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noob looking for advice, suggestions, for low budget set-up


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Hello,

 

I've recently gotten interested in CA after a salesman from Ovation told me about Audioquest cables. Been reading through these threads and hoping you guys might be willing to give me some feedback. Here's my current set-up:

 

Monster cable 2GHz splitter > PPC Perfect flex 6 series 18 AWG catvx (free from ISP - Comcast) > HP Monster Digital Powercenter 800G > Motorola SB6141 > ethernet cat 5e (came w/ router) > Apple Airport extreme 802.11ac > iMac (21.5", Late '13) 3.1 GHz Intel Core i7, 8GB 1600MHz DDR3, 250GB Apple SSD > Pure Music 2.0.4 > Audioquest Dragon Tail > Audioquest Dragonfly 1.2 - plugged into the first USB slot from the left (rear view) > Klipsch 2.1 Pro Media computer speakers.

 

I also have an Audioquest 1.5m Cinnamon ethernet which I had hoped would be a worthwhile investment but I didn't notice any improvements using it from my modem to my router. Not even sure if that's what it's meant for. Debating on returning it to Amazon if I don't find another way to use it which is appropriate that I'm hoping you guys will advise me on.

 

My music collection is only 47.8GB AIFF and MPEG/AAC combined. I'm interested in OWC for backup (preferably SSD) and possibly a small Synology or Qnap. I don't have a stereo. Only my iMac, a Klipsch sound dock and my iPhone 5. However, I'm very interested in all the different ways you all discuss on here to improve SQ, etc. and though I may have a low budget - I tend to find some way to finance my project with sites who have payment plans.

 

I know I could spend gobs of time sifting through these forums but am hoping to get advice, suggestions, recommendations from all the knowledge that's already been tested and discovered by the experts on this site who aren't just trying to sell me something. I'd really appreciate it.

 

Thanks,

Brett

ROON w/ TIDAL > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.7 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > Apple Airport Extreme > Bluesound Node 2i > Audioquest Cinnamon Digital Coax > Peachtree Audio Nova 150 > Monster HTS 1600 > Blue Jeans Speaker Cables > Vintage Klipsch Kg2 Speakers

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The Dragonfly is a good product. Mostly Audioquest cables aren't going to be of help to you. You might as well return it to Amazon.

 

The big upgrade for you is speakers. Perhaps headphones if you like headphone listening.

 

I am vague on a couple things. One is what budget do you have? Recommendations would be much easier if it is known how much is available.

 

The other is do you want to put together a separate stereo? Is that what you are after? Or are you simply looking for which accessories or changes can be made to improve sound listening over the Klipsch speakers you have?

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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With the caveat that I am no expert myself, I would agree that if you were looking to upgrade your current setup, your speakers would probably be where I'd start, or as elsdude says, you can just pick up a pair of nice headphones. Let us know your budget and I'm sure folks here will give you a bunch of ideas!

Artifex

Searching for Good Sounds in China!

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I concur with the other contributors. Your "front end" 8G RAM MAC + pure music + dragonfly v1.2 should provide a good base for a bit perfect and reasonably high quality source. However, your powered speakers are listed at only US$197, which is a very small amount of money to pay for a built-in amp, 2 satellites and a sub.

 

Depending on your budget, room size, listening environment (is this a main system or desktop?) I would forget about cables for the minute and audition the following amp/speaker combinations or at least google reviews

 

Desktop - IMO active monitors as used by professionals in recording studios will give you the best bang for your buck ..... check out the websites of Adam, Dyanudio, Audioengine & Genelec, Yamaha, etc. and mount them on isolating rubber mats. Choose the near field models and look on Ebay for deals. I have the Adam A7s and they can be had for under $1k and sound wonderful.

 

Main system - can again go for active monitors depending on room size etc, however, I would look for a good quality integrated stereo amp on eBay with at least 50watts of power from the likes of NAD, Rotel, Yamaha, Marantz, etc or find a friend who doesn't want their old AMP and feed it with a good quality 3.5mm to 2 x RCA cable out of the Dragonfly into the AUX or CD input. In a small room (under 25m2) combine with a pair of book shelf speakers mounted on stands from the likes of B&W, KEF, PSB, Klipsch, Q Acoustics, Boston Acoustics etc. There are literally hundreds of models. If they need to be near a wall purchase a pair with front firing ports (to increase base).

 

For larger rooms audition towers or choose a combination of bookshelf speakers with an inexpensive sub - IMO this is the most cost effective way to get great sound - e.g. $700 bookshelves with a $300 used sub off Ebay will sound better than similar priced towers but that is obviously subject to personal preference.

