very near field setup help :)

Paul.

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2010
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At my desk at work I have a very humble eBay setup which cost me about £100 to put together. On a shelf under the desk I have a Marantz PM44 SE, wall mounted I have a pair of Denon Branded Mission bookshelfs. Its all hooked together with some off cut Chord Rumour cable, and source is via 3.5mm jack to either my laptop or an iPod dock. Sounds pretty good considering the cost, but could be better.



The speakers work quite nicely after much fettling of the position. There is no boom, they are front ported and the amp is never challenged thanks to the short listening distance. I have heared the same speakers with a better amp, and am happy with their performance for the time being.

I would like a bit more bass, and I would quite like an Amp with a bass *** as I listen to very varied music, jumping from bass heavy Breakbeat such as Hybrid and U.N.K.L.E. to female vocals such as Tori Amos, Regina Spektor and Imogen Heap. I don't want to use the iPhones EQ as it sounds naff. I would also like to use a Dac. Budget is about £300 absolute max, or maybe £400 to start from scratch. Cant afford a Marantz 603 :( (also wifi is spotty at best, so no Airplay)

I quite liked the look of the Onkyo A-5VL, but its reviews seemed pretty poor. In principal though, it looks good. Something like this but good would be ideal :)

The Harmon Kardon HK 3490 looks good, but is remarkably over powered for what I need.

I probably will have to look at separate dacs, but would be nice to have it all in one. I already have a million and one power supplies under my desk so a simple setup would be nice.

The wildcard is flogging everything and looking at actives, but would also need to budget for new speaker brackets as they will be too heavy for the brackets that I have.

What should I start looking at? Is there an alternative to the Onk/HK? Your help is greatly appreciated!
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The A-5VL sounds great. I have one myself and would recommend it. Actually, it has earned good reviews here in Japan and also in some German and Swedish magazines. I've only seen it slighted in a review that didn't mention the input source or speakers that were paired with it. Perhaps it really does suffer from a lack "organic degradation" compared to a Chinese-made amp with a British nameplate, but mine won't be heading for the compost pile any time soon. Have a listen.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
Crikey; I thought I was lucky sitting here with an iMAC and some B&W MM1's!

I also work for myself but I'm lucky that I've got my spare room near enough sorted for my new Cyrus Stream set-up and I've got the Marantz CR603 set-up in the living room

For me, and with your budget, I'd be very tempted to consider a decent 2nd hand example of a NAD C320BEE via eBay and the likes and then see what kind of DAC you can get with the rest of your budget

The NAD C320BEE integrated amp was, and still is, SUPERB. It was VERY well reviewed in its time and is still loved by audiophiles. It's a solid, gutsy amp with the NAD sound (great bass weight but partnered with a superb, well timed midrange and top end)

Example: http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NAD-C320BEE-Stereo-Integrated-Amplifier-Mint-Remote-Instruction-Manual-/330636841581?pt=UK_AudioTVElectronics_HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers&hash=item4cfb7dd26d

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/NAD-C320BEE-Integrated-Amplifier-/170724409238?pt=UK_AudioTVElectronics_HomeAudioHiFi_Amplifiers&hash=item27bff7bf96

There around 4-5 C320BEE's on eBay currently so you're spoilt for choice!

The amp will withstand a good few future upgrades as well if you ever went down that route. I've still got mine in the loft well packed away; I'll never sell it as it's an ideal 'spare' just in case anything happened anywhere else etc...
 

Frank Harvey

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Jun 27, 2008
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Adding a little more bass, whether by another amp or speakers, is going to upset your current balance, so while trying to improve one area, it might bring up other issues.

Most tone controls cover too wide a range, and are usually quite intrusive as far as quality degrading goes, so I'd recommend trying the Audiolab 8000A. The tone controls cover a +/-6dB range, and are very subtle, and I find they work extremely well. You can normally pick one up for £100-150, and can usually get your money back if you find it doesn't suit.

Later on, I'd have a look at either the KEF Q100 or R100 speakers - the UniQ driver is excellent for near field monitoring due to being a coincident design. Plus, they're not much bigger than what you have.
 

Paul.

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Nov 26, 2010
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I will try and listen to the Onkyo before it is poo-pooed, as it is all in one box. Im not a fan of bright and tinkly elctronics however (for hifi, quite like it for AV)

John, I was refering to the iPhones eq rather than iTunes. I usually use the iPhone over laptop as I dont want to be robbed of the memory and processor cycles whilst working.

Also will check out the Audiolab and the NAD. Are they both close to the Marantz sound? I like to be on the warm side of the fence.

I guess if I spend £150 on the amp, the marantz should hopefully sell for £40-£50, that will leave £150-£200 for a nice Dac.

Thanks for the help.
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
The NAD C 320BEE is a goodamp with a fullsome sound that's not bright or harsh in any way. The Audiolab is also a good amp but it's fairly neutral in comparison to the NAD and I'm not sure if the sound would be ideal with the whole soundstage being so close to you etc...

I think with the Onk system you're going to get more of the same; i.e. soundstage isnt really what you're after and not evenly balanced etc...

A decent stereo amp will easily sort that out straight away!

BTW - Paul, what do you do? I'm connected to a Paul Hobbs via LinkedIn!
 

Paul.

