Nuprime dac9 or 10 plus Bluesound node 2i. I have the latter and love the pairing. John Casler in LA is your man.
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It’s a total aside to the question you asked, but take a look at getting a Harmony remote to alleviate the 3 remote problem and simplify using your setup for the non-audiophiles in the house. Even the mid-level models can do a great job of making things easier for the wife and kids, but they have more expensive versions that include built-in app control and lots of ability to customize for your setup. They sell refurb versions for a discount on amazon and I’ve had good luck so far with them. This won’t fix any connectivity issues but can possibly take the requirement of included app control off the “must have” list and improve your current situation quite a bit for way less money than you are planning until you find an all-in-one that checks every box and fits your budget...plus I think room correction and airplay are rapidly evolving tech that might be much better if you delay until you really need new gear.
I used to do the 3 remote juggling act until a new puppy got his teeth on the AVR remote...after realizing how much easier life was with a universal remote that was actually good, now every AV setup in the house and two rooms at my parent’s house has gotten a usability upgrade on the cheap with a chromecast audio and a Harmony remote (mostly the non-app versions) and even my tech-inept parents love how much easier things are.
If you want the latest HDR/HDMI format support:
* Marantz SR6013 for $1500.
Even though it uses AKM 4458’s on all channels, if you wish to use a different DAC for stereo music, get the Bluesound Node 2i for $500 as the streamer. For the DAC, your current one is good, but it’s using the ESS 9018, whereas the 9038 is the current gen, and the Topping D50 is $250 and uses dual 9038’s and measures excellent (jitter reduction better than -125dBFS, >20Bit while maintaining +/-0.1dB of linearity, THD below -105dBFS, IMD below -55dB (-105dB at 0dBFs), etc.).
The Marantz can also be run in bi-amp mode if you wish for more power. The quality of the wattage is also pretty high (0.003% THD from 10W to 90W, better than +/-0.25dB linearity with analog inputs, better than -0.3dB with digital inouts, crosstalk better than -75dBFS at max output, SNR >110dBA, etc.)
@maritime--thank you for the suggestions. I've never heard of Nuprime so I'll take a look. I have heard of bluesound but didn't know about the node 2i.
@audionoobie: I have considered the Naim Uniti product lines but I don't think the Atom has enough juice for my ATC speakers. The other two are out of my price range and I haven't seen any used yet. Worthy to keep looking at it. I have heard the Nova with some Focals and the Atom with a pair of Dynaudios. First was pretty awesome but music was too forward for me. Dare I say, bright. Atom/Dynaudio was a fun combo but I wasn't wowed by the sound. No arguing that you have found something good in this suggestion though. Thank you.
@rsf507 : Have you listened to it? What kind of speakers with it. Great suggestion. I think it ticks ALL of my boxes very nicely. I read a DARKO review that led me to believe that it was bright sounding unit. Bright and synonyms thereof scare with my speakers that are detailed themselves. Let me know your thoughts if you've had a listen to it.
@beetlemania- great suggestion minus the $7850 price tag. Maybe in 10 years I'll be able to afford a used one. I'm sure it's amazing, just out of my league.
@ethos123--genius! can you help me understand the connection between the harmony universal remote and the chromecast?
@hk_fan--didn't know a product like this existed. At first i was sceptical of the wireless streaming from a phone or wireless from a pc but the quick review I read was intriguing. Have to do more reading but could be a very nice fit.
@threeeasypayments--kind of looks like a homerun based on my above criteria. Have you listened to it? What were your impressions? Associated equipment?
@mz....--Is that a home theater receiver? After I wrote the post and headed to work this morning I thought of a home theater receiver too. I have a home theater receiver downstairs running my make shift home theater and it's a lot of fun but I have not found it great for listening to music. Fun for movies and video games, less good for music. What is your experience?
Thanks for all the great intel!
@djones: the M100 and M150 are the most intriguing to me and I keep going back to them. On paper they look great. Hard to find any reviews that are of any help. In a world of audio reviews where all of them are positive reviews I kind of read between the lines in a assuming that instead of a reviewer publishing a negative review they just don't publish one at all. That may be assuming too much, however. Have you heard one? Associated equipment? What did you think?
