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£1000 to spend on a small-room setup.

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by andrewfee, Aug 12, 2005.

  1. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    First off, I apologise if this is in the wrong place, there's a lot of audio sections here, and I wasn't sure which to post in.

    I am in the process of re-decorating my room, and am wanting to get a really nice audio setup. The primary focus will be music, but it will also be used for television, dvd, and gaming, however music is the priority.

    The room is about 9' square, so I shouldn't need anything too powerful.

    This is how my room layout is, and unfortunately that can't change.

    [​IMG]

    The Oppli unit is where everything will have to go, and speakers will have to go pretty much at the far edge of it. (I know it's rather close to the walls :()

    Here's a picture of it temporarily set up in the lounge to give you an idea:

    [​IMG]
    (sorry about the quality, I'm waiting on a new camera to be delivered)​


    I'm fairly new to higher end audio - I've had a cheap surround kit before (Logitech Z-680) but was never really happy with it, and sold it after getting my Grado SR-80 headphones; they just couldn't compare in quality.

    I'm just unsure what my £1000 would be best spent on; I'm wanting at least a 2.1 setup, if not 5.1. If I go with 2.1 I'll probably be wanting to add rears and a centre at some point.

    I'm really not sure where my money should go, if I should be spending say 30% on the amp, 20% on the sub, 20% on the player, 20% on the speakers and 10% on cabling, or if I should be spending more on the speakers, and less on the amp etc... I'll have to include an SPL meter in the price too. (no idea how much that'll cost)

    Another thing I'm unsure about is whether I should buy a seperate headphone amp for my Grados, or if I'd be fine just plugging them into the amp/reciever directly. If not, that's probably £200 off the budget right away, as I will be doing quite a lot of listening at night as well as during the day. (will be getting a HeadAmp Gilmore Lite if I need one) I've been meaning to get one for quite some time now, but hadn't as I planned on buying a reciever/amp, and wasn't sure if that would do the job.


    Here's the first real problem - I can't really go and demo anything. There aren't any audio stores "close" to where I am, and I have M.E. so it's not really possible for me to get to any of the ones in town. (I'm on the very outskirts of Glasgow, virtually in the countryside, about an hour from the city centre)



    I'm also not entirely sure what I should be buying, as it's not just speakers and an amp I need.

    Right now, most of what I listen to is from CDs ripped in a lossless format on my Powerbook with the Grados, but I do listen to the ocassional bit of internet radio/podcast (talk radio of course) so I'd like some way to hook up my Powerbook to the system. I've got a 17" one, so it's got a 24bit/96KHz optical output, but as it'll be on the desk on the other side of the room, I feel that some sort of network device would be a better idea, rather than a long cable around the room. I've been thinking about an airport express to stream from it wirelessly, using its optical out, but I'm doubtful of the quality I'd get from it. I'm sure it'd be fine for internet radio / podcasts, but probably not music.

    So I don't know whether I should also buy a dedicated CD player, some sort of hard-drive based device or a network streaming one. (I have to say, it would probably get on my nerves having to look out each CD when I want to listen to them, and not being able to have proper playlists. I really liked the look of the new Cambridge Audio Azur 640H, but hear it's going to be about £500 when it's released, which wouldn't leave much money for the other equipment.

    As there's little space, I think the sub would have to go under the desk in the corner, so I'll need at least 8m of cabling for that to go around the edge of the room.

    With the sub I'm wanting something to help with the music, I'm not looking for thumping bass. I was thinking about a REL Quake - I hear they're very crisp and not overpowering, which would be great for a smaller room like mine, but I don't know if that's too much of the budget to be spending on a sub.

