hello, may i introduce myself with a question

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by bonnie_barko, Jan 3, 2007.

  1. bonnie_barko

    bonnie_barko
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    Hi AVforums!

    My names *** and I work for a well known UK hifi chain selling hifi and TV. I've worked with other retailers before but only seriously got into the stuff I sell early last year when I bought myself my first hifi.. consisting of:

    Denon PMA255 & monitor audio radius 90 sats (with a radius 360 subwoofer)

    It has since been upgraded twice, I'm running a myryad T40 8 yr old integrated amp (50W @ 8ohm) which sounds a little nicer than the cambridge audio 640a v2 which I bought as well, (currently gathering dust).

    Anyway my predicament is as follows:

    I have a desk which is about 1 meter 20cm wide and i want to put some slightly larger nicer sounding bookshelf speakers on it.

    I've been tuning my ear in over the last year or so, and while my sources are a bit limited (onboard sound on my DFI motherboard, and a Denon 1920 as my CD source) I can still pick some problems in my sound which I would like to rectify.

    I listen to a lot of female vocals and drum and bass, but I've got a crazy mp3 collection and i dont think theres a type of music I've not listened to on these. Currently got Niten Sawnhey (philtre, 2005) on.

    with a mind to the types of music which I usually listen to, I'm looking for a set of bookshelf speakers, budget up to £800 that I will enjoy listening to. I'm still pretty simple in how I like my music. I like to hear the low level detail on tracks, but I'll always be limited by my source (Mainly 320k-250ish kbps mp3)

    I've got my heart set on a cambridge audio 840c to upsample the digital output from my 'puter and for the cd playback, so there will be some improvement.

    This post might seem a little deranged, I'm a tiny bit concussed, but I would be eternally grateful for any recommendations for speakers which would cope well enough with my demands. I know im not setting myself up for an electrifying soundstage by having my speakers on a desk about 2ft away from me but its the only way ill be able to listen to my hifi in my room.

    btw, feel free to insult me at will over my choice of subwoofer.. its truly horrible.

    many thanks,

    ***
     
  2. lazymatt

    lazymatt
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    I think the first thing is to use lossless tracks if you have to use the computer. It could well fill in some of the holes. I wouldn't recommend spending £800 on speakers until you get your source sorted out. The speakers will not, after all, add the information that has been stripped from the CD rips.

    Using proper lossless tracks should fill out the sound, which can sound thin and flat when using a compressed source.

    If you really must upgrade your speakers you could go for something like the Eclipse TD's, which are designed to be used in exactly the way you mention, and are supposed to sound great with vocal stuff. You'll probably be wanting a better sub for the drum & bass stuff though.
     
  3. bonnie_barko

    bonnie_barko
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    a lot of the problems are source related: very poor lower midrange/ high pitched bass, the integration between speakers and sub is pretty poor, but has improved since I moved the speakers off the desk and onto the eye-wateringly expensive proprietry(sp?) stands. the 840c is an attempt to improve the source signal, I dont know if I can do much more.. :(


    hence im trying to work on other stuff, im buying CDs now, and the difference is indeed striking, its just ive got so much stuff

    im also using QED silver anniversary speaker wire and cambridge audio azur ref 0.75 interconnects.

    ***thanks for the reply matt, I should also add Yes I am buying CDs now and I do use the denon very frequently, just for day to day listening i just fire up foobar3000***
     
  4. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Hi....given what you've said about the source related issues,that isnt going to improve with respect to the material you already have,but using either lossless compression or better still uncompressed material will make a huge difference as you have already noted.

    Listen to as many different speaker/amp combinations as possible if and when you come to upgrade,and dont be afraid to try used or ex-dem gear also to make your cash go further.


    You could also consider speakers by KEF,Mission,Spendor,B&W and many others,to get at least some idea of the very different sound qualities of each before making any sort of decisions.
    It will take a lot longer,but in the end saves you a lot of money,and is well worth the effort.
     
