Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

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TwoLeftThumbs
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Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:09 pm

So anyway you got this beautiful Linux Mint 18 System set up and the Sound Sucks.
Here are some software and Hardware Solutions to kick that Sound up a notch.

1. Software
With these 3 lines of code you can add a 15 Bar System Wide Graphic Equalizer to your system.
Watch your Movies and Music Pop! Try the music and movies in "Rock" mode humongous difference.

In my Linux Mint 18 system I installed a system wide equalizer called Pulse Audio and it worked great with the card recommended below and is a great substitute for the Windows only Software.
Here is the link http://www.webupd8.org/2013/10/system-w ... lizer.html
Or just open a terminal and put in the following.
~ $ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd8
~ $ sudo apt-get update
~ $ sudo apt-get install pulseaudio-equalizer

2. Soundcard.
You just haven't experienced quality Audio until you've listened to the ASUS STX1 or STX2. Linux Mint recognises both cards,
while you don't get the full featured software. The install was easy peasy. It just recognised the STX 2 and the driver was named correctly.

I had an old SB X-Fi card and it can't hold a candle to these cards.

If not on a budget the STX 2 is available on Amazon for $200.00.
https://www.amazon.com/ASUS-Sound-Essen ... op?ie=UTF8

If on a budget they say the STX 1 is almost as good or as Good depending on the review. Trending on Ebay for $109.00
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R4 ... x&_sacat=0

3. Speakers
Unless you are an Audiophile these 2:1 speakers are all you are ever going to need. They sound awesome. Turn the bass up and hear the floor shake. Crisp clear sound.
My first pair of Klipsch Promedia 2:1 is going strong for 7 1/2 years. I replaced them because I mistook a loose speaker connection wire for a mechanical defect.
https://www.amazon.com/Klipsch-ProMedia ... omedia+2.1
I bought mine brand new on Ebay for $109.00 delivered from Texas
http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=as ... 1&_sacat=0

I want to emphasize that the combo of this card and these speakers is amazing, during the silences no hiss or static. Absolute silence. A high quality solution

Now that you've put together a kick ass sound system for $200.00 -$250.00, it's time to think about the headphones.

My Suggestion in Linux is as follows.
1. Choose a high quality set of Head Phones. I suggest Reference Quality.
Myself I have the Audio-Technica-ATH-M50 I bought them for $100.00 on Amazon I see the newer model is $128.00
https://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-A ... ca+ATH-M50
2. . In Windows you can raise the impedance of the Sound Card Linux lacks that ability. The good thing is that Linux the drivers are more intelligent, while I couldn't adjust the Impedance the default was plenty to run my Audio Technica M50 Hurray!

3. Optional to read this:
Very useful if you are using other options.
One solution to quality headset Sound And speaker sound, especially if you are a gamer is to connect your SoundCard or the buit in Optical TOS to a Receiver or a Receiver like device like the Earforce DSS2. You need a Digital to Analog converter and amplifier, or a receiver that is independent of the operating system. For Headset the Earforce DSS Costs only $50.00 on Amazon and will provide amazing sound to yous headsets! The STX II works so well that you don't need this device but inferior sound card or Linux Mint limited EQ ability might necesitate it.
https://www.amazon.com/Turtle-Beach-For ... beach+dss2
Just connect a Toslink Cable from the Sound Card to the Toslink on the Earforce and plug the Headphone into the Earforce and you won't believe how good it sounds.It works best with a reference set of Headphones because reference Headphones play exactly what is pumped into them without enhancing the Audio. The Earforce enhances the Audio so the two work together well. What you don't want is both Headset and Soundcard enhancing Audio at the same time.

This part was added later because of subsequent posts. Thanks for the input.

Since I went the High quality Sound Card route, I'm not as familiar with running a stereo speaker system through the Toslink. But the basics is that you can find a device that is combo DAC and amp on Amazon very reasonably. Or you can go with a full blown Receiver that accepts Digital input. The basic idea behind using your optical out is that your computer accepts all sound as Digital 0 and 1 s. The sound card turns this digital signal into analog so that speakers and headphones can process them. Another route is to use the digital out port and connect to a device that does the same thing externally. Two parts are 1. the DAC ( Digital to Analag conversion ) and 2. the amplifier part which boosts the sound. Naturally it is more complex and different Receivers and DAC with Amp Devices will have different features. I wish I could make suggestions, but I only recommend hardware I've tried and I haven't delved into this.

