Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought

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dmn

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As a newbie here I know my present dilemma is not a frequent or popular topic on AudioCircle or other audiophile forums I have been on in the past. Still, I would appreciate some help since it appears there is a great range of systems discussed. I have been a fervent Meridian Audio user for the last 36 years. My current systems are a 96/24 digital home theater and a separate 2 channel system using an 808 and DSP 7200s, both MQA capable. Health issues have severely impacted my finances and affected my hearing, so I am in process of selling all the Meridian gear (other sites). I have enjoyed helping friends get started on the audiophile path, so over time I accumulated other gear that I am now trying to cobble together into a decent inexpensive stereo system that I can be comfortable with for a while. An old pair of KEF 104/2s with restored woofers and tweeters sound good enough for me with my classical and folk music selections. I have about 3000 albums stored on a QNAP server, Roon-ready. Tidal is attractive as a main source also, want to keep CD ability. I prefer tube-like solid state sound without treble edginess with my current hearing. Tried loaner NuPrime gear (DAC 9 and one or dual ST-9s) but sound always seemed thin. An old B&K Reference 125.2 S2 sounds much better to me, even driven by a Parasound zPre2 and Bluesound Node 2. Right now I'd like suggestions on the following: a DAC preamp hopefully MQA ready (MyTek Brooklyn?) or possibly an integrated amp, and a subwoofer to get the bass missing from the KEFs. Any other suggestions outside this narrow box also appreciated, either vintage or recent, but remembering my goal is good enough at low cost, not the best at high cost. Thanks for all your creativity..

FullRangeMan

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #1 on: 17 Nov 2017, 09:51 pm »
Welcome DMN :thumb:

2oldcranks

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #2 on: 17 Nov 2017, 10:45 pm »
Welcome
I get good results doing Craigslist searches around me.
Acoustic Resaerch ARS500 15" sub,Has 500 watt clas A/B amp and +-2db 18-150Hz
I am building pair of bucket subs,know of them?was going to take amp off the AR but DAMN I have put the 15' up under a pair of Dynaudio Focus 160s and Afforadable Accuracy monitors and this is a GREAT cheap sub,low passed at 45hz currently filling in under Tyler Taylo monitors I swear I get tears from some songs and sources.
All above items are local Clist pickups in person for cheap(compared to new competetive performing )
So I am building pair bucket subs but got crown XLS 2500 so will be passing the AR on intact.I am in greater Detroit,shipping would cost a little but I can pack like a donkey!
Where are you located?
I paid 150 for the sub and would let it go for same plus shipping
If your handy the bucket subs are cheapish and EASY Flat (eh) from 25-150 hz.
SO MANY GOOD USED INTEGRATEDS  on agon usaudiomart,HERE,you can do so well now as a used buyer it is SUPER to be a poor music lover these days :thumb:
I love my April music aura note 2 integrated that has a cd player/DAC/FM tuner and usb ins and pre outs,they show up for 1200 ish but dont know your budget or defination of reasonable.the CD player was so close to the modwright oppo i had i sold it!the DAC was betterr t9o me and missus than the Mydac I had here so sold that!The FM tuner sounds as good as the modded sony HD I got but no HD tuner in Aura.It was tested in Stereophile and I think it Kills it if it meets your needs.
Powered Focus 160s which dip to 2.3 ohm load,easy ,smooth liquid sound
OK i am done :green: :D Happy Hunting Friend

dB Cooper

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #3 on: 18 Nov 2017, 12:52 am »
Welcome to the sweet spot.

Sounds like our 'Cheap n' Cheerful' circle would be a good place to hang out. It's for those of us that cling to the notion that satisfying music in the home doesn't have to set you back well into five figures.

I don't know if headphones are an option, but a given audio dollar goes about 20x as far there as in a speaker-based system. Maybe as an adjunct even, for those late-night listens.

Enjoy the forums!

JLM

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #4 on: 18 Nov 2017, 02:39 am »
Welcome.

