DAC+Amp combo guide and speaker recommendation (everyone please help)

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rustydoglim

We have so many amps and two different DACs that allow you to create your custom combination to match whatever system you have. But that can be confusing to a lot of people. I get quite a few inquiries about recommendation for the "best combo".
So here's the list. Please comment.

UPDATE (Feb 16, 2016): A well respected distributor gave me feedback that ranking them is difficult and don't make sense. Because for example, he prefers DAC-10+ 2 X STA-9 mono over DAC-10 + ST-10.  Regardless of price, the performance of these products are very close so it becomes a matter of features and personal preferences.  Instead of ranking, we can try to provide reasons for purchasing each sets.  I will continue to update this post based on feedback from members.

System 1 - for users who prefer integrated
IDA-8 - An ideal integrated for high efficiency speakers or bookshelf system in a small room. It can also be used for near field speaker listening. Add HPA-9 for headphones.
IDA-16 - neutral and clean with adequate power for just about any speakers.

System 2 - for users who prefer warmer DAC and tube amp sound
DAC-9 + STA-9 - for people who love tube sound but want all the details, dynamic and speed of NuPrime Class-D amp. This will make an exceptional stereo system for easy upgrade.
DAC-9 + STA-9 mono x 2 - warmer DAC and tube-like amp with explosive power

System 3 - for users who prefer warmer DAC with more neutral amp
DAC-9 + MCH-K38 bridged - K38 this is not as warm as STA-9, so this is a good combo for people who like slightly warmer sound
DAC-9 + ST-10 - a good alternative to DAC-10 + ST-10 for slightly warmer sound

System 4 - for users who prefer the best possible combination we can offer
DAC-10 + STA-9 mono x 2 - a very good overall combination if you prefer a very neutral, slightly more resolved and detailed DAC but with warmer amp sound.
DAC-10 + ST-10 - Detailed, smooth and clean (ST-10 is like a mini Ref 20)
DAC-10 + MCH-K38 bridged -  If you also use the system to watch movies (perhaps only in 2.1 system), then go with K38. Or if you want a 2-channel system with even more power and better sonic quality than STA-9 mono x 2, then go with MCH-K38.

System 5 - ultimate reference system
Ref 20 + DAC-10 - the good old Ref 20 with state of the art DAC.

Tell us if you agree to the recommendation.  The performance of these amps are getting very close.  Someone in France just told us that STA-9 mono sounded better than a 5000 Euro solid state amp that he has. This just tell you how far we have come along with mastering Class-D technology.
In the listening lab for evaluating our electronics, we use a very neutral and detailed monitor speaker (can't remember the model) as a constant (we will be confused if we keep changing the speaker).  Therefore we don't have experience with many different speakers so it will be great for you to recommend speakers for those sets above.
« Last Edit: 16 Feb 2016, 08:09 pm by rustydoglim »

JackD

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Jason

An excellent match for any of the Nuprime combos on the warmer side of neutral like the IDA-8 and the DAC/STA-9 combos are the Golden Ear speakers.  Like the Soundstage reviewer I partnered mine with the Triton 5, but I am sure the lower priced Triton 7 will work as well.  Though in a different ballpark it also worked well with the 10K plus Nola KO's though I doubt anyone else would even try this combo unless like me they just happened to be in the same place. 

agdev01

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I'll post a few of the speakers that i would be sure to check out at each level based upon what i would spend on speakers relative to the price of the equipment.

Level 1 -
IDA-8 - Though i havent heard them yet, would have to add the ELAC UniFi series to the list.  I agree with Jack and think the Triton 7s would be a good pick here as well.

Level 2 - Same as above.

Level 3-
IDA-16 - This just seems like it would match up with LS 3/5a variants and subsequent speakers that are modeled after them like the LS50 or Harbeth P3ESRs.  Any of the British speakers should work well with this.  At 200watts that is a lot of flexibility in choice.

STA x 2 + DAC - anything that craves a ton of power or in large rooms.  I would probably go with some Magnepans if i had the room to suite them.

Level 4 -
DAC-10+ST-10 = this is the combo i own.  I have used the ST-10 with three different Harbeths from the P3s to the 30.1s and they all worked wonderfully with it.  Also have had ProAc response D2s and was very pleased as well. 


maty

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GoldenEar Technology Triton Seven frequency graph
« Reply #3 on: 16 Feb 2016, 06:16 pm »
-> http://www.soundandvision.com/content/goldenear-technology-triton-seven-speaker-system-test-bench


Quote
This graph shows the quasi-anechoic (employing close-miking of all woofers) frequency response of the Triton Seven L/R (purple trace), ForceField 5 subwoofer (blue trace), and SuperCenter X center channel (green trace). All passive loudspeakers were measured with grilles at a distance of 1 meter with a 2.83-volt input and scaled for display purposes. (Please note that the Invisa 650 surround speakers were not measured as they require in-wall or in-ceiling mounting to function properly.)

I do not like the frequency graph (to listen music).


alexreusch

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System 6 - for users who want a combination of multi-channel (home cinema) and stereo (music)
HD-AVP & MCH-K38: You can even bridge the front speakers in a 5.x channel setup

Armaegis

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  • slumming it between headphones and pro audio
System 1 - for users who prefer integrated
IDA-8 - An ideal integrated for high efficiency speakers or bookshelf system in a small room. It can also be used for near field speaker listening. Add HPA-9 for headphones.