Yes great audio is available in Linux! By the way I fully understand that there are better Speaker Systems. Including using separate Amplifiers etc... But I love the system I have and it's simple to set up and reasonably priced which is why I'm recommending it.!
Last edited by TwoLeftThumbs on Tue Jun 20, 2017 11:31 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby coffee412 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 5:22 pm

I want to thank you for taking the time to write that up. :)

What I have done:

I am using the optical out on my ASUS Pro MB. But I feed it through a Yamaha Receiver. I then have a Paradigm dual 10" Floor Sub and the inexpensive speakers that came with the Yamaha. I was not looking for the best in sound. But when I play Warzone2100 I can make the furnace rattle :)

Thanks!
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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:19 pm

coffee412 wrote:I want to thank you for taking the time to write that up. :)

What I have done:

I am using the optical out on my ASUS Pro MB. But I feed it through a Yamaha Receiver. I then have a Paradigm dual 10" Floor Sub and the inexpensive speakers that came with the Yamaha. I was not looking for the best in sound. But when I play Warzone2100 I can make the furnace rattle :)

Thanks!

Thanks for your input, it's another way to go and adds another dimension to the thread.

Your solution is a really excellent one too. Assuming that the Asus MB puts out a clean Digital Signal a good Receiver, or maybe a not so good one, will convert the signal to analog, you can probably equal or surpass my results depending on the quality of the speakers and the Receiver. The only variable is the quality of the transport or digital signal from the MotherBoard.

I found this post that seemed to think that a good sound card will "eliminate jitters" but than others say it doesn't matter.
https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index. ... ic=84421.0

My feeling is that your method is an excellent option for economical high quality sound in Linux. I'm actually using it for my Headphone. The Earforce DSS2 in a sense is nothing more than a small receiver.

The only advantage of my system is when one is running a dual boot Linux/Windows system. In Windows the Asus software takes advantage of the sound card in terms of 3d effects, Dolby Digital, Surround sound etc. This is especially good in gaming. Also one drawback is that a good Receiver can take up some serious real estate space.

IMHO. Long and short is that if you are only using the machine for Linux, assuming that the on board sound card is stable and not jittery than you will equal or surpass my system and for less money using just the built in Onboard Digital. On the other hand if you are also using Windows for Gaming, and Movies where special effects like Dolby Virtual Surround, tx, and 3d positioning for gaming count, than my System is the way to go.

Thanks again for your input, made me think!!

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby coffee412 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 6:59 pm

Nothing wrong with your option. It just all depends on what you want out of it. I was originally putting together a home theater and financially at one point I had to put it all on the back burner. So, I had the yamaha and the sub. Of course, I am not interested in extremely tailored sound. Im just interested in some basic good sound and bass.

"We do not run windows here". :mrgreen:

I play warzone2100 and it drives my girlfriend crazy :) She hates all the noise so I have to put on headphones. Well, My headphones are "whatever works" kinda quality. They are KOSS but as I remember they are not top of line by any stretch. Low end Iam sure. :)

You know, that is all in my basement. However, Upstairs I have a Onkyo 604 HTR and I employ the same kinda setup for Mythtv and a Android box I recently got. But I have these somewhat inexpensive Sony box speakers- Just little bookcase 2 ways. I have them sitting next to the TV on the floor. The sound is actually pretty darn good. Sometimes you hear a noise from the speakers and think its coming from behind you. This is due to the acoustics of the room. Sound does well in this room. So, With inexpensive equipment but well placed in a decent room you can achieve a lot too. :)

But, I like your review. Do not get me wrong and I think there should be more reviews for hardware for linux posted. Its something this forum kinda misses as there are a lot of people asking what kind of equipment to buy. Tips and such on how to get the most from equipment too and also setups.

Thanks!

coffee
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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby gold_finger » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:30 am

@ TwoLeftThumbs,

I want to say thanks also. Have been thinking of upgrading sound for computer I have hooked-up to TV and have now bookmarked your post for reference when I do.
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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Tue Jun 20, 2017 9:54 am

gold_finger wrote:@ TwoLeftThumbs,

I want to say thanks also. Have been thinking of upgrading sound for computer I have hooked-up to TV and have now bookmarked your post for reference when I do.

You are most welcome. I'm very glad that you found it useful! The original Post sure was a mouthful.
When you upgrade be sure to let us know the solution you choose and links to the products you buy.

You are going to be amazed the way your movies pop after you upgrade the sound system. I've been watching SyFy Dark Matter and with sound enhancement the sound effects are amazing.