    I really like the look of the B&W DM601 S3's for front left/right, but I don't know if they're actually worth the money, if they're suited to a room like mine, if it's too much of the total budget etc. I'll probably also need a stand to bring them up to the height of my TV. It doesn't look big in the picture, but it's a 32" LCD. I'm thinking the Arc 1268 stand looks good as it's adjustable from 20cm to 80cm high. (will probably be at the lower end)



    I'm sorry for the long post, I tend to go into too much detail about things, but I hope you can help. :)

    Oh, and one last question - I've not yet chosen the flooring for the room; should I be going with laminate or carpet? I'm thinking carpet is the better choice?
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Hey Andrew welcome to the forum bro, I think your very wise to be considering a 2.1 based stereo system, Im more in to music than films, and as such I use my DVDP as my main CD source into a stereo amp and from there towards – standmount speakers & an active sub (the good thing about a 2.1 system is that its fairly tunable unlike floorstanders). The place I would point you first below £1000 is Cambridge Audio, check out their Azur range which you have mentioned already.

    Right I’ll be direct you have £1000 to spend – I’ll make some assumptions, here you mention you use your power book for a lot of listening, and that it sports a digital output, well I was going to mention that you will be routing your DVD players twards an offboard DAC, this is a digital device that accepts digital signal and converts to anlg, (there is a big sticky above about them) but if you have multiple digital sources then they are excellent for getting quality audio towards a hifi amp. Many people use them off DVDs instead of a separate CDP (Ive done so in the past) so start reading up about them. Ive also piped a digital signal from my PC via the M-Audio Transit 24/96 USB External Soundcard (something you should also read up on here – do a seach its has an excellent headphone amp to my ears).

    Glasgow Audio have as set of JBL XTI20 normal rrp £500 for £175 in Beech :
    http://www.holburnhifi.co.uk/fs_offers.html (sit these atop the Oppli as far apart as possible). Then add a Cyrus 7 amplifer also at half price from Glasgow Audio, go and read up on NOS DACs on the net, £100 odd quick (you will need a DAC with toslink digital outputs) or go for soemthing like a TAG DAC 20 second hand £400, next up your looking at a BK Electronics sub : £279 of front firing subwoofer : http://www.bkelec.com/Special_Offers/Light_Oak.htm

    So :

    £175 standmounts
    £250 BK Sub or REL Quake/MJ Pro 50 2nd hand £200
    £350 Cyrus Amp
    £300 on a 2nd hand DAC.

    Cables £40 max - Use Mark Grants ICs from this forum in cable section £25 – Van Damme Blue Series £2/m speaker cable from Maplins.

    There are obviously loads of options but that’s a fair encompassing of what you need to start researching.

    ATB & HTHs
     
  3. SKA.face

    SKA.face
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    Hi,

    The first problem I think I see is that you room is a cube?and a small one at that.This is bad news sonic wise,as all walls are parrallel,which I think you may end up with a very boomy sound.

    I would think the B&W 602,will need more room personally,and you'll have problems with a sub in such small space,so beware.

    Maybe wortha look at a complete Rega package,from the small R1 speakers,Brio amp,planet CD player.You could save money on a cheaper CD player.But before you go too far,think seriously about your rooms size,and dimensions.
     
  4. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Hmm, that's a bit worrying. Unfortunately there's nowhere else it can go, and the room's layout can't change either.

    I've had a sub before, and it was fine at its lower levels, but the sub itself was crap.
     
  5. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Andrew get standmounts into place first then see how it sounds.
     
  6. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Thanks for the advice CJROSS - I just came to check up on this topic, and somehow managed to miss your post the first time around, I'll look into it. :)

    Just noticed I had written B&W 602's instead of 601's by mistake, I agree that the 602s would be far too big for my room. :)
     
  7. ChrisNic

    ChrisNic
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    The size of your room isnt ideal but dont let that get you down, you can still have a system that sounds good in a room that size. Believe it or not the system in my sig is actually in a room that measures about 10' x 8' and that is a full 5.1 setup with speakers that arent exactly small.
     
  8. ChrisNic

    ChrisNic
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    Oh and I had a pair of 602's in my room for quite a while!
     
