Starting again

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Hi, new to the forum. Circumstances meant my hi-fi has been resigned to the garage for a very long time, along with my collection of CD's. It would probably be considered vintage today being early 90's. It's top end Technics gear of the time so perhaps good once but not great. I miss proper hi-fi having just used my laptop and phone and things have changed a lot over the years.

So my first question is source. It used to be vinyl or CD, but I'm not sure where to start with streaming. It seems a must have for convenience but is it at the expense of sound quality? Do music files really compare to the old formats? This might sound a daft question but what do people do to listen to a new album on their stereos now? Do you just go with Spotify etc and stream it or do you buy and download a better quality audio file? I'm confused!

Cheers
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,986
1,351
13,570
Hi, new to the forum. Circumstances meant my hi-fi has been resigned to the garage for a very long time, along with my collection of CD's. It would probably be considered vintage today being early 90's. It's top end Technics gear of the time so perhaps good once but not great. I miss proper hi-fi having just used my laptop and phone and things have changed a lot over the years.

So my first question is source. It used to be vinyl or CD, but I'm not sure where to start with streaming. It seems a must have for convenience but is it at the expense of sound quality? Do music files really compare to the old formats? This might sound a daft question but what do people do to listen to a new album on their stereos now? Do you just go with Spotify etc and stream it or do you buy and download a better quality audio file? I'm confused!

Cheers
Have you got loads of vinyl or CDs Stu?
As for streaming, 'Everyone's' at it these days, certainly doesn't have to be at the expense of sound quality.
What do you listen to on laptop / phone?
 
Last edited:

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Hi Gray, I've got hundreds of CD's but I'll probably only likely to listen to them occasionally as my tastes have changed (for the better lol). Would be nice to have them available to listen though without having to store them all in the house, so ripping is appealing if it's not at the expense of quality. I have a decent laptop with loads of storage so I'm thinking rip all my CD's onto my laptop and make this my source as it where, with a backup somewhere just in case.

I haven't bought an album in maybe 20 years but I'm guessing I can go on Amazon and buy a high definition format? But will it sound as good as my old CD's? And is it possible to get the same quality just streaming from Spotify etc so I don't have to buy just rent as it where? Also does it effect quality 'how' you stream i.e. bluetooth, wi-fi, cable? Sorry for all the questions!
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,986
1,351
13,570
There was a time when ripping your CDs necessarily meant losing quality.
(I only bought my (first ever) computer because lossless ripping became possible).
Stored about 1000 CDs in FLAC format on a couple of hard drives (you're right, backup is absolutely essential - ripping is not something you will want to repeat).

You could play from your laptop's hard drive and, depending on the digital to analogue converter (DAC) quality (£100 gets you a goodun), it's possible your CD rips could sound better than the discs did on your old players.

I only (occasionally) use the free version of Spotify. Paying gets you higher quality streams, but not as high as CD quality from them (as far as I know).
You can get CD quality (and above) from other streaming sites though.

For ripping your own CDs I can recommend EAC (Exact Audio Copy) which is free and exact.
Others will be able to recommend good streaming sites.
Don't worry about too many questions, that's what this place is for.
 
Last edited:

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,986
1,351
13,570
....and don't be surprised if others tell you not to bother ripping your CDs.
Why bother when you can stream in identical quality from a streaming service? is what they'll ask.

If you're happy to use your laptop to playback your stored files then 'Foobar 2000' is worth looking into.

And just to answer your question about streaming quality. Wi-fi gets the streams to your phone / laptop without quality loss........what you do with it from there has the potential for compromise before the music gets to your amp.
 

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Brilliant that's really helpful thanks. I'm just confused on the DAC. Will a streamer play FLAC files or do I need a separate DAC for that?
 

