Idiot proof advice needed :)

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by akasja, Aug 24, 2018.

  1. akasja

    akasja
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    I there, hoping to get some advice on a new setup that I’ve been pondering for months now.


    A few months back I demoed both the Arcam A39 with Kef LS50s and the Rega Elex-R with Kef LS50s. I liked them both and to my uneducated ears there wasn’t much between them (although the guy in the shop reckoned the Elex was much better). I got wind of the new Arcam amps coming soon so I didn’t pull the trigger on buying either.


    From a listening point of view, I’ve started putting together the equipment to rip my CDs – so I’ve got a good NAS ready to go. I want to stream these tracks to a single stereo unit (there will be no multiroom). I have no vinyl to speak of and my intention is to move towards HI-RES with new purchases – either buying HI-RES tracks or subscribing to something like TIDAL. So with that in mind I’m not sure if I need a CD player as part of the stereo rig (which will help force me down the streaming route).


    Now here is where I’m getting a little overawed – from principle point of view am I better buying something like a NAD 368 which has its own DAC and with the BlueOS will handle the streaming element, or buying something like the Elex-R and putting a streamer in as a separate part of the solution?? I appreciate that perhaps streaming is advancing at a quicker rate than stereo amplification technology so should I look to separate the two?


    If I’m understanding correctly the DAC in the NAD at 24/192 (which is a similar threshold to most DACs) limits me for playing anything higher than that, for example something from TIDAL Masters – is that true?


    Am I better buying a DAC that offers me a higher bandwidth resolution then? Back to the question of whether I need to separate the DAC from the amplifier. The Moon 240i (which is much more expensive) has what looks like a far superior DAC. But if I add a separate streamer can I bypass the DAC in the streamer and use the one in the amp? Then you have MQA that’s a higher resolution again but does that mean the DAC will bring it down to the DAC spec? It’s a bit confusing.


    Budget wise I’m flexible – I’ve been looking about £1600 but happy to go beyond that if it’s significantly better and will last me longer.

    Should also say that I live in NI so a lot of this stuff is impossible to demo before hand

    Hope that all makes sense
     
  2. larkone

    larkone
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    First I would find out if you can tell the difference as the resolution increases, you could save yourself a bundle of money by not chasing the marketing arms race to sell the public ever higher resolution gear. Also bear in mind very little music is genuinely recorded at these high resolutions, rather it is just up-sampled from the original recording which for some of the early stuff was not recorded at CD resolution.
     
  3. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    Others can correct me if I am wrong but I think the highest quality tidal is in MQA format which not many dac/streamers can play. Iirc bluos will do in the nad.

    If MQA is not an issue, just add a chrome cast audio to you preferred dac/amp via the optical out and this will stream 24/96 all day long or connect to Spotify/tidal directly (uses an embedded app and a phone/tablet as the remote I.e. dies not stream data from phone to cable).

    I would also add the Yamaha as1100 plus a decent dac to the list.

    The other alternative is an oppo sonica streamer/dac/preamp plus a poweramp e.g. Rotel RB1552. Or these that stretch the budget unless you can bag a second hand sonica Nord Acoustics NC500 UP Monoblocks, sonic imagery 994 op amps | eBay
     
  4. akasja

    akasja
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    thanks both for coming back to me - food for thought! Being new to streaming like this I'm not sure what difference the various resolutions will give and I suspect anything will be an improvement over what I'm use to
     
  5. dollag

    dollag
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    Couple of things

    What size room are you in?
    are you set on the ls50's?
    hi res audio is a term used loosely imo. do you mean you are looking to buy higher than 16/44.1 cd quality music or just listen to lossless music like cd quality?

    mqa.... I am personally not sold on it, i had a trial on tidal between the lossless cd quality files and the mqa's and i couldnt hear a difference; however i could hear a difference with the lower mp3's.

