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Stereo Gear in a Cabinet

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by AvFan, Nov 8, 2018.

  1. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,712
    Location:
    El Cajon, California
    I'm going to build a craftsman/mission style cabinet for my stereo gear that coordinates with the other furniture in my living room but before I do I want to make sure all my components work well together. So, to test things, I bought an inexpensive Ikea cabinet/shelf unit that is very close to the same size, 48"w x 29"h x 15"d, I intend to build. I will make the final cabinet at least 3" deeper to accommodate my amp and its connections.

    So I'm looking for some guidance from my fellow AKers on component placement within the cabinet, wire management, heat issues, etc before I start cutting up expensive hardwood.

    Here is the empty Ikea cabinet then loaded with the gear as a first option:

    DSC_0012.JPG

    DSC_0019.JPG

    I'm right handed so I put all the gear I touch, sources and preamp, on the right side. Starting on the top: turntable, DB Systems preamp, phono preamp with a SUT, CD player on top of a streamer/DAC. On the left side is the DB Systems power supply on top of a Panamax surge protector and the amp is on the bottom shelf. It is possible I'll add another turntable to the left of the one on the top of the cabinet.

    Of course the amp needs as much ventilation as possible so the final cabinet will have an opening below the amp and openings at the top of the cabinet along the back. I have a shelf above the amp in my current configuration and it has never been hot. I placed the Panamax in the middle so the power cords are as short as possible. All the sources are above or below the preamp so their cables are mostly perpendicular to the power cords. FYI I'm going to make custom length signal cables with Mogami shielded coax with Neutrik Rean RCA plugs.

    Phono SUTs can be difficult to place to avoid hum so any insights given the close proximity to other gear is greatly appreciated.

    Lastly the DAC/Streamer is a Cambridge Audio CXN that can operate at 2.4 or 5GhZ WiFi but it has been right below the preamp and next to the amp in its current setup without any issues.

    Thanks for your guidance and suggestions!
     

     

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  2. damacman

    damacman Blown and Injected Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Stereo cabinets can be SO frustrating. While I like your idea and strategy here, the biggest hurdle to overcome is typically adding components to the mix. I mean where does the RT-909 do that you come across at a yard sale for $20?
     
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  3. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,712
    Location:
    El Cajon, California
    Bart Town? But you are correct that having the gear confined within a cabinet is a PITA. I failed to mention I have a Schiit tube headphone amp that gets real hot so I think it would have to be on top when used but otherwise stored inside. But given my stereo is in our living room a cabinet is a compromise I need to make. Now if I had a dedicated listening room I'd have a nice wide, deep and open rack that offered lots of room to add new gear like a RT-909!
     
  4. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    You want the SUT away from power transformers and power cords. Maybe build a little shelf or cubbyhole for it, either inside the cabinet, or outside of it. Test the location before building it. Meter-long ICs can be your friends here.

    I think your arrangement looks pleasant.
     
  5. SPL db

    SPL db It's all about the music! Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Location:
    Omaha, NE
    The thing I really hate about a lot of cabinets is they have backs on them. I understand the cabinet needs some bracing, but I have to get to the wires and connections.
     
  6. Sandstrom

    Sandstrom Seldom turns out the way it does in the song Subscriber

    Messages:
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    If you can construct your cabinet to have a completely open back (as well as adding the depth you plan on) I think it will be the most flexible or easy to work with in the future. Sure you could add cable openings behind each of the components but there is nothing like a completely open back for ease of clearance, cabling and of course good old ventilation! Adjustable shelving would also add further flexibility as well as long you don't compromise the strength/rigidity too much.

    Good luck with your project and be sure to share your progress...
     

     

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  7. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
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    If you are concerned about interference get a thin sheet of copper or lead to place between susceptible units and ground to a water pipe or a 8 ft long copper ground stake driven into the ground. One reason I enjoyed Pioneer Ellite pieces that had copper chassis that could be directly attached to ground to prevent cross interference between components. Steel works, too. Its always important to ground your system to the earth for quietest operation. When I used MC cartridges with external transformers it was always a real contest to reduce noise and hum. So a sheet of lead always went under the TT and the transformer wrapped in lead both grounded to the common earth ground along with the remaining electrical components. Now days with three wire electrical systems the grounds isolating one component from another must be grounded too. But sometimes you get better luck keeping the shielding sheets isolated from the electrical grounds and chassis connecting them directly to a separate earth ground.
     
