First Computer Based Hi-Fi Setup

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tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
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Another magazine carried out a blind listening test of digital streamers and the Squeezebox Touch came on top of this lot (taking into account sound quality, value for money, user interface and features):

Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30Cyrus Stream XSB TouchMarantz NA7004Rotel RDG 1520Yamaha NP-S2000

Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30

Cyrus Stream X

Marantz NA7004

Rotel RDG 1520

Yamaha NP-S2000

Having said that I would also check out the Yamaha NPS2000 which has some very good reviews and has balanced outputs which would go very well with the Electrocompaniet PI-1 that CnoEvil has mentioned if you like a smooth sound. And it's about half price now £699 as oposed to £1400 when it was launched. The Yamaha also goes well with the matching AS2000 fully balanced integrated amplifier.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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tino said:
Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30Cyrus Stream XSB TouchMarantz NA7004Rotel RDG 1520Yamaha NP-S2000
Having said that I would also check out the Yamaha NPS2000 which has some very good reviews and has balanced outputs which would go very well with the Electrocompaniet PI-1 that CnoEvil has mentioned if you like a smooth sound. And it's about half price now £699 as oposed to £1400 when it was launched. The Yamaha also goes well with the matching AS2000 fully balanced integrated amplifier.
Agreed.

At that money, it's certainly worth checking out, though may not do 24/192, if that's important.
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
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CnoEvil said:
tino said:
Cambridge Audio Sonata NP30Cyrus Stream XSB TouchMarantz NA7004Rotel RDG 1520Yamaha NP-S2000
Having said that I would also check out the Yamaha NPS2000 which has some very good reviews and has balanced outputs which would go very well with the Electrocompaniet PI-1 that CnoEvil has mentioned if you like a smooth sound. And it's about half price now £699 as oposed to £1400 when it was launched. The Yamaha also goes well with the matching AS2000 fully balanced integrated amplifier.
Agreed. At that money, it's certainly worth checking out, though may not do 24/192, if that's important.
You're right .. it's limited to 96KHz/24-bit only which should still promise to be very good check out Andrew Everard's Gramaphone review (Clicky)

Another albeit very recently introduced streamer worth keeping an eye on is the Simple Audio Room Player I with internal 50W amplification - designed by ex Linn DS engineers ... allegedly.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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tino said:
Another albeit very recently introduced streamer worth keeping an eye on is the Simple Audio Room Player I with internal 50W amplification - designed by ex Linn DS engineers ... allegedly.
They need to make it UPnP compliant, and then they should have a viable alternative.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
It's a good idea to step back a bit and think dispassionately about what you're trying to achieve here, without reference to your current system.

1: What's the biggest speaker you can fit in the room?

2: Will the budget stretch to a really good big speaker, or only a good small one?

As a helpful rule of thumb: the smaller the speaker, the more it benefits from being active. There are no good small, passive speakers - not compared to a comparably priced active pair.

The AVIs have been loudly publicised, and (ironically) the makers have found a way to embed the idea in buyer's minds that they are cheap. However, in concept they are simply OK studio monitors - which are widely available in the pro audio world for much less money. If you need a good, small active speaker, there are many very appealing choices from manufacturers such as Adam, Focal, KRK, Swans, Dynaudio, Genelec, et al: check out an online retailer like dv247.com.

To illustrate the value equation: Focal's top Beryllium tweeter is found in two 'domestic' passive small box speakers: the Diablo Utopia at £9000 and the 1008Be at £2700. Marketed well under the audiophile radar, Focal sells the Solo 6 Be - same tweeter, with the W-Sandwich mid/bass driver appearing in a number of big-ticket Focal designs - activated with four high-quality bespoke amplifiers - for £1500 a pair. If you drove the 1008Be with £2K of amplification and £500 worth of cables, at £5K+ it would still struggle to outperform a pair of Solo 6 at £1500. I know, because we tried!

If you can make space for big drivers and big boxes, you may be able to get away with simple, low-power amplification (unless they're panels). If you only have room for little boxes, you may need to invest in power.

Ultimately, the room and budget will dictate the speakers and amplification. The amps/speakers will then dictate the source: if they err on the side of brightness or leanness, an injection of drive, warmth and presence from a preamp may be required. If not, the transparency gains of a DAC with volume control direct to monitors or amplification might be preferable.

Finally, the DAC will choose the transport: if your favoured DAC sounds better via USB or Firewire, you need a computer. If it prefers SPDIF, you need a seriously good clock. Not the kind you find in a cheap streamer. Again, it's hard to find a reason not to use a computer for this job: even an off-shelf netbook offers much greater flexibility and (ultimately) performance than a locked-down proprietary lifestyle gadget . . .

On-board storage? Check.
All sample rates handled up to 32/384? Check.
Remote control via smartphone or tablet? Check.
NAS/network-compatible? Check.
Completely upgradeable? Check.
Affordable? From £150.
Compatible with every internet radio station? Check - try that with a Squeezebox.
Compatible with BBC iPlayer for radio and TV? Check.
Compatible with Spotify, MOG, the Cloud and all other streaming services? Check.
Compatible with FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV, APE, OGG and all other file formats? Check.
Compatible with YouTube and all other video-streaming services? Check.

