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What do you think is next?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by tom_nieto, Mar 22, 2004.

  1. tom_nieto

    tom_nieto
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    So I've been bitten by the upgrade bug again. I want to know how I can improve my CD performance.

    My current system is: Denon 3802, Sony CDP-XE570, Mission M72.

    I was thinking about buying a DAC and an integrated amp to drive my speakers. I think my current CDP is an adequate performer, and will probably make a suitable transport for a DAC. I would also like to run my computer through the DAC to improve mp3 playback (obviously I'd have to use a digital passthrough function for DVD). This would mean that the DAC's analog output would be connected to the integrated amp. I now come to my second problem: is there a DAC that has 2 optical inputs? I've seen the Meridian 203 and cambridge dacmagic 2 on ebay for reasonable money, but these only have one optical input, and I need 2 (one for CD and one for computer). Should I also buy a separate soundcard for my nForce 2 shuttle adding yet more to my costs, or is there a suitable solution, bearing in mind that I also quite fancy a MD deck as I have quite a few MDs and I use them a lot for portable audio and recording from microphone, so the more inputs the better really.

    I know you're meant to upgrade from the source first, but I can't help thinking that a new pair of front speakers would really help me, and that I should perhaps forget about the DAC (and possibly the integrated amp) until I can afford serious money. There are some serious bargains about now, the Mission 78 series seems to be going for silly money atm, and and I'm sure they're not the only ones.

    I think I can probably get more out of my current speakers. In YOUR opinion, am I going to get more out of a DAC/integrated amp than new speakers?

    Any input would be much appreciated, and I'm especially after recommendations on DACs new and old as well as integrated amps. I can go second hand, and I'm quite willing to. I don't have silly money to spend, and unfortunately I can't give an exact budget. I suppose for a ballpark figure £200 on each, but I'd obviously prefer to spend £200 on both DAC and amp. I might have to go and bug richer sounds tomorrow or wednesday and see if they've got any cambridge dacmagics about that I can borrow or at least try out.

    Thanks very much for reading

    Tom
     
  2. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Tom reading your plight and thinking of the audio side your system needs a fair bit of upgrading, I agree with you about your speakers BTW but I would approach this as a staged upgrade, and if stereo is a big concern I would leave the DAC till last, your Sony CDP is decent enough just now via a half decent amp. Again in the £200 arena I have heard nothing but praise for the Rotel RA-01 amp (this would be my first concern even with your M72s), next up speakers but you may find a big enough leap in performance with a new amp. Remeber just go for a SC with RCA ouputs to route to the new amp, and factor in a SC with a digital output of some sort for future use of your PC for audio. One DAC that springs instantly to mind for your needs and is available from £300-350 second hand, ie the TAG DAC 20, has more inputs (7) than you can shake a stick at :

    1 XLR AES/EBU
    1 BNC 75 Ohm Coaxial
    2 RCA SPDIF Coaxials
    3 Toslink SPDIF opticals

    it also has 2 buffered analogue outputs for driving really long IC oh and it also has a digital output or loop in the form of a RCA SPDIF coaxial which recolcks whatever singal it can recieve and send out again. i currently use one and at £300 it has to be the bargain of the century, I use it for CD, DVD-V, Minidisc & Freeview Digital Radio from a Nokia STB. I dont know of any other DAC available for so little with that type of input rota, its sounds damned excellent also.
     
  3. tom_nieto

    tom_nieto
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    Thanks for your helpful post :) Not having a remote would annoy me a bit with the rotel, perhaps I could pick up a second hand RA-02... then again, it's not the biggest sacrifice in the world, and my CD player has an adjustable output level, so if the worst came to the worst I could use that and leave the rotel at a fixed level.

    Ideally I would like to demo some stuff at home, but with my price range and buying second hand stuff it's not really an option. I wish someone in my house would buy an integrated amp so that I can see if it makes a real difference. I have a feeling that it would, I just really want to see if my money can be better spent elsewhere, argh!
     
  4. tom_nieto

    tom_nieto
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    I have seen various second hand things including a cyrus 3 (£200) and a meridian 101 preamp and two 105 monoblocks (£275 ono). The meridian is a little more expensive, but I could barter it down a little I reckon. I'm really tempted by the meridian, and I reckon it would have loads of power, but I also really like the look of cyrus kit. The Cyrus 3 is 10 years old! But apparently it's really good.

    I would then look at a DAC, then speakers when funds permitted. What do you think?
     
  5. tom_nieto

    tom_nieto
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    I think I'm going to buy the cyrus 3. Is this a good idea? It would be an excellent amp for further upgrades on the stereo side. I'm just not sure that my speakers will do it justice. I guess once my exams are finished and I can get a proper job I'll have to money to buy some better speakers too, as well as a DAC (I hope).

    Should I save my money and buy a new CD player?
     
  6. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    IMHO my best upgrade was adding the Arcam amps to my 3802 to drive the front speakers. This made a huge improvement for stereo music and the processor mode of the Arcams means no second volume to worry about when watching a DVD.

    My advise on upgrade order would be as follows:

    Integrated amp
    Power amp to biamp speakers if possible or if not get speakers first
    New speakers (then get power amp if not already got)
    DAC

    Mark.
     

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