Moving to UAE and Building my First System

b_gurh

New member
Oct 24, 2016
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As this is my first post on this forum, I would like to say hello to everyone reading this.

I have recently caught the hi fi bug and have been spending a lot of time on this forum / website. I have always been interested in hi fi but never really took it seriously as I was expating in a country where access to equipment was very limited. I will be moving out to Abu Dhabi soon and after some research, I was pleasently surprised to see the outward signs of a vibrant audiophile community with suppliers to boot.

I have no previous experience with anything beyond commercial audio systems (HK, B&O, Bose) therefore I apologize in advance for any faux pas that I may make. I am also brushing up on my knowledge of acoustics which was woefully limited until recently.

With my impending relocation to the UAE, I have taken the decision to set aside a budget of about 2500 - 3000 GBP for a system. I want to use it to mainly listen to classical music in a dedicated space (don't think a full on room will be an option just yet). After browsing the classifieds, I was happy to see quite a few options for speakers, DACs, amps and cables available in the second hand market (brands like Marantz, Klipsch, KEF, Cambridge Audio etc). Ideally, I would like to have a pair of floor speakers, an amp, a DAC (+ CD player eventually) and high quality cables. I am happy to mix and match new with used items.

My concerns are that I will likely be living in a modern condo with tile floors and concrete walls (typical UAE style apartment units for those who know). Some form of acoustic treatment will likely be neccessary.

Given the above, I am quite lost as to where to start. I want to avoid going in "too low end" and having to sell up and upgrade. I also want to avoid jumping in way over my head from the get go and overspending (I tend to blow through budgets quite easily when I am excited). In light of all this, I would highly appreciate your general feedback/reccomendations. Resources, links, videos any and all information would be more than welcome. Also, to any fellow forum members who are based in the UAE; it would be great to connect and get your country specific feedback as well. I wouldn't say no to any invitations to view your setups either!

Thank you in advance,

Berk
 
b_gurh said:
As this is my first post on this forum, I would like to say hello to everyone reading this.

I have recently caught the hi fi bug and have been spending a lot of time on this forum / website. I have always been interested in hi fi but never really took it seriously as I was expating in a country where access to equipment was very limited. I will be moving out to Abu Dhabi soon and after some research, I was pleasently surprised to see the outward signs of a vibrant audiophile community with suppliers to boot.

I have no previous experience with anything beyond commercial audio systems (HK, B&O, Bose) therefore I apologize in advance for any faux pas that I may make. I am also brushing up on my knowledge of acoustics which was woefully limited until recently.

With my impending relocation to the UAE, I have taken the decision to set aside a budget of about 2500 - 3000 GBP for a system. I want to use it to mainly listen to classical music in a dedicated space (don't think a full on room will be an option just yet). After browsing the classifieds, I was happy to see quite a few options for speakers, DACs, amps and cables available in the second hand market (brands like Marantz, Klipsch, KEF, Cambridge Audio etc). Ideally, I would like to have a pair of floor speakers, an amp, a DAC (+ CD player eventually) and high quality cables. I am happy to mix and match new with used items.

My concerns are that I will likely be living in a modern condo with tile floors and concrete walls (typical UAE style apartment units for those who know). Some form of acoustic treatment will likely be neccessary.

Given the above, I am quite lost as to where to start. I want to avoid going in "too low end" and having to sell up and upgrade. I also want to avoid jumping in way over my head from the get go and overspending (I tend to blow through budgets quite easily when I am excited). In light of all this, I would highly appreciate your general feedback/reccomendations. Resources, links, videos any and all information would be more than welcome. Also, to any fellow forum members who are based in the UAE; it would be great to connect and get your country specific feedback as well. I wouldn't say no to any invitations to view your setups either!

Thank you in advance,

Berk
Perhaps, in a situation like that, a headphone biased system might be a consideration.
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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In many ways not dissimilar to my apartment in Marbella, hard walls, lots of glass and marble floors.

Whilst acoustic treatment would undoubtably help, I found the simplest solution was a system set up for nearfield listening. In my case, optimum setup was determined by trial and error and the position marked, the speakers, compact stand mounts, could then be moved back close to the wall for casual, everyday listening and replaced in the optimum position for 'serious' listening.

In my situation I had my speakers about 8-10ft apart though I was seated no more than 4ft in front, the speakers were angled inwards so that their axis crossed just in front of the listening position, in fact the speakers were almost facing each other.

This minimised room effects by making the direct signal dominant over reflected signals and made for an excellent if rather personal listening experience.
 
davedotco said:
In many ways not dissimilar to my apartment in Marbella, hard walls, lots of glass and marble floors.