  5. lazymatt

    lazymatt
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    You could also try the Neat Motive 3 in your situation:

    http://www.neat.co.uk/p_pages/motivethree.php

    Or if you like the MA sound, go for some bigger MA speakers. They're not really meant for near-field listening though.

    TBH though, if you're happy with the sound you're getting from the CD's, I wouldn't bother.

    Try ripping your CD's into lossless, and then compare them with the original recordings. If they still don't sound as good, maybe get a better sound card or something.

    PS those MA stands are expensive - nice though!
     
  6. bonnie_barko

    bonnie_barko
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    you're both giving me exactly the answers I was expecting/looking for, with matt reccomending me some brands, which I haven't heard of before. I'd love to give brands like proac, spendor, and eclipse a listen.

    My question wasn't terribly useful/well posed because I guess im asking you to second guess what kind of sound I will enjoy from higher end equipment, and to be quite honest I've not listened to enough hifi to be able to make an informed decision on which style of music reproduction appeal to me most (more on that next paragraph).

    I've been into sevenoaks and listened to the monitor audio GS10s and was contemplating buying a set based on reviews and the opinion of the sevenoaks franchise owner who I sat down with for a listen, but I realised pretty quickly that while I could hear the difference between what I use at the moment, I enjoy the assured nature of having a big uncultured, easy to follow sub and some satelites. listening to most of the bookshelfs out there I'm struck by how lightweight they are on the lower frequencies. listening to digitally produced bass heavy compressed drum and bass from the onboard sound on my computer doesnt help matters much. You both point towards the quality of the source and I will make every effort to get the best quality material possible.

    I guess im used to having a lot of colouration from my hifi and going from that to a more neutral system won't be an easy transition.

    Assuming I was to drive to a hifi shop in south london with my existing equipment and a wodge of cash in my back pocket bermondsey dave style, who would the best hifi shop to go to for someone who's going to take an intrest in what I want, rather than categorise me and push me at some of their best margin standmounts. Sevenoaks seems nice, but it can sometimes feel like im just in a slightly more upmarket richer sounds, the range seems a little constricted, I keep getting pointed at monitor audio and kef and tbh they sound boring to me.

    To address what you've both said more directly.

    matt: I have no partiuclar affiliation with MA, I wandered into bartletts hi fi on the holloway road one afternoon when I was bored at work, got my first proper listen to a hifi and felt my ears twitch and my wallet rumble. I bought the stuff I was demoed about 2 months later second hand from ebay at half the list price due to monitor audio clearing the particular finish I bought.

    I'm not a brand ho yet, and I'm willing to listen to and consider anything. Those Eclipse speakers look amazing (if a little low on the power handling, I like getting drunk and turning the hifi up sometimes and I wouldnt wanna pop those)

    Alexs: My myryad is 8 yrs old and second hand. It kicks my cambridge audio 640av2 in the goolies and it cost 1/3 of the price second hand. If you know of a specific london dealer with any nice hifi theyre clearing PM me, I'm getting £7k at the end of the month so ill be buying shortly. :)

    Both of you thank you for providing your advice free of charge. T'interweb is a truly wonderful thing!
     
  7. clockworks

    clockworks
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    There's no way I'd dream of putting £800 speakers on the end of what's effectively a £100 source. Do it the other way around.

    If you want to stick with a "computer" source, get a decent media player - they can sound as good as a CD player at the same price. Definately use lossless files.
    My choice was a PixelMagic HD-MB200 (£350). Adding an external DAC (M-Audio Flying Cow, around £150 online) brought the sound quality up to that of a similarly-priced CDP.

    Once you've got a decent source, it'll be time to think about speakers. Maybe some studio monitors (designed for near-field listening), or even headphones.
     
