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Geordie
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Newbie - Please Help Me Build A $5,000 System

I'm hoping to buy myself my first quality system in the coming months. I love music and have never owned a quality system in my 42 years. I can't wait to listen to all my favorites and truly hear them for the first time! Live Jimi Hendrix, Buena Vista Social Club, Getz/Gilberto, the huge horns and bass of Burning Spear, and on and on... My tastes are broad (rock, jazz, reggae, blues, country, some classical).

I plan on spending about $5,000. I've begun my research and my preliminary plan is three pieces: integrated amp, pair of loudspeakers and DAC. I plan to play mostly digital lossless files and/or CDs. I'll also need all the connects, etc. I'd like to achieve a precise, maybe warm sound. I listen to a lot of live music so I'd love to have a big, warm soundstage the brings the musicians right into the room.

The amps that interest me most are: Rega Elex-R, Cambridge Azur 851A, and Rogue Sphinx.

I could also consider the Hegel H80 or Peachtree Nova 220SE and have the onboard DAC.

Loudspeakers: The Golden Ear Triton Twos really interest me. The Bowers & Wilkins CM8s, Monitor Audio Silver 8 or 10, and Tekton Enzo XLs also sound good.

I may want to consider bookshelves on stands too. In this case probably KEF LS50s or B&W CM5 or CM6.

DAC: I'm thinking Oppo BDP-105 for CD/DAC. I don't know much about these.

My questions include: Which of these units do you most like/recommend and how would they match up best?
Other units I should really consider?

I look forward to hearing any and all thoughts and suggestions. Thanks in advance for your time and help! I'll be eager to audition some of these in the future!

bierfeldt
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So you are off to a good start

Your research has you going in the right direction.

IMO, start with the speakers. Pick your speakers and then choose the integrated amp to drive them. Can you get out to listen to some speakers?

Assuming you have the room and the money, you get the best sound from a full range speaker. You will need a subwoofer and stands with bookshelf speakers.

I have never heard the Golden Ears though everyone raves about them. Bowers and Wilkins speakers tend to be forward/bright though extremely revealing. I know nothing about the Tektons.

The Monitor Audio Silver 8s are freaking amazing. Neutral, detailed without being fatiguing. You will like them, a lot. I am sure the 10s are great.

I would also look at the KefQ900s. Aesthetically, they are an ugly speaker but they sound sweet and $1800 are a great value.

The PSB Imagine Ts will be $2200/ pair. PSB is neutral, detailed and ultra revealing. I have never heard a PSB product I didn't immediately like.

Regarding DACs, the best DACs will be dual chip, fully balanced designs where the left and right channels are processed separately. The OPPO BDP 105 is fully balanced and is a superb DAC. For the money at $1299, you will be hard pressed to beat it. The only thing I would say is you are gonna want to have a TV attached to it to get the most out of it. The OPPO is superior to the DACs in the Peachtree or the Hegel.

Assuming the OPPO works for you, you are going to want to choose an integrated amp that has balanced inputs. That narrows your choice in integrated amps rather dramatically leaving you wil the Cambridge 851A. it is a great integrated. You would be extremely happy with it. Of the 5 you listed, the Rega and the Hegel aren't adequate to drive floorstanders. The Peachtree has a very good DAC, the OPPO is great. The Rogue Sphinx is wonderful, but isn't going to get the most out of the OPPO because it lacks balanced inputs.

To connect the Cambridge and the OPPO, you will need a set of balanced cables. You should not spend a lot on balanced cables. They need adequate shielding and need to be 100% oxygen free copper. I would get 2 Monoprice Cables off of amazon. They will cost you about $20. I buy expensive RCA cables. I buy reasonably price balanced cables.

If your speaker cable runs will be less than 25 feet, modestly priced speaker wire should be fine. I have used monster 12 gauge I think.

Kef Q900 speakers, Monitor Audio Silver 8 or PSB Imagine T Speakers with a Cambridge 851A to drive them and an OPPO BDP 105 as a source would be a really sweet system. Really sweet. You would be hard pressed to beat that with any similarly priced equipment. Particularly the Monitor Audio Silver and PSB speakers will be neutral to a hair warm. The Kefs will be neutral to a touch forward. It would ultra detailed yet not fatiguing.

The most important thing though is you need to get out and listen to those speakers and see which ones you like.

Good luck

Geordie
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That's what I'm talking about!

