New office HiFi system - £1500 budget.

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
Hi everyone! I hope you can help me. I need a new office HiFi system - £1500 budget.

I have a small home office (9x8ft) and would like as good a system as I can get. I mostly listen to rock and metal from the 70s to the 00s. When working, I like listening to lo-fi chill-hop and synthwave. I've never had a good hifi system and am homebound so can't audition in stores. I currently have Harmon Kardon SoundSticks and would like a much better system as I listen to music 8-10hrs a day and find these fatiguing and lacking.

The speakers will have to be within a foot of both front and side walls. I'll be listening 80% from my desk and 20% on the rear wall in a chair. I called Richer Sounds and they recommended a Cambridge Audio CX81 paired with KEF Q350s. My own research drew me to Wharfedale 4.2s and perhaps an Audiolab 6000a + iFi Zen Dac (I need USB because my source will be Amazon Music HD via my iMac).

I'd like good bass and fast articulation as a lot of my music can be high-tempo.

What would you guys recommend for me? Any help and guidance gratefully received (I'm going insane with watching/reading reviews).
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
I would go for an active system with a decent DAC, preferably one with volume control. This would be my starter for ten buying new -

Adam a7x at £900 for the pair


Or Focal Shape 65 at £1100


Soncoz LA-QXD1 at £220

Amazon product
Add some stands/isolation pads and cables and you are easily in budget.

For Used have a look for some Focal Solo 6 Be these are around £1250 usually.
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
I would go for an active system with a decent DAC, preferably one with volume control. This would be my starter for ten buying new -

Thanks, Ugg. Since I posted I had looked at some active solutions (based on some searches here). I shall check out your suggestions. From a minimalist point of view, I like the idea of having all-in-one units. My brief research also pulled up the following two options:

Acoustic Energy AE1 - £1200

Kef LS50w (Mk1) - £1549

I have to add, that I'd rather not go for ugly black boxes. I know it's not super important and audio takes precedence, but my office is white/light-grey/oak and if I have to look at the speakers all day every day, I'd rather they match to some extent. Those Focals look lovely, though.

Would I need a subwoofer with any of these active options?
 

Rayman61

Standard Member
Thanks, Ugg. Since I posted I had looked at some active solutions (based on some searches here). I shall check out your suggestions. From a minimalist point of view, I like the idea of having all-in-one units. My brief research also pulled up the following two options:

Acoustic Energy AE1 - £1200

Kef LS50w (Mk1) - £1549

I have to add, that I'd rather not go for ugly black boxes. I know it's not super important and audio takes precedence, but my office is white/light-grey/oak and if I have to look at the speakers all day every day, I'd rather they match to some extent. Those Focals look lovely, though.

Would I need a subwoofer with any of these active options?
My home office is similar sized to yours and I have the Kef LS50(Mk1) and use a SVS SB2000 sub for movie watching and music. It works for me. Note I also subscribe to Roon which means I don't use Kef's software for music, only initial setup.
 

AmericanAudio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
Klipsh 'The Fives' could be good for you too.

Its just finding the stock at the moment.
 

gava

Active Member

gava

Active Member
If you want passives then my desktop setup is pretty sweet:


And KEF LS50s.

Add one of the new top DACS like an SMSL SU-9 or Topping D90 or D30Pro and you'll be good.
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
Thanks for all the suggestions, chaps.

AmericanAudio -- I had initially considered The Fives but then got distracted by a passive system. I've just re-read up on it and watched some reviews. They seem like a great product. And I love the walnut finish! (I've found one company here in the UK that has them in stock).

Good to know the LS50s can work in small office rooms. Having thought about it further, I think active/powered speakers would be better for me. I've sent myself in spirals over the last couple of weeks, watching/reading reviews on amps and how to match with speakers etc. It's not an element of the hobby I enjoy. And I know that if I had a passive system, I'd be tempted to keep tweaking with new gear.
 

AmericanAudio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
That is the major problem at the moment, stock.

Impacted mutiple was at the moment.

Covid
Shipping (inc freight costs on containers)
Components (used to make it, including 2 fires at chip manufacturers)

We are struggling to get alot of stuff at the moment.
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
That is the major problem at the moment, stock.

Impacted mutiple was at the moment.

Covid
Shipping (inc freight costs on containers)
Components (used to make it, including 2 fires at chip manufacturers)

We are struggling to get alot of stuff at the moment.