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
1,064
461
19,570
I have a decent laptop with loads of storage so I'm thinking rip all my CD's onto my laptop and make this my source as it where, with a backup somewhere just in case.
If it was me I would rip them to an external SSD and connect that to the laptop when you want to play a file. If anything happens to your laptop then the files are safe. You can do both if you want a back-up. When you upgrade you can get a CD player or amp with a USB input to connect this external SSD. Frees up the laptop.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stu 299

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,986
1,351
13,570
Brilliant that's really helpful thanks. I'm just confused on the DAC. Will a streamer play FLAC files or do I need a separate DAC for that?
Most streamers (worth their salt) will play FLAC files.
Streamers come with and without built-in DACs. Many allow you to choose whether to use the built in one or connect digitally to an external DAC of your choice.
 

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Thanks but I'd already taken the plunge on a streamer late last night. Blew my budget out of the water but I haven't bought any hi-fi in decades so I think that's allowed. I always wanted a NAIM system in my younger years but couldn't afford it, I can't really now! Anyway I've ordered the N-272 preamp/streamer. Seems they're delisting it? Paid £1,900 new from a NAIM dealer which seemed to good to miss. Doesn't leave me much for anything else right now so I'll use my old speakers for a bit and look for a second hand power amp.
 

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
OK so the streamer was a a bit of an impulse buy due to it seemingly being delisted. From what reading I've done I'll need a power amp, speakers and in time maybe a NAIM power supply if I win the lottery.

Currently in the garage I have a Technics SU-V900 Stereo Integrated Amplifier Manual | HiFi Engine and some Monitor Audio BR2. Far from ideal I guess.

Wondering if the Technics Amp will work as a power amp for the time being? And then in a few months I can upgrade to a NAIM power amp (most likely second hand) and then some better speakers. Or would I be better just finding a less expensive (non NAIM) second hand dedicated power amp for now to see me through and then maybe upgrade the speakers before coming back to the power amp. All suggestions welcome cheers.
 
Last edited:

Friesiansam

Well-known member
Feb 3, 2015
463
336
11,270
Further to some of the points above. I too think it well worth ripping CDs to FLAC and, recommend Foobar2000. Foobar is free, very configurable and has lots of addons available. I suggest you use ASIO drivers, with Foobar, so Windows sound processing is completely bypassed, ensuring a bit-perfect feed to your new streamer.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stu 299 and Gray

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
678
294
19,270
The 272 is a very, very good stramer preamp. Nap 200 will be more than enough (don't look for nap 200dr, since the dr is useless with a 272) and they're pretty cheap sh. Make sure the nap comes with the supplied din cable, since it doesn't have RCA inputs and you'll need to buy an aftermarket one. Also, set the screen on the 272 to be always off. And change your Spotify to Tidal HiFi subscription if streaming services will be used often.
 

Gray

Well-known member
Nov 27, 2015
1,986
1,351
13,570
Wondering if the Technics Amp will work as a power amp for the time being?
...Yes it will*
Blimey, you didn't hang around Stu (I nearly choked on my Cheerios this morning - it takes me 3 years to research a purchase).

*Connect twin RCA lead from the 'Line out' of the 'Analogue outputs' section on the N-272 to any line input on your Technics (the DAT input must be spare).

You will then control volume by using the Technics volume control.
(If you were to use pre out from the Naim, you would have 2 volume controls in the chain, which is undesirable).

Enjoy the streamer!
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stu 299

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Really appreciate all the the help, and yeah surprised myself with last night's impulsivity buy but I figured you can't really go far wrong with Naim and it seemed a good price. Will take a bit more time over the amp and speaker upgrade but will slot the streamer into what I've got for now and then when I do upgrade I'll appreciate it all the more.

Brought a few bits in from the garage today; the amp, CD player (Technics SL-P900) and FM tuner (Technics ST-560 L). Got other bits like tape deck but can't see me using them. Just fired it up and listening to FM radio which sounds fantastic to my neglected ears.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Gray

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
678
294
19,270
Don't underestimate the importance of the preamp section - yes, a good poweramp controls speakers better, but the preamp is vital in the character of the sound. Would be a waste to just use a 272 just as a digital source.
 

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Next upgrade will be a power amp or speakers. I'm thinking speakers would be the better value upgrade at this time then power amp after. It's a few months away so plenty of time to do some proper research this time!

