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DAC built into the speaker?


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First I have to say that this is a cool site. I found it a few weeks ago while surfing. As to the AVI speakers I have owned a pair since August, and I love them. Chris, I have to agree that it does lock you in, however being a previous owner of AVI gear I took a leap of faith and have not regretted it. I have the 16 bit Burr Brown version with USB input, but I think a version with a 24 bit Wolfson DAC and optical input is coming. My whole system now consists of a Mac Mini as the center of my digital world, and my turntable and phono stage on the analog side. Throw in my display and external hardrive, and for a total of six boxes I have a great audio/video system.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Hey there radar - Thanks a lot for the post. It is great to have an opinion from someone who has the system themselves. I'm glad you're really happy with your system and I think other readers will benefit from the list of components you posted.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Hi people, newbie here with first post.

 

I also have the AVI ADM9s and would like to share my experience. I use a macbook/itunes through USB connection to the ADM9s and lossless or uncompressed audio files. I have to say the ADM9s are my most satisfying hifi purchase to date – the macbook and ADM9s are now my main system and have replaced a rack of separates costing more than twice as much. It’s not just that the itunes thing is so convenient, the macbook and ADM9s simply sound better. Chris, they are more flexible than you might think on first impressions. They have analogue inputs so you can use an external dac or cd transport if you want and with the USB version you can record to your laptop/macbook’s hard drive. They might not be to everybody’s taste (conventional audiophile types) but to anybody interested in computer audio they are a must audition in my view. A word of caution, I had problems getting the best out of them with Windows laptops. I tried three different brands – (1) Samsung running Vista Home (2) a JVC mininote running XP Pro and (3) a HP running XP Home. 1 sounded bad, 2 sounded poor and 3 sounded great. The manufacturer were very helpful with advice on what to do to get the best out of them with Windows but in the end I got a macbook, which sounded fantastic straight out of the box without any messing around.

 

I’ve recently ordered a Benchmark DAC1USB to use with headphones at my workplace but will try the Benchmark with the ADM9s to compare the sound quality against the ADM9s internal DAC. I also intend digitizing some of my vinyl collection and will post my thoughts on these experiments, if anybody is interested.

 

 

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Thanks for the post PaulC. You guys are getting me more and more interested in reviewing the AVI products. I really like that you mentioned the analog inputs. This does offer some flexibility in DAC selection. I am very interested to hear your impressions when you use the Benchmark DAC on this system.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Paul,

Glad to see someone else who uses the ADM9's, I thought I was the only one-at least in the US I know they are doing well in the UK. I have to agree on the Mac, my Mini sounds much better than a laptop I tried running XP business.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Meridian has been doing this for many years. In fact, they take it to the extreme. A three way speaker will have a DAC and power amp for the woofer, mid, and tweeter, respectively. Tri-amped and Tri-Dac'd. Ok I made up the second phase. I have nothing but respect for Meridians digital designs. The first outboard DAC I ever owned was their 203 more than twenty years ago. I am not wild about their speakers although it would seem that the concept makes sense. The problems I see are twofold: Their amplifier and speaker prowess needs to be as good as their Dacs, which is not my impression, and you are locked into the system approach and can't do just an amp upgrade. Please any existing Meridian active speaker owners, don't take offense. It's just my opinion but these concerns do make them a bit harder to sell. We just took a 17K Meridian CD player in on trade and it is truly great, as it should be.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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These ADM9s have caused some hot debate in UK hifi forums mainly because of some of the claims of the manufacturer. I agree that other manufacturers have done this before but I’m not aware of any other products in the same price range (UK price £1000) that are of similar sound and build quality – if anybody knows of any please post a link as it would be great to have some alternatives to compare against the ADM9s (several of my friends are saving their hard earned bucks to buy the ADM9s after hearing mine). Radar, are you tempted by the sub (UK price £750)? I’m not sure that I need one but will probably make a visit to AVI’s factory to check them out. Incidentally, while AVI’s marketing strategy seems to annoy some they are very helpful and will happily invite prospective customers to their factory. They also have a skype link on their web site so you can call for a chat and ask as many questions as you like.

 

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Hey Rick - I agree that Merdian does make some outstanding products. I've always thought if their model of DAC inside the speaker was the way to go many more manufacturers would be all over it. I think we would even see products like a Classe / B&W speaker etc...

 

To your point about their speakers, I personally have never heard anyone rave about them. It almost seems like a topic people ignore because of the other fabulous digital products Meridian makes. It's like they get a pass on this one.

 

Founder of Audiophile Style

Announcing The Audiophile Style Podcast

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Or at least try to. The speakers have been a sticking point in terms of getting into some stores.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Maybe radar can tell you where he bought his and for how much. Otherwise, send AVI an email or Skype call and I'm sure they will put you in touch with their USA distributors. They retail for GBP 1,000 in UK with certain finishes at premium cost (I've got piano black ones and they look fantastic). Good luck and let us know if you hear them/buy them.

 

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Closest dealer to me is in Austin, TX which is a bit too far to travel to see/hear them. The import price for the base finishes is $2500... a bit too high for my office system, I'm afraid.

 

My main listening room is roughly 24' X 30 with a 12' vaulted ceiling, so a speaker with a single 6.5" woofer might be getting lost in there.

 

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Paul,

In regards to the sub, I have thought about it, but in my 36' x 26' basement with 8' ceilings I get darn good bass. Although I find that the ADMs sound best about 2 feet from the back wall which does diminish the bass somewhat, so a sub would help in this situtation-especially with movies.