How about a BlueSound PowerNode:

- $799 USD MSRP
- ethernet, USB, optical/analog, Apt-X wireless inputs
- speaker, subwoofer, headphone outputs
- 60 wpc to drive your KEF's
- accepts MQA
- control via top mounted buttons or smart phone/tablet/computer
- 8.7 inches x 7.5 inches x 2.8 inches and 4 pounds

(a $499 BlueSound is similar but no power amp section)

Phil A

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #5 on: 18 Nov 2017, 02:54 am »
Welcome - some good suggestions above

Nidri17

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #6 on: 18 Nov 2017, 03:38 am »
Welcome dmn.

Your KEF 104/2's seem quite sensitive at 92dB/2m/2.83V and the quoted 25-200W/4ohm power requirement seems fairly benign, so you probably don't need a monster amp.*

Not sure how you define 'low price' but maybe look into some high quality all-in-one streamer/dac/amp solutions?

Naim Uniti Atom, Star or Nova (Star includes CD Drive too).
https://www.naimaudio.com/product/range/uniti
DAC, Roon Ready, Tidal, Chromecast, possibly MQA in future.

Nad C368 with BluOS card.
https://nadelectronics.com/en_EU/product/c-368-hybrid-digital-dac-amplifier/
DAC, Roon Ready, Tidal, MQA.

Moon Neo Ace (I believe this recently saw a price drop).
http://www.simaudio.com/en/product/102-all-in-one-music-player.html
DAC, Tidal.

* http://international.kef.com/explore-kef/kef-museum/1980s/reference-series-model-1042-1984-96

Mr Peabody

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #7 on: 18 Nov 2017, 03:39 am »
Do you have an issue with the B&K?  Maybe just add a preamp.

In used Adcom separates are a steal, will do good bass and sound good.  You may also want to look at something like Bel Canto.  Some of the Class D gear is reasonably priced but some do still complain about the sound, I think mostly the highs can be a bit edgy.  This could also be associated gear, like not a good source.

I'm not sure if Naim embraced MQA yet but their Muzio/Unity series is good, sort of all-in-one at various prices but good performance.  Or, if you get a Brooklyn, the Nait is a great integrated option.

NAD can be more budget friendly and should bring good bass to the KEF for you.  They have a wide variety, you'll have to see which models meet your budget and need.

Good luck, and, welcome.  We had a store here that used to carry Meridian, I always enjoyed what I heard from them.

dmn

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #8 on: 18 Nov 2017, 04:57 am »
I have tried to post a reply message to these very helpful suggestions, but get notice that won't be posted until approved by moderator. Hope that comes soon. Meanwhile here is another response. 2OLDCRANKS, hope I can do as well on Clist  & 'agon  as you, using same approach to keep costs down. dB Cooper, I am on strict headphone limits to preserve my hearing. JLM & Nidri17 & Mr Peabody, the KEFs are notoriously power hungry and need beefy current to do well. I choose B&K amp for its tubey sound and 30+amp peak to peak current/1.2dB headroom: it really handles the KEFs well, which a less powerful/lower current amp does not. I like the Node 2 for its flexibility, but Powernode version not powerful enough. Maybe the DAC in Node 2 is good enough to drive the B&K through its analog outputs, but I'd like to try for a decent priced DAC preamp (or integrated) and see if sound difference is worth it. MQA would be nice (excellent on the Meridian system), but may be an unnecessary indulgence in this budget system. Right now I've got about $1000 in the system (KEFs self-restored, B&K Reference amp,Parasound zPre2 & zCD, Denon CD, Node 2, & some AQ cables. I know I need to add a sub at least, then see what options on above remain. I am still listening for suggestions.