    The rega and arcam are both nice amplifiers but as @Ugg10 suggested, you could get a sonica or cambridge audio cxn and use this as a preamp,dac and streamer all in one and add a power amplifier.

    to some it may seem unconventional but I recently sold my Creek evo 50a integrated amplifer that was paired with a chord dac as the oppo sonica paired with my power amplifiers blew it out the water.

    Emotiva Black BasX A-300 2 Channel Power Amplifier - AV Power Amplifiers - AudioVisual Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

    This power amplifier is a lovely piece of kit and is a bargain imo. will drive pretty much any speaker you throw at it.

    I think the sonica's have been reduced to £699 but may be able to source one cheaper. I got mine for £600 ex demo

    these paired together tick all the boxes. you have one of the best dacs under £1000, a great preamp and a streamer for airplay and dlna with an optical input for a cheap cd transport to play cd's.

    Comes in at £1200 so was the £1600 for everything?
     
  6. Mario2018

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    Hi,

    I'm not giving 'advice,' but just want to share some thoughts and experiences, fwiw.

    I can't say anything about budget because I realize that guys in Hong Kong may get a better discount on KEF simply because KEF has its own factory in the Mainland. In Europe, the price may be higher.

    I have got demons on LS50s (Active version--seems with USB etc,--kindly check), good sound, but higher price. Some guys don't want so many boxes, while some, enjoy the flexibility of separates--different personal tastes.

    Rega is famous for its amps. Elicit-R, Elex-R and Brio are tuned in the similar sound, though differences in power. I was demoed Elicit-R with stand-mount British speakers, great.

    Hope that you can get what you like best. Cheers :)
     
  7. akasja

    akasja
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    Not set on the LS50s at all, so happy to take recommendations!

    What's the benefit of separate preamp, dac, streamer and power amplifier?
     
  8. Kamakazie

    Kamakazie
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    CCA with any integrated amp that you like. From a streaming perspective it is about as future proof as you can get and isn't limited to built in platforms.

    You could also try using the built in DAC with a pair of quality active speakers as another option.

    Definitely try and audition the higher quality services because I've not read great things about MQA.
     
  9. Mario2018

    Mario2018
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    Fully agree that room size should be considered for fully use the speakers and avoiding boom. IMHE, I have used absorbers to reduce stand wave, but that's not the best choice. The OP may check user's manual of LS 50 on the Net.
     
  10. dollag

    dollag
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    The LS50's are a great speaker but are not very big so in a large room, they are not the best. I sold my ls50's and replaced them with kef r300 that provided a much better lower end

    as said above, things keep changing so having everything in one box maybe be obsolete in the future.

    amplification has not changed much in 40 years so investing in a good power amplifier could last you decades.
     
  11. Timmy C

    Timmy C
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    I was going to post pretty much the same thing. Get a good amp to do an amps job and it should keep you happy for many many years. Add/chop/change the bells and whistles separately as things change.
     
  12. akasja

    akasja
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    the room is about 12x12 so not very bid.

    Thanks for the advice - much appreciated. What would you recommend would be a good amp/speaker combination? And by amp are you talking about an integrated amp or a separate power amp?
     
  13. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    That’s what I run in my study, I have a CCA (£30), into a dac (£100-£500, I have an Audio GD second hand for £125), through a studio passive preamp (£50 Open box, SM Pro MPatch v2, Tisbury is worth a look at £150 new) and a pair of Mackie HR824 (the mk1 is quite musical, goes down to 37hz -3db so no real need for a sub and can be had for £200-400 SH, the mk2’s are twice that).

    This actually a very musical (rather than clinical studio sound), goes pretty deep with punchy bass and a mid/top end to die for.

    If you need to buy new a suggestion is - CCA (£30) plus musical fidelity v90 dac (£200) plus tisbury passive preamp (£150) plus choice of studio monitors Adam A7x, Dynaudio BM5iii or Focal shape 65 or go second hand for the mk1/2 HR824 or Adam A8x or A77x in good condition within your budget.

