Streamer/Integrated Amp + Speakers. Opinions Please (Cyrus,Quad,NAIM)

myonions

Novice Member
Greetings
I have come from a history of separates (since a child) but then had children and everything was ruined. No more floor standers or risk a poked tweeter.

I replaced all seperates hifi with a Yamaha RX-A3070.

The Stereo speakers in the surround sound array are Monitor Audio Apex 10 as I could wall mount these away from children and they sounded good enough for music.

Music (all flac some 24-bit Hi-Res) is sent through HDMI to the Yamaha using J-River Media Centre. I am still using a KEF Sub (from that egg surround sound range) to add some bass since the Apex's can only do so much - especially wall mounted.

I want to upgrade back to some more serious hi-fi and am interested in peoples experiences with modern Audiophile "Bluetooth Streaming" Stereo Amps since there are more options over the last few years.

I am looking to invest in an Integrated Stereo Amplifier with a Decent DAC and ideally Aptx-HD for Bluetooth from my phone. The Yamaha would be connected to the Amp as a Power amp and just drive the Front two. The Yamaha is obviously fine for the rest of the surround sound etc. Not sure how it works with Volume etc. but will have to work this out. Perhaps I can use ARC as well or does this just apply to TVs?. I can work that out later.

The beauty of this is one device for all music. So; the amp send through music as the Power amp or I can use my phone or a streaming service direct to it. Some options can even allow a Turntable if I can be arsed.

The speakers are a bit tricky as I may need to wall mount these again but I may be able to move the room around a bit to accommodate them on the other side of my room. Either way floor standers are a no-no so if we steer towards suggestions of bookshelf that would be lovely.

I appreciate that I should just go an listen to these but want to know whether anyone has any of these combinations below and can recommend the quality.

I have on my shortlist the following:

Amps

Cyrus One HD £999

- Pros:
Bluetooth Aptx-HD, Neat Package, Powerful, Phono Input (not required but nice to have), Separate Amp for Headphones
-Cons:
What-hifi only 4*. Should I care? It just puts me off!

Quad Vena II Play £800
- Pros
:
Looks great, QUAD (I imagine a natural sound), System Pack with S-1's is great value
-Cons:
Not Aptx HD. I mean I only have 24bit FLACs currently but the HD version of BT is future proofing

NAIM Unity Atom £1999
-Pros:

Huge amount of features, Looks great, AptX HD, Apparently sounds great (What hifi).
-Cons:
A Bit Expensive Perhaps but if it really is that good....

Speakers

QUAD S-1 £445
-Pros:

Great Value and focus on Voices with that ribbon tweeter which is very appealing to me. I listed to a lot of lyrical/folk music as well as D&B and Hip-Hop. Eclectic. I imagine I can wall mount as well since they are supposed to be positioned near a wall.
-Cons:
How much better are the S-2's?

QUAD S-2 £595
-Pros:

Focus on Voices with that ribbon tweeter appeals to me.
-Cons:
A bit large to wall mount? May have to re-arrange the room. Anyone wall-mounted speakers of this size with any success?

KEF LS50 (Not Wireless) £799
-Pros:

Look great and I'm told sound great as well.
-Cons:
A bit large to wall mount? May have to re-arrange the room. Anyone wall-mounted these with any success?

I can probably work something out if wall mounting is not an option.

Room size is about 3m x 3.5m.

If anyone would add anything to that shortlist I would be grateful.

Thanks in advance fellow audio-nerds!
 

larkone

Member
I would avoid bluetooth as it is a compressed protocol. AptX HD transmits 24-bit/48kHz audio with a compression ratio of 4:1 at 576kpbs. Also it will only work if both the sender and receiver support AptX HD.
 

myonions

Novice Member
Appreciate that but It's more for convenience really.
On my phone I have plenty of 24bit Flac and Aptx hd.
I can also use the USB for higher bitrates as my HTPC sits the shelf under where the device would go.
After all it's just data transmitting so as long as the BT connection is sound.
It must still be better than Spotify for example as this isn't even 16bit Flac.
 

