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June 2009
Enjoy the Music.com Review Magazine
The Nearfield
The Current State Of The Desktop System

Article By Steven Stone

 

  It has been a while since my last column, so I am going to do a "State of the Desktop" showing what is currently within my system. This is my summertime high-efficiency super-green system that has only three active components in the entire signal chain (including my computer). Both power amplifiers are Class-D types, so it doesn't get any cooler (temperature wise) than this...

Here's my desktop. Notice the 0.75-inch thick industrial felt surface under the keyboard and speakers. The speakers are Spendor SA1's that I'm reviewing for The Absolute Sound. I use high-density foam wedges to angle the speakers upwards. The monitor is an NEC Multisync LCD 2170NX. Not only can the NEC be very accurately color calibrated but it's also completely silent with no power supply noise. You can also see a row of acoustic foam wedges behind the speakers. The nicks and hair are courtesy of my cats, who find the foam edges rather delectable.

On the left side you can see my Mac Pro 2.26 MHz dual core Xeon computer that holds my iTunes music library. This particular Mac is much quieter than previous generations. Even during the hottest days the fan noise is rarely above a whisper. On top of it you can see four back-up hard drives. On the floor next to the Mac are a SL Waber UpStart 550 UPS and a Stax SRM-Mk-2 headphone amp. On the wooden shelf above those two units reside a Reference Line Preeminence One B balanced passive line level preamp/attenuator, A Shakti stone and a MusicStreamer+ USB DAC. Farther to the right is an EarthQuake SuperNova Mark IV 10-inch subwoofer. On top of the subwoofer is a Brightstar Audio Rock and Brightstar Audio air base. On top of the Brightstar bases there's a Bel Canto S300 power amplifier. The unit with a coiled multi-buttoned microphone is my Icom IC-2100 FM Transceiver that I use in my duties as a volunteer fire department radio base.

Here's a closer shot of the Preeminence pre and the MusicStreamer+ DAC. All the interconnects in the system except for one special Discovery Plus 4 conversion cable that has balanced XLR on one end and single-ended RCA on the other, are AudioQuest Colorado series. The Speaker cables are AudioQuest CV-4. AC cables are AudioQuest's NRG-3 which I especially like due to their bendable and moldable nature.

 

Notice the attenuators on the Preeminence preamp. It is a true dual mono unit that supports balanced XLR cables. The dual attenuators permit independent level adjustments of the right and left channels.

Usually putting an amplifier directly on top of a subwoofer isn't ideal. Microphonics and electromagnetic fields can cause sonic degradations. But using the two Brightstar Audio products between the amp and the sub drastically reduces vibrations from the sub passing into the amp. You can't see it in the photograph, but there's a Shakti Stone under the Bel Canto to reduce potential EMI between the amp and the subwoofer.

 

How I Spend My Summer
In the fall I will probably switch out the Bel Canto S300 for a heavily modified Dyna Stereo 70 or Accuphase P-300. They both double as nice leg warmers during cold days. But in the summer in my air-conditioned office the cooler Bel Canto is definitely my amp of choice.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     
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