New Amp/streamer - so confused what to get

mortiger

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Dec 1, 2020
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Hi, I can't decide on what to get - perhaps you can help me out.

What I have:
- Monitor audio silver 6 speakers
- a TV

Now I need a replacement for my Onkyo receiver that broke down. I also started questioning my choice of speakers since I thought they sounded a little too cold/neutral with the Onkyo. Before buying new ones I'd rather give them another try with a different amp. I really like the sound of Kef LS50 wireless and Genelec G three for reference (yes I might look into bookshelf next time to save space).

- I will connect the amp to my TV and value only having the TV-remote
- I'd like to get streaming support this time (Spotify mostly)
- It'll be placed in a cabinet
- Multi channel is not mandatory but nice to have (for the future)
- Would be good if it turned on/off automatically

Options i thought of:
- Sonos amp (+hdmi arc,+can add cheap rear channels from IKEA, - is it audibly worse than the alternatives for my speakers)
- Bluesound powernode (+hdmi arc, +can add rear channels, +-might be better than sonos amp but worse than 2nd hand(?))
- an unknown 2nd hand hifi amp (Don't really know what to look at) + a chromecast audio/streamer (+audibly better - or is it?, - no hdmi arc, - probably more cables and boxes)
- another all in one receiver (which one - not onkyo)

I do value sound quality but I'm not sure it's worth compromising with convenience if it's not going to be a noticeable difference and also considering I'm not looking at high end stuff.
 

rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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Hi. I'd defo take the separates route, with a Naim Nait 5si or a Rega Brio + streamer (maybe a Cambridge Audio CXN v2 + Room subscription at a later date). The Onkyo is definitely not appropriate. Do try to audition, though, and let your ears decide. Also, if you liked the LS50W, it might be worth just going for those, if they offer enough functionality for you and you don't mind their lack of gapless playback (which is a deal breaker for me).
 

mortiger

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Dec 1, 2020
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Thanks for answering.

Would you mind motivating your recommendation with the separates route? I read somewhere that the amp will not make a difference on sound quality (based on blind tests) but I have no experience to agree/disagree. What I lose is the one remote-setup I get with hdmi arc and I also see that the price is much higher (I would have to look for 2nd hand stuff to find a bargain, which is fine).

I Googled gapless playback and ls50w and it seems they do support it now?

I haven't compared ls50w with my own Monitor Audio - do you think it's possible they sound better than my current ones though they are much smaller?
 
D

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Thanks for answering.

Would you mind motivating your recommendation with the separates route? I read somewhere that the amp will not make a difference on sound quality (based on blind tests) but I have no experience to agree/disagree. What I lose is the one remote-setup I get with hdmi arc and I also see that the price is much higher (I would have to look for 2nd hand stuff to find a bargain, which is fine).

I Googled gapless playback and ls50w and it seems they do support it now?

I haven't compared ls50w with my own Monitor Audio - do you think it's possible they sound better than my current ones though they are much smaller?
HI there, I think the biggest reason to go the separate route especially for digital things such as streamers is that digital tech is moving so fast.
Look at the old LS50 wireless yes there still supporting it app wise, but they're now no longer offering new features such as tidal connect, this is reserved for the newer meta versions of the product, which by the way offers gapless playback. It will only be so long till they drop support for the app also, as they have moved over to a new app for the newer versions.

Its not necessarily the product but the way its controlled. Its a shame that whole product that is perfectly fine will one day stop working to its fullest because of an app.

If you're seriously thinking about getting the kefs, I'd watch the new video just released by Darko audio on youtube where he compares the passive version next to wireless version. Think it might surprise you with his verdict and its cheaper verdict to.

if it where me and I'm spoiling the Darko video and stealing his combo audition a NAD 316bee v2 with (if you're set on them ) kef ls50 metas and a bluesound streamer/dac combo, missing you're HDMI but has an optical in
 
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matthewpiano

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I agree completely with @millennia_one, and that's why I've kept streaming separate from the amplifier in my system. Besides the Musical Fidelity I also have a NAD C368, to which integrated Bluesound streaming can be added with a modular upgrade, but I chose even then to keep the streamer separate. A good amplifier should last years, but as streaming is still in its fast development phase the front end can much more quickly become outdated.
 

iMark

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May 16, 2008
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There are some very good deals around of you want to start out with streaming. We bought a Yamaha R-N602 a couple of years ago. It's a stereo network receiver with digital inputs, analogue inputs including a phone stage. We've got everything connected to it you can think of from the TV to the record player and even an old minidisc deck. We have speakers connected in two rooms.

