Building a 2 channel system from scratch

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BryanDJF

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Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« on: 12 Sep 2021, 02:34 pm »
I just discovered AVA.  Honestly I'm pretty torn - do I wait until the tube amp is back in stock, do I splurge on monoblocks, is a 60wpc control amp going to be enough volume if I'm down the hall.  I want to build a great sounding 2 channel system.  I have been considering various components for over a year and now I am looking for some suggestions.  I have been impressed with the helpfulness and overall comradery of the participants of this forum.  (I will be using Polk RT800i or Polk LSiM 703 until I get better speakers.)

Constraints are:
budget  3-6k for components and speakers.
Mostly CD's, a few hundred gigs of ripped CD's (mostly lossless rips of my own collection) with streaming to be added at some point.  I don't have the room or budget to start a vinyl collection unfortunately.
Genre - I listen to mostly rock, blues, punk, metal, but I have lots of classical, EDM, trance, and many other genres.
Positioning - I tend to move around while I listen to music - working on projects, doing physical therapy, housework, geeking out with my SG and JCM900, or singing along like an idiot.  Music is participatory in my life.
Quality - need it to last, I've got maybe 20 years left.










WGH

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #1 on: 12 Sep 2021, 07:31 pm »
... is a 60wpc control amp going to be enough volume if I'm down the hall.

60w will be plenty with the Polks, either down the hall or doing yardwork. Hope your neighbors like punk and metal.  :rock:

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #2 on: 12 Sep 2021, 08:14 pm »
60wpc will be fine with those speakers.  Personally, having reviewed  a lot of AVA gear, I would get the SET 400 amp and a tube preamp.  The SET 400 is overkill for now but if you ever buy more demanding speakers 4ohm with low sensitivity and you like to play your music loud then you will appreciate more power.  The SET 400 is a wonderful sounding amp.  And Frank's tube preamps are great.

Larry

danielgk

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #3 on: 12 Sep 2021, 10:37 pm »
If at all possible, M225 is the way to go.

Dan

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #4 on: 12 Sep 2021, 11:40 pm »
If at all possible, M225 is the way to go.

Dan

Not on his budget and that is a matter of preference.   I love the midrange of the SET amps vs the 225's.  Plus the 225's use XLR's only which is a problem if your preamp does use XLR, then you will need to spend a few hundred for a good XLR to SE converter.
With that being said, the 225's are great amps.

G E

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #5 on: 12 Sep 2021, 11:46 pm »
If at all possible, M225 is the way to go.

Dan

+1

I am in the camp of getting high quality, power overkill.  The breathing room is really nice.

Think on-ramps with a V8 instead of a NA 4 cylinder.

Getting the best electronics you can afford future proofs future speaker and source upgrades.

Yes, I practice what I preach.






I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #6 on: 13 Sep 2021, 12:01 am »
The SET 400 is 225wpc at 8 ohms and will drive down to 2 ohms.

JackD

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #7 on: 13 Sep 2021, 12:44 am »
One key question here is when are you getting new speakers and what are you looking at for prospects as that may be a determining factor.  If we are talking a while in the future then you can concentrate on what will get you the best sound for now  If you don't know when or what then our tendency will be to tell you to get the more powerful amp whether it ends up being necessary or not.  I am in favor of either the SET 120 or SET 400 and a tube preamp whether it be an AVA or other.  I have owned the SET 400 for over a year and a half and tried it with four different tube preamps and depending on the "flavor" you like they all worked well.  Frank says the two amps sound the same so the power is the determining factor.

Nick B

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #8 on: 13 Sep 2021, 01:28 am »
You have some good options. I’ll chime in and tell you that I’ve had the SET 120 Control amp for a while and it’s terrific. I recently changed to a Supratek tube preamp which is quite revealing and the SET 120 did a great job showing that. I drive 2 way 87dB Fritz speakers to very loud levels. There are a couple of very experienced and knowledgeable guys here who’ve already responded to you and whose opinions I value.

Good luck and happy listening 🎶 :thumb:

glfrancis

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #9 on: 15 Sep 2021, 01:10 am »
Dont want to derail this thread, but similar place choosing amp and preamp. I already have a gold note digital streamer and a manley chinook for my turntable. I was thinking tube preamp and solid state or hybrid amp. Jury is out on final speaker choice, but I agree with choosing more power to future proof things. Once again, apologies if this details the OP thread. Happy listening

Nick B

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #10 on: 15 Sep 2021, 03:45 pm »
Dont want to derail this thread, but similar place choosing amp and preamp. I already have a gold note digital streamer and a manley chinook for my turntable. I was thinking tube preamp and solid state or hybrid amp. Jury is out on final speaker choice, but I agree with choosing more power to future proof things. Once again, apologies if this details the OP thread. Happy listening

Yes, don’t want to derail, but I’d be curious what you decide on

BryanDJF

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #11 on: 15 Sep 2021, 04:23 pm »
Thanks for all the input everyone!  What I took away from all of it is that I can't go wrong with the set120, set 400, or the 225s.  Which choice is really about budget and how much flexibility I want for the future.  Prior to discovering AVA, I had pretty much decided on an anthem 225wpc 2ch amp so the set 400 is similar specs and price but obviously better sound.  $2k for a set400 vs the $3400 for the 225's will enable me to spend some more on the next step -  Preamp! or preamp/dac or even something like marantz nd8006 that is cd/preamp/dac/streamer.  The parasound halo p 6 seems like it might be a good option for system flexibility and it is supposed to let the amp shine thru. Of course an AVA preamp is likely the best option sonically.  Anyone have some input?  Thanks in advance!
 


retnuh

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #12 on: 15 Sep 2021, 06:31 pm »
Preamp wise for all my music sources I’m running a Transcendence 10 RB into a SET 120, extremely happy. I was using a Marantz AV7703 as my only preamp, it’s still used for tv stuff, but I jumped at a used 10 RB since I wanted a tube preamp. It was immediately better in every way and is a really great pairing. The Fet Valve CF SLR is on my wish list really for the low gain option as my streamer even on low gain is loud and wouldn’t mind a more granular volume control and remote for quick muting, I know it’s better but not having heard it I’d be happy even if it sounded the same as the 10 RB. But it’s wish list as I’m in a Brooklyn apartment and frankly it’s not that big a deal to walk over and adjust volume, it’s not like I’m going that far.

