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zmender
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newbie into home audio land - $2500 ~ $3000

Several years ago, when a friend moved, he gave me his speaker system: a Yamaha receiver with a pair of floorstanding Polk speakers. Although I am fairly clueless when comes to home audio system, this package I received from friend certainly setup me up with fairly high expectations.

I am relocating from a house to an apartment in the city and I am recently looking for a smaller, less space consuming setup.

I went to audio section at Best Buy. Everything there sounded so metallic, loud, and lifeless. I went to a Bose store. Their "cubes" sounded annoyingly high pitched with a booming bass, and nothing in between. Their bookshelf speakers sounded much more like what I was used to, but still felt like there's a disconnect between the tremble and bass.

I guess my next setup still has to be a whole system.. I started reading about reviews here on stereophile and realize wow, there's a lot of components I need. I play mostly from computers, laptops, iphones, and ipads. I want to set a budget of <3K.

I think I like the idea of a Peachtree Audio Decco65 integrated amp, along with a pair of Triton 7 speakers based on review here (http://www.digitaltrends.com/amplifier-reviews/peachtree-audio-decco65-r...). However, would this include everything that I need? Mostly, do I need a seperate receiver to hook up all the inputs? For my budget and purpose, is this the most ideal setup?

bierfeldt
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reviews aren't very helpful

I can find reviews that will tell me anything sounded good.  I found several reviews raving about Yamaha's entry level integrated amps and how great a value they are.  No offense to Yamaha Integrated Amp owners but I listened too them and found them painfully bright. 

Reviews are a stepping off point but you must demo the equipment you are buying.  In-home is always best but having just bought a set of speakers, in-store demo's are not a waste of time and can help you eliminate equipment that you hate. 

What you do need is an integrated amp with an internal or external DAC and a set of speakers.  An integrated pmp is basically a receiver without a tuner, video processing and it may or may not have a DAC.  If you want AirPlay you need an Airport Express/Extreme.

For Speakers you may want to look at the PSB Image T6, Focal Chorus 716, Monitor Audio Silver 6 all available from Crutchfield or Audio Advisor where they have a 30day return policy.  I have never heard the Triton 7 so I have literally no opinion on it.  I listened to both the PSB Image T6s and the Monitor Audio Silver 6s recently and like them both very much. 

That Peachtree Decco is a nice Integrated, has an internal DAC and is a good value at $899.  Alternatively, you could consider a Rega Brio R at $899 with an external DAC.  Peachtree's DaciTx is $399 and is a nice choice.  You could also consider an Arcam A19 at $999 with that same Peachtree DAC. I personally have the Brio R and love it though I am using a different DAC. 

If you wanted to come in at a slightly lower price you could consider the MusicHall A15.3 at $549 and then get that same Peachtree DAC. 

There are lots of technical reasons to get an external DAC vs an internal DAC and they may or may not be noticeable to your ears.  The biggest reason to me is that you can upgrade to the latest greatest technology while only replacing the DAC, not getting an entirely new Integrated.  Effectively, upgradability is cheaper in the long term. 

NAD, Marantz and Cambridge audio also make fine integrated amps at differing price points.  The one's I mentioned above are ones I know, have listened to and really like.  More importantly, all of these can be purchased from at least one of the following - AudioAdvisor, Crutchfield, NeedleDoctor, MusicDirect or OneCall which all have 30 return policies. 

 

 

 

 

commsysman
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SYSTEM CHOICES

I also am a big fan of the PSB Image T6 speakers, which I had for two years before moving up to Vandersteen Treos.

They are hard to beat for $1300/pair.

The Monitor Audio BX-6 and RX-6 are also very good.

The Music Hall 15.3, for $549, is one of the best integrated amplifiers for under $1000.

The Cambridge Audio DACmagic 100 D-A converter is $299, and i also recommend that.

That system should sound about 500% better than what you have. I find Yamaha amps pretty awful, and while Polk makes some fairly good speakers, they are quite expensive. The Polk speakers that are less expensive and more typical are not that good.

I do NOT recommend that you get an amplifier with a DAC included, because putting both on the same chassis is a design challenge that IMO tends to compromise the amplifier  sound quality.

A separate DAC is much better IMO.

zmender
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Thanks for the tips. I got a

Thanks for the tips. I got a couple of more questions.

All of the integrated amps that you guys recommend have 50-70wpc, but the peach tree nova125 is claiming 125wpc at a lower price. Are there different ways to spec wpc? I admit I am getting suckered into "bigger is better" game, so do I really need 125wpc to drive the speakers?

Most of my music will source from digital sources, so a separate dac makes sense. My later collection are in flac, but I still have a lot of 128kb mp3s as well as even worse real audio files. What should I look for in a system that would work with these files, instead of against them?

wkhanna
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A manufactures' published

A manufactures' published power ratings for audio amplifiers is one of the poorest & least reliable ways of predicting the sound quality & performance of an amplifier. The only way to really know is to listen.

I recently had two Odyssey Khartago amps available to compare in my home system. One was the standard 110 watt RMS @ 8 ohm version & the other was Odyssey's Extreme Version that is (amoung other things) a little more powerful. Had i not known the ratting of the amps beforehand, i would easily have guessed they were rated closer to 200 - 250 watts. I have a modified Rotel RMB-1090 amp rated at 380 watt RMS @ 8 ohm & both Odyssey amps held forth brilliantly when compared to my Rotel. However, results like this are typically uncommon as many manufactures seem to ever so slightly embellish their published measurements. wink

About the only consistently reliable published spec I encountered was 'damping factor' (usually an indicator of how good the bass control is).

