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Is a 'Hi-Fi setup' even worth it for me? - Page 5

post #41 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiobock View Post
I believe you can get decent DACs for the price of an Asus Xonar Essence STX, but it's debatable whether they're more than a neat improvement (and have less features too). For instance the Maverick D1 Tubemagic is a quite highly regarded $200 DAC in head-fi with both tube and solid state pre-outs and a solid state headphone amplifier that's capable of driving headphones from 15 up to 600 ohms well I hear.
I was not saying otherwise. I would expect a 200$ DAC would produce a good enough signal for a 2000$ system. The reason I said that was my Xonar Essence used to send a digitall signal my Music Fidelity DAC and very recently that broke. So I switched to the analogue signal from the Asus and was pleasently impressed. It wont be as good as what you mentioned. But its ability to do everything is an advantage for its price. The difference over onboard is very noticeable on higher end systems. The most noticeable thing is that you no longer hear the hdd clicking and cpu ticking over. It is just a good starting point for someone who hasnt yet experienced proper hifi.
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post #42 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
I was not saying otherwise. I would expect a 200$ DAC would produce a good enough signal for a 2000$ system.
I wasn't implying I thought you said otherwise

But I did say the superiority of $200 DACs is debatable because for instance the Maverick D1 has the same DA-chip as the higher-end X-Fi cards, so that sort of makes it seem less "hi-fi".
Then again, if the Maverick D1 actually is a lot better than say an X-Fi card then it must be because it has it's own quality power supply and higher quality components and you can disconnect it from the computer's common ground by using S/PDIF TOSLINK, all these little things added might improve the sound, and that'd make sense since the only issue with computer sound cards is the unrefined power and EMI they're getting from other components and fluctuating current levels. Also I bet you already know all this but I'm just stating my trail of thought for everyone else hi-fi curious browsing the thread

Actually I sort of want the Maverick D1 just because it has a DA-chip I've already heard in the X-Fi sound card form, so I can evaluate and sort of compare it's tube and solid state pre-outs and the headphone amp to the normal X-Fi sound card, it sounds such a cool experiment for a hair under $200 with the shipping costs I just got to do it.
    
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post #43 of 70
Low End Digital user here.
What is a reasonable way to convert copper spdif to optical s/pdif toslink?

Use with be either X-Fi XtremeMusic to a Sony 550 1k watt blu-ray HTS or
GTX 560 Ti 2gb via hdmi to Philips 46" to the Sony

I am currently using onboard 680i via Toslink to the Sony HTS, not able to get tv source audio back to HTS when watching TV.
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post #44 of 70
coaxial to optical converters are usually cheap to buy at various electronic stores like circuit city, tiger direct etc. They're usually less than 25 usd.
    
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post #45 of 70
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
Mastering has a a massive effect and you can't compare an unmastered flac vs a mastered mp3.

I m biased but I would tell you to buy the most expensive thing you can afford.

Even with mp3s, a good sound system will add a lot to your enjoyment.
A good budget system would be

http://www.whathifi.com/review/Cambr...udio-DacMagic/

http://www.whathifi.com/review/b%2526w-685

and

http://www.whathifi.com/review/yamaha-a-s500

then throw in this cabling

http://www.whathifi.com/review/qed-x-tc

It seems like a lot but I skipped out the i7 generation and spent everything on some pretty highend stuff. Best upgrade I ve ever made as it will last 10 years.

Also you slowly recreate your entire music collection with flac. It is a long term affair. Over the last 4 years, I got about 5000 flac files and only have another 1000 to go.
Can you explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of a powered speaker like the Audioengine A5's vs the B&W 685's? With the B&W will the quality of my Amp/Receiver be the key to how they sound?
I'm liking the A5's because they are right in my price range for what I want to start with. Later on I will add a soundcard, or possibly a standalone DAC, but more than likely a soundcard for now.


Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
I was not saying otherwise. I would expect a 200$ DAC would produce a good enough signal for a 2000$ system. The reason I said that was my Xonar Essence used to send a digitall signal my Music Fidelity DAC and very recently that broke. So I switched to the analogue signal from the Asus and was pleasently impressed. It wont be as good as what you mentioned. But its ability to do everything is an advantage for its price. The difference over onboard is very noticeable on higher end systems. The most noticeable thing is that you no longer hear the hdd clicking and cpu ticking over. It is just a good starting point for someone who hasnt yet experienced proper hifi.
Some of the reasons you listed are why I feel like a soundcard will fit me best for now.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiobock View Post
I wasn't implying I thought you said otherwise

But I did say the superiority of $200 DACs is debatable because for instance the Maverick D1 has the same DA-chip as the higher-end X-Fi cards, so that sort of makes it seem less "hi-fi".
Then again, if the Maverick D1 actually is a lot better than say an X-Fi card then it must be because it has it's own quality power supply and higher quality components and you can disconnect it from the computer's common ground by using S/PDIF TOSLINK, all these little things added might improve the sound, and that'd make sense since the only issue with computer sound cards is the unrefined power and EMI they're getting from other components and fluctuating current levels. Also I bet you already know all this but I'm just stating my trail of thought for everyone else hi-fi curious browsing the thread

Actually I sort of want the Maverick D1 just because it has a DA-chip I've already heard in the X-Fi sound card form, so I can evaluate and sort of compare it's tube and solid state pre-outs and the headphone amp to the normal X-Fi sound card, it sounds such a cool experiment for a hair under $200 with the shipping costs I just got to do it.
I'm listening, thanks for sharing.


Sadly there is little to no hope for converting my music collection I currently enjoy from mp3 to anything else. This is partially why I don't want to go full out on a system, but I still want an improvement like many of you stated will happen even with mp3.

What I am looking for is separation of each individual sound (I say each sound, not instrument, because EDM usually just has different sounds lol) into a more enjoyable presentation that doesn't get blurred together at times (live recording could also be a cause of this, there is usually a lot of cheering in the set).
I want noticeable but soft (?) highs that won't hurt my ears when a girl with a high pitched voice is singing or a random high pitched note comes on.
I want fast responsive bass that doesn't distort, but is accurate and still delivers a punch because most of my music has low octaves in its roots.
If I had to choose, I would pick separation and accurate representation over bass punch...just so you know what page I'm on.

I listen to music pretty much any time I am home. If no one else is here and I can, I listen to it extremely loud (like can be heard from a house away).
I sometimes scoot my chair across the room and sit facing my speaker and just let the bass hit me in the chest and enjoy some of my favorite tracks.


Please don't laugh at me, but this is what I have now
I can probably sell them to a friend along with my Kenwood KR-A4040 and keep my NAD 7130 for possible future use.
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post #46 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
I sometimes scoot my chair across the room and sit facing my speaker and just let the bass hit me in the chest and enjoy some of my favorite tracks.
That can't be healthy for your hearing, love.

But I feel like you're dwelling too much in the mp3-guilt. The only things I've noticed with low-bitrate mp3 is less dramatic and throaty vibrato of especially female singers, a faint 80's computer "blep-blop" like effect in crash cymbals and other complex high pitched instruments, and slightly less bass and high extension and clarity. 192kbps CD rips should still sound awesome on an awesome system, I'm talking literally straight YouTube rips here, which is 128kbps and very likely less than optimally converted.

As far as active speakers vs. passive ones, I'd get active monitors because their integrated amplifiers have protection circuits from overdriving the transducers, which most likely prevents you from destroying them if you ever "crank it up" Also the active cross-over circuits and separate amplifiers for tweeter and woofer transducers will most likely result in clearer treble and bass extension than regular single amp + passive cross-over, which also warm up over time. As such passive cross-overs may alter the sound after several hours of loud playback. I've never experienced this but I listen at modest volumes.

But you certainly seem to like loud volumes so I have my doubts are the Audioengine A5 loud enough for your use without a subwoofer.. I'm personally getting active monitors with a 8" woofer just because they're physically bigger and in theory should be able to produce more lows with less transducer extension, so the playback stays balanced and detailed but has some authority to it. Of course I'm going to get a big subwoofer to compliment them and take care of the lowest grunts of bass, but the woofer should be able to pack a sharp, accurate punch on the upper and mid-bass IMO.
Edited by Shiobock - 3/15/11 at 3:26am
    
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post #47 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by fl0w3n View Post
Can you explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of a powered speaker like the Audioengine A5's vs the B&W 685's? With the B&W will the quality of my Amp/Receiver be the key to how they sound?
I'm liking the A5's because they are right in my price range for what I want to start with. Later on I will add a soundcard, or possibly a standalone DAC, but more than likely a soundcard for now.



