Computer audio - my final answer, finally

fiddlefye

Senior Member
For a over a decade I limped along listening to music at the computer through a pair of cheap little Harman Kardon self-powered computer speakers - not great, but they worked and the main system was always in the same room with the computer hooked into it if I wanted something better. Then I ended up moving my study/listening room to the second floor, the main system no longer is set up to connect to the computer as they're on opposite sides of the room and then the HK speakers finally died.

After a few months of using headphones (not my favourite thing, to say the least), last February I got the Luxman 5L 15 integrated from JohnVF, hooked up my pair of Yamaha NS-1000mm speakers and had computer audio once more. Still, the little Yamahas had a bit more "bite" up close than I would have preferred and when a pair of Koss M-80 turned up for $12 at a thrift I decided to give them a try. Major improvement, and they're actually remarkably enjoyable speakers - very natural and easy to listen to for extended periods.

Still... my tech has a pair of Infinity Infinitessimal RS 0.2 in his shop that I've heard many times with all manner of really high-end gear behind them. They never failed to impress with what they conveyed in spite of their small form factor. I'd decided that if a good pair ever presented themselves I'd give them a try, so when Woody put some up for grabs I jumped. They're interesting creatures with a heavy cast alloy box, Waktins double-coil woofer and EMIT tweeter.

The last part of the equation to be filled in was some decent stands and I ordered a pair of IsoAcoustics 130 stands as the upturned cottage cheese containers I'd been using (please forgive) clearly weren't optimal. The stands seem to work beautifully.

End result? Not just "good for desktop" audio, but good audio, period. As the speakers have broken back in again they've become not only amazingly resolving, but also sumptuous in presentation and even with the computer screen in between they image beautifully. The bass is beyond anything I'd imagined from such a small speaker and I spent Sunday afternoon listening to the pipe organ broadcast without feeling any great urge to turn to the main system.

Overkill for desktop audio? Probably so, but do I care? ;)

Of course without the Haven none of this would have come together...

One thing left to do - the speakers came minus the wood end caps and side moldings so I'll have to crank out some new ones. No big deal...
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rogerfederer

Junior Member
thanks for the write-up. always nice to see someone solve a problem and end up with great sound.

i assume using a USB DAC from your computer into your main rig didn't make sense. you would have the sound behind you or to your side?
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
No such thing as overkill. In my office (where I've not been since February), I'm using a pair of Linaeum LFX monitors + Parts Express Titan 10" sub driven by Pass ACA amps, an Aikido tube preamp, and an external DAC (or Technics SL10 if I want to spin LPs). Maybe someday I'll actually be able to go back into my office. ;)
 

240sx4u

Technically It's LexusGuy
I absolutely adore vintage infinity speakers. If that rig sounds half as good as it looks you're sitting pretty!
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
thanks for the write-up. always nice to see someone solve a problem and end up with great sound.

i assume using a USB DAC from your computer into your main rig didn't make sense. you would have the sound behind you or to your side?
The biggest problem as things are laid out currently is that the system is on the opposite side of the room from the computer. At some point before an eternity passes I hope to build some new audio shelving and move the main rig over to the left of the desk. I'll need some longish cables as the speakers are in the only spot in the room where they sound good - the joys of a square room. The computer can then be meshed back into the system once more with a ADC/DAC between so I can have not only playback, but recording capability. I'll run an output from the pre (which has two dedicated outputs) to an input on the Luxman so I can listen to vinyl and RTR through the desktop system as well as the main system as I please. The location where the system is now will be a dedicated spot for the LP cleaning system. When I want a session just listening to the main system I can swivel my chair around, close my eyes and just tune in.

I knew the Infinitessimals would sound good, but didn't expect them to be as good as they've turned out to be and of course the Luxman is a first-rate piece. It even has the convenience of a muting circuit which comes in extremely handy when I have to take a phone call!
 
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fiddlefye

Senior Member
I’m super glad they found a great home. I have no doubt they will be much more throughly enjoyed up north than they ever were here.

Cheers!

- Woody
They've probably already seen more hours than they have in a long time. They'll be working long hours, but not too hard unless I become completely deaf. According to the meters they've not seen a half watt yet and I can't imagine the result if I hit a full watt of output. Sitting here at the desk I'd look like the Maxell dude!
 
