Audiophile : A Hobby Renewed


Summer is over, the best time of the year is almost here: Autumn , the start of the NHL season and perhaps the most important Blizzcon that has ever been planned.

Things accomplished this Summer: Another great CLUS, my first year at Blizzard, weight loss and working out.

Hovering around that has been my renewed love of the hobby known as Audiophile which is basically a fancy way of saying “stereo gear”. So this is the first of an expansion of this blog which previously had been all about Collaboration but in a way audiophile as a hobby provides recorded or sometimes live musical and artistic Collaboration so this makes sense.


Many years ago I had a great setup of B&W DM607’s powered by a Marantz Mono-Block Amp and AV setup. Streaming via different services wasn’t as common then so it was a mix of ripped MP3 files , CD’s and a small vinyl collection.

In the year 2019 though the way musical content gets delivered has changed to an almost unlimited number of options for streaming services. Previously a huge fan of Google Play Music my current service of choice is Tidal HiFi but content only is part of the equation in this hobby.

My current budget listening setup runs the following lineup:

Streaming Source – Dell XPS15 USB Audio out via TB Dock

Content – Tidal HiFi, Google Play Music, FLAC, Vinyl, CD

USB Interface – Schiit Eitr

Integrated Amp + DAC –  Onkyo A-9010

Turntable – Audio Technica LP120 (Non-modified)

CD Transport – Onkyo C-7030

Speakers – Definitive Technology D7 Bookshelf speakers

Speaker Cable – Custom made AJW cable (this was a fun project)

Headphones – Audio Technica M50x

Minus the $20/month Tidal HiFi sub the above build out was had for around $1k total and to this point I have been happy with the sound but as is always the case with this hobby tweaks and thus costs abound if you get bitten by that bug. Sadly I can’t stop scratching all the bites I currently have.


Tomorrow I’m scheduled to get my Marantz HD-DAC1 which will serve as my primary headphone amp and DAC for digital services. This unit runs for around $800 which as you can see almost equals the full amount of what I spent on everything above. So what am I hoping to get with this change: that elusive 5% sound improvement that drives us all.

I kid, I’m actually going to do some before and after AB testing to see if what my ears hear have any basis in science but that is a post for another day.

Okay so $800, in this world that leaves me money to focus on a speaker upgrade next possibly though I am very happy with the imaging and sound produced by the DT’s so maybe I’ll keep them.


With the expected delivery of the new Marantz piece tomorrow I’ll be doing an unboxing, setup, tweaking and config of the system for anyone that wants to see it. Going forward my plan is to improve content load but split it between more traditional Collab items along with the sweet sounds of music and how our environments impact it.


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