There is a thread, Micromega M100/150 Field Reports, you can refer to. I used to own one and sold it when I bought some Ohm Walsh 2000 speakers and no longer used the room correction. I also used it with a wireless repeater and would have dropouts it needs to be hardwired with an ethernet cable which was not possible in my situation. I had the M100 and it had no problem driving the Paradigm 85f I used to have nor the Ohm's and both sounded great paired with the M100. It's a "swiss army knife" solution but I found I am more old style and went back to simpler style analog amp adding some tubes in the chain. Read the thread some very satisfied users.
It’s a high end one, and any stereo ones with HDMI aren’t as up to date and won’t have as frequenct/timely updates.
As I was hinting at with all the specs I gave, it is excellent for music as well. There is still a $10,000 amp challenge if you think amps that are level matched and operating below audible distortion with linear amplification sound different.
"... the M100 and M150 are the most intriguing to me and I keep going back to them"So did I when I was shopping all-in-one’s, much like your search.
So I bought one (M-100). Haven’t looked back, so far I’m utterly satisfied. Sound quality is superb; build quality, engineering and features are home-runs. Pretty amazing actually, for such a low-profile form factor. More from other owners in related posts here and here.
"Hard to find any reviews that are of any help."This one helped me. Yes it’s provided by Micromega, but it’s legit. That UK hifi magazine is still a bit in dark ages wrt web site, but the M-One review is sound.
Why so few reviews? Who knows. Maybe something to do with ROI with USA marketing & press, relative to all the other brands? Good question for Mssr. Adrien Hamdi, Director of Sales & Marketing at Micromega HQ en Boissy-saint-Leger. Un homme bon, he’ll respond to inquiries.
Another vote for the Naim Uniti Atom. I would believe it could drive your speakers satisfactorily. It powered a pair of Vandersteen Treo Ct's effortlessly and the sound was glorious. Judging the amp on speakers other than your own isn't a fair test for any amp. I wouldn't have been wowed by the speakers you compared it on either. Neither are my cup of tea, but as usual, just my opinion.
"What speakers are you running with it?"Nola Boxers on Dynaudio Stand 4, similar form and spec to your ATC - SCM11 v2. Also have a single REL R-328 sub, soon to be replaced by dual Syzygy SLF870’s.
I didn’t spring for the Micromega "M.A.R.S" room correction (+ $1K). Subs come first, and as it turns out the Syzygy’s have DSP and DRC features, in very innovative fashion.
Source material is mostly .flac from NAS over wired ethernet direct to the M-100, and Tidal "hi-res" over ethernet - also to be replaced as soon as Qobuz is live in USA.
These days less and less redbook CD’s to M-100 RCA-in, but I still buy some to rip to .flac (the recordings I’m after aren’t on Tidal).
Also Chromecast to M-100 optical-in - which I don’t use (it’s for my wife’s Spotify playlists).
@mr_m--wise comments. good stuff.
@usery--Nola! Sweet! Clever speakers. We should be friends. ;)
I see one available on The Music Room with room correction which I think would be smart given my inability to do anything about speaker placement. I purchased my current set up from them and have been pleased. I have also have a sub- polk audio is doing the job nicely, IMO.
If room correction is must-have for you, unit at TMR could be a winner.
If you're in a spot to defer DRC til later (like I'm doing), and $4K is your top-end, you might even be in range of a new M-100. There's a sale going that might land at or just above your budget. No guarantee, PM me if interested. Note I get nothing other than good deedness to dealer who has done well for me recently.
No connection between the harmony remote and the chromecast audio. It was just an example of another inexpensive device to improve functionality of a system. The chromecast would have to be controlled via your phone or tablet or whatever other device you can use to access online streaming services, but for the price ($25-35) they are fantastic...and save you a lot of money to spend elsewhere vs an audiophile streamer. No offense to Taylor Swift or your daughters, but you’re probably not caring about perfecting the sound quality quite as much for those dance parties. The Chromecast is easy to use, inexpensive, and surprisingly effective for making a system more family friendly by allowing access to those streaming services. The Bluesound Node 2i that’s been mentioned is definitely “better”, but it also costs a lot more so it depends how much you value sound quality for streaming...no hi-res with chromecast but it’s not like a crappy old mp3 file either.
