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PMC AML1 speakers


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Hi,

 

A few on hear will recall my mid-life hi-fi crisis. It began a few years ago when I ditched a Naim CDX2/XPS2 CDP/Power supply for a Mac/Benchmark USB DAC1 and DROBO combination.

 

I then changed all my Naim amp (Pre & power) for a Dave Berning ZH-270. I'm at it again... after listening to lots of DACs in the last six months, I have started to realise that I like pro audio DACs, especially Apogee and Lavry.

 

I quite like the idea of my Mac running via Firewire to a Lavry 928 DAC (I doubt I'll ever afford the DA2002, which is the one I most like) and then going to a pair of active monitor speakers.

 

I have read the 6Moon review of the PMC AML1 speakers and they come out okay - has anyone on here heard the AML1 speakers and if so what did you think? Are they okay in a domestic environment? I'm I crazy to go the studio DAC - studio active monitor route?

 

Cheers,

 

Monty

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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Okay guys,

 

I really like the idea of running a pair of PMC AML1 active speakers. Now apology right up front for what might be real dumb questions.

 

I would like to run my Mac into an Apogee DA 16-x DAC using Firewire.

 

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/da16x.php

 

My theory was to then go direct to the active speakers. Here is the problem/question... the Apogee DAC has no volume control, so do I need a preamp?

 

Would this do the job??

 

http://www.apogeedigital.com/products/trak2.php

 

Any thoughts?

 

Monty

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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Hey there Monty. There is nothing like going high-end is there?!! That is a great DAC. Do you really need the extra 14 channels of audio though? You Could save some money, get the same conversion quality and have both A/D and D/A capabilities at the same time with the Rosetta 200. You would even have enough $ left over to purchase a separate preamp if you decided that you need to. The Trak2 pre that you provide the link for is designed as a microphone preamp for recording purposes. I'm not sure that is what you are looking for, as you seem concerned only with volume control and do not mention being interested in recording as well as playback. In fact, the D/A box you mention is just that: Digital to Analog only. It doesn't record - no A/D conversion... Apogee has other venerable 2 channel solutions that will do the same job of D/A conversion for even less money as well.

 

Volume control: Most, if not all, pro audio (A/)D/A equipment include a software program for your computer along with the hardware that allows for all the switching functions ( bit depth, sampling rate, phantom power [for microphones] mixing routing, etc.) that the hardware is capable of doing. On a Mac, this will work in conjunction with Core Audio via the 'Audio Midi Setup' utilities program. Volume can be controlled in any number of ways: the afformentioned Audio Midi Setup has them, you can use the Mac's main system volume control, there is one in iTunes (or whatever the player program: Play, VLC, Cog, Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, etc.), and the one built in to the controller software that comes with the hardware. Any combination of these can be used, and there is a learning curve you will have to go through to find what will work best for you.

 

Most manufacturers show-off their controller software by linking to screenshots of it on their web pages, but I have noticed that Apogee doesn't seem to include this info for their hardware. I had to go through the 'User Videos' on their site to find what the software looked like for the Duet for instance.

 

I know nothing of the PMC's you mention. They look "interesting" though! They too, have a volume control as well, I see......

 

Hope this helped...

 

markr

 

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Hi Mark,

 

Your reply is very helpful - thanks!

 

I have checked out the Rosetta 200 and it looks great! I think I really need a separate preamp... what I am proposing to do is use my kit in a domestic room, although dedicated with acoustic room treatments. I would like a preamp that would accept the Rosetta 200, but will be able to deal with the volume, either by remote or not.

 

I am keen to test all things pro audio and I would like a preamp that would be a great marriage with the Apogee - I have not yet come across anything, so any advice on a 'studio' preamp would be welcomed.

 

I'm not sure controlling the volume via my Mac is the right way forward for a home setting. The volume control on the PMCs is not very convenient.

 

Also can anyone advise me on how you would hook up a sub with the PMC AML1?

 

Thanks,

 

Monty

 

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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... I have to understand WHY you think you need a preamp for this setup. I don't think you need one with a computer based system, if all you are doing is playing back audio. - that is part of the appeal of 'tha dang things'. Folks are just hooking up computers with remote controls to DACS, amps and speakers and just RUNNING off into the future with it! .... But I've been wrong before. I use preamps with my setup, but they call what I use "mic/line mixers" (many preamps all lined up neatly in a row); and I only use those for recording musical instruments. I also use a couple of specialized one channel preamps to get a 'sound'. Sometimes, I run a multi-channel monitor mix of recorded material for someone who wants to hear something specific in their headphones while they are playing something that I want to record.... I've gotta know your needs to be correct in giving an opinion. What I am thinking that you are seeking is not something that is on my list of the gear that I own or that I desire for purchase.