 

As for a DAC to play all your different files........I would not worry too much about playing your low res files.....there is not DAC made that will make them sound good.wink

Bill

bierfeldt
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The aswer is, it depends

Powere required depends on the speakers you choose, the size of your room and how loud you listen to audio.  I was convinced that I needed to get to max power on my speakers but opted for the 50w Rega Brio R and it delivers way, way more power than I expected or needed. 

I am at the low end of my speakers rated power range of 50 to 120w and they are relatively inneficient with a sensitivity of 86 dB.  I am in a 10' x 15' room and I can't turn it up past half way or the system is just deafening. 

In comparison, the Monitor Audio and the PSB Image's are 90 to 91dB, much more efficient than mine.  Unless you are in a very large room, you should be able to produce some big volume.  This is a link to a calculator where you can put in conditions and get max db.  You will find that volume rises rapidly with minimal power and it requires massive increases in power to generate small amounts of incremental volume once you get beyond 100dB. 

For instance, at 10' from the speaker, 25w in a speaker with 90dB sensitivity will generate 100db of volume.  50w of power in the same conditions will generate 103.7 dB of volume.  125w of power will generate 107.3 dB of volume, so the answer is no, you don't need the 125w to drive the PSB or Monitor Audio speakers recommended above. 

http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

If you opted for a speaker that was dramatically less efficient with an SPL of 84 or 85dB, or your room is really big, then you might want to consider a more powerful amp. 

Either the Peachtree or Cambridge DACs mentioned earlier will more than meet your needs. 

You might also consider a DAC/Network player.  Cambridge and NAD also make devices but this MUSICAL FIDELITY - M1CLiC UNIVERSAL MUSIC CONTROLLER is on sales at Music Direct for $599 and will allow a lot of flexibility and should give you a great listening experience.  The perk is that it has lots of connections and simply requires you to be on your network as opposed to being plugged directly into the DAC or you can plug direcly into one of the 7 digital inputs. 

Hope this helps

zmender
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I'm leaning towards the Arcam

I'm leaning towards the Arcam A19 Int Amp due it includes a headphone amp also. The Monitor Audio RX-6s were replaced by the new Silver 6 - which has a power requirement of 60-150W. Would the A19 still be sufficient to drive the Silver 6? The cheapest integrated amp with headphone jack and >=60W output I found was the Cambridge 851A. It's much more expensive - what do you guys think?

A stupid question: is the S/PDIF same as coaxial?

John Atkinson
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No stupid questions

zmender wrote:
A stupid question: is the S/PDIF same as coaxial?

Yes, The S/PDIF standard (for Sony/Philips Digital Interface) can be implemented with with an optical link (TosLink) or electrical (a coaxial interconnect with RCA plugs).

John Atkinson

Editor, Stereophile

zmender
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If I get a Brio-R with a

If I get a Brio-R with a separate headphone amp, how would I even hook the whole system up? Can I use the Record Out from Rega and plug it into the Line In at the headphone amps?

bierfeldt
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The output on the Rega

That output will work if you send it to a headphone pre-amp.  It is independent of the volume control as I validated that it cannot be used for a subwoofer shortly after I bought it.  You have to use speaker level outputs for a subwoofer with the Rega.  

Also, the Arcam most likely will be just fine.  That is a very conservative 50 watt rating.  That being said, you could call AudioAdvisor and ask them since they sell both.  I am sure you would not be the first person to ask them that question.  Given the 30 day return policy, they have no incentive to mislead you.  

rainsoothe
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audition it all

Hi. 

 

Best advice i ever got: try to audition anything you might be interested in. Reviews are a good starting point, but you might enjoy stuff that gets 4/5 or 3/5 ratings and, of course, all top rated stuff sounds different :)

 

Since you seem to be using computers a lot, then u surely need a DAC. If you didn't have a 3000$ limit for the entire system, AND if you required no analogue input, i would've suggested the Naim DAC V1, which, imo, sounds brilliant, and it also acts as a VERY good headphone amplifier and preamp (with the NAP 100 power amp). In case you consider raising your budget, this should defenately be on your audition list.

 

Given your budget, i would audition these:

- Cambridge Audio Azur 651C (cd-player) and 651A (amplifier). The amp also has a decent DAC as far as i understand.

- Audiolab 8200CD and 8200A (in this case, the cd player has a DAC section).

- Exposure 2010S2 cd player + amp - you'll have to go for a separate DAC in this case, i hear lots of good stuff about the Arcam iRdac.

- Creek Evo50A + any of the above cd-players

-----------------------------------

As for speakers, try audition B&W 685S2 or KEF LS50 (ore KEF R300 if the LS 50 is out of your budget).

Oh, almost forgot: when i was upgrading my stuff last year, i also got to audition a briliant amp for the money, but it's kind of a behemoth and also doesn't have a headphone amp. On the plus side it did have a DAC. Anywho, in case you're interested, they're 3 week home trials, and you can send them back for full refund if you don't like them. Amp name is XTZ A100D3, the speakers are XTZ 93.23.

 

goodluck

zmender
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Reviving an old thread..

Reviving an old thread..

This is the system that's sitting in my living room now. Absolutely loving it.

All of my music (laptop, desktop, iOS devices) stream music through AirPlay into AppleTV, which is hooked up with Optical to the Peachtree DAC ITx. I got the Arcam A19 integrated amp, and it powers a pair of the KEF LS50 monitors.

Awesome, awesome setup.

David Harper
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optical connection

does anyone here know if the optical connections on my receiver and digital disc player provide a superior sound compared to HDMI?

wkhanna
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Late to the Dance.....
David Harper wrote:

does anyone here know if the optical connections on my receiver and digital disc player provide a superior sound compared to HDMI?

As was mentioned recently in another thread, the best way to find out is to try for yourself.

Not all systems will respond identically to the same variables.

Bill - on the Hill
Practicing Curmudgeon & Audio Snob
- just an “ON” switch, Please –

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