But the OP has explained she doesn't have the time to demo constantly.
May I suggest that you read post 5 page 2 again .
I thought the small room would be preferable as it meant less work for the speakers however there are much larger rooms I could use. 99% of my music is on CDs Hybrid-SACDs we do have a large DVD and Blu-ray collection though, everything is ripped and stored on a RAID.
It seems to me that you are somewhat spoilt for choice, you can go pretty much wherever you like.
It is worth remembering that this is very much an enthusiasts forum and recommendations will be made on the assumption that the equipment will be properly set up and at least reasonably well positioned, something that might be impractical in a 12ft square listening room that doubles as a workspace.
I have been through the whole expensive system / dedicated room experience and now have a much more pragmatic approach, simple easy to use system that just gets used, the emphasis is very much on the music and easy access to it. I tend to be quite old fashioned too, separate systems for my workspace, and living areas would be my choice though of course they can be easily linked.
To me the funtionality is important, I like to keep it simple and find it beneficial to work out what I want while working and what I wand when just listening, for me this is not the same thing, hence the separate system route.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
Ok, so it seems that surround would involve completely changing tack and would throw away what you've got in terms of Mac Mini and NAS. In which case, let's stick to stereo, and I'd suggest two things; a DAC/Headphone amp for the Senns such as a DACMagic Plus or Beresford, and a pair of KEF X300As for speaker duties, which are USB so involve the absolute minimum of faff.
You should hear the X300As first as I haven't, though Mr Clough tells me they're very good.
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I would suggest using a decent tube or valve amp if you really like listening to classical music and Sonus Faber speakers or anything that does'nt sound bright or tiring.
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I think it would help if you named names, prices and London dealers, as I don't think tube or valve amps will mean much to Susie.
This of course would parallel my own views, I would simply point out that the dacs you mention have good line outputs that would drive virtually any active speaker at this end of the market, so there is no absolute requirement for a digital (usb) input on the speakers. My own choice would be perhaps a little more ambitious, maybe an Audiolab Mdac and a pair of Genelec 8020 or 8030 models for example.
On the other hand, should a more conventional system system be required then perhaps a Universal player such as the Oppo mentioned above combined with a decent A/V amplifier, a Yamaha for example. Such a set up would allow you to connect pretty much anything, audio or visual and switch between them on the one unit. Plenty of people on here could offer specific recommendations, this is not my area of expertese.
With the player and amp chosen from recommended units, checking that they offer the functionality you require, then all you need to do is visit a decent dealer and audition suitable (conventional) speakers. Tell the dealer about your amp and most importantly how the speakers will fit into your room, a couple or three photos would not be a bad idea.
This was actually my initial thought, though the presence of the Mac Mini and its capabilites muddies the waters somewhat, and I chickened out.
If this were an option for consideration I'd go for a Yamaha receiver because I like them a lot, but because I like matching stuff I'd probably get something like the Yamaha BDA-1020 universal player. I still think the Cambridge I've got is pretty much best of breed as universal players go but if you want a matching receiver the Cambridge ones are stupid money.
You're right of course - if you're getting a DAC with a headphone ouput (and preamp volume control in the case of the DACMagic+ for sure, dunno about the others), you're open to a number of other small actives. Dynaudio BM5A would be an interesting choice for me, I'm still wavering on Genelec looks.
Do any of your DAC suggestions have a remote preamp volume davedotco? I guess you could manage that with Remote app but its presence would be important for me I think.
The Audiolab MDAC and the Naim DAC V-1 both have remote controlled volume. The new Audiolab QDAC doesn't.
What classical music are you listening to?
There are plenty of options from the likes of Benchmark and others but they tend to be pricey. If we leave aside system based product like Linn and Naim, then the more common UK models are from the likes of Audiolab and MF. Why the DacMagic + does not have a remote I cannot imagine.
If you are prepared to go somewhat 'off piste' then I would take a look at the Matrix models, particularly the Mini-I, not available through the normal retail channels but it can occasionally be found from uk 'internet retailers' for less than £250, does most of what an Mdac does for less than half the price.
Without wishing to mutter 'the A word', there is quite a nice product that could be fed from the digital out of the Dacmagic Plus, has its own volume control and has the advantage of being something of a 'conversation piece'.
You mean these ones? Yes, they were well reviewed in Gramophone.
Just a quick hello and thanks to all just so you know I've not run away. Long day at work I'll get round to answering your posts after my bath.
That's got me all in a lather......
And we were doing so well.
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