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Old 09-04-2018, 10:34 AM   #1
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Quartzsite , Arizona
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Audiophile in an Airstream

Hi,

In seriously considering the Airstream lifestyle the one thing I'm afraid I may miss is my audiophile system.

Mine is relatively compact, a solid state Hegel Rost DAC and Focal book shelf speakers.

I'll probably lose most of the benefits of it by putting it in a tin can but it has abilities most decks don't have. Mostly my system are FLAC files that can't be streamed from an iPhone

I suppose I could hard wire it but not sure the shake rattle and roll of a trailer would be good for it.

Failing that what have you done to improve sound in your Airstream? Stereo/speaker upgrades?

Thanks,

R44
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:10 PM   #2
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Sounds, Hearing, best equipment.

A couple of points to hear the bigger soundscape...

Remember, the most important piece of audio equipment you will ever own is your own ears. Trust them.

As we age, our ability to hear high frequencies greatly diminishes. This is one of the ironies of being an audiophile. When I was young, in my twenties and able to distinguish between 20,000 Hz and 22,000 Hz, I could not afford the high end Boston Acoustics/Polk Audio gear. Now that I could afford it, I can no longer distinguish the difference as much. Certainly sounds above 20 KHz are gone.

The acoustic environment inside your AS is atrocious. There is no sugar coating this. You would be hard pressed to design a worse listening space. (Ok, maybe if you tried listening to Bach behind a jet engine, whist someone jack hammered in front of you.)

Headphones are remarkably good these days, and even the best ones are relatively inexpensive. You will hear more with them, if not get the teeth rattling lows.

Most of us using AS are out, in the outdoors, seeing and hearing the natural wonders that surround us, and only inside when the weather outside is miserable.

There are many good threads here on what others have done regarding their audio systems. Count on replacing the cheap system that comes with your AS.
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Old 09-04-2018, 12:31 PM   #3
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In my 20’s, I thought of myself as an audiophile. Scott 80 watt tube amp, custom speaker system, AR turntable. The Scott has been replaced with Harmon-Kardin, the AR with a H-K CD player, and the speakers with Bose. I never turn the system on. At 70+, I can’t tell the difference between the “good” system and the standard equipment stuff in modern cars or my Airstream. Enjoy your hearing while you have it. I still enjoy listening to music, just can no longer heat the musicians take a breath.
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Old 09-04-2018, 01:33 PM   #4
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Headphones.

Seriously, I don't think anyone can appreciate good dynamic range without sufficient level to see the difference. Translate? Loud.

I like music loud. More than my neighbor's might. Even on the slim chance they may not like Pink Floyd.
Putting in a great system and listening at -40 is a waste of time.

I still like my Sony V-6 after many years of service.
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Old 09-05-2018, 11:19 AM   #5
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I always found the sound to be really engaing using what ever the standard system was. Away from the Airtsream I listen mostly on studio monitors.

One Airstream had an 8-track stereo and the other an older Kenwwod car CD player, both playing through the built in speakers. Those were not FLAC sources, but the music always sounded great. Different but great. Possibly because Airstreams are about new ways of experiencing life.
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Old 09-05-2018, 11:45 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
Hi,

In seriously considering the Airstream lifestyle the one thing I'm afraid I may miss is my audiophile system.

Mine is relatively compact, a solid state Hegel Rost DAC and Focal book shelf speakers.

I'll probably lose most of the benefits of it by putting it in a tin can but it has abilities most decks don't have. Mostly my system are FLAC files that can't be streamed from an iPhone

I suppose I could hard wire it but not sure the shake rattle and roll of a trailer would be good for it.

Failing that what have you done to improve sound in your Airstream? Stereo/speaker upgrades?

Thanks,

R44
This doesn't answer your question and probably doesn't get to the solution you want, but here's what I did for our 2015 25' FC FB:
- Replaced the Clarion AM/FM/CD/Bluetooth head unit with a Alpine equivalent. Mainly did this because I could not figure out the Clarion user interface, but also because I picked up a bit of power. Also has auxiliary input and subwoofer output. A little bit of a PITA to install, but only because access to the wiring is tight. Mechanically, the head unit was a direct replacement - any DIN unit should slip right in.
- With an auxiliary set of inputs, you could probably temporarily mount your DAC unit inside the upper cabinet, where our BlueRay player is mounted.
- Replaced the Clarion coaxial speakers with Focal equivalents. I cannot remember for sure but I think both are 5 1/2" units with coax tweeter. No-brainer installation.
- Replaced the "I can't remember what brand" subwoofer with a JL Audio self-powered sub in a similar-sized cabinet. Again, easy enough to install with the exception that location under the dinette seats makes it fun.

System works pretty well, but from an audiophile point of view the downward firing speakers, mounted in the bottom of the front and rear overhead storage cabinets, destroys any sense of space in the music. You still get a little stereo effect but any concept of imaging is out of the question.

You do not need very much amplifier power to play music far too loud inside one of these aluminum echo chambers, so my advice would be to look at solutions for speaker mounting that allow for quality low-volume listening. Otherwise, the previously suggested headphones are probably your best bet.
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:26 PM   #7
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Are we talking valve amps and electrostatics ?
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:32 PM   #8
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Are we talking valve amps and electrostatics ?
Nope! Solid state!

