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Topics - Sir Thrift-a-Lot

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Home Theater Audio / Amazon Fire Stick and Plex for audio streaming
« on: January 01, 2018, 11:21:55 PM »
My wife has a Prime account so I am thinking of getting a Fire Stick so the boy can watch Nick Jr stuff which is free with Prime. However, I'm thinking maybe there may be something in it for Dad too. So I have a couple questions...

My main PC (the one with all of my audio files) is hooked up by ethernet to my wireless modem (the one from the cable company). Will I be able to stream WAVs, FLACs, MP3s etc. from this wired computer to the stick? How about .ts video files?

Will there be any bitrate conversion inherent in the stream or will it all be native?

Will 4.0 (quad) or 5.1 WAVs/FLACs stream with all channels in tact? Thanks.

What's on your cranium??? / HPB coupon week
« on: November 13, 2017, 07:01:43 PM »
I love coupon week at Half Price books.   For the uninitiated, you sign up for their mailing list and they send you a weeks worth of coupons, starting at 20% off a single item and going up to 50% on the last day.   This year, I did all vinyl...

Monday - The second Glass Harp album (I recently got a nice copy of the first from JimPittsburgh, thanks again Jim) - marked $3.99 - 20% was $3.20
Tuesday - didn't make it to a store
Wednesday - Turtles - Battle of the Bands marked $5.99 - 30% was $4.20
Thursday - The Beat Farmers second album marked $7.99 - 30% was $5.60
Friday - The Clash first album, still sealed 2013 Epic reissue, was $24.99 marked down to $9.99 - 40% was $5.99
Saturday - Avett Bros Emotionalism still sealed, was $24.99 marked down to $14.99 - 40% was $8.99
Sunday - James Brown Ski Party (King black label) marked $19.99 (a bargain at that price) - 50% was $9.99

Lots of good music cheap.   I like that.

Looking for something special? / Wanted: cheap soundbar
« on: October 21, 2017, 09:05:44 PM »
My stepson is looking for a soundbar because he can't bring a system in with his room mates and his TV speakers sound bad.   I know this isn't really a soundbar crowd but who knows, maybe one of you have one kicking around that you want to get rid of.   Thanks in advance.

General Discussion / Does anyone else here enjoy surround sound music?
« on: August 20, 2017, 07:48:59 PM »
If so, what player(s) do you use for SACD and/or DVD-Audio?   Thanks.

General Discussion / Dirty power: it's a thing
« on: July 30, 2017, 09:21:48 PM »
So, Norton put a link to an article in the shout box.   In the article, the author said that one of the audiophiles went on about "something he called dirty power", as if to suggest it doesn't actually exist.   So, I wanted to give a real world, non-audiophile example.   Some of you may know that I work as a portable x-ray tech.   One of the ancillary services that we offer is EKGs.   So, I've done 2-5 EKGs a week for about 20 years now.   In that time, I have encountered several instances where I was unable to get a good trace due to electrical interference (i.e.: dirty power).   Usually moving to another room will take care of the issue.   When it doesn't, I have to give the test over to one of the techs who has a battery powered machine.   We have one account (a very rural facility up in Clarion county) which does a lot of EKGs (they deal with a lot of psych meds, which require regular cardiac monitoring) and always has dirty power.   So much so that my supervisors decided the best solution was to leave a dedicated battery machine on site so that they get a reliable trace regardless of which tech goes there.

Do I think that the idea of dirty power is exploited by high end companies and is often a solution in search of a problem?   Sure, I'm virtually certain.   Do I think it is something made up by the audiophile world, as the article seems to suggest?   Absolutely not.