Last night my 13 year old son and I were listening to Music and we were changing the EQ depending on the Music. Heavy metal sounded great in Rock Mode. Queen in Opera Mode and Country in Jazz Mode.! He had fun making his own profiles.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby sarge816 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 10:17 am

@OP Thanks for starting this thread and +1 on the idea of hooking up your computer to a good sound system, really makes a huge difference. I have an HTPC (on-board "HD" audio card) connected via HDMI to our Panasonic 50" Plasma TV which in turn is connected via optical cable to a Panasonic 5.1 Class-D HT receiver. Speakers consist of a high end Martin Logan 8" powered subwoofer, Pinnacle 9-element Speaker Bar mounted on top of the TV & some ancient Cambridge Soundworks satellite cubes for surround. Total power is around 250watts RMS and all of my gear is old, no longer available (except maybe Ebay), and sounds amazing. I also have a pair of patio speakers that runs off this system as well for outdoor fun.

Linux Mint 17.3 Cinnamon is installed on the HTPC along with Kodi and Plex. All of our music, movies and tv shows are ripped to the HD for local streaming throughout the house to a combination of 4 different Rokus and a PS4. I have an antenna mounted in the attic which feeds all the TVs local stations and we also stream PS Vue and Amazon Video. Works fantastic and Mint is a terrific OS for HTPC duty.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby phd21 » Tue Jun 20, 2017 1:06 pm

Hi "TwoLeftThumbs",

I too want to Thank You, and others for their replies, for providing this post and the very useful information.

I think in Linux Mint 18.x that the Pulse Audio Equalizer is already in the repositories, but for Linux Mint 17.x you need the PPA.

FYI: Installing "QasMixer" usually provides other sound control options for various audio hardware.

There are some really nice graphical (GUI) programs for sound that start with "Qas", like the fantastic "Qasmixer", in the Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager (SPM) that you can install and use. Sound "Mixers" can be a little confusing if you are not familiar with them. If you bring up "Qasmixer" and make it fullscreen, on the right side you will have mixer devices where you can control your system sound. If you do not see the mixer devices, hit "F6". The mixer item "sysdefault" will show all installed sound card devices, and you will have various options to adjust various volume controls using "sliders" which you can turn off and on using the "dot" below the volume slider. There are also various other check boxes below that you can use, and depending upon your sound card(s) that sometimes includes headphone checkboxes and or sliders as well, like "Headphone Jack Sense".

The applications included are:
- qasconfig - browser for the alsa configuration tree
- qashctl - mixer for alsa's high level control interface
- qasmixer - desktop mixer with features similar to alsamixer

Qasmixer is a desktop mixer application for alsa's "simple mixer interface" and offers features similar to alsamixer. it also features a sytem tray icon with basic mixer functionality.

Install "libasound2-plugin-equal" which is another system wide equalizer that's in the Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager (SPM) that shows up in "QasMixer".

Hope this helps ...
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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Wed Jun 21, 2017 12:50 am

phd21 wrote:Hi "TwoLeftThumbs",

I too want to Thank You, and others for their replies, for providing this post and the very useful information.

I think in Linux Mint 18.x that the Pulse Audio Equalizer is already in the repositories, but for Linux Mint 17.x you need the PPA.

FYI: Installing "QasMixer" usually provides other sound control options for various audio hardware.

There are some really nice graphical (GUI) programs for sound that start with "Qas", like the fantastic "Qasmixer", in the Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager (SPM) that you can install and use. Sound "Mixers" can be a little confusing if you are not familiar with them. If you bring up "Qasmixer" and make it fullscreen, on the right side you will have mixer devices where you can control your system sound. If you do not see the mixer devices, hit "F6". The mixer item "sysdefault" will show all installed sound card devices, and you will have various options to adjust various volume controls using "sliders" which you can turn off and on using the "dot" below the volume slider. There are also various other check boxes below that you can use, and depending upon your sound card(s) that sometimes includes headphone checkboxes and or sliders as well, like "Headphone Jack Sense".

The applications included are:
- qasconfig - browser for the alsa configuration tree
- qashctl - mixer for alsa's high level control interface
- qasmixer - desktop mixer with features similar to alsamixer

Qasmixer is a desktop mixer application for alsa's "simple mixer interface" and offers features similar to alsamixer. it also features a sytem tray icon with basic mixer functionality.

Install "libasound2-plugin-equal" which is another system wide equalizer that's in the Software Manager or Synaptic Package Manager (SPM) that shows up in "QasMixer".

Hope this helps ...

