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Best thing(s) to upgrade, to improve soundquality? (The wow experience)

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
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If you have a good amplifier,reciver with good speakers, cable fra well known brands and you use it as many people do, with your computer,

what can you upgrade to get the biggest improvement in sound, if you are not gonna buy some much more expensive speakers or amplifiers

Have heard that some has gotten a big improvement in SQ when they bought some van damme speaker cable, some say the biggest improvement to there system was when the bought a Music stream II, could also have been some interconnect that would give som people the wow experience (somtimes i think if eg a speaker cable can do that, it must have been some awful speaker cable they had, before they changed to someting like van damme and got the wow experience)

What do you think?
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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I think the biggest problem is getting the music from your computer to the amp. Now what type of music files are you playing, are you talking about downloads or just music on Spotify or Internet radio? It could just be a software issue. Does the Denon DRA-F109 have a DAC? Do you have a SSD on your computer?

I don't think the speakers cables will make much difference.

What sound card do you have?

The biggest improvement to the computer sound was when I went into the sound system settings and changesd from default settings, found a few things buried in there, my sound card is Asus Xonar DG Audio Centre which seems fairly good.

Apparently this is one of the best soundcards: Asus Xonar Essence ST but it costs about £120.
 

BigH

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Dec 29, 2012
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First I would get the computer sorted out then if you want to upgrade hifi in general I would say speakers make the most difference to the sound assuming that the source is OK and amp is adequite. I don't know the Denon so can't advise on that.
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
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BigH said:
I think the biggest problem is getting the music from your computer to the amp. Now what type of music files are you playing, are you talking about downloads or just music on Spotify or Internet radio? It could just be a software issue. Does the Denon DRA-F109 have a DAC? Do you have a SSD on your computer?

I don't think the speakers cables will make much difference.

What sound card do you have?

The biggest improvement to the computer sound was when I went into the sound system settings and changesd from default settings, found a few things buried in there, my sound card is Asus Xonar DG Audio Centre which seems fairly good.

Apparently this is one of the best soundcards: Asus Xonar Essence ST but it costs about £120.
I am just thinking in general, if somebody with a godt amplifer,reciver,speakers and cables want's to upgrade where does he/she best put there money to get the most SQ out of them?

Aragon 2 m digital(optical) audio interconnect from my motherboard to my Denon DRA-F109,2x1.5 m Audioquest SLX FLiP 14/4 and Isoacoustics stands for my Dali Zensor 1
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
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DAC

Or connect the computer so the DAC in the receiver is processing the digital signal.
 

JohnKK

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Mar 12, 2012
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I went through similar process recently. I had budget marantz AVR, MA BX2 and then upgraded to stand alone DAC, Arcam A-19 and KEF R100.

In the meantime I also added speaker stands, better speaker cables.

My estimation on subjective SQ improvement (music only) is as follow (rough numbers/percentages);

So I started wih AVR and MA BX2 and:

- better speaker cables added - 1-3% improvement

- adding speaker stands which enabled much better positioning in the room (previously speakers were close to each other on TV cabinet) - 10% improvement

- adding stand-alone DAC (priced almost as whole AVR) - 1-3% improvement

- adding KEF R100 - 50% improvement (some things like sounstage and upper bass punch were even more improved, but lets say this is overall estimation)

- adding Arcam A-19 - 25% improvement

- trying few not to expensive USB cables - didnt notice any improvement

This is my expiriance.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
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If someone has what I would call a good amplifier, reciever (do you mean DAC or source?) and speakers then I would suggest that no further upgrades are required. They will already have a really nice sounding system, which they should just use and enjoy..

If any component sounds bad enough that an upgrade would produce a better sounding system - as opposed to a different sounding but not better system - then it is not a good component.

The biggest upgrades to my systems over the years have been to either the analogue sources or the speakers, followed by the room, followed by the amps, followed by turntable supports, followed by the digital source, followed by cables. It's much easier to find good cables than it is to find good speakers or analogue sources.
 

byakuya83

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Mar 14, 2011
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There are many factors that fool your ears/brain into thinking sound quality has been improved.

The best way to monitor change is to use scientific instruments to measure it.

I've learned from this forum and many articles linked that most properly designed systems will produce a sound quality that is audibly transparent. It would appear that speakers and your listening room/position make the biggest difference.

On Youtube there is a video by Ethan Winer called Audio Myths, it is incredibly useful for gaining an understanding of these things.
 

ID.

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Feb 22, 2010
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lindsayt said:
If someone has what I would call a good amplifier, reciever (do you mean DAC or source?) .
I think he means amp/receiver.

Like this

http://www.denon.co.uk/uk/product/Pages/Product-Detail.aspx?CatId=systems&SubId=minimicro&ProductId=DRAF109DAB

but without the DAB. Looking at the power rating it could probably run better speakers. 65 watts at 4 ohms (some manufacturers love to quote at 4 ohms because it makes their kit seem more powerful). I've never listened to it, so I don't know how good it actually is.

I agree that better speakers would give the best improvement, or as Lindsayt suggested, if you are enjoying it, no need to change anything.
 

kmlav

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Jun 28, 2009
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i would agree that the DAC will make the biggest improvement in a computer based system. I have a really good gaming computer with a kick arse sound card and a cheap (ish) Arcam DAC sounds a country mile better, same on my new Imac and Mac Book Pro.
 

gasolin

Well-known member
Mar 17, 2013
718
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19,070
If we for a moment have to talk about my system (i wasn't just talking about my system, but where the money makes best sense to spend, to get more musical enjoyment, if for a start you have a good amplifier/reciver and speakers).

ID: The power of my system is more then enough,i am impressed how loud i can play even if the maximum spl of 106 db is achived with about 100watt i have a lot of power, i do not dare to play so loud that i hear som distortion or limited from my amplifier/speakers, as i have mentioned before i think the amplifier is the same as the ceol n8, the power spec is exactly the same as the denon DRA-F109,Ceol and piccolo models

I was reading on Whathifi and read about jitter (electronic/digital distrotion) thought, did i have some high jitter? But also that i might get lower jitter with a separate dac even if the dac only cost less the 100£ like the Epiphany Acoustic dac i would like to buy.

http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/dacs/e-dac-24bit-miniature-usb-dac/
 

pauln

New member
Feb 26, 2008
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If you don't want to buy a new amp or speakers there's not any big improvement you can do IMO. You don't need a DAC because your'e already bypassing the computers onboard DAC by going digital from the motherboard to the Denon. If you did get a better DAC you'd want a better amp and speakers to hear any improvement due to the DAC. Cables will make no real difference although you might think they do for a little while. Save your money for better speakers or how about a good set of headphones? That would probably give you the biggest real wow.
 

ID.

New member
Feb 22, 2010
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I agree. It's probably a great performer, for its price, but I don't think it provides a level of performance where you need to worry about jitter.

If the amplification is the same as the CEOL, etc. as you say, then it can probably handle much better speakers and this will easily give you a significant improvement and wow factor.

Look at all the threads with people matching more expensive speakers with the Marantz M-CR603 which is supposed to be pretty much the same as the CEOL. It works fine with things like the B&W CM1, PMC DB1i/GB1i, Totem, etc.
 

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