New audiophile

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fgozman

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New audiophile
« on: 4 Nov 2020, 09:23 am »
Hi,

I'm new to this field of audiophile and I would like to learn. Also, I'm interested to acquire some equipment and maybe build some. I hope I'm in the right place here and find some help. Thanks!

Best regards,

Leo

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #1 on: 4 Nov 2020, 09:58 am »
Welcome Leo :thumb:

JLM

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #2 on: 4 Nov 2020, 02:01 pm »
Welcome!

There's never been a better time to get into audio from a cost and convenience perspective.

First I'd equip myself with knowledge.  Stick with quality brands/people that in the long run is the safer/cheaper route.  Quality measured in experience, depth of R&D and in-house manufacturing.  Set a budget ($1000 can buy a nice system but the sky is the limit).  Determine if you're a techno geek or just a music lover.

Learn yourself, your musical (genres) and audio (boomy versus tight bass, pinpoint imaging or a huge soundstage, zingy or precise highs, etc.)  preferences.  Educate your ear for musical and audio aspects.  The faster your tastes mature, the quicker you can arrive at a "final solution" and avoid mis-steps and wasted time/money.

Next decide on your listening environment.  Best to not be small/squarish, but insulated and hopefully dedicated.  My room is 8ft x 13ft x 21ft, well insulated, and dedicated (nearly ideal for a smaller room).

Then pick your loudspeakers to match the space.  Avoid full range loudspeakers as bass is best produced in corners/along walls and mids/treble is best produced away from walls.  Amps simply need to match the chosen loudspeakers and come next.  A popular route is active loudspeakers that combine amps in the speaker cabinet and can also include the digital analog converter (DAC) and digital signal processing - room correction (DSP).

Finally decide on vinyl (expensive, hands on) and/or digital streaming (convenient, wide range of source material). 

Phil A

Re: New audiophile
« Reply #3 on: 4 Nov 2020, 02:26 pm »
Welcome!

ArthurDent

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #4 on: 4 Nov 2020, 03:42 pm »
Greetings & Welcome to AC Leo   :thumb:

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #5 on: 4 Nov 2020, 08:15 pm »
@JLM Thanks for your suggestions.. I really appreciate.

I have bought from one of my friends an audio system composed of:

Onkyo C-7030 -> Keces DA-131 -> iNano -> Emotiva XPA-2 -> Infinity C336

Now I bought also Hifiman Sundara headphones and I would like to use these in combination with the existent system as an alternative to the speakers. I did some research and found that I should have a headphones amp but I need a suggestion what I should choose in my particular case within the existing system if it is possible.
I also appreciate if somebody could tell me if this system is outdated or which devices should be replaced if are not good enough for a newbie audiophile or too outdated without spending too much.   
Thank you for your time!

dB Cooper

Re: New audiophile
« Reply #6 on: 5 Nov 2020, 01:39 am »

I also appreciate if somebody could tell me if this system is outdated or which devices should be replaced if are not good enough for a newbie audiophile or too outdated without spending too much.   
Thank you for your time!

I like Frank Van Alstine's answer to this question from his old newsletter:"When you visit a friend's house, is their system usually on or off? If the system is on, it is probably good enough. If it is usually off, it probably isn't." Don't fall into the "There's something wrong with my system" trap too quickly. There's something wrong with every system- even nosebleed-priced systems.

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #7 on: 5 Nov 2020, 08:57 am »
I like Frank Van Alstine's answer to this question from his old newsletter:"When you visit a friend's house, is their system usually on or off? If the system is on, it is probably good enough. If it is usually off, it probably isn't." Don't fall into the "There's something wrong with my system" trap too quickly. There's something wrong with every system- even nosebleed-priced systems.
I totally agree if the guy is not your friend. He needed to sell because he needed some money and maybe anyway he didn't used so much as he expected to. The amount paid was so low at that time (in 2008) that only the floor speakers covered the price paid. I just was lucky I guess.

