A tall screen, and a wireless keyboard

Written by Paul McGowan

Some history. Actually a lot of history. I came late to paying attention to audio reproduction. I always loved and collected the music, especially from the era in which I grew up as a teenager, the early and mid 70s, with massive retroactive appreciation of the simply extraordinary second half of the 60s. Jazz and classical came to me much later.

But it was almost a matter of macho self image that the means of playing the music should be perversely disregarded.

It was only when I was living in Hong Kong, with the sort of work/life ratio you tend to have there, when the audio bug started working me over. It was all down to computer audio, and the initial infection had occurred in Thailand, where I had been previously posted. That was in the Napster era, and I carelessly mentioned to my teenaged daughter that I would love to get my hands on a cd with a one off hit by something called Python Lee Jackson, called In A Broken Dream, which seemed to be sung by Rod Stewart. (It was).

She said (duh) that I should just download it (duh) as an mp3 (duh). My children always respected me. All this was utterly new to me, but I did as she suggested, and it was a Damascene moment. In the immortal words of Homer (Simpson), “Computers can do that?!”

So then I began to learn how to digitize cds, and by the fourth time round and ten or so years later I had clean EAC flac rips and had learned to have a NAS. In the meantime it had gradually dawned on me that a Sony AV amp and just frankly horrible JBL cheap speakers were not transporting me to nirvana, very especially when the Tallis Scholars hit the high notes and all I could hear was what I learned to call sibilance. Action was required.

A rather rapid evolution followed, through Cyrus equipment (a fine brand, not well enough known outside the UK), initially with boy racer Polk towers then waaaay better Dynaudio Contours, with a chance sidestep to the NAD M2, all paralleled by learning about building noiseless PCs as the transport and using streaming programs.

Proof of the McGowan Postulate that old farts ARE a renewable audio resource, I guess.

Hong Kong beginning to pall, and some financial fortune coinciding, led to a decision to move to Jakarta (my first posting in Asia, and my wife’s home town), build a house here, adjust the work/life balance and enjoy the music.


In indecent haste considering the money involved, a new system was purchased before the big move, on faith leavened by a modest degree of research and auditioning, Apart from changing from a dCS Debussy DAC to the Ayre DAC, and doing the Twenty upgrades (definitely a good decision) that was the system I still have, barring minor elements.

Building a room and indeed a house to put it in was a lot of fun. It was hardly a demonstration of the scientific method, but it worked.

So I have 7m x 5.5m library and music room, with a domed ceiling rising to about 4.5m. The speakers are well out into the room and so is the listening position. The bookcases provide a lot of absorption.

The kit is listed below. Most of the big stuff comes from Boulder, Colorado. Why??

For more severe levels of information about it all, especially the house and infrastructure, look here http://www.rdhworld.myzen.co.uk/smfcu/index.php?topic=20886.0 and then http://www.rdhworld.myzen.co.uk/smfcu/index.php?topic=24787.0

NAS > noiseless PC / JRiver > Jitterbugs > USB Regen > Ayre QB-9 DSD DAC > Ayre KX-R Twenty > 2 x Ayre MX-R Twenty > Dynaudio Confidence C4 Signatures

Mainly Chord Sarum loom plus PS Audio P10 mains regeneration and Sonority isolation platforms.

Which is a disproof of the Kessler Assumption that nobody runs an all digital system. I can’t even be bothered to get up to change a cd. So you can figure my views on LPs.

All I want is a tall screen, and a wireless keyboard to steer her by …

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