What would you do?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by fullfatmilk, Sep 10, 2012.

  1. fullfatmilk

    fullfatmilk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    My music (mp3's ripped @ 320) is stored on & played from my HTPC which connects via USB to a Cambridge Audio DACmagic, through a Cambridge Audio Azur 550A, into Cambridge Audio S70's.

    Whilst the overall audio experience is pleasant, I want a better sound.

    What one purchase would you recommend & why?
     
  2. steveledzep

    steveledzep
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Messages:
    485
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Swansea
    Ratings:
    +56
    Sorry, can't recommend a purchase to improve your experience. Your limiting factor is your mp3 files.
     
  3. fullfatmilk

    fullfatmilk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi Steve, mp3 files are the one variable that i can't change; too many songs & file format of choice on too many devices & software programmes.

    Thanks for your comment though :)
     
  4. Rich Marshall

    Rich Marshall
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,717
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Kirkby In Ashfield
    Ratings:
    +585
    Tell us how you would like to improve the sound?

    The equipment you have is entry level stuff so I assume you're asking about upgrading some or all of it?

    You can get fantastic sound from well encoded MP3 files, it will never be quite as good as lossless but certainly not unworthy of decent equipment.:lesson:
     
  5. fullfatmilk

    fullfatmilk
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Ratings:
    +0
    I'm aware of the quality limitations at my price-point, but c'est la vie!

    I don't feel like the Azur550A drives the S70's very well, I want clarity not volume. If I was to replace one of those components, do I buy a more powerful amp or smaller speakers?
     
  6. cornish

    cornish
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,264
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    kingsbridge
    Ratings:
    +110
    where are your speakers situated? are they close to the wall? in the corners of your room? try moving the speakers around first, further away from wall if too close... and bring them in from the corners if they are in the corners of the room.

    also, what cable are you using? RS would have sold you the amp and speakers i'm guessing if you bought it new, just wonder which cable they gave you if you bought it all at the same time.

    i use the azur55a with mordaunt short aviano1xr on speaker stands and they are not close to the wall or corners and the sound is okay. but then my sources are cdp and turntable, rather than mp3.

    i think it's worth experimenting with speaker positioning before doing anything else and if you have some thin speaker cable then try some thicker copper speaker cable.
     
  7. belloire

    belloire
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2010
    Messages:
    1,272
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    51
    Ratings:
    +52
    if you have a chance i'd try a different pair of speakers. the 550a isn't a bad amp at it's price point, but i think the speakers are letting it down.

    mp3 aren't the best by a long shot, but can still sound good through decent kit.
     
  8. Rich Marshall

    Rich Marshall
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,717
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Kirkby In Ashfield
    Ratings:
    +585

    Sorry, my ':lesson:' was directed at steveledzep not you :smashin:
     
  9. cornish

    cornish
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,264
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    kingsbridge
    Ratings:
    +110
    just to add to that, i don't think it's a case of the amp not driving the speakers properly. it's a budget amp but a capable one. i aslo think that if the OP does wish to change speakers, then getting smaller speakers would more than likely be a step in the wrong direction.
     
  10. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    5,655
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +728
    After playing about with the speaker positioning and if its still not pleasing, then you might want to consider changing them.

    Though I cannot comment on the speakers as i have not heard but feel they are the weakest link. For £200 new, i'm sure they are ok but just that and the amp is a decent one which i feel it deserves better.

    Personally for that amount i wouldn't expect anything great unless s/h.
    Other speakers with similar spec and size which are regarded for their sound quality, start from around £400 or a little below.

    Most folks (which the general consensus seems to be) will probably spend twice as much on their speakers than their amp. Though that is a guide rather than the rule, it is something to consider when putting together a setup or upgrading one. As I menion above, Unless they were second hand, I personally wouldn't go cheaper than the amp but would consider ones that are little above the amp price. But that just me.
     
  11. cornish

    cornish
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,264
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    kingsbridge
    Ratings:
    +110
    something that is in the back of mymind while thinking about this...

    perhaps if the room is a bit on the small side then floorstanders might not be right, but like already mentioned, moving the speakers around costs nothing and if they are too close to walls or corners then the bass from the speakers might be overbearing and this might be the clarity issue. i could be wrong but is a thought.

    in the lower end of the budget, it is possible to get bookshelf speakers for £200-300 that sound superior to £400 floorstanders! the only problem i see with buying s/h is if the speakers don't sound 'right' with the amp, it's not quite so easy to take back to swap for a different pair, as some speakers can be fussy about what they are matched with amp wise.
     
