Need your expert guidance: Rotel A12MKII and good speaker pair

iFi audio

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Thanks. That’s super helpful. The stream does seem particular useful to me. I’m perfectly happy with the Rotel DAC, so the Stream does seem like a very good option.

And it connects via coaxial or optical, correct?
@dadneedshifi exactly. Here are a few pointers: both coax and optical transmit the same signal, this format is called S/PDIF which stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format. The difference between them is down to isolation, and bandwidth. Optical uses fibreglass wire to transmit light pulses, but they are so frequent it seems to be constant light when you look at them. As the wire is made of plastic or glass there is no electrical connection between a source and a receiver. That's super helpful when connecting TVs and satellite receivers as they are super noisy. We don't want that in our audio setup, oh no. When using more audiophile (or just plainly better designed) sources, you can use coaxial. It has better bandwidth, so it can transmit a higher sampling rate for music (optical is usually limited to 96 kHz), and usually sounds better.

Your Rotel also has a USB input that you can utilise. According to the manufacturer, it supports up to 32-bit and 384 kHz digital signals along with MQA. That's more than coaxial can provide, and if you're planning on listening to Tidal it might be the most beneficial connection here. MQA is a special format that allows Tidal to stream high-resolution files to you without using lots of internet bandwidth. So your internet bill stays the same, while the music sounds more realistic. The Zen Stream has a dedicated USB Audio output that is almost noise-free exactly for situations like this. So I would start tests here.

@Helix Hifi we don't provide optical output in this model, as we believe that electrical connections usually provide superior sound quality. What is your reasoning behind favouring optical? I'm very curious to hear your opinion :)
 
Last edited:

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I believe perhaps you answered my reason for advocating optical instead of coaxial-earth loom.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
@dadneedshifi exactly. Lecture time: both coax and optical transmit the same signal, this format is called S/PDIF which stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format. The difference between them is down to isolation, and bandwidth. Optical uses fiberglass wire to transmit light pulses, although they are so frequent it seems to be constant light when you look at them. As the wire is made of plastic or glass there is no electrical connection between source and receiver. That's super helpful when connecting TVs and satellite receivers as they are super noisy. We don't want that in our audio setup, oh no. When using more audiophile (or just plainly better designed) sources, you can use coaxial. It has better bandwidth, so it can transmit a higher sampling rate for music (optical is usually limited to 96 kHz), and usually sounds better.

Your Rotel also has a USB input that you can utilize. According to the manufacturer, it supports up to 32-bit and 384 kHz digital signals along with MQA. That's more than coaxial can provide, and if you're planning on listening to Tidal it might be the most beneficial connection here. MQA is a special format that allows Tidal to stream high-resolution files to you without using lots of internet bandwidth. So your internet bill stays the same, while the music sounds nicer. The Zen Stream has a dedicated USB Audio output that is almost noise-free exactly for situations like this. So I would start tests here.

@Helix Hifi we don't provide optical output in this model, as we believe that electrical connections usually provide superior sound quality. What is your reasoning behind favoring optical? I'm very curious to hear your opinion :)
That’s incredibly helpful! Super informative and well explained.

I’ve putzing around with USB cables because my MacBook only has USB C and I needed to match the funky Amp USB PC to usb c.

But now I should just be able to use the included cable…I hope.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
My honest answer I wouldn’t bother with 16 bit (cd quality) high Rez (96 kHz-192khz). Then MQA which is also 192 kHz. Us over 40 can’t hear the difference, anymore.

Also whether it’s 16 bit or not it depends on the master. So an excellent master can sound fabulous trough Spotify which still streams in 320 kHz (lossy).

The only time you can hear distinctive difference if you listen to a master Spotify doesn’t have. On cd as example, but if they do, then no difference.

Becoming an audiophile is dangerous path. Soon you’ll buy Audioquest Rocket 88. Just kidding.

Put on some Bowie and relax.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I once bought Tara Labs Helix 8!
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
I understand you want better sound, who wouldn’t. But I must ask, are the speakers you have now burned in?

They need few hours on loud volume to really sing. My Silver took ages. You don’t consider small subwoofer in the corner? The amplifier supports this.

