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Question Modern system required

CreaseyBear

Novice Member
Hi all

I reckon it has been 10 years since I was last here. :-(

I’m looking to change my current hi-fi set up which consists of a Denon AVR-1906 amp, Cambridge Audio Azure DVD player and Mordaunt Short Mezzo 6 speakers. A mish mash of equipment primarily bought as a home cinema system. All of this equipment is going.

I now tend to stream all music from Spotify or play downloaded files - all through my ipad. Currently the ipad is connected to the amp via the 3.5mm jack and relying solely on the ipads internal DAC. Sound quality is pretty poor.

My preference is to use the ipad as the source connected to a compact amplifier and DAC. I don't like lots of clutter.

I am considering the following:

Parasound Zamp v 3 + Audioquest Dragonfly Red
Quad Vena II (no external DAC required)
Pro_ject Amp Box DS2 + Audioquest Dragonfly Red
Acoustic Energy AE1 active speakers + Audioquest Dragonfly Red (these are analogue speakers only)

I prefer not to stream to the amplifier via Bluetooth so I would need an integrated amplifier with USB connection if not using an external Dac.

Any comments on the above or recommendations - all what stand mount speakers would you pair with these combos.

Thanks
 

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
Are you sure you want a physical connection between the IPad and amp (or dac)?

It’s a bit clumsy with cables.

An AirPlay 2 amp or dac would be a good bit tidier.
 

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
For a truly good sounding modern setup I’d be very tempted by the Node 2i;


Driving a pair of active speakers. There are so many to choose from, but, depending on your room size, these are very well thought of;



I think you’d be delighted with the sound quality.
 
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Hixs

Distinguished Member
Seems a bit of an overspend to be considering spending over 1k (based on AE1+dac) just for Spotify and downloads through 3.5mm headphone jack.
 

CreaseyBear

Novice Member
Seems a bit of an overspend to be considering spending over 1k (based on AE1+dac) just for Spotify and downloads through 3.5mm headphone jack.
I take your point - my thinking is that I’d be spending upwards of £400 on an amp and upwards of £500 on speakers which gets me to the AE1 price.
I’ve looked at the PS Sprout 100 as an integrated amp with dac but they have mixed reviews.
I may be very wrong but given a digital file is just that I don’t see that anything other than an iPad is needed - to get a decent
resolution i assume it’s mostly about the dac. I’m open to all suggestions.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I think your assumption in not quite correct.

The dac chip has some influence but it is the analogue circuitry in the output stage plus the power supply/regulation that has the most influence in a dac. Add to that a decent volume control that is in the analogue circuit, not in software or the chip which can in certain implementation affect the sound signal.

So although the iPad will correctly pick up and decide the digital signal the output to the headphone jack is not the best, adding either an external dac (potentially in the integrated amp, fed via a chrome cast audio/tuefel connector) or streaming to dac/streamer with a better output stage (Node 2i, CXN, 851n) will enhance sound quality.

This is all before we get to the debate of Spotify 320kbps compressed vs cd lossless or HQ 24/96 or 24/192 lossless.

So, a bit more to it than just the dac chip.
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Doesn't matter how much you spend, spotify will only ever be 320kps mp3s, so that has to be factored in.

A decent budget amp like a Marantz PM6006 (300) and a pair of Mission LX2's (149) or Bronze 1/2 (189/249) would be more then sufficient. The PM6006 would survive a modest speaker upgrade with no issues if that was ever to occur as well.
 

CreaseyBear

Novice Member
Doesn't matter how much you spend, spotify will only ever be 320kps mp3s, so that has to be factored in.

A decent budget amp like a Marantz PM6006 (300) and a pair of Mission LX2's (149) or Bronze 1/2 (189/249) would be more then sufficient. The PM6006 would survive a modest speaker upgrade with no issues if that was ever to occur as well.
If I could get something like that in a half rack size I think I’d be content. I looked at the Parasound Zamp due to its small footprint - not sure if I’d need a pre-amp if using the Dragonfly.
@ UGG10 & Paul7777x - Regarding hi-res streams such as Tidal - are you saying that this would be negated if output through the lightning connector to a Dragonfly and thus it’s better to stream?

Thanks for your comments.
 

Paul7777x

Well-known Member
Despite the fact that Spotify is only 320, you can get it to sound mighty fine indeed, and I don’t think £1000 or even a bit more is overkill.

Sending the signal by Airplay will use the dac and associated preamp circuitry in, say as an example, the Node 2i I previously mentioned.

And of course you can buy Apples lightning to usb camera adaptor.


This allows a USB dac to be used, bypassing the the the iPads altogether.

This would allow you get, for intance, an Audiolab m-dac.


Add that to the Focals, and you’ve a very fine hifi indeed.
 

jamieu

Active Member
You could go also go with active speakers with an in-build DAC. If you're looking at monitors from a reputable manufacture you'd expect all the components from the DAC to the electronic crossovers to the amps driving each driver to all be in harmony. Although I'd look at an external unit to handle the streaming as technology is likely to move on more quickly there.

Something like a pair of Genelec 8340a (around ~£1k a pair *) fed digitally by a iNode/Teful/Sonos Connect/Port — pick your poison, but given the speakers will be doing the DA conversion, the functionality, connections, app and ongoing support that comes with the network streaming unit is probably the deciding factor. From personal experience I am more than happy with my Sonos Connect sending my DAC a digital signal; you can control it direct from the Spotify app if you prefer. You might need a S/PDIF – AES/EBU converter if your looking at pro studio monitors, but there fairly cheap and won't affect quality. Also because the input is digital, you can also get the speakers to handle room correction / EQ in the digital domain without another external device if you want.

Just another thought to add to the mix...!

* from my sig it's prob. obv. I have a bit of a soft spot for Genelec, but similar monitors from other manufactures available ;-)
 
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