Well I installed
Qasmixer
Qasconfig
qashcti
libasound2-plugin-equal
Unfortunately I couldn't get the Equalizer to work. It showed up but when I moved the sliders nothing. Might be a compatibility problem with my card. One handy feature is that it had Headphone Impedance Controls.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby Hoser Rob » Wed Jun 21, 2017 1:29 pm

TwoLeftThumbs wrote:.... In Windows you can raise the impedance of the Sound Card Linux lacks that ability. The good thing is that Linux the drivers are more intelligent, while I couldn't adjust the Impedance the default was plenty to run my Audio Technica M50 Hurray! ...


I'd like that ability in Linux too (though I disagree that linux drivers are more intelligent). But I'd want to lower the Z usually, not raise it.

Good guide but doesn't really apply to me 100%. I never EQ when listening to music and go for a "bit perfect" approach. Fortunately this isn't hard in Linux. Pulseaudio, unlike Linux, doesn't resample unless there's software mixing involved. Resampling is bad unless it's by multiples of 2.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:18 pm

Hoser Rob wrote:
TwoLeftThumbs wrote:.... In Windows you can raise the impedance of the Sound Card Linux lacks that ability. The good thing is that Linux the drivers are more intelligent, while I couldn't adjust the Impedance the default was plenty to run my Audio Technica M50 Hurray! ...


(though I disagree that linux drivers are more intelligent)

I should rephrase what I wrote.
Linux was more intelligent than Window becauses in a basic install of the card it just plain worked. it recognized the Sound Card and operated each jack/port. Flawless. and I didn't have to do anything it was plug and play.

Window itself was stupid. It couldn't recognize the card at all or find and install drivers from the internet.
So it was a necessity to install the STX Drivers and Software.

The Software that came with the STX II is fantastic. It allows you to activate Dolby, DTS, Virtual Surround Sound and a 15 band graphic equalizer that functions stupendously. I fully believe that the Asus Graphic Equalizer in Windows
blows away the Linux Pulse Audio Graphic Equalizer. What you can do with this card in Windows is much better than in Linux.

One other failure of windows was that the Impedance for the headphones were set too low. I had to go into the software and raise it. Linux on the other hand put out the right impedance for my headphone without the need for tweaking.
By the way in Windows you can raise or lower the impedance. Not just lower it.

Now I ran into a glitch and maybe it's just me but Windows while it recognized different ports and would show sound coming out of them was unable to make all the jacks work.
The Fix was to set Windows out put to Speakers and than use the Asus Software to switch ports/jacks.

Was this Windows stupidity or Asus Driver Stupidity And whether it is replicated on other people's systems. I don't know.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby Arch_Enemy » Wed Jun 21, 2017 3:33 pm

Pulse EQ used to be in the repos. I try to avoid PPAs since people can "alter" things. We only hope they are being helpful and benevolent.

I frequent my local Salvation Army/Goodwill stores and from SA I picked up a Dell (Logitech) desktop speaker and sub kit for $19.
Now the kicker:
If you are using HDMI, you have high-def audio available to you. The trick is to have a monitor with a headphone jack. You can buy adapters as well.

If your audio equipment already uses a headphone jack, great. If not, or you are using a stereo with AUX inputs, you can get a cable with ah 1/4" stereo plug on one end and RCAs on the other. You can go from the monitor to your stereo and get amazing audio.

A few years ago I was at the local SA and bought an old quad-channel Radio Shack receiver (either Toshiba or Onkyo). Using the HDMI from the monitor and the rear output on the built-in sound I get true quad. Your luck may vary...;)
I also picked up some near-new studio monitor speakers at the SA as well, and some high-end Optimus speakers when Radio Shack was getting out of the stereo market.

As a note, my Dell 27" HDMI monitor has good sound, but an AOC 27" I have offered AMAZING audio! I've tweaked the sound from the Dell so it's almost as good as the AOC.

Next time you update equipment, look for little 'goodies' like these.
$0.02+a grain of salt...

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby Flemur » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:05 pm

TwoLeftThumbs wrote:I found this post that seemed to think that a good sound card will "eliminate jitters" but than others say it doesn't matter.
https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index. ... ic=84421.0

Even cheap DACs**are really good nowadays - I'd advise people to skimp on the DAC and spend more on the speakers.

** "Anything Above $2 Buys More Features, Not Better Quality"
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hig ... 33-19.html
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Please edit your original post title to include [SOLVED] if/when it is solved!
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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby TwoLeftThumbs » Wed Jun 21, 2017 6:19 pm

Arch_Enemy wrote:Pulse EQ used to be in the repos. I try to avoid PPAs since people can "alter" things. We only hope they are being helpful and benevolent.