Our reasoning was that at £359 in the UK it was an incredible deal in 2017. It works really well, also for streaming with the AirPlay protocol and Spotify Connect. If streaming really develops with different protocols we can alway buy a separate new streamer and connect it to the Yamaha. I suppose the biggest advances will be made in better WiFi at home.

Other brands like Marantz, Denon, Onkyo and Pioneer also produce network receivers and network amplifiers. I would buy a solution that works well now. There's always scope to connect a new component many years later.

It's impossible to predict what protocol or standard will be available in a couple of years. All of a sudden there was a new proprietary protocol called MQA which confuses everyone.
 
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Sliced Bread

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I’ve had this same dilemma recently. I really wanted a Naim ND5 xs2, but it’s a lot of money to throw at such a fast moving target. I already do this with home cinema amplifiers.

I think I’ve come to the conclusion of something like a node2i into an external dac is the safest way forward. At least then you can upgrade a smaller portion of the system when needed.
 
D

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There are some very good deals around of you want to start out with streaming. We bought a Yamaha R-N602 a couple of years ago. It's a stereo network receiver with digital inputs, analogue inputs including a phone stage. We've got everything connected to it you can think of from the TV to the record player and even an old minidisc deck. We have speakers connected in two rooms.

Our reasoning was that at £359 in the UK it was an incredible deal in 2017. It works really well, also for streaming with the AirPlay protocol and Spotify Connect. If streaming really develops with different protocols we can alway buy a separate new streamer and connect it to the Yamaha. I suppose the biggest advances will be made in better WiFi at home.

Other brands like Marantz, Denon, Onkyo and Pioneer also produce network receivers and network amplifiers. I would buy a solution that works well now. There's always scope to connect a new component many years later.

It's impossible to predict what protocol or standard will be available in a couple of years. All of a sudden there was a new proprietary protocol called MQA which confuses everyone.
It will standardise eventually that much is certain they just need to all bang there heads together and get it done!
 

iMark

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We've been streaming for over 10 years and Apple AirPlay (started out as AirTunes) still works fine. It's uncompressed CD quality. The only thing that has changed is the upgrade to AirPlay 2 which is available on many devices. Older devices can still be used though.

It's interesting to see that Apple have almost completely stopped making their own devices for streaming but that the AirPlay technology can now be found in TVs, amps and receivers. If you own Apple devices and want to stream you can't go wrong with AirPlay.
 
D

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We've been streaming for over 10 years and Apple AirPlay (started out as AirTunes) still works fine. It's uncompressed CD quality. The only thing that has changed is the upgrade to AirPlay 2 which is available on many devices. Older devices can still be used though.

It's interesting to see that Apple have almost completely stopped making their own devices for streaming but that the AirPlay technology can now be found in TVs, amps and receivers. If you own Apple devices and want to stream you can't go wrong with AirPlay.
That's not really streaming, its a delivery system. Its glorified Bluetooth though better. Outside of that Airplay offers nothing its needs something to make it work
apple music is the streaming platform.

But yes it will take a tech giant like Apple to really pull it all together.
 

rainsoothe

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As explained above, it's because of the fast moving nature of the streaming world. A decent transport with ok software, like a Node 2i or whatever + a Dac of your choice will give you more flexibility, since you can just swap the streamer. I still think that your Silver 6 need more get-up-and-go than what a Yamaha or Nad can offer, but that just might be me. As for amps sounding different to one another, for me it's obvious and I'd be able to tell specific amps from one another 100% of the time (specific meaning that I'm familiar with them and they do actually sound different) - but one way to know is to audition for yourself.

P.S.: I'm basing my recommendation on the assumption that you have the 2016-ish Silver 6, and not the 2003-ish ones.
 

myrrhman

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Apr 24, 2020
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How about a combined DAC / amp like NAD D 3045? It has HDMI Arc and a USB input with MQA and DSD support. Hook up a laptop or (better still) a Mac Mini and ditch Spotify for Tidal, and you'll have a really good 2-channel system for TV and music. If your happy with Spotify SQ you have the option of continuing to stream from your phone or tablet using Bluetooth.
 

Gray

Well-known member
As for amps sounding different to one another, for me it's obvious and I'd be able to tell specific amps from one another 100% of the time (specific meaning that I'm familiar with them and they do actually sound different) - but one way to know is to audition for yourself.
Couldn't agree more about amp sound.
I had Cyrus 8, Arcam A85 and Roksan Candy on home loan.
Same source / speakers, each sounded significantly different to the other.
I then subsequently read a couple of people saying that all well designed amps sound similar and that they'd happily buy mail order on spec alone .