Whilst acoustic treatment would undoubtably help, I found the simplest solution was a system set up for nearfield listening. In my case, optimum setup was determined by trial and error and the position marked, the speakers, compact stand mounts, could then be moved back close to the wall for casual, everyday listening and replaced in the optimum position for 'serious' listening.

In my situation I had my speakers about 8-10ft apart though I was seated no more than 4ft in front, the speakers were angled inwards so that their axis crossed just in front of the listening position, in fact the speakers were almost facing each other.

This minimised room effects by making the direct signal dominant over reflected signals and made for an excellent if rather personal listening experience.
Davedotco has a point, I was just going to the extreme.. ;-)
 

b_gurh

New member
Oct 24, 2016
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Thank you both.

I think nearfield listening will be the route I would like to take - my goal is to enjoy the experience with my SO and a few friends. The apartments I am looking are exactly like the Marbella description. 25m2-35m2 in size with 1 side wall of floor to ceiling double paned glass. I am planning on adding heavy curtains, a large kilim and a fairly large book / magazine collection into the room though.

I have been scouring the local classifieds and have come up with some 2nd hand options for speakers, amps, cables, media players.

(in no particular order, all in my budget)

Speakers

Linn Katan, TEAC LS B300, Boesendorfer VC1 (very tempting), Klipsch RP280F

Media Players

Linn Ikemi CD player

Amps

CA Azur 550a, 851W Marantz PM 4400

Accessories (speaker cables etc)

Siltech LS 180

As I do not have much listening experience ; it is difficult to judge the suitability of this rather hodge podge mix of options. I am happy to go 2nd hand on the whole setup if possible. Any feedback on the above list would be great.

Ideally, I would like to have a relatively future proof DAC as a media player but there are none in the market as far as I can see. I do not have a large CD collection and building up one right now just doesn't make sense. I have inheirited a very significant FLAC archive from a generous friend who meticulously spent a year digitizing his vast collection with extreme pedantry. We both are avid fans of historically informed performances, thus I feel I must do this collection justice.

Side Note: I will be in Istanbul in December where I plan on visiting Extreme Audio which offers a world variety to pick and choose new equipment. However, waiting till Christmas is going to be very tough!
 

davedotco

New member
Apr 24, 2013
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Al ears said:
davedotco said:
In many ways not dissimilar to my apartment in Marbella, hard walls, lots of glass and marble floors.

Whilst acoustic treatment would undoubtably help, I found the simplest solution was a system set up for nearfield listening. In my case, optimum setup was determined by trial and error and the position marked, the speakers, compact stand mounts, could then be moved back close to the wall for casual, everyday listening and replaced in the optimum position for 'serious' listening.

In my situation I had my speakers about 8-10ft apart though I was seated no more than 4ft in front, the speakers were angled inwards so that their axis crossed just in front of the listening position, in fact the speakers were almost facing each other.

This minimised room effects by making the direct signal dominant over reflected signals and made for an excellent if rather personal listening experience.
Davedotco has a point, I was just going to the extreme.. ;-)
Can be a ****** though. As with all rooms, you tend to get used to their quirks, after all you live in them and all the sounds you here are in that acoustic, even the sounds of everyday conversation are determined by the room acoustic.

I quite like nearfield listening anyway, providing the the speakers are 'open' enough, the Rosebuds (and the M3s) I was able to try sounded great as described above, with the soundstage forming well behind the plane of the speakers.

If I was to set up something specifically for that kind of application, I would look a something like the Sonus Faber Venere stand mounts, very controlled top end should be ok in a lively room. Amps and sources pretty much to taste, though I would keep to the smaller Venere model and spend a similar amount on the amp, control is important here.
 
davedotco said:
Al ears said:
davedotco said:
In many ways not dissimilar to my apartment in Marbella, hard walls, lots of glass and marble floors.

Whilst acoustic treatment would undoubtably help, I found the simplest solution was a system set up for nearfield listening. In my case, optimum setup was determined by trial and error and the position marked, the speakers, compact stand mounts, could then be moved back close to the wall for casual, everyday listening and replaced in the optimum position for 'serious' listening.

In my situation I had my speakers about 8-10ft apart though I was seated no more than 4ft in front, the speakers were angled inwards so that their axis crossed just in front of the listening position, in fact the speakers were almost facing each other.

