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Audio advice for a music classroom

by Augmented4th / October 29, 2013 8:09 AM PDT

I need some audiophile advice. I am a public school elementary music teacher and, the way I see it, part of my job is raising the next generation of lovers of great sound. I have three major challenges that get in the way of this: my teaching space, current equipment, and my budget.

My teaching space is the school's stage. It's a very large, open space with very hard, reflective walls and tall ceilings.

I play all digital music (lots of wavs and flac files) from a PC into a Lepai LP7498E using a 3.5mm to RCA adapter from the computer's headphone jack (blech). The Lepai is powering a pair of Jensen JP1300. The end result of this is a system that lacks clarity and strongly over-emphasizes certain frequencies.

My yearly budget is typically around $2000, and with that I also need to keep both my general music instruments and my band instruments in playable condition.

It seems to me that the weakest links in my chain are the speakers and the lack of decent digital to audio conversion.

What improvements can I make where I get the biggest bang for my buck? Would it be an inexpensive, but highly reviewed DAC like the ones from hifimediy? Would it be acoustic damping behind the speakers? Would it be new speakers like some M-Lores? If it is new speakers, should I go DIY with a kit (I'm pretty handy with power tools)?

Any advice is appreciated! Happy

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Clarification Request
What percentage of the $2K is...
by Pepe7 / October 29, 2013 12:06 PM PDT

...instrument upkeep/maintenance(?) Just curious. That could also be a limiting factor.

I see the listening space to be a bit of a problem too, especially from an audiophile perspective (for which I certainly am *not* qualified). All that reflection and even audio sounds from good equipment can sound like crud ;(. I don't see how a new DAC would fix this per se. Is there any way you can add lower cost absorbing materials or rugs to the space to help minimize reflections, etc.(?) I would ask at a site such as AVS forum, which is an amazing site just to search, let alone participate in.

My vote would be for some good quality used equipment at an audio shop. Certainly not hard to find in most major urban areas. In fact, there can be some incredible deals if you also poke around craigslist. I would focus on speakers first then a DAC if your focus is still on digital music. The Lepai is probably great for streaming though (bluetooth, right?).

More importantly, (where the rubber hits the road) what sort of tunes are these kids hearing in your classroom? Wink

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by Augmented4th / October 30, 2013 4:28 AM PDT

The listening space is a big challenge. When I close the curtain it greatly reduces the the echo. I'm definitely going to try out some old rugs and other materials.

I don't use the bluetooth feature on the Lepai. I have not heard music transmitted via bluetooth in any way that has satisfied my ears. It might be good for casual listening, but not quite right for critical listening.

We listen to a lot of different kinds of music. Probably between 1/3 and 1/2 of the music we listen to is classical (all types). After that, Jazz and folk music would be the next most played genres. We do get our Zepplin on every once in a blue moon as well. Blush

All Answers

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AVS thread on the Lores
by Pepe7 / October 29, 2013 12:26 PM PDT
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Frankly? Ask for donations.
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / October 30, 2013 1:18 AM PDT

I'm seeing old HiFi stereo and more gear hit the curbs and some of it is much better than the M.I.C. stuff. I'd keep your budget as-is for the instruments as that is so hard hit in the budgets and go for donations for the music player gear.

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by Augmented4th / October 30, 2013 4:35 AM PDT

We have a few HiFi vendors in the Denver area. I'll get in contact with them. Even if they're not willing to donate any equipment, they probably have clients or know other people that are looking to get rid of some stuff. Now's a great time for donations, because tax season will be coming soon.

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