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Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

hi everyone,

i am very new to this forum, so want to say hello at the first place.

My common PC speakers (Genius) died this week, so I need to buy new pair. I used them in the living room connected to PC mostly for listening to music (there is something playing at my home ALL the time), watching movies and occasionaly playing games. This is what I want to do with the new speakers also. But wanted to buy more decent one, so I search for "good" desktop speakers and found out, that I will have to invest around 120 euro ($154) to get 'decent' from common manufacturers like Logitech, Creative, etc.  This look like nonsense to me, as I can buy incomparable quality for a budget twice (or 3 times) more. So I want to go for more Hi-Fi solution, but I am not a Hifi geek (and possibly will never be), just want to be a little practical in this matter as I really listen to music ALL the time.

Few info:

I WILL use computer as source for playback. (So possible chain will be PC -> [DAC] -> AMP -> Speakers).

- My living room is 4.7m x 4.0m.

- I use foobar as player

- Music is compressed with LAME -V2 (which I was not able to distinguish from FLAC on double-blind test) and FLAC

- Will listen to music ALL the time (and in the eve watch movie or play a game)

- Music is mostly ambient, jazz, nujazz, rock, metal, classical, and similar

- Currently running onboard sound card (there is no need for anything better with genius speakers Smile )

My BUDGET is around 300 euros (but can pay a little more if it makes sense),

 

So, I did a little search on secondhand AMP in my city and found old YAMAHA AX-500 for 95euro ($122) in bazar. Also found very good reviews about this one, but wanted to ask also for your opinion about quality of this amp and price. Is it a good buy? Or should I consider new amp or even something else?

Next I have to buy some speakers (dont want to buy old ones in this case). I read reviews at this site and searched what is available in my country. So my possible options are:

Tannoy Mercury V1, price 204 euro ($262)

Cambridge Audio Sirroco S30, price 195 euro ($250)

Q Acoustic 2020, price 186 euro ($239)

Dali Zensor 1, price 365 euro ($469)

Monitor Audio Bronze BX2, price 347 euro ($445)

 

My priorities:

- quality of sound (specially music, I dont mind movies and games)

- durability/quality (I wont care about my equip a lot, its just things to me... so I will treat them badly sometimes >) )

- price

 

I dont care about:

- output power (I dont need to play anything VERY loudly, me neighbours dont need it even Smile , just want to have enought of it for my living room )

- look (if I want to see something beautiful, I look at my gf Smile )

 

I am also a big fan of price/value ratio and 80/20 rule (it means, that if you consider "top" equip you can get, 80% of its performance you can by for 20% of its price). So I dont want to overstep this line Smile

 

I am aware, that if I buy some HiFi stuff, i will also need a new soundcard and/or DAC to feed it properly. If I conseder DAC i would probably go for Styleaudio Carat-Topaz Signature (good value/price ratio). But I guess I will go for decent soundcard and maybe later for DAC if I feel like I need to.

Now my question are:

- what is your opinion and/or suggestions about amp? what would YOU choose in my place?

- what speakers would you recommend considering my needs, priorities and amp?

- what soundcard would you suggest?

- what DAC would you suggest?

Basically I want to hear your educated opinion about what would you choose in my place. Will really appreciate it.

thank you in advance,

f.

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RE: Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

The BX2 I'd say was a good starting point for speakers.

 

With regards the amp I'd be more inclined to get yourself an AV amp (go through WHF reviews for some suggestions). if this system is being  designed to be all things an AV amp will serve you better. With modern ones accepting USB (PC) connections direct hence bypassing the need for an external DACS

You can use it in stereo and upgrade when you choose, you'll get alot more scope in functionality too and it'll provide a good base for all of the above sources you want to employ.

Anonymous
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RE: Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

Looks like good idea. Thank you.

If there's no digital input, what soundcards are proven to be good in HiFi chains?

ESI, M-Audio, Xonars? What is a good point to start searching?

 

thanks,

f.

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RE: Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

I have these http://www.trustedreviews.com/Acoustic-Energy-Aego-M-Speakers_Peripheral_review connected to my computer via an Audio GD USB DAC/Headphone amp and they sound great. Acoustic Energy being generally regarded as a maker of decent speakers.

Another option would be active studio monitors from the likes of M-Audio, Genelec, Tannoy etc. etc. again using a USB DAC.

 IMHO an "audiophile" soundcard will eat up a lot of your budget and it's generally thought that external is best.

A good place for information is computeraudiophile.com

If you want decent sound I would personally say to keep well away from the likes of Logitech and Creative. 

Anonymous
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RE: Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

hi,

I did a research on available AV amps in my country and find out, that it will be very expensive (there is no good second-hand AV amps available for a good price) solution. I do not plan to upgrade to more channels than stereo next years (I am not that into videos/games as to music) anyway. Therefore I decided to stick to old secondhand YAMAHA AX-500 that I had found for 95 euros. Hope it will do a good job.

As for speakers, I dont want to go for studio monitors. I don't need that level of detail and prefer musicality instead. Based on reviews and posts here, I decided to go for Monitor Audio Bronze BX2.

To feed it properly I decided to exchange current onboard sound card with ASUS Essence STX. It looks to be very decent card for 150 euros (better than M-Audio probably - based on various reviews and tests). It has some feautures that will be also very useful considering my needs (basically all audio processing which will take place during video/games).

I won't go for external DAC now, as it would be expensive and I suppose that ASUS's shielded Burr-Brown's DAC will do the fine job.

So final chain will be ASUS Essence STX -> YAMAHA AX-500 -> Monitor Audio BX2. Total cost 600 euros.  :wall:

It's twice as much as I planned, but I really hope it will be worth it Smile

Anonymous
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RE: Buying new equip, your opinion wanted

hello,

so all the equipment arrived. Two weeks ago I got Monitor Audio BX2 speakers and older YAMAHA AX-500 receiver. There was no ASUS Essence STX card available, so I had to order and wait.

At first I opened YAMAHA receiver and checked if everything's untouched. It was untouched and also in very good condition. Seems to me like a very good buy at the moment Smile

I connected speakers and computer (with onboard soundcard). Well, at first it was quite shock. Quality was very dissapointing (it sounds even worse than my Genius PC speakers), hights was very muddy and uclear. Terrible.

Then I realized, that I accidentally push the bridge connecting LowMedium and tweeter at one of the speakers :shhh: . So only one tweeter was playing. Quick solve and sound ofcourse impoved. But still not much better that lowcost genius speakers. Lacking clarity and dynamics. :?

In meantime I played with onboard soundcard, EQ and receiver's settings. So I made it sound little bit better, but... definetely not worth the invested money. I was really curious how it will sound once new soundcard arrive.

Yesterday I finally got ASUS's Essence STX, installed it and also did a simple cabling work according to electricity calculations (good switch cable between soundacard and receiver, replaced speakers bridges with proper cables, etc...) to be on the 'safe side'.

Well, improvement to sound was huge ( not because of cabling of course >) ). ASUS card is doing a very decent job, so now the entire sound is very pleasant. Incomparable to what it used to be. Hights, Mids and Basses are sound and clear. There is very good bass response. Wide soundstage. Altogether very detailed but natural sound.

Very satisfied customer here :boohoo: and can definitely recommend this configuration. Very good perfermance/value ratio. It's also very balanced combination.

So, I am gonna enjoy my music, thanks for responses and help.

f.

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