First Computer Based Hi-Fi Setup

admin_exported

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First, I would like to give big thumbs up to all the forum participants. I have been reading this forum for the past two months and it has been extremely helpful to understand the Hi-Fi world. As the subjects points out, I am looking to build my first hi-fi set-up, usage of the system will be mainly for stereo music (I would say 90% music, 10% video) and all of my music will be computer-based (stored on a NAS music server). After extensive reading I have narrowed the list to the following (Budget is around £4k): Speakers: B&W CM9 or ProAc 140 Integrated amp: Roksan Caspian M2 or Naim XS Streamer: Logitech Squeeze box Touch or Onkyo 8050 NAS: Synology 712+ My questions are the following: 1. For the kind of usage and budget I have, does the set-up above make sense? Would you have built it differently? 2. Would the sound quality improve materially if I add an external DAC? (No additional budget for it at the moment but was thinking of adding potentially an M-DAC at a later stage) 3. Which streamer would you recommend, the Onkyo or SB? I have a small preference for the Onkyo but from my understanding Logitech’s DAC is much better quality (but still no 192/24 streaming support) 4. Anything else I should be thinking of? Thanks a lot for your help, Ali
 
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Anonymous

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Formatted version below...

First, I would like to give big thumbs up to all the forum participants. I have been reading this forum for the past two months and it has been extremely helpful to understand the Hi-Fi world.

As the subjects points out, I am looking to build my first hi-fi set-up, usage of the system will be mainly for stereo music (I would say 90% music, 10% video) and all of my music will be computer-based (stored on a NAS music server). After extensive reading I have narrowed the list to the following (Budget is around £4k):

Speakers: B&W CM9 or ProAc 140

Integrated amp: Roksan Caspian M2 or Naim XS

Streamer: Logitech Squeeze box Touch or Onkyo 8050

NAS: Synology 712+

My questions are the following:

1. For the kind of usage and budget I have, does the set-up above make sense? Would you have built it differently?

2. Would the sound quality improve materially if I add an external DAC? (No additional budget for it at the moment but was thinking of adding potentially an M-DAC at a later stage)

3. Which streamer would you recommend, the Onkyo or SB? I have a small preference for the Onkyo but from my understanding Logitech’s DAC is much better quality (but still no 192/24 streaming support)

4. Anything else I should be thinking of?

Thanks a lot for your help,

Ali
 
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Anonymous

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For that kind of budget I would probably have a word with Avi about the upcoming ADM40 floorstanders. Another forum member tried them recently and has sold his entire Cyrus system to fund them.
 
A

Anonymous

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That's an option I havent considered. Will definitely add to the demo list. I must say I am quite intrigued, havent thought about the active speakers route.
 
A

Anonymous

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It would also make the DAC in your source/s irrelevant... :)
 

altruistic.lemon

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snivilisationism said:
For that kind of budget I would probably have a word with Avi about the upcoming ADM40 floorstanders. Another forum member tried them recently and has sold his entire Cyrus system to fund them.
Not wise advice. I'd sell my Cyrus system to replace with anything, not a fan. Also, how can you suggest something not released yet. Not to mention it's a matter of taste - some think my system is great, others crap.
 

CnoEvil

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Hi Ali

You have a good budget, so before getting into specifics, I have a couple of more general questions:
- What size of room are you putting it in, does it have a suspended wooden floor and how is it furnished?
- what sort of music do you listen to, and how do you like it presented (ie. smooth and rich, yet detailed or more forward, brighter and analytical)?
- What equipment have you heard before and liked, or are you going on reviews and the comments/opinions of others?

I would like to see a bigger range of equipment to demo, but if you can describe what you like, it will be easier to make recommendations that are more relevant.

Cno
 

Overdose

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My preference would also be to an active setup. Your budget would get a nice last edition Mac mini (with DVD drive) with iPod touch or iPhone as a remote and leave £3K for the speakers (ADM40s). Granted, recommended on reputation alone, but with the reports, it would be wise to at least try them.

There are some very nice actives out there, but the AVI do seem compelling with their all in one design.

