I Did It Myself

I Did It Myself

Written by Paul McGowan

This is my first purpose – built computer based system and a few years of reading and learning of new terms and technology was required. And the technology kept changing. It was like trying to learn about a rabbit by running behind it.

So this is what I put together for this starter system :
Front end: computer USB to 2 Jitterbugs to Uptone USB Regen to Halide Design HD DAC .


The DAC is suspended in the air by an elastic cord to bring it in alignment with the buffer jacks. Nice cabling supplied with the DAC.
Amp section: tube buffer, to a SP10 inspired tube pre-amp, to a SET amp.
All three units were designed and built by David Yee of Vancouver, BC.
The president of Wywires, Alex Sventitsky, sold me a demo pair of blue speaker cables at a big discount.

The interconnects have a story. A man retired from wire cryogenics research with the US military made these at home with proper epoxy sealing the jacks. He says the wire was eventually used in nuclear bomb construction because it was impervious to the most intense jamming and nuclear radiation. So I assume they are resistant to regular home interference. He said “Don’t ask me what they sound like”. They are extremely thin for interconnects and they float almost invisible in the air.

I am using my old KEF CS5 speakers that still sound good to me.
Stand by Black&Decker Workmate. Vibration hobbyists will note that the amp and pre-amp are resting on the same piece of plywood.
Power by PS Audio, Dectet, #3 power cables and outlet.

The mobile was recovered from the free box at my strata. This could open up a whole new era of stereo decorating. Imagine plaid skirts on speaker stands!

The whole system is open to the air and to view. So I tried to make it light on the eyes with a minimum of conspicuous cabling. What cables do show sort of blend in with the legs of the Workmate.


I am not trying to recreate a concert hall or jazz club or fool myself that live musicians are playing in my home. I am just trying to make music that sounds good, either walking around or sitting in the sweet spot armchair.

I live in a 1000 sq.ft. open plan loft. 11 foot ceilings and a polished concrete floor would seem to make for a difficult room but with a few rugs and normal furnishings, it sounds quite good but I am sure it could be tweaked by someone with more experience. So I really haven’t done anything special to the room.
The idea was to build a minimalist rig that would sound good by thoughtful design rather than throwing bags of money at it. The challenge.

20 system

I like the sound that resulted. Tremendous details, even response, musical, and non-tiring. A tip of the hat to Halide Design. And it has a bit geek or steampunk or something.

This is an idiosyncratic rig that you might be interested in (or not!). I wasn’t really sure what I would end up with as I assembled it over time.

The next step is the music organizing (Roon) and remote control, NAS and so on.

I would love to hear comments and suggestions from the PS Audio community.

David Riehm

Victoria, BC, Canada

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