General Discussion / Panamax M5100-EX
« on: July 24, 2017, 01:04:31 PM »
Six bux at the Murrysville GW. I needed another power conditioner. The fact that this one is eye candy is a nice bonus. Pretty blue lights! (Stock photo, looks better in person)   I look forward to seeing if there is an audible difference (honestly, I don't expect to hear one, my ears aren't what they once were), but what I've read on line seems to universally confirm that their power protection is right up there with Furman.   Plus the switchable bank will be VERY handy.   Right now I unplug my Oppo when not in use (Jerome can be hard on drawers that eject).   This is a more elegant solution than climbing behind the rack every time I want to use it.   I'll call it a scroe.

Equipment Reviews / Carl's Ultrasonic Record Cleaner
« on: July 11, 2017, 11:12:08 PM »
First, let me say that I am sorry to dub this "Carl's Ultrasonic Record Cleaner", but I don't know what else to call it.   He didn't invent it, but it doesn't have any brand name either.   At any rate, I suspect he will be along at some point to clarify it's origins.   Second, for anyone who doesn't know, I am a HUGE proponent of record cleaning.   The $100 CanFab RCM has literally revolutionized this hobby for me.   Clean records are simply a much better listen than dirty ones.

So, Carl was kind enough to invite me over to check out this setup (many thanks, Carl).   We cleaned records and did some listening in between.   I brought a couple that I was sure couldn't be helped by cleaning, a rare record that I just want to get every last morsel out of (a UK first of "Electric Ladyland" of which I have temporary custody), and one that was really the test subject; my Blue Box copy of The White Album.   Noise on side four was the only glaring aural imperfection in the whole set, so I was hopeful to bring it up to the standard of the other 12 albums.

The setup is pretty impressive.   The heart is a standard Ultrasonic heated bath like you can get on eBay (2 liters IIRC).   What takes it from a jewelry or parts cleaner to a record cleaner is an elaborate device made by a machinist friend of his who is also an audiophile.   It involves several heavy steel pieces, welded and nicely finished by his friend, a motor to turn the records in the bath and a spindle/label protector mechanism to suspend the records in the bath.   (Perhaps Carl will add a photo.)

The device, while perhaps a bit awkward to use initially, I suspect will become second nature as one gets used to it.   Carl did the first batch, then we worked in unison on the others.   Since the bath has a heavy concentration of Tergi-Kleen in it, we followed each cleaning with a distilled water rinse on his VPI RCM.   Mounting and unmounting the records, while somewhat time consuming, isn't so laborious that it wouldn't be worth the effort if a significant improvement is to be had.   What may be a deal breaker for some is the loud, obnoxious squeal which emanates from the US transducer.   It really is a horrible racket.

We cleaned the Hendrix first and listened to it while we did the others (it was not in the listening room).   It sounded wonderful, but again it was already nearly perfect, so I wasn't sure if I was hearing any improvement or not.   At the very least, I was sure the process hadn't been detrimental in any way (not that I expected it to be, but probably worth mentioning).   I knew visually that the process did not help either of the records that I didn't expect it to.   But hey, one can hope for a miracle, it just wasn't to be had here.

The moment of truth came tonight after I put Jerome up to bed.   I put on the headphones and listened to side four of The White Album.   I am happy to report that while there is still some surface noise, it is a small fraction of what was there.   The improvement is great enough that I am no longer considering trying to find a replacement copy.   This is very good.

That said, I'm still not sure how I feel about the ultrasonic process.   I have found that even with my inexpensive RCM, repeat cleanings can offer subsequent improvements.   Would my album have had similar improvement after a second RCM cleaning?   I'm not at all sure.   Also, I wonder if the ultrasonic waves are really the secret ingredient here, or if simply spending 15 minutes in a hot soapy bath isn't what is doing the trick.   RCM cleaning is measured in seconds, not minutes, and the fluid is at room temperature.   Could that in itself be enough to accomplish the difference which was observed?   I'm not at all sure, and I'm also not sure how to test for those answers.

