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acalex's picture
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Source...which direction to go?
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Hello beautiful people,

I have almost chosen my amp to start building my dream system...speakers are almost decided (let's say 70%)...now it's time to understand pro and cons of different sources. Hopefully I will get some good advices here as usual.

I actually have a NAS and a Squeezebox Touch and I find it quite an handy solution. So streaming is definitely staying. What I also found out is that I love the TT...so for sure one is coming in the next 2/3 months. Was thinking something like Clearaudio Performance maybe with MC catridge.

The difficult choice is the streaming...will I go for an all-in one solution (Linn Akurate DS or second hand Klimax DS) or maybe better a good NOS DAC (like pathos or AN or Jadis) and a "medium" streamer? At this regard...how do you think the sound would compare between the 2 solutions?

Must say that hi-fi will be for music only...so no needs to connect TV. I might keep a cheap DAC (still have the rDAC) to connect pc just in case. Not a big deal anyway as SQ in this case won't be important if I am playing from PC. 

If I would keep a SB Touch and add let's say a Chord DAC or a Jadis DAC, would ie be comparable to the Akurate DS for example in terms of sound quality? Or the SBT will be the weakest link anyway?

The only thing that would make me think about wanting a DAC is the opportunity to connect a "cheap" cd player purely as backup, to try CDs when somebody comes but I don't want to rip them on the NAS. So here SQ won't be my first concern but I would have something good anyway (was thinking about an Audiolab or Marantz or Rega Apollo).

Another plus for separate solution is that with DAC + reader I will have more flexibility to update if something more advanced will come...

Which direction would you take? Any suggestion?

Thanks as usual

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

acalex wrote:

Hello beautiful people,

 

 

:oops:

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

I am sure Cno will disagree, but IMO get a Mac mini/pc of your choice connect it straight to DAC. Spend all the money saved on 'audiophile streamer' on the DAC. 

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

Helmut80 wrote:

I am sure Cno will disagree, but IMO get a Mac mini/pc of your choice connect it straight to DAC. Spend all the money saved on 'audiophile streamer' on the DAC. 

I disagree! Smile

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

I'll agree. Take the SBT and a very good DAC and imho you have a very capable streaming solution with a very, very good SQ. And this may sound like a shock... with respect to usability the SBT beats every DLNA-based streamer hands down.

 

So the question is... how much are you willing to spend on SQ that you get with the high end streamer?

Synology DS214+ >> Rega DAC | Rega RP3 >> Rega Brio-R >> Chord Odyssey 2 >> PMC twenty.23

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

My (personal) views are as follows:

- There are those on the Linn forum who believe that a Klimax DS matches a "maxed out" LP12...you need to hear how good these really are with your chosen amp/speakers.

- I'm not up with current TT prices, but if it's to be your main source, you probably should spend about £3k - 4K. Listen to TTs at various price points and see where your sweet spot is.

- IMO All in one solutions are better sorted and sound better....though you need to hear this for yourself. - I heard the Chord Dac 64 and found it too aggressive and forward (I think the Jadis/Pathos would suit you better) .

- Pathos/Jardis Dac vs Linn DS is a much harder one to call, and will come down to personal taste and synergy with the amp you choose.

- I think that if the TT is going to be the main source, you are better keeping your Arcam Dac and putting the money to the TT; conversely, if you go for a very expensive Dac/Streamer, it would be instead of a TT, or at the most, a fairly cheap one.

- IMO. The transport that is connected to a Dac has a big effect.

I know you won't take any of this "as read", and will check it out for yourself.

:cheers:

Cno

"We should no more let numbers define audio quality than we should let chemical analysis be the arbiter of fine wines."  Nelson Pass

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

Would something like a Linn Majik DSM be OK for you SQ-wise? This has digital inputs to upsample an external digital source e.g. your occasional CD. It is also a high quality streamer which meets your network player needs. It also has an internal pre-amp + amp, so you can connect the pre-amp to your new expesnive fancy amp for some serious listening. And on those other days when you are not having a serious listening session e.g parties or just listening to the radio you can use the internal amp of the Majik DSM and not wait 1/2 hour for your valve / class-A amp to loosen up - sometimes you just want to switch on and go (plus you will save on replacement valves / electricity bills).

SBT • Wadia 151 • Aliante PF

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

My advice would be to find the DAC you like the best with your amp and speakers, and then build the rest of the digital sources around that (streamer/CD transport/PC). If the best DAC is also a one box solution, so be it.

If you like the valve/vinyl sound, IMHO you HAVE to listen to a multibit (ladder type, often NOS) DAC on your proposed system before you decide! It's a more natural and fluid sound than upsampling/delta sigma DACs and at the higher end, offers as much detail as well.

Some DACs are more transport sensitive than others, or have a preferred input (e.g. USB/Firewire or optical/co-ax). So in answer to your question about whether a cheaper streamer will be good enough, it depends on which DAC you eventually choose.

I think it's also worth looking at good CD players with SDPIF input that you can also use directly with the SBT or PC+USB converter.

Have fun! And leave some budget for your vinyl, the thing that puts me off owing a turntable is £25 a pop for the vinyl v £10 a month to stream almost anything you can imagine.

 

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

Wow, a lot of insights, that's what I like!

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

Helmut80 wrote:

I am sure Cno will disagree, but IMO get a Mac mini/pc of your choice connect it straight to DAC. Spend all the money saved on 'audiophile streamer' on the DAC. 

Sp you are for the stramer + DAC solution ;)! Nha, don't want any pc...I really like being able to stream from my NAS. What do you mean with audiophile streamer?

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

spockfish wrote:

I'll agree. Take the SBT and a very good DAC and imho you have a very capable streaming solution with a very, very good SQ. And this may sound like a shock... with respect to usability the SBT beats every DLNA-based streamer hands down.

