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jaymarc
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5k Budget, NYC apt, newb computer audiophile GO!

So I just finished my 10 years of medical training and taking my signing bonus to treat myself and take my listening experience to another level. I've done a decent amount of research and honestly just end up more confused than before diving into some deep internet rabbit holes. Anyhow my stats.

-Currently I have a 15'' MB retina Pro streamed via airplay to Apple TV. Also a Hackintosh with audioengine DAC to audioengine speakers.
My Stereo setup is Onkyo Receiver/ampifier TX NR 626 to Polk Audio towers
This setup sound good but I am hungry for much more.
-Small 1 BR NYC room 14x14 about
-I listen to everything from classic rock, metal, electronic dance music
- The thing is I really like exploring new music on streaming music blogs, spotify, soundcloud. The majority of my music is streamed off my laptop via airplay or played directly of my desktop (audioengine DAC).

I want a nice sytem with a full, live soundstage but if my streamed, compressed source is the limiting reactant does it make sense to drop 5K? Might as well put that into the 300K of loans I owe for medical school

Anyway suggestions for setup, DAC, AMP, speakers please!

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

I suggest that you start by getting a much better-sounding receiver, a NAD T758 ($1000 from Audio Advisor).

Then I suggest a pair of the excellent PSB Image T6 speakers($1300); read the Stereophile review for more information on them.

That will give you a huge improvement in sound quality.

If you want to make it a 5.0 system, add a PSB Image C4 center speaker and a pair of Image B4 speakers ($600).

The Audioengine DAC is good.

If your source quality is not up to standard, you can always go to the internet and download high-quality music direct to your computer and use the computer to serve it up to your system.

audiophile2000
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Take a look at a nice pair of bookshelves

I'm a huge fan of PSB so would second Commsyman's recommendation for PSB, but want to point out that given your space you may really enjoy a pair of bookshelf's. In a small space its really hard to get a large floor tower to play right. I live in an apartment now and have my speakers setup in roughly a 8ft equilateral triangle and know I'm missing out as to get the sound right I would really like to be 10 to 13 feet back.

I actually have the synchrony one from PSB and have the bookshelf version of the speakers in the rear. I brought the rear speaker up to the front one day and was stunned out how coherent the sound was. I eventually was able to get the towers to do a lot of what the bookshelf's did but it is always a struggle with big speakers in a small space.

Also, I would avoid streaming your music through an apple TV. Its locks everything at 48hz and doesn't handle the audio conversion that nicely. I've tested both Apple TV and other airplay streamers that don't convert through a high end dac and there is a noticeable degradation in the apple TV.

Also to your question on MP3, I'm going to make an interesting statement. a nice stereo will make it sound better if properly setup but you will end up switching to CD quality music pretty quick as you will enjoy it. I listen to Spotify on my system to hear songs i like, but if i really like something i end up buying the CD.

commsysman
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MP3

I find that the 320K MP3 files are very good, but when you go to lower resolution the quality drops fast.

jaymarc
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Golden Ear

What do you guys think of the Triton 7s or AON 3 from Golden Ear for this setup?

commsysman
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Not much

Not my favorite.

michael green
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learn how

Before I spent a dime I would spend some time reading about what it takes to make a "great soundstage". It doesn't have nearly as much to do with equipment as it does a method of listening. Your components are a bunch of resistors and a moving voice coil. What you do with them and how you make your place sound is what you are going to be hearing.

Equipment shopping is a hobby sometimes that is a completely different one from getting great or even good sound.

michael green
MGA/RoomTune

hcsunshine
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for speakers i suggest...

you go to www.sourcespeaker.com. click on "floorstanding theater and stereo", then look at "266 WC" floor standing tower. they have a one inch dome tweeter, and two 6 inch carbon fibre/wool/paper coned woofers. their frequency response is 35hz-20khz. they cost $1,495.00. while I have not heard these particular speakers, I have heard ones like them, because my stereo salesman is a co-collaborator with this company's designs. you always want paper or paper based materials for your woofers. you do not want polypropylene or aluminum. good luck.

hcsunshine
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or...

if you choose to go with bookshelf speakers, sourcespeaker has some nice ones too. they are based in CT which is close to you, too.

audiophile2000
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Be careful with specs and generalizations

So one thing to keep in mind as that specs are not created equally and there are very few generalizations that hold true across all speakers. Unless you really know what you’re a looking for your a much better using your ears.

For instance there are a number of speaker companies that make great non-paper woofers so to say it doesn’t have paper it doesn’t sound good isn’t correct at all. Also be careful when you look at speakers and frequency response. First off +/- 3 DBs can be huge. A 6db differential is about twice as loud (basically perceived loudness doubles every 3 Dbs). Not most manufactures use this rating, it needs to be take carefully. Basically there are numbers of factors that will ultimately factor into weather that speaker will sound good.

