A few months ago I rediscovered music and hi-fi…
Fed on an MP3 diet for the last 10 years, it took a friend’s offer of his old, but sophisticated, Technics SL-QL1 turntable to awake me to the greater dynamic (and expanse-ness) provided by a good quality analog recording versus lossy MP3’s. Although sometimes you get some extra background noise…
Since then, I’ve done a few additional minor investments: a used Dual 1219 turntable from the early 70’s
Some modern AKG K550 headphones…
and finally fetching my old Celestion DL6 loudpseakers from the cellar to replace my Bose satellites.
However, something was missing and nagging me for some time – an easy to use (and cheap !) way to listen to the many sound files I’ve been accumulating. On top of that, I wanted to be able to hear high definition audio, up to 192Khz/24bits. Now, audio / media servers are everywhere today and for all kinds of pockets. However, most of them still seem too expensive for what they usually are: a slowish / cheapish PC loaded with some proprietary software of differing usefulness.
I could do better. Started searching for a used small form factor (SFF) machine, of the kind mostly used in business environments as a thin client, and quickly zeroed on a Dell Optiplex 160. Outstanding build quality, smart looks, Atom powered and HD audio on board. On Ebay, I bought one for 45GBP, with 1Gb of Ram, but no disk.
I added an unused 500Gb disk that i had lying around, and installed a trusty copy of XP Professional.
Now for audio duties. For media playing and streaming, i’m using the free MusicBee. Plays everything, is upgradable and infinitely configurable.
And finally how to access and control my new toy ? Enter old VNC - a widely used, free suit of server and clients apps that allow you to remotely control any PC, from anywhere in the world. And now, you can do it (for free) through any Ipad, Iphone or Android device. Media remote control doesn’t come any more ubiquitous or easy.
Bye now… I got some listening to do.