  12. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    5,655
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +728
    Haha, i have to laugh because i forgot i've just bought a pair of bookshelfs for the dining room and tho its early days yet, the SQ fills it nicely. :facepalm::laugh:

    This is true and the CA speakers looks like it is in the group that will be beaten. If room is an issue then i'm sure there will be a few bookshelf suggestions made.
     
  13. cornish

    cornish
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,264
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    kingsbridge
    Ratings:
    +110
    bookshelf speakers work well with the CA azur550a the ones i have do a fine job, and fill the room nicely and can walk to the next room over and hear them nice and clearly even at a low volume.

    yeah the CA speakers could easily be beaten i'm sure, but it also depends on the sound the OP wants as bookshelf speakers don't have as full a range as floorstanders and could find bass a little lacking with bookshelfs.

    couple of ideas if he feels his current speakers aren't good enough...

    bookshelf

    Mordaunt Short AVIANO 2 Black | Speakers Per Pair | Richer Sounds £200 RS

    Monitor Audio BRONZE BX2 Black | Speakers Per Pair | Richer Sounds £250 RS

    floorstander

    Mordaunt Short AVIANO 6 Black | Speakers Per Pair | Richer Sounds £400 RS

    Monitor Audio BRONZE BX5 Black | Speakers Per Pair | Richer Sounds £500 RS

    the important thing is to get a home demo and see how they perform. the amp should easily drive any of those speakers mentioned.
     
  14. RBZ5416

    RBZ5416
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Nov 4, 2002
    Messages:
    19,050
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +7,219
    JRiver's Media Centre as a player for the HTPC. It should bypass any messing the OS may be doing with the data before it's passed to the DAC. Not even a purchase initially as you get a 30 day free trial. :smashin:
     
  15. daytona600

    daytona600
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2010
    Messages:
    313
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    up north
    Ratings:
    +15
    dont spend a penny Rip to flac or wav files
     
  16. Rich Marshall

    Rich Marshall
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,717
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Kirkby In Ashfield
    Ratings:
    +585
    In my experience changing speakers makes the biggest difference to the sound of a system, followed by source then amplification, so I say start there.

    I would also recommend bookshelf speakers on decent stands, I've had several pairs of floorstanders and bookshelf speakers and although the floorstanders produce a bigger sound they don't come close to a good bookshelf speakers at the same price for detail and clarity.
    I'm currently running Epos m5's on stands and a Monolith subwoofer for added authority of the lows, only cos I'm a bass-head it's not essential but it's the best combination I've had in 20 years of hi-fi.
     
  17. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2007
    Messages:
    5,655
    Products Owned:
    1
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    London
    Ratings:
    +728
  18. steveledzep

    steveledzep
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Messages:
    485
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Swansea
    Ratings:
    +56
    Oooh ! Not been told off before. Those double rulers certainly make the knuckles smart !! ;)
     
  19. steveledzep

    steveledzep
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2009
    Messages:
    485
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Location:
    Swansea
    Ratings:
    +56
    :smashin: Can't make a silk purse from a sow's ear ! A better amplifier and better speakers will reveal more of the shortcomings of mp3.
     
  20. Rich Marshall

    Rich Marshall
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2006
    Messages:
    3,717
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    136
    Location:
    Kirkby In Ashfield
    Ratings:
    +585
    :smoke::beer: :D
     
  21. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
    Distinguished Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    22,125
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    166
    Ratings:
    +4,161

    This is my intuitive sense as well. I'm sure for the money the S70 speakers are fine, but they don't cost much money.

    As to the amp, that should be a fine amp with a solid 60w/ch. That should have no trouble driving all but the most difficult speakers.

    As to the MP3, in an article I read, you need to encode them at 256K or higher. In test, people could hear the difference in low encoded MP3 but once they crossed the 256k threshold, they couldn't hear much difference. Higher bit rates means larger files, but even the largest file is still going to be small relative to an WAV.

    Again, you have already Ripped your files, or you may have purchased them on-line. MP3 should sound fine, but, no, they are not going to be Audiophile quality. Good ... but not great.

    As to the other suggestion, I also agree with them.

