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simondoes

Novice Member
Hi. Current system: nad 314 amp, Maudant Short 916i floor speakers, turntable. Chord interconnect cables. I mostly listen to Apple Music and find the sound on my system a little too focused on high frequencies but mostly I fancy improving the sound as much as I can within a £700 budget. Shall I get another 314 amp and bi amp? Replace with a new integrated amp? Add a power amp?
Ideally I’d like to keep the speakers as my wife “accepts” their size.
I don’t know the name of my speaker cables sadly but I run slim silver for the high frequency and copper for the bass.
Sorry to be vague. Thank you!
 

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Nico72

Active Member
What is the source to play Apple music?
Do you know what stream rate you are getting from Apple music? Have you tried to compare the same track from a CD vs Apple music?
If CD sounds as harsh, (too much treble) then it may be something to do with speaker-room interaction. Carpets, rugs, curtains and soft furnishing can go some way towards addressing that.
The general consensus on this forum is that bi-wiring offers nothing in terms of sound quality.
 

barnitto

Active Member
A lots depends on what you mean by improving, it’s all very subjective. Running two different types of speaker cable may not helping (although many would disagree) especially silver cable for the higher frequencies.

Personally I would be looking at a new integrated amp such as the Marantz PM6007 - I like the Marantz sound. Oh and some new speaker cable - but you don’t need to spend a fortune.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Better speakers are the going to be the single biggest improvement and return on investment, it would therefore pay to upgrade these first, and without everything else would likely be a waste of time.
Also I'd ditch the bi-wire setup personally. Just run the single thicker copper, but experiment with both.

For Speakers then at £700 the Dali Oberon 5 are very compact floor standers and in budget. There's also plenty of stand mount options within that range too of course.
This then means you can then consider upgrades to amp and source etc in the future when funds allow, and should be in a better position to exploit those gains too.

If you need an amp though and speakers can make do for a while lets say. Something like an Audiolab 6000A, or a Cyrus One HD. Both are good quality amps and have DAC's - which may very well help your streaming side of things (not sure how you're currently consuming the Apple Music Service?).
 

simondoes

Novice Member
What is the source to play Apple music?
Do you know what stream rate you are getting from Apple music? Have you tried to compare the same track from a CD vs Apple music?
If CD sounds as harsh, (too much treble) then it may be something to do with speaker-room interaction. Carpets, rugs, curtains and soft furnishing can go some way towards addressing that.
The general consensus on this forum is that bi-wiring offers nothing in terms of sound quality.
Thanks. I either send signal over Bluetooth from iPhone/iPad or plugged from the 3.5mm jack depending on how I’m listening. I no longer listen to CDs, just turntable and Apple Music.
I’ll have a go at changing speaker cables now (I have some in the loft).
 

simondoes

Novice Member
Better speakers are the going to be the single biggest improvement and return on investment, it would therefore pay to upgrade these first, and without everything else would likely be a waste of time.
Also I'd ditch the bi-wire setup personally. Just run the single thicker copper, but experiment with both.

For Speakers then at £700 the Dali Oberon 5 are very compact floor standers and in budget. There's also plenty of stand mount options within that range too of course.
This then means you can then consider upgrades to amp and source etc in the future when funds allow, and should be in a better position to exploit those gains too.

If you need an amp though and speakers can make do for a while lets say. Something like an Audiolab 6000A, or a Cyrus One HD. Both are good quality amps and have DAC's - which may very well help your streaming side of things (not sure how you're currently consuming the Apple Music Service?).
I’ll look at that, thank you. I do have some quality speaker cables but one end is wired with a female banana socket- I wonder if I can find a male to make banana plug?
 

simondoes

Novice Member
A lots depends on what you mean by improving, it’s all very subjective. Running two different types of speaker cable may not helping (although many would disagree) especially silver cable for the higher frequencies.

Personally I would be looking at a new integrated amp such as the Marantz PM6007 - I like the Marantz sound. Oh and some new speaker cable - but you don’t need to spend a fortune.
Thanks. I’ve read good things about that amp, I quite fancy a change, I’m going to experiment with speaker cable too.
 

Nico72

Active Member
Thanks. I either send signal over Bluetooth from iPhone/iPad or plugged from the 3.5mm jack depending on how I’m listening. I no longer listen to CDs, just turntable and Apple Music.
I’ll have a go at changing speaker cables now (I have some in the loft).
So you are using either the DAC in your Apple device or that in the Bluetooth receiver. Bluetooth will add a further level of compression, depending what generation it is. Airplay might be better quality than Bluetooth.
I am not familiar with Apple music, but I would check the settings to make sure you are getting the highest possible stream rate, and maximise the volume output from the phone/tablet, controlling volume from the amp instead.
Speaker cable is unlikely to give you a noticeable difference, as long as it is ofc copper at least 2.5 mm2. The larger one in the photo seems ok.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
What BT receiver do you use? It sounds like the source could be the problem, using a 3.5mm out of a phone or using BT into a (potentially crappy) BT receiver - either not usually the recipe for good audio.

