Audio Nirvana

Notes on setting up an audiophile-ish music listening room


The current setup in the living room is a 5.2.4 dolby atmos system which I find to be tuned mostly for Home Theatre (Movies and TV Shows) and it lacks the subtlety and clarity of music listening.

The goal is…

.. a budget 2.1 speaker setup to be installed in the home office (which will also serve as "the music room").
The focus would be on clarity, and distortion free sound with excellent sound stage. Bass is also very important and should be tight, fast and clean.
Type of music would be mostly eclectic but lean towards alternative and indie.

The setup so far:

For Speakers
I went with the JBL Stage A130: Known for their clarity, excellent imaging and dynamic range and good sound stage. $140
Subwoofer: Is the Airmotiv SE8 8" Flex Subwoofer : I was very intentional about wanting a musical sub and not one designed for Home Theater. I think I found one with the Emotiva SE8 Flex Subwoofer. From all review it produces very tight clean bass and is quite fast and responsive. The 8 Inch drive is just apt for my 12sqm home office.

Sound Processors and Amplifier
DAC: Because of the priority I placed on distortion free music, I decided to go with a dedicated Digital to Audio Converter (DAC) I settled on the critically acclaimed SMSL DO100. $250
Amp: I choose the Ayima A07 class D amplifier. It is pretty much the best budget desktop amplifier well reviewed by the audiophile community $62

Music Source:
The music source is a raspberry Pi 4 with a dedicated sound card. The soundcard bypasses the noisy low res analog audio output device on the Pi and instead extract the much cleaner audio from the Pi's GPIO. The Audio is then exposed to SPDIF and toslink fibre optics. The Pi sound card I went with is called Hifiberry Digi2 Pro it supports up to 192kHz / 24bit resolution and comes with a very cool metal case.
For software, the Pi would be running Volumio. Volumio is an open source software which turns the Pi into a music streamer. It has integration with spotify, Tidal, Quobus. It also allow me stream any of the over 20,000 music tracks I have collected over the years. Volumio also supports multiroom audio.

Room Acustics and Sound Calibration
The acustics of the home office is currently a bit off. The room is boxy and has 2 large french windows. It is a very small space - about 1040 Cubic ft or 29 Cubic Meters. The floor is hard tiles. The plan is to carry out some phyical alteraton to the room to make it more acoustically pleasing.

First task would be to put some carpets on the tiles and put some curtains on the windows (to replace the blinds) hopefully these would reduce sound reflection.

I also got a room measurement mic to help me set the right EQ tone. Using a software called REW. I can set the right custom sound equalization that works best for the room. The mic I got is the miniDSP UMIK-1 USB measurement calibrated microphone.

This is the first of many post as I journal through the journey towards a great audio listening experience.

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