Dipping a toe into Lake Hi-Fi...

dogspangle

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Just before I take the plunge, I was wondering if anyone could share a few thoughts on what I have in mind.

Over the next year or so I want to spend about £1,500 on: a DAC, an amp and a pair of bookshelf speakers. The listening room is smallish, 4 x 3 metres, with speakers placed along the 4m length and close to it. The sources will be: a Rega Planar 3, CA 650BD (transport) and Apple TV - until I can afford a dedicated streamer. I listen to anything from Adele to Rammstein, but mainly rock.

My initial choice for an audition is, Rega’s: DAC, Brio R and RS1. I think this system would tick many boxes for me, but I will definitely take my 650BD and some discs along and listen to the setup.

I’m pretty new to this, but if someone can offer me alternative ideas or comments on similar setups, then this would be a great help, and really appreciated.

Many thanks.
 
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Anonymous

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Haven't tried out the RS1s because I wanted floorstanders, but heard good things about them.

I am very, very happy with the Rega DAC, Brio-R and RS3s though.

Happy hunting!
 
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As soon as you dip your toe you will want to swim, go and demo some gear, have fun and trust your ears.
 

dogspangle

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Thanks very much for your thoughts.

I think the XTZ looks stunning, Audio Sanctum, and their log cabin, are only 10 miles away, so a demo could be possible - and they'll also permit a home trial for a couple of weeks.

SteveD: can I ask if you have encountered any brightness with your Rega kit, or a lengthy run-in period? Had my Planar 3 nearly 30 years, loved the sound, even through an old Rotel 840bx. Are you playing downloaded, high-res audio / ripped CD / mp3?

Yes, I will certainly have a good listen before parting with any cash, however, what do you recommend if you can’t hear all your preferred components together, at the same time. Do many dealers allow items to be borrowed for a day or two - for a home demo?

Regards.
 
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If you're quick, AVI are selling off their neutron 5, 2.1 systems for £900. You get a subwoofer with built in amplification for the two supplied neutron 5s, plus a built in pre-amp and DAC, loads of connections and a remote.

There's only a handful left, original RRP was £1300..
 

steve_1979

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ooh.. said:
neutron 5, 2.1 system for £900.

+1

The Neutron Five 2.1 is a fantastic system. You get so much for £900, it's without a doubt the best value hifi system that I've ever heard. If you wanted to put together a traditional seperates hifi system you'd need to spend at least £2-3K to get this kind of sound quality.
 

dogspangle

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Thanks very much for the info on the Neutron 5 2.1 setup.

Unfortunately, I have no room for a sub, but the speakers look great, and a similar size and finish to the piano black RS1s I'm hoping to audition.

Do you know if the 5s are mail order only, like the Arcaydis?

Regards.
 

relocated

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You have the ideal budget to get DAC, AMPS and SPEAKERS for around £1100 all in. Sound that will destroy considerably more expensive systems.

AVI ADM 9T.

You owe it to yourself to get these. I have had a pair for a week and believe me there is NO alternative, especially at your budget. They even come with suitable cables so all you need add are speaker stands if necessary.

Job done.

:cheers:
 

steve_1979

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There aren't very many shops where you can audition AVI speakers but if you contact AVI directly they can tell you where the nearest one is. Alternatively there's a very friendly community between AVI owners and it's likely that you could find someone near to where you live that will be happy to let you have a listen to theirs.
 
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dogspangle said:
SteveD: can I ask if you have encountered any brightness with your Rega kit, or a lengthy run-in period? Had my Planar 3 nearly 30 years, loved the sound, even through an old Rotel 840bx. Are you playing downloaded, high-res audio / ripped CD / mp3?

Hi. it's all still in a running-in period I'm sure as only picked up the DAC and Brio-R about 3 weeks ago and speakers 1 week ago (I borrowed a pair of RS3s from the shop while I was waiting for mine).

I'm playing from a laptop via a Musical Fidelity V-Link II into optical input on the DAC (iTunes linked by cable to external hard drive currently) and it's a combination of mainly 256kbps AAC and CDs ripped to lossless along with some 128kbps AAC (old downloads). There are also some 192kbps MP3s in there (I have several thousands tracks in my library so many are old downloads).

It sounds fantastic, not too bright at all even though still running in and, in my opinion, is an excellent combination. I had already made my choice on this combination and then Chebby pointed me to the January edition of What HiFi where they did a review of one-make systems of various makes up to approx £4k to £5k. The Rega DAC, Brio-R and RS3 combination came out top with a superb review. Worth a read and cemented if for me.

I would caveat the above with pointing out that as I am only recently getting back into Hi-Fi most people on this forum have heard many more components and various combinations than me and I'm sure you will try to avoid being impetuous (as I was a bit) and take their advice. A good link may be:

http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/if-you-were-starting-from-scratch-with-%C2%A32k

I got lots of brilliant help and advice which I tried to take account of and try out what I could. I really appreciated this advice but the Rega combination won me over when testing this against some other options and I don't regret my choice one iota. Still smiling.
 

dogspangle

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Wow, never really thought about actives, only seperates; things I can buy, well, seperately.

I'm hoping to purchase: speakers, then amp, then DAC, with 3 to 4 months in between each acquisition.

Thanks for all the info, though.

Cheers.
 

steve_1979

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It's definitely worth auditioning some active speakers to see if they're suit your tastes. The active speaker market is huge with just as much choice as there is in the passive hifi speaker market: www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/active-monitors/

IMO They offer much better sound quality and value than passives speakers do. For example, these 300watt Dydnaudio BM6A speakers and TC Electronics DAC/Pre-amp controller cost only £1200 and IMO would easily blow away most £5K passive systems for clarity.

