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buysell99999
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Starting from scratch - with some limitations

So, I've always liked music - both playing and listening to music. My first system was simply Mission speakers/Rotel amp/Philips CD. Then I left that with my parents when I took off for college. After college I got PSB T45/Thule Amp/Thule CD - which I was generally happy with.

Then a combination of moving country and wife not being particularly thrilled about the relative size of the T45's in our then not-so-big apartment made me sell the whole thing.

For a short period I owned a Beocenter 1 - which pleased the wife. And to be fair, it pleased me when I managed to sell it for a USD1000 profit upon yet another country move.

I've now taken a considerable step back as I'm mostly playing off iTunes into an iPod Hi-Fi (I know most of you will think putting a hi-fi name on that box is a pretty big insult).

Bottom line - time to put together something sensible again.

Limitations:
I have to be honest with myself and recognize that most of my music will be through iTunes. Somebody therefore suggested to me that I either play lossless files from iTunes, or use an iPod Touch on a Wadia 170 iTransport connected to a DAC...(which quite frankly did not mean much to me, other than I have grasped the benefit and need of playing lossless files)

Voltage
I also have to recognize that I will most likely move from my current 100V location to a 220V location within the next 5 years - not sure if it matters...

Room
I don't have a dedicated listening room, but a large living room.

Budget
USD4000k (or so) - but could be prepared to double that if there are very good reasons

Use
Specific sit down listening, and background music for dinners etc

WAF
The wife-acceptance-factor is important although not crucial. However, I don't think I can afford a diamond big enough to compensate for me logging in floor-to-ceiling speakers...

Any suggestions on what speakers, amp and anything else I need to play digital music?

Suggestions are much appreciated.

Thanks.

dcstep
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Welcome to the Stereophile forums.

Yes, DO use LossLess files whenever possible. It's not the ultimate, but it's very, very good and can stand up to feeding a good system.

I think that you should focus on speakers first. Are you interested in floor-standing again, or do you want mini-monitors, or something in between. If you want full range AND good imaging, then floor standing is the way to go.

One other thing, what music do you listen to? Do you attend concerts?

Dave

smejias
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Our editor, John Atkinson, recently reported on the limitations of MP3. You might find the article interesting and helpful.

You might also browse our reviews of media servers and computer audio.

In our eNewsletters, John Atkinson and Wes Phillips documented their own adventures in putting together computer-based systems, and even reviewed the iPod Hi-Fi.

I hope this helps get you started. Have fun.

linden518
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

I'd say the easiest way to quality audio through lossless files is the Transporter (read Stereophile's review of it.) If the price is too steep, look into Squeezebox 3 or the new Duet.

Go audition some speakers, and let us know which brands you like, & we'll go from there. Also, electronics is important... I suggest integrated amp. Primare I30 is excellent and there's a used one on Audiogon for $1550, which seems like a decent deal. Since you have a large living room, I'd like to suggest Magnepan MMGs. Fantastic planar speakers, which need a lot of room, but if you have room, they will make the music seem live. And the best bargain in the industry, at $550. Do some internet research on MMGs, and you'll find that a lot of people - fanatics, really - love these speakers over pricier speakers that cost many times more. Comes with 60 day money back guarantee so you essentially have a chance to audition them at home. Also, Vandersteen 2ceIIs at $2K are great speakers.

vman
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

I have done some testing with iTunes - here's what I've learned.

Lossless encoding is critical. There is an obvious difference. I no longer buy songs via the iTunes music store for this very reason.

AirPort Express (analog out) is poor.

iPod (analog out) is poor. I have tested iPod Classic, Nano, and iTouch.

AppleTV (analog out) is actually not bad. Fine for your background music / dinner music. MUCH better than Airport Express. Not good enough for critical listening. Downside is you have to have an HDTV monitor to see what you are doing.

Airport Express / AppleTV (digital out) - both devices have digital out. You can either use a dedicated DAC or find a CD player that has digital in.

If you want to do AirportExpress digital out, you can use your iTouch as a remote control - http://www.alloysoft.com/ - there are free alternatives, but I have used this one and it is pretty nice.

I got sick of having to control iTunes to listen to music and ended up buying a good CD player. I use it for critical listening and AppleTV when I just want music on.

hope this helps.

mrlowry
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Arcam makes some great equipment that allows the voltage to be changed by using a different power cord and flipping a switch on the back. Oh, and it sounds great and is affordable too. Arcam is known for making particularly good integrated amplifiers.