Thanks,

R44
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:33 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by Bilbo View Post
This doesn't answer your question and probably doesn't get to the solution you want, but here's what I did for our 2015 25' FC FB:
- Replaced the Clarion AM/FM/CD/Bluetooth head unit with a Alpine equivalent. Mainly did this because I could not figure out the Clarion user interface, but also because I picked up a bit of power. Also has auxiliary input and subwoofer output. A little bit of a PITA to install, but only because access to the wiring is tight. Mechanically, the head unit was a direct replacement - any DIN unit should slip right in.
- With an auxiliary set of inputs, you could probably temporarily mount your DAC unit inside the upper cabinet, where our BlueRay player is mounted.
- Replaced the Clarion coaxial speakers with Focal equivalents. I cannot remember for sure but I think both are 5 1/2" units with coax tweeter. No-brainer installation.
- Replaced the "I can't remember what brand" subwoofer with a JL Audio self-powered sub in a similar-sized cabinet. Again, easy enough to install with the exception that location under the dinette seats makes it fun.

System works pretty well, but from an audiophile point of view the downward firing speakers, mounted in the bottom of the front and rear overhead storage cabinets, destroys any sense of space in the music. You still get a little stereo effect but any concept of imaging is out of the question.

You do not need very much amplifier power to play music far too loud inside one of these aluminum echo chambers, so my advice would be to look at solutions for speaker mounting that allow for quality low-volume listening. Otherwise, the previously suggested headphones are probably your best bet.
Yea I figured the soundscape would be lost but I'd at least have my set up!

I'm more concerned about how it would handle the road.....

Thanks,

R44
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Old 09-05-2018, 12:36 PM   #10
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Tweeters to add imaging

Hi,
Like last poster, downfiring speakers (Sony originals in our case ) being painfully there but original, concluded adding Polk liquid cooled tweeters upwards aiming off the left and right sides coucho (sp) utilizing the convex corners to capture and project intelligible higher frequencies backward to the coach. .

Along with simple swaps adding New Sony CD receiver, Polk Subwoofer under same couch and Polk 12v 200watt amp REALLY did the trick without getting crazy.

The original coax speakers now taking on responsibility of the mid range, the new tweeters and sub brought up the low and high frequencies to equal ratios.

Pending mix, some receiver eq is needed but 1000% improvement without going price or installation heavy.

Like the sound now and doesn’t hurt to listen anymore.
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Old 09-05-2018, 01:58 PM   #11
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If your gear is solid state, it should handle the bumps and vibrations and rattling down the high way just fine. Ditto for the speakers, which are in greater danger of water leak damage or sonic overload than from the rough rides. AS does mount the Blu ray player on a foam pad inside the cabinetry, which is another option.

If you are worried, you can choose some high end automotive industry gear that was designed from the outset for highway use. But again, I doubt you will be able to craft a better listening experience in the acoustic bowls/highly reflective surfaces throughout the AS than you would get from headphones, except for the low frequencies a sub woofer can provide.
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Old 09-05-2018, 04:25 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rounder44 View Post
Hi,

In seriously considering the Airstream lifestyle the one thing I'm afraid I may miss is my audiophile system.

Mine is relatively compact, a solid state Hegel Rost DAC and Focal book shelf speakers.

I'll probably lose most of the benefits of it by putting it in a tin can but it has abilities most decks don't have. Mostly my system are FLAC files that can't be streamed from an iPhone

I suppose I could hard wire it but not sure the shake rattle and roll of a trailer would be good for it.

Failing that what have you done to improve sound in your Airstream? Stereo/speaker upgrades?

Thanks,

R44
As an audio professional who lives every day surrounded by high-end audio, I would just suggest that you not worry about hauling around ALL of your favorite comforts. Keeping-it-simple is one of the joys of travel. You might want to test the waters with a mobile setup that is simple and fun and sounds pretty nice (not HagelRost/Focal nice, but well attuned to listening in a confined space, or casually outside in the hammock). iPhone+FLACapp+Bose SoundLink speaker. Bose has several -- we like the Mini II. Everything is wireless+rechargable. There are numerous FLAC>ALAC lossless converters available such as WALTR. Good luck! www.undercurrentsradio.net
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Old 09-05-2018, 07:18 PM   #13
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I own a small portable speaker company and we make our products in the USA so I have a lot of experience messing around with small systems. I live full time in a 25' Airstream and while I haven't installed a system in mine yet, I think you could build something satisfying if you're A. willing to do some simple modifications to your trailer and B. lower your expectations just a bit. The down facing speakers my trailer came with sound terrible because they face down. So The first thing I'd do is to replace them with either a high quality full range driver or a two way setup. You'll have to really seal up the existing cabinets and of course have the new speakers face out instead of down. Use some software to calculate the cabinet size so you can either port the cabinet or keep it sealed depending on the speakers and the tuning you desire.

Next I would use a class D amplifier because they sound really good, are extremely efficient, use a switching power supply, and are easy to power with 12vdc. Parts Express sells all that stuff.

You can use a 3.5mm stereo input so you can play your FLAC files, or (gasp!) find a bluetooth 4.2 or 5.0 receiver and go wireless. I'm almost 50 years old and while I've spent most of my life critically listening, I have a hard time telling the difference between hard wired and the latest Bluetooth compression codecs. If you're a younger person you may have a different experience.

Feel free to message me if you want to talk more about a potential system if you pull the trigger on your Airstream. I don't sell that stuff but I love talking about fun audio DIY projects!



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Old 09-05-2018, 07:22 PM   #14
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