JLM

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #8 on: 5 Nov 2020, 03:27 pm »
Loudspeakers are a personal choice and should also be matched to the room.  They make the biggest difference in any system.  The second biggest sound factor is the listening environment as I already mentioned. 

Emotiva is a hit or miss company.  High marks for value, but low marks for reliability and sound quality.  Had one of their DC-1 DAC/preamps and liked it, although it's sound was dynamic it also wasn't very musical.  If you've survived the first year of ownership reliability shouldn't be a huge concern. 

Onkyo/Keces are pretty dated, but could still be viable.  You could replace them and the i-Nano with a NAD Node-2i ($550 streamer, DAC, preamp) and a streaming subscription to Tidal or Quboz ($20/month) and gain access to millions of CD quality albums. 

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #9 on: 6 Nov 2020, 08:04 am »
Loudspeakers are a personal choice and should also be matched to the room.  They make the biggest difference in any system.  The second biggest sound factor is the listening environment as I already mentioned. 

Emotiva is a hit or miss company.  High marks for value, but low marks for reliability and sound quality.  Had one of their DC-1 DAC/preamps and liked it, although it's sound was dynamic it also wasn't very musical.  If you've survived the first year of ownership reliability shouldn't be a huge concern. 

Onkyo/Keces are pretty dated, but could still be viable.  You could replace them and the i-Nano with a NAD Node-2i ($550 streamer, DAC, preamp) and a streaming subscription to Tidal or Quboz ($20/month) and gain access to millions of CD quality albums.

I just ordered a NAD Node-2i as you suggested but from the reviews I see that the DAC/preamp is no so great (anyway maybe is better than Keces) and now from your comments seems that I need to upgrade the whole system. Unfortunately for me I didn't have the chance to listen to an audiophile system yet in order to know how good could sound.
So, from your experience could please you recommend what to choose for?
I have a draft list below with some comments:

DAC/preamp - I'm looking at RME ADI-2 DAC FS v2 or Topping D90 + Topping L30. Also, here you could suggest me a good version in the same budget. Here I need also to have a good output for my headphones Sundara.
Power amp - I didn't research yet enough being hard for me as a beginner to decide and how to look at. Maybe you could help me here to choose from what you already know that are good enough for an audiophile.
Loudpeakers - Here I don't know if it is possible to reuse my speakers and maybe add some only in the low frequencies range or replace altogether. I'm open for suggestions also.
Connectivity - Now I am using Tosllink S/PDIF between the source and the DAC. I have also an optical switch so I can connect different sources like e.g. TV, Onkyo CD player. Is it OK or does exist better alternatives for connection and switching between?

I would like also to buy a turntable since I need to have also an analog source. I always wanted to have also a turntable but undecided about because I wasn't sure about my current system setup how good it is. I found the following turntables that seems OK: Rega Planar 1+, AT-LP5x or  AT-LPW50PB. For AT-LPW50PB I didn't found any review so maybe you could help me choose or come with another suggestion. I also know that AT-LP5x is a direct drive version. Also I would like this to connect to the preamp and listen also at headphones.

Thank you for your time!


JLM

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #10 on: 6 Nov 2020, 01:10 pm »
Slow down and do your homework first.  I just threw out one option (the Node 2i).  I own the M10, a big brother of the Node but includes power amp and it cost 5 times as much.  If you have qualms about the Node 2i, move up to the C658 at 3 times the price.  The advantage of any of these is that they greatly simplify digital streaming.  Any of them represent good value and accept analog input. 

First, what is your plan (a whole new system or just parts)?  Why do you "need" an analog source? (I gave up on analog 35 years ago and my system consists of one box plus loudspeakers/subwoofers.) 

Second, what is your budget (for a complete system, so we can gauge what products to point you towards)? 

Third, what is your listening environment like (dimensions, insulated, finishes, furnishings, shared/not) and how dedicated are you to listening?  Is this a passing fad or a life long love?  Are you trying to decorate a nice room or living in your mother's basement?  Sorry but we don't know you.

