Which Networked Hifi setup (with no CD) for £4k?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by TB303, Feb 28, 2014.

  1. TB303

    TB303
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    Hello People.

    I manged to convince the misses to allow big speakers in our reception and even got a reasonable budget.I am a bit lost about what exactly to get... would love to hear your thoughts.All of my music is networked so I don't need a CD player - I'd like a system that sounds goo and can work well with lossy MP3 - which are the majority of my collection. I'll be focusing on FLAC in the future but this is my reality for now. The point is that a DLNA /airplay connection is a must for me and I'll need whatever it is I buy in the end to have an Ethernet port.

    Music wise I like varied styles but a lot of electronic/funk/jazz... The room is around 32sqm rectangle.

    I wouldn't mind getting two units a networked player/dac/pre amp and a power amp as long as I could operate them together via an iphone/iPad app.

    I'm considering buying the Naim Uniti Lite (£1,650) and the Focal Aria 936 (£2,200) - however when I listened to a similar set up (Uniti 2 + Aria 926) MP3 music from my iPhone sounded flat and harsh - as if the quality of the set up exposed all it's flaws... I understand an iPhnoe Mp3 is a lousy source but it does sound great in my measly £150 AKG 551 headphones...

    I also don't like the CD player in the Uniti - I wouldn't mind playing around £2,00 for a better Uniti-like device without the CD player - but presumably better Dac/power amp, etc). - are there parallel device form other manufactures?

    I'm open for ideas and don't have to spend so much, I'm looking to audition the new B&W 683 + NAD 7040...

    What do you think?

    I'd love to also hear your thoughts on how do you think I should allocate my budget re speakers/amp/dac/etc.

    Thanks!
     
  2. hifix

    hifix
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    Sounds like you need a speaker that is a little more forgiving along with the UnitiLite. Try the Sonus Faber Venere 2.5, or KEF R700.
     
  3. BlueWizard

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    Curious, do you know at what BITRATE the MP3 were ripped at, or downloaded at? Many downloads are 128k. That's not terrible, but not good either. Typically the MP3 bitrates need to be 256k or 320k for best results.

    Next, is this a music exclusively system, or will it also be used for movie watching? That will determine if you need access to an external DAC and how big your speakers need to be.

    There are many audio streaming options. If you want brand and series matched, then consider the Rotel which have Tuner/Streamers. Though I don't have much feed back on them.

    £650/ea = Rotel RT-12 Tuner/Streamer
    £600/ea = Rotel RA-12 Integrated amp w/ DAC (optical/coaxial/USB-media), Bluetooth, 60w/ch

    Superfi - ROTEL RT12 TUNER AND STREAMER

    Superfi - ROTEL RA12 INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER WITH DAC

    Home Theater System Surround Sound Amplifier DVD Player - Rotel PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

    Home Theater System Surround Sound Amplifier DVD Player - Rotel PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

    Pushing the budget upwards -

    £_795/ea = Rotel RDG1520 Tuner/Streamer
    £1195/ea = Rotel RA-1570, 120w/ch, DAC (optical/coaxial/USB-PC), bluetooth, etc...

    Superfi - ROTEL RDG1520 DAB/FM TUNER AND STREAMER

    Superfi - ROTEL RA1570 INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER WITH DAC

    Home Theater System Surround Sound Amplifier DVD Player - Rotel PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

    Home Theater System Surround Sound Amplifier DVD Player - Rotel PRODUCT SPECIFICATIONS

    Of course this is only a cross section, and no one would doubt the sound or build quality of NAIM products, but there is an all your eggs in one basket aspect that doesn't appeal to me personally.

    But home networking need not be all that complicated. Many are more than happy with a simple SONOS Zoneplayer and if necessary a Zone Bridge; total cost about £320.

    If you don't mind mixing and matching your components, the Cambridge Audio Stream Magic 6, though not cheap seems very full feature and don't forget the Internet Radio aspect. You can get an endless variety of music via internet streaming for little or no cost.

    Cambridge Audio STREAM MAGIC 6 Silver | Network Music Player | Richer Sounds

    Stream Magic 6 - Upsampling Network Music Player for Audio Streaming

    Here is a video that demonstrates the iPhone/Android App that is the best way to control and access your music -

    Stream Magic Remote for iPhone, iPad and Android


    Most control apps are going to be very similar to this one. In a vast majority of cases, the Apps are free.