  9. SKA.face

    SKA.face
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    10 x 8,while still small is better as all the walls arn't parrallel,that's Andrews dilema,it's a cube.Take CJ advoce get some standmounters ,see how they interact with your room,and take it from there.The B&W 601S3 are superb little boxes.
     
  10. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Just been checking out all the equipment you've listed, looks great. :)

    I'm a bit unsure about some things though. Firstly, any idea why the JBL speakers are so cheap? I saw one review that gave them 5/5, so they can't be bad. I did a search here, and it didn't really come up with anything though.

    I'll probably go and pick them up as soon as possible though, so I don't miss this offer.

    That amp looks like a great price too, but I'm a bit unsure about it. How would I hook it up to a subwoofer to begin with? (just not used seperates before, so excuse the very basic questions) I can only guess that you would connect it up to the sub and then the sub to the speakers? (and set the crossover on the sub itself)

    I'm going to need at least three optical inputs (although I suppose I could buy a switch) I assume this is what the DAC is used for?

    It just seems to me that I'd be better off buying an AV amp/reciever and setting it to stereo? That would give me the digital inputs etc in one box, and would also offer more upgradability if I wanted to go 5.1 later.

    And again, any idea why the Cyrus is half-price?

    I don't really want to use the Powerbook as my primary music player - I think I'd be better off getting a dedicated CD player, such as the Azur 640c. It's got an onboard 24-bit/192kHz DAC, so would it make sense just plugging that directly into the Cyrus Amp? (assuming I get the cyrus and not some 5.1 amp)
     
  11. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Andrew you have got a bit of research to do TBH, firstly getting from a digital output (powerbook) to analogue (amplifier) needs a stage of conversion - hence D-A-C. There are way around this, ie USB External soundcards off the PB with a normal set of ICs to your amp. But figure your DVD into the equation and you need a DAC.

    Those prices above are simpky due to kit being replaced or end of line, hence Cyrus is selling its kit around the country cheap, normally £750 but at cost for £300 - thats a good bargain.

    5.1 is not an option inn your room, trust me, unless you get a 5.1 PC system like you had before. Go for a set of standmounts and see how it sounds in your room. Amp and speakers first. then start fine tuning after that.

    HTHs.
     
  12. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Yes, I realise this, sorry. What I had meant is that I may just go with a system for music (for the moment) so rather than buying an expensive DAC and a transport, I may just go with a CD / DVD player with a 24-bit/192kHz DAC built in, hooking that up to the amp.

    I'm currently looking at the Oppo Digital DV971H DVD player - it's been tested with about 50 other players up to $13,000 and came out on top; although I don't know if that's just been based on image quality alone, or taking audio into account.

    It has a CS4360 192kHz/24-bit DAC, I don't know how that would compare to using a transport and a dedicated DAC though.

    So that would be:
    • JBL XTi20's - £175
    • Cyrus 7 Amp - £350
    • Oppo Digital DV971H - ~£150
    • Subwoofer - ~£275 (I've been recommened a BK XLS200, which is £280 new)
    • Cabling - ~£50
    Does it make sense to do this though? It just seems that if I get a DAC, I'll have to compromise on either my source/transport or sub.

    But I don't know if just using the Oppo's built in DAC is making a worse compromise. (as a side note, I don't have a good dvd player right now, and this could be the excuse I've been looking for to pick up the Oppo)

    Thanks; I did a bit of looking around and it seems that Cyrus had some parts left over for building some more Cyrus 7's (they're not made anymore) and that's why they're selling them so cheap. I'll definitely pick one of these up regardless.

    I agree with you on 5.1 now; unless I go with some seriously underpowered PC speakers I probably wouldn't be able to do it, and I don't want to go back to that.
     
