Audio Notebook

After almost two full days of bending Windows 7 to my will, I have a nearly perfect “audio notebook” running next to my cherished Marantz stereo system (PM-14S1 and SA-14S1).

The other day I wrote about the complexities of getting flawless HiRes playback on this somewhat dated notebook utilizing Foobar2000 and my Marantz audio driver, today I finally completed the “downsizing” of what was originally meant to be a work laptop to one that runs nothing but audio (almost).

Every single byte of unnecessary software was de-installed, indexing, prefetch and a ton of other (hidden and visible) system services and scheduled tasks were shut down permanently, a bunch of persistent errors were fixed, and boot-up time was maximized. The final step was to maximize and defragment disk space in order to stuff the (comparatively small 500GB) drive with HiRes music as well as the very best-sounding CDs that I have.

It is unbelievable how complex a job like that can easily become. Windows systems are highly complex and overflowing with automated services that are deeply integrated and difficult to trace (both on- and offline).

If you just want to use a notebook like the one I have to

  • boot up,
  • start Foobar2000 and
  • be ready to play just about any audio file (HiRes or not),

the steps necessary to achieve that goal can become quite daunting.

What I did was to “freeze” the notebook “in time“; it won’t go online anymore and it won’t be used for any kind of work whatsoever. Updates will not be necessary from here on and neither will virus checks (a waste of resources anyway if you are a bit careful), fax services, reporting tasks, remote access, extensive error logs, etc. Nothing. Everything was moved to the great beyond (=trash).

In short, I have turned this particular machine into a stationary CD player and I probably learned more about Windows systems than I have ever before … and I thought I had already tried and done everything these past decades.

Because I had some time, I manged to either browse through or read nearly 300 blog and help articles and, while doing so and trying things out, I had to constantly consult the Windows help and error databases and live through about 80 – 90 reboots (which became more and more painless as I went along).

Booting into the system is almost lightening-fast now, Foobar is loaded in full-screen mode and all I need to do is “click“. After 48 hours of putting it through its paces, I finally have one single Windows system that doesn’t piss me off.


P.S.: The featured image for this post is the one luxury I allowed myself next to a bare-bones Rainmeter running on the desktop … my desktop wallpaper (downloaded from here and adapted), which is consistent across all of my machines.

Posted by Volkher Hofmann

Volkher Hofmann (deus62) has been blogging on and off since the 1990s and is all that is left. He loves music, literature, drumming and, most of all, real life. He thinks the open web is much more important than social networks, closed-in ecosystems and other severely commercialized online endeavors.

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