The pros of this system are a low box count, excellent sound quality, true multi media capability and will even double as a DVD player. I would try to get the largest HDD version Mac mini you can, to store your music locally, but use the NAS only for backup.

Hope this helps.
 

tino

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Sep 29, 2011
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Hmmm .... lots of options to consider here .... but ....

Without knowing what equipment you currently have or have been used to in the past, it seems to me that for a first hifi setp you are prepared to spend quite a lot of money but not sure of the results or sound you wish to obtain. This approach can lead to tears if you are not careful / spend a lot of time researching and auditioning beforehand. Of course 4K will get you something pretty decent but not necessarily the best value for money or the combination best suited to your needs. There are many peple on this forum who will suggest equally fabulous ways of blowing your maximum budget ;)

If you are unsure where to start, then can I suggest experimenting with a relatively modest but still great sounding network player/amplifier/speaker combination before progressing onto higher quality gear in the future once you have found your feet.

If it were me here's where I would start:

Example (1): Onkyo 8050 network receiver (player and amplifier) + one of many up to £500 speakers out there *

Example (2): Squeezebox Touch (£200) + Rega Brio R (< £500) + aforementioned speakers

* I am secretly tempted by Triangle Colour bookshelf speakers but then that's just me :)

Don't forget to budget for around £300 - £400 for a NAS / computer to host your music and cables etc.

At this stage I wouldn't get hung up too much on getting a DAC, you can do without one for now.

PS I don't get your reference to 10% video .. are you saying that you have some DVD audio or want to use your hifi as part of a home theatre setup? The Onkyo might be better for that sort of thing?
 

Overdose

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The problem with buying something cheaper only to upgrade later, is that you will lose money when you inevitably sell the first set of equipment.

The advice to audition equipment is sound, but if a budget is given it would be wise to audition equipment up to the budget and at varying price points below. It will be impossible though, to test all of the choices back to back.
 

tino

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Sep 29, 2011
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Overdose said:
The problem with buying something cheaper only to upgrade later, is that you will lose money when you inevitably sell the first set of equipment.

The advice to audition equipment is sound, but if a budget is given it would be wise to audition equipment up to the budget and at varying price points below. It will be impossible though, to test all of the choices back to back.
The losses would be small .. a few hundred quid (or you can move the system to another room), as opposed to a couple of thousand if it goes horribly wrong by badly spending 4K. But yes I agree with you, seeking advice and auditioning at all price points up to max. budget is sound advice. Whichever way the budget is spent, it will be worth 50% of the original value after a year or two.
 

Overdose

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Feb 8, 2008
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tino said:
Overdose said:
The problem with buying something cheaper only to upgrade later, is that you will lose money when you inevitably sell the first set of equipment.

The advice to audition equipment is sound, but if a budget is given it would be wise to audition equipment up to the budget and at varying price points below. It will be impossible though, to test all of the choices back to back.
The losses would be small .. a few hundred quid......
Really?

Nice to know that you can afford to lose that sort of money, perhaps the OP cannot. Better to buy the best that you can afford I say, than to move into some midway position only to sell on later as it doesn't quite cut the mustard. If an audition reveals a cheap system to sound indistinguishable from a much more expensive one, then so much the better.
 

poldo

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I would suggest an apple tv + iPad or iPhone + good dac like the Moon 100D + Exposure 3010S2 + Audiovector Si3 Super speakers. Imo a perfect balanced set up.
 

tino

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Sep 29, 2011
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Overdose said:
tino said:
Overdose said:
The problem with buying something cheaper only to upgrade later, is that you will lose money when you inevitably sell the first set of equipment.

The advice to audition equipment is sound, but if a budget is given it would be wise to audition equipment up to the budget and at varying price points below. It will be impossible though, to test all of the choices back to back.
The losses would be small .. a few hundred quid......
Really?

Nice to know that you can afford to lose that sort of money, perhaps the OP cannot. Better to buy the best that you can afford I say, than to move into some midway position only to sell on later as it doesn't quite cut the mustard. If an audition reveals a cheap system to sound indistinguishable from a much more expensive one, then so much the better.
It's called depreciation and it's going to happen whatever the OP spends their money on. 50% of something small is less than 50% of a lot more. And there is much joy to be had at < £1K. For a self confessed first timer (and apologies to the OP if they are are somewhat modest in their own description) I would not recommend blowing £4K first time around unless money is no object. It's not my money but I only offered an opinion.
 