Thank you bierfeldt for your keen input! I'm thrilled to learn and discuss! You raised some great points.

Amp: I had been wondering if a TV could go into an integrated amp. I would indeed want that capability. So, the Cambridge is the only one that can accommodate that (with the full range speakers we've discussed)? It seems to get great reviews, so I think I would be happy with it. Are there any others with this capability?

What if I go with bookshelf speakers - is there an amp that I previously named that would sufficiently power them and have the right inputs for TV and Oppo? I kind of like the idea of having separate components too - separate CD/DAC as opposed to onboard. Additionally I'd really like to be able to play CDs.

Loudspeakers: I agree that this is the place to start. I can't wait to hear as many as possible! I would really like to have full range, but I'm likely moving soon and not certain about my next room size. I'll add the KEF Q900s and the PSBs to my list. How about the KEF R700s? Or the Axiom M100s? Sons Faber Venere 2.5?

I read that both the B&W and Golden Ear bookshelves are rated to reach lower bass levels than the KEF LS50s, so maybe they wouldn't totally need a sub?

I really appreciate your descriptions of the sound characteristics of the various speakers but I'm not sure if I'm experienced and knowledgeable enough to understand exactly what they mean. Which speaker or which characteristics would you most look for for bringing live music to life?

DAC: Can the Oppo play all kinds of discs - cd, DVD, blu-ray? Can one just plug a USB hard drive into it?

Thanks for any input!!!

bierfeldt
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Response

You can run a TV through an integrated amp. You will run the HDMI cable from your source to your TV. In this case the OPPO. You would run analogue cables from the OPPO to your integrated because you would be using the Oppo as a DAC.

The OPPO is a universal disc player and will play most anything you put in it. CDs are no problem, same with Blu-Ray. I would need to look on their website to see if you can just plug a hard drive into it or if it needs to be setup differently like as a NAS.

Bookshelf speakers are going to require a subwoofer to get full range. The best bookshelf speakers rarely drop below 45hz. If you tinker with the placement, you might get them down close to 40hz which will cover most music but will stink for home theatre. Bookshelf speakers will push the limit of your budget as you will need to add in at least $600 for a musical subwoofer on top of the cost of the speakers and stands which will be $1750 to $2000 based on models you mentioned.

To get a separate DAC that is the same quality as the OPPO, expect to pay quire a bit. The Musical Fidelity MX DAC at $849 would be a good choice and I would pair that with a decent transport. If you want universal disc capability, the OPPO BDP 103 would be a good choice and it also has all the media setvices you will probably want. This would be more expensive than the BDP 105D and I would not say that it is necessarily better. The OPPO BDP 105 is a super value.

With speakers, I like neutral to slightly warm speakers that offer a high level of detail. They bring audio, particularly live shows, to life IMO. By warm, I mean an ever so slight emphasis on the lower midrange. this tends to be very easy to listen too and is non fatiguing. You can listen all day, even at moderately high levels. Forward implies an emphasis on the midrange and treble. You will hear an increased level of detail in that frequency range and it will seem more detailed. B&W is well known for producing forward speakers. Bright means that you have crossed from forward into tinnyness. My experience is forward and bright speakers will give you a lot of wow moments in short doses but are tough to listen too for long periods unless paired with a warm amp.

The Monitor Audio Silvers and PSBs are neutral. They don't emphasize any particular frequency response range. They are easy to listen too for long periods and the soundstage is deep and wide. They are awesome in every way.

If you really want bookshelf speakers, I would reccomend the KEF LS50s, the Revel Performa3 M105s, Dynaudio Excit X14s, Wharfedale Jades or Monitor Audio Gold GX50s. The Kefs and Dynaudios are perfectly neutral. The Revels and Monitor Audio Golds are slightly warm (I own the Revels) and the Wharfedales are a hair warmer.

You will pair these with a subwoofer. SVS and NHT both make nice subs that will com in at $600. I personally like Sunfire and would look at the Sunfire HRS 8 at $850. It will meld nicely with any of those bookshelf speakers and sound very natural. .

Most important thing you can do is go listen to the speakers and see what you like. When you are listening, assume PSB and Monitor Audio Silver are neutral and use those as a benchmark to evaluate other speakers. I remember when I was shopping and I came out here in this forum and said the PSBs were "bright" and a few folks reacted like I was insane. That dealer I went to also sold Revel and Wharfedale. Because Revel was in the middle I assumed it was neutral, the Wharfedales were warm and the PSBs were bright. Then I listened to B&W and Klipsch and learned what forward and bright really meant.

