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System Advice

Deights

Active member
Jul 22, 2020
2
1
25
Hello this is my first post though I started reading What Hi Fi as a teenager in the 80s.

My systems is:
Logitech Squeezebox used for streaming FLAC files from my computer.
Arcam Alpha 7SE CD player
Quad 34/606 Pre/power amp
Ruark Sabre Loudspeakers on Atacama stands.
(I also have an old Rega Planar 3/RB300 that I have recently inherited and have yet to set up).

First of all I think that the system playing FLACs from the Squeezebox sounds good.

But I am conscious that the system is unbalanced and I wondered what I should do to try and find more of a balance and see if I can improve the sound quality.

I have considered buying the Cambridge Audio CXA81 amplifier and connecting the amp to the Squeezebox via the digital connections rather than the current connections to the Quads by the standard phono cables.

BUT I inherited the Quads from my late father and they have sentimental value so I would like to keep them. I also wonder if a £1K integrated amp would beat the Quads all be it over 30 years old for sound quality.

Instead perhaps a pair of floor standing loudspeakers might be the answer though I'm not sure on the model as yet.

I live in a small flat and listen to mainly classic and modern rock/pop music.

I could probably find about a grand to pay for any upgrade.

Thanks.
 

millennia_one

Well-known member
Sep 1, 2014
338
128
11,070
Hi there, sorry the thing holding the system back is the very thing you like. If I where change anyone thing in that system it would be the squeeze box. Replace it with a dedicated streamer of some sort. Cambridge audio does one and so do a few other brands. Other than that I don’t think you really need change anything unless it’s broken

Speakers haven’t really moved on all that much neither have amps. But digital tech has come on leaps and bounds. A good streamer might also make your CD player sound better. As you can use the dac in the streamer instead of the player simply connecting the CD player optically to it

Food for thought.
 
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Al ears

Moderator
Hi there, sorry the thing holding the system back is the very thing you like. If I where change anyone thing in that system it would be the squeeze box. Replace it with a dedicated streamer of some sort. Cambridge audio does one and so do a few other brands. Other than that I don’t think you really need change anything unless it’s broken

Speakers haven’t really moved on all that much neither have amps. But digital tech has come on leaps and bounds. A good streamer might also make your CD player sound better. As you can use the dac in the streamer instead of the player simply connecting the CD player optically to it

Food for thought.
You beat me to it, was going to say much the same.
The speakers are pretty good but a sealed-box design may be not the most exciting, perhaps a more modern speaker might help here.
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
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18,870
My advice would be if you want the sound to be different in some way change the speakers. Substituting the streamer won't change the sound. What is unbalanced about it?
 
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Deights

Active member
Jul 22, 2020
2
1
25
I'm conscious that having £200 source going into £2K worth of amplifiers isn't the best way to set up a system.

If I want to keep the Squeezebox could I buy a DAC and could I plug the Squeezebox and a CD player into the same DAC?

(I rarely play CDs so if I can only plug the Squeezebox into a DAC that would be fine).
 
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Al ears

Moderator
I'm conscious that having £200 source going into £2K worth of amplifiers isn't the best way to set up a system.

If I want to keep the Squeezebox could I buy a DAC and could I plug the Squeezebox and a CD player into the same DAC?

(I rarely play CDs so if I can only plug the Squeezebox into a DAC that would be fine).
An external DAC, correctly connected, will allow you to adjust the quality of the Squeezebox
 

myrrhman

Well-known member
Apr 24, 2020
37
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45
+1 for a DAC being the key to improving sound quality in your system. I don't think you need to spend a fortune getting a purpose-built streamer unless you want the convenience of a bespoke solution - I don't know much about the Squeezebox, but if it gives you a digital output allowing you to bypass its internal DAC then you are good to go.
And yes, depending on which DAC you buy, you can plug in multiple sources - my Arcam irDAC has an optical input for the TV, a coaxial for my CD player, a USB for a wired connection from my iPhone (Tidal, Fip etc...) and another USB for my computer FLAC files...and still has spare optical and co-axial inputs.
Would personally be very reluctant to replace a Quad pre / power amp with anything other than a top-end Cambridge product, not without a long hard comparative listen.
 

amormusic

Well-known member
Feb 24, 2016
114
31
4,620
Pick up a used Jolida FX DAC. These are very highly rated DACs. Connect the squeeze box to it. This should be a huge leap up in SQ.

This is risk free, in that if you dont like it, then you'd have a new buyer within hours buying it off you and would get your money back.
 

rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
339
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19,070
My advice would be if you want the sound to be different in some way change the speakers. Substituting the streamer won't change the sound. What is unbalanced about it?
In another thread you stated that there were differences between CD players (granted, that you can't hear them anymore, but used to) - why would streamers be any different?

@OP: yes, a DAC would be the first thing I'd upgrade for sure, even if some say the Squeezebox isn't the best source out there. Alternatively, an under-budget option would be a second hand Cambridge Audio CXN v2, which can be had for roughly 500 pounds, so you could start saving some money for a speaker upgrade, or something like a Limetree Network player if you wanna go all in. For pure DAC, Chord Qutest is well worth considering, but so are Denafrips Ares 2, Topping D30 or Schiit Gungir multibit (do check for what inputs they have, though).
 

TrevC

Well-known member
Jun 12, 2013
242
79
18,870
Changing DACs is not going to make a very noticeable change to the sound although there may be some subtle differences, which is why I suggested changing speakers where differences are more obvious.
 
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rainsoothe

Well-known member
Apr 30, 2012
339
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19,070
Changing DACs is not going to make a very noticeable change to the sound although there may be some subtle differences, which is why I suggested changing speakers where differences are more obvious.
I agree if the DAC s were half decent, but it's a Squeezebox... Otherwise yes, speakers would be almost tied for first place (on my list, at least).
 

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