I frequent my local Salvation Army/Goodwill stores and from SA I picked up a Dell (Logitech) desktop speaker and sub kit for $19.
Now the kicker:
If you are using HDMI, you have high-def audio available to you. The trick is to have a monitor with a headphone jack. You can buy adapters as well.

If your audio equipment already uses a headphone jack, great. If not, or you are using a stereo with AUX inputs, you can get a cable with ah 1/4" stereo plug on one end and RCAs on the other. You can go from the monitor to your stereo and get amazing audio.

A few years ago I was at the local SA and bought an old quad-channel Radio Shack receiver (either Toshiba or Onkyo). Using the HDMI from the monitor and the rear output on the built-in sound I get true quad. Your luck may vary...;)
I also picked up some near-new studio monitor speakers at the SA as well, and some high-end Optimus speakers when Radio Shack was getting out of the stereo market.

As a note, my Dell 27" HDMI monitor has good sound, but an AOC 27" I have offered AMAZING audio! I've tweaked the sound from the Dell so it's almost as good as the AOC.

Next time you update equipment, look for little 'goodies' like these.

Great Idea to go to the Salvation Army for the Audio Equipment. Running the Audio through a monitor is an interesting option.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby Hoser Rob » Thu Jun 22, 2017 2:28 pm

Flemur wrote:
TwoLeftThumbs wrote:I found this post that seemed to think that a good sound card will "eliminate jitters" but than others say it doesn't matter.
https://yabb.jriver.com/interact/index. ... ic=84421.0

Even cheap DACs**are really good nowadays - I'd advise people to skimp on the DAC and spend more on the speakers.

** "Anything Above $2 Buys More Features, Not Better Quality"
http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/hig ... 33-19.html


Agreed ... I was going to edit my post but saw this ... I actually use a $40 Behringer UCA202. It sounds excellent.

About "the jitters" ... I'm not saying it doesn't matter. But that was solved ages ago, and with any halfway decent DAC it won't be an issue.

The UCA202 is 16 bit and up to 48K but that isn't a problem for me. I always downsample 24 bit to 16/44.1 or 48 anyway. The real advantage there is in the remastering, NOT the 24 bit part. A 24 bit file from HDtracks or an SACD downsampled (I use Audacity with dither) will usually completely wipe the floor wiith the corresponding CD version.

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Re: Kickin Sound System For your Linux Rig - Under $225.00

Postby Arch_Enemy » Thu Jun 22, 2017 4:20 pm

TwoLeftThumbs wrote:
Arch_Enemy wrote:Pulse EQ used to be in the repos. I try to avoid PPAs since people can "alter" things. We only hope they are being helpful and benevolent.

I frequent my local Salvation Army/Goodwill stores and from SA I picked up a Dell (Logitech) desktop speaker and sub kit for $19.
Now the kicker:
If you are using HDMI, you have high-def audio available to you. The trick is to have a monitor with a headphone jack. You can buy adapters as well.

If your audio equipment already uses a headphone jack, great. If not, or you are using a stereo with AUX inputs, you can get a cable with ah 1/4" stereo plug on one end and RCAs on the other. You can go from the monitor to your stereo and get amazing audio.

A few years ago I was at the local SA and bought an old quad-channel Radio Shack receiver (either Toshiba or Onkyo). Using the HDMI from the monitor and the rear output on the built-in sound I get true quad. Your luck may vary...;)
I also picked up some near-new studio monitor speakers at the SA as well, and some high-end Optimus speakers when Radio Shack was getting out of the stereo market.

As a note, my Dell 27" HDMI monitor has good sound, but an AOC 27" I have offered AMAZING audio! I've tweaked the sound from the Dell so it's almost as good as the AOC.

Next time you update equipment, look for little 'goodies' like these.

Great Idea to go to the Salvation Army for the Audio Equipment. Running the Audio through a monitor is an interesting option.


I have the Quad, and AIWA (sepatrates) bookshelf system...I have the amp and the tuner, and I stupidly passed on the turntable :( They were $16 each. I have a couple of boomboxes and some whiz-bang alarm clocks as well. ;) Excellent place to look for stuff. Oh, I just picked up a Nakamichi receiver but haven't tried it yet. I looked them up and they have a possible issue that requires replacing a resistor. That was more...$20 :D
$0.02+a grain of salt...


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