  8. jellybeard999

    jellybeard999
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    Change the MP3s to FLAC / WAV files - I dont mean re-encode the MP3s, as that will do nothing, you need to re-rip them (exact audio copy or CDex, then use something like DBPowerAmp to convert to FLAC if you wish (WAV files can't be tagged, which is why i use FLAC)
    Try a M-Audio 2496 soundcard maybe (around £40 from www.scan.co.uk )

    MP3s are fine using low quality equipment (personal audio player / average car audio) due to background noise generally being significant, and the speakers/phones being poor, but they are really tinny sounding on even half decent gear, even at high bitrates.
     
  9. lazymatt

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    I know what you mean about Sevenoaks...but if you don't mind buying ex-dem, they can have some pretty good bargains.

    Grahams is very well regarded, and has a reasonable selection of ex dem and second hand stuff as well - North London though:

    http://www.grahams.co.uk/index.php/hifi/special_offers/

    Or, Oranges & Lemons in Battersea:

    http://www.oandlhifi.co.uk/index.shtml

    And there's Kimberley hi-fi in Croydon (may be too far South for you), but they are pretty helpful, and have a good demo room (at least they used to).

    I think by the sounds of it you really need to give one of them a call, and book the demo room for an afternoon.

    I really wouldn't worry too much about trying to upgrade the sound from the PC, as already mentioned, a better sound card may help, but as you start moving up the hi-fi tree, the kit will get more revealing. And this usually means revealing all the defects in the original source. Sticking expensive speakers at the end of that PC may make the sound worse rather than better.

    As for speakers, don't forget Ruark, Castle (if you can find them) and ATC.

    If you really like having a sub, listen to the B & W PV1...to my ears it's amazing, just another level.
     
  10. OneDesi

    OneDesi
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    I recently sold and rebought (different colour) some proac reference 8 signatures. Very small speakers (muc hsmaller than GS10's) but surprisingly good with bass and a very pure sound.

    I've been through most of the monitor audio range and I really like PMC speakers but for £800 ish (or less 2nd hand) the proacs are hard to beat.

    I've also heard that Dynaudio are very good for bass.

    One observation would be that I've never heard speakers that kick out as much bass as a sub - the bass may overrun the music but you get a more coherent sound (if that makes sense) from not having a sub.

    All IMHO!
     
  11. bonnie_barko

    bonnie_barko
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    I've actually tried an M-audio 2496 and was using it until about 3 months ago when it abruptly stopped working. I should send it back to dolphin music really. It tightene the lower bass up but I didn't know if what I was hearing was hardware decoding or the difference between using an un-shielded 3.5-2phono cable and a half decent monster interconnect which I could use from the RCA outputs on the M-audio.

    This question belongs in the computing section I know but due to its relevance to this thread I would just like to ask it- if I use a seperate sound card (ie the 2496/ flying cow), does that hardware contain a DAC which will bypass the software in the machine or will the software on something like foobar/wmp process the sound and then just simply feed the analogue output into the outputs of the soundcard.. thereby giving no genuine sonic benefit?

    Because I listen to drum and bass, the subwoofer is nigh essential. I understand that the two may overlap, so a speaker with a fixed frequency cut off point would be helpful (ie something like control ones but more high end.)

    Anyone here used the 840c's digital input? I heard it in action and was suitably impressed with the improvements. If its good then it would make a lovely external DAC/improved CD player.
    and Matt, croydon is 15 mins on the train or half an hour in the car for me, im in lewisham. so kimberly hifi would be on my shoping list. I'll give them a call today.

    ta duck
     
  12. clockworks

    clockworks
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    If you are going to use an external DAC, you'll obviously bypass the DAC built into the soundcard. Whether you'll then notice the difference between soundcards is debateable. Much of the difference between cheap soundcards and expensive ones (such as the RME) seem to lie in the quality of the DAC - irrelevant if you are using an external one.My choice would be to use a USB device, with an external DAC, rather than an internal soundcard - this should give better isolation from the RF noise inside the PC.

    The important thing is to get a data stream going into the DAC that's running at a steady rate (low jitter), and at the correct frequency for CD audio (44.1khz). Most soundcards/software seems to re-sample to 48khz. By using Foobar and ASIO (with a compatible "soundcard"), you can avoid this resampling.
     

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