    That said, be aware that using studio monitors for hifi type listening can be both extremely rewarding and very frustrating. They are brutally honest in their rendition of the data being fed them so good recordings sound very good but bad recording sound blooming awful.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  14. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    Hegel h90 May be worth a look aswell.
     
  15. akasja

    akasja
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    sorry - whats cca?
     
  16. Mario2018

    Mario2018
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    Hi

    IMHE, I tend to have separates for serious listening in living room and study room, while an all in one in bed room for relaxation light music to facilitating a good sleep. I would invest more on serious listening, while at a very low price for the all in one.

    Now, there are high-quality-high-price all in one on the market. Yes, it is very convenient to use, but inconvenient if part of the components inside is down.

    For serious listening, I tend to invest more on amps made in UK. Even though they are at entry levels, it can maintain reasonable or even good quality for more than ten years, at least. And some of these amps tend to understate the power output, e.g. on paper 100 W but more than that at work.

    I tend to invest less on the music source (e.g.CD, SACD players) because after a few years they will be outdated due to the advancement of technology. Some guys may hold different opinions as they think that the music source is also important and they are ready to pay more for streamers etc. They are ready to buy a new one after a short time.

    IMHE, it seems easier for me to start from choosing the right speakers in terms of room size, type of rooms, listening purposes etc. Like good quality amps, good passive speakers can last very long. My BBC Rogers ls35a still works very well after accompanying me for more than twenty years. Some friends of mine got Proac speakers etc enjoy the similar experience.

    Hope that my stuff makes sense. Cheers :hiya:
     
  17. akasja

    akasja
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    happy to spend more if its worth it
     
  18. akasja

    akasja
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    thanks Mario - after reading all of this today it sounds like the best thing to do is invest in a good power amp and speaker set which will last me for years and add to that all of the peripheral bits and bobs
     
  19. Ugg10

    Ugg10
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    Chrome cast audio.
     
  20. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    I suspect it is a really poor abbreviation of ChromeCast-Audio.

    GOOGLE Chromecast Audio

    Chromecast Audio - Chromecast for Speakers - Google Store

    This is a small wireless device that allows Network Streaming of Audio. Typically it integrates itself into a Streaming App. For example, if you have Spotify on your Smart Phone, it will now have a new option to 'cast' to the ChromeCast device.

    At US$35/UK£30, this is a somewhat limited device, but for a modest £30, you won't find anything that equals it.

    However, if you want to spend about £250, there are other options for Streaming

    Yamaha WXC-50 Network Pre-Amp - £250 -


    Yamaha MusicCast WXC50 Networked Pre Amplifier - Superfi

    MusicCast WXC-50 - Overview - Yamaha - UK and Ireland

    The Yamaha WXC-50 can be switched between FIXED output for use with an existing Integrated Amp, or can be set to VARIABLE output to be used as a Pre-Amp to drive a Power Amp.

    Something I only recently discovered, the SMSL D3 Network Streamer -

    SMSL DP3 Network Streaming, Headphone Amp - £213 -

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Balanced-Headphone-Amplifier-DP3-Turntable/dp/B07CQKKY5B/

    Shenzhen ShuangMuSanLin Electronic Co., Ltd. - SMSL DP3 Network/Headphone Amp

    SMSL is a Chinese company that is well known for their small Compact T-Amps. But I don't have any feedback on their Network Streaming Devices.

