Musical Fidelity or Hegel Amp to match B&W 706s2?

SanjK

Standard Member
I'm looking to upgrade 32 years after buying my first system, a NAD 3240PE and Celestion DL6 speakers being the core of the system.

I'm looking for solutions to the quandry in which I find myself.

I've already streched my original budget from £1500 to £2000, and I'm finding it difficult to swallow another £600-7700 increase - full story below.

I recently auditioned possible replacements; firstly the Kef R3's. To my mind, they were boring and uninvolving, having tried them out with a variety of music. The amp powering them was a Musical Fidelity M3si.

The speakers were swapped out to a pair of B&W 706 s2's. Within seconds of playing the first track, my feet were tapping away. 2 or 3 tracks later, I was convinced.

Since the M3si doesn't have a DAC and the dealer didn't have any Arcam SA20's available, we also tried the NAD 368 (with the BluOS streaming card) and this sounded OK. Except that it didn't have quite the control of the speakers that the M3si amp did.

My original selection of the Audiolab 6000A turned out to be seriously lacking the muscle to control the speakers so that I could actually enjoy the music.

My problem now is that with the cost of the streamer/dac at £499, the Amp and streamer add up to £1700. Now we're talking Hegel H95 territory (1600 retail).

So the question now is, have people here heard the amps in question (both of them)? What were your thoughts on both?
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
What is it you need a dac for?

If it’s simply for a streaming solution, then I’d suggest this,


Adding this very well respected streamer to amp you clearly enjoy is the least expensive way to get quality streaming. And you’re guaranteed to love the amp.
 

SanjK

Standard Member
Thanks for the response, Paul.

The streamer looks interesting - will definitely look into it further.

I've not looked into hifi in over 30 years so please forgive my ignorance...

To your question about the DAC; it looks like the M3si has a USB type B connector, which I keep reading is for computer based audio files. To me that sounds like I need to feed mp3, flac, etc via a computer source whether that be a laptop or desktop PC.

So logically that must mean it has a dac. The question then is why was the dealer suggesting I buy a BluSound Node 2i when I suggested I could build a Raspberry Pi with a hat board to stream with. Putting aside the streamer you suggested for a moment, would it be possible to connect to the USB type B port on the M3si?
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the response, Paul.

The streamer looks interesting - will definitely look into it further.

I've not looked into hifi in over 30 years so please forgive my ignorance...

To your question about the DAC; it looks like the M3si has a USB type B connector, which I keep reading is for computer based audio files. To me that sounds like I need to feed mp3, flac, etc via a computer source whether that be a laptop or desktop PC.

So logically that must mean it has a dac. The question then is why was the dealer suggesting I buy a BluSound Node 2i when I suggested I could build a Raspberry Pi with a hat board to stream with. Putting aside the streamer you suggested for a moment, would it be possible to connect to the USB type B port on the M3si?

The usb input on the MF is for computer use. It can play whatever file you feed it.

I assume the Pi with the correct driver will work quite splendidly.

I also assume the dealer was just trying to sell you something extra. I can hardly blame the fellow, but it’s certainly not necessary to spend as much as the Node costs
 

SanjK

Standard Member
Thanks.

Hopefully the final question... when you say "whatever file you feed it", that's the sticking point. It sounds like I'd have to use Windows Explorer to send files to the device.

Given that the M3si has no other digital input, it seems to me that I'd end up relying on the streamer to convert the signal to analogue and feed that into an analogue input on the amp, losing out on the quality of the DAC in the amp. I'm assuming, maybe wrongly, that the DAC in a relatively low cost streamer isn't going to be great.

I guess that could be why he suggested the Node 2i. No point paying for Spotify HiFi or Tidal if I'm going to rely on a dac in a cheap streamer.

As I said before, I'm new to the world of hifi in the digital age, hence my confusion and what miight seem like questions with simple answers.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks.

Hopefully the final question... when you say "whatever file you feed it", that's the sticking point. It sounds like I'd have to use Windows Explorer to send files to the device.

Given that the M3si has no other digital input, it seems to me that I'd end up relying on the streamer to convert the signal to analogue and feed that into an analogue input on the amp, losing out on the quality of the DAC in the amp. I'm assuming, maybe wrongly, that the DAC in a relatively low cost streamer isn't going to be great.

I guess that could be why he suggested the Node 2i. No point paying for Spotify HiFi or Tidal if I'm going to rely on a dac in a cheap streamer.

As I said before, I'm new to the world of hifi in the digital age, hence my confusion and what miight seem like questions with simple answers.

The dac in the Yamaha is certainly not a cheap one, and it has nothing but praise in all the reviews I’ve read of it, including the one here on AVF, where it was used with a Naim amp about three times the price of the MF.

I’d certainly not expect it to be outclassed at all.

I’m not familiar with the Pi, but you’ll find plenty of answers on its thread here.

I can see no reason why you’d need to use the heinous horror that is windows explorer at all.

Using the Yamaha for instance means connecting it to your router where it becomes a stand alone streamer controlled by the impressive Yamaha app from a tablet or phone.

My personal choice Is a cheap laptop (or cheap MacBook in my case) which I use only for audio into my amp. (USB out straight to usb in on the amp in your case).

(If you were to use a lap top it would be a good idea to dump all the bloatware they come burdened with)

I use iTunes (but there are any number of players to choose from) and Spotify. Both are controlled from my phone or iPad, whichever’s closest to hand. I never go near the MacBook.

However, there’s no doubting a streamer such as the Yamaha is easier to use, hide and is practically invisible even if it isn’t hidden.

I can’t think of a streamer that has a USB output alas, which would be ideal for you.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
... actually I have heard of a streamer that is ideal for you.

It piped into my head as soon as I’d written the previous post.

This should be all you’d ever need.


Usb output direct to the MS3i. Same price as the Node2i though. But by all accounts better sounding indeed.

It also has usb inputs ready for an SSD or a nas drive.
 
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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Ps. I think Richer Sounds may do a home loan on the Yamaha.

They also had an extended return period because of the Covid thing. I’m sure it’s still running but even if not I think it’s still 14 days so it would be possible to check it out.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
And now, just to cheer you up, the Hegel is something of a legend already. And it’s everything you want in one box.

It also claims a damping factor of 2000 which is truly extraordinary.

And that kind of cash puts you in the Lyngdorf 1120 bracket (just about) which again has everything you need and the magnificent RoomPerfect which makes it simply awesome.

 

SanjK

Standard Member
And now, just to cheer you up....

Thanks :-(

I'm hoping to audition the Hegel H95 soon at a dealers in Birmingham.
 
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SanjK

Standard Member
Just waiting for things to open up a bit more. Doing a family day out in Birmingham, let wife and daughters go shopping while I go hi-fi shopping. Apparently the eateries all open up in a couple of weeks so fingers crossed, the 22nd is when I go and blow a bunch of cash.

In the meantime, I'm still enjoying the NAD3240 with the old Celestions...
 

SanjK

Standard Member
@Paul. I saw a new Lyngdorf on ebay at £1845 + £20 for shipping. A few days later, the seller was offering another 2% off.

Tempting as it was, it was a step too far budget-wise, plus buying without an audition.... brrrrrrr
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
The 1120 is a splendid thing indeed. And worth the money just for RoomPerfect imo.

This fellow here does home demos if you’d like to try.

Dan at Cinehome.


He’s a sponsor of this site too and has sorted out lots of members with 1120 loans. Most of them buy one.
 

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