The Vision Q preamp is also quite nice, but it’s the only phono preamp I’ve used so I have no comparisons.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #13 on: 15 Sep 2021, 06:46 pm »
Thanks for all the input everyone!  What I took away from all of it is that I can't go wrong with the set120, set 400, or the 225s.  Which choice is really about budget and how much flexibility I want for the future.  Prior to discovering AVA, I had pretty much decided on an anthem 225wpc 2ch amp so the set 400 is similar specs and price but obviously better sound.  $2k for a set400 vs the $3400 for the 225's will enable me to spend some more on the next step -  Preamp! or preamp/dac or even something like marantz nd8006 that is cd/preamp/dac/streamer.  The parasound halo p 6 seems like it might be a good option for system flexibility and it is supposed to let the amp shine thru. Of course an AVA preamp is likely the best option sonically.  Anyone have some input?  Thanks in advance!

Go with an AVA preamp.  Franks gear has such great synergy with each other.  The P6 is a great preamp but I think that if you go the AVA route for an amp, stick with his preamps.  You won't regret getting the SET 400.

WGH

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #14 on: 15 Sep 2021, 09:02 pm »
I have the AVA Fet Valve CFR with the SET 400, it's a great combo. The synergy between the two units makes music, whenever I replace one or the other the magic is gone. Our audio club members loan equipment back and forth so we can hear what it sounds like in our home, it's all good stuff. I have listened to a few different preamps and amps and they all sound OK but I still go back to the AVA combo.

The Hapa Audio interconnects also have a good synergy with AVA, the sound gets more 3D and spacious as you go up in price. I think you would get better sound with the Fet Valve CFR plus Vision SET 120 and Hapa interconnects than using generic interconnects with the SET 400. You can always get the SET 400 later.
Start here: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?board=45

AVA + Hapa gets you to $3600

I haven't thought of any (good) new speakers in the $1200 each price range yet. GR Research X-Static comes to mind but they are a kit.
Your best option would be to put $2000 in a speaker fund then wait until a used pair of Salk SongTowers come up for sale then jump on them, they usually sell in a day so you have to be fast.
This ad was from a few years ago: https://www.audiocircle.com/index.php?topic=149811.msg1602091#msg1602091

whell

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #15 on: 16 Sep 2021, 12:40 am »
Contrarian post: if you want to get different speakers down the line, you could save a bit of $$$ on the electronics without skimping on sound, and go with the SET 120 CONTROL AMPLIFIER.  It should give you all the volume you need.  Down the line when you buy new speakers, go for some higher efficiency models and you'll be more than fine. Good speakers tend to be the pricier part of a system, and you'll have plenty left in your budget to get a very nice pair.

I.Greyhound Fan

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #16 on: 16 Sep 2021, 01:02 am »
I look at it this way.  The SET 400 has all the power you could want so why sell yourself short.  There will be more speakers that you can pair with it.  As far as getting the Hapa IC's, I have no doubt that they sound great and I would love to have a pair myself but get the best electronics you feel comfortable buying and then upgrade cables last.  I always look at cables as a tweak when the rest of your system is set and you are looking to add a little something extra to the sound.  But that is just my philosophy and I prefer higher power amps.

Nick B

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #17 on: 16 Sep 2021, 02:39 am »
Just some more to ponder…. You mentioned adding streaming at some point, so you’d need remote capability on your preamp. If you go that route, you would likely not need the functions of the SET 120 Control Amp and could just get the basic SET 120 for $899. I have my SET 120 Control Amp in the living room and it has lots of power at 60w a side. I have an open floor plan about 17 x 27 x 10. I’m only driving the 87 dB Fritz BE which is a 2 way. But I’m driving them very hard sometimes without any distortion. $899 for a great sounding amp is a heck of a deal  :thumb:

WGH

Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #18 on: 16 Sep 2021, 05:34 am »
I look at it this way.  The SET 400 has all the power you could want so why sell yourself short.  There will be more speakers that you can pair with it.

Just thinking about the OP's $6000 budget. An AVA preamp and SET 400 is pushing $4200 with shipping. Lets round up, that leaves $2000 for speakers.
What speakers at $1000 each, besides the Magnepan 1.7i, would need more than 60wpc? The new KLH Model 5?

I'm temporarily stumped, usually affordable speakers are very efficient.

JackD

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Re: Building a 2 channel system from scratch
« Reply #19 on: 16 Sep 2021, 05:50 am »
If you're talking new the Wharfedale Linton 85th and stands at $1495 are a surprisingly good speaker as are the Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers at $2000.  For monitor/bookshelf models you've got the Sierra 2 from Ascend or models from Fritz. If used and patience are an option then there will be a lot more options.  For streaming if he wants to go in that direction at some point hopefully iFi's Zen Stream will get past it's "growing pains" and be a solid option at $400.