Archive for August, 2011

VortexBox

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized
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After discovering the VortexBox distro a few weeks ago, I finally tried installing it on a small Atom 330 system that I use for playing with Ubuntu/MythTV/etc etc. Initially I did the install onto the 40Gb HDD that was in the box, but after playing with it and deciding that it will work much better than the (frankly appalling) WHS music share options, I swapped out the HDD for a bigger 160Gb HDD and off we went.

Installation is a breeze, drop the disk in and off it goes. Being Fedora based, I’m not as comfortable with command line interactions as I am in Ubuntu, but thankfully, this was limited to editing the config for the ripping application to change the naming conventions used.

So now I have a Mini-ITX music server that will rip any CD that I drop into it and make it available to play downstairs in under 10 minutes. A far better situation than the old manual EAC, MP3Tag, move and refresh UPnP server that used to be needed.

The downsides… 1) well I’ve now got another dedicated box that takes up space. 2) I’ve lost my Linux box…

Amps

Posted: August 16, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I currently own a rather battered Sherwood AV Receiver that has done reasonable service for me over the past few years. It is now starting to suffer a little – the main volume dial doesn’t work properly, various inputs are not always responsive and it lacks any video pass-through capabilities. It’s condition is not helped by my eldest daughter bashing away at all the buttons on the front when she plays at ‘kitchens’….. 

The only thing the amp really gets used for is to play music via a Roku Soundbridge. While it is also used to kick out 5.1 surround sound when we watch films, this is rather less common these days with 2 small children in the house preventing any excessive use of the sub!

Ideally I’d like a small amp that is just used for home cinema and aux input duties, but the home cinema scenario immediately increases the size of the amp so the 6 channel DACs can fit! I’ve found the PIONEER VSXS300 which is a slimline amp for roughly £300…. There is also the Marantz NR1402 at around the same price point. But I’m told that the sound quality suffers because of the smaller size. Basically – the smaller size equates to smaller amp components which equates to poorer sound.

I inadvertently stumbled upon the Onkyo TX-NR509B AV Receiver which looks like a nice piece of kit. Not only does it have HDMI pass-throughs, handles Dolby DTS-HD and has automatic setup, but it is also network capable. And all for sub £300. This could mean that I retire the Roku (so 1 less piece of kit in the lounge – always increases the WAF) and get a nice shiny new amp.

I might wait until the ‘kitchens’ phase has passed.