Fourth, you mention having recently bought Hifiman Sundara headphones.  I did headphones back in the 70's, but have rarely used them since.  From what I quickly read they seem like good performing and relatively easy to drive, however have reliability questions.  But how much do you plan on using them versus in-room listening?

Fifth, and most importantly what exactly are you trying to accomplish by all this?  You started out stating you wanted to buy/build some gear, but why?  Are you itching to simply collect impressive toys, which frankly is a high priority among many audiophiles?

I've tried to not push you into any particular direction as there are so many options.  RME ADI-2 is a nice piece with extra features, derived from pro gear but only has USB, coax, and optical digital inputs.  Topping D90 is a top performing and more affordable but also only offers digital inputs.  You could plug in a computer or server (USB), TV (optical), and your Onkyo CDP (coax).  Either would be wonderful, but you'd need preamp (with built-in or separate phono preamp) to accommodate a turntable.  Power amps should be bought simply to serve chosen loudspeakers, so shop loudspeakers first.

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #11 on: 6 Nov 2020, 05:34 pm »
Slow down and do your homework first.  I just threw out one option (the Node 2i).  I own the M10, a big brother of the Node but includes power amp and it cost 5 times as much.  If you have qualms about the Node 2i, move up to the C658 at 3 times the price.  The advantage of any of these is that they greatly simplify digital streaming.  Any of them represent good value and accept analog input. 
You are right. I'm impatient. I prefer to have the DAC/preamp and power amp separately. So, I can upgrade independently in the future.

First, what is your plan (a whole new system or just parts)?  Why do you "need" an analog source? (I gave up on analog 35 years ago and my system consists of one box plus loudspeakers/subwoofers.) 
Yes, I would like to change the current system and if it is possible in an incremental manner. When I write there analog source I mean that the turntable for example should have a phono amp integrated or separated and then connected to the same preamp which in my case I would prefer a device which is also a DAC so I can switch between digital and analog inputs.

Second, what is your budget (for a complete system, so we can gauge what products to point you towards)? 
My budget is relative to each component but should be around $1000. I don't know if it is enough or not but if I buy something then should be good enough for a beginner audiophile point of view. Now I see some excellent offers on my country due maybe COVIT-19 but at least I can stay at home and listen good music with good sound.

Third, what is your listening environment like (dimensions, insulated, finishes, furnishings, shared/not) and how dedicated are you to listening?  Is this a passing fad or a life long love?  Are you trying to decorate a nice room or living in your mother's basement?  Sorry but we don't know you.
:) I own a flat and it is technically a shared living room but no problem for listening most of the time. The part of the room where I have the system is about 4x3 mp. It is not insulated and I have also a couch and a furniture where I have the system and also the TV (3 m). I'm listening from time to time now but this is because my current system is not too user friendly to use and tune and maybe also because its performance is not so good. I like mainly to listen symphonic music and rock music.

Fourth, you mention having recently bought Hifiman Sundara headphones.  I did headphones back in the 70's, but have rarely used them since.  From what I quickly read they seem like good performing and relatively easy to drive, however have reliability questions.  But how much do you plan on using them versus inform listening?
Yes, I bought this particular headphones for in order to listen more isolated and maybe more accurate than a peer of speakers. I don't know if this is the case but I guess that a peer of equivalent speakers will cost a lot more and also the room I guess should be insulated. I don't know which one of the headphones or the speaker will be used more yet but certainly I will use each one :).

Fifth, and most importantly what exactly are you trying to accomplish by all this?  You started out stating you wanted to buy/build some gear, but why?  Are you itching to simply collect impressive toys, which frankly is a high priority among many audiophiles?
I want only to have a good enough gear when I listen to know that I hear a good enough sound. No, I don't want to collect impressive toys because anyway I don't have the money for these :). This is why until now in over 10 years I didn't change anything about. Could be very expensive and I have other priorities anyway.