A

Anonymous

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altruistic.lemon said:
snivilisationism said:
For that kind of budget I would probably have a word with Avi about the upcoming ADM40 floorstanders. Another forum member tried them recently and has sold his entire Cyrus system to fund them.
Not wise advice. I'd sell my Cyrus system to replace with anything, not a fan. Also, how can you suggest something not released yet. Not to mention it's a matter of taste - some think my system is great, others crap.
Not wise? To consider another option?

Ok.

The advise is based upon the fact that my current speakers ADM9T are at least as good as any other compact speakers I have heard up to the same price, and that doesn't include amp/DAC.

It's based on the fact that they are an upgrade on my speakers, which will deliver more, accurate bass.

It's based on the fact that the true meaning of the words "high fidelity" refer to a system that portrays music as it was produced or recorded without adding any colourations like "warmness" or "brightness" and that is what I feel my own does.

It's based on the fact that the people who have commented on their demos of the speakers have all been very positive

It's based on the fact that you are getting a great set of amps, properly bi-amplified speakers and a state of the art DAC, without the extra cost and space requirements of extra metal boxes.

I personally don't often agree with the main man at Avi, but he knows a thing or 2 about making damn good speakers and selling them at a damn good price :)
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Ali said:
Speakers: B&W CM9 or ProAc 140

Integrated amp: Roksan Caspian M2 or Naim XS

Streamer: Logitech Squeeze box Touch or Onkyo 8050

NAS: Synology 712+

My questions are the following:

1. For the kind of usage and budget I have, does the set-up above make sense? Would you have built it differently?

2. Would the sound quality improve materially if I add an external DAC? (No additional budget for it at the moment but was thinking of adding potentially an M-DAC at a later stage)

3. Which streamer would you recommend, the Onkyo or SB? I have a small preference for the Onkyo but from my understanding Logitech’s DAC is much better quality (but still no 192/24 streaming support)

4. Anything else I should be thinking of?

Thanks a lot for your help,

Ali
Hi Ali,

Re: the Onkyo TX8050 you mention above; it's not just a streamer, but a network receiver which will accommodate a variety of sources and is iPod/iPhone and DLNA compatible (sound quality for all of these, both wired and wireless is excellent). 100w amp, high current, low feedback design and yours for around £300. I'd audition it and see what you think. From my own experience, it's the best bit of hifi kit I've bought.

EDIT: For storage, I use a Western Digital 1TB external hard drive, which connects via USB to the Onkyo. It plays the file contents from there - mine are a mix from the last few years of 192 and 320kbps MP3 and WAV files. The Onkyo DAC does the conversion and it sounds extremely good. It can also be remote controlled with either an Android or Apple phone or iPod Touch too (which I use).
 

poldo

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Dec 23, 2009
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AVI is def. not for everyone, I owned them and did not liked them at all, their sound was lean and bright and low octaves stopped at 80hz, so no bass at all.

the subwoofer is ok but expensive, not impressed by AVI at all.

The Audiovectors go very low and have serious bass output, great speaker
 
A

Anonymous

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poldo said:
AVI is def. not for everyone, I owned them and did not liked them at all, their sound was lean and bright and low octaves stopped at 80hz, so no bass at all.

the subwoofer is ok but expensive, not impressed by AVI at all.

The Audiovectors go very low and have serious bass output, great speaker
A few months ago.