But whether it’s one subwoofer or two, I don’t really understand. The mono subwoofers outputs. But you can use the pre outs, speaker terminals.

If getting the Concept 30, then perhaps see if the store can trade the current speakers for the new ones.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
I understand you want better sound, who wouldn’t. But I must ask, are the speakers you have now burned in?

They need few hours on loud volume to really sing. My Silver took ages. You don’t consider small subwoofer in the corner? The amplifier supports this.

But whether it’s one subwoofer or two, I don’t really understand. The mono subwoofers outputs. But you can use the pre outs, speaker terminals.

If getting the Concept 30, then perhaps see if the store can trade the current speakers for the new ones.
I actually hadn’t considered a sub yet.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
My honest answer I wouldn’t bother with 16 bit (cd quality) high Rez (96 kHz-192khz). Then MQA which is also 192 kHz. Us over 40 can’t hear the difference, anymore.

Also whether it’s 16 bit or not it depends on the master. So an excellent master can sound fabulous trough Spotify which still streams in 320 kHz (lossy).

The only time you can hear distinctive difference if you listen to a master Spotify doesn’t have. On cd as example, but if they do, then no difference.

Becoming an audiophile is dangerous path. Soon you’ll buy Audioquest Rocket 88. Just kidding.

Put on some Bowie and relax.
Already bought the Rocket 88
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Do the same store stock Concept 30? If so then maybe you can get good deal on the old speakers.

If not then buy them. You well most certainly get someone who wants to buy your old speakers.

Or keep them, then give them to your kids.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
Do the same store stock Concept 30? If so then maybe you can get good deal on the old speakers.

If not then buy them. You well most certainly get someone who wants to buy your old speakers.

Or keep them, then give them to your kids.
Unfortunately, I got them through QAcoustics, though via Amazon. And now I'm outside the return window and they won't do an exchange/upgrade -- which I find a bit silly.

I imagine I could sell them.

And can't give them to the kids, they are knee high :)
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Then you need to sell them. The problem is you need to wait for the right buyer. Such us life. Like getting new car/selling new car. You know the drill.

I wouldn’t sell to people who want accept let’s say 20 percent discount.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
@Helix Hifi I agree on kicking back and relaxing. It's good to take a break from thinking about equipment. Clears your head nicely. I also agree on burn-in, gear needs its break period to get to its full potential. @dadneedshifi you'll notice the sound of your new setup changing in the beginning.

A sub... I'm in favor of them, a good sub can really lift your experience. Not every subwoofer is made for music, so you need to check. Most are made for home theater, they can go really low and loud. They lack finesse though. Models made for stereo usually have high-level input, that you can connect to the loudspeaker bindings on your amp, or the speakers themself. I believe that it's the best way to connect subs to a stereo system. Yes, I meant two of them, but that's another story.

When it comes down to selling your current speakers, I'd recommend taking the time to make good photos. They will really increase the interest in the ad.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
@Helix Hifi I agree on kicking back and relaxing. It's good to take a break from thinking about equipment. Clears your head nicely. I also agree on burn-in, gear needs its break period to get to its full potential. @dadneedshifi you'll notice the sound of your new setup changing in the beginning.

A sub... I'm in favor of them, a good sub can really lift your experience. Not every subwoofer is made for music, so you need to check. Most are made for home theater, they can go really low and loud. They lack finesse though. Models made for stereo usually have high-level input, that you can connect to the loudspeaker bindings on your amp, or the speakers themself. I believe that it's the best way to connect subs to a stereo system. Yes, I meant two of them, but that's another story.

When it comes down to selling your current speakers, I'd recommend taking the time to make good photos. They will really increase the interest in the ad.

I have no experience with subs, so that would be a new path to explore.

I completely agree re: pictures. Do you have any recommendations for sites to sell hifi? Any best or most reliable places?

Thanks
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
I have no experience with subs, so that would be a new path to explore.

I completely agree re: pictures. Do you have any recommendations for sites to sell hifi? Any best or most reliable places?

