I have the video andnew photos on my Den page. However, the video is below:
With my girlfriend moving in, I am always on the verge of changing things in my living room. This is where the room stands now, so it will be interesting to see how things progress in the future.
I have the video andnew photos on my Den page. However, the video is below:
I am now on my third thunderbolt dock. Everything was operating like clockwork and then I had the opportunity to review the ICY Box20858 ICY BOX RED DOT Award Winner 2019 Thunderbolt 3 Type-C Notebook/Laptop, PC Docking Station.
For full disclosure, I received this for free in exchange for an unbiased review (for Amazon) and I get paid if you click and buy from Amazon links.
Everything a geek needs
Here is the official tally of what is on this thing: :Triple video output! Mini DP 1. 2, VGA and HDMI 2. 0 or DisplayPort 1. 2. Two USB 3. 1 (Gen2) Type-C interfaces, four USB 3. 0 Type-A interfaces. Sd 4. 0 (UHS-II) card reader for most common SD card specifications. 3. 5 mm stereo Combo jack (Microphone/ audio). Gigabit LAN RJ45 interface with wake-on-lan function.
While I wasn't really in the market for a new dock, the SD card slot was THE KILLER FEATURE! I just could resist. I had a card reader plugged into my machine, but I wanted it out of sight, so it was hard to get to. That was solved with the ICY Box. It is conveniently located on the side which makes it easy to reach. The numerous ports are perfect for my arrangement, as well. I have it daisy chained with the old dock,. so I have even more options (I may remove the old one if I don't use all the slots up anytime soon, but no reason to mess with it now).
I have a couple minor complaints, though. First off, I like the sleek design, but I think this shape has some issues. You can't plug anything into the front. I don't use the headphone port, but if I did, I would not like it to be located on the back. Personally, I like the ability to stack objects, like a SSD drive, but that front curve makes that less likely. Also, this thing is wide, so you really need to make sure your area can accommodate it. My last two docks were no where near as long as this one. It is the trade off for ports.
Those are minor complaints, but the one thing that give me some concern is how hot this device runs. It is significantly hotter than either of my old docks. That may not matter in the long run, but I am a bit concerned about it.
The Wrap Up
All in all, I am very happy to have a fast SD card reader available without needing to plug in a separate card reader. I like the numerous ports on the ICY box and the fact that they have two USB3 ports on the side for quick access to portable SSD drives. Since I mainly use my Mac mini (desktop computer) for photography, this really makes my workflow that much faster.
To start off 2020, I thought it would be fun to list my current audio gear, how I use it, and why. I have been thinking about a video for my different listening spaces, and having my main gear listed, should help. Given the fact that I write about audio so often, these posts will give you some insight into my approach to audio.
My main system is the setup I have in my living room that we use for movies and music. For me, the two entertainment pursuits are equally as important, so the gear I chose reflect that thinking.
Denon X4200W - review - This will probably be the first thing replaced to be honest. It works and sounds great, but getting something new with Airplay 2 built in would be ultra convenient. The new HDMI standards will have me hold off for a bit, but with the price points of receivers with pre-outs dropping, it will eventually happen. The main reason I chose this receiver was the pre-outs and Audyssey MultEQ XT32. At the time I was planning on using external amplification for all of my speakers, but instead decided I was happy with just amping the front two channels for music.
Emotiva UPA-1 Mono Blocks - review - I bought these 200 watt per channel amps back in 2011 and they are still going strong. I did have one issue with one a long time ago, but Emotiva fixed it or replaced it (not sure which) and all has been great since then. I don't envision changing these out unless I have some issue. They run cool and give my front speakers tons of headroom.
B&W 683 - reviewed here and here - These fell into my lap when my boss decided to downscale after their children moved out. I helped them decide on them years prior, so I guess a good deed paid off. I got them, the center channel, a sub, and a Marantz receiver for $200. Best money I have spent in a while.
B&W HTM61 Center Channel - just barely fit in my console, but happy with the way they sound for movies and television.
Monitor Audio RSFX - I was using these with my old Monitor Audio speakers, so I thought I might have to change them out. However, they work with the other speakers fine, so I just left them in with the B&Ws. I don't listen to a lot of surround sound music, but they are great for movies.
Elemental Designs A2-300 Subwoofer - review - Another product that has been in my system for years and years. The company isn't even around anymore, but made some great subs for a great price back in the day. They bass response is 18 - 100 Hz. As mentioned in the review, the thing is large, so you have to find a place for it. I still remember when I first got it and I was watching one of the Terminator movies for the first time. I thought the foundation of my house was going to disintegrate with the loud explosions.
Mac mini 2010 - I just moved this out of my office at the end of 2018. It has been a welcome addition to my main system. It works with every audio app under the sun and really never feels out of date with any app I have tried (new and old) working with it perfectly.
Topping DAC10 - Love this little guy. In my main setup, it takes the USB output from my Mac mini and sends it to my Denon receiver over COAX. I prefer this to analog because the room correction benefits that come with feeding it a digital signal. It sounds fabulous!
Apple TV 4 - Mainly use this because of Airplay 2. It allows me to control what is playing from my HomePod (via Siri) and puts the sound over my main speakers. We also like the way it puts lyrics on the screen, which is helpful when you are trying to figure out what they heck the artist is singing.
Project Debut III - I added this to the setup back in 2005! I will listen to this maybe once or twice a week. I keep thinking I should upgrade, but it seems to do the job with the Bellari VP129 that I bought around the same time. I also added a Speedbox, but that has been replaced after it broke, and about a week ago, the second one stopped working, I will just let it be for now. I do think I would like to update it at some point, but not a top priority at the moment.
Oppo 980H - This is a universal player that handles SACD and DVD-As. Still sounds good, but I don't use it very often. I prefer streaming or listening to records.
Nvidia Shield - I run Plex on this device and it allows me to control what is playing via the Amazon Plex app.
For streaming to my main setup, I mainly use a combination of the following:
Audirvana - This gives me access to my own library, in addition to, Qobuz and Tidal. I am currently subscribed to Tidal (thanks to an offer I couldn't refuse), but I prefer Qobuz.
Apple Music - I have this for everything else... Amazon Dots, AppleTV, Apple Watch, HomePod, etc.
SiriusXM - Mainly for the car, but I will Airplay it when I am in the mood for Luna or Classic Rock.
As you can see, this setup is meant to provide great sound for both music and movies without breaking the bank, while also providing some convenience. As I said, I am pretty happy with it. I will probably update the receiver in the next year or so. Heck, with options like the Fluance turntables bring audiophile quality sound to the $500 price point, I may update the turntable, as well. I have a few home improvements that I want to get done with my extra funds this year, so any major updates might happen in 2021.
I will also discuss my other setups in future posts, so stay tuned.
Dog loving, Big Green Egg worshiping, Tech enthusiast, residing in Memphis, TN. Home of the Tigers, Grizzlies, Elvis, Al Green, Stax, Hi Records, Ardent Studios, Beale Street, Peabody Ducks, etc.. I have also added the Jeep Wrangler to the list of things I am enthusiastic about.
Flickr pics below