Question Brand new to hifi, and hoping for some guidance

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Eeyooree, Aug 10, 2018.

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  1. Eeyooree

    Eeyooree
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    Hello all! I have been thinking about getting a hifi audio setup for years. I recently moved and believe I have a decent space now to finally break in to this. At one point I looked at a system, the only piece I remember was the Rega P3, for around $3,000 USD all in. I don't have a vinyl collection or CD collection, so my main source of music will come from streaming and MP3s. Over time I will collect CD's and perhaps vinyl, but for now I want to break in to this world and get a CD/Vinyl source later.

    I sampled a ton of speakers the other day at a local audio shop. The brands were B&W, Monitor Audio, Keff, something that starts with H, and some ridiculous $85,000 ones I don't remember. I decided the pair I want is the MA Silver 300. Now, the guy at the shop didn't seem to think an amp matters so much as long as you picked out the speakers you like. That sort of goes against everything I've heard in the past. I've read reviews, seen forum posts, etc. about the types of amps people use/suggest with the Silver 300, and they're all $2,500+ USD amps. I was hoping to stay around the $3,000.00 mark, and the Silver 300s already eat $2,000 of that.

    So at last, here are the questions:

    (1) How important is the amp to overall sound quality?
    (2) What amps should I be looking at with the MA Silver 300?
    (3) Aside from the speakers and the amp, do I need any other equipment (excluding cables and such) to make this system work for streaming? In theory, I could probably plus a computer in to use a CD for the time being, right?

    Thank you for your time and assistance.
     
  2. gibbsy

    gibbsy
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    Of course amps make a difference. Little point in buying speakers that are hard to drive with low sensitivity with an amp that has little power. Some speakers sit well with certain makes of amps and there are many reviewers who state that an amp and speaker are a match made in heaven. You have to take your room into consideration. Little point in pairing a bright set of speakers with a bright amp in a room that has little furniture and lots of reflective surfaces.

    Is hard to give a response to your budget as you may not be aware that this forum is based in the United Kingdom and you may very well get more information from the US based AVS.

    I know that Z Reviews has recently posted his thoughts on You Tube of the KEF R300s, a speaker that I own, and has rated them very highly. They cost $1800 as far as I know but may be subject to good reductions with a new model on the horizon. Also highly regarded are the KEF LS50s and many say that these smaller speakers are more musical than the R300s, although I would disagree on that front.

    Both these KEF speakers need a good bit of power to get the best out of them, which makes the dealers remarks about amps a little worrying. I know that Rega, a British manufacturer, is available in the US and both these sets of speakers would benefit from the power available from the Elicit R and Elex R models have.

    I mention the Rega amps and KEF speakers because this is the set up I have and know how well they work together and can be regarded as very good units for your money, certainly here in the UK. My advice would be to do a little more digging on line for reviews of both speakers and amps within your budget and change your dealer.

    z review kef r300 - Bing video

    Be prepared for some 'colourful' language on this review.
     
  3. dogfonos

    dogfonos
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    You'll likely get different views on this topic but one thing most seem to agree on is that, assuming the amp has enough power and is of good quality, the sonic difference between amps is small compared with differences between good quality similarly priced speakers. Opinion is divided over whether well-designed, low distortion amps with near identical linear frequency responses and sufficient power output sound any different from each other.

    My personal view is that a quality amp at around $1000 should be fine for driving the MA Silver 300 speakers - which, according to the specs, are fairly efficient, handle a lot of power and are 8 Ohms impedance. I don't know what pricing is like in the US but maybe something like the Rega Elex-R, Musical Fidelity M3i, Audiolab 8300A or mainstream models such as Marantz PM8006 and Yamaha A-S1000.

    I'll keep out of this one. My experiences of WiFi music streaming (from NAS via router) haven't been successful.
     