    Your problem is going to be speakers. The whole point of more expensive speakers is that they are progressively more breathtakingly clear and detailed. The way to get less detail and transparency is to get lesser speakers. I would say something in roughly the £1000/pr pr less range. Though keep in mind these are still going to be pretty good speakers. Though I don't know the size you can tolerate, the Wharfedale Diamond 159 speakers come to mind, though at a lesser cost, the Diamond 157 speakers. The 159 has 2x 8" bass drivers each, and the 157 has 2x 6.5" bass drivers each.

    Also, the Dali Zensor 7 speakers at about £730/pr. Again good speakers, but not as revealing as some of the more expensive. Go to the following thread, and there are videos which compare the Dali Ikon 6 to the Dali Zensor 7 (Ikon 6 = £1000/pr, Zensor 7 = £730/pr) POST #18

    Dali Zensors 7 | AVForums

    Keep in mind, because this is a YouTube video, you are not remotely hearing these speakers at their best, and this assumes you have acceptable speakers on your computer to listen with.

    That said, let's weigh long term vs short term. Right now you have MP3, but that is not going to last forever. You are already moving to FLAC. And bear in mind there are huge download libraries on-line (HDTracks.com, and similar) that allow you to download files not just in CD quality but in absolute studio quality sound (24b/96k, 24b/192k). (for reference, CD quality is 16b/44.1K) In my opinion, there is little to no point in going above 24b/96k. Higher than that, and the file size is massive.

    So, if you are gradually moving to better quality music files, then perhaps you simply want to suffer the lower sound quality of MP3 on better speakers knowing that you will eventually migrate to bit-perfect FLAC files. In this case, there are many speakers in the £2000 to £3000 range, and they don't necessarily have to be behemoths.

    Despite only having a single bass driver, these PMC speaker are said to be stunning in every aspect -

    Floor Standing Speakers Pmc TWENTY.23 | hifix.co.uk

    Floor Standing Speakers Pmc TWENTY.24 | hifix.co.uk

    Your music is really complicating the situation. You have the money, you have the will, you like good sounding music, but those MP3 files simply will not sound the best on a good system.

    So, you have some options. For the moment, settle on a much lesser system; in the £2000 range. For example, just to illustrate, Rotel RT-12, Rotel RA-12, Wharfedale Diamond 157 or 159 (I'm thinking 157 in your space) or the Dali Zensor 7. That is a pretty sweet system. But you can bring the cost down even more by substituting the Sonos Zoneplayer. That is going to come in under HALF our current budget, and it is still going to be a very sweet system.

    Alternately, go for broke and just suffer the poor sound quality of your MP3 on your new very expensive very sweet system.

    As to which equipment is specifically right for you would take a bit more discussion to sort out the details.

    Lastly, I can not criticize NAIM in any way; top quality in sound and build. But myself, I'm not sure I like the idea of everything in one box. However, I'm not everybody. If space is at a premium, perhaps a single box is the best choice. I'm not trying to talk you out of NAIM, I am simply presenting a spectrum of options.

    Again, your desire for speakers is fine, and I would dearly love to have a pair of Focal Aria 936. But your MP3 music is dragging you down. So, how do you want to deal with that issue? Do you want to compromise your system with very good but lesser speakers, or do you want the best speakers with which you will suffer until you have upgraded your music?

    Try to think of MP3 as the AM radio of the digital world. No it doesn't sound that great but, at least for someone my age, AM radio, bad as it was, provided the sound track for my life.

    Hopefully that is somehow helpful.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2014
  4. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks Blue Wizard!
    Great ideas!

    This system is indeed only for HiFi (so I'm aiming to get it as high end as I could) -
    I'll be building an HC set up in another room - thought about using the Dali Zenzor 7.1 (with Zenzor 7 front's and 4x Zenzo1 as satellites) connected to a pioneer LX57 amp... So less of a problem.

    Regarding the mp3, the are all usually 320kb - some maybe VBR vs Fixed bitrate but they should sound good - I think my mistake with the Naim Uniti was playing the files off the iphone via USB - which I understand is the worst of all worlds - I understand that if I simply had the files on a USB thumb drive it would have resembled DLNA/Network playback and sounded much better.

