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Proposed Upgrade help?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
EDIT:

So just to double check is everyone set on:

Hrt iStreamer?

ODAC (release tbd)?

Objective Amp (release tbd)?

Even with Rocket Scientists (NwAvGuy) estimates, it is well under my budget. Seems good. Could pickup some back up headphones with the left over or a nice case for my audio stuff and a stand.

Everything went better than expected.

Hmm well, this may be part three of my slow head-fi Extravaganza!

Background (optional reading):
Background (Click to show)
1. better iem/in ear headphones: Monster Turbines

2. Decent audio setup: Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros/Fiio E9

3. To infinity and beyond? Jk I told you guys that the Fiio was a stop gap and will be used for my laptop in college until I get more money.

Now that time has arrived for a proper setup.


So since last time I have sold my tablet and am "inheriting" a 64gb 1st gen iPad (more like trading with my mother for something else). This is set. I'm going to be working around the iPad (primarily) and not my PC. Whilst I would love to get a proper PC setup with an digital/optical solution, I don't intend on forking over the cash just yet. And I need a mobile entertainment center for my music and videos that support a DAC, which my Iconia did not either, hence little use.

So an iPad, with tons of audio choices, is perfect for me.

Also Music preferences:
Rap
Classic Rock
Jazz
Electronic/Acid House/Vocal Trance

The Budget:

TL:DR $700

This time we do things some what right. $700 for everything. What is everything you ask? I'm still trying to figure that out myself. I certainly don't have to spend all that money, and could you know, invest it. But for the foreseeable future I don't think I'll have this much cash as I do know. And what the heck, I just want to spoil myself?

What to spend on:

Amp
iPad DAC
(CDs if money is left over, I've been eyeing that greatest hits collection and all other albums of the Eagles for a while)

About the Dac:

I feel that for price to performance, an HRT iStreamer is the best bet. @ 174refurb/200new it offers pretty much all I want. iPad Dac? Check. CD quality? Check.

AMP:

Undecided but heavily leaning on a Millet Max 1.2 (with an optional grubDAC later) or a Millet MiniMAXed hybrid or a prebuilt setup.

I want to try the kits to start with because I have a big interest in amps, and with visiting diyforums and diyaudio, and picking up a few books on Vaccumm tube amplifier construction I see it as a future hobby. Seems fun since I like working with circuits and will analog circuits will let me use some hands one knowledge for my education (even though for Comp Engineer I will mainly focus on digital, so one could argue I should focus on solid state/OPAMP IC amps).

Eventually I will start making my own (if I see it is even possible to do so). Heck I'm thinking if these AMPs are even worth it.

And here lies the questions:

Questions

1. is the HRT iStreamer a good DAC for the price?

2. Should I pickup a prebuilt or kit for the amp?

3. Are the Millet series of Amps good starter kits?

4. Should I even consider Amps as a hobby for the future or am I getting way over my head. I'm thinking within months of understanding DC/AC and advanced circuit design courses with OrCad experience (PSpice and such) and books around the topic, I could start. Start with bread boards and move on to custom designed PCBs?


Note: These Amps are only driving 250 Ohms. And AFAIK I'd like atleast the Preamp stage of the AMP to be Tube, the rest can be solid state. From what I've read so far (which isn't much YET) Tubes are the way to go, so I suppose I'll avoid all solid state amps.

Again I am extremely ignorant I don't deny it. I wanted to ask OCN before talking to anyone on headfi. I just feel comfortable here.

Sorry about the title: I thought I could still add emotiocons to the thread titles. I suppose I no longer can. And I like Headfi just fine, but don't like talking there much. I'm too used to OCN to use other forums as easily.



Any and all advice is appreciated thumb.gif
Edited by Spykerv - 4/19/12 at 1:44pm
     
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post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
Good time to do the bump for today. BUMP!
     
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post #3 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Spykerv View Post

1. is the HRT iStreamer a good DAC for the price?
2. Should I pickup a prebuilt or kit for the amp?
3. Are the Millet series of Amps good starter kits?
4. Should I even consider Amps as a hobby for the future or am I getting way over my head. I'm thinking within months of understanding DC/AC and advanced circuit design courses with OrCad experience (PSpice and such) and books around the topic, I could start. Start with bread boards and move on to custom designed PCBs?

To answer your questions:

1- yes the HRt streamer sound quality is good for the price, plus you can make future upgrades to it.
2- personal choice, i have found good prebuilt amps, and good Diy ones.
3- honestly i have little experience with them
4- It is a nice hobby and expensive one, if you have enough skills you can start something and make your own designs (why not?) check NwAvguy O2 amp.
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post #4 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by musicPC View Post

To answer your questions:
1- yes the HRt streamer sound quality is good for the price, plus you can make future upgrades to it.
2- personal choice, i have found good prebuilt amps, and good Diy ones.
3- honestly i have little experience with them
4- It is a nice hobby and expensive one, if you have enough skills you can start something and make your own designs (why not?) check NwAvguy O2 amp.

Thank you for the answers. I've heard a lot about the O2 amp, will definitely look into it.