  8. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,712
    Location:
    El Cajon, California
    Thanks folks for the suggestions! I thought about leaving the backs off the Ikea but they do provide lateral support so I'm going to make slots at the top and bottom of the back, plus cutting away a portion of the back of each shelf and then drill a couple of strategically placed holes. However, for the final cabinet I'll see if I can design it without a back. The Ikea and the final cabinet will have adjustable shelves.

    @twiiii your ground and shielding scheme sounds interesting. I'm hesitant to ground my gear to a separate ground than the one for my house because it may cause a ground loop and those are pesky to solve. I also don't have a water pipe near my living room and there is no way to drive a copper rod 8' into the dirt around my house. My houses ground rod is embedded in the house foundation a considerable distance from my living room. The transformers of my SUT are in a MU case within an aluminum case so I'm hopeful, but realistic, about transformer hum. I don't get any hum when using my Technics turntable/SUT but my AR turntable has an unshielded motor that has been difficult regardless of the type of cartridge and SUT location. It seems to broadcast indiscriminately over a large area. I recall the Pioneer Elites touted their copper chassis and I can get copper sheeting locally so that may be something to try. I'm curious about the lead sheeting too but wondered how it works under a turntable.
     
  9. Old Guy8

    Old Guy8 AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,930
    Location:
    Rockford, Illinois
    I had a vertical cabinet made in 80's. Forward in time. Too wide base and 1-1/8" birch too heavy for basement trip. Now unused.
    I added 4" fully locking black finished casters to 48" wide flexy for back access. Have 4th shelf if needed. Look isn't for everyone.
    How about a sight hidden shelf at bottom for power strip, conditioner, power plugs? Wish could hide mine, while maintaining easy access. A vertical hidden channel to route power cords.
     

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    Last edited: Nov 9, 2018 at 2:35 PM
  10. quaddriver

    quaddriver 120 What's per channel Subscriber

    I have a huge cherry wood 300lb empty cabinet I got at auction I use for the stack. it has a door which seals it up well so I cut a vent hole down low, and put in a vent grate with a washable filter, and then 'bertha' drives a 12v supply from the switched outlet and powers 2 fans - small PC fan on top of the heat sinks blowing upwards, and a 4 inch fan blowing out at the top rear of the cabinet. I can run her hard all day, open the door (to a lot more fan noise) and its room temp inside.
     
  11. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,712
    Location:
    El Cajon, California
    One design feature I haven't discussed is that the cabinet will have doors unlike the Ikea. Not a simple swing type but barrister bookcase doors that swing up into the cabinet. I chose barrister doors so they won't interfere with the speakers, the cabinet will fit into a tighter space if necessary and I've always wanted to build barrister doors. I know lots of folks like to see the gear and it will be obvious this is a stereo (the turntable will sit on top) but given this is our formal living room maybe my guests won't find the gear aesthetically pleasing. I'm going to use some special veneer or lattice work on the front of the door for interest.

    @quaddriver if I decide to put a back on this cabinet and then have excessive heat I have found some thermostat fans used in AV cabinets that I could add. Not my first choice as I want to keep the noise and cost down but it is an option. https://www.acinfinity.com/quiet-cabinet-fans/ I would mount the fan in the back. My first attempt will be to design the shelves and back (if I use one) to create a chimney effect to get the heat up and out.

    @Old Guy8 you are right, power cords and conditioners are a necessary evil and well, ugly. Thanks for the suggestion and I'll give it some thought on how I could hide that stuff. I may be able to mount the surge protector to the underside of the cabinet with the outlets facing away. Food for thought.

    So SUT placement has and could be an issue that I'll need to address. Does the DAC/Streamer pose any issues? FYI I will have a small SSD plugged into the back of the DAC just in case my WiFi gets flaky.

    Regarding cable management, I want to have all my source cables running vertical on the right side. Power cables will run parallel to the signal cables for as short a distance as possible then turn and get over to the surge/power conditioner. Is doing the cables that way an effective way to minimize any noise in the signal cables? The cables will be made of Mogami shielded coax with Neutrik Rean RCAs.