Other notes: I don' particularly like a lot of Kef speakers the same way I don't like B&W speakers in general. There are exceptions. The Kef LS50s are amazing and the Kef reference line is as well. That being said, the bookshelf speakers in the Reference line are $7500. I love the B&W M-1s and for $500, I don't know if there is a better speakers. B&W and Kef both tend to have this graininess to them that I despise. Many find it charming. One of the great things about this hobby is everyone has different tastes. I mention them because they are highly regarded speakers, but again just not to my taste.

I have never heard the Axiom's or Sonus Fabers. I have no POV.

Your amp chocie should be driven by your speaker. A neutral speaker should be paired with a neutral to slightly warm amp. A forward speaker should be paired with very warm amp. A warm speaker should be paired with a forward amp.

For instance, if you did go with B&W speakers I might lean toward the Rogue Sphinx or the Rega Elex R because they are a bit warmer than the rest. If you went with Wharfedale Jade 3s, I would probably go with the Musical Fidelity as it is a hair forward. Cambridge is neutral and would be very well suited to PSB, Monitor Audio and Revel.

Geordie
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New Info!

So I went to my local hifi store today. The owner was very helpful. He highly, highly recommends the Parasound Halo integrated amp. It's kinda expensive but offers more power and inputs than the Cambridge. Plus it has a five year warranty. Plus it has an onboard dac that he says is better than the Oppo. Plus it has digital inputs which will make the Oppo that much better for dvd playback. The Cambridge does not. I don't know anything about the Parasound, but it sounds great. Any thoughts?

We also talked about my room size. I may have too small of a room for the monitor audio 8 or 10s. He said too big of a speaker for a room can result in quite bad sound and performance. So, maybe the monitor 6s. They sell monitor audio, kef, and dynaudio.

I plan to audition the Parasound amp with the monitor audios and the oppo in the coming weeks.

Oh, we also talked about phono, which I think I have interest in. There a Rega turntable for about $800 that he highly recommended.

Unfortunately no stores near me sell Cambridge, golden ears, tektons, or Psbs.

Any thoughts?

bierfeldt
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Few questions

How big is you room? That does matter. If your room is small then yes, a smaller speaker could make a lot of sense.

The Halo Integrated is a sweet unit. I don't know if it has a better DAC than the OPPO, it is deffinitely more up to date. The chip itself means less than the implementation and I have not heard the DAC on the Parasound. That being said, I would also not say the OPPO is better. I would have to listen to the two and based on specs, yes the Parasounds looks amazing. If you did opt for this Parasound unit, I would go with the BDP103 not the 105. That would make your net cost very similar to the Cambridge.

More power can be beneficial. More inputs can be beneficial. But only if you are going to use them. If you are, wonderful. If not, who cares. Now, for $650 up charge you are getting more features and power but not better quality amplification. Cambridge vs Parasound is very similar in quality/clarity.

I would listen to the Monitor Audios, the Kef Qs and Rs of you can and the Dynaudio DM and Excites assuming you can afford the Rs or the Excite's.

When demoing, I suggest you take music that touches on different genres. I lead off every demo with Journey's Only The Young. It can be a painful song to listen to with a bright amp or speaker. I also take Jazz that is piano and trumpet centric. Something classical with violins and horns. A live album and a female vocal album. If in an hour long listening session, you can listen to all those things and everthing sounds great and you still want to hear more, you have a winner.

I take Journey's Greater Hits, Peter Gabriel Secret World Live, Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, Miles Davis Kind Of Blue, Beethoven's 9th, Roger Water's Amused to Death and Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast. My goal is too push the speakers hard, and expose any weaknesses, especially brightness.

Regarding turntables, I own two Rega tables. I am a big fan. I have an RP3 with an Exact2 cartridge and a P3-24 with an Elys2. The P3-24 was the model that preceded the RP3. They are great sounding tables, particularly for jazz and classical.

Geordie
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Thanks for staying with me..

I truly appreciate your time and advice! Since I've been home tonight I've read some about the Parasound Halo since I had never heard of it before today. There is some great info on the AVS Forum and everything I've read makes me like it more and more. I like that it has a lot of power so that if I go with smaller speakers now, I have room to grow in the future. I like that it has digital inputs (USB, coaxial and optical) for the Oppo, which the Cambridge does not. This should make a difference in dvd/bluray playback, correct? It also has a quality phono input. It's also from San Francisco which is cool.

