Modifying the Squeezebox: Step 1: Power Supply: Cheap tweak
You have several tiers of modifications available for the Squeezebox, and at least two available and well-known and well-reviewed companies who can do the work for you, for a price. The mods for the Squeezebox fall into three tiers:
- Upgrades to the power supply
- Upgrades to the digital section of the SB3
- Upgrades to the analog section of the SB3
The stock power supply of the SB3 is a cheap little "walwart" plug not much better than what you use to charge your cell phone. Most users report a noticeable improvement by simply switching to an ugraded industrial adaptor. Hosfelt makes a bargain one ($7), part number 7202 C3 which is a 5 volt, 1.5 amp version, which has received good reviews. Elpac also makes one, the 5v 1.5a Elpac WM075-1950-760, available for not much more. Both resemble the power adaptor of laptop computer. The reported improvements include greater weight, clarity, and smoothness of sound.
In my prior experience upgrading the walwart of the Art DI/O DAC to a cheaper but improved adaptor, I did notice these improvements. However, with the DI/O, I later upgraded to a much more expensive custom-built Boldercable power supply. The difference was much more noticeable and the construction quality was impressive, but the cost was more considerable.
I decided to opt for the Boldercable deluxe power supply for the SB3. It's a tank of power supply, as the linked pictures demonstrate. Housed in a black anodized aluminum case, it is a slight upgrade over the standard Boldercable power supply, and is priced around $350-375. It does NOT come with an AC powercord, which will add another $80 or more (I used one of my Cardas Golden reference cords I had lying around, which can be had used for $250 (retails for $500 new); Bolder makes a good power cord, the Nitro, for about $80). For the cost-no-object crowd, Bolder makes an even more expensive ($1k) version with all silver wiring and very expensive caps.
OK, reality check here. Along with a a good power cord, you are talking $450-$650 for a power supply simply to feed power to a $250 device which already has its adaptor. Or out even more clear: 20x-30x the cost of the el cheapo Hosfelt or Elpac upgrade. Am I nuts? Of course I am and so are you; all audiophiles are nuts, some more than others. Since the Boldercable PS takes about 100 hours to "burn-in" before any critical listening tests can be done, my review of the audible changes with this power supply will have to wait a week, but I can say that even with a few hours of burn in, the changes from the stock walwart are absolutely audible. The construction quality is superb.
I have not listened to the Red Wine Audio power supply, but it is quite different in philosophy, using a battery-powered supply also housed in a black anodized aluminum enclosure, which looks quite similar to the Bolder deluxe version. Inside, however, things are much different, with the AC charging a 12V, 10Ah SLA battery, and a 5V linear regulator. There are many opinions on the benefits of using a battery power supply, as well as the drawbacks. Generally, battery power supplies are usually quieter.
If you don't have the chance to hear both versions for yourself, you can sample the various opinions of pro-battery and pro-AC.