That's a great story, music is joy, especially when it really is presented well.
Makes me want to put a system in my home office.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
No such thing as overkill. In my office (where I've not been since February), I'm using a pair of Linaeum LFX monitors + Parts Express Titan 10" sub driven by Pass ACA amps, an Aikido tube preamp, and an external DAC (or Technics SL10 if I want to spin LPs). Maybe someday I'll actually be able to go back into my office. ;)
Your Lineaums are just a little related to the Infinitessimals in a way. I remember when you posted about your office system and hope you get back to commune with it again soon! Good sounding tunes when working are a wonderful thing.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
That's a great story, music is joy, especially when it really is presented well.
Makes me want to put a system in my home office.
You should get a system together. Especially in these days of working from home and being on the computer so much more it really is worth the effort. I'm not out performing, my teaching (such as it is) is via Zoom, even most of my socializing is via computer these days. The new system really improves life more than it would appear on the surface.
 

Thermionics

Post Whore In Training
Your Lineaums are just a little related to the Infinitessimals in a way. I remember when you posted about your office system and hope you get back to commune with it again soon! Good sounding tunes when working are a wonderful thing.
Don't feel too sorry for me. I'm in the basement where my Altec 604E's reside. If I need music while I work, it's there for the taking (although I'm off to one side, so the soundstage is absolute crap). :)
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
Don't feel too sorry for me. I'm in the basement where my Altec 604E's reside. If I need music while I work, it's there for the taking (although I'm off to one side, so the soundstage is absolute crap). :)
Same problem I had listening to my main system when on the computer in my old study. I kept swivelling around when something caught my attention. Now it is dead behind me!
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
I’m so happy to see that Luxman paired up with something it likes! The system looks great. That amp has a nice phono stage in it, for what it’s worth. What is the source?
 
Nice! I bet the bulbous surrounds on the woofs and ribbon tweets combined with the Lux make for a very pleasant listening experience, I am a big fan of both brands. I was running an M120A in my computer setup nearly 25 years ago, using an Opcode Datport as digi in/out combined with Audio Alchemy Dacman. DATs input with a Tascam DA-P1 (Datport was coax only) then Soundforge 3.5 (and later 4.0) for fade ins/outs, putting in track indexes, and EZ CD Creator Pro for burning CDs.
 
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fiddlefye

Senior Member
I’m so happy to see that Luxman paired up with something it likes! The system looks great. That amp has a nice phono stage in it, for what it’s worth. What is the source?
The Luxman and the Infinitessimals seem to really like each other. The amp drives the speakers in such a way that I don't feel like any sort of equalization would be at all helpful, not something one can always say when discussing small speakers. The Luxman deals with the EMITs with some real delicacy and they repay it by letting it express its wonderful qualities. Together they're both insanely resolving and sweet at the same time. The speakers demand high-quality amplification and the amp needs very good speakers to express itself. The amp and speakers could perhaps be interpreted as overkill for desktop audio, but they most certainly are not for each other. I kinda like that they're exact contemporaries as well: Luxman - '78-81, Infinitessimal 0.2 - '80-82.

So far the only source is the computer (Mac Pro tower) and the sound card in it, but that is not bad and deals nicely with high resolution files. A lot of my listening is online FLAC streams currently. That will be changing when I get the system shifted across the room. At that point I'll need to shop for two things - some new speaker leads (probably about 15' or so) and a really good ADC/DAC.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
The Luxman and the Infinitessimals seem to really like each other. The amp drives the speakers in such a way that I don't feel like any sort of equalization would be at all helpful, not something one can always say when discussing small speakers. The Luxman deals with the EMITs with some real delicacy and they repay it by letting it express its wonderful qualities. Together they're both insanely resolving and sweet at the same time. The speakers demand high-quality amplification and the amp needs very good speakers to express itself. The amp and speakers could perhaps be interpreted as overkill for desktop audio, but they most certainly are not for each other. I kinda like that they're exact contemporaries as well: Luxman - '78-81, Infinitessimal 0.2 - '80-82.

So far the only source is the computer (Mac Pro tower) and the sound card in it, but that is not bad and deals nicely with high resolution files. A lot of my listening is online FLAC streams currently. That will be changing when I get the system shifted across the room. At that point I'll need to shop for two things - some new speaker leads (probably about 15' or so) and a really good ADC/DAC.
There are some nice, not too expensive, USB DACs out there. I have an Apogee ADC/DAC audio interface that I've mentioned before but one of the quirks of it is that its registered in my name and I have zero idea how to get it unregistered, and I'm not sure it would work outside of that. It's in a box somewhere, I replaced it with a much more complex Universal Audio interface that uses AKM chips.

What would the ADC be for? Mic'ing violin lessons? There's also some nice USB microphones, I have one from Shure that works really well, built in ADC and a few EQ settings, one that implements a slight dynamic compression which makes the voice sound more announcery...