I've tried to not push you into any particular direction as there are so many options.  RME ADI-2 is a nice piece with extra features, derived from pro gear but only has USB, coax, and optical digital inputs.  Topping D90 is a top performing and more affordable but also only offers digital inputs.  You could plug in a computer or server (USB), TV (optical), and your Onkyo CDP (coax).  Either would be wonderful, but you'd need preamp (with built-in or separate phono preamp) to accommodate a turntable.  Power amps should be bought simply to serve chosen loudspeakers, so shop loudspeakers first.
It is OK with digital outputs and also USB but a combo DAC/preamp should support both digital and analog inputs. So I would like to connect to it a turntable+phono amp, Node 2i and also the CD player and switch as needed between them. Perhaps if I will use the input into the DAC the Toslink I it is enough since I have an optical switcher so I need to have also an analog port as input into the preamp which could be in the same box with the DAC.

So, maybe now it is more clear what I would like to achieve and could help me better. Thanks!

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #12 on: 9 Nov 2020, 08:54 am »
I did some research and I would like confirming with you guys that the following setup could work OK:
Rega Planar -> Rega phono mini A2D MM USB -> (USB connection) RME ADI-2 DAC FS -> (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)
NAD Node-2i -> (coax) RME ADI-2 DAC FS -> (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)
Onkyo C-7030 -> (toslink) RME ADI-2 DAC FS -> (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)

So, I could use all my upstream sources connected in the same system.

Another option could be is using a switcher between RME ADI-2 DAC FS and Rega phono mini A2D MM i.e. an RCA switcher between the two so the config will be:
Rega Planar -> Rega phono mini A2D MM USB -> SWITCH RCA -> (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)
NAD Node-2i -> (coax) RME ADI-2 DAC FS -> SWITCH RCA (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)
Onkyo C-7030 -> (toslink) RME ADI-2 DAC FS -> SWITCH RCA (amp -> speakers) or (headphones)
I don't know if this kind of switcher is OK or it has bad influences on the signal. If it is ok please give some suggestions for a RCA switcher.

Please help me with these which one is the best solution.

Thanks for your time!


undertowogt1

Re: New audiophile
« Reply #13 on: 9 Nov 2020, 09:47 am »
Audio Circle is one of the BEST Places for help. Welcome.

Here's a tip. If I were to start again, a bit of room treatment is were would start. I built 8 DIY Sound absorbing baffles to move around my room as I like. best thing I ever did. Enjoy the journey

JLM

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #14 on: 9 Nov 2020, 12:57 pm »
You should have an overall budget in mind versus the same number per component.  For instance, if you go with active loudspeakers you wouldn't need to purchase a power amp, so the loudspeaker budget could double.  Same with a DAC/preamp. 

I'd recommend looking at a Benchmark DAC3 (well built/rated DAC/preamp from a very good company, $2200, includes headphone jacks and analog inputs, balanced and single ended outputs). 

I'd also suggest looking into active loudspeakers.  For your described room you wouldn't need big loudspeakers, perhaps something like Neumann KH120 (2-way compact monitors, again well built/rated from a very good company, $1400/pair, can be used on desk or in-room). 

jjss49

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #15 on: 9 Nov 2020, 11:07 pm »
some really good advice imparted already...

welcome, great hobby this is

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #16 on: 14 Nov 2020, 12:07 pm »
You should have an overall budget in mind versus the same number per component.  For instance, if you go with active loudspeakers you wouldn't need to purchase a power amp, so the loudspeaker budget could double.  Same with a DAC/preamp. 
You are right and I would like to buy incrementally these and combine the usability of the devices with the convenience as you advised before in regards with the Node 2i.

