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Thread: First hifi advice

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen View Post

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Also don't get mugged into buying stupidly priced cables such as gold-plated optical cables, directional ethernet cables, or any kind of digital cable that is more than £30 (unless it's 10m+). They all exist and they are all snake oil.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by peterb View Post
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Zhaoman View Post
    Thanks for your advice both. My intention with the system is a long term stepping stone I guess - something I want to happy with and enjoy right now but upgrading parts of it when I need to in future. The impression I've gotten so far is that it's better to spend the most on the speakers which is why I'm considering buying an older amp for around £100 and spending the rest of the budget on speakers. After kalniel's comments I think I'm going to aim for floorstanders and maybe add an active sub if the need arises. My plan is to get the portable DAC first to use with my SE846s and then I'll have to start demoing stuff. I have some tracks that I know very well (such as M83, Michael Jackson, Sigur Ros, Daft Punk) and I always like recommendations for new music so I appreciate your recommendations for test tracks!

    My plan is to test some stuff within my budget at my local hifi shop and if I like what I hear then I'll probably just buy it to save some hassle. But I notice that I can get floorstanders such as Tannoy XT6F and a sub such as B&W PV1 within my budget second hand so if I'm not entirely happy with what I hear in the store I'll have to look into second hand. The goal is to get a great music listening experience for my budget so I'm prepared to be patient if need be!
    I found a good test track from M83 is Oblivion - its what I used as a test when I was trying out stuff at a hifi show.

    Regarding your choices of music,three way systems tend to be better if you want to have greater bass,but two way systems have "traditionally" been considered better for more dynamic music.

    Looking at the bands you mentioned(I listen to three of them) I would tell you not to rule out stand mounts either,and be more worried about how the speakers actually sound themselves. I would rather have a good pair of stand mounts than a ropy pair of floor standers.

    I found a cheap way to improve the sound of a CD player or computer is to buy a DAC - also regarding DACs beware of the ones from bigger hifi companies which are a bit of a ripoff. This is well worth a read:

    http://nwavguy.blogspot.co.uk/2012/0...-released.html

    The ODAC is pretty decent for the price:

    http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/prod...ature-usb-dac/

    There is also a matching headphone amplifier.

    Another company which makes some great value for money DACs and headphone amps:

    https://schiit.com/

    The ODAC is primarily a USB oriented device but the Shiit Modi also has digital inputs.

    Edit!!

    Regarding amps - if you are buying new Cambridge Audio still makes decent stuff and also don't ignore the modern generation of amplified speaker either,as many use quite modern digital amplification and sound pretty decent.

    I have had a reasonable amount of amps from decentish companies like Creek,Musical Fidelity,Myryad and Sony ES series,and I honestly think I might be look at looking at the newer generation of active speakers just for convenience sake(and the fact they simply take up less space).
    Last edited by CAT-THE-FIFTH; 05-06-2017 at 11:10 AM.


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  7. #21
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Some years ago my amp started playing up so I returned it under the sales of goods act. I got a lower-end model but it had newer tech in it - Audyssey MultEQ 32 (or something), where as the old one had a more basic version.

    This is one of the techs that allow you to plug a bundled microphone into the amp and let it talk to itself for a while. What it does is fine-tune the EQ to deal with inadequacies of room acoustics. The difference is mind-blowing.

    Now, it's not the be-all-and-end-all of acoustics, proper analysis, treatment and manual EQ are going to produce better results, but with a lot of time, money and expertise.

    The other fantastic thing I did was move from bookshelf speakers on sand-filled stands to floorstanders. I don't disbelieve you can get just as good a result from bookshelves, but you need to spend serious money on stands and subwoofers.

    I kept my subwoofer and run it along side my floorstanders to reinforce the bass. This works really well with audio modes in the room. I've got the subwoofer half way up the room along one side and it fills in the spots where the bass naturally gets cancelled out from the floor standers. You don't need a super expensive sub to reinforce the sound.

    A budget of a grand you'll get some fantastic speakers - but you'll start running out of money if you have to buy other things as well.

    If you get a subwoofer, the "in" thing to get is one of these: http://www.bkelec.com/ I was close to buying one before the mrs fell preggers and my sub is now permanently off and my amp in night mode

    Don't worry about subs being rated down to 1Hz, they start to drop off at different levels, but all proper ones go pretty low.

    FWIW, I have Cambridge Audio Aero speakers. They've been superseded by the Aeromax which have a better treble response. I got them a long time ago for £350 (bargain at the time) and they give fantastic bang for buck. The reason I was drawn to them was the "BMR" speaker. Instead of having a cross over at 3KHz, they're at 250Hz! So all those issues of rubbishrubbishrubbishrubbishty cross overs disappear as 250Hz isn't especially significant for detail. They also have a massive sound-stage, which is good if you don't have a single listening position.

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  9. #22
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dashers View Post
    If you get a subwoofer, the "in" thing to get is one of these: http://www.bkelec.com/ I was close to buying one before the mrs fell preggers and my sub is now permanently off and my amp in night mode
    Ah, great choice. I'm going to buy one I think

    Front firing or downwards firing?

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Downwards are less tempting for little people to poke the driver.

    If you pass below say 80Hz, then no difference. As you go up the sound gets more directional, so you might want forward firing.

    I've read warnings of woofer sag from being downward firing, never actually heard of anybody experiencing this though, so might be rubbish.

    The *real* question is, 1 big or 2 smaller...

