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jpl
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Joined: Apr 7 2013 - 12:48pm
Beginner system for 1500$

Hi everyone, first post here on stereophile but have been reading the website for about a year.

A couple of years ago when I started university I bought a pair of M-Audio BX5a and I was amazed by how good music sounded compared to generic 20$ computer speakers. I felt like I needed to re-listen to every album that I had.

I am able finally to afford an entry-level audio system and I plan to spend a maximum of 1500$.I am looking for an integrated amplifier and for the moment am very tempted by the Cambridge Audio Azur 351a. Having a USB DAC is mandatory as my music is mainly on my computer. I was also looking into entry level NAD amp like the NAD 316BEE and NAD 326BEE but I would need to add a separate USB DAC.

For speakers I was thinking about B&W 685 and I've stumbled upon the Paradigm Studio 10 but I think they would easily push my system beyond 1500$.

I listen to rock, solo piano, spanish guitar / flamenco and orchestral  music and some popular music with vocals.

What are your thoughts on the Azur 351a and B&W 685 paired together? Any other suggestions that would fit my budget ? As I said earlier a USB DAC is mandatory. Should I consider a differente integrated amp and add a standalone DAC like the Dragonfly?

 I am searching to have the same feeling I had a couple of years , to feel that I need to re-listen to all my albums :)

jackfish
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What is your listening room like?

Dimensions and furnishings, is it dedicated or do you use it for other activities? If your music files do not exceed 24-bit/96kHz the Schiit Modi USB DAC is incredible for $100.

jackfish
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Here is a system I could live with...

Audiowaves still has the Music Hall a15.2 integrated amplifier available. $429 with free shipping and $375 for a demo with full warranty.

Schiit Modi USB DAC, $100. http://www.audiostream.com/content/schiit-audio-modi-usb-dac http://www.digitalaudioreview.net/2013/01/schiit-audio-modi-2496-dac-review/

Magnepan MMG loudspeakers $600/pair, 60-day money back trial. http://www.ultrahighendreview.com/magnepan-mmg-loudspeakers/ http://hometheaterreview.com/magnepan-mmg-floor-standing-speakers-reviewed/ http://www.soundadviceblog.com/reviews/review-magnepan-mmg-speakers/

SVS SB-1000 12" sealed subwoofer, $500. Set the low pass filter to 50Hz and enjoy! http://www.hometheatershack.com/forums/speaker-subwoofer-reviews/66069-svs-pb1000-sb1000-subwoofer-review.html

jpl
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jackfish, Thanks a lot for

jackfish, Thanks a lot for the suggestions, I will look into those components.

Here are some precisions. My files do not exceed 24-bit/96kHz. This system would be mainly used to listen to music, but I would consider eventually building a HTPC and hooking up a TV. So speakers that would be able to handle movie soundtracks/vocals would be a plus.

My room is about 12' x 10'.

Demondog
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I don't have much to add

Jackfish's suggestion sounds good, or at least I think it will. I just wanted to add that I set my sister up with an Audioquest Dragonfly for her laptop to go with a new,  but discontinued, NAD C355BEE that I found. I needed to give her an old pair of Polk speakers that I had, to make HER budget, since she had to purchase the laptop also. I was seriously considering an NAD C326BEE before the C355 turned up.

My point is that she is euphoric over the sound she is getting with the Dragonfly through the NAD. I installed a WASAPI driver which enabled automatic sample rate switching up to 96kHz. (It down samples higher rates) I normaly prefer seperate-box components, but I'm thinking of getting a Dragonfly for myself to use for my combination TV/outdoor system. I want to be able to quickly plug my laptop into this TV/outdoor amp when I am outside. I think the Dragonfly fits in well with components at an even higher level than we are discussing here. I will say though that the Dragonfly's main strengths are portability and small footprint. If those things are not needed, then there are plenty DACs to choose from, though you may, or may not spend more for a DAC with a chassis, I'm not sure how high you'll have to go to get an audible improvement.

I want to check out the new Meridian Explorer also. Somewhat similiar to Dragonfly, but does higher sample rate.

I got nothing for speakers.

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

I suggest that you look at the Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 speakers, which Music Direct is selling for $450.

I think they will sound better than the 685 speakers. The Focal Chorus 705 and 706 are also excellent speakers in that price range.

If you could stretch your budget a bit, the Gallo Classico CL-2 speakers are awesome, but they cost $790 per pair.

For an eventual HT system you will need to get a subwoofer.

Even 90% of the large floorstanding speakers do not have enough bass for HT use.

You are better off getting some medium-sized speakers now and the subwoofer later.

The 351A is probably the logical choice since it sounds good and has the DAC included.

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