(If anyone thinks the above amps sound remotely similar, they're in the wrong hobby).
 
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mortiger

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Dec 1, 2020
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As explained above, it's because of the fast moving nature of the streaming world. A decent transport with ok software, like a Node 2i or whatever + a Dac of your choice will give you more flexibility, since you can just swap the streamer. I still think that your Silver 6 need more get-up-and-go than what a Yamaha or Nad can offer, but that just might be me. As for amps sounding different to one another, for me it's obvious and I'd be able to tell specific amps from one another 100% of the time (specific meaning that I'm familiar with them and they do actually sound different) - but one way to know is to audition for yourself.

P.S.: I'm basing my recommendation on the assumption that you have the 2016-ish Silver 6, and not the 2003-ish ones.
I understand the flexibility argument that many of you have mentioned, it's just that it requires me to invest more cash now than I would've if I just went with the sonos/powernode (unless of course I can find a good second hand alternative - I'm on the lookout). I don't think I will save that much money when I replace just the streamer in the future if the whole package costs much more now.

Another point is that if I don't hear a clear improvement of the dedicated amp compared to the powernode then I would just win on flexibility but lose out on convenience.

But one question I have is: why would I need a dedicated streamer and not just a chromecast audio if I went with a separete amp? Is it not as high def or is it something else?

And yes, my silver 6's are from 2015 I think.
 

mortiger

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Dec 1, 2020
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How about a combined DAC / amp like NAD D 3045? It has HDMI Arc and a USB input with MQA and DSD support. Hook up a laptop or (better still) a Mac Mini and ditch Spotify for Tidal, and you'll have a really good 2-channel system for TV and music. If your happy with Spotify SQ you have the option of continuing to stream from your phone or tablet using Bluetooth.
I have been looking at the 3045 too actually - but why would you choose that one over the sonos amp/powernode? You get the streamer included (for about the same price) in those but not in the 3045.
 

rainsoothe

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Apr 30, 2012
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I understand the flexibility argument that many of you have mentioned, it's just that it requires me to invest more cash now than I would've if I just went with the sonos/powernode (unless of course I can find a good second hand alternative - I'm on the lookout). I don't think I will save that much money when I replace just the streamer in the future if the whole package costs much more now.

Another point is that if I don't hear a clear improvement of the dedicated amp compared to the powernode then I would just win on flexibility but lose out on convenience.

But one question I have is: why would I need a dedicated streamer and not just a chromecast audio if I went with a separete amp? Is it not as high def or is it something else?

And yes, my silver 6's are from 2015 I think.
The Chromecast Audio IS a dedicated streamer, so of course you could just use that - I was just giving different (and probably better) alternatives - at a more system apropriate cost, but the CCA is no slouch, especially being as cheap as it is - AND it's stereo jack doubles as an optical output, so you could always add a DAC at a later date, should you feel the need to.

As for the separates argument, only you can tell if the improved sonics are worth the slight extra-hassle, by auditioning for yourself. But make no mistake, a dedicated amplifier will sound better for the same money, especially at this budget. Again, if you don't hear a difference, or if it's just a minor one, then be happy for the money you save - just consider that a 800 pound all in one gets you a 400 amp, a 300 DAC and a 100 streaming module (or whatever variation you can think of). An 800 quid amp is 800quid that goes into better components, better circuit design, better isolation etc. And if you go this route on the sh market, you just end up with a better sounding system.

Try to audition.
 

mortiger

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Dec 1, 2020
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The Chromecast Audio IS a dedicated streamer, so of course you could just use that - I was just giving different (and probably better) alternatives - at a more system apropriate cost, but the CCA is no slouch, especially being as cheap as it is - AND it's stereo jack doubles as an optical output, so you could always add a DAC at a later date, should you feel the need to.

As for the separates argument, only you can tell if the improved sonics are worth the slight extra-hassle, by auditioning for yourself. But make no mistake, a dedicated amplifier will sound better for the same money, especially at this budget. Again, if you don't hear a difference, or if it's just a minor one, then be happy for the money you save - just consider that a 800 pound all in one gets you a 400 amp, a 300 DAC and a 100 streaming module (or whatever variation you can think of). An 800 quid amp is 800quid that goes into better components, better circuit design, better isolation etc. And if you go this route on the sh market, you just end up with a better sounding system.

