A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Audio players, recorders, processors, formats, codecs etc.
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headcrash
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A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by headcrash »

History
I was born at a very young age... Ehh.. nevermind. I’ve been interested in audio equipment of all kinds for as long as I can remember. Spending my youth buying old hifi components and speakers from flea markets, modifying them, tinkering and generally fucking around with them. Music has always been a big part of my life, and specifically 90s eurodance, as cheesy as that might be. I was raised with it, so it’s got a big place in my heart.

I tinkered with cassette tapes and CD for many, many years growing up, until I got a computer that was capable of multimedia, sometime around 2007. At that point I started playing more digital files directly off the computer, which was connected to my stereo system using its onboard soundcard. (Some random ancient AC97 thing on what I think was an ASUS motherboard)
I still played a lot of CDs however, since I didn’t have access to a lot of music from the internet.
At some point in, I think 2007 or 2008, I had a 14” CRT TV hooked up to the stereo, with MTV tuned in. That was a dark period no doubt.

After that I spent a good few years (more than I dare to admit) listening to various internet radio stations of my liking.
I didn’t have any proper stereo setup at this point, and instead had a massively overkill audio setup at my computer.

The interest Resparkening!
A few years passed and I got some interest in stereo systems again.
I found a Proton 520 stereo amplifier on a shelf at work, and brought that home. I paired that with a SONY CDP-XE520 CD-player, also found at work. A pair of old Cerwin Vega....U103(?) speakers, that didn’t sound particularly good also joined the bunch.
This wasn’t much, but it sparked my interest again, and I bought a pair of Dali 104 speakers from 1995. These are still entry-level, but do sound incredibly good for what they are.
Time passed and I honestly cannot remember in which order everything went from here, but I was goven a Thoréns TD166mk3 vinyl turntable, for which I built a custom RIAA-preamp. This is also when I started getting into Dire Straits, Pink Floyd and the like.
I built a Volumio digital audio player connected to a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 100. A SONY MDS-E12 rack mount professional MiniDisc deck was purchased for cheap. Here modified with the rack ears removed, and a set of feet attached instead.
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Later on I got into cassette tapes again, at which point I bought a SONY TC-KE400S tape deck. I wanted this particular one because it has Dolby-S, which is the last great hurrah of Dolby noise reduction. This, paired with a chrome or metal tape honestly sounds as good as a CD. You can barely tell the two apart.
This tape deck also happened to be of the same model range as my CD player. This meant that the Proton 520 amplifier stuck out like a sore thumb. I started looking online, and figured out that SONY STR-DE135 stereo amplifier and radio receiver would fit well in the stack. Eventually I scored a decent shape one for pretty cheap on an auction. The late 90s SONY setup was now complete!
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The move
Yes, it was a literal move, to a new apartment. This meant I couldn’t have a dedicated stereo setup, but one that had to be integrated in the TV setup. Not a problem, really. But the vinyl turntable no longer had a home, sadly. That’s largely where it sits at the moment. Not much has changed, and it’s all working perfectly. The TV now has its audio run through the system, so I’ve got some banging TV audio as well.

Portable, anyone?!
A hobby somehow does not stop just like that though, so with the need to keep things compact, I went more into portable audio gear. Specifically older stuff, because I have this weird goal of living in 20 years ago. I had always been into portable gear a little, from all the commuting etc. But that really only consisted of two old iPods. One iPod Mini gen2 which I flash-modded with a CF-card, and a 5th gen. iPod video. Both flashed to the Rockbox firmware. These did not see much use at all during the last few years though. The iPods are the least interesting of the bunch, by a long shot. But they have their historical significance still.
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Portable Tape
I got inspired to get into cassette tapes again after I was given a whole shopping bag of mostly TDK C-90 tapes in good contition. This allowed me to make mixtapes!
So I started making mixtapes the oldschool way. Namely, putting a CD into the player, programming in the tracks I want on the tape, hitting ‘Rec’ on the tape deck and ‘Play’ on the CD player. An old SONY WM-FS473 Sports Walkman was purchased off Ebay. I used this for a while to blast tunes while commuting to and from work.
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MiniDisc
Remember that MiniDisc deck I mentioned earlier? Yeeah, I’m into MiniDisc as well. I was given a SONY MZ-N710 Net-MD many years ago (like a decade ago at this point). That was the unit that really sparked my interest in the format. That one was used on and off for a few years, then put into storage. At some point I was also given a SONY MZ-RH1 player, which is one of the last ever produced models. The past few years however I have had it out and use it quite often. The MZ-RH1 has dead OLED displays, as most of them do, but it has the neat feature of being able to run from USB, so it acts as a pretty neat USB attached writer for MiniDiscs. I’m going to write a whole other post about MiniDisc, so I’m going to make it brief here.
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Portable CD
Somehow I also got interested in portable CD again, and have bought two SONY CD-walkman players the past year. One D-NE241, and a D-EJ002.
These both work great. The EJ002 is a little more modern feeling, is a bit slimmer and over all nicer to carry around. The D-NE241 can play MP3 discs, however.
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CDs
All these CD shenanigans have resulted in me buying a lot of old CDs (mostly Eurodance) from the 90s. I have found this to be a great way to get good quality copies of old songs, which can be hard to find otherwise. And some old CDs even contain early versions of songs that are basically unobtanium after the later release came out, and become popular.

