Jump to content

Big Decisions


Recommended Posts



I'm a noob here but have some questions.  I'm looking to step up my rather pedestrian audio experiences to the next level.  My base will be a 2011 iMac 2.8GHz Quad-Core Intel Core i7.  That much I know…..the rest is torturing me.  I'm debating between a studio monitor set-up or nice bookshelf's and an amp.  In the first instance I've imagined this set-up:


1.) Focal CMS40 Studio Monitor

2.) Focal CMS 11" Subwoofer

3.) Benchmark DAC1 USB


The wiring in this set-up would be through balanced XLR……..I think.



In the second instance, I've imagined a set-up with unpowered speakers and an amp.  My room is small but I like base so would really like a sub.  I am seeking opinions and recommendations on the first set-up…..especially on the DAC side.  I'm also hoping for a comparison between option 1 versus 2.  I'm thinking that going with option 2 would allow me more flexibility in terms of DAC as I could get by with simple analog outs.  If option 2 is selected, I'd lean toward the Wavelength Proton as a DAC.  As you can see, my budget is around the $3,000 mark plus or minus.  I've probably left thongs out and/ or made bad assumptions but that's why I'm seeking advice from the pros!  Thanks in advance.    



Link to comment



It is wide open once you have your iMac as to what is available for listening to music. Simple advice would be to set a rough budget, start going to stores that cater to computer music systems (audio shops, Apple store), and listen, listen, listen to see what YOU like.


As far as Dacs, there are sooo many good dacs out right now that again, it more a matter of flavors than an unequivocal "best" one dac. It depends on if you want volume control, inputs, powered speakers or not, etc, etc. Going and touching, listening to some options is really important just to get a feel of where you'd like to go with all of it. You might be surprised that the direction you thought you were going in turned out to be completely different than the direction you choose.




Link to comment

Option 1 looks cool and if you are space starved (you did mention that the room is small), then it might be a better choice than option 2 (and the xtra boxes, wires, etc. that separates entail). Another thing to think about is that if your going with a desktop set up, a great many passive speakers are rear ported and that may present a problem whereas the focals you mentioned are front ported. The point is you might want to think about how your sound system will interact with your room in picking out your system.


Macmini (as server)-> AE Express/SB Touch-> Dacmagic plus -> Outlaw RR2150 -> PSB Image T6 (dedicated 2 channel audio system)

Macmini (via toslink)-> NAD T747 -> PSB Imagine B/SVS SB2000 subwoofer (home theater)

Macbook Pro-> Peachtree idecco->PSB Imagine Minis, Energy ESW-M8 subwoofer, Beyerdynamic DT880 (home office)

IMac->audioengine D1 dac->airmotiv 4 (work system)

Link to comment

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...