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lardog
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My BS Experience

So I set up my Bluesound Vault2 and thought I’d share my experience.

SETUP: very easy. Took me about ½ hr but if I had to do it again, probably 5 minutes.

The Build: very small, nice looking. Doesn’t produce much heat so you can put it in a cabinet.

USE: To become a BS ‘expert user’ you have to either ‘learn-by-doing’ or do a lot of web searching because there is no manual (hard to believe but true). I am competent enough to use it, but there are a lot of things I don’t know how to do – yet. And for reasons I don’t understand, there isn’t even a YouTube video explaining all the software features.

The convenience of this thing is amazing. I’m working on my computer and want to play Ricki Lee Jones. I click on the BS app, type in “Ricki Lee Jones”, and w/in 10 seconds I’m playing songs I don’t have in my library, and always wanted to hear. The versatility and breadth of music available is fantastic. Right now I’m using TIDAL for streaming ($20/month), but I’ll probably try ohers too.

You can’t ‘play’ CDs, you can only rip them. To rip, stick it in the slot and it does the rest (takes maybe 10 minutes). When complete, it ejects it back out at you.

SOUND :
System 1: a 25 year old Sony carousel CD player, running into my 6 year old, $600, Denon AVR, then into my same vintage Boston Acoustics T930 (which to my ears are still very nice sounding – I’m going to have a hard time parting with these).

System 2: the Vault2 analog out running into the same AVR/speakers.

The two systems are nearly equivalent in sound. The highs are maybe a little better in the BS, but discernably only by A/B-ing them back and forth for 10 minutes. So close I’ll call it a wash.

Soooo, I’m keeping it. Why, you ask, would I keep it if the BS is the same quality as an ancient Sony CD player? 2 reasons:

1) the convenience factor is fantastic. I’m having a lot of fun listening to a wide assortment of music that I didn’t before, and in addition I can still listen to my own library stored on the Vault2 without getting out of my chair. It’s as easy as moving your finger across a touchscreen or keyboard. Even my wife is listening to music often – after about a 1 minute lesson.

2) My expectation is that if I hookup the Bluesound to a high quality DAC (NAD M51?, Benchmark DAC2? Cambridge Audio 851D?) through the Toslink Optical then I’ll get even better sound. So there IS fidelity growth in the future.

Initially I was disappointed because I just assumed 25 years of technical advances would produce a higher fidelity sound out of the BS as compared to my Sony carousel. But possibly the bottleneck is my Denon. What this is telling me is that a CD with an old Sony DAC is the same fidelity of a FLAC going through the Bluesound DAC. My expectation was that the BS DAC would be better, but in retrospect, the BS DAC isn’t a very expensive DAC (probably equivalent to a $150 new stand-alone DAC?). So my next step is a high quality DAC/preamp, amp, and speakers. Right now the Spatial Audio M3 speakers, Red Dragon S500 (amp), and NAD M51 DAC/Preamp is on my short list – although I’ve been wavering for a while on the M51.

That’s my story.

Larry

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER
lardog wrote:

So I set up my Bluesound Vault2 and thought I’d share my experience.

SETUP: very easy. Took me about ½ hr but if I had to do it again, probably 5 minutes.

Initially I was disappointed because I just assumed 25 years of technical advances would produce a higher fidelity sound out of the BS as compared to my Sony carousel. But possibly the bottleneck is my Denon. What this is telling me is that a CD with an old Sony DAC is the same fidelity of a FLAC going through the Bluesound DAC. My expectation was that the BS DAC would be better, but in retrospect, the BS DAC isn’t a very expensive DAC (probably equivalent to a $150 new stand-alone DAC?). So my next step is a high quality DAC/preamp, amp, and speakers. Right now the Spatial Audio M3 speakers, Red Dragon S500 (amp), and NAD M51 DAC/Preamp is on my short list – although I’ve been wavering for a while on the M51.

That’s my story.

Larry

You could just spend $549 for a Music Hall 15.3 amplifier and improve your sound 193%. The old Denon is not helping at all.

I think the old Sony will not sound anywhere near as good as the Bluesound once you get a decent amp.

At that point I suggest that you get an OPPO BDP-103, which has a great DAC and can effectively function as DAC, universal player, and a few other things too. A lot of machine for only $500.

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER
lardog
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the Music Hall looks nice. I

the Music Hall looks nice. I wish it had a trigger-in. So you are saying a new analog amp only, and still using the BS DAC, might improve the sound. Interesting. I like the idea of of an integrated amp w/o a DAC, that way I can buy an external DAC of my choice.

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER
lardog wrote:

the Music Hall looks nice. I wish it had a trigger-in. So you are saying a new analog amp only, and still using the BS DAC, might improve the sound. Interesting. I like the idea of of an integrated amp w/o a DAC, that way I can buy an external DAC of my choice.

That is my suggestion.

commsysman
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MQA
lardog wrote:

the Music Hall looks nice. I wish it had a trigger-in. So you are saying a new analog amp only, and still using the BS DAC, might improve the sound. Interesting. I like the idea of of an integrated amp w/o a DAC, that way I can buy an external DAC of my choice.

By the way, does that Bluesound unit have MQA decoding included?

lardog
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Yes it does. They just

Yes it does. They just updated the software with the MQA decoding early June. I haven't played any MQA files though. In the next week I'm going to try to find some.

commsysman
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MQA Experience
lardog wrote:

Yes it does. They just updated the software with the MQA decoding early June. I haven't played any MQA files though. In the next week I'm going to try to find some.

Please report back on your experience with MQA. I am very interested in getting an MQA-capable unit, perhaps the same as yours.

lardog
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commsysman wrote:
commsysman wrote:

Please report back on your experience with MQA. I am very interested in getting an MQA-capable unit, perhaps the same as yours.

I didn't forget about you commsy. Just busy. I finally got some better equipment, but still using my old ba 930 speakers (my new spatial audio speakers are arriving tomorrow). But I just had a chance to A/B MQA on the bluesound.

Caveats: it takes about 3 seconds to switch between the MQA and non-MQA song that I selected. So it makes it hard to compare well with that latency.

with the utmost uncertainty, I can say the MQA sounds better - slightly. I'm not sure what it is, maybe a fullness or depth? It isn't obvious, and I'm dubious of my own results, and it took 10 minutes of switching back and forth for me to even form an opinion. That should give you an idea as to how obvious the difference in sound quality is - not that obvious. Maybe it will be more obvious with my new speakers.

I reserve the option to change my opinion at any time without notice, rhyme, or reason.

I hereby swear I am not under the influence of any narcotics (at least nothing illegal).

changing subjects:

I now have a red dragon s500 amp, marantz pm5005 integrated, Emotiva Stealth DAC, and a nad M51 dac in house or soon arriving. I will be mixing all these up to compare sounds and see what I like best. This is quite a difference in prices, the S500/NAD being much more expensive than the Stealth/Marantz. I will need to hear a significant difference in sound to keep the expensive combo. Will be interesting. I'll let you know how it turns out.

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