    Thanks again, everyone!
     

     

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  12. bobins08

    bobins08 Loving the dream Subscriber

    Messages:
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    Maybe you can make a spot on the back of the cabinet to hold the SUT in place? Either that or put it behind the preamp and/or elevated above it and within the same cubby space. In this way you can easily connect/disconnect it and you can use short high quality cable. I cannot put my SUT on top of any gear, especially one with another transformer in it.

    You can also make the back of the with a cable holding system to manage the routing of interconnects. You can keep power and signal separated in this way.
     
  13. Duane

    Duane AK Member Subscriber

    Messages:
    3,845
    Location:
    San Diego
    I have a Salamander Synergy Model 237 that has removable backs, so getting to the cables, etc. is pretty easy. It has 8 casters that allows it to be moved away from the wall. With the equipment in place plus a plasma set on top, it's very heavy.
     
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  14. twiiii

    twiiii Addicted Member

    Messages:
    6,214
    Location:
    west Texas
    Like I said if you have a 3 wire electrical system, you only ground the sheets of metal and make sure they don't touch any of the components. I had my old TD 121 and TD 111 on top of my MR-71 and 67 during different periods and I used sheets of aluminum foil to start, but the sheets of lead worked the best. make sure you always use gloves when handling the lead, its not good for your body. We have a copper mill in town so thats where I got my copper from. Aluminum foil is the easiest to find at your local Wal mart. I don't know where you would find lead anymore.
     
  15. Bill Ferris

    Bill Ferris Super Member

    Messages:
    1,686
    Location:
    NE. FL.
    Also, as a thought, metal window screen, if some can be found these days, is a viable option as well, and a ground wire can be either directly soldered to(I have used a penny, or copper washer in the past), or attached with a machine screw, nut and washers to secure a crimp ring connector after the screw is punched through the screen.

    I have a roll of some old brass window screen that my now deceased father picked up somewhere a long time ago and makes a very excellent shield, especially against strong fields of RF/EMI.

    Kind regards, OKB
     
  16. AvFan

    AvFan AK Subscriber Subscriber

    Messages:
    1,712
    Location:
    El Cajon, California
    I appreciate everyone's suggestions and I want to provide an update. Overall I'm pleased with the results and I've added some design ideas as a result of this test.

    I have modified the Ikea cabinet by cutting out portions of the backs and the back edge of each shelf for source and power cables.

    DSC_0022.jpg DSC_0023.jpg

    The bigger hole in the left bottom edge of the back fits my Parasound amp and was necessary for the speaker plugs or it would have stuck out too far in front. As it turns out this is one idea I will use in the final cabinet since there are controls on the back of the amp. The vertical slots are for power cables.

    I left the top off the cabinet as I added the gear and I found this very handy so I'm going to make the top of the final cabinet easily removable. This photo is of the top of the preamp and it is pretty tidy:

    DSC_0026.jpg

    This is the Panamax surge protector with the DB Systems preamp power supply on top and I wrapped up all the excess power cords here and it is a mess. Do all these looped power cables potentially pose a problem?

    DSC_0027.jpg

    Behind the cabinet is pretty clean and you can see the back edge of the amp sticking out. The light gray cable is from the amp and I may want to put a hole to the left just for it to avoid draping the power cable across the back.

    DSC_0030.jpg

    So with the top on and turntable installed it looks like this:

    DSC_0029.jpg

    I may be able to reduce the height of the final cabinet from 29" to 24" to line up better with the window sill. I can remove the feet from the Ikea cabinet to check but there appears to be room for my gear with a shorter cabinet. Also the cabinet would then be a better height if I use it as a TV stand someday. The cabinet is proportional to the room.

    DSC_0028.jpg

    So the real test is listening. This gear arrangement and cable runs is silent except for some hiss from the phono preamp at more than double the volume I normally listen at but I think that is just the way the Sutherland preamp behaves. There is no hum from the SUT sitting below the DB preamp and on top of the phono preamp.

    My AR XB turntable has an unshielded motor and generates some hum so when I add it to this setup I plan on putting a grounded plate (aluminum or copper) beneath it in hopes it manages the unshielded motor.
     
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