The Linux Czar has a secret life.  Okay, not really secret that I’m a classical musician and a bit of a British audiophile.  Mucking about with 2 channel hi-fi systems makes me happy.  It seems that most of my sysadmin friends are into photography…I think I’ve found a hobby that’s just as expensive if not more so.

Using a PC and Linux is a horrid, horrid way to listen to music.  It sounds like crap and is affected by all sorts of interference.  (That buzz when you download something?)  When Rythmbox decided to start popping loudly at the beginning and ending of each Ogg Vorbis the Linux Czar decided that he has had enough of bad sound at work.  Even at home with Fedora 10 verses RHEL 5 at work the new PulseAudio crap doesn’t seem to be able to process sound information fast enough with out having drop outs.  My Fedora box at home sounds like a cell phone call that’s about to lose the digital signal.  Choppy.

Enough!  I bought a Squeezebox Classic for use at work.  Watch for Logitech’s 10% off sales.  It seems to be one of those devices that has found the perfect mix of open and proprietary standards and software.  It has been a real joy to use.  The software the streams music from your PC works on Linux and really just about any platform with perl and mysql.  The streaming format is open and you can find extra plugins on the net.  The hardware decodes a number of formats including Ogg Vorbis and FLAC.  It plays flawlessly when I’m compiling code or just browsing LWN.

I have also thought about getting a headphone amp to go with the Squeezebox.  A set of speakers are probably a bit much for the office.  Turns out, the Squeezebox Classic’s headphone adapter is powered by a very weak internal amp.  The wiki admits this and suggests “low-end” headphones only.  Truly, the Grados I have at work are totally underpowered.  So a dedicated headphone amp is next on my list.  Tubes anyone?

So, there you have it.  The Linux Czar’s work Hi-Fi system in progress.

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