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Always interested in offers/projects/new ideas. Eclectic experience in fields like: numerical computing; Python web; Java enterprise; functional languages; GPGPU; SQL databases; etc. Based in Santiago, Chile; telecommute worldwide. CV; email.

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© 2006-2015 Andrew Cooke (site) / post authors (content).

Music on SuSE / Linux

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Fri, 3 Feb 2006 17:23:23 -0300 (CLST)

Our CD player just broke.  While the Arcam Solo looks awfully nice, I'm
also thinking about connecting up one of the computers to the stereo.  It
has a fairly large disk, generally solid hardware, and a good card
(M-Audio Audiophile 2496).  However, I couldn't find a guide to exactly
what's involved on the 'net (I suspect it's just blazingly obvious to
those fiendish youngsters etc etc).

So here's a record of what I did:

- I'm using SuSE 9.3 with KDE.  Ages ago I fiddled around with audio and
got ALSA running (don't remember any problems).

- Make a direcory called "mp3" in my home directory.

- Run "Grip" using the default settings *except* using the FLAC encoding
(lossless; they can be resampled to MP3s later for an iPod etc if
necessary).  This sticks files under the mp3 directory.

- Run "JuK", adding the mp3 directory and selecting the tree view.  If you
select an album, then do Ctrl-A, then Ctrl-I it goes away somewhere and
downloads track info.  You can then edit that and, in doing so, you get
tracks grouped by album, artist and genre.

- Once you've done all that you can select stuff however you like in JuK
and play it (if you connect the card to the amp, obviously...)

Andrew

PS As I write this I'm listening to the Glenn Gould interview from "A
State of Wonder" - it's hilarious!

Wiring

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Mon, 6 Feb 2006 12:57:55 -0300 (CLST)

Following up on this; I connected the computer to the amp using 20m or so
of cheap cable - twin parallel cores, one cable for each channel, no
coaxial.  The cable starts at the computers (of course!) and threads
through the flat to the living room, where the amplifier is.  The speaker
cables then come back again (while the speaker cables were installed when
we redid the house, the new wires are just taped to the floor for the
moment).

Anyway, it works.  The card appears to have no problems with such a long
cable run, and it's not picking up any noticeable interference, which
surprised me (no shielding, unbalanced).

However, I don't think we're going to go with this as a permanent
solution.  Getting the wires to be unobtrusive would be a fair amount of
work and Pauli isn't that crazy about selecting music via the PC.  Also,
the computer itself was otherwise often left off (it's separate from the
the firewall/email machine), is a bit noisy (even though I swapped out
some fans as part of this test), and is one more piece of
hardware/software to support (this is a biggy, really - I'm tired of
fixing bloody computers).  And, finally, since all our music is on CDs (or
LPs), there's no real reason to go with streaming - my big hope was that
we could listen to Pandora, LastFM, KEXP etc, but the sound quality is
pretty bad; certainly worse than FM radio.  Sound quality for FLAC files
does seem OK - I hope to do a comparison with a decent CD player at some
point to see how good the M-Audio card/long interconnect cable really is.

So, in summary, it all works, but an all-in-one box like the Arcam Solo is
a much simpler option.

However, we may revisit this when the video recorder goes...

Arcam Solo

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Wed, 8 Feb 2006 18:25:29 -0300 (CLST)

So we just splurged on an Arcam Solo -
http://www.arcam.co.uk/newsolo/about.html

It sounds good; as far as I can tell it's both more "open" and, I think, a
bit warmer, than our old Arcam 5+/6 + Cyrus 1 (ooooold school!).  There's
more power, the radio is useful (and sounds pretty good too, though
compressed, of course) and when I get really bored I might find a use for
the tone controls, RS232 connection, alarm clock, second circuit, etc. 
Actually, the second circuit is something we could use now, if I alter the
wiring connections, so that we get sound in the kitchen and office
together.

There's a review here - http://stereophile.com/cdplayers/705arcam/ -
although I'm not sure how much to believe someone who subscribes to "burn
in" etc etc.

Arcam Solo v M-Audio Adiophile 2496

From: "andrew cooke" <andrew@...>

Date: Thu, 9 Feb 2006 10:00:34 -0300 (CLST)

This was tricky because the signal levels were different and the computer
is controlled in the same room as the listener (Pauli) was sitting.  But a
blind test suggested that the Arcam is "smoother", "less harsh" and "more
open" than the soundcard.

The difference, however, was (very) small (and for those that think it
matters - the M-Audio was connected via a long run of cheap cable and
cheap plugs).  The sound card and a CD drive together cost about about 100
pounds; the Solo 1000.  But the sound card needs a computer too, while the
Solo is standalone, looks much prettier, has a remote, power amp and
radio.  So perhaps the difference is, in the end, about what you'd expect
(both have a good reputation for sound quality).

Note - I'm not sure about the exact soundcard model.

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