JLM

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #9 on: 18 Nov 2017, 12:58 pm »
Check out audiostream.com for DAC/preamp reviews if you want to spend more than the Node 2.  I had a $500 USD MSRP Emotiva DC-1, but based on your descriptions I wouldn't recommend it to you.  If you're interested in MQA the only 'decent priced' DAC/preamp options with MQA that I'm aware of are: $200 USD (street price) Meridian Explorer 2 DAC that plugs into your computer, the $499 Node 2, or the $2195 Mytek Brooklyn DAC+.


Getting into subs raises many questions: budget as good bass ain't cheap; your tastes (based on previously stated classical/folk preferences I assume the bass is for the orchestral genre); room size/shape; how loud you listen (hearing loss noted); even where do you listen in the room.

I'd recommend one or more sealed subs to satisfy your need for SPL's and to properly load the room (search Audio Circle for 'swarm' and learn about how bass behaves in-room).  Better yet read Floyd O'Toole's "Sound Reproduction".  Duke LeJeune here at Audio Circle sells a 4 sub swarm setup for $3000.  More subs the better, but some recommend only 3 subs.  The $500 SVS SB-1000 and $539 Rythmik L12 are good quality (compact) sealed self-powered subs. 

I realize that adding multiple subs gets you farther from a simple/inexpensive stereo system but thanks to the laws of physics it's never been cheap or easy to correctly address in-room bass reproduction.


Over the nearly 50 years at this I've shifted up and down in my systems (cost/size/complexity) and it takes a change in attitude/values to be satisfied with the result.  Currently I alternate between two pair of speakers, but the simplest (old fart) version of my setup is: laptop/10ft USB/DAC preamp/XLR cables/active speakers.

Mr Peabody

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #10 on: 18 Nov 2017, 04:06 pm »
Naim has plenty of current, the power ratings are comparatively low but they drive with no problem.

Adcom is also high current, going off designs originally made for them by Nelson Pass.


opnly bafld

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #11 on: 18 Nov 2017, 04:11 pm »
Do you have the KUBE for the KEFs?

witchdoctor

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #12 on: 18 Nov 2017, 06:34 pm »
A pair of Kef Active LS50 or Dynaudio Active Xeo 2 or Klipsch Active The 15 and a source and you are done.
The speakers contain the amps, dacs, preamp, etc.

richidoo

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #13 on: 18 Nov 2017, 07:30 pm »
The JBL 7 series 705P ($1k ea) or 708P ($2k ea) has DACs, amps, flexible EQ built in, active xo. Very advanced drivers and waveguide. Worth a listen, as the (pro audio) reviews are very impressive, fwiw. Some golden ears here on AC like the sound quality of this line of speakers.

A swarm of "bucket subs" would cover the bottom 2 octaves.

It takes time and patience to adjust to lower SQ. Be patient, focus on music you really love, leave the audiophile BS tracks behind until your SQ tolerance improves. Congrats on your decision to change your system, and best of luck with your treatments.

maty

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #14 on: 18 Nov 2017, 08:41 pm »
I understand that you like the current sound but you want more bass. If you do not want to get into too much trouble, it is better to add a subwoofer to the equipment, connecting it by High Level: speaker output from the BK power amplifier to the subwoofer and from this to the two KEF.


I strongly recommend that the chosen subwoofer allows to regulate the phase and not only to switch between 0º and 180º.

Like this Canton:

[IMG] https://www.accessories4less.com/mas_assets/cache/image/3/4/3/2/13362.Jpg

JakeJ

Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #15 on: 21 Nov 2017, 06:57 pm »
Hello and welcome to AC, dmn!

A_shah

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Re: Major downshift to simple stereo system: advice sought
« Reply #16 on: 21 Nov 2017, 07:15 pm »
I have used a Peachtree Nova 150 with Kef LS 50 but sounded thin,  but the Parasound Halo integrated gives you the Bass you want a decent headphone amp. one can get a used unit for about $ 1500/1800 very versatile unit and good sounding

Finally KEf LS 50 W fully integrated speaker system about $ 2200, these are fully software upgradeable, play Sportify, Tidal & Roon.
have an incredible  sound for a small to medium size room.

Asghar