This is a very, very brief overview of everything I have been up to over the years, and many points have not even been touched. But to have a chance of anyone reading it, I have kept it pretty short.
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82mhz
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by 82mhz »

Oh this is a very nice setup, and a really pretty collection of devices you have there! Though we might have to have a talk about your taste in music ;) (just kidding, whatever makes you happy is the right kind of music! 8-) )

I quit streaming services two years ago and also started getting back into listening more to my old CDs/Vinyls, and I think I prefer listening to music this way over just putting on a random playlist from Spotify.

When I have time, I'll also take some pictures of my hifi stuff... I literally just received and unpacked one of those wall mounted CD players from Amazon: https://www.amazon.de/montierbaren-Blue ... C96&sr=8-5

Not the highest quality component for sure, but I like the look of it :)
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by headcrash »

Thank you! :) Hahaha yeeah, I listen to all sorts, but the old trash from Europe will always be high up on the list ;)

Oh that's nice. It seems to be a resurgence in physical media lately, and CD is seemingly becoming the "new vinyl" for the younger generation. It's pretty neat to see people growing tired of streaming services.

That's a pretty neat looking player though, and I'm sure it sounds perfectly fine :)
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by 82mhz »

I put it on the wall and I quite like the look of it, and it sounds fine too :)

I already shared the picture on Mastodon, but I'm posting it here too, this is my current hifi setup:
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by 82mhz »

Btw, I quite like your goal of "living in 20 years ago", that's kinda my goal as well with all this small web and retrocomputing stuff ;)
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by headcrash »

Oh that's a pretty nice setup! I used to have that very same Pioneer amplifier when I was 12-20 or there about. I also had the FM tuner to go with it. :D The VFD meter on the front is just cool looking! The CD player sure looks like a conversation starter as well, hehe!

Yeah, diving into older stuff is a lot more fun and interesting imo. There is so much more to explore and tinker with than just an app on the phone, or some random media player software on a computer.
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by 82mhz »

Ah that's funny that you had this exact amp when you were young 8-)

As it turns out, the CD player looks nice but is a piece of junk... it doesn't output stereo, only mono!! I would never even have thought that this is a possibility, that a new device doesn't put out stereo... and I stand corrected.

The modern world sucks, through and through! :cry:
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

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Oh wow! Really? Surely it must be more work to make a mono CD player these days rather than stereo.. That's so strange! And a shame.. I wonder if it's in fact a stereo player that they accidentally dribbled some solder on in the wrong place.. It just seems so messed up with a mono player to me, haha!
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by 82mhz »

It's really weird, yeah... I'm 100% sure the audio is read from the CD in stereo and then they're mixing it down to mono somewhere, or they literally just put the left and right channel on the same line on the PCB.

When I have some time, I'll open the thing up and probe around inside a bit, see if I can find a line level stereo signal that I can tap into.
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Re: A brief history of my audio shenanigans and equipment up to today

Post by headcrash »

Yeah! I don't believe there are any mono CD player controller ICs.. They must have done something really stupid to make that thing mono. When you open it, please take some pics and post here! It would be interesting to see, lol
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