With a little searching, I've found a couple of dealers with them some in stock should I decide to go ahead with them. Most of the reviews seem to sing their praises in a living room TV situation, with a few using them in a near-field small room/at desk use case. Would these be able to be paired with a separate DAC? I realise it has one inbuilt, but would it benefit from a better DAC using the RCA inputs?
 

jamieu

Active Member
With a little searching, I've found a couple of dealers with them some in stock should I decide to go ahead with them. Most of the reviews seem to sing their praises in a living room TV situation, with a few using them in a near-field small room/at desk use case. Would these be able to be paired with a separate DAC? I realise it has one inbuilt, but would it benefit from a better DAC using the RCA inputs?

Those Klipsh do look nice with their wooden cabinets.

Given they're fairly new I can't imagine you'd notice much improvement (if any) from using an external DAC. Most DACs use off the shelf chips nowadays, all of which have long ago hit the point where they can do the job they need to, so there isn't going to a magnitude of difference between them — despite what people/companies/YouTubers making a living persuading people to buy new DACs may espouse.

Some standalone DACs let you chose a particular reconstruction filter and you may find you prefer one filter over another, but we're talking small differences of subjective preference, rather than better or worse. It's certainly not a night and day difference you'll notice unless your switching between them. Personally if you're going with the Klipsh, I'd stick to using their internal DAC.

But if you wanted a halfway house between them and a square black cabinet. The 2 way Genelec range like the 8030 (also in white) paired with a small Chi_Fi DAC (like a Topping E30, S.M.S.L or the Soncoz @Ugg10 linked to above) or even a more studio focused USB DAC like a Focusrite Scarlett might be worth adding to your list. Alternatively you could go with the smaller 8020 models and pair them with a small sub.
 
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gava

Active Member
The Klipsch sound is certainly a matter of taste, so make sure you can return if you don't like it.

I personally do like it and my brother has a set of Heresy's that he absolutely loves. So the Fives might be a great choice, but some people don't like them.
 

AmericanAudio

Active Member
AVForums Sponsor
The Klipsch sound is certainly a matter of taste, so make sure you can return if you don't like it.

I personally do like it and my brother has a set of Heresy's that he absolutely loves. So the Fives might be a great choice, but some people don't like them.

You're right, Klipsch is traditionally described as quite a bright / energetic / forward sound. I would say more people love than hate though.
 
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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I would go for an active system with a decent DAC, preferably one with volume control. This would be my starter for ten buying new -

Adam a7x at £900 for the pair


Or Focal Shape 65 at £1100


Soncoz LA-QXD1 at £220

Amazon product
Add some stands/isolation pads and cables and you are easily in budget.

For Used have a look for some Focal Solo 6 Be these are around £1250 usually.

The Focals here seem to be exactly what you’re looking for. Even prettier in reality too.

The Yamaha WXC-50 is a wonderful bargain.

A top class dac/preamp and streamer.


I used mine with my £3000 actives and it wasn’t remotely outclassed. A tiny gem.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
I’d certainly not consider the Klipsch in the same class as the above at all. ( I have only heard them in a shop, but they are screechers) and certainly they could only have been designed by an American.

Though taste is very variable naturally.

If White is acceptable then these mighty Dynaudios deserve a spot on your list. Along with the Yamaha, I don’t think you can get a better hifi for the money.

 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Thanks for all the suggestions, chaps.

AmericanAudio -- I had initially considered The Fives but then got distracted by a passive system. I've just re-read up on it and watched some reviews. They seem like a great product. And I love the walnut finish! (I've found one company here in the UK that has them in stock).

Good to know the LS50s can work in small office rooms. Having thought about it further, I think active/powered speakers would be better for me. I've sent myself in spirals over the last couple of weeks, watching/reading reviews on amps and how to match with speakers etc. It's not an element of the hobby I enjoy. And I know that if I had a passive system, I'd be tempted to keep tweaking with new gear.

Indeed. For those who prefer the music trip to the search for ever more and differing boxes, there has never been a better time for inexpensive (relatively of course) excellent quality music reproduction.

The advent of very good dac/streamer preamps, and modern engineering practices (finite analysis and CAD to name just two) in the massive active speaker market, makes it quite simple to buy hifi of a quality that was unheard of at reasonable prices not many years ago at all.
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
I’d certainly not consider the Klipsch in the same class as the above at all. ( I have only heard them in a shop, but they are screechers) and certainly they could only have been designed by an American.

Though taste is very variable naturally.

If White is acceptable then these mighty Dynaudios deserve a spot on your list. Along with the Yamaha, I don’t think you can get a better hifi for the money.