My room size is currently unknown. I'm about to sell my house and move. My stereo budget will come from my home sale proceeds. However, I don't anticipate a large room. My current living room is about 14' x 16'. I don't anticipate my new home to have a room much bigger.

I like your music demo suggestions. As I said, I listen to everything. My plan is some Eva Cassidy for female vocals, Ruben Gonzalez (one of my very favorite pianists) of Buena Vista Social Club - Chanchullo (has great piano, horns, etc), Burning Spear reggae because it has massive bass plus horns, Steely Dan (because it's just so lush), probably some Jimi Hendrix live, Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal, Getz/Gilberto - Corcovado, something really acoustic like Ventura Highway by America or Suite Judy Blue Eyes by CSNY, maybe some Led Zeppelin acoustic and harder stuff, some Dwight Yoakam for country, and probably some miles or coltrane.

The turntable that was recommended to me today was in fact the Rega RP3!

If I buy a whole system from this store, I was told that I would receive considerable price reduction which is cool.

Thanks again for your thoughts! I'm learning and getting more excited!

bierfeldt
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My experience

Local dealers are far more flexible on price so long as you don't do something like come out here and post the prices you paid. That could get them in trouble.

You have some great options for your demos. Sounds like you will test them out effectively. I had one dealer try and get me jur to listen to what they had on a hard drive and it barely taxed the speakers.

The RP3 is an awesome table. At $800, it will not include a cartridge but Rega and Ortofom make great cartridges. The Elys2 and the 2M Blue are fabulous.

Regarding room size, that isn't that small of a room. I would defer to people who hav a higher level of expertise.

Regarding Parasound, my one interaction with them, I submitted a sales question to them on a Saturday and the president of the company got back to me in about an hour. I like the company. The reason the Parasound has digital input and the Cambridge doesn't, is that Cambridge doesn't have an internal DAC. It is part of why the Parasound costs more. It will only make a difference it the DAC in the Parasound is as good as they say.

That is a bolder statement than you would think. The Oppo gets an A rating here at stereophile and is a really extraordinary DAC. To say an internal DAC in an integrated is better is bold.

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All good points

Regarding room size, he said he would come out to my house and do some measurements/tests to determine a correct speaker size. That's cool! I think I'll just see if I fall in love with it at the demo. Someone at AVS commented that the Parasound Halo with Golden Ear Triton 5s stole a recent show and beat out systems ten or twenty times more expensive.

bierfeldt
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Golden Ears

I have never heard them personally but I have never heard a bad thing about the Golden Ear Triton line. Everyone who owns them loves them.

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I think I'll have to travel

I think I'll have to travel to check them out. I'm super intrigued!

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Marantz?

Are you familiar with the Marantz UD7007? How would you think it compares to the Oppo?

bierfeldt
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Oppo BDP105

UD7007 lacks the feature set of the Oppo and the DAC isn't quite in the same league. For the money, it is excellent and where the Oppo gets an A rating I would give the Marantz a B rating. Still very good but not quite as good.

Geordie
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DAC Playback

Can you help me with some understanding regarding playback of digital files? Currently, most all of my music resides as Apple Lossless files in my iTunes on my iMac. Actually on a Western Digital 3 TB external hard drive. I kept some of my favorite CDs, but most of my music is digital. Assuming I were to get the Oppo and the Parasound, how will I actually play my music through this system? Can you walk me through it? In looking up the specs on the Oppo, I read that it plays FLAC and WAV files, I believe. Will it play Apple Lossless? Would the Parasound play Apple Lossless? How will I get my music from iTunes into either the Oppo or the Parasound? Would I need a new organization system other than iTunes? I heard about something called J River, I believe, but I'm not really sure what it does or how it functions. I believe you said you weren't sure about plugging a hard drive into the Oppo, right? I wonder if I could do that with either the Oppo or the Parasound? But then I don't think either would read the files in any organized, navigable fashion, correct? Thanks!

bierfeldt
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Oppo Website

My experience has been the only way the Oppo Website could be less helpful would be if they employed drunken monkeys to write it. It is far from obvious that the Oppo devices have built in Wireless. Additionally, something like ALAC support should be obvious and easy to find and validate. It turns out Oppo devices do support ALAC, but that fact is buried in the notes of a 2013 firmware update. Fortunately the manual is better written.