Some of the reasons you listed are why I feel like a soundcard will fit me best for now.
you should read this

http://www.whathifi.com/Review/Audioengine-A5/

seems like they frit your needs and are talented at improving mp3s.

Personally I think these would be def worth spending a bit more cash
http://www.whathifi.com/review/epoz-aktimate-mini

But listen to their advice about stands. Its very important for the separation you crave. I personally recommend something like the atacama nexus i.

Then get the xonar essence stx sound card. A dedicated dac would be overkill for those speakers.
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post #48 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shiobock View Post
But you certainly seem to like loud volumes so I have my doubts are the Audioengine A5 loud enough for your use without a subwoofer.. I'm personally getting active monitors with a 8" woofer just because they're physically bigger and in theory should be able to produce more lows with less transducer extension, so the playback stays balanced and detailed but has some authority to it. Of course I'm going to get a big subwoofer to compliment them and take care of the lowest grunts of bass, but the woofer should be able to pack a sharp, accurate punch on the upper and mid-bass IMO.
No highend sound system ever has a woofer. It is not a good thing to do. This is because you running into timing issues and the bass becomes lazy and saturates the rest of the music. Anyone who has heard made by bose will know this. The only use for a woofer is for movies.

It is better to spend the woofer money on a better pair of speakers.

In this price range, it makes no difference if they are active or passive.
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post #49 of 70
Quote:
Originally Posted by chasefrench View Post
No highend sound system ever has a woofer. It is not a good thing to do. This is because you running into timing issues and the bass becomes lazy and saturates the rest of the music. Anyone who has heard made by bose will know this. The only use for a woofer is for movies.

It is better to spend the woofer money on a better pair of speakers.

In this price range, it makes no difference if they are active or passive.
What? A woofer is the middle frequency transducer, you're talking about a subwoofer. I was talking of active speakers which have a 8" middle frequency element for $400-500, for a subwoofer I'd consider nothing less than a 12" and would certainly fork another $400 for, at least. Also I've seen two high-end systems with a subwoofer, I'm not sure of the other one but the other one had Martin Logan electrostatic speakers and two 10" subwoofers in a dedicated music listening room, the others were electrostatics too because whilst being high-end they don't have too powerful frequency response in the lowest frequencies. The use of a subwoofer doesn't auto-rape the sound even on a high-end system if you know what the hell are you doing with acoustics, phase, positioning and crossfeed, you shouldn't be so eager to mud-sling on subwoofers, because there's very little amount of pure stereophile systems which have a very low reaching frequency response, a subwoofer will always take load off the mid. frequency woofers on bass heavy music genres and improves the frequency response AND transient playback on both low and mid range, as long as the subwoofer is correctly set-up and isn't set to 11 movie theater style. Of course the effort and money you need to put into improving a high-end system with a subwoofer grows quite big, but if you ever expected audio bliss from Bose or any plug-and-play style solution, you're SOL, so no wonder you have a bad image on subwoofers.

And you might be right about the price range thing when considering passives/actives quality, but you still cannot blow an active unit with over-current protection like you can blow a passive one. Then again if active speaker blows up you cannot replace the amplifier like you can in a passive system, so basically a passive system is easier to improve and upgrade, taken that you know a thing about speaker impedance and efficiency which most people should get to know anyway if they want to dapple into the real hi-fi territory (not that I'd know anything about that, I'm just a mid-fi person)

Also IMO Audioengine A5 are hi-fi enough to gain audible benefits with DAC units instead of PCI/PCI-e sound cards, but the Essence STX is most likely good enough for just about any non high-end hi-fi set-up.

Did OP say he wants new speakers because the OP states he'd like to keep the ones he has now. If anything he might be well off with a receiver that has optical input and take the sound directly from his motherboard to that, that'd be a step-up from the integrated sound cards DA-chip AND his amplifier.
Edited by Shiobock - 3/15/11 at 6:46am
    
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post #50 of 70
I did mean subwoofer. Thanks for assuming I wasnt an idiot.

To be fair, the martin logans subwoofer is built into the speaker, and recieves the same signal as the mids and treble. Therefore timing is not an issue. My problem is with 2.1 systems which have a completely separate subwoofer.

Also the Xonar Essence has a pretty good built in DAC. The card has a better SNR rating than even my cyrus amps.

Sensitivity is also very important but not at this price range. I recently got a pair of B&W 805s second hand and sold them on within a week cos they were too hard to drive.
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