Marvin the Martian
      Headmaster

      Re: Pesky pedantri chekur

      At least use the "send corrections" button instead of "comment". Sheesh.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        FAIL

        Re: Pesky no-sense-humour chekur

        At least use the "send corrections" button instead of "comment". Sheesh.

        I was opening the door for someone more witty than me to continue the light-hearted banter. It looks like someone didn't see the door, let alone walk through it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Pesky no-sense-humour chekur

          I thync we could have had some fun, but sadly, it seems to have sunc like a lead balloon

        2. JeffyPooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Pesky no-sense-humour chekur

          The copper "syncs" are used to realign the data to eliminate "jitter".

          Thanks for lobbing it in there.

        3. philbo

          Re: Pesky no-sense-humour chekur

          With any luck the comment will do what my poorly-configured SQL server does... sync without trace

  2. LinkOfHyrule

    The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

    Whats the bloody point then? Spending Bob Diamond levels of money of amps, speakers etc if you're going to be listening to you tunes in mp3 format! Especially when you have terrabytes of storage! jeeze!

    1. LinkOfHyrule

      Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

      Yeah before anyone starts, FLAC, which amptly named if you ask me - yeah its "in devlopmeant" for this thing - so they released a HiFi product that is only capable of playing shitty mp3 and you have to wait for an add on hahahahahahahahahahahahaha so funny. Knowing these high end audio companies the'll go bust before the add on/update is released again hahahahahahahaha.

    2. James Finnie
      Alert

      Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

      The MS13D rips CDs at either MP3 or full lossless WAV, tagged with WAV RIFF INFO tags. It defaults to MP3 only because most home gear cannot deal with WAV RiFF INFO tags - rendering them metadata-less when imported to portable players, or worse crashing the playback app (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WAV). Though FLAC is a very useful format it still doesn't enjoy universal support; MP3 is so far the only audio format to have achieved ubiquity.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

      "Whats the bloody point then?"

      Lucky you, if you can tell a 320k mp3 from the original. I can't, and that's through my freshly refurbed electrostatics. And even listening to material streamed off my Sammy GS2, I can still here every bum edit, mic sibilance, third violin with a hangover, gnats farting in the background etc.

      I used to have this craving for uncompressed audio, but when you think about the sampling for CD, it is all a form of compression.

      1. garden-snail
        Stop

        Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

        The argument becomes a little tiring - "I can't tell the difference between a 320k MP3 and the original, therefore no-one can".

        For the majority of material (but especially music with a lot of transients) I can quite clearly tell the difference, even on modest equipment.

        I believe there are plenty of people who can't (probably the majority of people) and I don't think those people enjoy music any less than I do, but they are not likely to be the kind of people in the market for the equipment in this article.

        Since the device in question supports uncompressed RIFF audio with capacities up to 18 TB, the absence of FLAC might not be a dealbreaker. That said, FLAC support would definitely be a bonus for people like myself, who already have a large collection of music in FLAC format, to save a lot of re-ripping.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s@ garden-snail

          "The argument becomes a little tiring - "I can't tell the difference between a 320k MP3 and the original, therefore no-one can"."

          Not what I said at all. I'd be willing to accept that a very tiny proportion of people can tell a difference, but at higher bit rates we're talking very, very tiny. Randomised testing doesn't find much evidence of golden ears, but I'm not dismissing it.

          Taking your point about "not likely to be in the market for (this) equipment", rubbish. If I'm listening on a pair of Quads, do you not think that I appreciate high fidelity? I'm old enough to remember the hifi purists railing against digital, and companies like Linn maintaining that they'd never produce a CD player, and the whole bit rate discssion has overtones of that debate.

          I'd agree with you that if you've got the space why bother to further compress what is (even off CD) a compressed version of reality, and that'sa future project I aim to get round to.

        2. Wize

          Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

          Obligatory XKCD post

          http://xkcd.com/841/

        3. phuzz Silver badge
          Happy

          Re: The MS1-3D rips CDs as 320kb MP3s

          "I believe there are plenty of people who can't [hear the difference between mp3 and wav] and I don't think those people enjoy music any less than I do"

          I think I probably enjoy it more mate, because I almost never spend any time thinking "I wish this was better encoded", and just enjoy the music instead. My £60 set of logitech speakers plugged into the onboard sound out of my motherboard does me proud :)

  3. Robert E A Harvey
    Happy

    Bonkers? oh yes.

