Marantz NA7004 or Airplay Rega DAC or others?

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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Of the many things that I am considering, one is a small office room system.

it is almost a freeze on the amplifier (Marantz Pearl Lite - been liking this amp especially at the price point) and Speakers (KEF R300).

For the source, I am considering Marantz NA7004 alternatively Rega DAC with Apple Airport Express.

NA7004 seems to fit the bill but I am concerned about the DA quality based on what I read.

Any preferences to match in this set up? Also would you consider any other alternatives to go with the suggested Amp + Speakers combo?

I only want to have DAC or streamers with built in power supply (So Audiolab M-DAC is already ruled out)

AirPlay & FM radio are good to have but SQ is much more important. Not so keen on Internet Radio (There will be a computer always on, so from iTunes either via or Airplay or through Optical there will be a continuous playback, as needed)
 

Juzzie Wuzzie

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I am a big fan of the Apple products - both Airport Express and Apple TV. I think the price differential between the two is irrelevant, so if you can get extra functionality from the Apple TV, it is a better buy. Airplay is important to me, as we are constantly streaming music from MBPs, iPhones or iPads.

I currently have as a 'starter position':

Apple TV -- TCI optical cable --> CYP-D3 DAC -- 12cm RCA interconnect --> Naim 5i-2 -- Maplin speaker cable --> Neat IOTAs

and am enjoying it immensely. At some point, I'll start working backwards, upgrading the speaker cable, and potentially the DAC, but I think a better listening environment will make more of a difference at this point than upgrades.

Total cost (if it matters):

£99 + £30 + £25 + £15 + £500 + £12 + £549 = £1,230
 

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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Juzzie Wuzzie said:
I am a big fan of the Apple products - both Airport Express and Apple TV. I think the price differential between the two is irrelevant, so if you can get extra functionality from the Apple TV, it is a better buy. Airplay is important to me, as we are constantly streaming music from MBPs, iPhones or iPads.
I can imagine that with Apple TV I get much more functionality.

My main look out is the DAC performance of NA7004 vs Rega DAC in tandem with Pearl Lite Amp + Kef R300 speakers. Would be good to know some views around this.
 

CnoEvil

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Aug 21, 2009
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How about Linn Sneaky with some AN AX1/2, Rega RS1 or some Sneaky Unik / Majik 109 (ex-dem) Speakers.
 

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
How about Linn Sneaky with some AN AX1/2, Rega RS1 or some Sneaky Unik / Majik 109 (ex-dem) Speakers.
Thanks Cno.. I will check out the possibility of auditioning around here.
 

CnoEvil

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Here is the link for the Unik:
http://www.linn.co.uk/systems/all-products/loudspeakers/sneaky-unik
http://small.linncdn.com/product-catalogue/documents/Linn_Sneaky_Unik_Product_Information.pdf
 

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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CnoEvil said:
Here is the link for the Unik: http://www.linn.co.uk/systems/all-products/loudspeakers/sneaky-unik http://small.linncdn.com/product-catalogue/documents/Linn_Sneaky_Unik_Product_Information.pdf
This is definetly promising!
 

CnoEvil

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WishTree said:
CnoEvil said:
Here is the link for the Unik: http://www.linn.co.uk/systems/all-products/loudspeakers/sneaky-unik http://small.linncdn.com/product-catalogue/documents/Linn_Sneaky_Unik_Product_Information.pdf
This is definetly promising!
The amp in the Sneaky is better than you'd imagine.....anyway, this is all just a "Baldrick cunning plan" to get you to buy a DS for your office.....which out of curiosity you would then try in your main system (as a source)......which would then lead you to say, "if the Sneaky is this good, just imagine how much better a Majik DS would sound!! :shifty:
 

WishTree

Well-known member
May 18, 2010
107
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CnoEvil said:
The amp in the Sneaky is better than you'd imagine.....anyway, this is all just a "Baldrick cunning plan" to get you to buy a DS for your office.....which out of curiosity you would then try in your main system (as a source)......which would then lead you to say, "if the Sneaky is this good, just imagine how much better a Majik DS would sound!! :shifty:
;) I miss this talk!

Anyways.. there is a lot to update as I have been a busy. Heard KEF Blade, Sonus Faber Amati Anniversario.

I will try to post things in relevant threads, just to be more organized.

Currently at home, I have KEF R300 to be tested with Pearl Lite Amp against NA7004 & Rega DAC (which sneakily I will pit against Classe CP-800)

Next few days I will experiment and report back more.
 

CnoEvil

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WishTree said:
;) I miss this talk!

Anyways.. there is a lot to update as I have been a busy. Heard KEF Blade, Sonus Faber Amati Anniversario.

I will try to post things in relevant threads, just to be more organized.

Currently at home, I have KEF R300 to be tested with Pearl Lite Amp against NA7004 & Rega DAC (which sneakily I will pit against Classe CP-800)

Next few days I will experiment and report back more.
I look forward to your analysis, especially 201/2 vs R300 (which I suspect you will find surprisingly good).

Blade vs SF ......now that makes me envious (and hard to come back from).
 

WishTree

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May 18, 2010
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I thought I will just report back for curious people on the conclusion of this thread.

I have tried NA7004 and Rega DAC as pure DAC with Classe CP-800 (pre-amp) and CA-2100 (Power amp) as well as Marantz Pearl Lite amplifer into KEF R300

I will keep it short.

Just comparing the DACs in NA7004 and Rega DAC, the first impressions are that there is no difference. I even tried the USB input on NA7004 vs Optical input of Rega DAC and compared them really back to back along with my wife. She could not tell the difference between the two. Neither could I.

On longer listening sessions, Rega DAC seems to be a bit more calm when compared to NA7004 but again on some other tracks, the opposite is true.

So if I am in the market at this price point, NA7004 is the most sensible pick up as it offers more (Airplay, streaming, Radio ect)

We did try the Classe CP-800 as DAC vs Rega DAC / NA 7004. Yes, there is difference. the difference is even more pronounced instantly when CP-800 is used as DAC + Pre (with Pearl lite as Power amp) and compared to Rega DAC / NA7004 into Pearl Lite amplifier (as integrated)

in my testing, back to back tests yielded differences which seemed to be not like day & night but longer listening sessions made me appreciate the smoothness and refinement of CP-800 as a DAC. 700 Pounds vs 4000 Pounds worth difference? DAC wise, I would not say it is not the 5 times performance gain. But again, the last mile in HiFi is not the cheapest, I guess! And I am glad that the pre amp of CP-800 is so good that it makes the price that I paid for CP-800 is a bargain!

Verdict - I have given up both NA7004 and Rega DAC. I am sure I will be able to find a more modern Streamer cum DAC (example - Rotel RT-12 on a new Marantz NA7007(? Hope they make it) ) Currently I use the kit in the signature. Bought the Pearl Lite PM amplifier as I believe it could be used in a different set up in future.

KEF R300 - It is worth a different post altogether!
 

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