This is a constantly evolving system. My audiophile passion started in the early 70's and got me to study electronics and acoustics in college. I built my own speakers and power amps in the late 70's, but as my income increased and my free time evaporated, I moved to commercial products. I've owned at least a dozen of every different kind of component (probably more speakers) over the years. In the late 90's, I started focusing on home theater, but my interest in 2-channel has been rekindled in recent years.
I ended up spending my career in computers, but have started doing more DIY audio stuff recently - primarily building designs from excellent audio engineers willing to share their ideas. I've really embraced DIY audio in the past two years - first with the speakers, then with two pairs of monoblock amps - a FirstWatt F5 Turbo, and a Neurochrome Mod-286 based amp, and then with a preamp based on a Khozmo switched attenuator and AMB Labs alpha 24 fully balanced buffer stage.
In the past year, I've build two more pair of monoblock amps (Purifi class D with large linear power supply, and my first tube project - 300B Parallel SET), a stereo amp (another Purifi build that I'm using in my bedroom), another preamp (see gallery photos), and another pair of speakers (GR-Research NX-Studios for the bedroom).
I also acquired a pair of Pass XA60.8 monoblocks in early 2021, and these sound great in my system, but I think the 300B amps have eclipsed their performance for me.
Accepts digital audio from numerous inputs. Buffers and reclocks the data, and outputs on numerous outputs including i2s, AES, SPDIF, optical, coax, USB. Inputs are opto-isolated for improved noise rejection.
Denafrips Terminator Plus
Upgraded from the Terminator in Feb 21
Small Green Computer SonicTransporter i9
Roon core. Optical ethernet connection to streamer.
Sonore Signature Rendu SE
Upgraded from Optical Rendu, summer 21
Two chassis design with separate class A shunt power supplies for dedicated subwoofer output and balanced line stage. Features Khozmo relay-switched balanced attenuator and input selector, Salas UBib shunt regulators, balanced AMB a20 discrete line stage, AMB a24 single ended subwoofer output.
DIY Parallel 300B SET Monoblocks
Based on the ANK kit Interstage monoblocks with C-Core transformers. Custom chassis with numerous upgrades including Tent Labs filament supplies, PMillet driver stage filament supply, Neurochrome Maida regulator, soft-start, turn-on delay, balanced inputs, and other upgrades. Using matched quad Western Electric 300Bs.
GR-Research Line Force Speakers
DIY open baffle line arrays using six Bohlender-Graebener NEO10 drivers and sixteen NEO3 drivers per speaker.
GR Research Triple 12" OB Servo Subwoofers
Pass Labs XA60.8 Monoblocks
These are currently sitting on the sidelines while I listen to my DIY 300B amps. They may be up for sale at some point.
AMB Labs DIY alpha-24 Preamp
This was my first DIY Preamp. It uss Khozmo fully balanced relay-based switched attenuator feeding a handbuilt AMB Labs alpha 24 buffer. This has now been replaced by my second DIY preamp. Photos included in gallery for both.
Purifi DIY Monoblocks
Class-D Purifi module. Currently using VTV triode input buffers. Custom linear power supply with 1500VA Toroidy Audio Supreme transformer, 134,000uF for the high voltage rails, 54,000uF for the low voltage rails. LED bargraph power meter. I haven't listed to this in a while.
Neurochrome Modulus 286
DIY Monoblock amplifiers. These are nice little 65W class AB amps that are currently being used in my workshop system.
First Watt F5 Turbo
DIY monoblocks (approx 50w). This was my first DIY electronics project since the early 80's. I was a bit disappointed with the sound quality (compared to my other amps) so I haven't listened to them in a while. I may try to rebuild them at some point but I have a lot of other projects I want to do first.
PS Audio Stellar Power Plant P3
GIK Acoustics Bass Diffusors, 242 Panels, Art Panels
Multiple GIK panels used throughout the room
DIY acoustic treatments Tube Traps, wall panels
Kimber Kable Select KS-3035
4ft speaker cable with WBT locking bananas
DH Labs Red Wave
DIY Power cords with Wattgate or Furutech connectors
DIY HELIX Power Cables
I'm using several DIY PCs for my source components using the recipe from Steve Reeve. These are build using Neotech UP-OCC solid core copper in teflon, with Viborg silver-plated copper connectors.
Iconoclast by Belden 4x4 OCC Balanced Interconnects
1M pair between DAC and preamp, 7M pair between preamp and monoblock amps.