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2010
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Thanks Steve, I designed it myself :)

That happens alot to me for some reason Hifi. I have a clone wandering around Bristol. I emailed a chap at Sustrans once about offering some free work (just cos I like what they do) and he said "Good to hear from you. Havent seen you since that party on cleaveland peer..." Was very sureal as it was not me. To confound confusion, Paul Hobbs no 2 is a camera man for the BBC!
 

MajorFubar

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Mar 3, 2010
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I think that looks bloody brilliant.

Would you consider patching-in a graphic equalizer between your Mac and your amp? That might give you the tone control you seek without changing your amp, which by the sounds of it you do like.
 

Paul.

Well-known member
Nov 26, 2010
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steve_1979 said:
MajorFubar said:
Would you consider patching-in a graphic equalizer between your Mac and your amp?
Have you tried using the iTunes built in EQ. It's certainly cheaper than buying a new amp.
Im very very demanding on my machine, and iTunes is surprisingly resource hungry, and makes a significant speed difference to apeture and PS. Lots of spinny beach ball. I always listen to music through the iPhone dock because of this, unless I'm doing invoicing or email stuff. IPod eq on the bass settings always sound naff. I will re-assess in a week when my new quad core i7 MacBook Pro shows up :)

Thanks brazil, they look ace, but can't afford them!
 

WinterRacer

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Jan 14, 2009
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Paul,

Here's a couple of pics of my near field setup, Genelec 6010A at about £400.





They're small active monitors specifically designed for near-field listening. I've only had them two days but very happy with them so far. Definitely no boom or harshness. They do a whole range starting with these up to monitors that cost more than most cars!

Perhaps worth considering if you don't mind starting again?
 

6th.replicant

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Oct 26, 2007
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Or you could consider hitching your sparkly new 17in MBP to a NuForce microDAC (aka uDAC), paired with Audioengine 2 powered speakers. Usefully, the uDAC is capable of 24/96.

FWIW, a fella on another forum prefers the above setup (at lab office) to his MBP + MM-1s (at home office).

And IMHO the uDAC looks kinda cool 'n' cute, and is available in various finish/colour combos, eg:



Worth a demo?
 

Jason36

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Jul 23, 2008
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6th.replicant said:
Or you could consider hitching your sparkly new 17in MBP to a NuForce microDAC (aka uDAC), paired with Audioengine 2 powered speakers. Usefully, the uDAC is capable of 24/96.

FWIW, a fella on another forum prefers the above setup (at lab office) to his MBP + MM-1s (at home office).

And IMHO the uDAC looks kinda cool 'n' cute, and is available in various finish/colour combos, eg:



Worth a demo?
Sorry to HiJack,

But I have just bought the NuForce DAC and very impressed with it....currently use it with headphones via Laptop whilst am at work. Have been toying with the idea of getting a pair of Desktop speakers for the office (Audioengine 2 or 5 or Possibly Akimate). How would I connect the DAC to these...is it via USB or RCA out??
 
T

the record spot

Guest
Check out Onkyo's TX-8050, onboard DAC, 100+wpc, internet radio functionality, multiple digital inputs (2x optical, 2x coax), seems to get good write-ups from owners, attractive enough without being anything special. £299 in Superfi online and instore in Richer Sounds. Maybe worth a look...personally, with the number of music listening requirements that people have, standard two channel amps leave me a little nonplussed these days. You mentioned the A5-VL, which is alright too apparently (good rating in Hi Fi World a year or so back).
 

6th.replicant

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Oct 26, 2007
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Jason36 said:
6th.replicant said:
Or you could consider hitching your sparkly new 17in MBP to a NuForce microDAC (aka uDAC), paired with Audioengine 2 powered speakers. Usefully, the uDAC is capable of 24/96.

FWIW, a fella on another forum prefers the above setup (at lab office) to his MBP + MM-1s (at home office).

And IMHO the uDAC looks kinda cool 'n' cute, and is available in various finish/colour combos, eg:



Worth a demo?
Sorry to HiJack,

But I have just bought the NuForce DAC and very impressed with it....currently use it with headphones via Laptop whilst am at work. Have been toying with the idea of getting a pair of Desktop speakers for the office (Audioengine 2 or 5 or Possibly Akimate). How would I connect the DAC to these...is it via USB or RCA out??
Clickety :)
 

Jason36

New member
Jul 23, 2008
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6th.replicant said:
Jason36 said:
6th.replicant said:
Or you could consider hitching your sparkly new 17in MBP to a NuForce microDAC (aka uDAC), paired with Audioengine 2 powered speakers. Usefully, the uDAC is capable of 24/96.

FWIW, a fella on another forum prefers the above setup (at lab office) to his MBP + MM-1s (at home office).

And IMHO the uDAC looks kinda cool 'n' cute, and is available in various finish/colour combos, eg:



Worth a demo?
Sorry to HiJack,

But I have just bought the NuForce DAC and very impressed with it....currently use it with headphones via Laptop whilst am at work. Have been toying with the idea of getting a pair of Desktop speakers for the office (Audioengine 2 or 5 or Possibly Akimate). How would I connect the DAC to these...is it via USB or RCA out??
Clickety :)
Thats the Icon2 rather than the uDAC2 you have linked to. The uDAC doesn't have speaker out, just RCA or CoAxial.
 

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