    Best laugh of the day - well done.

    The bit that said "bathed in azure light, ostensibly to improve laser reading accuracy" had me in stitches.

    1. LinkOfHyrule
      Joke

      Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

      If I ever win the Euromillons I'm buying those creepy Italian speakers and connecting them to a 1980s vintage Amstrad midi Hifi system just to piss people off for a luagh!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

      Yes, but... Apart from the somewhat silly CD player (use a PC: it will sound the same) this is a roundup of somewhat respectavle kit from somewhat respected suppliers.

      People go shopping for such stuff in the price range that suits them, or just above. Those of us who can afford to spend only 10% or less are certainly not getting only 10% of the quality, especially if we avoid the bullshit accessories, cables, etc. Those that believe than another hundred thousand quid will get them that 0.001% extra ... well, it's their hundred thou, so let them spend it as they want.

      For a money-no-object deck, though, shouldn't we be throwing the stylus (and its £3,000 cartridge) away and playing our old, scratched LPs by laser? Oh.... I wish I could do that!

      1. M Gale

        Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

        Laser turntable

        Only a snip at $10,000USD or so.

        Oh, and $770 for the remote control. And another three thousand Amurrican bucks if you want "High-Resolution Sound Quality", whatever the hell that means.

        Perfectly suited for this set-up, then.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Thumb Up

          Re: Laser Turntable

          Great!

          Yes, you can put me down for one of those.

          What? How would I like to pay?

          Ahhh... well, you've got me there, I'm afraid!

        2. jai

          Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

          oh my! i want one of those so badly... to play my old Wombles records on :)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

        "use a PC: it will sound the same"

        Quite simply, no, it won't. For far to many reasons to go in to here.

        1. JeffyPooh Silver badge
          Pint

          Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

          If done correctly, yes it will. Data is data. There's no logical reason for a fancy CD transport mechanism. Good enough is perfectly good enough. Obviously I'm referring to the digital path. Analog circuitry can be more critical what with hum and noise. Don't start with "jitter"; nonsense.

          What's particularly amusing is when the $100,000 component has stupid design flaws. Like audible humm from the bespoke but badly designed power supply. LOL.

          Double blind tests have repeated revealed that the ultra golden ears crowd are full of it. Now they refuse to participate because they'll be sitting next to Uri Geller in the waiting room of the loonie toon test lab.

          Your opinion may vary. But you'd be wrong.

          1. Robert Heffernan
            Headmaster

            @JeffyPooh

            I'm with you!

            Next thing you know these fools will be spending £500 on all gold passivated, oxygen free, triple shielded zero crosstalk HDMI cables because they can SEE the difference in the picture on their tv compared to a normal £25 cable.

            1. alan buxey
              WTF?

              Re: @JeffyPooh

              25 quid?

              25?

              more like £4.99 !

          2. garden-snail
            Meh

            Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

            Jitter isn't nonsense, especially when synchronisation is criticial in studio or field recording applications. Even with playback of CD audio, jitter can result in audible problems. CD drives in PCs are optimised for speed, which makes them more prone to seek jitter, causing an irritating skipping or stuttering sound.

            Assuming you can get a perfect data stream from your computer CD drive, you still need to convert it to analogue, which is a risky process. A lazy or over-aggressive reconstruction filter can easily send the peak level of the audio over the theoretical maximum (0 dBFS). If the equipment's not ready for it, this can cause audible distortion, and it's becoming more of a problem now that most CDs are mastered right up at the red line in terms of loudness.

            1. M Gale

              Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

              If you're that serious an audiophile, you'll already have digital everything from the CD ROM to the amplifier. Any DAC will be inside whatever expensive amplifier you have, with nowt but raw digital data being sent via SPDIF, digital coax, fibre, or whatever digital output is on the back of your PC. This is without going into skip and jitter prevention technology like, say, a buffer.