Try to audition.
Thanks for clearing that up. As you said I will just have to go down to the store and see if I can hear the diffence between a more expensive combo vs the all in one solutions I mentioned. That should settle this once and for all.
 
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Sliced Bread

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Couldn't agree more about amp sound.
I had Cyrus 8, Arcam A85 and Roksan Candy on home loan.
Same source / speakers, each sounded significantly different to the other.
I then subsequently read a couple of people saying that all well designed amps sound similar and that they'd happily buy mail order on spec alone .

(If anyone thinks the above amps sound remotely similar, they're in the wrong hobby).
Me three.
I’ve had a fair few amps and they’ve all sounded completely different.
 
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iMark

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@millennia_one seems to use a rather limited definition of streaming audio. Streaming audio can be anything from using streaming services like Spotify to streaming audio from an app on a smartphone or tablet. For me streaming started with streaming my iTunes library to my amp using an Airport Express and streaming internet radio from websites.

There is actually a lot to be said to get a one box solution. I think you get much better value for money than by buying separate boxes. An integrated solution also reduces clutter and the number of remote controls. But buying any HiFi is a compromise of sorts and I can fully understand people wanting to keep separate boxes in search for perfection. I can only say that my partner and I are very happy with the Yamaha R-N602, especially since we've integrated the system with a Logitech Harmony Hub and we have full control of the AV system through our iPhones and the iPad. That really reduces clutter.
 

Gray

Well-known member
@millennia_one seems to use a rather limited definition of streaming audio. Streaming audio can be anything from using streaming services like Spotify to streaming audio from an app on a smartphone or tablet. For me streaming started with streaming my iTunes library to my amp using an Airport Express and streaming internet radio from websites.

There is actually a lot to be said to get a one box solution. I think you get much better value for money than by buying separate boxes. An integrated solution also reduces clutter and the number of remote controls. But buying any HiFi is a compromise of sorts and I can fully understand people wanting to keep separate boxes in search for perfection. I can only say that my partner and I are very happy with the Yamaha R-N602, especially since we've integrated the system with a Logitech Harmony Hub and we have full control of the AV system through our iPhones and the iPad. That really reduces clutter.
On my streamer, I stream internet radio stations and my own stored FLAC. Nothing else.
Spotify (free) has to be done on the laptop - but I use Spotify so little that they e-mail me to remind me to use it.
 
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iMark

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Spotify Connect is available on the Yamaha. Smartphone, tablet or computer simply act as a remote control for Spotify. The sound quality is as good as it gets for a compressed format.
 
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@millennia_one seems to use a rather limited definition of streaming audio. Streaming audio can be anything from using streaming services like Spotify to streaming audio from an app on a smartphone or tablet. For me streaming started with streaming my iTunes library to my amp using an Airport Express and streaming internet radio from websites.

There is actually a lot to be said to get a one box solution. I think you get much better value for money than by buying separate boxes. An integrated solution also reduces clutter and the number of remote controls. But buying any HiFi is a compromise of sorts and I can fully understand people wanting to keep separate boxes in search for perfection. I can only say that my partner and I are very happy with the Yamaha R-N602, especially since we've integrated the system with a Logitech Harmony Hub and we have full control of the AV system through our iPhones and the iPad. That really reduces clutter.

The problem Mark (and others) is your getting confused between a delivery protocol and a network device in your case airport and use the 2 interchangeably, they very different things and products entirely. Also, those are not the streamers either, airport is an endpoint, your laptop/pc is the streamer in this case that's sending the data (locally stored), When they all work together yes you're "streaming" on their own they're not streamers.

Airplay is the virtual wire its not a streamer but it does carry data when told too.

Airport express is the data collector an endpoint. On its own can't look for services you have to actually give it to it. You can't do anything without a computer.

A streamer like a bluesound has an always-on connection to its hosts ( Spotify connect) it has the ability to find address, downloaded, store, play and then dump within the device from the host. BUT in this case its not actually the streamer either its an endpoint like your airport express with the ability to look for addresses like your computer. Tidal for example is the streamer in this case.

it's like saying Ethernet and internet are the same thing, there not. But act the same to the end-user
 

iMark

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I don't it's me and others who are confused.

"Audio streaming is the practice of delivering real-time audio through a network connection. This type of data transmission requires certain protocols for handling the chronology of data packets or other transmission types, to provide the end-user with on-demand content."
https://www.techopedia.com/definition/6067/audio-streaming

So an Airport Express is a streaming device. So is a Google Chromecast Audio. So is our Yamaha R-N-602. Different protocols can be used for the data transmission. But it's all streaming audio.
 

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