This helps ease my mind about the expenses a lot!


also:

O2 amp blog

412

Also http://diyaudioprojects.com/Tubes/ Jeez do I have a lot to learn.
Edited by Spykerv - 4/12/12 at 12:50am
     
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post #5 of 12
I would advise reading all of NwAvGuys blogs. It should solve your problem with wanting to learn about tubes. Cant wait for the desktop amp/dac.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
I have read through a few of his reviews, and all his 02 and ODAC pages.

I tried sending him a PM, but after 20 (I KID YOU NOT) tries, that stupid email service and captcha bs kept saying I was incorrect, when I was clearly correct. 20 times. 20 time


Not one worked. I wasn't even asking him for help or anything, but general advice for the future. What a load of crap (I'm not blaming him, just the garbage service he chose for email). I have never had a captcha ever be incorrect. Not once. 20 times. What garbage.

Well anyways thread bump.


For anyone who is interested in what I was emailing him about:
Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
Hello NwAvGuy!

First, like many, I would like to thank you for your objective analysis of audio equipment.

I have a few questions relating to this and engineering in general.

On the topic of DIY audio you state that: "Some audio designers take off the shelf parts, that were carefully optimized by skilled engineers using hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of equipment, and think can make them work better by using them in ways the designers never intended—like forcing certain op amps into Class A operation."

and

"I think it can but I suspect it rarely is."

I have only recently got into Hi-Fi and transitioned from some cheap $10 IEMs that I keep repurchasing for years on end to some Beyerdynamic DT990 Pros and a Fiio E9. At the time, many said that this was a poor combination, and that the Fiio E9 was not worth it for the cost. I find them fine as a portable solution, but said to myself that I would purchase a better AMP/DAC solution when I had more disposable income.

Recenlty, I've been reading about the realm of DIY audio which such sites as http://diyaudioprojects.com/ and the Millet MAX DIY kit.

I only have basic experience in DC circuits, and am slowly learning about AC circuits, with future courses in Analog and Digital design.

I was hoping to start with DIY kits, and then do extensive reading and start designing my own audio equipment (primarily Amps) starting from breadboarding to PCB design.

Which brings me to your blog, which many have told me to visit. You state that reinventing the wheel is just silly, that a DIYer without proper equipment cannot (which I agree with) go against an Electrical or Audio Engineer with $1000s of equipment. That is logical.

But I would like to clarify with you. Is DIY audio just silly to attempt? Should I either focus on such projects designed by engineers as yourself and/or purchase prebuilt amps. Is it silly to even attempt this? Should PCB design and component selection be left up to those with the equipment? I was thinking it might be a hobby of mine. I am slowly getting into arduino as well, and thought Audio equipment would be something else to do, as I am really interested in.

I am currently a senior in high school, who will major in Computer Engineering (with a possible dual major in Computer Science). Then, I hope to earn a Masters degree in either Computer or Electrical engineer focusing on computer hardware. I hope to work in a R&D company such as Intel, AMD, or TI. But that's just something about me. I've been interested in circuits since 6th grade, working with soldering kits for a few years.

You suggested many Audio Engineer's in your write-up about the 02 amp's details page, all who had helped with your work and invention of the O2. I thought of reading those books, as some are relevant to my course work, but also because I am interested.

Do you think with enough knowledge and some testing equipment in my later years, I could work with DIY audio equipment? I don't look at it as something to maximize cost, just as a hobby. I know it is up for me to decide though.

Thank you for taking the time to read this text and giving me any advice.

I would just like to thank you again for your extensive advice and information on high end audio.

Cordially,

SpykerV


also, suprise suprise, Pete Millet, the designer of the Millet series of AMPs, has over 30 years of experience as an electrical engineer and owned an audio company.

Also found great reading material for when I get into college from NwAv's blog.




Yup, I'm having seconds thoughts of DIY Audio. I should probably not re-invent the wheel. Ever.

Take a look at the company Audio Precision that sells and is honored for creating precision tools to measure said amps.

Cheapest test equipment cost was around $8.5k used

This is the exact face I made:

700
Edited by Spykerv - 4/15/12 at 1:39am
     
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post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
So a bump really with some revisions to the OP.

I'm pretty set on the HRT iStreamer, but I might pick up an ODAC because it is so good. I still cannot decide between the O2 or the O2 desktop edition, as I have a Fiio E7 for portable/on the go music.
     
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post #8 of 12
The ODAC isn't due until May / June though.
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chinesekiwi View Post

The ODAC isn't due until May / June though.

Yeah, but I don't intend on these upgrades until I have to. The point of doing everything correctly really, no rush in these upgrades.

also I'm stupid:

http://www.jdslabs.com/storecat.php?fetchcat=4

PCB for $9.

still think preassembled is worth it
Edited by Spykerv - 4/16/12 at 2:39pm
     
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post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
So just to double check is everyone set on:

Hrt iStreamer?

ODAC (release tbd)?

Objective Amp (release tbd)?

Even with Rocket Scientists (NwAvGuy) estimates, it is well under my budget. Seems good. Could pickup some back up headphones with the left over or a nice case for my audio stuff and a stand.

Everything went better than expected.
     
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Western Digital Caviar Black Zalman CNPS10x Performa Windows 7 Ultimate OEM Samsung 223BW 
KeyboardPowerCaseMouse
Microsoft ergonomics 7000 Corsair 750tx AZZA Solano 1000 Some thing 
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some generic thing Creative Sound Blaster Arena 
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