    The next step up is the SONOS-Connect -

    Sonos Connect Network Streaming - £350 -

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/SONOS-CONNECT-Wireless-Stereo-Adaptor/dp/B001G7PLTQ/

    Connect — Streaming Music Stereo Upgrade | Sonos

    Next is probably the Bluesound Node-2 Network Streaming -

    Bluesound Node-2 Network Streaming - £500 -


    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Bluesound-Black-Hi-Res-Wireless-Streamer‎/dp/B014H9NWPY/

    BlueSound - NODE 2 Network Streaming

    Next up from there in a readily available product is probably the Cambridge CXN Network Player -

    Cambridge Audio CXN (V2) Network Player - £900 -


    Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (Black) -Richer Sound

    Cambridge AUdio CXN (V2)

    Next up is the Cambridge Audio 851N -

    Cambridge Audio 851N Network Player - £1400 -


    Cambridge Audio AZUR 851N (Black) -Richer Sound

    Cambridge Audio Azur 851N

    Now, this isn't every possibility, but it illustrates the range of possibilities.

    Many of the above have Pre-Amp capability, and could work as a pre-amp to a Power Amp.

    How far do you want to take it?

    Steve/bluewizarde
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  21. akasja

    akasja
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    i checked out the Bluesound Vault as part of my original research as i liked the convenience of taking my pc out of the equation.

    how "important" is the preamp stage?
     
  22. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    Nothing that comes after the preamp can fix anything, if the preamp is average.

    Centuries ago the idea would usually have been source first... then the rest.

    Now however a good source is quite cheap, even a great one still inexpensive.

    So, to my mind, the preamp part has become even more critical over the years. It has so much more to better and more accurately preserve and portray.
     
  23. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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    I’d suggest an active set up for excellent sound quality and longevity.

    There are a huge number of actives to choose from in your budget.

    Many are quite ugly, more are at least plain looking, if that’s a concern.

    These are quite attractive and have all the mighty goodness of Focal behind them.

    https://www.thomann.de/gb/focal_shape_65.htm

    These are priced as individual speakers, so double it for your stereo pair.

    Then, as previously mentioned, the Sonica DAC/preamp is mighty impressive.

    Oppo Sonica DAC

    Hard to see how anyone might realistically need more than this as a hifi.
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  24. Paul7777x

    Paul7777x
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  25. dollag

    dollag
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    I agree, the preamp and dac in the oppo is sublime and with say an emotiva power amp it would mighty impressive.

    my nord power amps along with a sonica put a naim supernait 2 to shame, to my ears anyway.

    the sabre 9038 dac is also super impressive
     
  26. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    The Bluesound Vault-2 (£1099) is pretty expensive, but it does have a built-in Network Hard Drive capable of storing many thousands of files, and unless I am mistaken, it has a CD Drive so you can rip all your CDs to Digital Files very easily (FLAC or MP3). I can see it being worth the money, but even if it is worth the money, it is not cheap.

    VAULT 2

    Bluesound VAULT 2 Hi-Res Music Server / CD Ripper

    The Pre-Amp aspect is only valuable is you need it. If you plan to run the Network Device with an Integrated Amp, then it is not worth anything. But, if there is a chance you might use it with Active Speakers or a Power Amp, then it certainly has some value.

    There are many people who want a very compact system for their TV/Movie watching. So, something like the Yamaha WXC-50 Network Pre-Amp and a pair of Active Speakers does make for a very high performance compact system.

    Others will Start with a Networking Pre-Amp or a DAC with Pre-Amp capabilities and a Power Amp, then when they have more money, they will add a more full featured Pre-Amp. Though Pre-Amp/Power-Amp systems, if you want a full range of features, can get expensive. But Pre-Amp/Power-Amp does add some flexibility to the system.

    Don't NOT buy a give device because it has a pre-amp and you don't need it. Buy it because it does everything you need it to do, even if it does a few things that you don't need done.

    I don't think the Bluesound Node-2 or Vault-2 have Pre-Amp capability, but they have blazingly fast processors, and can handle Hi-Res files. If you will use them with an Integrated Amp, then that's not going to be a problem.

    The Cambridge both have Pre-Amp capability, and could substitute fin place of a full featured Pre-Amp if needed.

    The Amps you were looking at are minimalist amp, that is they have a Selector Switch and a Volume Control, and that is about it. Full featured Integrated Amp would be something like the Rotel RA-1572 which has Streaming, DACs, Tone Control, and so on.