So, my opinion to this point is that the process definitely was beneficial.   However, is it worth the cumbersome set-up, the terrible noise and the expense?   That will be a personal decision.   For myself, I don't see me running out to get one (where would I put it?), but I am glad to have a friend with one for that occasional special record which merits the extra attention.     ;D

Looking for something special? / I need a computer tower
« on: June 20, 2017, 02:05:20 PM »
Mine died.   It has to be old enough that it has a PCI (not PCIe) slot for my E-Mu sound card.   Other than that, I can be pretty flexible.   If you are worried about security, we can pull the hard drives (I have new ones that I was going to put into the machine that died).   Or, if you have a board with PCI, cpu and ram that you never got around to building I can put that in my system.   I'm reasonably certain the issue is not the power or case.   Let me know if you have anything.   Thanks.

General Discussion / JBL 4312A
« on: June 12, 2017, 02:20:14 PM »
I stopped at a thrift.   Nothing.   A few things that were embarrassingly overpriced.   This store is laid out in such a way that you have to circle the building to exit.   On the sidewalk in the back was a pair of 4312As.   I went back around and talked to the manager.   She said she had no way to test them.   I asked her "How much is your untested, never have to take them in the store price?"   She asked "How about $20 for the pair?"   Sure!   I can't wait to hear them.

General Discussion / Audioquest cables
« on: June 10, 2017, 12:41:42 PM »
Any opinion on these?   I stopped at a yard sale and it was a guy who did a storage locker clean out.   Not an audiophile but a music fan.   He told me he "kept a pair of B&W speakers because they sound better than the ones he got at Best Buy".   Anyway, I took a couple dozen records (the only "oh wow" one is a copy of "Otis Redding - Dictionary of Soul".   A few MOFIs and Nautilus things.   I took all of his Laserdiscs basically because he asked me to (but there are a few music ones that I'll enjoy once then pass along).   But the real score was four NIB Audioquest cables.   

1M pair of King Cobras
3M Sub-1
3M Sub-X
1M VSD 1

I'll probably flip one of the sub cables and that alone will pay for the whole day.   Anyway, does anyone here use these?   Any opinions?   I've never had the budget for "boutique" cables, but with them falling in my lap like this, why not?   BTW, the King Cobras have arrows on them.   How do the electrons know which way they are supposed to flow?

Evidently neither did anyone else, because they are on ridiculous clearance.

I just got...

Norah Jones "Come Away With Me" Remastered Vinyl Record. SKU: 254837 Clearance $9.97
The Beastie Boys "Paul's Boutique" Remastered Vinyl Record. SKU: 254724 Clearance $12.47
Miles Davis "Birth of the Cool" Remastered Vinyl Record. SKU: 255138 Clearance $9.97

The first two I've wanted for some time. I only know later Miles but couldn't pass it up for Ten Bux.

General Discussion / Do any of you guys have an angle grinder?
« on: March 25, 2017, 04:33:12 PM »
I'm going to need to cut a piece of steel threaded rod to length AND flatten one side of it for about an inch.   I think this would be the easiest way to get it done.   Thanks in advance.

Looking for something special? / "low profile" receiver or integrated
« on: March 16, 2017, 09:57:04 AM »
I'm upgrading the bedroom system. I don't want a mini amp like Radio Shack used to sell, it can be normal width and depth (or it can be micro if it's not a toy), but I want it to be about 3-4" tall.. So it will match the HD tuner I'll be using it with in the bedroom. Driving Mini 7s, it doesn't have to have a lot of power, I figure anything from 10-40 WPC should be good. It MUST have a mono switch and a balance control. I know some NAD stuff fit the bill as well as some Optonica, Proton and Akai.   What have you got? Thanks.

Looking for something special? / B&W Rock Solid Speakers
« on: March 16, 2017, 09:53:39 AM »
Do any of you have a pair or two you want to unload?   I found a nice matching center on eBay, but all of the satellites on there right now look beat up.   I know they will turn up eventually, they are still a fairly common speaker, but if someone here has some they wish to sell it could work out nicely for both of us.   Thanks.

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