    It would be nice to know the size of your room (dimensions)? Where the speaker are placed, especially how close they are to the side walls and the walls behind the speaker.

    I generally find that speakers that are placed close to walls or in the corner tend to get a bass boost, but it comes at a sacrifice to clarity in the midrange. You don't gain in one area for free. In this case, a gain in the Low is a loss in the mids.

    Generally, though it varies from speaker to speaker, if you have 10" to 12" behind the speaker, and say 12" to 24" to the side of the speaker, you are probably going to be OK. Though again, that's not absolute.

    Also, keep in mind that Bookshelf speakers in general do not need as much room as floorstanding. The Wharfedale Diamond series bookshelf require a minimum or 2 inches behind the speaker. The floorstanding have a minimum of 8". Though keep in mind this is MINIMUM, not ideal.

    But if my floorstanding Diamond require 10" to 12", likely the bookshelf could easily get by with approx. 5" to 6".

    Also, a general assessment of the room acoustics. Is this a stark bare ultra-modern room, or is it old-fashioned and cluttered? Modern bare minimalist rooms tend to be an acoustic nightmare.

    I don't see how you system could sound bad, and you seem to agree, it does sound pleasant, but could you give us more of an indication of what you are trying to achieve? How is the current system lacking.

    In summary, not knowing the bit rate at which the MP3 were encoded, I would suggest that the MP3 and Speakers were your weakest links. Now the amp might not suit you personally, but it should be a good solid amp, and should have no trouble driving your speakers.

    Still, for more money, you can get more amp. But overall, I think the amp is the least of your worries assuming it is operating correctly.

    Most people assume you gain MORE of something from better audio equipment; more volume (not true), more bass (not true), more something. There has to be something MORE to justify all that extra money. But the MORE that you get is more Clarity and more Control. Those are hard things to qualify. You can bring your friends over and say "Listen to that Bass" and they will be impressed. But, if you say "Listen to that Clarity", that's hard for anyone to quantify or measure, so on first listen, it is less impressive. But in the long run, clarity wins the race every time.

    Just a few thoughts.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  22. dogfonos

    dogfonos
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    1,778
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +292
    Purchasing a better passive speaker will certainly buy you an even more pleasant sound. Well-designed and engineered passive speakers are usually pleasant but rarely manage to produce the immediacy/excitement/verve of good active speakers (and that doesn't necessarily mean expensive).

    Traditional hifi dealers rarely sell a good selection of active speakers, if they sell any. Visit a professional music retailer who can demonstrate the potential of true active speakers in your price range. Sell the amp and speakers to increase your budget. Make use of the balanced XLR output from your DACMagic to feed your new active speakers (typically called "active near-field studio monitors"). If you don't wish to control volume using your source, then it may be operationally convenient to purchase a passive volume control rather than use each active speakers' own built-in volume control.

    Buying a better set of passive speakers may just be delaying the inevitable.
     
  23. cornish

    cornish
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,264
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    66
    Location:
    kingsbridge
    Ratings:
    +110
    yeah but then better speakers and amp might convince the new generation that proper music is the way to go! vinyl is king and a good deck with good speakers is enough, a capable amp of driving them (speakers) will do.

    i want to pull the trigger on speakers, deck and phono amp but i don't want to shoot myself in the foot elsewhere in life!

    it could be down to speaker position at the end of the day as some floor standers can be fussy where they are placed, especially cheap ones.
     
  24. dogfonos

    dogfonos
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 13, 2011
    Messages:
    1,778
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Ratings:
    +292
    If you believe that cost is a reliable indicator of quality, then look away now...

    Studiospares Seiwin Powered Monitors (Pair) at Studiospares

    Check out the customer reviews - very favourably compared with Focal Solo 6 by one reviewer (probably stretching it a bit IMO).

    Behringer B2030A Truth Active Studio Monitors (PAIR) at Gear4Music.com

    Studiospares Aktiv6 Pair of 6" Active Monitors at Studiospares

    Alesis M1 Active Mk2 Monitors (Pair) at Gear4Music.com

    A few examples of budget active studio monitors. Have only listened to the first in the list and would heartily recommend it - 'pleasant' it ain't, it's accurate! The following three speakers frequently receive good reviews/feedback but there are many others worthy of audition at all price points, just depends on your budget.

    I think these types of speaker will give the sound quality you desire.
     

Share This Page

Loading...
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice