Help building a lasting ~$10k system with apartment limitations

Suited

Member
Hey guys! First time building a system, but have been dreaming about it for a long time, so am very excited and looking to build something that I can enjoy at least for a few years before upgrading.

Because of work, unfortunately, I don't have as much time as I'd like for researching and going to local stores for listening tests (which I will try to do once I have my shortlist), but have been reading forums, reviews, etc.

Still, there are so many nuances that I'm sure I'm missing. So before I make this investment, wanted to ask for advice here (thanks in advance!). Slowly learning about hi-fi, so please pardon any stupid comments/questions.

Some inputs:
  • Use: 70% - lossless digital streaming (due to everyday convenience), 25% - vinyl records, 5% - TV (not a priority, but want to have an option)
  • Sound: detailed but engaging (slightly colored would be better than sterile)
  • Ease of setup/use: would try to avoid components sensitive to fine-tuning that might sound subpar otherwise
  • Aesthetics matter: willing to make a marginal sacrifice in sound quality / pay a bit extra if the system looks appealing
  • Music that I listen to: all sorts of rock (Muse, Queen, Metallica, etc.), some pop (Pink), some acoustic/orchestra concerts; no blues or jazz
  • Live in an apartment but like to listen to music pretty loud
  • Speakers placement: on the TV stand. Think this is the only solution (more on this below)
  • Distance between speakers: 4ft. Know this isn't great (more on this below)
  • Room size: living room is about 12' (depth) x14' (width), but is a part of a larger open layout of 12'x25'
  • Listening distance: ~10 feet
One big limitation is the layout of my apartment (photo below): this corner is the only place to put a system. Believe speakers should typically be 40+ inches away from walls, but mine would need to be pretty close. Is this a deal-breaker or how should I think about it?

The components that I've been looking at from what I've read, but welcome any suggestions:
  • Turntable: Rega Planar 6 with Aria Pro MC. Planning to put it on a Rega shelf below the TV to isolate from the speakers - is this worthwhile?
  • Preamp: Rega Fono MC
  • Streamer: Cambridge Audio CXN (V2). I was also considering EVO 150, but have read that CXA81+CXN (V2) would probably be a more functional and better sounding solution + the flexibility of separates
  • Amp: Cambridge Audio CXA81. Plan to stack them on top of each other and put them on one of those shelves (they fit right in) - any potential issues? Heat?
  • Speakers: Kef R3. Realize they are big for my setup and should be placed away from the walls, but have read about the benefits of 3-way speakers - any advice? Also, the TV is being re-mounted higher.
  • Cables: did not have a chance to research - any recommendations? For the TV, planning to use Apple TV + CXN via AirPlay - this works ok?
  • Anything else missing?
Would massively appreciate any thoughts and recommendations. Thank you!

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larkone

Member
Lyngdorf tdai-1120 - has one of the best room correction systems built in, is a streamer, has an HDMI input (for TV), airplay/chromecast and you will not need the phono amp as it has an input for record decks. Also will drive your Kef R3s. Balance the cost against buying all these separates - phone pre-amp/streamer/amp and the benefit of only having one small box to do all of this.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Lyngdorf tdai-1120 - has one of the best room correction systems built in, is a streamer, has an HDMI input (for TV), airplay/chromecast and you will not need the phono amp as it has an input for record decks. Also will drive your Kef R3s. Balance the cost against buying all these separates - phone pre-amp/streamer/amp and the benefit of only having one small box to do all of this.
What he said. In addition to all of the above, you're supposed to push your speakers up against the wall with one. Very hand with space constraints.
That said, the r3's quite tall. Will they fit under your tv?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
For cables, if you go with the Lyngdorf then you only need speaker cable and any 2.5sqmm cross section oxygen free copper cable is fine, Van Damme Blue or Kabeldirekt from Amazon are fine. If you need inter connectors then Fisual Havana would be the most expensive I would go for but just use those bundled with the equipment to start with.

The placement you have will compromise any Hifi you put there and will not let it run to its full potential so the Lyngdorf (or maybe Nad M10 plus phono preamp with its dirac) is a good starting point and the Kef R3 are very good all rounders, the Dynaudio special forty would also be on my audition list alon with the Sonus Faber Sonetto 2.

If you can find space for a subwoofer then a sealed design like the ATC SCM11 or 19 plus a BK or Rel sub running off the Lyngdorf might help with your placement.
 

acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
If you can find space for a subwoofer
Lyngdorf Boundary Woofer? Thin, and again meant to be placed against the wall.
If you get a Lyngdorf or any other amp for that matter, with your budget I would definitely want to audition the Special 40's and the Kudos Cardea C10.

 

Gilbers

Active Member
If it's important for the speakers to fit on that unit below the TV, and you are planning on using subs, perhaps it's worth considering a pair of Kef LS50 Meta. Their vertical and horizontal dispersion patterns are virtually identical, so you could put them on their sides and they should still sound great. In that orientation they'll only be 20cm tall. Crossed high, with a quality sub (e.g. Lyngdorf Boundary Woofer) I don't think the extra driver in the R3 will be missed.
 

Flobs

Active Member

Suited

Member
Thank you guys! And sorry for the delay - been busy few weeks at work and also was trying to read up a bit in the background.

Understand that the room is the main issue (attached a couple of more photos in case you have any additional thoughts) and the Lyngdorf recommendation makes sense.
Any thoughts on how it compares with Dirac (Live) and other room corrections systems, including those in active speakers (Genelec?) or System Audio?

I have 2 main considerations:
  • I'm going to connect a turntable and a tv
  • Would be important that the system is "smart" and can get to (relatively) good results by itself, as I think I'm yet to develop the judgment of how things should sound. Which seems like Lyngdorf checks this box
For the speakers, I now can fit 19" between the stand and the TV. Given that they'd be 4-5" max away from the wall and I'm unlikely to find a place for a sub (more on this below), is there a benefit in looking for front-ported speakers, like Sonus Faber Sonetto 2 @Ugg10 suggested?
Also, @acgingersnaps have not seen in any reviews that speakers need to be against the wall, but this would be a huge plus in my placement.
@Gilbers I actually looked at Metas early on and really like their design, but a bit concerned about bass if I'm unable to fit a sub.

For a sub, I would like to get one, but don't think there's a good space anywhere in my living room to put it, unless there's a small front-firing subwoofer that can work well on a bottom shelf of the TV stand (17.5" W x 10" H x 16" D). So I guess I'll need to shoot for speakers that can produce decent bass in my setup.

What do you guys think?
Thanks a lot!


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acgingersnaps

Well-known Member
Also, @acgingersnaps have not seen in any reviews that speakers need to be against the wall, but this would be a huge plus in my placement.
It's in the manual. See screen shot. It's an incredibly handy feature, if you have spcae issues, which I do.
 

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Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Looking at the room I’d look to see if you can get a speaker cable to the top of the Kallax cube so you can spread the speakers out a bit which should give you a better stereo image. Worth a try even if it is not a long term solution.
 

Suited

Member
@Ugg10 yeah - great thought! Can do that either by floor or around the door - would 25' cable impact the quality?

Alternatively, could get a streamer and WiSA-enabled active speakers. Any thoughts on this?
 

eastsoutheast

Well-known Member
Myself and a couple of friends successfully use wireless connectivity between amp and sub. There are a number of options which can be added to your chosen sub and looking at the pictures there are a number of places you could place.

This gives you the freedom to use a small high quality speaker without sacrificing low end performance which I believe is critical for music listening.

Cambridge audio streamer is a good choice.

Good luck
 

Gilbers

Active Member
Personally I've been surprised at how good the bass is on the LS50s (given the size of the driver) but a sub definitely gives some extra authority to the sound. Ideally you want a couple of subs to even out the room response, but these days you can get some high quality compact subs that you should be able to find space for - e.g. Lyngdorf BW3, SVS 3000 micro or KEF KC62.

Having given it some more thought, if I were in your position I would definitely see if I could get a demo of a full Lyngdorf system consisting of the TDAI 1120, a pair of MH2 satellites and a couple of BW3 (or BW2 if you can fit them). That's a system that is pretty much tailor made to suit rooms like yours, and would be very simple to set up (the amp has optimal crossover settings for all the Lyngdorf speaker/sub combinations pre-programmed).
 

lindsayt

Active Member
A $1000 / £1000 system in a home more suited to hi-fi listening will sound better than $10,000 / £10,000 in your apartment room.

Because you will have to keep the volume down to avoid annoying the neighbours
Any system that puts too much bass energy into the fabric of the building would be particularly annoying for the neighbours.
There's no good place to put a stereo pair of speakers.
The general acoustics of the room do not look good due to the room being unsymetrical, small, low ceilings, too many reflective surfaces and not enough room for enough furniture to break up or absorb echoes.
The speakers will be so close together that you will have a mono like soundstage.

How do you feel about using headphones for a proportion of your listening?

If I lived in your apartment I'd go for a cheap as chips system with tiny speakers. Something that would sound acceptable. Significantly better than the sound systems of every person that I know that's not into hi-fi. But not as good as the best sounding systems that you can get when you take the gloves off and get really serious about the system.

It's also worth bearing in mind that especially when you buy used or go DIY the correlation between cost and sound quality is pretty much non-existant.

I'd rather have a used Linn LP12 or Nottingham Dais or Lenco or Garrard 301 or 401 or Japanese mid to high end 1970's to 1980's direct drive turntable eg Pioneer PL71 or Sony PSX6750 instead of a Rega 6. The Rega 6 sounds too boring and undynamic and too crude when compared to cherry picked alternatives.

Before laying out money on a Rega Fono MC, compare it against an NVA Phono 1 or 2.

3 way speakers come into their own when they have 12" or larger woofers.
Look out for deals on tiny speakers.
Or DIY your own version of speakers like these:
Marten Duke 2 Standmount Loudspeaker Review - Accuton Drivers in a Compact, High Performance Package
You could buy a pair of ceramic Accuton tweeters and mid-woofers for £800 to £1200 brand new. And then put them in a small ported, braced 18mm plywood box that you either make yourself or subcontract to a cabinet maker.
I'd rate the Accuton drivers as significantly superior to those found in the Kef R3.

In hi-fi, for dealer sold brand new equipment, the retail price is generally about 7 to 10 times the cost of the parts. If you're spending 10k you are much more likely to get a better sounding system if you have a total of 5k to 50k's worth of parts instead of 1k to 1.5k's.

Are you in North America or the UK or some other country? The thread title is in dollars. Your potential equipment list is British.
 

larkone

Member
Having given it some more thought, if I were in your position I would definitely see if I could get a demo of a full Lyngdorf system consisting of the TDAI 1120, a pair of MH2 satellites and a couple of BW3 (or BW2 if you can fit them). That's a system that is pretty much tailor made to suit rooms like yours, and would be very simple to set up (the amp has optimal crossover settings for all the Lyngdorf speaker/sub combinations pre-programmed).
I have the 2 x MH2s and 2 x BW2 on my lyngdorf 2170 and can definitely recommend them. They replaced two very large floorstanders with built in subs and a large main sub and it sounds so much better. I don't miss the old setup at all and they are very space efficient. I think you could go with the MH3 and BW3 with an 1120 in that size room quite easily.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I have the 2 x MH2s and 2 x BW2 on my lyngdorf 2170 and can definitely recommend them. They replaced two very large floorstanders with built in subs and a large main sub and it sounds so much better. I don't miss the old setup at all and they are very space efficient. I think you could go with the MH3 and BW3 with an 1120 in that size room quite easily.

I’d second the above.

The sub could be placed in the bottom left shelf and still be usefully used.

Whatever you buy it’s really going to need some room correction DSP.

Dirac is great, but RP is better and easier to use.

I won’t ever be without it again.
 

gava

Well-known Member
It's a very difficult room. One of your speakers is right next to a wall, there is a lot of glass, including right behind you when you are sitting on the sofa.

A good mono-ish system is hardly the end of the world. And I don't think you have any reasonable hope of getting an audiophile stereo image. So what? Well instead of that, filling the room with excellent DSP corrected sound can still give a very good experience.

You could do something like:
1. Lyngdorf TDAI-1120
2. At least one BW-2, perhaps under your desk close to the sofa. Add a second if you can find a decent spot, but it's hard to see where.
3. A pair of MH-2 speakers - either mounted on the wall or on some dampening foam material on the sideboard, it needn't look horrible.

That lot comes to around $6,000.

However in that room I am 95% sure you would get superb results from one of these:

Sony HT-A9 systems with their SA-SW5 subwoofer, a lot cheaper - probably around $4,000 all-in. I'd be willing to bet it would sound better than the Lyngdorf too.



See this video for an idea: (you may need to move the time slider, Youtube is not letting me rewind it and link)






Also I agree that a good set of headphones is a nice idea. I presume your TV has Bluetooth output? Worth getting something nice like the Ananda BT $1,000 - you could use that with TV or your phone for music streaming.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
How do you feel about using headphones for a proportion of your listening?
That is a very sound idea (pun intended). You do have a difficult room. If you get a quality pair of open back headphones along with a competent headphone amp it will completely eliminate the room from having any effect on your listening.

You'll also hear more detail in the recording because you will be losing a lot of that due to poor room acoustics with a speaker set, no matter how good.
 

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