    I like the Stream Magic 6 and will definitely audition it! - I understand it will have to be matched with a power amp to drive bigger speakers like the PMC 23 or indeed the Focal Arias. I saw some reviews of Cambridge Audio's Amplifiers and they only got 4 starts at WHF... ;-)

    Could I match the Stream Magic with a different manufacturer amp? Presumably the app that controls the magic won't work for the amp? Could I perhaps leave the amp at say ha;f volume and use the app to control the volume of the stream magic? Would that reduce quality? I seem to remember something about inputs have to go at full volume to amps for best quality?

    If so what Amp would you recommend?

    Thanks dude this is really appreciated!
     
  5. Kurchatov

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    If I were faced with the task of putting together that system, streaming option I'd look at is a secondhand Squeezebox Transporter. Good audio quality, decent DAC and potential to be useful even when you upgrade the rest of the system to a much higher level.

    For music, I'd look at a streaming subscription to Qobus, a French streaming service with broad choice of music, most of which is streamed in 16/44 Flac files which do sound rather better than Spotify or Napster can offer.

    Secondhand Transporter price should be £600. Not available new but reasonably common in the used market.
     
  6. BlueWizard

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    Define "Match"? If you mean identical, they yes the same brand. But if you simply mean look compatible then brand is not that critical. For myself, I don't mind mix and match, but yes, the components have to look good together, 'look good' but not necessarily the same.

    In my mind the Cambridge Stream Magic 6 has a pretty generic look, nothing too distinctive, available in both black and silver, so it should blend well with any brand of component. In fact, most of the components I listed are available in both Black and Silver. Myself for a Stereo system I prefer Silver. Though in a darkened theater room, black probably makes more sense.

    If your MP3 are 320k, then they are probably tolerable. Not quite that of FLAC or WAV, but probably on par with FM radio.

    Also relative to auditions, it might be worth buying a couple of CD of music that you are familiar with and music that you think will best demonstrate the various aspects of they systems you are auditioning. I would suggest music that is not too clutter. For example a Jazz Combo it probably better than full orchestra. You want clear music with distinct instruments. That way in your mind you can shift your focus for instrument to instrument. Spending £20 to assure the best demo possible, especially given that you have £4000 on the line, is probably a very worthwhile investment.

    If you have a computer, and it seems reasonable to assume you do, you can always RIP the CDs to FLAC files at a later date, so the purchase is not wasted.

    Also, please don't be offended, but if you are getting a Zensor 7 7.1 system, and you are willing to spend £4000 on a Stereo system, you can certainly do better than a Pioneer LX57 for an AV Receiver.

    At a similar price, I might suggest the Marantz SR7008, which is highly rated and very musical -

    Marantz SR7008

    Perhaps a Yamaha 1030 -

    Yamaha RX-A1030

    Anthem MRX500 -

    Anthem MRX500

    Cambridge Audio has a couple of new amps that have been well reviewed -

    Cambridge Audio AZUR 651R Black | AV Receiver | Richer Sounds

    Cambridge Audio AZUR 751R Black | AV Receiver | Richer Sounds

    All that said, I really can't fault the Pioneer, if it appeals to you - fine. Obviously my priorities are different than your own, it would not be my choice, but that doesn't mean the Pioneer is a bad choice.

    As to the amp, if you have a Smart Device (Apple or Android) you can get remote control apps for any device. Yes, it is nice that the Smart Pad can control the volume of the amp, but how bad do you really need that? Sitting on the coffee table right next to the Smart Pad is the remote control for the amp.

    Probably the best of the Cambridge line up is the newest Cambridge 851A

    Cambridge Audio AZUR 851A Silver | Stereo Amplifier | Richer Sounds

    Azur 851A Amplifier for Hi Fi and Home Stereo Music

    HiFi Choice gave it a 5-Star rating.

    Combining the Cambridge Stream Magic 6 (£700) and the Cambridge 851A (£1200) is a total of £1900 which is not outside your budget range. That leaves you about £2000 for speaker. That does cut you a bit short on the Focal 936, but at £2200/pr, you are not that far outside your budget. The Cambridge 851A amp does not have built-in DACs, but the Stream Magic has DACs that are externally accessible.

    That price is very similar to the Rotel 1520 Tuner/Stream and the Rotel 1570 amp. So, in the workable range of possibilities.

