JPonthe.NET

Probably more than you wanted to know about my stereo and music...

A little background

Let's face it - I probably take music a little too seriously. It's a little hard to explain it to other people, so the best thing I can do is point you to this movie on the Audiophile Club of Athens.

Hardware

If you really enjoy music, it makes sense to invest in a system that sounds good, or at least that's the way I defend these purchases. I bought some of this stuff on my own, but also got a lot of help from Music Lovers. Right now, my system is composed of

Main System

Source/Transport equipment:
Slimdevices Squeezebox 3 - after a lot of protest and procrastination, I've finally moved my music onto the computer. The Squeezebox is now my single source - it plays all the CDs that I've copied to a hard drive, as well as Internet Radio.
I'm using an Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ to store all my files. All my CDs have been copied to FLAC using EAC.
(Why? I use the Infrant because it supports RAID, which means that I won't lose all my data if a single hard drive fails. EAC makes sure I get a good copy of each disc, and FLAC compresses the file without losing any data - it sounds better than MP3s do. The downside to FLAC is that it isn't yet supported on the Apple iPod without going to unsupported software.)
Digital-to-Analog:
Benchmark DAC1 - it's not something that I would expect most people to purchase, but it is a very well designed product - it sounds great, is well built, and is easy to use. I've had it for quite a while now, and although it's been great, it's probably the next thing that I'll upgrade.
Control/Amp:
Ayre K-5xe Preamplifier and V-5xe Power Amplifier - I just recently upgraded to this, and am absolutely loving it. It's a lot more detailed than the Integrated Amplifier I used to have, but not so much that you can't just sit back and enjoy the music. It's got incredible bass, and really does a great job of controlling the speakers.
Speakers:
Revel M22 - what can I say - I really like these as well. They beat the pants off of speakers costing a lot more.
Cabling/Stands/Power/Misc:
Monster Power HTS 3500 MKII power conditioner
Transparent Cable Super Speaker Cable and Balanced Interconnects
MIT OneWire custom RCA-BNC to connect the Squeezebox to the Benchmark
PS Audio Plus Power Cable between the Benchmark DAC and the power conditioner
Musical Fidelity Stable-1 Platforms - one beneath the Ayre Amplifier, and another beneath the Squeezebox and Benchmark
Revel M22 speaker stands
Cardas Protective Caps
Caig Cleaning Solutions
Black Diamond Racing Cones beneath the Ayre Preamplifier and Benchmark
Mapleshade Platform beneath the Ayre Preamplifier. I will never buy anything from them again. I was not happy with a product that they sent me, and the head of customer support told me that I was being 'persnickety'.
A small bag of sand to weigh the Benchmark down

Second System

Source/Transport equipment:
Slimdevices Squeezebox 3 - a second one in the kitchen; both are running on a Wireless-G network. I don't have a DAC on this one - I'm just using the analog outputs.
Control/Amp:
NAD C 325BEE Integrated Amplifier - a solid, no-nonsense Integrated Amplifier
Speakers:
Epos ELS-3 speakers - a low-cost but decent sounding speaker.
Cabling/Stands/Power/Misc:
Blue Jeans speaker cable and interconnects - highly recommended.

Software

I used to have a list of my music here, but that was just because I had a program that would quickly put it all together. I'm not using that anymore, and have removed the list that was way out of date anyway. But it is all about the music - the hardware is just something that makes it possible to listen to all the good music.

And while we're on the topic, I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. If you don't pay for your music, you deserve to listen to crap. That's not to say that I agree with the music companies suing everyone, not embracing new distribution methods, overcharging for (bad) music, payola, etc., but I'm still for supporting the artists.

But now that I need to get just one good play of the CD to rip it to the hard drive, I'm pretty much buying used CDs only.

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