poldo said:
I now own the AVI Neutron 2.1 set for almost a year. I bought it blind because I wanted a set for music and movies and no 5.1 + small in size. I have a 25 m2 room but it is a living room with a small kid so I wanted not too much cables and stands.Because the set was as only 2000 euro (speakers, cables, stands, 100w amped subwoofer, 2x100 watt amps + dac ) and my budget was 5000 euro, i thought I should upgrade within a couple of months.But I still own the neutron 2.1 and after a lots of demoes most speaker/amp/dac combos around 5000 euro did not bettered my set and I think a lot (70%) were actually worse.Does anyone here own the AVI neutron 2.1 and had the same thoughts?The sound best to describe the neutron 2.1 set is a very good headphone set up. Clear and tight bass. No boomy at all and no harsh treble. I can listen to it for hours.Lots of people are negative about Ash and sometimes he can be very "shabby" (don't know the of that is a correct word, iam not native english) but his products are very good.
I now own the AVI Neutron 2.1 set for almost a year. I bought it blind because I wanted a set for music and movies and no 5.1 + small in size. I have a 25 m2 room but it is a living room with a small kid so I wanted not too much cables and stands.
Because the set was as only 2000 euro (speakers, cables, stands, 100w amped subwoofer, 2x100 watt amps + dac ) and my budget was 5000 euro, i thought I should upgrade within a couple of months.
But I still own the neutron 2.1 and after a lots of demoes most speaker/amp/dac combos around 5000 euro did not bettered my set and I think a lot (70%) were actually worse.
Does anyone here own the AVI neutron 2.1 and had the same thoughts?

The sound best to describe the neutron 2.1 set is a very good headphone set up. Clear and tight bass. No boomy at all and no harsh treble. I can listen to it for hours.
Lots of people are negative about Ash and sometimes he can be very "shabby" (don't know the of that is a correct word, iam not native english) but his products are very good.
 

poldo

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I am talking about the neutrons son, not adm's. neutrons are good value for money in a small room I had, i a big room they lose grip.

ADM's are much leaner and brighter so not for everyone, the sub will cost you much more extra. It is very good with vocals but if you want some more juice in rock music, it is not the right system.

Where the ADM's + sub did a good job were movies, if you don't want a full 5/7.1 , the ADM+sub are the best option available and you have a great stereo set-up too.

ADM are not a bad speaker, but lots of people don't like it when 50% of their records sound crappy.
 
A

Anonymous

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poldo said:
I am talking about the neutrons son, not adm's. neutrons are good value for money in a small room I had, i a big room they lose grip.

ADM's are much leaner and brighter so not for everyone, the sub will cost you much more extra. It is very good with vocals but if you want some more juice in rock music, it is not the right system.

Where the ADM's + sub did a good job were movies, if you don't want a full 5/7.1 , the ADM+sub are the best option available and you have a great stereo set-up too.

ADM are not a bad speaker, but lots of people don't like it when 50% of their records sound crappy.
The ADMs sound like bigger, better Neutrons. There is no way they can be described as bright.

You don't need the ADM sub. I have a BK XLS400 which sounds great.

I have rock, pop, metal, deathmetal, electronica, post-rock, clasical, vocal, folk in my collection, and it all sounds great.

The speakers I was suggesting to try are also the soon-to be released floorstanding version.
 

altruistic.lemon

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snivilisationism said:
altruistic.lemon said:
snivilisationism said:
For that kind of budget I would probably have a word with Avi about the upcoming ADM40 floorstanders. Another forum member tried them recently and has sold his entire Cyrus system to fund them.
Not wise advice. I'd sell my Cyrus system to replace with anything, not a fan. Also, how can you suggest something not released yet. Not to mention it's a matter of taste - some think my system is great, others crap.
Not wise? To consider another option?

Ok.

The advise is based upon the fact that my current speakers ADM9T are at least as good as any other compact speakers I have heard up to the same price, and that doesn't include amp/DAC.

It's based on the fact that they are an upgrade on my speakers, which will deliver more, accurate bass.

It's based on the fact that the true meaning of the words "high fidelity" refer to a system that portrays music as it was produced or recorded without adding any colourations like "warmness" or "brightness" and that is what I feel my own does.

It's based on the fact that the people who have commented on their demos of the speakers have all been very positive

It's based on the fact that you are getting a great set of amps, properly bi-amplified speakers and a state of the art DAC, without the extra cost and space requirements of extra metal boxes.