What's not to like??!
 
T

the record spot

Guest
The fact you need to have the damn thing on all the time...! I often do, but while I'll have the computer manage the transfer from CD to storage, I'll play via the below setup in the main. Occasionally via the Onkyo's DLNA functionality to the laptop, but mainly via the dedicated system.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
A well-oiled netbook (SSD not HD) boots in 60-90 seconds. Alternatively, it hibernates when not in use, so leaving it on all the time is feasible.
 
T

the record spot

Guest
I'm sure many are happy with that, but for my needs/preferences (and I imagine a lot of other people too), I'm happier letting the dedicated hard drive sit and go through the Onkyo. Works just as well and stores more albums than I'll typically need in a day (or a month!) without the need for a computer to run in the background.

Just out of interest, what sort of storage space are you getting with a SSD?
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
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item_audio said:
The AVIs have been loudly publicised, and (ironically) the makers have found a way to embed the idea in buyer's minds that they are cheap. However, in concept they are simply OK studio monitors - which are widely available in the pro audio world for much less money. If you need a good, small active speaker, there are many very appealing choices from manufacturers such as Adam, Focal, KRK, Swans, Dynaudio, Genelec, et al: check out an online retailer like dv247.com.

To illustrate the value equation: Focal's top Beryllium tweeter is found in two 'domestic' passive small box speakers: the Diablo Utopia at £9000 and the 1008Be at £2700. Marketed well under the audiophile radar, Focal sells the Solo 6 Be - same tweeter, with the W-Sandwich mid/bass driver appearing in a number of big-ticket Focal designs - activated with four high-quality bespoke amplifiers - for £1500 a pair. If you drove the 1008Be with £2K of amplification and £500 worth of cables, at £5K+ it would still struggle to outperform a pair of Solo 6 at £1500. I know, because we tried!
Interesting. I take it most of these active speakers still require a pre-amp of some sort for buffering / volume control?
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
[/quote]

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

[/quote]

Having read the initial post as merely being a suggestion to listen to a potentially very promising pair of speakers, I'd say that it was right on the money.
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
tino said:
Interesting. I take it most of these active speakers still require a pre-amp of some sort for buffering / volume control?
Yes, and with all things Hi-Fi obviously there are many options. I use an audio interface, but I'm considering getting a compact Pre/DAC, such as the Matrix Quattro.

Another consideration is that most pro audio monitors use balanced 'neutric' type connectors, although there are some that have a more typical Hi-Fi phono connection.
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
560
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18,920
item_audio said:
Finally, the DAC will choose the transport: if your favoured DAC sounds better via USB or Firewire, you need a computer. If it prefers SPDIF, you need a seriously good clock. Not the kind you find in a cheap streamer. Again, it's hard to find a reason not to use a computer for this job: even an off-shelf netbook offers much greater flexibility and (ultimately) performance than a locked-down proprietary lifestyle gadget . . .

On-board storage? Check.
All sample rates handled up to 32/384? Check.
Remote control via smartphone or tablet? Check.
NAS/network-compatible? Check.
Completely upgradeable? Check.
Affordable? From £150.
Compatible with every internet radio station? Check - try that with a Squeezebox.
Compatible with BBC iPlayer for radio and TV? Check.
Compatible with Spotify, MOG, the Cloud and all other streaming services? Check.
Compatible with FLAC, ALAC, AIFF, WAV, APE, OGG and all other file formats? Check.
Compatible with YouTube and all other video-streaming services? Check.

What's not to like??!
You missed out:

Surfing the net/payingbills/talking to family/excel/mail/writing letters/ blah blah etc etc

I don't doubt that a grand's worth of streamer might be better than my laptop, but relatively pretty much poorer vfm.
 

tino

Well-known member
Sep 29, 2011
135
10
18,595
SteveR750 said:
You missed out:

Surfing the net/payingbills/talking to family/excel/mail/writing letters/ blah blah etc etc

I don't doubt that a grand's worth of streamer might be better than my laptop, but relatively pretty much poorer vfm.
You missed out ... excessive boot times, logging on, endless updates (Windows/Adobe/anti-virus), WASAPI/ASIO driver installation and setup, noisy fans, spurious crashes, receiving spam, everybody fighting over who can use it ... ;)

Yes the computer is the ultimate convergence device, but sometimes people just want a bit of kit that has a power on switch, a blue LED, a volume control and a simple remote.
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
1
18,890
tino said:
Yes the computer is the ultimate convergence device, but sometimes people just want a bit of kit that has a power on switch, a blue LED, a volume control and a simple remote.
A cheap nettop with a solid state hard drive, running XBMC live will do that. Or a mini HTPC/Mac running the same software. Controlled with an Android or iPod/Pad/Phone device, they make excellent and versatile multimedia streamers.
 

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