As an Apple user I would grab Airport Express 2 for ~£40, that'll give you Airplay 2 (CD quality, better than Bluetooth), an OK DAC - but it's also got optical out so you could one day use a better external DAC.
And as it's Airplay 2 you can also get Siri to control it and have it as part of a multi room if that appeals!

I've actually just ordered one yesterday to replace my Yamaha WXAD-10 (which itself is a good quality inexpensive streamer and would recommend), but because it's only Airplay 1 it won't work with Siri and Apple Music as well. Also it has no optical out and I have a spare good external DAC. Anyway there are only £42 delivered from CEX with 2yr warranty, very versatile for the money.
 

simondoes

Novice Member
What BT receiver do you use? It sounds like the source could be the problem, using a 3.5mm out of a phone or using BT into a (potentially crappy) BT receiver - either not usually the recipe for good audio.

As an Apple user I would grab Airport Express 2 for ~£40, that'll give you Airplay 2 (CD quality, better than Bluetooth), an OK DAC - but it's also got optical out so you could one day use a better external DAC.
And as it's Airplay 2 you can also get Siri to control it and have it as part of a multi room if that appeals!

I've actually just ordered one yesterday to replace my Yamaha WXAD-10 (which itself is a good quality inexpensive streamer and would recommend), but because it's only Airplay 1 it won't work with Siri and Apple Music as well. Also it has no optical out and I have a spare good external DAC. Anyway there are only £42 delivered from CEX with 2yr warranty, very versatile for the money.
That’s a great idea. Thank you. I’ll get one. Just changed my high frequency cables to the thicker copper and it sounds better already!
 

simondoes

Novice Member
So you are using either the DAC in your Apple device or that in the Bluetooth receiver. Bluetooth will add a further level of compression, depending what generation it is. Airplay might be better quality than Bluetooth.
I am not familiar with Apple music, but I would check the settings to make sure you are getting the highest possible stream rate, and maximise the volume output from the phone/tablet, controlling volume from the amp instead.
Speaker cable is unlikely to give you a noticeable difference, as long as it is ofc copper at least 2.5 mm2. The larger one in the photo seems ok.
I think the larger cable is Cambridge Audio. I just put two identical lengths of that and it’s made a great difference. I’m separating the high and low frequency using the Extra Speakers setting on my amp. Maybe I’m expecting too much from that idea?
 

Nico72

Active Member
I think the larger cable is Cambridge Audio. I just put two identical lengths of that and it’s made a great difference. I’m separating the high and low frequency using the Extra Speakers setting on my amp. Maybe I’m expecting too much from that idea?
Excellent result. It sounds like the thinner wire was the weakest link in your system.
Bi-wiring is not believed to make any difference, but if you already have the speaker wire for it, why not?
 

simondoes

Novice Member
Agreed. I tried only bi-wiring one side and it did genuinely sound different (let’s assume difference means better shall we! Lol). Still tempted by a new amp though as I’m curious to know if new means better as even with the volume turned right down there’s some sound is audible through one side. Hmmmmmm Marantz calling I fear.
 

Phildick

Active Member
I would try it with just one run of cable ( links at speaker end) and without the extra speakers button pressed. I'm not sure what that button does but it can't help.
 

Nico72

Active Member
Agreed. I tried only bi-wiring one side and it did genuinely sound different (let’s assume difference means better shall we! Lol). Still tempted by a new amp though as I’m curious to know if new means better as even with the volume turned right down there’s some sound is audible through one side. Hmmmmmm Marantz calling I fear.
The PM 6007 is a safe bet, or even a slightly older model to be sourced second hand.
But above all I would invest in a better streaming solution, like the airplay receiver mentioned in a previous post.
Or invest in a stereo receiver with network capability line Yamaha RN 602, which comes with airplay built in.
 

simondoes

Novice Member
The PM 6007 is a safe bet, or even a slightly older model to be sourced second hand.
But above all I would invest in a better streaming solution, like the airplay receiver mentioned in a previous post.
Or invest in a stereo receiver with network capability line Yamaha RN 602, which comes with airplay built in.
Yes I’m trying to improve things one step at a time, so I’ve ordered the suggested Apple Express 2 which arrives this week.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Yes I’m trying to improve things one step at a time, so I’ve ordered the suggested Apple Express 2 which arrives this week.
That should help rule out any obvious source issues. Also make sure you set all the volumes on phone/app to maximum - and control the volume with the NAD amp.