Dyna.jpg
 

chebby

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steve_1979 said:
It's definitely worth auditioning some active speakers to see if they're suit your tastes. The active speaker market is huge with just as much choice as there is in the passive hifi speaker market: www.dv247.com/studio-equipment/active-monitors/

IMO They offer much better sound quality and value than passives speakers do. For example, these 300 watt Dydnaudio BM6A speakers and TC Electronics DAC/Pre-amp controller cost only £1200 and would easily blow away most £5K passive systems for clarity IMO.
Dyna.jpg

Don't forget the forthcoming Dynaudio Xeo 3 (and Xeo 5)...

http://www.whathifi.com/news/ces-2012-exclusive-dynaudio-launches-xeo-wireless-multiroom-speaker-systems
 

dogspangle

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Thanks very much for the advice SteveD, there’s some really helpful posts on the starting from scratch link, too. I also read January’s one make system group test with interest and, many post stating how the Rega kit really seems to gel together.

I think my requirements are very similar to what yours were. I have my entire CD collection ripped to PC as WAV (although still a novice when it comes to formats and sample rates – more research required I think), and several hundred iTunes downloads, too. Although, I’m streaming via an ATV2 and also using a CA650BD as a disc spinner - SACD and DVDaudio sound amazing, IMHO.

Your comments are really appreciated, and glad to hear you’re reaping the rewards.

Steve_1979 and Chebby, thanks for the active speaker info. I’m still researching and putting together a shortlist of kit to demo, but if there’s a dealer nearby (Derbys, Notts & S Yorks), then I will definitely go for a listen, although it’s £1,200 upfront, as opposed to £500 -> £500 -> £500, over a year or so.

Out of curiosity and in general, how do the active range sound, are the quite analytical? And how would they suit my Planar 3/Elyse, would I require a phono amp?

Thanks again.
 

Overdose

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Depending on what complete system you want, active speakers will need either a preamp or just a phono stage. The phono stage would be added to speakers with preamps included in the design.

If you wanted to dip a toe into the actives market, it is worth bearing in mind that my UA-25 and BM5As came in at just over £500 together, granted used, but in mint condition. Buying used gives you the option to quickly sell on without taking a hit in the wallet. Obviously without a demo, you will be buyng on blind faith, but a quick trip into your nearest proaudio shop should give you some idea of the active options available. The problem comes when you want to compare an active system againstm passive, as it will be difficult, if not impossible to find a hi-fi shop selling proaudio actives and there are very few active hi-fi speakers in your price range.
 

dogspangle

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Cheers Overdose, the like for like comparison is something I’ll have to bear in mind. I’m really clueless about this kind of kit and so I’ll sift through the forum for info.

I was just looking at steve_1979’s link to the Dynaudio BM6 & TC Electronics DAC - Pre-amp pairing and wondered where a phono amp sits in a setup like this?

Furthermore, I don’t want to limit the number of digital sources I could potentially connect up (DAB tuner, streamer, ATV, CD transport, etc), the Rega DAC and MDAC appear to offer these options. However, I do want an overall sound that’s analogue and the warmer side of neutral, though.

Regards
 

steve_1979

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dogspangle said:
Out of curiosity and in general, how do the active range sound, are the quite analytical?

Just like with passive speakers the sound of active monitors can vary quite a lot so it's worth auditioning a few to see if they suit your tastes. Some of them do sound bright and over-analytical but the majority of them are just very clear and detailed. Studio monitors are designed to be listened to all day long so they tend not to be fatiguing.

Active speakers have the advantage of using amplifiers that are perfectly optimized to match to the speaker that they're driving and there's no distortion causing passive crossover between the amplifier and the driver so the amp is able to control the speaker cone more accurately. Due to these two advantages active speakers are more detailed and have a less boomy sound to the bass.

dogspangle said:
I was just looking at steve_1979’s link to the Dynaudio BM6 & TC Electronics DAC - Pre-amp pairing and wondered where a phono amp sits in a setup like this?

I've just noticed that the TC Electronics controller only has digital inputs but there are many other monitor controllers available with different inputs. It's very simple and straight forward to get active speakers connected up to a source.

dogspangle said:
I do want an overall sound that’s analogue and the warmer side of neutral

Adam monitors use a ribbon tweeter that may suit your tastes.
 

Overdose

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dogspangle said:
Furthermore, I don’t want to limit the number of digital sources I could potentially connect up (DAB tuner, streamer, ATV, CD transport, etc), the Rega DAC and MDAC appear to offer these options. However, I do want an overall sound that’s analogue and the warmer side of neutral, though.

There are various preamp/DAC combos out there right now, all offering a similar set of features, none however, seem to have a phono stage, so you might need to look for a standalone phono stage as well. The WHF team might know of a product that does do all though.

Regarding the sort of sound you are after, that's where auditioning would come in, as what I might consider neutral, woud be bright for you perhaps, or vice versa.

Some products in your price bracket to consider.....

Streamers/DACS/Preamps: CA StreamMagic 6, MF M1 Clic, Matrix Quattro DAC (Benchmark HDR lookalike as used by another forum member MattSPL).

Speakers: Mackie HR824, Dynaudio BM6A MkII, ADAM A8X and Focal CMS65

There are many more products though, good hunting.
 

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