  4. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Pretty important. Generally you get an amp in proportion to the Price of the speakers, though not etched in stone, this is a pretty good starting point -

    1x to 1.5x = Turntable
    1x = Digital Media Player (Streaming)
    1x = CD Player
    1x = Amp/Receiver
    2x = Speaker Pair

    Again, more than setting prices, that establishes a Starting Point.

    But as much as the price and quality matter, the specific features you need are going to determine what amp you want. Generally there are Full Featured Amp and Minimalist Amps. Full Featured ...obviously... have a lots of feature, and a Minimalist Amp simply has a Volume Control and a Source Selector Switch.

    It seems that you might want an amp with built in Network Streaming. To add Network Streaming as a separated device tends to run between $35 for the low cost options, up to $1500 or more for the better options. Though the more common options run about $500 for a Network Streaming Device.

    Here is one amp you could consider that is packed with features -

    Yamaha RN802 Network Receiver, AM/FM, 100w/ch, Network Streaming, Room EQ, Bass Management, DAC, etc... - US$750 -


    Yamaha R-N803 Network Receiver - Crutchfield

    R-N803 Network Stereo Receiver - Overview - Hi-Fi Components - Yamaha - United States

    Now you can spend what you want. I currently have a $1500 Amp with $1000/pr Speakers. Though I have had a system for decades, and amp always upgrading one part or the other.

    Having said that, likely you are looking for an amp in the roughly $500 to ~$1500 range. But remember, you need to budget for the FEATURES you want and need.

    I would not get an amp that is overly bright, and I would give some consideration to the Size of the Room, and to the room's general Acoustics. If this is a very minimalist room that is all glass and bare walls, then you are definitely going to need to do something about the Room Acoustics.

    Also give consideration to you Power needs. Generally amps in the roughly 50w/ch to 150w/ch will work fine. Though the sweet spot tends to be between 75w/ch and 125w/ch.

    Taking a different approach to the above Yamaha RN803, here is what $1000 will do in a separate Network Streaming Device and an amp -

    Sonos-Connect Network Streaming - $349 -

    Sonos CONNECT

    Connect — Streaming Music Stereo Upgrade | Sonos

    The Sonos-Connect is a mature quality product, but it doesn't support High Resolution Files. That is, you can play standard CD quality files, but not 24b/96k or 24b/192k, and I don't think it supports DSD. Though the Yamaha RN803 supports all those.

    Bluesound NODE-2 Network Streaming - $499 -


    Bluesound Node 2 (White)

    NODE 2

    The Bluesound Node-2 is a quality product, that supports High Resolution files and have a very fast internal processor.

    Then that brings us to an Amps/Receivers vaguely close to your budget -

    Yamaha A-S501 (Black)

    Cambridge Audio CXA60 (Silver)

    Yamaha A-S701 (Black)

    You will need Speaker Wire but don't get carried away with this. Modestly price OFC (oxygen free copper) of 14g or 12g is more than enough.

    Now you can pay extra to get fancy speaker wire, but even then do not get carried away.

    For example this is modestly price fancy wire -

    GearIt (14ga or 12) Premium Braided Speaker Cable - $13/10ft or $21/10ft EACH -


    https://www.amazon.com/GearIT-Premium-Braided-Speaker-Plated/dp/B0716LHP4N/

    https://www.amazon.com/GearIT-Premium-Braided-Speaker-Plated/dp/B071L37VMR/

    $21 PER Cable so $42 per cable pair.

    If you want to spend even more, then these hit a pretty high standard, but generally speaking are still overpriced -

    SVS SoundPath Ultra - 8ft Pair with Banana Connectors - $96/pair -

    SVS SoundPath Ultra Speaker Cable

    Here are a couple other options in Pre-Made Cables -

    https://www.amazon.com/Monoprice-Affinity-Premium-Braided-Speaker/dp/B015YN6G9G/

    https://www.amazon.com/Mediabridge-12AWG-ULTRA-Speaker-Cable/dp/B01CYGMDL6/

    But realistically this is all you need. When you shop for speaker wire MAKE SURE it is Copper, ideally OFC, do NOT get CCA (copper clad aluminum).