The little Topping DACs are nice as are some from SMSL, iFi, and untold others....

That Luxman was a very nice amp, I'm sad I rarely got to use it before its relays locked up and I failed to find a competent tech to just clean them out. It was always assumed to be something worse. But its happy now which is good. The funny thing is just how much better than integrated sounded than the combo of the standalone pre and amp from that series. The preamp was just not transparent. Everything had this glassy character to it, which isn't the case at all in the integrated.
 

fiddlefye

Senior Member
There are some nice, not too expensive, USB DACs out there. I have an Apogee ADC/DAC audio interface that I've mentioned before but one of the quirks of it is that its registered in my name and I have zero idea how to get it unregistered, and I'm not sure it would work outside of that. It's in a box somewhere, I replaced it with a much more complex Universal Audio interface that uses AKM chips.

What would the ADC be for? Mic'ing violin lessons? There's also some nice USB microphones, I have one from Shure that works really well, built in ADC and a few EQ settings, one that implements a slight dynamic compression which makes the voice sound more announcery...

The little Topping DACs are nice as are some from SMSL, iFi, and untold others....

That Luxman was a very nice amp, I'm sad I rarely got to use it before its relays locked up and I failed to find a competent tech to just clean them out. It was always assumed to be something worse. But its happy now which is good. The funny thing is just how much better than integrated sounded than the combo of the standalone pre and amp from that series. The preamp was just not transparent. Everything had this glassy character to it, which isn't the case at all in the integrated.
Apart from the usual chore of getting the digital files converted to analogue the ADC/DAC would also mainly be used for making digital copies of analogue media - LPs and tape. I enjoy listening to my LPs etc. in locations like the car where a turntable or RTR machine don't go. (I just had a picture of a Revox playing in the passenger seat and chuckled).

I really felt sad when it turned out that the problem with the Luxman was nothing worse than corroded relays and not the more usual dead unobtanium chip that apparently afflicts the 5L 15. Without Dennis to put gear in reliable and good-sounding condition the state of audio around here would be much different, let me tell you! He is my audio saint. As to the relays - Luxman made an interesting design decision in that area in that they also key into the headphone circuit and if a set isn't plugged in from time to time that part of the relay isn't exercised and corrodes. So every couple of weeks I plug in some headphones a few times to keep things in good shape. Doctor's orders.
 
I have not kept up with Apogee in about 20 years, but their AD1000 was the best sounding (IMO/that I heard) ADC around 25 years ago. Then they came out with a "mini me". Have not kept up past that, but I dont think you can go wrong with Apogee for ADC or DAC.
 

JohnVF

Administrator
Staff member
Apart from the usual chore of getting the digital files converted to analogue the ADC/DAC would also mainly be used for making digital copies of analogue media - LPs and tape. I enjoy listening to my LPs etc. in locations like the car where a turntable or RTR machine don't go. (I just had a picture of a Revox playing in the passenger seat and chuckled).

I really felt sad when it turned out that the problem with the Luxman was nothing worse than corroded relays and not the more usual dead unobtanium chip that apparently afflicts the 5L 15. Without Dennis to put gear in reliable and good-sounding condition the state of audio around here would be much different, let me tell you! He is my audio saint. As to the relays - Luxman made an interesting design decision in that area in that they also key into the headphone circuit and if a set isn't plugged in from time to time that part of the relay isn't exercised and corrodes. So every couple of weeks I plug in some headphones a few times to keep things in good shape. Doctor's orders.
I wish I'd known about Dennis earlier, but no hard feelings on the 'dead' Luxman not being all that dead. I passed it onto you knowing that Dennis would probably figure it out, and I knew of no techs in Chicago that I really trusted (and still don't...though Deltronics did get that Luxman up and running for a bit after its first breakdown). AND, that integrated was the main inspiration for me getting the L507u that I run now, which I absolutely love. It's always been my dream to have an integrated amp that I felt sounded as good as my separates and the 507u is the first one that has. I see the 5L15 as sort of a grandfather to my integrated...though I have to say I think the 5L15 looks even more cool.

The ADC I have is so nice that I plan to use it for ripping vinyl to files, which I'll put on my server. It's a Universal Audio Apollo X6 (or maybe x8?). The apogee unit is nice but lacking a bit in body, the first Apollo I had was a smaller Apollo twin and it was a bit better than the Apogee, and the new Apollo is just on another level. It seems completely transparent to the analog source. The previous two had a digital character to them while the new one just sounds more...analog.
 
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