You can accomplish digital playback via 3 methods.

Connection via Oppo:

The Oppo does support ALAC. I think you will need either an iOS or Android device to run their Media Controller App. Regarding storage attachment, there are three options.

Method 1: You can directly attach an external USB based hard drive. However, the USB ports only provide 5v of power and this may not be enough to power an external drive that lacks a power supply. Additionally, you will simply have access to your file hierarchy, no playlists, etc...

Method 2: You can use a separate bit of DLNA software and set up a media server via your PC or Mac. Oppo recommends oShare as the DLNA. I have no idea if it supports ALAC and the data on SourceForge is even less helpful than the Oppo website. Twonky or Plex would be other options, I think Plex is pretty sweet. Only downside is your computer must be on to play music.

Method 3: IMO best option via the Oppo is to set up a NAS. This is unquestionably the most irritating method to setup the first time but is the easiest to use and most accessible long term. Via this method, you would attach your USB hard disk directly to your router and follow the instructions from your router to make the hard drive into a NAS. This will typically require installation of NAS software like Synology or Qnap and then DLNA software like Twonky or Plex. Several people in the WhatHiFi forums are using Synology with Twonky to stream ALAC to an Oppo via a NAS. The beautiful part of this setup is that your computer doesn't need to be on to access the data.

Once you set up your storage via one of these three methods, you would simply access the drive via Oppo's Media Controller app ato view the folder hierarchy. Alternatively, you can push data to the Oppo via a Twonky compatible app or Plex's App. I am not familiar with J River but it may work as well.

The irritating part is that by changing the address of your hard drive, you will likely lose your links to your media in the iTunes library and will most likely need to delete your library and re-import into iTunes. If you have well organized folders this isn't so bad, but if you don't have well designed folder hierarchy, this may make you unhappy. I think it may blow away your playlists as well. You need to maintain iTunes so you can continue to synch with your iOS devices.

From there, you would attach the Oppo to your Parasound integrated and simply select which input you have it attached to. Given your desire to use the Parasounds internal DAC, this would be either the Toslink or Digital Coax.

To connect directly to the Parasound:

You would attach your PC or MAC directly to the Parasound via USB. If it is a MAC, it looks like no driver is required, with a PC you will download and install a driver. You would then stream the digital signal to the Parasound which would decode and output your audio. Upside is this is the single best possible method for audio quality. Downside is your computer must be on, your are tethered via a USB cable but you can run this via iTunes.

Geordie
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clarity

Thank you for the highly detailed response. Each of those options seem ok and doable for me. It all makes quite a bit more sense to me now!

Geordie
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Furniture...

Any suggestions for affordable furniture/cabinetry/stand for the electronic components?

bierfeldt
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Sanus and Salamander

Both are available from Audio Advisor and needledoctor. I have a Sanus unit.

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Hi, you have a nice budget

Hi, you have a nice budget there. Personally, I would look at a Hegel H160, since besides great dac capabilities, can also stream music, eliminating the need for connecting a laptop. If it's over budget, you could look at the H80. If you can afford the H160, you should consider the likes of ATC SCM11 curved monitors, Harbeth P3ESR standmounts, Sonus Faber Venere (or, if you can find older stock or second hand, Sonus Faber Toy Tower - these are small floorstanders, with a nice smooth sound). Maybe Focal Aria 906.

The second option I would consider would be Rogue Audio Sphinx, Cambridge Audio CXN (for streamer + dac) and Focal Aria 906 or Monitor Audio Silver 6.

Thirdly, you could look at Naim Unitilite + Neat Motive SX2/Sonus Faber Toy Tower floorstanders (small stature for both) or, for standmounts, PMC DB1i (these might be out of production, but you can still find them, especially SH), Harbeth P3ESR and maybe Monitor Audio Silver 6. Note that the Unitilite doesn't have USB dac capabilities, but you get a CD player and streamer, + 2 optical inputs and 2 coax inputs - for bluray player/tv/laptop with optical out/etc.