 

Please do some research starting with google or yahoo, and keep in mind while you are doing this that the definition for preamps in the "pro audio" world typically mean something different than is meant in the home audio world. Pro preamps are more inclined to be designed to gracefully accept and process audio from the huge variety of devices and instruments that are out there to record. They are more likely to be designed to accept signal from guitars, keyboards and microphones in all their varying impedances and line levels, than from CDPs, Turntables, tuners and tape machines. -- though many or most of them can be adapted to process audio from those typical home audio devices extrememly well. Some are even designed to do so - especially pro DJ gear.

 

Also, please try searches like this one: I got a pretty good hit right away with google, typing: 'rosetta 200 preamp' (gearslutz has some interesting threads)- I'm sure that you will come up with some more search terms. To see lists of various types of preamps available, go to pro music websites like:

www.sweetwater.com / www.musiciansfriend.com / www.bhphotovideo.com - there are many more websites for this, and then when you ID equipment that seems to have the feature set that you are seeking, you can then research more in depth at the manufacturers websites.

 

At the 'musicians supply' websites, use search terms like "preamplifier" or "pre", "instrument pre(amplifier)" "mic/instrument pre(amplifier)" This will all yield a DIZZYING array of gear. Find out the line output voltage and impedance levels of the equipment that you want to run through the preamp and you will be more than halfway there.

 

Let us know what you find that seems to fit your needs - be specific -, & I will be happy to help you narrow it to some good choices if you'd like. Understand that for me, I would use a preamp with the Rosetta only on the A/D side of the machine. Just to record with.....

 

markr

OR -- maybe someone else here is tuning in exactly to what you are thinking.

 

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Hi Mark,

 

Thanks for the reply. I have been researching all morning. What has confused me is the pro studio world does not see a preamp as I do, having come from a domestic hi-fi world.

 

Right here is where I think I'm at.

 

Option a) Mac + suitable software (to control volume etc) > Rosetta 200 > PMC AML1 active speakers.

 

Option b) Mac + my current USB Benchmark DAC1 > PMC AML1 active speakers.

 

Option c) As above but after the DAC1 suitable cross-over > sub > active speakers.

 

It would appear for my need to play back high quality audio in a domestic setting, that the Rosetta is 'over-kill' and my Benchmark with its volume control (and maybe some modifcations) would be an ideal solution.

 

People on Gearslutz seem to rate the Lavry DA10 above the Benchmark, but I don't want to get into that argument :-) and why don't I exploit the Benchmark whilst I own one.

 

I have had a very helpful email from Apogee and they suggested the Rosetta is an amazing piece of kit (as they would and I tend to agree) but say I need suitable software to control the volume. Apogee suggested I consider their mini DAC as a simple, yet effective solution that would easily meet my needs for high quality computer play back.

 

I have also had a real interesting converstaion with PMC today, and although they wouldn't comment on the types of DAC I am looking at, they gave me really great advice on the PMC AML1 active speaker and how to set-up their SP100a sub.

 

I think my desire to own an Apogee Rosetta is a case of my heart rulling my head. I think the most effective solution will be:

 

Mac > DAC (Benchmark DAC1 USB or possibly Apogee Firewire) > crossover > active sub and active speakers.

 

 

Once again thanks for taking the time to help me with this.

 

Cheers,

 

Monty

 

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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You are welcome for whatever I did to help. I think you are off to a great start with the equipment you mention here and what you are looking forward towards, and if you "decide" at a later date to 'explore' further, you now have a basis of information to begin with.

 

I think that your mention of Apogee's response to your queries is priceless information to lots of folks out there. All you have to do is ask the 'pointed' questions best suited to your particular situation, and I believe that you will find that all of these manufacturers (and retailers too) really want to help if they can. For instance, the smaller DACs that Apogee suggested are exactly what I was talking about when I mentioned in an earlier post that they had more equipment out there that would get the job done for even less than the cost of the Rosetta.

 

And yes, "preamp" does mean something a little different on the pro audio side of things. At least in the actual application sense of the question, if not the basic function of the units themselves.

 

Best of luck and good hunting!

markr

 

 

 

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Mark,

 

Yeah both Apogee and PMC were really helpful and for anyone like myself who was daunted by talking to 'experts' - have no fear, these guys know there stuff, love their products and are just pleased to hear from anyone who is interested in their products and music.

 

I realise I have so much to learn about pro studio kit - my next step is to learn about room acoustic treatments - no pint in spend loads of cash to use in a bad room.

 

Cheers,

 

Monty

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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Monty,

I would not have any worries about using active monitors in the domestic setting. I have been a fan of active speakers for a while now, and currently use AVI ADM9's. In my experience, I will say that active speakers tend to very revealing, so just be aware. I agree that you are the right track with your setup, after getting the ADM9s, my system has now shrunk to a Mac Mini, turnatable and phonostage along with the speakers. I am really liking the computer based digital solution.