But yeah mustn't forget the preamp is there that would be a waste to overlook it as you say.
 

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
Hi Stu. Congratulations on the streamer. Cannot go wrong with quality. Agree with rainsooth, ditch Spotify for tidal/Qobuz. I was an early CD adopter, 1984 Technics! added SACD in 2004 and only started proper streaming 2 years ago. Apart from the SACDs and some of the better CDs, most listening is now streamed. I do not bother with downloads or ripping. My streamer does full MQA which brings Tidal high res but the NAIM doesn’t do MQA. I have QoBuZ on free trial and the hi res tracks sound superb and miles better than Spotify. I will almost certainly stick with Qobuz. The only pain is rebuilding playlists but nearly complete. can also recommend Radio Paradise FLAC stream. You might be surprised at the SQ through your NAIM. Happy listening.
 

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
Cheers OF. Seems I might have missed a trick with Naim/MQA. Presumably that's a better quality file?
 

Oldfart

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2020
53
32
70
It is. In my experience better than CD 90% of the time. There are many discussions about the pros and cons but as a NAIM owner of no concern. Regular Redbook FLAC will no doubt sound very good via the NAIM, but QoBuZ will add 24/48, 96 or 192 files which are a step up to my ears. There are various free or very cheap Tidal introductory offers. QoBuZ is one month then £14.99, but that will supply excellent quality often hi res music from a very large library. Not expensive if you buy a couple of CDs a month as I did for many years. I’m listening to some James Taylor right now. 24/192 and says bit rate of 9.216 mbps vs 1.411 for CD. Numbers don’t matter, but the SQ is all you could ever wish for.
edit to add. MQA requires a licensed streamer/DAC to unleash hi res, which I went for to cover all bases. Qobuz will perform on nearly all products. I would suggest trying it first.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Stu 299

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
678
294
19,270
Cheers OF. Seems I might have missed a trick with Naim/MQA. Presumably that's a better quality file?
You missed on more things, as the 272 doesn't do Qobuz or Amazon. But MQA is not better, it's just the way Tidal choose to pack their hi-res files (for now). But even the newer Naim don't do MQA, as they don't believe the format brings any improvement. However, don't get gung up on that, the difference between CD quality and hi-res is much more negligible than between mp3 (which Spotify does) and cd quality. And a good streamer that "only" does cd quality (well, the 272 also does hi-res flac and wav and also decodes DSD, but you have to have the files stored locally) will sound better than a budget one (like a Bluesound Node 2i or whatever) that does the "hi-res" stuff.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Stu 299

Stu 299

Well-known member
Jan 23, 2021
37
15
45
£1.799 at Peter Tyson if anyone else wants one.

That's where I bought mine. Spoke to them today and very helpful. Noticed they had an ex-display with another £100 off so asked about it. The guy went and spoke to his colleague who said it'd been unpacked and put on the shelf a few months ago but chances are it's never been powered up due to lockdown. My new one was already packed up ready to go so I said don't worry but they were more than happy to swap it.

Presumably it's being withdrawn so when they're gone they're gone. Seemed a bargain at that price with all the reviews and feedback I've read, so I didn't hang about.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: jjbomber

jjbomber

Well-known member
Dec 22, 2006
1,064
461
19,570
That's where I bought mine. Spoke to them today and very helpful. Noticed they had an ex-display with another £100 off so asked about it. The guy went and spoke to his colleague who said it'd been unpacked and put on the shelf a few months ago but chances are it's never been powered up due to lockdown. My new one was already packed up ready to go so I said don't worry but they were more than happy to swap it.

Presumably it's being withdrawn so when they're gone they're gone. Seemed a bargain at that price with all the reviews and feedback I've read, so I didn't hang about.
That's fantastic service by Peter Tyson. Always nice to hear good reports, as most of the ones on retailers are complaints.

It is indeed a bargain at half price. Enjoy.
 

ASK THE COMMUNITY

TRENDING THREADS