Thanks
I don't know your local market, but I would try Facebook audio groups, ebay, and maybe craigslist?
For sure I would like to have a few ads in different places.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
@iFi audio, speaking of the Star Wars Disney shows. Not seen it. I shy away from Disney Star Wars. Dreadful, just dreadful stuff. OT trilogy we’ll always be one of my favorites movies.

I do have high hopes if the Obi Wan show could be acceptable. I thought the new bounty hunter show (The Mandoli) what ever was plain boring. One scene was acceptable.

Oh, I love the animated tv show the clone wars. So not all is bad. But writing is top notch in this tv show. Ashoka “I am no Jedi”. Chills.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
@dadneedshifi exactly. Lecture time: both coax and optical transmit the same signal, this format is called S/PDIF which stands for Sony/Philips Digital Interface Format. The difference between them is down to isolation, and bandwidth. Optical uses fiberglass wire to transmit light pulses, although they are so frequent it seems to be constant light when you look at them. As the wire is made of plastic or glass there is no electrical connection between source and receiver. That's super helpful when connecting TVs and satellite receivers as they are super noisy. We don't want that in our audio setup, oh no. When using more audiophile (or just plainly better designed) sources, you can use coaxial. It has better bandwidth, so it can transmit a higher sampling rate for music (optical is usually limited to 96 kHz), and usually sounds better.

Your Rotel also has a USB input that you can utilize. According to the manufacturer, it supports up to 32-bit and 384 kHz digital signals along with MQA. That's more than coaxial can provide, and if you're planning on listening to Tidal it might be the most beneficial connection here. MQA is a special format that allows Tidal to stream high-resolution files to you without using lots of internet bandwidth. So your internet bill stays the same, while the music sounds nicer. The Zen Stream has a dedicated USB Audio output that is almost noise-free exactly for situations like this. So I would start tests here.

@Helix Hifi we don't provide optical output in this model, as we believe that electrical connections usually provide superior sound quality. What is your reasoning behind favoring optical? I'm very curious to hear your opinion :)
Well, I love the streamer. Listening on Tidal and sounds fantastic. Using a USB connection, but also going to play around with a coaxial.

Is there anything I need to do to set up MQA decoding, or is that already handled by the Rotel?

And in terms of software, I’m basically reliant on just streaming directly from whichever service I’m using, correct? Which by the way, picked up the iFi right away.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
@dadneedshifi glad to hear you enjoy using it! I'm curious what differences you'll find between a coaxial and a USB.
To play the MQA via Rotels integrated DAC you need to check one thing. In the settings, there is an option called PC-USB Audio Mode. By default, it's MQA/24b. If it's 32b, then the MQA won't work. Overall, it should work without issue from the get-go.
In terms of software, it depends on what function you want to use. Tidal obviously will require the Tidal app. Roon Ready requires the Roon. Playing files from a connected hard drive is done via the iFi Stream app.

@Helix Hifi I'm too a little disappointed by the new Star Wars. In my opinion, the best movie of them is Rogue One. Since I'm an old-school fan like you, I believe you will really enjoy that one.
I enjoyed The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, but they are just ok. Wouldn't it be interesting if the latter would be made into a Star Wars "The Godfather"?
The Clone Wars are amazing, I need to finish them finally. Have you seen the Clone Wars by Genndy Tartakovsky? They launched as a promo for the Revenge of the Sith. I'm stunned by his style, it's just raw and quite brutal. The scariest General Grievous, there was.
Lately, I picked up the LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga. Super relaxing game. Lots of good humour, too.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
@dadneedshifi glad to hear you enjoy using it! I'm curious what differences you'll find between a coaxial and a USB.
To play the MQA via Rotels integrated DAC you need to check one thing. In the settings, there is an option called PC-USB Audio Mode. By default, it's MQA/24b. If it's 32b, then the MQA won't work. Overall, it should work without issue from the get-go.
In terms of software, it depends on what function you want to use. Tidal obviously will require the Tidal app. Roon Ready requires the Roon. Playing files from a connected hard drive is done via the iFi Stream app.

