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SF
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First Entry HiFi Build - What Equipment do I need?

Hi all.

Picked up this nice stereophile mag at the airport few days ago and it got me hooked up on starting with a small first entry system.

Purpose: Main idea is of utilizing my home comupter with a Soundblaster ZxR card with my current large library of 320kb mp3, I also frequently listen to internet radio, I would also like to start on investing in a new music library via HDtracks or similar sites which offer high resolution 192/24 & 96/24 FLAC albums and tracks which I can use with my iRiver software. I don't have vinyls unfortunately so there is no need for turntables and phono amp I guess at the moment, digital source only. My father has however a large collection of vinyls so the system should be able to add on such in the future. 2.1 Channel speaker config as well for the moment. Small living Room, not much power needed but quality...

I was reading your reviews in here and was eyeing on the following products:

Speakers: Dynaudio Excite X12 or BOSE 901 System with stand or PSB Image T6 or similar. Budget USD 2,000 max.

Subwoofer: NHT Super 8 Class D

Amp: Rogue Audio Atlas Tube Amp or any better, budget USD 2,000. Do I need a Pre-Amp as well? Or better an Integrated Amplifier like the PrimaLuna ProLogue Premium?

DAC: Class B or A? Budget USD 1,000 max.

Cables: Kimber 8VS or Class K, budget USD 200-300 max. per Meter

Interconnects/ Other Accessories, powe supplies etc.?

What other equipment/accessories do I need to have everything completed and ready to go? That would be appreciated.

 

How do I hook everything up, any good builder guide out there?

Another issue is where I am located, so I am not sure if I can get all of those, plus adding a nice tax of 35% on top of it most likely...

Thank you much and appreciated,

Stephan

JoeE SP9
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system

The kind of cash you're getting to ready to spend takes you way out of the entry level.

I suggest you make the necessary effort and actually audition some speakers first. The ones you have mentioned are so different in character that they might as well have come from different worlds. For instance, Bose 901s sound so different from other speakers that if you like them nothing else will do.

You won't need a phono preamp unless you plan on getting a TT. All integrated amplifiers have a built in preamp.

There are other (IMO better) sub woofers than the NHT you've listed. However, a sub woofer is a speaker and should be auditioned.

Buying speakers without auditioning them first is like letting someone else choose a mail order bride for you. The chances of you getting what you will be satisfied with are slim to none.

All the Stereophile class A or B rated DACs cost more than $1000.

Choosing speaker cables and ICs can get quite complicated and be a PITA. I've used Kimber 8TC in the past and was relatively happy with it. I suggest that you get speaker cables and ICs from the same manufacturer. FWIW: I use DH Labs cables and ICs.

BTW: The word vinyl is singular and plural

SF
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sound test

Hi JoeE

First of all thank you much for replying to my post, it is appreciated.

Noted to the speakers, I have actually seen that there are two or three show rooms in the country I live and I will check them out next time I am in the capital. Seen few posts and reviews about the Bose speakers and I did audition them in my friends home and they sounded to me very suitable for live compositions but I am no expert, I kind of liked them but its better to audition them again and comparing them to others, you are right.

Integrated Amp it is. Do you recommend the PrimaLuna Premium or the Pathos Classic One MK III? Any suggestions, those two tube amps are the only ones in my price category I can afford and are available here. I heard that the tube amps are giving a warmer feel and sound to the music thats why I really like to go for a tube amp if possible and within budget of course ;-)

Lets see whats available here on DACs and Cables and I perhaps a qualified technician can help me out in the shop, will report back. USD 1,000 is the budget I guess...

What is it with line conditioner and power supplies? any recommendations?

Thank you much

Stephan

Edit: Seems you were right JoeE and most audiophiles on the 901 ;-), better I opt for a different pair in that budget range.

http://www.stereophile.com/content/bose-901-series-6-mk2s

JoeE SP9
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sound test

The sound of Bose 901's is not pleasing to my ears. I realize that there are many who like them. If you do, you should pursue them and their particular sound. I however, have never liked them. I've been a panel speaker lover and owner since 1976. Nothing else that I can afford "floats my boat".

I've heard the Prima Luna and was favorably impressed. The Pathos I've not heard. I would expect it to sound quite good, the Prima Luna did. IME tube gear produces a midrange bloom and a very subtle warmth. It may not be as "accurate" as some SS gear but it's certainly more pleasing to my ears.

I put my money where my mouth is. My main ESLs are driven by tube power amps through a hybrid preamp.

I'd assemble a working system before I concerned myself with power conditioners etc.

destroysall76
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I'd go GoldenEar and PeachTree

I'd go GoldenEar Triton Two ($1499/ea) for speakers. They sound amazing and have a built-in 1200W integrated sub. This will save you some money so you can incorporate the rest of you budget into a source and amplifier. I'd recommend a Peachtree Nova 125 ($1499). It has a tubed output buffer, a built-in DAC with three S/PDIF inputs and Asynchronous USB, and can output 125W at 8Ω per channel and 200W at 4Ω per channel. It's a real great package for it's price and even Sandy Gross from GoldenEar (the leading designer) has been seen using it as a source and amp for the Triton speakers. I loved it's sound and would recommend it. I've heard this setup myself and it is a setup worth considering, especially for it's price.

 

Cheers,

Destroysall

SF
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thanks

Hi Both, alright, thank you very much for your valuable feedback and I will audition some speakers and gear in the next months and then hopefully be able to make a decision ;-)

The GoldenEar option looks very interesting and the design is lovely, I hope I can order them over ebay as they are nore represented in this country here unfortunatley ;-(

Cheers and thank you

Stephan

tqrjeff
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PSB T6 - Peachtree

I built my first system about 2 years ago with a pair of PSB T6s and a Peachtree Inova (discontinued, but comparable models are available w/o the iPod/Phone dock, which I very rarely use but comes in handy when you can't find your charge cable). Total for those two components was about $3000. I play mostly CDs through an NAD545BEE, but also occasionally stream via Apple TV connected via optical cable, and occasionally vynil depending on how motivated I'm feeling.

I auditioned the PSBs after reading rave reviews by KL (http://www.stereophile.com/content/music-round-41-page-3) and JA (http://www.stereophile.com/content/psb-image-t6-loudspeaker-measurements). I first auditioned the Image B1s (with sub), which I have subsequently read SM speaking very highly of, as well as the T5s. Those both sounded a bit thin in the audition room so I asked to audition and ultimately bought the T6s--much to my wife's dismay (these are bookshelf speakers?)!

It's my first system so I have no base of comparison, but I've been very happy with it. The T6s sound incredibly clean. Crisp highs that aren't too bright or fatiguing. Great, well-balanced mids, and clean bass. I occasionally feel like I'm missing the tiniest bit of low-end snap when listening to rock or metal, but more and more I'm thinking that's been conditioned from years of listening to over EQ-d systems.

I don't know enough about amps to say too much, but I love the subtle warmth the tube pre on the Peachtree adds when needed.

Good luck with your search.

Catch22
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Dynaudio are very nice

Dynaudio are very nice speakers. PSB are very good, but not quite the equal of Dynaudio...in general. They do share a similar tonal character that suggests similar prioritites in voicing. Both will work well with the tube amps you are considering and I would add the Rogue Cronus integrated to my short list. The Rogue has a larger than average footprint for an integrated, but if that doesn't present a problem, it's a very nice sounding tube amp. You'll want to use the 4 ohm taps on any of the amps you are considering for you speaker outputs.

Don't let the 4 ohm rating on the Dynaudio speakers scare you. It's a very linear curve that is quite appealing with tube gear.

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