The Naim will have a more rhythmical presentation, it does wonders with progressive rock, that kind of stuff, but old Joe Cocker stuff also sounds great on it. It is a bit attention demanding though - as in it presents the music kind of towards you instead of inviting you in (i'm talking more about the feeling of it, not that the sound is sharp or anything) - so if you don't want this kind of presentation, it won't be for you. But if it is, it's a very special sound - the Naim one. The most balanced sound will be the Hegel + Harbeths I think, or + ATC.

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Don't forget power cords

One of the overlooked bargains in HiFi is the Pro Oval Power Cord from Analysis Plus, Wattgate connectors and the Analysis Plus hollow oval conductor geometry used for all of their cables. You can obtain a five foot long Analysis Plus Pro Oval Power Cord for less than $100 bucks on the Internet without breaking a sweat. Cannot beat with stick.

Geoff Kait
Machina Dynamica

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Cords/cables

All:

Geoff has a very valuable point: cabling!

I couldn't believe my ears when I only upgraded my speaker cables from radio shack to AudioQuest King Cobra.... the difference in Bass/Treble was nothing short of *amazing*.

Please realize cabling to a degree is certainly not "snake oil"... I myself possess a doctorate in science, and am a very skeptical and analytical person...and good cables really do make a difference; especially with analog and power.

Respectfully,

Ron

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furniture...

Thanks for the info! They sure get pricey, but I guess that's life!

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Additional Suggestions

Thank you, rainsoothe, for your input! You have some great ideas! Currently, I'm really digging the Parasound Halo - I think it offers the most - power, phono, dac, digital inputs and quality for a reasonable price. The Rogue seems quite good and the NAIM sure is a unique machine. One problem I'm having is that there are only two dealers near me, so my options for demoing/auditioning products are very limited. The dealer I like sells Parasound, Rega, Oppo, Monitor Audio, KEF, and Dynaudio. Optimally, I think I'd like to have floor stander speakers, although those Harbeth and ATC bookshelves sure got good reviews (as did the Hegel H160). But then I'd probably want a sub and need stands too. I'm really very interested in the Golden Ear Triton line. I've read comments that the Parasound paired with the Golden Ear Triton Fives has blown people away! Since my local options are rather limited, I don't think I can go wrong with a Parasound, Oppo, Rega turntable and either Monitor Audio 6 or 8s or travel to get Golden Ears. I may go over my initial budget by a bit, but this seems very nice indeed. Then I've got to get furniture and cables too! Ugh, expensive hobby, but I believe it will be worth it! Thank you!

rainsoothe
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Hm... Reading around, it

Hm... Reading around, it seems like them Golden Ear Triton Twos are great speakers, and good as the MAs may be, the Golden Ears seem to be the ones to go for. If you need to travel to audition them, then try purchasing them first and bringing them to your dealer, or get the stuff in your home to audition with the Tritons. The Parasound also seems like a nice product - few reviews though, since it's new. Reports say it has a hefty, muscley sound - so care that it doesn't overpower in combination with the Tritons. Otherwise, it seems like a very nicely specced amp. The tritons also seem like a good match for Rogue Audio Sphinx (should you encounter one on your trip) or even Hegel.

A word on the Oppo, though, if you get something with a DAC, like the Parasound, save yourself some cash and buy a cheap bluray player (like Sony range) with a digital out, or whatever transport, and use the DAC in the amp. Otherwise you'll be paying for redundant stuff: oppo DAC + Parasound DAC.

For speaker cable, you could do a lot worse then QED XT40 - it's a detailed (but not harsh) and punchy sounding speaker cable. For smoother, checkout Audioquest Type 4. For analogue interconnects, Atlas Equator mk3 (or the cheaper variant, Atlas Elements Integra). Digital interconnects - go for Audioquest if you want hi-fi, or cheapest at convenience store.

Also, if you can check for the match, you should really consider VPI turntables, since you live in the US and they're much cheaper there then in the EU :) I prefer VPI to Rega, but you might not, so audition if you can.

Goodluck and have fun auditioning.

P.S.: leave expensive power chords for later imho, stock ones are just fine. Companies like Naim even emphasise on the fact that you should be using the stock one, since it's built to spec and matches the amp - it's a normal looking power chord

bierfeldt
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POV on Oppo

I agree with rainsoothe that you should not bother with the BDP-105 from oppo if you go with the Parasound. If video reproduction matters, the BDP-103 still makes a lot of sense. As a video output, it is way superior to many of the units on the market.

