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Familiar with Pro audio gear but need help finding suitable dac/amp/speakers for a small bedroom


BillEl

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I've spent too many hours searching through the internet trying to sort all the different options and thought I'd seek some input.

 

I'm very familiar with pro audio gear and the convertors used in that arena but not so much for a simple bedroom setup. I'd like to find a dac and amp (integrated or separate) for around $800. I was looking at the Peachtree Musicbox as you can get that for $800 with speakers but there are so... so many other options I could mix and maybe come out with a better system.

 

I'd like to be able to connect USB and either coaxial or S/Pdif (maybe for a Pure Digital i20), I also could take digital audio out of an Airport Express if needed.

 

There are a ton of headphone amps but they usually can't power speakers and I was hoping to stay away from active speakers.

 

Last time I looked into cheaper "hi-end" speakers it was Audioengine, Swan or Wharfdale now I'm seeing a lot of great comments on Arcaydis and Monitor Audio Bronze.

 

Thanks for any input, Bill

 

 

 

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I've got a Rega Brio 3 (integrated) which I love, it's last year's model, but you can still find a few around. Original price is $700 and punches well above its weight. I saw a new one offered here:

 

http://affordableaudio.biz/index.php?main_page=product_info&products_id=114

 

for $500. This is a steal. Pair that with a HRT Music Streamer II+ for $350 and you've got a great start, though $50 over your budget. I've had a Peachtree Decco in the same system & the Brio is much better. The HRT is an excellent Dac. You could pair these with some budget speakers, but I've heard them perform wonderfully with much more expensive speakers (Harbeth PS3ER, $2000).

 

If you want to go cheaper, I'd take a look some of the NAD or Cambridge integrateds, they start around $380 and have a good reputation for high-quality budget gear. Check out http://www.audioadvisor.com, they have a good selection. HRT also has the Music Streamer II for $150.

 

Not sure what you're looking for as far as speakers, what size room, etc, but if it were on a budget, I'd be curious about the NHT SuperZero 2.0 Mini Monitor, $200, it's gotten some very positive reviews. PSB is another good quality budget speaker to look into.

 

Hope that gives you a few ideas to start with.

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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I guess I might get more out of a "full" amp even though I'd probably only use one input in this setting. I was just browsing around the NuForce Icon HDP which is a DAC/Amp combo but it might not be powerful enough to really drive those speakers. I also found the Jolida Jd301A although I'm not as familiar with them as I am with Marantz, NAD or Cambridge, at least by name.

 

For speakers it would be a bedroom setting, I've been looking at the Audioengine P4, Swan M200MkII, Wharfdale 10.1, and now the Mini Monitors and PSB Image B4.

 

For DACs I also found the Firestone Spitfire MkII, V-DAC and rDac which have a couple more inputs which might be helpful if I want to integrate the Digital i20. (The rDac is quite a bit more than the other two though.)

 

 

 

 

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I'm actually contemplating putting together a system similar to what you're talking about for my kitchen. I've got A2's in there right now & they're great, but I'm wanting something a little better.

 

I have the V-DAC (the old version, not the latest), it's very good, much bang-for-buck. Definitely recommended.

 

I'm also curious about the NuForce amps - I haven't heard anything bad about them, but I haven't heard any raves either.

 

From what I read, Jolida has a solid rep for high-end budget tube gear. I was considering the Jolida FX 10 @ $500, though it's a little bulky.

 

I'm really interested in the Dayens Ampino, got a rave review on 6Moons, but probably breaks your budg @ $700. It's very compact, has two sources. You might be able to pick up a used V-DAC for $200.

 

Also, do you know about AudioAdvisor.com? They have a very flexible return policy, I believe 30-days, no questions asked. They carry a number of the components you're looking at.

 

Wow, I just looked at the Pure Digital i-20. Nice design. How's it sound?

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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It looks like a nice product, great enclosure too. It doesn't seem that readily available though.

 

I don't actually have the i20 but of all the digital docks I've looked into it seems to be the most bang for the buck especially when you're just talking 1s and 0s, no conversion etc... Sometimes there are the good buys and then there are the "sucker" buys for lack of a better word, I think this would be a good buy. I've also read reviews where people claimed they couldn't hear a difference between its dac and their $300-$400 dedicated dacs.

 

I have been looking on AudioAdvisor they seem to have a lot of products in that price range.

 

Bill

 

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I'm looking for something similar for a new desktop/office set up. If you really want a steal on an amp, the Onkyo A5vl has really great specs and quality digital inputs: http://www.onkyousa.com/model.cfm?m=A-5VL&class=Amplifier&p=d. It runs $350 on Amazon, weighs around 22 lbs (this thing is beefy), and is stable down to 3 ohms. It would pair up nicely with the PSB B-4s (which would be my choice on speakers as well). Or Peachtree has had a good price on the decco2/ds 4.5 for a while for around $850:http://signalpathint.com/index.php/decco2/

 

Also on the speakers, the Cambridge S30s have been getting great reviews and they're fairly small as well.

 

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)

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Hey Bill - I'm guessing you checked the Dayens website. I was surprised to find there was a dealer near me (I'm in Los Angeles).

 

Another really cool option is the Glow Amp - have you seen these? $788, includes on-board dac, (USB-only), a single analog input and a headphone amp. Has had some "glowing" reviews. But you'd probably have to pair with some sensitive speakers, as they only put out 5 watts. Also pretty limited distribution, but you can buy directly from Glow.

 

The i20 sounds very appealing...if I could just think of a use for it!

 

@bikemig - thanks for the tip on the Onkyo - could make a nice Christmas present.

 

Rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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@Rascal: yw; I don't really have a use for that Onkyo quite yet but I'm thinking of snapping one up. Pair it up with a SB Touch, use the digital inputs and a pair of speakers and you're good to go.

 

Another possibility is the new Emotiva mini-xa-100 amp: it does 60 watts at 8 ohms and 80 at 4. This thing is beefy as well and runs all of $200. Pair it up with a dac/headphone amp with a variable out and you would have a nice set up.

 

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)

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@Bikemig - nice to find out about the Emotiva amp, how reasonably priced can you get? But I wonder if it (or the Onkyo for that matter) will best my girlfriends old Kenwood ka-95. I'll have to see if I can hunt down some dealers...

 

rascal

 

A: Mac Mini => Peachtree Nova => LFD Integrated Zero Mk.III => Harbeth Compact 7ES-3 | Musical Fidelity X-CAN V-8 => AKG K 701

B: Airport Express = > Benchmark DAC1 => Rega Brio-R => B&W DM 601 S2

C: Airport Express => AudioEngine A2

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