Sunday, 8 November 2020

STICKY: The Grand Plan

Welcome to Mediaserver8, a place where I document my adventures in home automation and media serving - mostly for my own reference and future sanity!

I'm going to keep this post on top and maintain the overview schematic at Gliffy to offer an introduction to my HA system as it evolves. (Here's a direct link to a scalable version of this diagram).

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Read on for a detailed breakdown of this setup...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Do all amplifiers sound the same?

It's a question that's intrigued me for a while now. Reading around the topic, the experts seem to be saying that broadly, correctly designed amplifiers should all do the same job and should not significantly affect the sound.

I've recently installed 3x Kef LS50 speakers as front left, right and centre in my home theatre and love them to bits. They are supplemented by a pair of SVS PB-1000 sub-woofers and the whole thing sounds great powered by my a/v receiver, a Marantz SR7010.

However, I couldn't help wondering if there was more to be had in terms of volume, dynamics and transparency, especially for 2 channel audio.

The stars aligned and over the Christmas period I managed to get a couple of stereo power amps to play with, a Parasound Halo A23 and a Behringer A500. My plan was to conduct a comprehensive shootout between the two with my SR7010 also in the mix.

The two power amps are broadly similar. The Behringer is rated at 125W per channel into 8ohms and can be bridged mono to provide 375W. The Parasound is also rated at 125W per channel and can also be bridged, providing 400 mono watts. Both support balanced and unbalanced inputs.

The Parasound is a more refined hi-fi amplifier with niceties like 12v control and a sleek visual presence. The Behringer is much more industrial and is targeted at studio installations.

The A23 retails for £1299. You can pick up the Behringer for £180.

Wait, what?

Thursday, 21 December 2017

Blog post #100!

So this week I mined my first cryptocurrency on my unRAID setup and the bug has well and truly bitten!

I thought I'd missed the bitcoin boat as I never got into mining and now bitcoin requires specialised hardware for mining. However, browsing AVForums I came across a thread from a member inviting participation in an OCUK forums mining project.

Looking into it a bit more, it turns out there's a whole altcoin market out there and there are still coins that can be mined on lowly PC hardware. Who knew! Given that I have an unRAID server sitting running 24/7, I figured I'd give it a go to see how it worked.

It's a bit of a learning curve but I got up to speed in a few evenings.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Do you suffer from VVS?

The video that everyone on the internet needs to watch - because people eyes are horizontal.

Share, share, share....


Saturday, 2 December 2017

Marantz SR7010 receiver as 9 channel power amp

I've had my SR7010 for a couple of years now and it runs my 7.1.4 Atmos setup great. It's got tons of features and 9 in-built amps that are rated at 125W (two channels driven).

However, I'm starting to think about succession planning and something like an Anthem AVM60 processor would be nice or maybe the forthcoming Marantz 8805 or Emotiva RMC-1 which support more channels.

In any case, it's likely going to be a processor solution rather than an AVR. Which got me thinking about amps. There's plenty of amps in the SR7010 which, in combination with 3x higher-spec units for front l/r/c speakers, would be perfect for surrounds and heights.

The questions is - can you use the SR7010 as a power amp and access all 9 amplifiers. A quick test reveals YES, and here's how.

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

It's all about teamwork

In planning development work on the in-progress Amazon Alexa skill for voice control of Squeezebox devices, I wanted to establish some kind of online portal for testers as I wanted a degree of privacy and didn't want to pollute forums.slimdevices.com with bug reports.

I'd previously used Basecamp for this kind of thing but on investigation, it looks like their free tier is gone. One of my objectives on the project is to keep it zero cost for as long as possible so I needed to look around for an alternative.

I came across Teamwork, which appeared to tick a lot of the boxes and has a free tier that allows unlimited users across two projects with a generous storage cap. Perfect.