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    Re: First hifi advice

    I'll be passing around 50 I expect, so no difference.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    If you're going for floorstanders, then maybe you won't need a sub at all. I really like Linn Keilidhs and you can pick them up for a song these days second hand. As they are very high sensitivity, you can run them from some very low power amps (e.g. some of the low cost digital amps if you are mainly listening to digital sources).

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by buttersideup View Post
    If you're going for floorstanders, then maybe you won't need a sub at all.
    He will for the uses mentioned in the OP.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Thank you all, I really appreciate the advice!

    CAT: I don't have the Oblivion soundtrack but I'll definitely look into it now! Thanks for sharing the ODAC link, it looks like a perfect little desktop solution; what do you think of the Mojo? It's gotten rave reviews everywhere and one thing people always talk about is its excellent instrument separation. I'm really tempted by that or the Hugo if I can get one for cheap because they're portable which would be great for planes and long journeys but are they a bit over hyped? Amps is something I don't know too much about; I've been working under the assumption that keeping the amp analog is still the best but that could be wrong nowdays! Are digital amps reasonably transparent now? I'd definitely be up for going the Class D amp route if the technology has matured since my sources will almost exclusively be digital (streaming and CD).

    Dashers: Thank you for your comments; an auto EQ system would definitely be useful so it's great to hear it works and I'll look out for that in amps! I will try to set things up properly with distances to walls etc once I take the plunge and do some basic calibration of the system to get it sounding right. Thank you also for the sub recommendation, I'm not a bass head but I do like the really low stuff to be there so I think a sub will be a must at some stage. I'll add the Cambridge Audio Aeromax to the list of floorstanders to look out for!

    Buttersideup: I'll look into digital amps, I just haven't paid much attention to them so far but they do seem to make sense for me. I'm just concerned the cheap ones might have distortion in the treble if they don't have a means of feedback error correction and I don't know enough about the subject or current technology so I've avoided it so far and kept my search analog! But if I could get a quality digital amp for a reasonable price then that would be perfect for me.
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    Re: First hifi advice

    I think by digital amp, he means ones that have built in handling of digital content, such as DLNA/USB/Internet streaming.

    All amps output in analogue. The conversion from digital to analogue is done by a DAC (digital to analogue converter), and frankly, it's this which is going to have the biggest impact on the quality of digital music. But try some out in Richer Sounds, read some reviews in What HiFi, you'll get a feel for what sounds good for you.

    I don't think you can get a bad amp from the main players these days.

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by MrJim View Post
    Years ago when I first got into hifi, the 'rule of thumb' was actually to spend around 50% of your budget on the source, 30% on amplification, and 20% on speakers. The rationale being along the lines of 'garbage in, garbage out'. Of course if you're buying some items second-hand, such figures are less applicable. Auditioning equipment is definitely a good idea though, like so many things, one's taste in audio is extremely subjective.
    I think to be honest Jim, it's not as important to spend such a large sum of money on the source now, since most receivers will decode a digital source pretty well. An MP3 over Bluetooth AptX would sound more than good enough, especially to the untrained ear. And with WiFi services such as Yamaha's Musicast, you'd find a half decent receiver like the Yamaha RXV483 would be ample for current and future formats. Paired with Monitor Audio's Bronze series and you'd have an incredible setup. Or perhaps even Kef's older Q series, which can be had for some very reasonable prices at the moment.
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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Dashers View Post
    I think by digital amp, he means ones that have built in handling of digital content, such as DLNA/USB/Internet streaming.
    I mean amps which take in digital signals, and directly output high power analogue signals - https://www.maximintegrated.com/en/a...ex.mvp/id/5461

    These amps are all class D type amplifiers which have been designed to operate on digital input signals directly instead of analogue signals (most class D amps only accept analogue inputs, so you'd need to use a traditional DAC with them).

    Although class D amps have been a bit of a compromise in the past (high efficiency, but also high distortion vs. other designs) they are now getting taken more seriously - http://www.cyrusaudio.com/support/pd...ite-paper/file

    You can get some dirt cheap amps like the £50 Topping VX2 (based on the STMicroelectronics STA326) which will happy compete with anything on price/performance.

    With the amount of electricity my Cyrus 3 amp consumes in one year whilst just 'turned off' in standby, you could buy a VX2.
    Last edited by buttersideup; 10-06-2017 at 09:45 AM. Reason: typo

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    Re: First hifi advice

    Quote Originally Posted by CAT-THE-FIFTH View Post
    The ODAC is pretty decent for the price:

    http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/prod...ature-usb-dac/

    There is also a matching headphone amplifier.

    Epiphany Acoustics have ceased trading

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    Re: First hifi advice

    The more I look into it, the more I'm drawn towards getting a second hand Chord Hugo as my portable pre-amp and then buying active studio monitors from the likes of JBL or Yamaha. My thinking is: the difficult conversion and filtering work will have been done by the Hugo so I just need a pair of reasonably neutral and transparent speakers which, I'm assuming, the studio monitors should be? After reading about modern Class D amps I think I'm reasonably happy that the small amps in the active speakers should be OK and have reasonably minimal distortion, especially being studio monitors, and would save me space and money (which might be sensible for a first hifi setup).

    I'm pretty much decided on the Hugo since I need a portable DAC and headphone amp anyway, I just want as transparent a path as possible to make the most of it with speakers. Do you guys think this would be directly into active studio monitors or would feeding a power amp + passive floorstanders be better? Also does anyone have any experience with budget studio monitors in terms of detail and quality of amp inside them?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hexus
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