              The days of analogue audio cables running from the back of the CD ROM to your sound card through the copious RF noise inside your PC ended some 10 years ago.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Bonkers? oh yes.@M Gale

                "If you're that serious an audiophile, you'll already have digital everything "

                Au contraire, if you're a serious audiophile then you'll be sitting in a cave whining to your like-minded mates about how digital is cack, and only pure analogue sound played off vinyl through valve amplification is the one true faith. And then you'll be diving into your wallet for the latest audiophile snake oil. My favourite was the HFNRR flux dumper:

                http://www.britishaudio.co.uk/flux.html

                British science at its finest.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Jitter isn't nonsense

              No it isn't. It is perfectly sound, in theory, and even one of the easier audio problems to explain and understand.

              However, is it relevant in real life? Get away from the audiophoolery, and look at pro or semi-pro sources like Sound on Sound. Alonf with the explanation, you'll find that the problem was mostly sorted years ago. And those articles were written years ago.

              In an ordinarily-priced CD player: No, because the transport and the DAC are so closely linked

              In a PC+sound-card system: No, because actually none of use the specially-designed-to-be-bad sound cards that the digital phools assume that we use. In fact, really bad sound cards have not been available since the days when Soundblasters lived up to their name.

              Thus, in digital audio, and especially in PC digital audio, almost all of the mays mights and buts can be very safely ignored.

              That is not to say that these systems always work perfectlty. I've had more than my share of bad PC sound --- but when it happens, it is obvious, not subtle. Audible crackles and dropouts are not a digital sound problem, they are a problem with the particular machine/configuration that is producing them.

              I suspect that "Jitter" gets talked about a lot because it looks like an onomatopeic word. It reminds people of wow and flutter! It's much easier to pretend to understand "jitter" than quantization errors or harmonic distortions --- and this is true even of people who know what it actually is.

            3. AdamWill

              Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

              others have already replied what I would, so just note the key words in my post: 'digital transport'. a 'transport' - as referred to in the article - is a digital source with no DAC, basically. it's designed simply to feed the digital signal into another DAC (part of a receiver/amp, or a standalone DAC, or whatever).

            4. Kubla Cant Silver badge
              Joke

              Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

              Of course the quality of your CD drive is important. The other day I installed Windows from a cheap CD drive and I ended up with MS-DOS 2.2!

          3. Andus McCoatover
            Windows

            Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

            Wasn't gonna comment on this more, but...

            Golden Ears

            Went to a HiFi store by invite (Maida Vale?) years ago for a demo. of some new kit. Visit arranged by my audiophile chum. About 12 'Golden Eared' folks there.

            Listened to some seriously good music, and I mean good quality - ish...I say 'ish'. It was only about 5 mins. into the demo. that I remarked that the speakers were misconnected - out of phase. Indeed they were ( +/- opposite on one - there's a 'hole' in the centre of the sound - try it at home). None of the 'Golden Ears' realised it, until I pointed it out....

            1. King Jack
              Facepalm

              Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

              @Andus McCoatover

              You have platinum ears.

            2. TeeCee Gold badge
              Facepalm

              Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

              I had the same experience listening to a mates brand, spanking new setup, which culminated in a pair of AE100 speakers.

              After a couple of minutes I said that there was something amiss with the right-hand speaker, a suggestion which produced an outraged response. I convinced him to shut everything off and went round the back for a look.

              He had them biwired and had left the links on the right-hand one. I removed them, we fired it up and I pronounced the problem resolved. Shame he couldn't hear the difference.

          4. bonkers
            Happy

            Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

            Had to have the last word on this "get yourself a Bonkers sound system"

            Got one.

      3. AdamWill

        Re: Bonkers? oh yes.

        "Apart from the somewhat silly CD player (use a PC: it will sound the same)"

        But but but...but jitter! But transparent error correction! But (insert current ridiculous audiophile excuse for spending thousands of dollars on digital transport here)!

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  5. Chris Miller

    Cartridge for the turntable?

    AFAICT from the web page, the Cobra arm doesn't come with a pickup. May I suggest the Ortofon MC A90, a snip at £3,000?

    1. Tac Eht Xilef

      Re: Cartridge for the turntable?

