Just starting down this rabbit hole

Discussion in 'Home Audio (Stereo Systems)' started by dB, Dec 7, 2016.

  1. dB

    dB Member

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    I'm starting with speakers and an integrated amp. Here's what I should be receiving in a week or two:


    I'm funding the system solely by selling pedals. The speakers were made possible by a silver Klon, a Telenordia TA100, and a couple other odds and ends.

    As soon as a couple more pedals sell, I'll have about 1500 to spend on an integrated amp/DAC. Any suggestions?

    I'm looking at the Rogue Sphinx or NAD c368.
     
  2. Bryan T

    Bryan T guitar owner Silver Supporting Member

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    Those look like the sort of speakers I read about people using with low power SET tube amps.
     
  3. Scott Naylor

    Scott Naylor Supporting Member

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    How efficient are those speakers and how big of a room will they be set up in?
     
  4. dB

    dB Member

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    Efficiency is 94dB, and the company suggests amps that are 5w or greater. I'm generally looking at 80-100 watt per channel amps.

    The room is 15x27 with 7'8" ceilings. The speakers will be at one end of the room.
     
  5. Scott Naylor

    Scott Naylor Supporting Member

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    The New Acoustic Dimensions c368 should work well if you are careful with overall volume, especially with bass heavy material. Keep us posted on how your hifi develops?
     
  6. Brian Scherzer

    Brian Scherzer Staff Member

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    Wow! You have some options with such efficient speakers. Quite honestly, you don't need a lot of watts. I'm going to suggest considering buying a used integrated amp to get the most bang for your $1500. I purchased a Hegel 80 integrated for my son a while back, which has turned out to be a really nice integrated with a DAC. They sell for $1999 new, so you should be able to find one within your price range. Another decision with such efficient speakers is whether you might want to go with tubes. A 5 watt amp won't allow you to pressurize that large room but 20 watts would probably be a starting point. Whether the Hegel or any other brand, there really is a lot to choose from, especially if you're willing to surf Audiogon and Ebay (not as sure about Ebay!).
     
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  7. dB

    dB Member

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    Thanks for the suggestions.

    I haven't really considered tubes mostly because I have 3 small kids and this system will be in our main living room and on a shelf only 18" off the ground. Tubes would be very tempting to touch, as well as all the other exposed pieces of a tube amp. I think I'd be asking for trouble...

    In terms of lower wattage, I started out looking at the 40 watt PS Audio Sprout as a super compact and inexpensive way to get a good system up and running. My concern is that it was going to lack the punch and detail that more wattage gives you. What do you think??
     
  8. Brian Scherzer

    Brian Scherzer Staff Member

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    Watts shouldn't have much to do with details, but watts do impact punch. 40 watts is a lot based on speakers that have 94dB efficiency. There are so many choices! At the recent RMAF here in Denver I was impressed by speakers and an amp by Elac that were super affordable. We're talking a demo of the $1000 per pair of Elac floorstanding speakers and $699 for Elac's 80 watt integrated amp. The PS Audio Sprout isn't bad but you can do so much better with $1500 than the Elac or the Sprout. Either go really inexpensive for something to temporarily run your system with until you want to spend more or go as far into your budget as you can and get something that will last you.
     
  9. dB

    dB Member

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    That's why I'm considering the Sprout. I can get that for $450. The NAD is $899. Both have DAC, Bluetooth and a good phono stage. With the speakers I've got coming, those amps might be more than sufficient for a while. I'll check out the ELAC amp. I was looking at their speakers initially, but decided to go with the Spatials instead.
     
  10. 57gold

    57gold Gold Supporting Member

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    For your speakers, I's buy a quality SS power amp used from Audiogon - a Bryston, or Wyred 4 Sound, or a Bel Canto with balanced inputs. Then I would look for a Mytek DSD192, a DAC that has - built in preamp, can do PCM up to 192 and DSD128 through USB and FW. Hook them up with balanced cables and run all the music from a Mac Mini or PC through HQPlayer or Audirvana+ software, which will upconvert CD rips to very high resolution audio. You want the Stones or Knopfler in your living room...need a DAC with ability to play DSD upsampled files.

    Mytek, the company, has built studio digital recording equipment for decades and the DSD192 was their first consumer product. A used one should be available at @$700, were $1400 new. (It has been recently replaced by a $2K unit.) The DSD192 sounds great and is built like a tank. Should leave you $800 for a nice, transparent amp. Like others have said 50-100 watts should do fine with you efficient speakers.

    The Mytek front end will allow you to hear what was done in the recording studio. It sounds better from its XLR/balanced outs and you can ditch the preamp part of an integrated and go to a better power amp. I use $15K worth of amp and speaker with the Mytek DSD192...and would only consider a trade up to say Mytek's new $5K DAC or an Exasound in the $3k+ range. Have to spend that much more to better the sound I'm getting.
     