larkone

Member

myonions

Novice Member
Why not just buy a bluetooth adaptor with AptX-HD and plug that into your amp then you are not limited to amps that have AptX-HD built in.
Something like this
Thanks that's a great idea. The Rega Brio was on the list too.
Any thoughts on speakers?
 

xmb

Well-known Member
As your current Yamaha has network and Wi-Fi built in you should be streaming music via this route and forget Bluetooth. Before replacing your speakers or adding any other amplification I would replace your KEF (egg) sub with a new and more musical sub, such as the Silver W12. These two changes may satisfy your desire for better sound using your current setup.
 

Ascotbilly

Active Member
I would avoid bluetooth as it is a compressed protocol. AptX HD transmits 24-bit/48kHz audio with a compression ratio of 4:1 at 576kpbs. Also it will only work if both the sender and receiver support AptX HD.

Educate me please. Does that me the Apple devices I have are no use as a system controller if I buy an APTX HD Amp as I just read Apple doesn't support that protocol ?
 

larkone

Member
Apple doesn't support AptX-HD, only basic SBC bluetooth (useful for tele calls in a car but not listening to music). As I said before you need AptX-HD support on the transmitting and receiving device for it to work. That is the same for any bluetooth codec.
 

myonions

Novice Member
Yes no doubt a sub would help and that looks great.
I am already bitstreaming from jriver from my HTPC to the amp via HDMI which will already use the Yamaha's DAC.
When my HTPC is on it means my server is also on using lots of electricity just for some music and I can't help thinking the Yamaha can't compete with proper hifi equipment.
Thus, one of these amps and a decent pair of speakers would allow me to hear music at a different level. The PC won't need to be on and I will have the convenience of 24bit FLAC via Bluetooth from my phone, streaming for discovering music or music from a dedicated analogue source.
It would be proper sound and extremely versatile and that appeals to me.
I do like the idea of that Naim with some S-1s perhaps but with those smaller speakers (most likely wall mounted) am I really going to notice a significant quality increase? I imagine I need something bigger and standmount as the Apex's are still decent speakers.
All I am asking is whether anyone can recommend some combinations above that they feel produces a superb sound but I do welcome all suggestions so thank you.
 

xmb

Well-known Member
Why so obsessed with streaming from your phone via Bluetooth. Far better quality would be achieved by streaming from your phone using Wi-Fi. You can use the MusicCast App or other DLNA streaming Apps to play the music on your phone via Wi-Fi (or try AirPlay if Apple phone). To save using your HTPC you could buy an external NAS (which only consume low power) and stream directly to the Yamaha (or other amp) from that. As I said before, you could end up spend lots on equipment that may not improve your sound. You need to investigate getting the most out of what you have first.
 

Hoku

Active Member
Just chipping in with my comments about speakers if I may.

From your list, I can personally vouch for the Quad S1’s. Fantastic little speakers. Very natural tone of voices and instruments. Sounds real, not hifi. FWIW, I heard them on the end of a Quad Artera amplifier. Yes the S2’s might help the midrange, but certainly Quad is a super starting point.

Personally I’ve never liked the LS50’s, but I have to acknowledge that many do and the hifi press seem to think the can do no wrong.

If you’re wall mounting again though, I’d heartily recommend the Neat Iota. So musical, snappy. You can’t stay still listening to these. They’d be on my shortlist and are easy to wall-mount.

Another pretty small speaker that IMO has one of the best tweeters around (very similar to your Apexes tweeter), particularly for piano, is the Monitor Audio Silver 50. Might need rounding out with a musical sub - anything from REL you could afford would do the job nicely.
 

xmb

Well-known Member
If you decide to update, no matter what small wall mounted speaker you pick, it will need a sub to get any real bass. This is why looking at upgrading your sub now is well worth while, and would be the first thing I would do.

Another option for a wall mounted speaker would be the DALI Opticon LCR.
 

myonions

Novice Member
Excellent thanks guys I'll check those out. I remember having my eyes on a REL Quake many years ago but it was out of my budget range at the time.
 

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