  13. Londondecca

    Londondecca
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    I would be tempted to buy some acoustic software (CARA or RPG) to get the most out of whatever equipment you buy
     
  14. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    If you can help, please post asap - if I'm unsure I won't pick an amp up tomorrow, meaning it'll be a week and a half before I have another chance to get it, by which time the Cyrus could be gone.

    Ok, few things have changed so I have a couple of questions - I've now only got £350 to spend on an amp/dac etc, so I don't know if I'm still making the right choice going with the Cyrus 7.

    First off, I won't have the money for a DAC for a while, as something has come up, so does that mean I shouldn't go with a stereo amp now, as an AV amp will have a DAC built in? Or should I go with a cheaper amp/dac?

    I do now have a DVD player that has a 192kHz/24-bit DAC with phono pre-outs, if that makes a difference?

    I'll be using this setup, as I said before, primarily for music, which will be coming from this player now, but I will also want to use it for games from an Xbox, PS2, X360, PS3 etc, so I don't know if I should go with an AV amp with a built in DAC, as their analogue outs probably won't be too great.


    Something else I'm unsure about - a stereo amp doesn't have crossover control; will this be an issue? I know I can adjust the crossover on my sub, but I would've thought I'd want the sub to kick in before the speakers get down to their lowest? Again, an AV amp would let me do this, but I don't know if it's a non-issue?
     
  15. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Andrew, you will have to decide for yourself TBH, if it were me and I was more interestedin music, then I would go for the Cyrus amp, allied to a decent pair of speakers (have you got these sorted yet ?) it will make listening to CDs an enjoyable experience, your room is quite small so I would keep to a stereo amp. Use your DVD player as a CD source, and route all those devices via their anlg outputs to the Cyrus (there is no point just buying an AV amp because it has loads of digital inputs) it will be crap at stereo, and as that’s your main area of focus, I would bite the bullet on connecting those digitally to an AV amp.

    Andrew, all output from your sub is controlled by your subs controls, ie gain, crossover – slam depth in a stereo amp configuration. If your amplifier sends a signal say of 30-50Hz (which your standmounts cannot produce) do you think the sub will not output those frequencies ? Your concerns are a non-issue. You may also see comments saying connecting up a sub in either low level connections ie from say the Cyrus 7s pre-outs or its speaker connection – high level wise, effects a subwoofer “speed” abilities, ie one being quicker, this is pure hokum FWIW. I also note the 7 has a headphone output FWIW.

    http://www.cyrus.co.uk/integrated_amps_archive.htm

    Whats your plans for speakers ?
     
  16. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Thanks, that's what I wanted to hear. :) It's just when I'm about to spend this sort of money I get a bit worried, wanting to know I'm making the right decision. :)

    Yeah I know it's a non-issue with the sub, my concern was that the speakers would try to produce lower frequencies and not do a good job of it, making it hard to integrate a sub.

    As for speakers, I was planning on going down to Glasgow Audio today and picking up those JBLs along with the Amp. :)
     
  17. andrewfee

    andrewfee
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    Well, I went down to Glasgow Audio today; didn't think I'd actually be able to go and thought I'd have to get someone to pick them up for me. (I've got M.E. so going out to do things like that isn't easy)

    Got the JBL XTi20 speakers and the Cyrus 7, along with a Qed interconnect and 2x2m of bi-wiring speaker cable; £567 overall. :D The guy there was really nice and offered to prepare it so all I had to do was plug it in right when I got home, as it's rather stiff/thick wire, so it's quite hard to do without the proper tools.

    I'm still stuck in the lounge right now, I have to wait until Wednesday for the carpet to be fitted, then I should be able to move back into my room, so things are a bit messy, as there's no point tidying it all up only to have to take it apart again in a couple of days time.

    My new camera hasn't arrived yet, amazon has given me a shipping estimate of 20th-30th now, even though it said there were two in stock at the time of me ordering. :mad: So you'll have to make do with a webcam pic of my setup. :) (it's actually a bit wider now, and everything has been pushed back)

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    (and a better one of the speakers themselves that I came across)



    Unfortunately, this room is probably quite good acoustically; nice thick carpet, one huge wall with big heavy curtains etc, so my impressions might be different once I'm back in my room, however I'll know it's my room and not the hardware.