  11. dB

    dB Member

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    The Wyred 4 Sound mINT was on my list a while back. It's $1500 new and has a DAC built in. All I'd need is a bluetooth receiver. Do you know anything about these?
     
  12. 57gold

    57gold Gold Supporting Member

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    dB - Do not know what a bluetooth receiver is? Is it to play files off your phone or iPod? If so, the files on a phone or iPad are usually mp3s and sound like crap over high resolution speaker systems. As compressed files they ditch a boatload of information versus what's on a CD. Found out the hard way, had converted from a CD player based system (Wadia 861) to computer audio and download a Greg Allman solo album from iTunes to my Mac, everything else I had on the HD was a full resolution CD rip. It sounded awful...the guys at computeraudiophile.com had to clue me in on mp3s versus CDs. mp3s will over Bluetooth will only be good for background music at a party.

    The mINT is probably a nice unit for someone who is not "going down the rabbit hole"...meaning nice and convenient for a non-musician, who doesn't care about the last 15% of reality, meaning details like true instrumental timbre, accurate portrayal of percussion, great dynamics and swing...all the stuff that makes real music real. The DAC in the mINT is old technology...

    I'd buy a used DAC like the Mytek or Wyred DAC2 (W4S does upgrades as tech changes) and a separate amp, both these can run the amp directly and your source will be much stronger foundation for your system.
     
  13. dB

    dB Member

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    Thanks for all the input on DAC's and power amps. I searched Audiogon for power amps in my price range and these caught my eye:

    - Bel Canto REF 150 S, asking $775
    - Wyred 4 Sound ST500, asking $899
    - Blue Circle BC22, asking $839
    - PS Audio GCA100, asking $650

    My only reservation about getting an older Class D amp is that it seems like Class D has made significant improvements in the past few years with some of the hybrid designs. I sort of wonder how a 10 year old Class D design (even if it was amazing for the time period) would hold up against the recent designs, even at the entry level price points.
     
  14. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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  15. dB

    dB Member

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    Interesting. Do you have any experience with these? Based on advice in this thread and my other internet travels, I am considering getting a separate power amp and preamp/DAC, but I am not seeing much out there for power amps in my price range. But, these look good.

    At the moment, I'm thinking about an Oppo HA-1 with some sort of power amp.
     
  16. Rex Anderson

    Rex Anderson Member

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    No direct experience with Class D Audio, but they sure look like Bel Canto to me. I looked at the mastering amp and the guy who uses them. I started using Bryston amps decades ago after trying a Hafler 9505 and never changed. Had several different versions of Bryston (NRB, ST, SST, SST2). I like the way they sound, the 20 year warranty, built like a tank etc. Until recently, I thought they were good bang for the buck. The new prices are killing me. My 3B SST2 cost almost what I sold my 4B SST for. Wish I had kept the 4B SST, but had to move and didn't think I would need it again. The prices of the new "cubed" amps are too rich for my blood.

    If you can afford a used 3B ST, I'd go that route. https://www.audiogon.com/listings/s...788-2016-11-12-amplifiers-80020-broomfield-co

    Buy once, cry once....
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  17. cugel

    cugel Member

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    My 4b is almost 40yo and going strong
     
  18. spence

    spence Member

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    Hey db,
    I use a pair of older Channel Islands monoblocks and they sound great. I use them in my main 2 channel system. I also have a newer Class D audio SDS-470cs that sounds great too. It powers a pair of ATC SCM20SL in my home studio. Not quite as much low end impact of the CI amps, but still enough that I could live with those alone.
     
  19. GA20T

    GA20T Member

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    I'm looking hard at the same speaker set and have just started my search for a suitable integrated amp. With this new setup, I'd be moving solely to lossless/HD digital source. Subscribed.
     
  20. dB

    dB Member

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    I've spoken with Clayton (the guy who designed the Spatials) a few times to ask for amp suggestions. Not sure on your price range, but I've been looking at NAD c368/388, Peachtree Nova150, Cambridge CXA80, Yamaha 801, Rogue Sphinx, and probably a few others. He really likes the Rogue with those speakers, but was also very enthusiastic about the NAD. The NAD is built around the Hypex nCore which, the more I learn, is a really good thing...and why Clayton immediately thought it could be a good match.

    Since then, I've been looking at possibly a separate stereo power amp and a DAC, rather than an integrated. At the moment, I'm leaning towards a Nord amp (built around the Hypex) and a Hegel DAC, using Chromecast Audio instead of Bluetooth.
     
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