@Helix Hifi I'm too a little disappointed by the new Star Wars. In my opinion, the best movie of them is Rogue One. Since I'm an old-school fan like you, I believe you will really enjoy that one.
I enjoyed The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett, but they are just ok. Wouldn't it be interesting if the latter would be made into a Star Wars "The Godfather"?
The Clone Wars are amazing, I need to finish them finally. Have you seen the Clone Wars by Genndy Tartakovsky? They launched as a promo for the Revenge of the Sith. I'm stunned by his style, it's just raw and quite brutal. The scariest General Grievous, there was.
Lately, I picked up the LEGO Star Wars The Skywalker Saga. Super relaxing game. Lots of good humour, too.
pfff.. star wars, how drull, tried 3 times to watch the first one and never got further than 20 minutes before I fell asleep. Now , Star Trek that's a different story , love them, especially the original series and next Gen.
Then along comes the new star wars movie - Rogue One with the delectable Felicity Jones in it so thought I'd give it another go and because for some reason I'm in love with her and ..... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,,,,, errr.. same old cobblers and yet again fell asleep within 20 Mins so I guess star wars is not my thing.

THEN My New iFi phono Box got delivered this morning and it's .. bloody marvelous, way better than the musical fidelity phono box I tried a few weeks ago, so impressed with it I've actually been playing all my records all day. Finally a good match with my AT540ML and my TT is back in action.
Now I just need to purchase some new records.
 

iFi audio

Member
AVForums Sponsor
pfff.. star wars, how drull, tried 3 times to watch the first one and never got further than 20 minutes before I fell asleep. Now , Star Trek that's a different story , love them, especially the original series and next Gen.
Then along comes the new star wars movie - Rogue One with the delectable Felicity Jones in it so thought I'd give it another go and because for some reason I'm in love with her and ..... zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz,,,,, errr.. same old cobblers and yet again fell asleep within 20 Mins so I guess star wars is not my thing.

THEN My New iFi phono Box got delivered this morning and it's .. bloody marvelous, way better than the musical fidelity phono box I tried a few weeks ago, so impressed with it I've actually been playing all my records all day. Finally a good match with my AT540ML and my TT is back in action.
Now I just need to purchase some new records.
@Kapkirk to each their own :) I also enjoy Star Trek, it's great fun watching it.
There are some vinyl lovers here at iFi, we really put our souls into phono products. I'm glad to hear that it was worth it! What table are you using? I'm playing with Avid/Nagaoka now. Vinyl shopping is always a priority! Got any particular records in mind?
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
@dadneedshifi, how’s it going. Still uncertain whether to switch to new speakers?

It’s the never ending curse of an audiophile, but also a blessing. In the beginning you switch 3-4 speakers. Not to talk about amplifiers, sources. The first year is difficult😊
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
@dadneedshifi, how’s it going. Still uncertain whether to switch to new speakers?

It’s the never ending curse of an audiophile, but also a blessing. In the beginning you switch 3-4 speakers. Not to talk about amplifiers, sources. The first year is difficult😊
Hah! I'd like to try the Concept 30s, but I don't see an easy way to sell the 20s. So I think I'll probably stick with them for a while. But I do really want the Concept 30s :)

The iFi Stream through the Rotel DAC is great solution -- connected via ethernet. Tidal Masters on the Rotel DAC are magnificent. Of everything I've sampled, it is my favorite streaming service. They have a robustness and richness that doesn't seem to be captured by Apple Music or Amazon. I haven't tried any of the other Hi-Fi targeted services, so I can only speak to Tidal.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Does it come with normal power cord? Or it’s it usb lighting cable solution. Considering it myself. But I have to connect to the amplifier trough coax cable. Perhaps small price to pay Then of course connect it like you do. Go in the MQA settings on the amplifier.

Doubtful I’ll use Tidal anyway. MAQ/Masters, epically. The top end, low end is just eq. Nothing more complicated then that. Still I’m glad you’re enjoying the sound. That’s what counts😊.
 

dadneedshifi

Active Member
It comes with a normal power cord. And I connected via PC-USB.

Although I didn't do anything in the MQA settings on the amplifier. Do I need to?
 

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