    Back to the equipment; I was very surprised with the Cyrus 7 when I opened it up. From what I had seen online, it looked like it was all plastic, with a bit of a horrible silver finish. This couldn't be further from the truth though; the top of it is all-metal and it weighs a lot more than I expected. I wasn't sure about the slim look either, but it's great when you actually see it in a setup amongst other equipment. Makes me want to get more cyrus gear to go with it, lol.

    I love the look of these speakers, and they're very well made. Great finish, solid construction, and the feet on the bottom do a great job. (the manual mentions spikes being included, but I can't see them anywhere) I'm not too keen on the grille though, it covers the entire front of the speakers; but then again, I don't like a grille on any speaker. :) It doesn't seem to be completely transparent either - I can hear the difference immediately after fitting them. (although it may just cut down the volume and not distort them; I haven't tested, nor will I be testing)

    The manual also mentions an 8-12 hour run-in time, which seemed a bit short to me, but it may be right - I must've had the speakers on for about 9/10 hours continuously now, and they have definitely improved even over this short period of time. They were a little harsh at times to begin with, but that has completely disappeared.

    I'm very surprised at the amount, and quality of the bass these things put out. For music it seems perfect, perhaps a tiny bit lacking for some tracks, but I would happily use these without a sub. However, games / movies definitely need a bit more "punch" that only a subwoofer can provide.

    Fortunately I ordered my BK XLS200 last night, so that should be here soon to sort it out. (although I've not yet received a confirmation email)

    They work just as well at high levels as they do low, which is fantastic for me, as my condition means I have very irregular sleeping patterns and am often awake at night when everyone else is asleep.

    Now onto sound quality. I really don't know what to say about this, it's incredible. I'm sure it's said all the time, but this is truly the best audio I've ever heard. Everything just sounds... perfect. They sound so much better than the Grado SR-80s I've been using for a year or two now. There's detail that I've never heard in tracks before, voices are silky-smooth, yet crisp at the same time, revealing every tiny detail. There's no harshness whatsoever, everything just seems to... flow, and you just get lost in the music. This has been worth every penny, and I've not even got everything yet.

    It looks like I'll be selling my Grados, that's for sure. I honestly can't see myself wanting to upgrade from these. Maybe I'll find something I don't like about them after some more listening, but I really doubt it; I've tried tracks where everything else I've owned has struggled and these just seem to do it with ease.

    And do you know what's scary? This is all based on CD/Lossless encoded files coming from my Powerbook's line-out with its 24/96 DAC and the thinnest wire I could possibly be using. See that thin black one at the left of the TV? It's stretching a few metres to my Powerbook, with an equally poor extension, and 3.5mm > RCA adapter. I can't wait for my Oppo to arrive with its 24/192 DAC, and I'll be able to use the interconnects I bought.

    There's only one bad thing I can think of, and that's the Cyrus' remote. Well, it's bad for me just now, but if you own a Cyrus system it'd be great. It can basically control everything, Amp, CD player, DVD player etc. All I use is the input buttons and volume/mute. :) It looks a little tacky in the silver they chose to paint it in, but it feels great in your hand. The input you have selected lights up when you make a change to it, which is nice. (eg if you turn the volume up/down) It has 32 buttons that I don't/can't use! :rotfl: ...but it doesn't have a headphone button, which is something I would have liked, as you can leave your headphones plugged in permanently, and just toggle between them and the speakers. It's a minor thing, especially as I probably won't want to use my Grados again, but that's not the point.
     
  18. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    :clap:

    Excellent Andrew. Looks like a well sorted little system there. Now go and start reading up about DACs. Offboard or External DACs for future reference, Sticky at top of plage is a good place to start.
     

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