VPI makes an awesome table but they tend to be quite a bit pricier than Rega. I find that for rock and jazz, the pace, rhythm and timing of the Rega's for the money are pretty awesome and you can get a Rega RP3 for $1100 where your entry point VPI is $2K which is the same price as the RP6 and I would say those are pretty similar quality tables and it would be a hard choice.

rainsoothe
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bierfeldt wrote:
bierfeldt wrote:

I agree with rainsoothe that you should not bother with the BDP-105 from oppo if you go with the Parasound. If video reproduction matters, the BDP-103 still makes a lot of sense. As a video output, it is way superior to many of the units on the market.

VPI makes an awesome table but they tend to be quite a bit pricier than Rega. I find that for rock and jazz, the pace, rhythm and timing of the Rega's for the money are pretty awesome and you can get a Rega RP3 for $1100 where your entry point VPI is $2K which is the same price as the RP6 and I would say those are pretty similar quality tables and it would be a hard choice.

True about the image quality. But about the VPI, if OP lives in the US (it's a US made tt) he can get it a lot cheaper then in the EU - it's actually close to the price of a RP3 with cart (if I remember right) - around 1400 for the Traveler, which I love way more then a RP3. But again, it's a matter of preference, and potential buyers should always try to audition the gear they're considering :)

bierfeldt
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Traveler is no longer available

The VPI Traveler was discontinued. That is the problem...they don't have a table in that price range anymore. It jumps from the Nomad to the Scout so $999 or $1999

Geordie
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I love new info...

Thank you for the VPI suggestion. I just read reviews and they are quite complimentary. It is quite a bit more expensive ($1299 + $450 for Dynavector DV 10X5 cartridge = $1750 as compared to Rega RP3 w/ Elys 2 for $1095). I guess I would try to audition and see how the sound compares.

The info/suggestions about connects is also very helpful. Now I have a little bit of a clue when I go the store and discuss options.

Here's a question: I've read about the importance of a surge protector/power regulator. I think they cost about $300. Is this a must have?

Finally, good points about the Oppo BDP-105. I would like a universal player though for CDs, DVD, Bluray, SACD, etc. What's the best/most affordable machine for this? Oppo BDP-103?

Thanks for all the continued help and support!

Geordie
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My local store...

sells both Rega and VPI!

bierfeldt
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For video playback

I think the Oppo BDP103 is your best value for a universal disc player for high quality video support. The other unit I would consider is the Marantz UD5007, though I think the Oppo BDP103 is a bit cheaper and is probably better.

If your local dealer has a VPI Traveler in stock, that is awesome. There are some technical reasons why the Traveler is superior, most specifically the AC motor vs the DC motor in the Rega. You need to listen to them and evaluate based on your musical tastes. They do sound a bit different and it is a matter of personal preference. The one other table I would strongly encourage you to listen to is the Clearaudio Concept with the MM cartridge.

If you are willing to up your budget, I personally have a Rega RP3 with an Exact2 instead of the Elys2. The low frequency performance of the Elys2 is good, not great. Generally as Rega decreases in price, bass performance suffers. This is even true for their integrated amps. The Exact2 is much more refined. I have a P3-24 with an Elys2 as a point of comparison and the difference in mid range and treble is less pronounced but the bass in dramatically improved.

Worst case scenario, you should buy a very good power strip/surge suppressor to protect your equipment from lightning strikes, etc... The need for and value of power treatment depends on the quality of power into your house. For instance, do the lights dim when the AC comes on? The better quality and more stable the power is coming into your house, the less valuable power treatment is. For instance, since I have added central air, I am finding that I now need a power conditioner and am looking at a Panamax MR4300.

Geordie
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more good suggestions

thank you. good to know about the clear audio and the exact2. sounds like the oppo 103 will be the way for me to go. as i said before, i'll be moving soon, so i'll have to see how my new place is with power. currently i think i'm fine in this house. thank you!

commsysman
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PLAYERS
Geordie wrote:

Are you familiar with the Marantz UD7007? How would you think it compares to the Oppo?

I happen to have both of them; the OPPO BDP_95 is a tiny bit better, but they are both excellent. I can tell no difference whatsoever in 98% of my listening, and there are only a few recordings where one can discern any difference at all.

I could easily live with either one indefinitely.

(note- the 95 and 105 are identical sonically; only the added features are different)

commsysman
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I could easily live with either one indefinitely.

Geordie
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bdp 95

this might be the ticket. thank you.

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