I personally don't often agree with the main man at Avi, but he knows a thing or 2 about making damn good speakers and selling them at a damn good price :)
The speakers you recommended aren't released yet. You haven't heard them, neither has anyone else except for a couple of your mates. You don't know whether they were listening to final models or prototypes which are still being tuned. You know nothing about the amps - who makes them, Krell, Naim? - you therefore can't say anything about them. Many speakers are properly bi amped. These have active crossovers, which is where you're getting confused. about them. Your definition of Hi Fi may be true, but, unless you've been to the recording studio and heard the recording you made, you have no idea what is neutral, warm or whatever.

The fact you have the same brand doesn't come into it. These are different speakers and will sound different.

Sorry to be harsh, mate, but your post was a bit irresponsible.
 
A

Anonymous

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altruistic.lemon said:
snivilisationism said:
altruistic.lemon said:
snivilisationism said:
For that kind of budget I would probably have a word with Avi about the upcoming ADM40 floorstanders. Another forum member tried them recently and has sold his entire Cyrus system to fund them.
Not wise advice. I'd sell my Cyrus system to replace with anything, not a fan. Also, how can you suggest something not released yet. Not to mention it's a matter of taste - some think my system is great, others crap.
Not wise? To consider another option?

Ok.

The advise is based upon the fact that my current speakers ADM9T are at least as good as any other compact speakers I have heard up to the same price, and that doesn't include amp/DAC.

It's based on the fact that they are an upgrade on my speakers, which will deliver more, accurate bass.

It's based on the fact that the true meaning of the words "high fidelity" refer to a system that portrays music as it was produced or recorded without adding any colourations like "warmness" or "brightness" and that is what I feel my own does.

It's based on the fact that the people who have commented on their demos of the speakers have all been very positive

It's based on the fact that you are getting a great set of amps, properly bi-amplified speakers and a state of the art DAC, without the extra cost and space requirements of extra metal boxes.

I personally don't often agree with the main man at Avi, but he knows a thing or 2 about making damn good speakers and selling them at a damn good price :)
The speakers you recommended aren't released yet. You haven't heard them, neither has anyone else except for a couple of your mates. You don't know whether they were listening to final models or prototypes which are still being tuned. You know nothing about the amps - who makes them, Krell, Naim? - you therefore can't say anything about them. Many speakers are properly bi amped. These have active crossovers, which is where you're getting confused. about them. Your definition of Hi Fi may be true, but, unless you've been to the recording studio and heard the recording you made, you have no idea what is neutral, warm or whatever.

The fact you have the same brand doesn't come into it. These are different speakers and will sound different.

Sorry to be harsh, mate, but your post was a bit irresponsible.
Ok. No, I haven't heard them, and nobody who has heard them is "my mate". but those who have like them, and describe the sound as very similar, but better, with extra extension. The amps are designed in-house. Why would a company who made celebrated amps a few years ago give the job to anyone else?

When I say "properly bi-amplified" I of course refer to the active crssover which means they are a "true" bi-amplified design.Bi-amplified speakers with passive crossovers are a compromise, and quite possibly a waste of money.

It was hardly "irresponsible" to recommend auditioning. I would in his position, and that's all I intended to suggest with my post. I absoultely do not suggest buying blind with that kind of money.

But "with" that kind of money, and a new, potentially fantastic product coming out, then surely it is worth a look-see?
 
A

Anonymous

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Hey guys, thanks for all the constructive comments. Very helpful so far.

1. To be honest, whenever I thought about Hi-Fi I alway pictured passive speakers + separates. I realise I might have overlooked the active speakers route but I must say I am a bit intrigued. If sound quality of that technology is so much better for equal budget set-ups, how come the market share of this technology is so small? (seems like a niche in a niche market!!). I am curious to hear people views on this option (pros/cons), ultimately since the views are so divergent I feel I will need to go demo the ADM40!

2. tino/CnoEvil, thanks for your questions, I realise I should have given more details in my first post:

- This would be my first Hi-Fi set-up ever. I have always owned high quality mainstream audio products (B&W Zeppelin, £300 Bose headphones) but since I spent most of my time travelling I never felt the need to invest in a Hi-Fi setup. Things have now changed and my new job requires a lot less travelling so I am spending much more time at home and want to treat myself with a nice set-up.

