Quality

Hoodedcrow

New member
Mar 21, 2012
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Hey

The last time I upgraded my Hi-Fi was about 10 years ago and I've been reading reviews and checking out the forums to see what you guys think.

After looking at your posts it normally comes down to personal preference which can only be made whilst you in person, go have a demo.

I live in France at the moment and visit England rarely these days so my chances of hearing and browsing Hi-Fi shops is not so easy.

I've saved a fair chunk of cash to buy an Amp, Speakers and a Dac/CD not sure on the last one.

My lounge is fairly large with a wooden beamed ceiling with a flagstone floor.

Here are a couple of questions:

What price do you need to pay to start getting a nice clean and rich sound, I guess the answer I'm after is how much you need to pay to make the jump from budget to quality.

Some of the Dacs on sale at the moment upgrade the sound, so could I use a Dac to upgrade the sound from a CD from, say an Xbox 360 or Blue ray player to simulate a good quality CD player.

Should you spend equal amounts on an Amp, Speakers and a Dac/CD or is one more important than the other............... My guess is like most things the sound will be only as good as your weakest link.

I’d like to use the Hi-Fi to watch movies, but music is by far the more important to me, I’ve noticed that you get lip sync issues with analogue whilst the TV is running on HDMI.

Do any of the Dacs allow you to input a digital signal from the TV and allow you to adjust timing of the sound.

Thanks sorry there’s so many questions..................... :)
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Hi. I will try and answer a couple of your questions.....

Yes add a DAC to a cheap source and you can replicated something more expensive.

Spend most of your budget on speakers.

....and answer a question you did not ask......

Where you put your speakers in your room and sit in relation to them will have just about the biggest impact on sound of anything you can do.

...and finally....

How much is budget and premium to you?
 

Hoodedcrow

New member
Mar 21, 2012
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I have around 2.5k, I could maybe stretch a little more but I hope that is already enough.

Whilst I know in the world of Hi-Fi that is not much, for me that is a huge amount to spend.

When I say budget, I have an old Denon DF-10 system with which although wasn't ever wonderful did a really good job for me when I lived in a normal 1930's house.

You asked what is premium for me, I have a friend with an Arcam Alpha 10 Amp with a stack of other Power Amps, Cd's etc that go from floor to about chest height which I suppose is my bench mark, that system with speakers all over the place does seem to have a great sound.

My room is around 25ft long and 15ft or so wide with an open staircase and another area open off of that, I'm guessing that it not an ideal space for sound as my old system sounds fairly lost in there.

As for placement they can go anywhere on the opposite wall of the 15ft side to where we sit.

We did pop into the Witham Sevenoaks shop whilst we were last back in England and the chap there was most helpful, offering an demo of any kit I like the look of.

Time wasn't with me so we left it there until we returned another time.

Like most of us i guess the Mrs does have a say, she quite liked the look of the B&W CM 8 speakers which did surprise me.

I haven't had a chance to hear them yet but did whince at the price of them :)
 

Overdose

Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
279
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18,890
At the risk of sounding repetitive.

A Stream Magic 6 and a pair of exdem Event Opals, or similar should do the trick. The monitors might not be to your liking looks wise, but they are superb and the Stream Magic 6 will fill the multi talented role of streamer, DAC and preamp. A nice minimalist setup with fantastic sound quality.

At least one other forum member has the Opals (hopefully me too soon) and the SM6 just seems to tick a lot of boxes for me also.

Edit: Looking around, you might be able to get the Opals new and still be in budget.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Check out the AVI ADM 9 and matching sub. In current version will cost you £1,925 for both, giving a very neutral, full range active system. An updated version with slightly improved drive units is pending and will be £1,250 apparently. The sub might have gone up by then. Not for everyone but a formidible system that takes some beating. Worth a look. Oh, works very well with films too.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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Definitely worth checking out an active system as many people seem to be very happy with what they are achieving. However, I think you need to explore a variety of approaches so that you can make an informed decision about the best way to spend your money. In addition to something like the AVIs and the Event Opals you should also try:

* 2 or 3 different traditional systems at your budget. Hearing different approaches (Naim, Arcam and Cyrus perhaps?) will help you to locate your preferences in terms of sound and once you have done this you are then in a better position to explore different ways of getting that particular sound.