    Rotel RA-1572 Amplifier

    RA-1572

    The point is there is little difference between a Minimalist Integrated Amp, and something like the Cambridge CXN and a Power Amp. The CXN, not being a true pre-amp, is going to have a limited number of inputs, but if you have a limited number of devices, or if you want to use Active Speakers, or if you want to use a Power-Amp, it can serve as a functional Pre-Amp.

    If you want to reduce the budget, then a system with the Yamaha WXC-50 and Active Speakers or a Power-Amp can work nicely for a very compact system. Again the WXC-50 has a limited number of inputs, but for some people that's fine.

    Can you make a clear statement of your working budget for -

    - Network Streamer/Player
    - Integrated Amp
    - Speakers


    It seems to be in the range of £3000, as £1000 amps were mentioned, £1000 Network Players were mentioned, and speakers were speculated at near £1000/pr.

    But better to say than to leave us to guess.

    Buying components individually can be expensive. Here are a couple of choices that are a fraction of what the system will cost in individual components -

    Yamaha RN803 Network Receiver, DAB/DAB+, 100w/ch, Network Streaming, Room EQ, Bass Management, DAC (2xOptical, 2xCoaxial, 1xUSB-Media), etc.... - £550 -

    Yamaha R-N803D Network Receiver

    Rotel RA-1572 Integrated Amp, 120w/ch, DAC, Network Streaming, Phono, Tone Controls, etc... - £1395 -

    Rotel RA-1572 Integrated Amplifier

    But at the same time, many see the value of a very minimalist amp. It is down to budget and personal choice.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  27. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Oppo has stopped production of all its products, so the Oppo Sonica is a rare item, and I'm finding the current models are selling for about TWICE the Original Suggested Retail Price.

    Good products, but the company is gone.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2018
  28. Mario2018

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    Welcome. Do you mean an integrated amp of good quality? A pure power amp needs a pre-amp, and the set, including the signal cable, can be very expensive.:hiya:
     
  29. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    12m x 12m or 12ft x 12ft?

    I'm going to assume you mean FEET. That is a relatively small room and I think good bookshelf speakers would serve you best. Anything with a 5" (~130mm) or larger will work fine. Though the larger the bass driver, the deeper the bass.

    Personally I would suggest nothing less than about a 6" to 6.5" bass driver. In terms of surface area of the cone, that is about TWICE as big as a 5" and will easily give you another 10hz on the bottom end.

    These are about the largest bookshelf speakers you can find -

    Monitor Audio Silver 100 (8" (200mm)) - £650/pr -


    Monitor Audio Silver 100 Rosenut Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online

    Monitor Audio Silver 100 Walnut Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online

    Obviously the KEF LS50 (£800/pr) are highly praised speakers, and very well regarded, winning several Award for sound quality.

    KEF LS50 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

    KEF LS50 Bookshelf Speakers - Black Edition - Superfi

    Other Speakers in the general price range -

    Tannoy Revolution XT 6 Gloss Black Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online

    Focal Aria 906 Premium Walnut Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online

    The Focal are impressive speakers.

    SVS Ultra Black Oak Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online -
    B&W 706 S2 Bookshelf Speakers - Superfi

    KEF R300 Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Superfi

    Monitor Audio Gold 100 Walnut Bookshelf Speakers (Pair) - Bookshelf Speakers - AudioVisual Online

    Pushing well above your apparent budget, but stunning speakers -

    B&W 705 S2 Bookshelf Speakers - Superfi

    The B&W 705-S2 with outboard tweeter are pretty impressive speakers.

    Generally, speakers are suggested at about twice the cost of the amp, so £1000 amp implies, but does not dictate, £2000/pr speakers.

    Just trying to help.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  30. Mario2018

    Mario2018
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    To my understanding, monitor audio is not power hungry, paired it with a decent amp would be ok.
     

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