Basically at the end of the day measures can help but you have to listen. For instance look at the B&W 802D vs 800D. The frequency extension is 3 to 6 hz lower on the spec sheet but the perceived bass and ability to play low notes is extremely different between the two, way more than the spec sheet would suggest in my opinion.

jaymarc
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Thanks.

Thanks for the comments everyone. I will probably start off with the PSB speakers and NAD reciever/amp. Any other suggestions for similary priced, versatile speakers?

hcsunshine
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hey jaymarc...

what type of music do you listen to ?

bierfeldt
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Several options

I am assuming that you are looking at the Image line which offers an incredible value. A few other products that deliver exceptional performance:

Revel Concerta Series
Monitor Audio Bronze
Wharfedale Diamond series
Focal Chorus
Kef Q series (though I think it is a touch expensive for what you get)
B&W 600 series (though I think they are really expensive for what you get)

All will deliver a pair of good sounding floor standing speakers for between $1000 and $1500.

I would also think that you might want to listen to a pair of Maggie's. Magnepan has some pretty special speakers that deliver extraordinary sound. Lyric HiFi is the dealer in NYC and they are worth a visit. I know they carry Simaudio, Arcam, Creek, Rega, Peachtree and NAD and also sell Focal speakers and are a B&W dealer.

You might consider stopping into Harman Audio's store. It is the company store and they have a great showroom. They offer Revel speakers and have a 30day, no question asked return policy.

For all the rest, go to the website and do dealer locator. Just call first and check what models they have on display. Not every dealer will have what you want to hear. The best part of being in the city is you should be able to hear anything you want pretty easily. Make sure you take your own music and make it a range. I take a Jazz disc, Classical, Rock, Metal and something with a Female voice to ensure I am covering my bases.

One other note, be cautious when you go to B&W dealers. They tend to push B&W really hard and although they are good sounding speakers, they are expensive relative to competition.

jaymarc
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Music Tastes

Everything Really
Classic Rock Floyd/Zep/Hendrix
AltCountry - Wilco, my morning jacket, calexico
Indie R and B - the Weeknd, autre ne veut
EDM - mainly house some electro and indie dance.

I am really looking for speakers and/or amp I can build around starting around 2k for speakers and 1k for receiver/amp.
thanks

hcsunshine
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good to know, so...

you are prolly going to want decent bass for that house, electro, and everything else, too. NAD is known for a non colored sound, but i found that my NAD integrated amp was lacking in the bass department. it is just kind of soft sounding and doesn't have that desired edge to it. i have moved to emotiva, "the bang for your buck leader". if you're not familiar w/ this equipment, visit www.emotiva.com and look at their stuff. the UMC-200 pre amp is $600 and the XPA-200 stereo amp is $500 (150 watts x 2) i have the UPA-1 mono blocks and am very happy w/ them. this may just be what you are looking for. good luck. (let us know what you go with)

jaymarc
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thanks for the help

What do you guys think of the PSB synchrony 2 with the Creek Audio Destiny 2 Integrated Amp as a starting point...

shp
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What did you wind up getting?

What did you decide on and how do you like it?

jaymarc
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PSB syncrhony two

So I found a good deal on the PSB synchrony Two used. Now I am looking for a good amp to match it. From all my research it seems like they are very transparent speakers and any weak link would be harshly exposed. I was thinking of going with one of the Emotiva Amplifiers like the XPA-2 with either Emotiva PreAMP or leaning toward one of the Yamaha AVENTAGE Network Receivers (I'd like something with network connectivity built it). On the other hand I was looking at going for the peachtree Nova125 and keeping it simple. Regardless I know it needs to be between 100-300W @ 4Ohms. What do you guys think. The prime use would be for music but it will also be connected to my TV and my sad excuse for a home theatre (aka a couch).

bierfeldt
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awesome speakers, you will love them

I would discourage any consideration of Yamaha receivers. They are very bright and Yamaha is pretty liberal with their bench testing/power ratings. For a 2 channel system, my first choice would be NAD or Cambridge for a receiver, but if they are lacking the networking functionality you want, Marantz or Denon make great sounding products. I have a Denon receiver in my family room and Marantz separates in my home theatre.

Alternatively, networking functionality can be had via a network player. The Pioneer Elite NP-50 I think is the model and it is $699. It is a real gem at that price point. Alternatively, both NAD and Cambridge make nice units with different feature sets. Take a look at the 3 and see which feature set is most appealing. Marantz make an amazing one but it is $3500.

The network player would be paired with an integrated or pre-amp and power amp. The Peachtree Nova is not a bad choice. For $200 more, you should also consider the Roksan Kandy K2. It is an amazing integrated with similar power.

If you consider a separates, Peachtree has a Nova Pre-amp that is very good sounding. The power amp it was paired with is a Class D and although it is a better sounding class D, it still lacks the umph you would like to see driving a nice set of speakers.