Reason being digital volume control (unless done very well) tends to do weird things with truncating the data in order to impose volume control on it. Certainly, in my experience, I have never liked the digital volume control used in phones.
 

muljao

Well-known Member
Your bluetooth device is almost certainly impeding your sound. They can be great but lots of them are cheap and cheerful using a very basic dac inside. I don't know much about apples but at least the airplay will reduce compression and likely use a better analogue stage
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Your bluetooth device is almost certainly impeding your sound. They can be great but lots of them are cheap and cheerful using a very basic dac inside. I don't know much about apples but at least the airplay will reduce compression and likely use a better analogue stage

It's a well measuring unit and puts out a proper 2V, and also sports a bit perfect output for connecting to an external DAC, if and when the temptation arises to go down that rabbit hole! :)
 

simondoes

Novice Member
That should help rule out any obvious source issues. Also make sure you set all the volumes on phone/app to maximum - and control the volume with the NAD amp.

Reason being digital volume control (unless done very well) tends to do weird things with truncating the data in order to impose volume control on it. Certainly, in my experience, I have never liked the digital volume control used in phones.
Agreed. I’ve always thought that too about output volume from any device.
 

TB Rich

Active Member
Agreed. I’ve always thought that too about output volume from any device.
My Airpot turned up today, immaculate, can't complain for £42!

I setup a rig using a Schiit SYS to do A/B switching against my existing Yamaha WXAD-10 I was using in the office. Now of course I'm using an external DAC (Schiit Modius) to support my Airport, but it sounded better - so the Airpot is definitely not degrading the signal or doing anything weird, perfect.
Like most DAC changes, it was subtle and far from night and day, but it was a bit more of an improvement than I was expecting to be honest (all previous delta-sigma DAC tests being essentially a waste of time for me I've found!).

I can't test the output of the Airpots built in DAC as I don't have the right cable, but given you could add say a Topping E30 (supposed to be a rough parity with the Modius and easier to get hold of in the UK), I'm most pleased with the Airport addition.

The only negative is you can't set it to a 'fixed' volume output mode. Not really an issue, but just best as we said to make sure any playing device you are using is set to max.

Perfect bit of Kallax-Fi!! :)
IMG_0383.jpeg
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
What BT receiver do you use? It sounds like the source could be the problem, using a 3.5mm out of a phone or using BT into a (potentially crappy) BT receiver - either not usually the recipe for good audio.

As an Apple user I would grab Airport Express 2 for ~£40, that'll give you Airplay 2 (CD quality, better than Bluetooth), an OK DAC - but it's also got optical out so you could one day use a better external DAC.
And as it's Airplay 2 you can also get Siri to control it and have it as part of a multi room if that appeals!

I've actually just ordered one yesterday to replace my Yamaha WXAD-10 (which itself is a good quality inexpensive streamer and would recommend), but because it's only Airplay 1 it won't work with Siri and Apple Music as well. Also it has no optical out and I have a spare good external DAC. Anyway there are only £42 delivered from CEX with 2yr warranty, very versatile for the money.
Interesting - I’ve also got the WXAD-10
Can you please summarise the advantages of the Airport Express over the Yamaha other than the above please.
Presently use Tidal, Spotify, BBC Sounds and my Amazon library via Airplay from an iPhone. Many thanks
 

Nico72

Active Member
Interesting - I’ve also got the WXAD-10
Can you please summarise the advantages of the Airport Express over the Yamaha other than the above please.
Presently use Tidal, Spotify, BBC Sounds and my Amazon library via Airplay from an iPhone. Many thanks

As far as I understand it, the difference is airplay 1 in the Yamaha vs airplay 2 in the airport express. And of course the DAC changing from Yamaha to Schiit.
 

simondoes

Novice Member
My Airpot turned up today, immaculate, can't complain for £42!

I setup a rig using a Schiit SYS to do A/B switching against my existing Yamaha WXAD-10 I was using in the office. Now of course I'm using an external DAC (Schiit Modius) to support my Airport, but it sounded better - so the Airpot is definitely not degrading the signal or doing anything weird, perfect.
Like most DAC changes, it was subtle and far from night and day, but it was a bit more of an improvement than I was expecting to be honest (all previous delta-sigma DAC tests being essentially a waste of time for me I've found!).

I can't test the output of the Airpots built in DAC as I don't have the right cable, but given you could add say a Topping E30 (supposed to be a rough parity with the Modius and easier to get hold of in the UK), I'm most pleased with the Airport addition.

The only negative is you can't set it to a 'fixed' volume output mode. Not really an issue, but just best as we said to make sure any playing device you are using is set to max.

Perfect bit of Kallax-Fi!! :)
View attachment 1466745
Looks good! My Express hasn’t arrived yet. I quite often connect an old iPhone 4 with its headphone port so a DAC hasn’t been relevant but I’d be interested if it really makes a difference when using Wi-fi to send the audio as surely the iPhone sends out a signal after it’s been “DAC’d” ?
 
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Ugg10

Distinguished Member
Nope, using airplay the phone send out the raw digital data, this is transmitted over WiFi to the airplay which then does the DAC or passes the digital data to an external DAC (stand alone or in an avr or amp) depending on if you connect it by the analogue RCA/phono connectors or the optical toslink connector respectively.
 

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