Anachronistic Hifi

A project I had in mind for a while - I enjoy the convenience of digital music, but wanted some physical, actual, non-cloud device to hold my collection. Lately, less is more so systems are style-over-substance, with few audio controls; but I got inspired by watching YouTuber TechMoan, who regularly reviews retro hifi devices and bemoans the loss of tone controls, spectrum analysers and other good stuff we had in the 70s and 80s.

I've called this anachronistic, since it's a bit of a mashup; the walnut and aluminum aesthetic is from the 70s; the too-many flashing lights are from the 80s; and the LCD is from the 90s.

Technically, it's a huge mashup too - and in pic 4, you can see it's a somewhat prototypical one-off. Highlights:

  • Raspberry Pi 3, running MPD (which plays any/all formats, internet radio, etc)
  • Hard drive (having re-ripped all CDs to FLACs)
  • Beringer UCA202 DAC (not as fancy as the fancy i2s DACs around, but has a line in with monitor, which makes for easy hookup to external input - eg computer)
  • TPA3116 amp (powered by surplus laptop PSU)
  • 6 x 8x8 LED matrices, driven by daisy chained MAX7219
  • Standard 4X20 LCD
  • Volume control is analog; tone/balance controls are digital, read from pots and converted into an ALSA EQ setting

I'd planned to get the front panel professionally machined, but by then was a bit over-budget... so DIYed and printed vinyl to wrap the whole front. A multi-discipliniary learning experience, and a repeat would be better... but it works and looks OK.