    But also, again, the Cambridge Stream Magic has a pretty straight forward look, I would expect it to blend well with any other equipment. Myself, as I've indicated, I would not limit myself to one brand to simply get a prefect match in appearance.

    I think regardless of your choices, you are going to end up with an incredibly sweet system, one to be the envy of all your friends.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  7. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks Mate,
    I did hear the new CA Azur 851A today with the stream Magic and they sounded great!
    Sadly the shop didn't have either the Focal Arias or the OPMC Twenty 23 to audition with those.

    Regarding Match, visual style is the least of my concerns - I apologise, I must have been less than clear.
    The only match I want is that one app (presumably the streamers who is usually the one connected to the network) would be able to control the volume of the whole system's output - so no remotes to lose etc...

    What do you think regarding the amp and speakers? what should be the ration between them? I was told very passionately today it should be close to 50/50 spend wise - in which case I should be looking at the likes of the Roksan Caspian M2 - or would a streamer and a Naim NAIT 5Si be able to drive the Aria 936's properly? The other side of that argument said don't bother with a £700 streamer, get the basic Sonos to for that functionality... What do you think?

    Many thanks,
    We are getting there.

     
  8. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Again most Smart Tablets or Smart Pads come with an app to act as a universal remote control for all your home electronics. So the same App might not control everything but certainly the same device (iPad, etc...) could control everything.

    The Cambridge and perhaps other brands have an proprietary interconnect to allow the units to be joined together and commonly controlled. I would not expect one brand to be compatible with another. However, with the Cambridge Stream Magic app to select the music, and the Universal Remote app to control the device volume and other characteristics, it is simply the swipe of a finger to move from one to the other.

    Again, if this is important to you, then get brand matched equipment. For myself, I would be content to run two apps one to select the music, one to control the devices.

    As a side note, these apps are really cool. You can sit back and browse though your entire collection with album art. Or select from thousand of Internet Radio Stations and Podcast from around the world. I was reading a review in a magazine, and the reviewer casually mentioned that his favorite Jazz Internet Radio Station is in Japan. No other medium give you such great diversity of content.

    I think I read that the Cambridge Streams have access to something like 20,000 Internet Radio Stations from around the world. Many commercial broadcast radio stations like BBC, also transmit over the Internet, and not only can you hear the stations live, but you can also hear pre-recorded station. So say, they did an interview with your favorite artist but you couldn't be there to listen. No problem, it is recorded and made available. This represents a colossal shift way in which music is consumed around the world.

    Sorry for the side rant.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  9. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks again Wizard,
    Fascinating stuff the internet radio... At the moment my AV receiver is a Yamaha VX673 that has a pretty good app so I'm familiar.

    I think I'm missing something here - I understand how you will end up with two apps, but have yet to encounter a dedicated power amp that has a network of WiFi connection - if they do they are usually the combined streamer types - how can you get an app to controls a non networked device?

    Also, what do you think re my questions around amplifiers/speakers/spend? I am grateful for all the great feedback mate!
     
  10. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    Perhaps I'm the one who is now confused, it has been happening a lot lately.

    If you have a power amp, they you have something feeding that power amp, and one hope what is feeding it is more than a DAC. It is what is feeding the Power amp, presumable a pre-amp which is then in turn being fed by a Network Streaming device.

    Smart Devices have Infra-Red, as well as Bluetooth and Wireless Networking. These smart devices are made to act as Universal Remote Controls for just about any audio or video device that can be remote controlled, and this includes remote control lighting in the room.

    For Christmas, we bought my mother a small Samsung tablet, it came with a universal remote control app on it.

    As to two apps, I assumed your desire was to control both the music selection and the amplfier volume control from the same amp, which the Stream Magic app will do if you have all Cambridge equipment.

    However, if you do not have all Cambridge (or all Rotel, or whatever), then you have one app to browse and select the music, once selected, you switch to the Smart Device Universal Remote Control app to control the amp.

    If you are using standard remote controls, you have one for every device. With a Universal remote control you have one controller for all your devices - CD, Amp, BluRay Player, possible even the Streaming device. In this case, that Universal Remote just happens to be a Smart Device (iPad, etc...)

    If we use the model of a CD Player. You select your music independently of your control of the amp.