* A really well matched budget set-up. Sounds crazy but, in order to confidently spend £2,500 I think it is vital to really understand what £1k can get you. Otherwise how can you possibly know whether the bigger spend is worthwhile?
 

SteveR750

Well-known member
Mar 11, 2005
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My experience was that it took a bit mnore than that.

My first system AREB101 / NAD 3130 / AR18BX was great in its day, and upgraded it to a nice budget NAD system by 2003 ish. There was a noticebale jump then when I upgraded to Cyrus 6 / Kandy K2 / spendor system, but something was still missing, my current system really is in a different league. I spent nearly £4000, bearing in mind the speakers were ex dem and nearly half price, and I use a fairly expensive laptop as my streamer.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
matthewpiano said:
Definitely worth checking out an active system as many people seem to be very happy with what they are achieving. However, I think you need to explore a variety of approaches so that you can make an informed decision about the best way to spend your money. In addition to something like the AVIs and the Event Opals you should also try:

* 2 or 3 different traditional systems at your budget. Hearing different approaches (Naim, Arcam and Cyrus perhaps?) will help you to locate your preferences in terms of sound and once you have done this you are then in a better position to explore different ways of getting that particular sound.

* A really well matched budget set-up. Sounds crazy but, in order to confidently spend £2,500 I think it is vital to really understand what £1k can get you. Otherwise how can you possibly know whether the bigger spend is worthwhile?
That's great advice..
 

Hoodedcrow

New member
Mar 21, 2012
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Thanks for the input.

It's nice to hear that maybe I can indead get what I'm after for a great deal less.

What I'm after is a system that makes me want to play music more, something that just makes me smile when I hear it.

I was always listening to music in the past, I just don't reach for a CD these days.

Deciding what sound I like is a great place to start, I'll arrange a demo with Sevenoaks when I get back and ask the chap there to lend a hand in helping me decide which route to take,

I did however get to see one of the demo rooms and they are small and nothing like the place we live. I've read posts that say "when I got the ******** home it sounded nothing like what it did in the demo room.

That's kind of a worry for me.

I'm not sure active speakers is a way I want to go although I will look into them more if you guys are indeed saying they have a great sound.

It does seem to me that therre's new stuff coming out all the time that's changing the way in which we listen to music.

I'm in no great hurry to rush out and buy something that I will quickly out grow, so maybe I'll have to make some poor shop assistants life a misery to get what I'm after.
 

matthewpiano

Well-known member
Nov 23, 2007
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You raise a very valid point about the difference between the dealer's demo room and your own listening space. Once you have eventually found a system that you enjoy in the dem room you should ask for a home demo. It isn't a lot to ask for and it will give you the chance to make sure you are making the right move. Room acoustics and layout have a huge impact on how a system will perform.
 

AlmaataKZ

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Jan 7, 2009
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igglebert said:
Check out the AVI ADM 9 and matching sub. In current version will cost you £1,925 for both, giving a very neutral, full range active system. An updated version with slightly improved drive units is pending and will be £1,250 apparently. The sub might have gone up by then. Not for everyone but a formidible system that takes some beating. Worth a look. Oh, works very well with films too.
+1. the ADMs + sub will be very very hard to beat for sound quality at any (!) budget. Add slick streamer like Squeezebox Touch or Sonos and you have a modern, small, convenient and fantastic sounding system.

Another good point already posted is re trying and comparing to avoid disappointment - do not rush, take your time.
 

Craig M.