 

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

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Gang,

 

I have a friend who writes all the how too books and manuels for allot of the recording industry computer hardware. Ashley Shepheard's place is full of PMC monitors and about any piece of computer hardware you can imagine.

 

The PMC are great monitors I have not heard the powered ones.

 

In general I do not really like powered monitors as I feel you get to limited in your upgrade path. It's kind of like when people ask me to make integrated amplifiers. Problem is nobody buys them because who can afford to upgrade from there. You now need to buy 2 things instead of one.

 

I would suggest getting the non powered monitors. They make some real nice ones and keep David's amp. The combo I would think would out do the active version.

 

Thanks

Gordon

 

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Hi Gordon,

 

Your comment on powered monitors limiting my upgrade path is a very interesting point.

 

I feel that I have been an upgrade audiophile for far too long - tweaking here and there, buying box, after box, after box.

 

I have started to realise (its just a shame it has taken so long) that I enjoy the music more than upgrading kit and that each upgrade has brought relatively small improvements to the music. I can always keep the kit I have and stop buying kit and just buy more music, but my venture into studio audio has shown me the potential of 'studio' kit and I like what I hear :-)

 

I have not made a 'final' decision yet - I need to really think about what I am trying to achieve and why.

 

Thanks,

 

Monty

 

 

 

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Ah well... I've just placed an order for a pair of PMC AML1 active speakers. So looks like my system will be reduced to Mac/DAC/active speakers :-)

 

Oh I may add an EQ at a later stage - but for now, simple is best for me!

 

Thanks,

 

Monty

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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I recently purchased a Rosetta 200 in my quest to get my vinyl on to my computer. My previous A/D/A converter worked fine for recording but sounded "thin" on playback. I use the Rosetta 200 in a standard stereo setup through a preamp/amp. In preliminary comparisons listening direct from the vinyl source vs. computer I can't tell the difference between them. One caveat, I was not able to increase the gain through the Rosetta to raise it to a level suitable for recording unless I really cranked up the pre out to unlistenable levels. In conversations with Apogee I learned that pro audio gear is set +4 dB and home audio gear is set at -10 dB. I needed to get a step up transformer. Don't know if this would be an issue for you. Maybe Mark could speak to this issue. Good luck!

 

Oops, looks like you've already decided which way to go. Happy listening!

 

RHA

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.... though it is quite important for everyone to know - maybe I should make it my signature line..: ALWAYS know the line level capabilities of your various pieces of audio equipment before mixing pro level and consumer level gear. Here is a link I have posted on C/A before that starts simply and points to other places to complete your research:

 

http://www.berkleemusic.com/discuss/message?forum_id=13331&message_id=9014136

 

Having not considered the Rosetta 200 as component in my setup (I did my 'deep dive' for info on the Ensemble which is switchable) , I was unaware of the fact that it is set to run at +4dbu 'only'. It is documented in the online PDF user's manual however. That operating level would be just dandy in my setup, but won't work for everyone else without an external transformer. Caveat emptor.

 

YIKES

markr

 

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Hey Mark,

 

Thanks for info. For those using the Benchmark DAC1 you can change settings using the jumpers.

 

Monty

 