    In the case, of the Stream Magic 6 with a non-Cambridge integrated amp, you select the music on the Stream Magic app, then switch to the Universal remote or to the Amp's remote to control the volume of the Stereo system.

    Perhaps I'm making this too complicated. The point is, not being able to control the amp with the music selection app should not be a deal breaker. However, if you have all Cambridge or all Rotel or all Yamaha or all other equipment, that integration in the music select app is nice .... nice but its presence or absents should not be a deal breaker.

    Still, you heard the Cambridge Stream Magic 6 and the (I assume) Cambridge 851A, and if you liked what you heard, then done deal. However, in auditioning a system like that with a price tag close to £2000, they should have auditioned it on the very best speakers they had in house. You didn't mention the speakers. But to get a true sense of the system, they should have been on very high end speakers.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  11. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks,
    What I mean is that if you take an amp - it wouldn't normally have any internet connection but will have a remote probably IR one. Now if I wanted to control it from an iPhone/iPad (to change the volume. say) than how could I as the iPhone/iPad don't have an IR port? or am I missing some thing? ;-)

    I went to a Richer Sounds so heard a few speakers from £749 (Zenzor 7's - mainly for my HC build) and £1,700 - Tannoy PRECISION 6.2 - I especially liked both those I mentioned but the room layout was less than ideal and I didn't get a chance to hear the Network Magic 6 with another Amp to compare - will return next week.

    What about this point? Your feedback is great -thanks!

    What do you think regarding the amp and speakers? what should be the ration between them? I was told very passionately today it should be close to 50/50 spend wise - in which case I should be looking at the likes of the Roksan Caspian M2 - or would a streamer and a Naim NAIT 5Si be able to drive the Aria 936's properly? The other side of that argument said don't bother with a £700 streamer, get the basic Sonos to for that functionality... What do you think?
     
  12. smokingreen

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    I have a similar wish to control music and volume from a single app without the use of a remote. Currently I have a Sonos connect feeding an Arcam AVR350, this works great but volume control is via a remote.

    I had looked at the option of using a power amp and feeding the sonos directly into it allowing the volume control to be performed using the sonos control app. In addition you can source power amps with auto sensing so they turn on when they detect a signal. This seemed like a good solution but I haven't done anything about it, perhaps others can comment on the viability of this option?

    Regarding the Sonos, it is a very capable streamer. I use it with the onboard DAC but it is commonly paired with a more pricey DAC to improve sound quality although to my ears on my system it sounds great. The truly great feature with Sonis is the ease with which other rooms can be added with either other connects ( to your HC room for example) or with their range of speakers. Certainly worth considering...
     
  13. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    As to the Ratio of media player, amp, and speakers, this is the standard formula I use.

    1x = Media Player
    1x = Amp
    2x = Speakers

    Which with a £4000 budget translates to -

    £1000 = Media Player
    £1000 = Amp
    £2000 = Speaker pair

    However, that is not absolute, it merely establishes a convenient starting point. When you actually start looking at equipment, seldom to never to you hit those ratios exactly.

    In your case, the systems I suggested and the system you are currently looking at hit the budget pretty close.

    Roughly -

    £_700 = Streamer/DAC
    £1200 = Amp
    £2200 = Speakers (Focal 936, just as an example)
    ------------------------
    £4100 = Total

    Of course, with other possible streaming options, the price will vary. But in general, I think you are in the proper range of proportions.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  14. Mr_Sukebe

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    Thoughts:
    - For the amp and speakers, I'm going to suggest a good set of s/h active speakers. I really do believe that they have a lot of advantages over standard dynamic speakers. Good examples can be had from PMC and ATC. For example, saw some lovely SCM20a recently for under £2k. They're one of the best set of standmounts I've ever heard
    - For a source, might sound odd, but what about an Oppo105. I home dem'd one recently. For the price, brilliant piece of kit. Not only a BD player, but also has digital inputs, can see external drives and stream music from them, includes a volume control and has balanced front channel outputs. Lastly, sounds very good for the dosh.
    Put just those two together and you'd have a great sounding system. The only downside would be that the interface to replay music on the Oppo for streaming is frankly a little lacking (e.g. can't browse like you can on say a Squeezebox). If that's a genuine issue, maybe add a s/h Squeezebox touch and use the digital input into the Oppo.