This minimised room effects by making the direct signal dominant over reflected signals and made for an excellent if rather personal listening experience.
Davedotco has a point, I was just going to the extreme.. ;-)
Can be a ****** though. As with all rooms, you tend to get used to their quirks, after all you live in them and all the sounds you here are in that acoustic, even the sounds of everyday conversation are determined by the room acoustic.

I quite like nearfield listening anyway, providing the the speakers are 'open' enough, the Rosebuds (and the M3s) I was able to try sounded great as described above, with the soundstage forming well behind the plane of the speakers.

If I was to set up something specifically for that kind of application, I would look a something like the Sonus Faber Venere stand mounts, very controlled top end should be ok in a lively room. Amps and sources pretty much to taste, though I would keep to the smaller Venere model and spend a similar amount on the amp, control is important here.
Quite agree. The OP is certainly going to have a hard time building a nearfield system with the equipment he appears to have sourced locally.
 

Vaprak001

New member
Jan 11, 2015
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Hi Berk,

My first recommendation would be to go and have a chat with Adil and the guys at Dubai Audio (they have a store in Abu Dhabi too but I'm not sure what it's called). They're very helpfull and have a range of kit that may suit.

It's funny that you mention the UAE has a number of dealerships as, in Dubai's case at least, the number of higher-end dealers has dropped considerably over the last 18 months. I guess oil price falls has impacted demand for such luxuries.

I too live in a large concrete and marble box and this has been a real battle to overcome sonically. Rugs, curtains and lots and lots of shelving with books, cd's and ikea cloth/ cardboard drawers have helped enormously, to the point that I'm finally happy with my sound. Because of this you ideally need to approach your hi-fi build incrementally, testing new additions as you go rather than the big-bang approach. I made some mistakes along the way by being too impatient. As for volume, you may be surprised. Previously, when I lived in a high-rise appartment the thick concrete floors absorbed sound very effectively.

I assume your main source for second hand kit is Dubizzle. This can be a double edged sword as quality and condition of kit can vary enormously, stuff can be way over-priced. If you do have to make repairs, there isn't a great deal of service/ repair options here, there just isn't the market for it. In fact that applies to any goods - just try finding a decent carpenter for antique furniture repairs that doesn't think anything can be fixed with a saw, hammer and nails!!

As I said, visit Dubai Audio first for a chat and even if you don't buy they'll give plenty of good advice.

Cheers
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
1,130
509
20,070
b_gurh said:
. I will be moving out to Abu Dhabi soon and after some research, I was pleasently surprised to see the outward signs of a vibrant audiophile community with suppliers to boot.

I have no previous experience with anything beyond commercial audio systems (HK, B&O, Bose) .
Very good Bose shop in Dubai actually. It's near the Burj Kalifa, but I've forgotten the name of the shopping centre.
 

Crystalarts

New member
Jun 19, 2013
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I spent a lot of time building my system when based in Dubai.

Some options :

1. Dubbizle.

This is such a great site. Yes the quality may vary of what is being sold but i have found often fantastic systems on there at vastly reduced prices. You go and test it out too before you buy so you can quickly establish how well it has been taken care of and owners.

Things come up on a weekly basis so dont rush. Take your time. Listen to a variety of stuff.

2. Dubai Audio

Yes, great guys, but a budget of 2500-3000 pounds is going to get you an amp or a speaker there. They deal with very pricey audio.

3. Other Brands :

Avoid Marantz and Denon etc. in UAE. They are everywhere and lose value incredibly fast.

Avoid Klipsch, they are too bass heavy for concrete.

In Dubai there is a company that sells Bowers and Wilkins. (Archimedea) Definitely worth checking out. B&W work well with concrete as they are a bit softer as opposed to many speakers that can sound screatchy with concrete.

in Dubai Mall, opposite the Marantz shop and near Virgin there is a hifi shop that sells Electrocompaniet gear as well as other more unique amps and speakers.

My system was a Denon (High end made in japan version) which i got for 500 pounds as ex demo (original price 1k) and B&W 683 speakers for 1000 pounds, Cambridge Audio Dac, Denon CD player, Project Carbon Record player for 300 pounds.

However, I wish i had known about Dubizle because a few months later i saw Marantz KI Pearls (limited to only 500 worldwide i believe) CD player and Amp for 2000 pounds. Additionally a lot of Naim gear came on and Linn etc.

I am glad i didnt get the Marantz based on experience with their other products since then, but at least it would have been a decent investment. Stay away from major brands like Marantz and Denon unless some special limited edition.

in general, my hifi was great though. My speakers weren't bright, i used chairs with material, heavy curtains, and heavy couch and rugs. It was great. Fantastic sound.
 

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