 

So the question is... how much are you willing to spend on SQ that you get with the high end streamer?

That's not really the big deal as a Jadis/Pathos DAC will cost you anyway around 4k eur...so money wise it's more or less the same as a \n high-end streamer...

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

CnoEvil wrote:

My (personal) views are as follows: - There are those on the Linn forum who believe that a Klimax DS matches a "maxed out" LP12...you need to hear how good these really are with your chosen amp/speakers. - I'm not up with current TT prices, but if it's to be your main source, you probably should spend about £3k - 4K. Listen to TTs at various price points and see where your sweet spot is. - IMO All in one solutions are better sorted and sound better....though you need to hear this for yourself. - I heard the Chord Dac 64 and found it too aggressive and forward (I think the Jadis/Pathos would suit you better) . - Pathos/Jardis Dac vs Linn DS is a much harder one to call, and will come down to personal taste and synergy with the amp you choose. - I think that if the TT is going to be the main source, you are better keeping your Arcam Dac and putting the money to the TT; conversely, if you go for a very expensive Dac/Streamer, it would be instead of a TT, or at the most, a fairly cheap one. - IMO. The transport that is connected to a Dac has a big effect. I know you won't take any of this "as read", and will check it out for yourself. :cheers: Cno

Always like to read your thoughts Wink

Ok...for now vinyl will be my 2nd source. I mean...is the one I would enjoy more (so far) but is just for some serious listening, when I can sit and enjoy music. Unfortunately this doesn't happen every day. As it is now, my main source will be the straming part.

Anyway what I planned to spend on TT is around your budget if considering TT + valve phono stage

I want to heard this head to head...I know a couple of shops having the Akurate and Klimax here in Bx...not sure how easy would be to compare with an high end DAC.

I am also (for now) a bit more towards the all-in-one streaming solution as I heard by a few people now that money wise will always be better than reader + DAC. Maybe I feel still a bit uncomfortable spending so much money on a single electronic box?!?

Arcam DAC is probably staying...as I said I might use it to connect notebooks/pc to the main system. One option would be to change the rDAC with a DAC including headphone amp (MDAC?!?) 

I also do not feel comfortable in connecting a 150eur reader to a 4k eur DAC...it looks quite as an obvious limit...

Interesting times ahead as soon as I sort the amp out  :cheers:

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

tino wrote:

Would something like a Linn Majik DSM be OK for you SQ-wise? This has digital inputs to upsample an external digital source e.g. your occasional CD. It is also a high quality streamer which meets your network player needs. It also has an internal pre-amp + amp, so you can connect the pre-amp to your new expesnive fancy amp for some serious listening. And on those other days when you are not having a serious listening session e.g parties or just listening to the radio you can use the internal amp of the Majik DSM and not wait 1/2 hour for your valve / class-A amp to loosen up - sometimes you just want to switch on and go (plus you will save on replacement valves / electricity bills).

First of all, what's the difference between the DS and the DSM? Is just the preamp+amp?

Your idea of having a "backup" system I could use for parties for example is not too bad. Even if I am not partying so often, is maybe something to take into account! How much is the Majik DSM? 

I heard the Majik DS and I liked...but again I haven't heard the Akurate and the Klimax so far ;). But worth some serious consideration indeed...

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

paradiziac wrote:

My advice would be to find the DAC you like the best with your amp and speakers, and then build the rest of the digital sources around that (streamer/CD transport/PC). If the best DAC is also a one box solution, so be it.

If you like the valve/vinyl sound, IMHO you HAVE to listen to a multibit (ladder type, often NOS) DAC on your proposed system before you decide! It's a more natural and fluid sound than upsampling/delta sigma DACs and at the higher end, offers as much detail as well.

Some DACs are more transport sensitive than others, or have a preferred input (e.g. USB/Firewire or optical/co-ax). So in answer to your question about whether a cheaper streamer will be good enough, it depends on which DAC you eventually choose.

I think it's also worth looking at good CD players with SDPIF input that you can also use directly with the SBT or PC+USB converter.

Have fun! And leave some budget for your vinyl, the thing that puts me off owing a turntable is £25 a pop for the vinyl v £10 a month to stream almost anything you can imagine.

 

Yes, for now the DACs I have on my list are all NOS (Jadis, Pathos and AudioNote) as I have the suspect that's the sound I prefer. Definitely want to leave some budget for vinyl...I would go for a lot of 2nd hand vinyls to start..and I have a lot of places here where you can find great deals. 

I might eventually connect a backup cd-player to an high end streamer like the Akurate DS?

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

The Majik DSM is £2600 GBP.

Spec is:

1 x ethernet for network streaming

2 x coaxial digital inputs

3 x Toslink optical inputs

4 x analogue inputs including phono

1 x pre-out

1 x line out

100W amp + speaker connections

 

There is a very good review in another magazine this month which I'm probably not allowed to mention ... their sum up was "Like: A hugely involving listen ... Dislike: Not a rythmically assertive as it could be ... Conclusion: A highly attractive proposition if you are looking for an all in one streaming solution".

You could sell your rDAC and buy an M2Tech hiFace USB -> SPDIF converter if you needed to connect your computer.

 

So you could end up with:

 

Indulgent Listening

Clearaudio TT ->  Jadis (does it have a phono stage?)

 

Everyday / Serious Listening

Majik DSM (pre or line out) -> Jadis

 

Everyday Listening / Parties / Radio

Majik DSM on its own

 

SBT • Wadia 151 • Aliante PF

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RE: Source...which direction to go?

I think the main question you should ask yourself in this situation is whether you prefer more boxes on display or less. and start from there.

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