Related to that, I felt horn loaded speakers meshed particularly well with the IDA-8.

joel

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First up a disclaimer.
We're the South African Nuprime distributors.

I prefer a leaner, more detailed sound so my preference on the integrated amps is IDA 16 over IDA8.

DAC10/ ST10 is ideal for me although I do like listening to DAC10 and STA9. DAC10 STA9 looses just a little of the pace of the precision that the 10/10 combination delivers.

I'm currently messing about with a AVP and a STA9, which is proving to be a really good listen (USB into the AVP and balanced out into STA9. Currently connected speakers are Avantgarde Uno)
 
 

larsg

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Had the pleasure listening to DAC-10H/ST-10 on Audiovector SR 3 Avantgarde Arreté.
Wow that was a match made in heaven.
Ordred a pair to my own DAC-10/ST-10 combo.

maty

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If the user could modify the amplitude of even-order harmonic (H2) in DAC and amplifiers would be a very interesting feature!

John Casler

If the user could modify the amplitude of even-order harmonic (H2) in DAC and amplifiers would be a very interesting feature!

You may be the Prognosticator in Chief. . . . :green:

John Casler

First up a disclaimer.
We're the South African Nuprime distributors.

I prefer a leaner, more detailed sound so my preference on the integrated amps is IDA 16 over IDA8.

DAC10/ ST10 is ideal for me although I do like listening to DAC10 and STA9. DAC10 STA9 looses just a little of the pace of the precision that the 10/10 combination delivers.

I'm currently messing about with a AVP and a STA9, which is proving to be a really good listen (USB into the AVP and balanced out into STA9. Currently connected speakers are Avantgarde Uno)

Joel,

Wait till you try the bridged K-38 with the DAC-10 or HD AVP. 

Nidri17

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DAC-9 and ST-10 playing through Spendors (S8e) seems to have very good synergy.
The bass control is exceptional. The ST-10 knows what do with an 8 inch woofer.

larsg

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Where in the amp comparison table would you place HD-AVA ???


cheungbe

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System 1 - for users who prefer integrated
IDA-8 - An ideal integrated for high efficiency speakers or bookshelf system in a small room. It can also be used for near field speaker listening. Add HPA-9 for headphones.
IDA-16 - neutral and clean with adequate power for just about any speakers.


How would you integrate the HPA-9 in this situation? The IDA-8 doesn't seem to have a line level out, unless you want to use the sub out.

Can you help envision how I would piece together this setup?

I currently have:

PC -> miniDSP DDRC-24 -> STA-9 -> Speakers

I would like to integrate headphones into this setup as well, ideally replacing the STA-9 with the IDA-8 and using that as my DAC instead of the miniDSP. Not sure that is possible while still including the miniDSP in my speaker chain for room correction.

I'm thinking about doing this:

Speaker Chain:
PC -> DAC-9 -> HPA-9 -> miniDSP DDRC-24 -> STA-9 -> Speakers

Headphone Chain:
PC -> DAC-9 -> HPA-9 -> Headphones

Volume control would be done on the HPA-9.

Would this configuration work? Any suggestions for improvement?
When plugging headphones into the HPA-9, does it mute the line outputs?

Thanks for you help!

Jos Lohuis

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Playing Dac-10 and ST-10 with Dynaudio Contour S 1.4 Le, for me a good combination and sound  :D

rollo

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First up a disclaimer.
We're the South African Nuprime distributors.

I prefer a leaner, more detailed sound so my preference on the integrated amps is IDA 16 over IDA8.

DAC10/ ST10 is ideal for me although I do like listening to DAC10 and STA9. DAC10 STA9 looses just a little of the pace of the precision that the 10/10 combination delivers.

I'm currently messing about with a AVP and a STA9, which is proving to be a really good listen (USB into the AVP and balanced out into STA9. Currently connected speakers are Avantgarde Uno)


 Curious why you prefer a colored lean detailed sound. Live music is not lean or detailed.


charles

envydd

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Maybe we could also put IDA-6 in the group 1. I got a IDA-6 to test and it works well with my KEF LS50 monitors if you dont want to listen loud (else you might be limited by the 55Wpc output). Its supposed to be neutral but sounds slightly warm and pairs well with the LS50. I hear that the LS50+STA9 is too warm hence I went looking for a STA/IDA-6. 

I have also tested the same with a pair of KEF Q100 and I felt it was very close to the performance of the above system.

Hence budget system: KEF Q100 + IDA-6

kaka89

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DAC-9 + STA-9 with Focal Aria 926

Great combination and sound.
Recommend to people who want to spend a bigger portion of their budget on speakers.

Grnebean

I can verify that Kef LS50's & IDA-16 make a great combo. I just picked up a pair of Spatial M4's & wonder what the best pairing would be. Dac9 & Sta9???

John Casler

I can verify that Kef LS50's & IDA-16 make a great combo. I just picked up a pair of Spatial M4's & wonder what the best pairing would be. Dac9 & Sta9???

I have a Spatial Owner currently just starting with the IDA-16.

I have little doubt it sounds incredible.

That said the combo you mentioned is also an incredible pairing with an ever so slight change in sonic signature.  This would be ESPECIALLY good with a pair of STA-9s in mono.