White most definitely fits! Thanks for the suggestion. I shall definitely put these on the 'possible list.' The others that I have shortlisted are the AE1 Actives: Acoustic Energy AE1 Active Speakers (Pair)

That said, I took delivery of The Fives this morning. They're smaller than I had anticipated, despite measuring the space; it's hard to fully visualise how things look I guess. The walnut with the grills certainly look nice. The sound however...

Now, I've never had 'good' speakers so it could just be my lack of experience, but after a few hours' of listening I have to admit for the money I'm not impressed. Quite disappointed really. To me, they sound honky, boxey, and muffled. And kind of squelchy in the mids. They just about come to life around 85db, but then they become quite fatiguing after more than 30 mins or so.

I'm coming from HK SoundSticks so it could be I just don't know what good is and it'll take me time to adjust, but my first impressions aren't good. I suspect they're just too small to give the sound I'm looking for, and despite their best efforts with the bass, a sub is likely to be a much better option. I'll continue to listen throughout the weekend and bank holiday, but these could well be going back unless something drastically changes.

IMG_1457.JPG
 
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FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
Dali Opticon 1 mk2
Rel T5i
Audiolab a6000
Cables/interconnect

Should come to around £1300.

If I decide to go with separates that's almost exactly the set up I recently put together except I had earmarked B&W 607s. I'd also have to add an external DAC as in their infinite wisdom Apple decided to take away any decent audio output of their headphone socket. For that I had considered the iFi Zen Dac as that'll connect via USB and give me RCA outs to the Audiolab.
 

password1

Distinguished Member
Ive not heard the smaller 607 but Ive heard the 606 and didn't find them very true to nature. They definitely sounded like budget speakers, which I guess they are.
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
Ive not heard the smaller 607 but Ive heard the 606 and didn't find them very true to nature. They definitely sounded like budget speakers, which I guess they are.

That's a shame. It's so hard to know what is good and who to believe. And I'm housebound which makes auditioning a near impossibility so I'll have to make do with mail order and returns. Having spoken to Richer Sounds they have a 9.99 exchange fee on speakers so I may have to go that route (or buy multiple pairs to A/B and send back the one I don't like).
 

password1

Distinguished Member
I guess it depends what speakers you're coming from. If you're upgrading from computer speakers, then anything will be a big upgrade. The 606s aren't bad,.they just aren't what id spend my money on personally.

ive only ever heard the budget end 6xx series of B&W speakers and never keen on the sound signature.
 

gava

Active Member
Try the Focal or Dynaudio referenced above. Active speakers targeted at home users are often not the best value. Gear4Music has a very decent returns policy - and for a small additional fee you can extend their 30 day money back to 180 days.

It's not possible to be sure you will like them, but I am sure they will be very different to the Klipsch. [I am not a Klipsch hater at all, but they are a matter of taste for sure.]
 

FoxWolfPuma

Standard Member
Try the Focal or Dynaudio referenced above. Active speakers targeted at home users are often not the best value. Gear4Music has a very decent returns policy - and for a small additional fee you can extend their 30 day money back to 180 days.

It's not possible to be sure you will like them, but I am sure they will be very different to the Klipsch. [I am not a Klipsch hater at all, but they are a matter of taste for sure.]

That's good to know re: Gear4Music. Thanks for the recommendation. Lots to consider!

I'm a few more hours in with the The Fives and they're not growing on me. I've eq'd them with an app on the Mac and that's taken out some of the honkey-ness, but when listening to rock/metal, they quite mushy and fatiguing in the high-end. Little space/separation of cymbals and vocals. I suspect that they're more definitely voiced for home theatre, which makes sense, given their features. They're very good for mid-focussed pop, I'll give them that, though I rarely listen to pop other than some classic Jacko and The Police.
 

Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
That's good to know re: Gear4Music. Thanks for the recommendation. Lots to consider!

I'm a few more hours in with the The Fives and they're not growing on me. I've eq'd them with an app on the Mac and that's taken out some of the honkey-ness, but when listening to rock/metal, they quite mushy and fatiguing in the high-end. Little space/separation of cymbals and vocals. I suspect that they're more definitely voiced for home theatre, which makes sense, given their features. They're very good for mid-focussed pop, I'll give them that, though I rarely listen to pop other than some classic Jacko and The Police.

I really would not even try to use any eq that comes with Apple or any other manufacturer that isn’t a serious hifi/audio engineering concern.

Proper eq’ing software is no simple task. It takes serious skill, experience and development.

Anything less, and Apples is very less, is simply a splodge attack on the frequency range and power requirements. A mess waiting to happen.

If you don’t like them, and I can certainly understand why not, it really isn’t worth any effort at all to ‘fix’ them.

There are so many other, more grown up, speakers around to choose from.
 

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