    See, easy done for £3k.
     
  15. hifix

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    Quite a few people have bought Oppo players to use as a two channel source - they're not even playing Bluray movies, but obviously has the added advantage of playing Bluray Audio discs.
     
  16. TB303

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    Thanks People,
    Some great advice here! Please keep it coming...

    I heard a couple of set ups (Music fidelity and Cyrus Network player/Amp combinations) along with some decent speakers around the £2k mark (Kef & B&W CM9) - but I have to say I wasn't very impressed with the sound - I played lots of music I know very well but to be honest it sounds better in my AKG550 headphones (around £150)...

    Maybe it was an awkward test room acoustically... will keep looking...
     
  17. Andrew K

    Andrew K
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    Another option to throw into the mix would be a Simple Audio RoomPlayer to take care of the streaming side and then focus the rest of the budget on pure HIFI performance
     
  18. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    I will remind you that the SONOS units are not really lacking. If fact, now that the Logitech Squeezebox Touch is gone, Sonos is probably the most popular system out there. Though they don't look much like audio equipment.

    I think the Sonos Zoneplayer 90 (I guess this in now called the CONNECT) is about £280 and the Sonos Bridge/Router is about £40. I'm not sure if you will need the Bridge/Router, but it is only £40.

    Sonos CONNECT Wireless HiFi Player

    Sonos Bridge Wireless HiFi System

    http://www.sonos.com/moduleHandler.ashx?module=/modules/HowItWorks

    These links reflect the more common prices on this equipment -

    Sonos Bridge Zonebridge Wireless system with free UK delivery from Hifi Gear

    Sonos Connect wireless zoneplayer with free UK delivery from Hifi Gear

    Sonos also has its own YouTube channel if you are interested -

    Sonos - YouTube

    Of course, spending less on the streaming, leaves more for other equipment, but with your budget even with one of the more expensive streamers, you will still have a very good system at a price consistent with your budget.

    Also, there is a forum here just for Audio Streaming. You might want to check there on that aspect, and perhaps to find individuals with first hand experience with different streaming devices.

    Streamers & Network Music Players | AVForums

    Though it seems as if you have already discovered this forum.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  19. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks People (and Wizards),
    I've seen the Sonos - though haven't heard it yet.

    If I'm going for a cheaper streamer/more expensive amp than I'll consider the Pioneer N50 - A WHF award at £350 and an excellent app. I might join it with a Roksan Caspian integrated amp and whatever speakers I choose at the end...
     
  20. moppit

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    Hi TB,
    I've got the N50 with a Naim xs amp, kef reference 2's and love it. I would not rate the app as being that great though. I mostly use bubble upnp on my android device which is excellent. Check out the HiFi news review of the N50 (it might be for the N30). The N50 is a step up and crucially has digital outputs should you get upgradeitus at some point. A good amp is generally good for all but I think speakers are very room, and person, dependent. Listen to lots until you find your preference!
     
  21. TomScrut

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    If I was in that situation I would look at the Linn Majik DSM which is about 3k. Then a pair of speakers for a grand. I used to have its predecessor the Majik DSI (same thing but no HDMI) with B&W 683s and it was good IMO. Not masses of power but gives you scope to upgrade as the internal amp can be disabled. Never used a streamer with as good a control infrastructure as the Linn either.
     
  22. sounddog

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    One thing I will throw into the pot is that you need to get to look at the control systems for the device you plan. This goes double if you plan to have a system for lots of people to use (ie in the typical home).

    There are some excelent streamers out there which are let down by the lack of decent control systems. Also ensure that the control is available on your chosen device - for example if you are allergic to having an Apple device then you are going to be disappointed with Naim.

    Another company who are doing streaming well but aren't often mentioned is T+A - a German company.

    One comment on Bluewizzard (hope I have their name right) suggestions above - the Rotel RT12 and RDG1520 are quite limited as streamers and the file formats they support.

    Eloise
     
  23. lindsayt

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    TB303, whereabouts in the country do you live? Just thinking I could pop round with a £350 amp and speaker combination that you might find interesting and which might give you some help in your search for the right system for you.
     
  24. BlueWizard

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    Thanks for that, I've been trying to track down more information on those streamers.