 

Baird,

I bought mine in Michigan, I am guessing you looked at Whetstone in Austin. The price is steep for an office system, I think this is part of the problem in marketing the ADM9, people who want to use them with a computer may find them too expensive, and people who might use them in a hi-fi system might not accept that they can do everything that seperate components can do. I personally became tired of trying to find a good cd player and dvd player to play my concert dvds and I still needed to find a way to play all of the music that was on my computer. That is why I find this site interesting, because I think computer or server based systems do make a great way to play all of ones digital media. Now if there were just more places offering 24 bit DRM free downloads.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi all, I have been chatting to Radar a bit on the ADM9s. I visited the factory yesterday and had a good long demo at Ashley's house - very nice helpful chap. I thought they sounded very detailed, but a bit lean maybe, but at the end of the day it is only after several days/weeks of home use that one really gets to appreciate (or otherwise) something. I have never found demos at hi fi stores or outside my own home that useful.

 

Anyway, I am about the buy some of the original ADM9s to use with a Mac-based system. Please all you ADM9 users, tell me how wonderful they are and how you are getting on with yours! This bass thing that AVI claim about the ADM9s on their web site - are you getting decent bass from yours?

 

Phil

 

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Hi Phil,

 

I'm still very happy with the ADM9s and play more music now than I ever have. I thought the bass was a little light at first but after listening for some time I find it adequate and won't be buying the sub. Mine are not ideally placed and my listening room is less than ideal acoustically. A few weeks ago I decorated my lounge and dragged all the soft furniture and rugs into the room where I have the ADM9s - amazing difference and showed me how important room acoustics are. Shame the wife made me put the furniture back!

 

If you can get yours on stands and have reasonable room acoustics I'm sure you will be delighted with your investment. Enjoy the music!

 

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Thanks Paul. I, too, had this experience with my current set up - one does ideally need a bit of soft stuff around to dampen things, particularly if you have laminate floors (like I do), etc.

 

My polling suggests that everyone who owns ADM9s loves them (and few had the chance to trial them before buying). The venom apparently directed at them via certain Forums (not this one I hasten to add) seems to have come from those who have never experienced them.

 

Phil

 

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Phil,

Congrats on your purchase, I know that you will love them. I would not worry about them being too lean. Alot of people say that at first, and I think it is because they play without any artifacts, and the active crossover helps. I actually think (along with the other AVI stuff I have owned and heard) they can be slightly on the warm side. I used to own Active ATC 20's and I thought those were lean. I will say that I have been listening to more and more digital stuff for a while now since I bought the ADM9's. I still prefer my turntable, but digital is making a bid comeback in my house. I think you will love just how simple and compact your system will become, and yet it still sounds great. As to bass I find that I get a lot for the size of the speaker and the fact they are in my basement which is about 12x12 meters. I have hardly any furniture in the room and only thin carpet. If you can I recommed betting them out from the back wall.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Radar,

 

Thanks - they are on their way and will be with me tomorrow! I got a good deal I think as the new model is just about to be released - Ashley is also throwing some stands in at a reduced price (and an optical lead). Can't wait to try them.

 

My wife is delighted at the prospect of our living room being clear of black boxes, etc (and so will I be if I get decent sound).

 

I had a demo at Ashley's house - Ashley is the boss of AVI. He had Apple TV as well and the way the whole system gelled really impressed me - TV interacting with Apple Macbook (wireless) with ADM9s on either side - remote controlling everything, etc. I have also just ordered a Macbook! OK, everything has cost me the best part of two grand ($4,000), but I have funded most of this through the sale of my turntable (nice, but very seldom used) and some of those black boxes.

 

Will be interested to share my experiences with you. Do you feed your ADM9s with a CD player or Mac?

 

Best wishes

 

Phil

 

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Phil,

I only have a Mac Mini and my turntable hooked up to the ADM9s. I am not even sure if I own a cd or dvd player anymore. I use the Mini for not only ripping and organizing my cds, but it is also a pretty good dvd player as well, and I have it hooked up to a projector for watching tv and movies.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Radar,

 

Thanks for the info. My ADM9s were delivered today and I have them hooked up to my CD player at the moment - I think I am going to like them - can't wait to hook up to Macbook which also arrived today!

 

A couple of things with the ADM9s that you may be able to advise on. Firstly, no matter what I do, when I turn on the speakers I get an audible "thump", mainly from the left non-slave speaker. Do you get this? Secondly, I do have some hiss at high volumes - do you get this?

 

Sound-wise, I am still getting used to them but they don't sound "thin" at all. In fact, they sound detailed and extremely polite, in other words, well controlled.

 

Thanks

 

Phil

 

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Phil,

The thump is normal, I get it all the time. When you get you computer make sure that everything including the computer is hooked up first, or there will be a high frequency noise that occurs when you hook it up to the speakers. I cannot say that I get a hiss, other than when my tube phono stage is on.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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Thanks again Radar, I now have my Mac connected up and playing AIFF files - sounds great. Initial impressions, but these speakers are SO controlled - no nasties, no harshness - they have great authority. That "thump" when I turn them on still disconcerts me a bit though.

 

Do you run a toslink cable between Mac and ADM9s? I was provided a very long one and an adapter for the Mac mini toslink outlet. Can't help but feel I can make an improvement on the cable there.

 

Phil

 

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Phil,

It sounds like you have the optical input version, whereas I have the USB input version. I use a five meter long USB cable, and I have not tried shorter lengths or different cables so I do not know if it will help. I know most people say digital cables should not make a difference, but I have tried different digital cables in the past between cd players and an outboard DAC, and could tell a difference. I still would not worry about the thump on turnon, my ATCs also did it.

 

ADM9.1s ,2.0 Ghz Mac Mini, Panasonic BD-35 blu-ray player.

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