LOUNGE: Mac Mini - Audirvana - Devialet 200 - ATOHM GT1 Speakers

OFFICE : Mac Mini - Audirvana - Benchmark DAC1HDR - ADAM A7 Active Monitors

TRAVEL : MacBook Air - Dragonfly V1.2 DAC - Sennheiser HD 650

BEACH : iPhone 6 - HRT iStreamer DAC - Akimate Micro + powered speakers

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Thanks guys. As far as my budget - it depends on who will approve me for financing at this point. I like the ADAMs. but haven't heard any yet. We don't have a high end audio store here in Lafayette,IN. Just been searching for online sites who offer financing. Currently, I have some credit with Mac Mall and Amazon. Although, my options would be Audioengine 5+ or KEF X300A through Mac Mall and an Audioengine D1 DAC through Amazon. Amazon has ADAMs but I'd have to pay down my credit with them to swing it (currently $394.28). Also, if I tried Audioengine 5+ or the KEFs that pretty much eliminates the Dragonfly - (which I'm not necessarily against). I like my stuff to match and Audioengine has their own DAC. Honestly though, I don't like the appearance of the 5+. I'm not really interested in Dynaudio, Genelec or Yamaha (again, don't like the appearance). I've read some reviews about the KEF X300As and I'm not sure if they would sound good w/o a sub - if I went with those that would tap me out w/ my available credit through Mac Mall. Plus, they also have built in DACs which would again make the Dragonfly useless. I suppose I could see if Amazon would let me return the Dragonfly and the Dragon Tail. Surprisingly enough though, Pure Music and the Dragonfly makes my AIFFs sound pretty good even with the Klipsch 2.1s. Of course, this is my first experience trying this stuff so I do notice better sound - having not heard other DAC/speaker combos. Pure Music is pretty sweet - though I'm not familiar with the Apple plug-ins except the 10 band AUGraphicEQ and I don't have anyone around here to come over and take a look to teach me how to make use of the other plug-ins. My main complaint with Pure Music is using streamthrough for internet radio. I get fuzz and static crackly feedback using it - not constant but enough to irritate me.

 

Here's what they said from PM tech support:

 

With some rare (a few percent) DAC / computer combinations the Playthrough and DAC clocks cannot be fully synchronized, causing the audio to stop or become distorted. (By "rare" we mean that a certain sample of computer will have enough of a manufacturing tolerance in the internal clock timing not to be able to synchronize with the clock of the DAC, which also may happen to have a clock tolerance difference in the opposite direction.) There also is the suggestion posted on our website (topic "Sound occasionally goes "fuzzy" with Playthrough" on the web page CHANNEL D - Support) but this is less likely to succeed, if the Constrain Sample Rate (an option in the Playthrough pane of the Audio Setup window, that is on by default) did not work; however, it is still worth a try.

 

We have worked out a robust solution that will appear in an update to Pure Music that will correct the clock synchronization issue, but is not yet available in a Pure Music update. The Pure Music 2.0.3 update corrected a different symptom of the synchronization issue, unexpected quits.

 

Are you running any other applications, e.g., email, web browser? These can cause CPU interruptions at critical times causing loss of synchronization and should be avoided when playing music.

 

Also, please restart the computer, and allow it to sit idle for a few minutes before starting music playback. This is so that any start-up processes can complete their tasks, and insuring that the maximum amount of CPU is available for audio use, without any CPU "blocking" interruptions. Minimizing switching between applications and moving windows around, etc. will also help in situations where stream synchronization is marginal.

 

This did me no good at fixing the problem - which still exists.

 

I'm not really focusing on a stereo right now. Only how I can tweak or make the best of CA first. Although, Crutchfield has financing and carries the new Klipsch Premiere line which would be pretty sweet but require an amp, etc if I tried to use passive speakers and there's only so much space on my desk. However, I have seen pics of someone using them with their laptop.

 

Anyway, I'm leaning towards the ADAMs either after I get my Amazon Store Card paid down or find some other place who will approve me for financing. Until then, Mac Mall sells OWC for a back up drive and also Synology and Qnap if I decide to try a NAS.

 

Any other advice or suggestions greatly appreciated.

 

Thanks,

Brett

ROON w/ TIDAL > iMac (21.5", Late 2013) 3.1 GHz Intel Quad Core i7 - 8GB 1600 MHz DDR3 > macOS Catalina 10.15.7 > 250 Apple Flash Storage / SSD > Apple Airport Extreme > Bluesound Node 2i > Audioquest Cinnamon Digital Coax > Peachtree Audio Nova 150 > Monster HTS 1600 > Blue Jeans Speaker Cables > Vintage Klipsch Kg2 Speakers

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