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Mar 20, 2008
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i'm going to join the others who have recommended actives. i visited the recent scalford hifi show, in my opinion my active system was vastly superior to every system there bar one. the system that was better included active b&w 801s! valves, horns, electrostatics, vinyl, and just about any other combo you can think of - in my opinion my system is head and shoulders better, and at a fraction of the cost of some of those 'traditional' setups. i will never buy passive speakers again.

and get a big rug for the livingroom floor - flagstones will be very reflective.
 

lindsayt

New member
Apr 8, 2011
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Did you exhibit at Scalford Craig M?

If not are you planning to exhibit next year?

I liked Serge's B&W 801 based system a lot too, but it wasn't my personal favourite of the show.

Hoodedcrow, do you want the best sound quality you can get per pound or euro spent? Or do you want the best compromise between sound, WAF, fashionable looks?
 

Hoodedcrow

New member
Mar 21, 2012
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We had planned a trip back to the UK over Easter but it fell through, so no trip to a Hi-Fi shop for the time being.

In the mean time maybe some advice on room acoustics, I measured my lounge today and took a couple of snaps to give you an idea of the room as I will have no chance of a home audition.

http://s399.photobucket.com/albums/pp79/Hoodedcrow/Lounge/

It’s around 39ft by 23ft, give or take some smaller areas.

Answer to the question by lindsayt “Hoodedcrow, do you want the best sound quality you can get per pound or euro spent? Or do you want the best compromise between sound, WAF, fashionable looks?”

A nice sound but it has to be great to look at also.
 

CnoEvil

New member
Aug 21, 2009
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You certainly have a big area to fill.

For £2.5k, I would suggest something like:

Rega Dac + Musical Fidelity M3i (ex-dem if poss) + Dynaudio DM 3/7 (would need to be tried in situ)
 

jockey.wilson

New member
Jan 27, 2009
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The advice to spend most on speakers within this budget is misplaced I think. You are right in saying that the sound will only be as good as the source. If you are serious about CD, then get a CD player. I have used a DVD player in the past for music and the results, even through a good DAC were less than enthralling...

If you decide to spend that amount of money, don't do it without listening to a good CD player up to the £1k bracket (Naim, Cyrus, Rega et al).
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Ok, just from the left field :).. Living in France, if that would be in the (far) North of it OR if you don't mind travelling .. Stassen hifi in the Netherlands (Venlo, which is in the South of the Netherlands) is stating on thier website that you can send them a 'map' or measurements of your room ... They would have 21 different listening 'locations' in their business (note: I have never been there myself, only happened to discover their website recently now that I am living on the other side of the world :p).

This is the link: http://www.stassen-hifi.com/ (original one Stassen.nl , but this is the English language version of it:))

Quote from there: "In our listening castle Palazzo you will find 21 listening rooms, 3 home theatres and a cinema hall. Make a listening appointment now."
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Another vote for the AVI ADM9Ts plus sub. I have the speakers and think they're fantastic, certainly better than anything else i've heard. The sub is said to really enhance them, giving the scale of large floorstanders with the precision of monitors, all for less than £2k too, and no need for a DAC either..
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Those old Arcam Alpha 10's were class. I will no doubt snap one of them up on ebay some day soon.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
Someone above said they didn't like DVD's as a transport, but that could all be down to the implementation, as they say on diyaudio and elsewhere. That Lampizator guy seems to think DVD's make great transports, and I have read discussions where it is suggested that this might be down to better jitter correction/avoidance due to a better buffers etc. After all, the CD rom and CD only transport are defunct, no longer made in any quantity if at all. So a lot of players now use tranports that can read CD or MP3 or even SACD and some high end CD players use DVD transports to read the same, at least 3 I have seen use a regular but decent computer DVD rom e.g. Pioneer or Teac.

It's the implementation and perhaps has as much to do with build construction. A decent high end CD player, whatever the transport, tends to be heavy. Heavy is important.
 

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