    Steve/bluewizar
     
  25. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks lindsayt,
    I'm in London (where else?) but we haven't moved to the new flat yet and I wouldn't like to waste your time.

    That is a very kind offer so thanks! If you let me know which amp it is I'll try and listen to it somewhere nearby.
     
  26. TB303

    TB303
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    In other news,
    I had another listen to the Focal Aria 926 - definitely prefer them to the Sonus Faber Venere 2.5 - even though they too are very good. I also dislike the Naim sound, its accurate and all but didn't sound warm to me..

    I'll try and set up another session with the focal's and a few power amps - Quad QSP was one idea...
     
  27. TB303

    TB303
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    Hello,
    I'm cross posting this here from the CM10 thread - seems relevant to my system hunt... Your thoughts and advice are welcome!

    Hello People,
    I got to audition the B&W CM10 and the Focal Aria 936 together today and we have a clear winner...

    First a disclaimer, the focal were totally new, barely had a run in the night before, hardly a good run in - where as the B&W's were properly ran-in.

    I auditioned both with a Roksan Caspian integrated AMP and an Arcam IrDac with a selection of Mp3 (320kb) and FLAC files.

    The focal is a very good speaker and very big - actually taller and wider than the CM10 and that's not even the biggest version of the Focal Aria (the biggest would be the 948).

    I think the 936 is probably the best version, it has 4 driver's (vs 3 on the 926) and clearly more base.
    However compared to the CM10 he was out classed in every aspect with every song.

    Don't get me wrong - to is a very good speaker probably the best at £2.2k - and not being run -in certainly didn't help it - but the B&W is the clear winner - especially as I was offered a pair of ex demo speakers at £2.5k - I think it certainly worth the £300 difference so I'll go for it.

    I might audition the aria gain in a few weeks once it was properly burned in but I'm almost certain the CM10 is in a different league.

    We also tried another amp combo:

    An Audiolab 8200 pre/power combo - which again was brand new form the box... It sounded a bit more musical but lacked detail (compared to the Roksan) on the lower end - this was especially noticeable with the CM10 where the rocks an managed to create a great sense of weight at the bottom end (my favourite test tracks being the Tron Legacy soundtrack by Daft Punk - lots of ominous bass and orchestras + acid...)

    I wondered about amp alternatives and was offered a good deal on a set of Audiolab 8200 pre am and a pair of Audiolab 8200 Monoblox (250W each) - I could then properly bi-amp the CM10 - it come to around £2300 - the Roksan is around £1,600 - not sure how much of a good deal this is or if there are better options...? Any feedback is welcome.

    So there we have it,
    my '£4k' system is likely to end a bit over £5k (with cables and a streamer) - but it's sound amazing - these CM10 are a real diamond...
     
  28. lindsayt

    lindsayt
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    The amp in my £350 system is a JBL/Urei 6230. You're highly unlikely to find it at any dealers. I'll be in London on the 29th and 30th. I'd be happy to bring my system to your dealers for a couple of hours to compare against the CM10's. My system has a reasonable chance of sounding better overall.

    There's more than one way to get an amazing sound.
     
  29. TB303

    TB303
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    Thanks,
    That's very kind - I'll send you a private message.
     
  30. Jeremy Frost

    Jeremy Frost
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    Don't discount active studio monitors.

    I've had various combinations over the last few years, speakers have included Ruark Talisman, Naim SBL's, Dynaudio Contour 1.1's, Shahinian Compasses & currently Shahinian Obelisks which now list at over £6k. They have been mated with good Naim pre-powers, an LP12/Aro and currently a Weiss Dac 202.

    I've just bought a pair of Event Opals following many people who have recently done a switch. They are just over £2k - have a look at some of the reviews and comments on forums.

    Audiolab have always made pretty uninspiring amps (ok at playing everything, inspiring at playing nothing!), they wouldn't be my choice.

    My recommendation at your budget - Event Opals (or maybe Adam A7x's), a computer linked to an asynchronous dac with digitally tethered volume and with Pure Music or Amarra installed on your computer.

    Also check out AVI speakers, I had ADM9.1's in my kitchen/conservatory and they were cracking plus well under your budget even with a sub. This is a review of the pair I had, they have new and higher range models now too so all you need is an Airport Express/SB/Sonos - AVI Hi-Fi Legacy - ADM9 review
     

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