    https://www.amazon.com/InstallGear-Gauge-Speaker-Wire-Oxygen-Free/dp/B079VJXN1Z/

    https://www.amazon.com/KnuKonceptz-Kable-Gauge-Copper-Speaker/dp/B00UI08JJG/

    https://www.amazon.com/KnuKonceptz-Kable-Gauge-Copper-Speaker/dp/B006VP97DE/

    https://www.amazon.com/FosPower-Speaker-Premium-Oxygen-Free-Polarity/dp/B01L0I2ALC/

    https://www.amazon.com/Oxygen-Copper-Speaker-Car-Audio/dp/B0160J0P22/

    https://www.amazon.com/KabelDirekt-Speaker-Cable-Audiophiles-Systems/dp/B07BBV1J4Z/

    For Banana Plugs, these are two very popular brands. Very easy to install with secure connections and requiring no Tools. You can order Direct or from Amazon -

    Deadbolt Banana Plugs by Sewell, Fast Lock, 24k Gold Plating, 5 pair - SewellDirect.com

    Shop New ULTRA Series Fast-Lock Banana Plugs (4 Pair) 8 Pack | Mediabridge Products

    Both these companies also make Spade Connectors if you prefer those -

    https://www.mediabridgeproducts.com/product/ultra-series-fast-lock-45-spade-plugs-2-pair-4-pack/

    https://sewelldirect.com/sewell-deadbolt-45-degree-spade-plugs-1-pair

    Sewell Direct also make terminated 12ga OFC speaker wire ready to go -

    https://sewelldirect.com/deadbolt-speaker-wire-10-ft

    https://sewelldirect.com/silverback...pure-copper-259-strand-count-10-ft-terminated

    Terminated with either Deadbolt or Sllverback Banana Plugs.

    For amp and speakers, all you will need is Speaker Cable. However, if you have other external devices - CD, Streaming, other - or you want to connect your TV, you will need RCA Cables and an Optical Cable. Again, don't cheap out, but don't get extravagant either.

    https://www.amazon.com/KabelDirekt-Analogue-Double-Shielded-Amplifiers-Receivers/dp/B00DI89I04/

    https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-2-Male-RCA-Audio-Cable/dp/B01D5H8P0G/

    https://www.amazon.com/FosPower-Stereo-Plated-Premium-Quality/dp/B01NBVMJOV/

    These are quality cables at modest prices.

    https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Optical-CableCreation-Toslink-More-Black/dp/B01JIE09EA/

    https://www.amazon.com/KabelDirekt-Optical-Digital-Theater-Playstation/dp/B00DI89WDW/

    Of course, choose cable in the Sizes you need.

    If you want to post in a USA Forum, this is a very Popular Forum though there are others -

    https://www.avsforum.com/forum/index.php

    I post in that forum under the same Username.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2018
  5. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    If you have a Laptop or Pad/Tablet, you can connect it directly to Analog Inputs on the Amp using a very common cable like this in whatever length you need -

    https://www.amazon.com/AmazonBasics-3-5mm-2-Male-Adapter-Cable/dp/B01D5H8KO2/

    https://www.amazon.com/UGREEN-3-5mm-Auxiliary-Stereo-Splitter/dp/B015PZ7QO2/

    If the computer has Digital Outs, meaning in this case, Optical or Coaxial and the Amp has a DAC, you can connect them digitally with common Optical or Coaxial Cables.

    However, to get the best sound from a computer, most people use some type of USB Interface. That implies that you either have a USB-only DAC, or that the DAC in your Amp has a USB-PC connection.

    However, if you have Network Streaming capability, then you can use a Smart Phone or Pad/Tablet as a remote control to search and stream music from either local storage or from the Internet. That is the preferred method, and typically you will have a choice between both Wired and Wireless Network connections.

    In this case, the music streams directly between the place it is stored and the Network Streamer, with the Smart Phone only being the controlling device.

    Steve/bluewizard
     

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