Quote
I'd recommend looking at a Benchmark DAC3 (well built/rated DAC/preamp from a very good company, $2200, includes headphone jacks and analog inputs, balanced and single ended outputs).
Yes, this one is very good indeed but now they are not shipping to my country here in UE, it costs more and in the end I decided for RME ADI-2 Pro FS R Black Edition which also seems very good and it is more versatile and portable for about $1700 (a very good price I guess). The only miss I see in RME is that the analog input cannot be directly connected to the analog output but only through AD/DA converter which indeed is very good but may change the sound a little bit, tougth inperceptible I guess. I will find a solution for this problem also i.e. how to select between the analogic RCA connections when I will buy also a TT.

Quote
I'd also suggest looking into active loudspeakers.  For your described room you wouldn't need big loudspeakers, perhaps something like Neumann KH120 (2-way compact monitors, again well built/rated from a very good company, $1400/pair, can be used on desk or in-room).
It is a very good advice since now I have a peer of passive speakers and these active speakers will offer more flexibility. I found also an another equivalent alternative which is also very good i.e. Genelec 8030C which costs about $1150/pair. I need to choose between these and Neumann KH120 at about $1300/pair in my country. I'm not sure which is better to buy yet. Maybe if you could help me with a better comparison between the two than I found myself on the Internet.

In regards with the streamer Node 2i I have a problem when I'm using the SPDIF optical input port through an optical selector from both TV and CD player. If I'm using a direct optical connection it is working fine but if I'm using the optical input selector in between it is not working i.e. no sound in the speakers or headphones even if the optical signal is detected in their mobile app. This is strange since the optical selector it is working fine with my old DAC Keces. I wrote to the support in order to see what they will say about. I see that they are not so responsive since it passed several days from my complaint and nothing yet. If you encountered the same issue and you found a solution or if you are using an optical selector which is working fine let me know.

Thanks!


JLM

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #17 on: 14 Nov 2020, 12:31 pm »
Seems like you're ready to go shopping (hard to do in these virus times).  Didn't realize you were from Europe. 

Was unaware of the RMI ADI-2 Pro FS black edition (haven't shopped for a couple of years), would seem to be a good option with TRS analog inputs (you might need a single ended to balanced converter when you decide to pick up vinyl).  Like many German products the controls seem overly complex but should only a problem during setup. 

Either the Genelec 8030C or Neumann KH-120 are very good, but you'll really need to audition side by side to be sure which would be best for you.  Genelecs have a reputation of treble emphasis and the Neumann's are almost brutally honest (stripped of any flavor). 

My setup, with a NAD M10, is very simple.  Just ethernet and USB flash drive inputs. 

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #18 on: 14 Nov 2020, 03:50 pm »
I did some research in comparing the two variants of the loudspeakers and found something about. Maybe somebody is interested and also could help me better in deciding which one to choose between Neumann KH120 A and Genelec 8030 C.

I found a DIY kit which compares with Neumann where I see some measurements but anyway is not cheap to buy:
The comparison: https://heissmann-acoustics.de/en/dxt-mon-vs-neumann-kh-120a/
The kit: https://www.diyclassd.com/product/nc400-mono-kit-complete-kit/24

For Genelec 8030C I found these measurements:
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/genelec-8030c-studio-monitor-review.14795/
I don't know what should I look at exactly but the review is very good. Maybe someone could help me figure out how the measurements/graphics compare with Neumann KH120.

JLM has right that I should do some audition side by side but unfortunately I cannot.

Also, for someone interested, I found a DIY kit for an amp which has very good measurements result but not very cheap. Maybe I will do myself one in the future in order to replace my Emotiva HPA-2.
The measurements: https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-hypex-nc400-diy-amp.5907/
The kit: https://www.diyclassd.com/product/nc400-mono-kit-complete-kit/24

Thanks for your support!
 

fgozman

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Re: New audiophile
« Reply #19 on: 17 Nov 2020, 02:46 pm »
After more research I decided to go with Neaumann KH120 and later on I will buy also KH810 so will have a complete setup. Now will search for good prices..
Thanks JLM for the recommendations!