Audio journey

I haven’t listened to my big audio system in a while. Not sure why, just couldn’t get motivated – too much else going on to really settle in and listen. This afternoon I decided I wanted to listen to Tame Impala on a real system, so I pulled off the dust covers and fired things up.

But no. Turns out there’s some kind of software problem blocking any new digital music via the combination of my Elac music server, Roon and Tidal. Shit. That led me to poke around a lot troubleshooting, and I realized I’ve never really documented this system, so here goes.

This is a system that’s been many years in the making. It’s a group of components that aren’t necessarily optimal together, but I like them individually. Here’s a picture (a kind of crummy one), and a listing of what’s here. I’ll figure our the digital music software problem later. I think it’s a cross authentication problem between Roon and Tidal, but who knows? Meanwhile I can listen to old-school CDs.

Power: A concert-class piece of gear, a Furman Elite power conditioner and distribution box.

Interconnects: Mostly Anticable. A few random though good quality cables.


(1) An Elac Music Discovery Server running Roon software. Hardware includes Cirrus Logic CS4398 DAC’s (192kHz 24-Bit) and Burr Brown op-amps. Mass storage courtesy of a tiny Western Digital solid state drive, USB connected.

(2) Tidal lossless music service, served up via the Elac and Roon.

(3) Marantz CD6006 single disc player. The DACs in the Marantz aren’t as good as in the Elac, but…we’ll fix that in the future.

Preamp: A vintage Dared MC-7P tube preamp running EL-34 tubes. Love the look and sound.

Amps: A pair of Wyred 4 Sound mAmp Class D monoblocs, 250 watts into 8 ohms and 430! watts into 4 ohms (yikes!). Ugly little bastards, but they’re powerful and clean.

Speakers: The mighty Spatial Audio M3s – those 2001 Space Odyssey-looking monoliths on each side in the picture. You can’t see the dual 15-inch drivers in this bad photo. Open baffle speakers with a punch. As it turns out, I don’t need the massive power of the monoblocs with the Spatials’ 92 db sensitivity, but what the hell. I can play music at concert-level volumes, and sometimes do. Sue me.

My listening room configuration is…weird. Lots of glass and stone, furniture in the way, and a high ceiling with lots of acute angles. I end up listening to the Spatials in a near-field mode, which doesn’t really do them justice. They need a BIG room.

OK, back to the software problem. The Elac server works – I can play ripped discs stored on it, and I can play streamed radio. Right now listening to Louisville’s 91.9 station. So the problem is most likely Tidal.

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