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Assistance required in "speccing" a bed room system


oldnslow

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My first post after spending many pleasurable (and educational hours lurking so please be gentle with me.

 

I work in a part of the Middle East where access to even decidedly ordinary audio equipment is limited which explains why at the moment my listening pleasure is catered for via a home theatre set up. Having said that and whilst I won't pretend it's anywhere near audiophile my Onkyo NR905 (operating in Pure Audio mode with all extraneous circuitry switched off) driving my front jamo C809 speakers fed Apple lossless files via optical by an Apple Airport Express and (thanks to Airfoil) occassional internet radio, Spotify and Napster feeds, sounds to my old ears at least pretty musical. And it is great with movies.

 

I do however like to listen at a fairly high volume and coincidently this systems seems to work better played loud.

 

So for the sake of the neighbours I'm thinking therefore of a bedroom system, probably but not exclusively built around headphones. Given the limited availability of audio equipment here auditioning isn't really an option so I'll be looking to buy on line (probably from the US) with a (flexible) budget of around $1000. So yes in computeraudiophile terms decidedly budget.

 

Anyway as a source I thought I'd buy another Airport Express which is available here. So that would leave me requiring a DAC headamp (or a combined DAC/Headamp plus headphones. I recently tried out a friends pair of AKG K701 and enjoyed the sound immensely so if I settle for those which I beleive can be had for circa $280 on Amazon that (discounting the AE) leaves me around $720 for a DAC/headamp. Any suggestions? I'd thought perhaps the Fubar IV plus which at around $350 would leave me enough to add a Wadia 170i as an alternative source.

 

But do you think theres is a DAC/Headamp combination around the $700 mark I'd get significantly better results with over and above what I could expect from the Fubar?

 

I'd also be interested in hearing any views on a budget amp and speaker combination and was interested in the little Trend Audio offering,

 

http://www.trendsaudio.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=37&Itemid=28

 

but what speakers? any thoughts?

 

A lot of questions I know but having seen the level of advice provided to equally confused noobies in the past I'm sure I'll get some useful input.

 

Thanks in anticipation.

 

 

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What computer are you using? If it's a laptop, then you may not have any need for another Airport Express, and (depending on the spec of the laptop) you might have other options than optical to connect to whatever DAC you choose (namely usb or firewire).

 

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Hi souptin,

 

thanks for your response but I'm using a quad core (and very noisy) desktop tucked away in a store cuboard I use as my "home office" so direct connection not really an option although I did give some thought to using a cheap netbook as a source.

 

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I've used my Benchmark DAC1 for a few years now, and since purchased a DAC1 USB for another system. I can't recommend it highly enough for your situation, it's a damn impressive bit of kit. I use mine with Sennheiser HD650, Heavily modified Shure SE530 (don't recommend them to be frank), and Etymotic ER4s. I also use my USB version with a Musical Fidelity A3.5 integrated and Krix Neuphonix speakers. The inbuilt HPA2 sounds great to me, I've not yet felt the need for an external HP amp.

 

DAC1 is probably more than budget new, but you'll find one easily 2nd hand under budget. To my ears, it's the most neutral source I've heard, but that's all personal opinion of course!

 

Trend Audio is a nice little amp, but for a similar price I'd suggest you have a serious look at the offerings from KingRex Audio. T20U is a true audio bargain with inbuilt DAC, and sounds fantastic. I have mine paired with Quad 12L at present. There are plenty of great quality bookshelf speakers to be had now days at low prices, so it's hard to make a recommendation; at least one that will suit your ears!

 

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Interesting point you make there Poo re: going for a better quality DAC.

 

It's something I had considered as back home in the UK I've a Sonos system which at the moment I use with the analogue output of a Sonos ZP90 to feed my (currently) NAD amp. Upgrade of that system is something I've long promised myself and as I'm returning to the UK to retire next year it's very much on the cards, so a good quality DAC makes sense there. I would however need one with more than just a USB input as I really don't want a PC of any sort in my living room. A sentiment definately shared by my wife who as a computer professional wants nothing to do with PC's in her leisure time hence the appeal of the Sonos system which is about as plug and play as it gets and just plain works day in day out.

 

As an amplifier though the KingRex seems to be a cut above the Trend offering even if for my purposes the USB DAC would be surplus to requirements. And you never can have too much kit.

 

Just taken a peek on the Benchmark site and I'm thinking for my needs the DAC1 is an option. Hmmmmmm decisions decisions but isn't that half the fun.

 

 

 

 

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Guest WATERLOGIC

you may want to try the Matrix Mini-i DAC + headphone amp. It does 24/192, has several in-outs.

If you do not have hi-res music and the majority of your collection is redbook files you can go with airport express and optical cable connection to the DAC.

The Matrix is made in China (you can get it on ebay for cca 350 us$ shipping included) . But do not be fooled by the price it is very well made and honestly I have not heard anything so good for the money (it easily beats some DACs costing more than us$ 1000+). Also the headphone amp is more than good ( check the impedance of the AKGs, I tried it with Sennheiser HD 800 (300ohm) , no problem driving them and the sound is unbelievable)

 

If you want to play hi-res files you just need to add M2tech Hiface usb/coax converter (24/192) it costs 100 euro here in Europe and connect to your DAC with a 75 ohm coax cable.

 

Why would you need Wadia (in my opinion this is money bad spent - I think ipods are for the road only) better buy external HDD, and you are all set.

 

Enjoy the music .

 

Cheers !

 

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Thanks Waterlogic more food for thought and I completely take your point re the Wadia dock. It was very much in the hmmm thats cute I want one category.

 

I have got an Ipod Touch but rarely use it as anything other than a remote for Itunes/Foobar here and as an additional Sonos controller at home certainly hardly ever as a source preferring my old Nano when I'm travelling.

 

Music is currently redbook and having only recently invested in the Sonos system at home which I'm pretty sure "doesn't do hi-rez" is likely to remain so for the foreseeable future. Not necessarily such a bad thing in my opinion well recorded well produced 16/44 still sounds pretty good to me on my (admittedly non high end) equipment.

 

So thanks again and as a general statement this is just the sort of input I'd hoped for from this site so thanks everyone.

 

 

 

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Guest WATERLOGIC

are even much better than quite a few hi-res files . Jazz titles from Chesky, ACT, ECM, RR etc some k2Hd and XRCD titles.

I think hi-res does not help a bit lousy rec. engineers ...

 

 

Cheers !

 

 

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Don't you jsut hate it when you overlook the (apparently) obvious. But then exploring all the options in your quest to get the most enjoyable music reproduction within your budget is all part of the fun.

 

Anyway with thanks to all who kindly gave me their suggestions my current preferred option was staring me in the face all the time. The Peachtree Audio Nova ticks all the boxes for me. I can use it with headphones as my "bedroom system" for now fed wirelessly via APE then when I return home to the UK it'll be the upgrade to my existing Sonos system I was planning.

 

So thanks again the input was much appreciated.

 

 

 

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