Complete newbie, speakers and Amp advice

Silver7787

Member
May 30, 2022
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0
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Hello all and thank you for taking the time to read this thread.

I've always been a huge fan of music and audio but please regard me as a total novice when it comes to the world of audiophile technology and culture. I have recently come into some money and would like to upgrade the current setup that I'm working with. For a couple of decades I have been using my PC as my setup. It's a powerful unit and I have installed a Creative SoundBlaster Z sound card that has been doing it's job on a budget. I have partnered this with a 5.1 system from 2001 up until two years ago when I started using a pair of Logitech Z265 2.1 speakers which, though bassy, lack any real tone in the highs and mid ranges. My setup sits in a front room of reasonable size but I will admit it sounds much better if I take it out of the carpeted front room and move it into the Dining Room which is a larger space and has wooden floorboards.

I have a budget of around two thousand pounds to spend on new hardware and I'm really not sure what to upgrade to having never owned an amplifier or anything close to a half decent setup. I was considering buying KEF LS50 Meta. Could I simply cable these via a 3.5m aux into my sound card and get a good result out of them or would I be better off putting money down on an amplifier and retiring my PC for the sake of music. I'm sorry I'm really clueless when it comes to these sort of things. The majority of my music is on my computer hard drive in FLAC format and it's very handy to simply put a playlist into Winamp (showing my age now). This is how I've been listening to music for a long time and I have no idea if I could even hook up an external hard drive to an amplifier so it had access to that music library.

Thank you all for reading my questions and taking the time to help a guy out who has never dipped more than a toe into the water when it comes to the wonderful world of audio. Have a wonderful day and I hope very much I have posted this in the right place and not broken any rules after having a skim through the Forum Rules.

Thanks again :)
 

treesey

Well-known member
May 18, 2015
167
46
18,620
Welcome to the madhouse (as they always say)

I approached this from the other direction - I have amps and speakers, and so when I wanted a bit of modernity I ripped my CDs onto the PC (using EAC) and play them back using Foobar, which is, as my limited understanding goes, a very good free player.

However - you have a number of choices - do you want to get a separate DAC and 2.0 music amplifier, or just get a 5.1/7.2/9.2 AV receiver which will already have a DAC, into which you plug or Cast or wifi your existing source.... the advantage being you can add any number of HDMI inputs.

However, it seems that the sound quality of music playback using a receiver is not as good as using a music 2.0 amplifer.

One way around this is to get a receiver with pre-outs, and then instead of connecting the front speakers direct, you can take the front speaker pre-out and put into a decent 2.0 power amplifier, and then into the front speakers. So the remaining satellite speakers and sub run direct from the AVR.

But you are still using the AVR as a pre-amp, which we are told can be not as good (again) as a dedicated pre-amp....

Confused? You will be, after this weeks episode of, 'Soap'.
 

Silver7787

Member
May 30, 2022
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0
20
...that might have been extra confusing - whichever path you choose, you can still use your PC and files as the source.
It was little bit confusing! I'm a real novice when it comes to this field. After some careful research for a few hours I've decided to buy an amplifier, a pair of speakers and then connect said amplifier to my computer using USB. Which is something I actually had no idea could be done. But thank you for taking the time to reply to me :)

I'm thinking as an amp, I'm going to purchase a Cambridge Audio CXA1. I'll partner that up to a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 603 S2 and cable the computer into the amplifier so I can still use Winamp or Foobar to set up playlists.

Like I say I am really new to this! Lol!

Thanks for the welcome.

Do you think that would be a good entry level set up given I have only ever used Logitech and Creative 2.1s before? Will I notice a significant difference in the quality of the audio compared to what I'm using currently with the proposed setup?
 

treesey

Well-known member
May 18, 2015
167
46
18,620
I can't see how it won't sound better, but everyone's ears and sonic preferences/brains seem to be different.

All I would suggest is if buying new you choose something 'popular' so it's easy to sell on if it doesn't work for you.
 

Silver7787

Member
May 30, 2022
3
0
20
I can't see how it won't sound better, but everyone's ears and sonic preferences/brains seem to be different.

All I would suggest is if buying new you choose something 'popular' so it's easy to sell on if it doesn't work for you.
Thanks for the advice :) I'm really looking forward to the whole experience.
 

Tinman1952

Well-known member
May 19, 2021
1,453
867
2,070
A PC is an electrically noisy environment so plugging it into your Hi Fi via the analogue 3.5mm output is not really recommended....
(and to answer your question it is a 'line level' output which will not drive the LS50 Metas... you do need an amplifier.)
However there is nothing wrong with using a PC as your music source over the network into your HiFi....or even using the digital output via USB.
I would be looking at an integrated amplifier ... with internal DAC and USB input or a built in streaming function.
 

Jimbodinho

Active member
May 30, 2022
4
1
25
What's your set up there? Is this to be a main living room system set up in front of a sofa / chair? Music only for tv/films too?
 

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