It sounds like you are set on bookshelf speakers. B&W is always consistently strong. Recently I've also been particularly impressed with Amphion bookshelf speakers. If Thiel is shipping their SCS4 those are probably also worth a listen.

buysell99999
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

A lot of good advice here (although - who am I to judge, given I know nothing about this?). Let me check out some of your suggestions and see where it takes me. The speakers - as you would expect - has the most amount of resistance from the minister of interior affairs, so chances are smaller would be better....

Thanks again!

linden518
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations


Quote:
The speakers - as you would expect - has the most amount of resistance from the minister of interior affairs, so chances are smaller would be better....


Except that he mentioned specifically that his living room is LARGE. If you really are going to go w/ bookshelf, look into Totem Mani 2 or something w/ big amps if you don't want to lose the music/sound. The Manis will definitely fill the room w/ sound & please the wife. Otherwise, compromise w/ your wife & get floorstanders.

I still think MMGs can do all the things you want your systems to do, given the parameters.

bifcake
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Your solution is simple:

Fire the minister of the interior.

dcstep
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations


Quote:
A lot of good advice here (although - who am I to judge, given I know nothing about this?). Let me check out some of your suggestions and see where it takes me. The speakers - as you would expect - has the most amount of resistance from the minister of interior affairs, so chances are smaller would be better....

Well then, look at the Vienna Acoustics line. The cabinet finish make them among the best furniture in my house. I've got the Beethoven Baby Grands in maple. There's absolutlely impeccably finished and my wife loves the look. Oh yeah, and the sound good.

Dave

buysell99999
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

The living room is about 600 sq ft, so I guess floor standing ones would be the default choice. However, setting aside political conflicts for a moment, is there a logic in saying bookshelf speakers on a stand is actually to prefer here? My uneducated reasoning would be that it should fill the entire room better when the sound source is above any furniture in the room (tables, couches, chairs etc). Or is this just random squabble?

Of course, those bookshelf speakers would presumably need to have a bit more oomph than my tiny Mission speakers from a couple of decades ago, and presumably also be standing on some semi-decent stands.

linden518
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Well, proper floorstanders would do a better job filling up the living room with sound, especially w/ better bass extension, etc. But there are monitors/bookshelf that will not have a problem rocking the hell out of 600 sq ft. I have Harbeth Super HL5s, which are not floorstanders, but aren't really small bookshelfs, either, although they're nominally monitor speakers. They get plenty loud, full enough with deeply satisfying & musical bass. Totem Mani 2s will definitely handle your room, but they'll demand a lot from your amp. Same with the top of the line monitors from Neat and Dynaudio; they'll sound as big or sometimes bigger than some floorstanders, and they'll do a better job of imaging & disappearing than floorstanders. Of course you'd pay dearly for those speakers, but there are cheaper options. I heard Silverline Minuets are actually very full-sounding speakers... in fact, go audition a lot of these bookshelfs & see for yourself. Not going w/ floorstander is not a compromise anymore, with so many options. They make 'em nice these days.

jackfish
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

The Human 66 is an amazing loudspeaker for $1200 a pair and would be about the same as having bookshelves on stands as they stand 47.5" tall, are 8" wide and 12" deep. They can be considered a full range loudspeaker with a frequency response of 30Hz-26kHz +/-2dB while handling amps up to 300 wpc RMS. They look good as well, finished in wood veneer.

buysell99999
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

By the way, does anyone have any suggestions for dealers, web pages, or other solutions to ship equipment abroad?

mrlowry
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations

Dealer is perhaps the biggest decision. Visit some dealers in your area and go over your list of priorities, needs, musical tastes, and answer any questions they may ask you. Which ever one you think "gets" you the most is the one to work with primarily. When starting from scratch I think it makes the most sense to pick speakers first, then build a system to bring out their best.

dcstep
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Re: Starting from scratch - with some limitations


Quote:
The living room is about 600 sq ft, so I guess floor standing ones would be the default choice. However, setting aside political conflicts for a moment, is there a logic in saying bookshelf speakers on a stand is actually to prefer here? My uneducated reasoning would be that it should fill the entire room better when the sound source is above any furniture in the room (tables, couches, chairs etc). Or is this just random squabble?

Of course, those bookshelf speakers would presumably need to have a bit more oomph than my tiny Mission speakers from a couple of decades ago, and presumably also be standing on some semi-decent stands.

Yes, "random squabble". Bookshelves on stands on the floor image well, but they're not full range. Book shelf speakers on books shelves sound like crap, they can't image and they will have odd frequency response character. Floor standing is the way to go. All the random furniture is good, absorbing and defraying focused acoustic energy.

Dave

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