DH Labs Sub-Sonic II
Subwoofer interconnect cables
AudioQuest Diamond USB
Connecting Roon ROCK to Gaia
Tubulus Argentus i2s cable
Used between the Denafrips Gaia DDC and the Terminator Plus DAC
Solid Tech Hybrid Standard Rack
Four shelf rack with columns filled with sand.
ATS Acoustics 2'x4' QRD Diffusers
Eight custom (slightly shortened to fit my ceiling height) QRD diffusers (6.5" deep) made from birch. Mounted to the front wall behind the speakers. Total of 64 sq ft.
@panhead2 - The JC5 is a very nice amp, particularly for the money. It has tons of power and provides a detailed, smooth sound with very good imaging. I now have a pair of Pass XA60.8 monoblocks which I would say are slightly richer sounding and a bit more forgiving of bad recordings. The Pass amp has quite a bit less power, but my speakers are 93db/w efficient so provide plenty of power for me.
I prefer the Pass amps in my system, but they also are way less efficient and less powerful. Idle power on the pair of Pass amps is 4 times higher than the JC5. The JC5 produced the best sound in my system compared to my other amps (excluding the XA60.8s), but my DIY Purifi monoblocks with the Neurochrome buffers came a very close second (into my fairly easy speaker loads).
I don't currently own Magnepans, but have owned several pairs over the years. I do have a pair of GR Research servo controlled open-baffle subs which I think would work very well with Magnepans. I believe member bdp24 is using these subs with Magnepans.
@b_limo - thanks for the compliments. Your system looks pretty sweet as well. I love the image with the backlit acoustic panels.
I've been experimenting with using a VTV tube input buffer in my Purifi amps but I'm not really happy with the sound in my system. I am going to switch back to the Neurochrome input buffers for the time being, but when I get some time, I'm going to design my own input board.
I've also recently acquired a pair of Pass XA60.8 monoblocks. These sound fabulous - definitely a step up from my other maps, but I can also tell that they may warm up my room more than desired in the middle of the summer so the Purifi amps will probably get swapped in at some point.
@electroslacker - I've only had the Gaia in the system for a few days and I'm using a cheap HDMI for the i2s connection, but I've already noticed some fairly significant improvements. Primary improved clarity and detail, but also sharper imaging and the bass (particularly mid-bass) has more weight and texture. I've got a Tubulus Arguntus HDMI cable on order.
I changed my configuration a bit when I added the Gaia. Previously, it was Roon ROCK w/LPS > cat8 > EtherRegen w/LPS > cat8 > Bryston BDP-2 > DH Labs D-110 > DAC. Now it's switch - cat8 > EtherRegen w/LPS > cat8 > Roon ROCK w/LPS > AQ Diamond USB > Gaia > cheap i2s > DAC.
I am pleasantly surprised by the improvement. Can't wait for the better i2s cable.
Congrats on the diy movement. I also got into that over the past few years and it really opens your eyes to the choices designers are making and the parts cost to retail value people are often working with. Such a great way to learn about the hobby while gaining control over the system, better equipment quality, and greater value for your money.
@josh_gordon - I built the tube traps myself using fiberglass pipe insulation I bought from McMaster. If you're interested in details, send me a PM. I bought the wall panels from GIK Acoustics. The images used on the art panels are my own.
@mrvordo - I sold my turntable and 1500 records in the early 90's when I had little kids and limited space. I sort of regret doing so, but not looking back now. I'd rather invest the money in the best digital I can get for my budget.
@jason_michaels - yes, I built them. I'm thrilled with the sound, but I have an opportunity to build a pair of GR Research Line Forces, so that's next the project for this fall.
@rhodes - Yes, this is a basement room. There is an opening (about 8' wide) at the back left of this room that opens to my home theater room. At some point, I'll add some photos . The equipment in the home theater is not quite as fancy, although I do have a set of Revel F50 towers and center channel).
While it is a basement, there is a large light well behind those curtains with French doors and window lights. When it's warm enough out, I'll often have the curtains and doors open to get natural light and fresh air.
@ediaz3 - I've owned a lot of nice speakers over the years (Magneplanar Tympani IVs, Duntech Sorverigns, Revel Studios among others). I don't know if I'd call the OB speakers "game changers" compared to these other excellent speakers, but I do feel these are best overall speakers I've owned. The bass is just phenomenal and overall detail, clarity, and presentation is great. The only speakers I'm considering "upgrading" to are the GR-Research Line Forces.