Parasound has a new pre-amp called the P5 which gets killer reviews. I haven't heard it yet but was a big fan of its predecessor, the P3. You could match it with a Parasound A23 which is 125w for like $2100. I would consider a Marantz MM7025 which is 140w, balanced and is $795. I have one of it's big brothers, the MM8003 in my theatre and it is a great sounding power amp and for the money, is a stupidly good value. You could also get a couple of monoblocks from Outlaw for $399 each which would also pair with either pre-amp.

Emotiva is polarizing. First thing is there prices are rising and they are no longer much cheaper than Marantz or Parasound. This means their quality is improving or they are margining up. Only way to tell is to listen. Beauty is, 30 day in-home demo. If you don't like it, mail it back. Coincidentally, all of the products I mentioned above are available from AudioAdvisor, Crutchfield or NeedleDoctor and would all have a 30 day return policy.

Hope this helps and congratulations on the great speaker find.

shaynet98
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Check out the New York Audio Show

We will be demonstrating a system that is PERFECT for that setup at the New York Audio Show Sep 26-28. Peachtree Audio Nova 125SE DAC/integrated with Opera Loudspeakers Seconda speakers and Audioquest cables. Magic, magic, magic!

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER OR RECEIVER.
jaymarc wrote:

So I found a good deal on the PSB synchrony Two used. Now I am looking for a good amp to match it. From all my research it seems like they are very transparent speakers and any weak link would be harshly exposed. I was thinking of going with one of the Emotiva Amplifiers like the XPA-2 with either Emotiva PreAMP or leaning toward one of the Yamaha AVENTAGE Network Receivers (I'd like something with network connectivity built it). On the other hand I was looking at going for the peachtree Nova125 and keeping it simple. Regardless I know it needs to be between 100-300W @ 4Ohms. What do you guys think. The prime use would be for music but it will also be connected to my TV and my sad excuse for a home theatre (aka a couch).

My personal experience is that the Emotiva amplifiers are not quite what you want for those speakers to sound their best; not quite first-rate sound.

The sensitivity of the Synchrony 2 speakers is 90db/watt, so you DO NOT need 100 watts of amplifier power; 40 watts would be quite adequate for even very loud listening.

I recommend the Musical Fidelity M3i Integrated amplifier, which is an excellent-sounding amplifier with plenty of power. It is very conservatively rated at 76 watts into 8 ohms, and will deliver over 100 watts per channel at 4 ohms. It is only $1500, which should be in your budget.

Another excellent one is the Arcam A28, which is similar and goes for $1700.

Using ANY Yamaha receiver with those speakers would result in a harsh ugly sound that would drive you out the door screaming. That would be an insult to your speakers (not to mention your ears...).

If internet radio is what you want, I have the GraceDigital Solo network receiver, and it is excellent. It has analog output jacks which will connect directly to any amplifier. It is only $90 from Amazon, and has over 10,000 radio stations worldwide preprogrammed by music genre, geographic locations, etc. The quality of the music is determined by the originating station, and varies, but is mostly very good. It works by direct connection or W-Fi.

If you really want a RECEIVER, with multi-channel capabilities, the only ones I can recommend for use with speakers like yours would be the ones from Cambridge Audio. They might not sound quite as good as the amplifiers recommended above, but they sound pretty good; 100 times better than anything from Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer, Anthem etc.

shp
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If you don't mind breaking

If you don't mind breaking the bank a little, Naim makes very nice equipment and is available at Lyric and Innovative Audio. This unit is a network streamer, integrated amp and DAC all in one. But they have products at lower price points, too. (I've had a Naim CD player for 15 years and it's never even hiccuped. Ok, CD players can't technically hiccup, but you know what I mean.)

http://www.audiostream.com/content/naim-superuniti-all-one-player#overla...

pablolie
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establish *your* preferences

your system only needs to please *you*, so don't let anyone tell you what's best for you. establish it yourself.

i downsized myself within the last year, and moved into an apartment. the "big" (and quite expensive) system i had in the big house had to go, but i wanted an audio shrine with very enjoyable quality. this is what i put together
http://www.stereophile.com/images/styles/960-wide/public/photo_post/1191...

the speakers are excellent KEF LS50, amazing things. 1.5k and worth more. you have to spend time setting them up right, though.
the power amp is a Creek Destiny, which i scored for $750 used on Ebay. very accurate yet musical.
the DAC+preamp+headphoneamp is Benchmark's amazing DAC2 HGC. $2k. so these components fit into your budget, just as an example.
i already owned the Squeezebox digital music streamer.
i also have a power conditioner (not shown). cabling is about $1k in this system, i already owned it.
i also have a $900 subwoofer there but it's turned off these days. the KEF LS50 suffices.

i will emphasize the importance of: speaker placement! spend time on that! some room treatments, such as 2-4 panels and 1-2 bass traps to truly control obvious issues.

and within an apartment i have re-discovered the joy of listening through my trusty old Grado RS-1, which sound glorious through the DAC2.

but i repeat - establish *your* preference.

Catch22
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It doesn't take much volume to piss off the neighbors

You might want to get some decent headphones for those times when you don't want to meet your neibhbors...at your door.

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