Location: Manchester\'ish - UK. System: iMac, YellowTec PUC2 Lite, Genelec 7270A sub, 2 x 8240A monitors, a Drobo and Vovox cables.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi there, I am running the setup presently that you are considering upgrading to. First off tho, as J Gordon would know, the benchmark dac1 is brilliant, and unless you need more options, I see no need to improve on a masterpiece. The pmc aml-1 will -NOT- accept your unbalanced volume out from the the dac-1, it will only adjust the volume at the speakers themselves, you have to use the line out's, so the volume pot on any dac is a moot point. I have the trim pots at around 11 on the back of the dac-1. I adjust the volume maybe twice a day worst case scenario, if getting off the couch to do that is an issue, don't go the aml-1 route. The aml1 would and does do better volume attenuation than almost any dac under 10k, besides you will need at least 5k for the speakers, keep the dac-1 and save your money for the speakers. I thought I had zero distortion with the dac1 but the speakers take it to a whole nother level. The aml1 is a true powered speaker and the crossovers are before the amp, so neither amp in the speaker gets any extraneous frequencies. Pmc also sells for a crapload of money some 'actives' that use flying mole amps, these are imposters and you are wasting your money unless the crossovers are before the amp. The aml1 uses a bryston 3b st to drive each tweeter and a bryston 2b st to drive each woofer, and the crossovers are made in england (pmc is owned but not told what to do by bryston), each speaker is matched extremely well, people always freak out in our house because the sound literally is coming from the center of the room between the speakers, there are zero phase errors with true active speakers for a true stereo image. If anyone out there is looking for active speakers, please always make sure the crossovers are before the amps, otherwise you might as well go with separates. Do your reasearch. Make sure you buy your aml1's for under 5k, I purchased mine used on ebay for 3.5k for the pair, but I looked dilligently for months to find a pair. Audiogon has them for sale occaisionally, but only buy a matched pair, never a single, or you have not solved any phase issues. You should be able to resell them on audiogon for under 5k for no problem, but certainly don't buy them new for 6-9k. The aml1 has bass and treble pots that do eq better than any program I have ever run, they are transparent in the way they adjust. I have the bass on +3 db (max) and the treble at -5 db (max), and the bass rolloff at 0 since you will never need a subwoofer with these. The tweeters on the aml1 will be the best you have ever heard, and most likely bright at close range, you can never have enough bass tho, especially with a bookshelf, so max works well. Pmc is an extremely ingenious company, they have perfected 'folded transmission line' woofers, which is essentially a 5 ft. long tunnel that twists and turns within the aml1 before coming out the bottom. The bass will make you never look back, there is no refraction from bass being stuck in the cabinet, ported out the back, or any of that crap. Ported speakers really make for boomy noise, which is great for a party, not for close range audiophile listening. Your bass fatigue problems will be gone for life with folded transmission line bass. The rolloff is gradual for the bass, since it can just escape out the tunnel with no compression, which is why people die for the aml1 sound since it gives you 30hz flat with no thump out of a 2 ft. by 8 inch box. I crank them to full volume all the time if i'm outside the house, and they have zero distortion thanks to the crossovers before the amp, amp perfectly matched to speakers watts wise, I have yet to have these speakers ever pout on me once. The fins on the back of the aml1 vent the heat nicely, I've left these speakers on for weeks at a time sometimes since I always forget they are on, they make no hiss or hum that i've ever heard, and the fins have never been too hot to the touch ever. Good luck on your search. A dac-1 to the aml-1 is like freebasing music. Period.

 

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  • 2 months later...

As you have an in depth knowledge of actives, can i ask you which actives and or studio actives are suitable for home listening? im not sure which actives have crossovers before the amps. i was thinking of focal solo 6 be's, dynaudio mc15 or perhaps even something from the PMC range. for around 1000 - 1500 gbp?

 

Jim

 

PS Audio Quintet, PS3, Laptop/Mediamonkey/XP, PS Audio DLIII DAC, Cyrus Pre Vs2, 6 Power, B&W 685

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Hi, thanks for your quick reply. id like to avoid a sub if possible, only a small room, and less boxes is good rooms probably 15' wide and 25' long, and positioning will be with the speakers along the long wall, so ill be about 10' from the speakers give or take. with the speakers on stands close to the rear wall, so smallish and dynamic speakers are my aim, hence my thinking for actives.

The system im thinking of to drive them would be mac mini into ps audio dac and ps audio pre amp. so any ideas would be appreciated to acheive a better sound than my current set up.

 

Jim

 

PS Audio Quintet, PS3, Laptop/Mediamonkey/XP, PS Audio DLIII DAC, Cyrus Pre Vs2, 6 Power, B&W 685

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Hello again, well I checked out the dynaudio, it appears to be a true active speaker, with separate amps for both drivers. The problem is, it goes down only to 55 hz, which is crap. The focal's are in a separate world as far as reponse, 40-40 vs. 55-20. They appear to be around the $2k point. After trolling active monitor articles for years, I would actually advise something completely different. What you really need to do is look at these speakers on audiogon. They are paradigm reference active 20's, which were truly works of art when they came out 6-8 yrs ago. They sold for almost 3k for the 20's and 5k for the 40's. With the finish listed on audiogon it was probably even higher. their response is 35-22, and frankly at 35 hz, you won't be missing much for a sub. You can find some old reviews of the paradigm with google, they all said they blew everyone away, and no one is going to buy them, becuase you can't fiddle/obsess with your audiophile addiction anymore. Here's the link to audiogon

http://www.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/cls.pl?spkrmoni&1229194061&/Paradigm-Reference-Active-20-p

If you like those, search far and wide for the 40's, they are much harder to find, it is hard to upgrade from those so they don't sell much. They will also be over your present budget. Frankly you'd have to spend close to 5k to upgrade from the paradigm, the only reason they are cheap is because they were too ahead of their time. Spend it on killer xlr cables and iec cords instead. I love verastarr.com cables myself, although I think Gordon who posted earlier can help you upgrade those other paths as well. I know nothing of your dac, but the benchmark is something to behold, no hype whatsoever. Gordon modifies them so he agrees on some level as well.

 

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