- I am looking to install it in my living room (I would say 7m x 4m) lightly furnished: L shaped sofa and its low table, a wooden dining table + its chairs further out). The room has wooden floor and high ceilings (so good volumes) and 3 large windows on one side.

- I like to listen to rock music (I would say 50% of my time on groups like Coldplay, Eric Clapton, Ben Harper, Muse, REM...) and the rest of my time evenly split between house music, jazz, latino and lounge music.

- I like the sound to be smooth, rich and as detailled as possible.

- My pre-selection is based on reviews, comments and threads I have read on various forums. I havent demo-ed the equipment I have mentionned yet. My goal is to narrow down to the right range of equipment for my needs/budget before demo-ing and buying :)

3. To be honest, when I first started to look at adding a Hi-Fi set-up I was thinking at £1 to £1.5k budget. But I am really worried to spend that much money on something just "Ok" and have to spend £3-4k later when I will be looking to upgrade. It feels to me that it's an investment on equipment that will last at least 5 years if not more when it is nicely maintained and an excellent setup from the start will avoid any further spending. I will definitely audion £1k set-up to check it is worth spending more. Thanks for the advice!

Best,

Ali
 

AlmaataKZ

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Ali,

do not buy before you try set-ups based on different philosophies e.g. passive vs active, cheaper dac vs expensive dac, computer of 'hifi' based.

think all functionality and contrtol through before you buy - not be be disappointed after

when you listen to actives, if you are used to boomy bass, you will think they are lean. in fact, what you will hear is more accurate bass. if you go active you will get used to accurate bass very quickly and will not be able to stand boomy bass any more

active speakers are not necessarilyt bright

AVI ADMs 9T are from my experience very good and excellent value for money. very hard to beat. get a good sub if you think you need more bass (but do not overdo it on setting it up).

enjoy!
 

CnoEvil

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Ali, I am now happy to put together some suggestions, (which may just add to the confusion. :)).

With regard to active, I will let others talk about them. I happen to like the flexibility of changing/choosing/upgrading the amp and speakers separately, to cater for my taste (which is Valves and Class A), by mixing and matching.

I personally place a lot of importance on the quality of the source, which becomes ever more important as the rest of the system becomes more revealing. This means I would split your budget roughly into thirds.

SOURCE.

I believe a streamer (ie. one box) works better than getting something to use as a source and adding a DAC. The best streamer I've heard under £1k is the Linn Sneaky....don't take my word for this but try for yourself....though not necessarily through Linn amps/speakers which I don't like.

AMPS.

As well as your suggestions, here are some other suggestions:

MUSICAL FIDELITY M3i (£999)....Lively and gutsy musical performance
ELECTROCOMANIET PI-1 (£1425)..Lovely organic sounding amp
UNISON RESEARCH UNICO PRIMO (£1260)..Very musical hybrid amp
LEEMA PULSE 111 (£1495)...Gutsy foot tapping amp
MOON AUDIO 220 (£1290).....Gives a no-nonsense musical performance
CREEK EVOLUTION 5350 (£1250)..High current, exciting musical performer
ARCAM A38 (£1599)...smooth, detailed and musical with no listener fatigue
SUGDEN A21 al (£1649)...20W of Class A magic

SPEAKERS. (I like the Proacs better than the B&W)

DYNAUDIO X32 (£1765)...smooth, with powerful bass
KEF R500 (£1500)...open, natural, detailed and revealing, without being bright.
SPENDOR A5 (£1695)..smooth yet detailed, non fatiguing.
PMC GB1i (£1675)...livelier than the Spendor and Proac, with good bass for its size.

As you can see, there is a huge choice that you haven't mentioned...and do try to listen to some of them before parting with £4k. Matching is the key ie livelier amps with smoother speakers, and vica versa eg:

MF/Moon/Creek/Leema + Proac/Spendor/Dynaudio
Arcam + PMC (great match)
Sugden/UR + Kef R500
Electrocompaniet...goes with nearly anything.

I don't know how flexibile your budget is, but NAS + Sneaky + M3i + Proacs just fit in (I think). If you can go for the more expensive amps, so much the better.

I think you are wise looking at floorstanders, due to the size of the room and the high ceilings.
 

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