      From the look of the photo in the article, it doesn't come with any signal wiring either. How are you supposed to connect your £3,000 cartridge to your £11,998 preamp?

      1. spodula

        Re: Cartridge for the turntable?

        With a Couple of straightened coat hangers of course.

        Or half a meter of Bell wire if your being really flash.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    eeurch

    What,you put used vinyl on 300k of kit !!!!

    its 300k's of crud,i like the trouser press speakers though, as they match hotel rooms fittings.

    yer better of spending less on poncey over priced design label kit and spend instead on a proper underground sound bunker, other wise best kit in world is buggered from the start...

  7. Fihart

    Landfill in the long run.

    Only a few people I know still have full sized hifi systems. Others know nothing better than laptop or ipod based audio.

    Much of my system has been rescued from dumpsters, including big B&W DM2 speakers and a 55 watt NAD receiver. Technics SL1200 and Thorens 125 turntables, various CD players with classic Philips swing-arm lasers were flea market finds.

    Older stuff has a more enjoyable sound than the latest multi-£k models where screechiness seems to be equated with optimum information retrieval. As for networked audio -- hardly hifi and seems like a lot of unnecessary complication.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Landfill in the long run.

      Thorens 125 yes, but Technics SL1200, throw them back in the landfill.

      Not in this price bracket I know, but Connoisseur BD1, SME arm, & V15 Cart... Ah memories

      1. Fihart

        Re: Landfill in the long run. Technics.

        Technics SL instant start is convenient for ripping vinyl to CD otherwise you are dead right. Did a side by side with the Thorens (with Mission 774 arm) and identical cartridges. Technics sounded dire.

        1. The Flying Dutchman

          Re: Landfill in the long run. Technics.

          Yeah OK, the SL1200 is not meant to be an "audiophile" turntable. Rather, it's a workhorse, built to resist dire abuse which would instantly wreck any other deck.

          Just to make the point: I owned a Thorens TD166 once. It was damaged beyond repair by customs inspectors when I moved abroad. No doubt a SL1200 would have survived.

          1. Fihart

            Re: Landfill in the long run. Technics v Thorens.

            Thorens 166, and especially 125, would make an impractical disco turntable. Heavy components loosely sprung, need to be partially disassembled and replaced in original packaging before transit. The pity about the SL1200 is that the feedback isolation is not that good and the arm -- despite high price of SL -- is like those on budget Japanese turntables (bearings need to be checked and tightened or the sound is affected). Speed stability is good, though apparently can be improved with mods.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    SACD? DVD Audio?

    It's a bit of a fail IMO that these super expensive CD players don't support any of the newer high end audiophile formats...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Flame

      Re: SACD? DVD Audio?

      I completely agree. I presume they don't want to pay SONY the fees for SACD but it's an insult for it not to be present.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: SACD? DVD Audio?

        You're paying for hand-cut pieces of plastic and looks, not for technology or facilities. This is the one piece of kit on the list that shrieks audiophoolery, and gets a no-thanks from me even if they giving it away.

        The turntable? Yes, but even considering its titanium-for-effect stuff, it still has technology.

  9. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Happy

    Fell at the first hurdle (almost)

    For sheer class you want a pair of 1kW valve amps like these:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=btSg2SX3lUs&feature=endscreen

    This one is being run quite 'sedately' as the poster explains.

    Then there's this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fRt8CoZT35k&feature=related

    Those O/P valves run at around 2kV and judging by their colour I'd say they are running at about half power, although the shot of the meters suggests a lot lower. The ones in these vids are in remarkably good condition.

    Crappy audio from the camera of course and naff choice of music :(

    1. M Gale

      Re: Fell at the first hurdle (almost)

      I still don't know why the big deal over valves. Sure, you can get nice-sounding valve amps these days, but you can also get lovely-sounding transistor amps that don't have the requisite 30 second warm-up associated with valves.

      In a guitar amp? Sure, the overdrive characteristics of valves provide a much richer distortion than the awful, scratchy clipping you get from an overdriven transistor, but we're talking hi fi here, shirley? You know, as in trying not to overdrive things?

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