If if the goal is to add streaming and make the whole rig easy for the rest of the family to use then a harmony remote plus a chromecast audio can probably do both and all be controlled from a phone or tablet for less than $200. If you can use a remote without the app then you still make things way easier than juggling 3 remotes for like $70.
That at doesn’t add HDMI or room correction or eliminate any extra boxes from your system so I’m not saying it’s definitely how you should go...just one idea to make things a bit simpler without getting into major changes or major cost.
Wanted to chime in on the tonal balance of the gold note is-1000, which i own alongside an ayre ex-8. The gold note is in fact the warmer sounding (and cooler running) of the two units. Streaming, the ayre is clearly more resolving, delicate, and transparent, the gold note privileges strong drive and a rich, moving magnet like sense of midband body. Unlike the ayre, which has a fantastic one; the gold note does not have a headphone out but its included phono stage is truly sonically exceptional (if limited in configurability), even compared to many very fine external phono preamps when using a high quality lomc or mm cart.
Thanks for the info, Transience. The only review I could find on the gold note from digital audio review suggested it sound “hot” which I took to me bright, harsh. Your review is the opposite. I have ATC speakers which are not bright but are detailed. Therefore I have a fear of any bright, detailed equipment. I’m sure the Ayre is amazing. In my mind they’re one of the elite companies making audio these days. However, they’re always out of my price range. How are the control apps for both units? Have you used them? Music direct is now selling AVM stuff which has piqued my interest. I’ve been focusing on the AVM CS 2.2 specifically. Any first hand users of this one?
@joshelston happy to provide my perspectives on the two units respectively. I find the gold note very far from "hot," and the darko review seriously perpexplexing, as if anything the gold note is warm, bold, and a little barrel chested - it’s great strength is midbass pressure and midband richness and color. By comparison the Ayre is silverier, shining with upper presence region purity. They both use mcontrol on mobile and are both roon ready, - the gold note uses an optical alps volume control though so responds more quickly to volume changes and has mqa; the ayre counters with a screen displaying track info. I have an android, but i understand gold note has a dedicated app for iphone/ipad out already. Both are excellent; would pair the gold note with a brighter system and the ayre with a richer one. The gold note phono stage and ayre headphone out are also truly extraordinary.
p.s. as you can tell, I really like the unit's approach and think it's oddly underreported in English language press. This is in polish by a writer for 6moons and other publications, but i think this is the most accurate review of the gold note's approach to sonics (obviously, there are always tradeoffs): http://www.highfidelity.pl/@main-3249&lang=
The parts that stand out as true (translated) are: "The amplifier we are talking about this time seems to be "tuned" for a warm, tube sound. He builds large, effective plans, creates vocals in such a way that they are always in the foreground and the most important, and the top of the band soothes, so that even the smallest paproch, the innocent one, can not slip away.
This is not the first time, and probably not the last one when we are dealing with this type of stylistics in an Italian product. There is something in this sunny, warm, good to live - from the point of view of Northern Europe - the country, which means that the creators, including audio designers, do not make us worry. IS-1000 sounds like it was to be part of the therapy prescribed by a personal trainer, supported by the wisdom of a spiritual guide.
As I say, the most important are the vocals, or - as you can guess - the midrange. He is the king, enlightened by the absolute ruler. Enlightened, because he knows what is needed by his subjects, that is to us, but nevertheless absolute and strong enough to realize his own vision. Listened to this angle Leonard Cohen from the album Popular Problems, from which the song opens the second season of the True Detective series (directed by Nic Pizzolatto, 2015), sounded in a dense and authoritative way. The brightening of the higher diameter, revealing the poor recording of his voice, was gone, and filling and density were left.
The same was with the voice of Brian Flanagan from the album Where Dreams Are Made. This is a classic realization for Stockfisch, ie soft, with a low accent and large vocal. Similarly to the part of the recording of the voice of this studio, also here the part of the higher measure seems to be underlined, the sibilants are a bit stronger than in the best recordings - say - Sinatra. I think I understand the strategy of the executors responsible for these recordings. It would consist in trying to revive quite warm, and thus inherently slower, playing. But in effect, the sound of the voice was also slightly destabilized. It's a sensible choice (compromise), but it's always a choice.
The listening confirms what I said in the introduction, that is, the IS-1000 is an integrated amplifier equipped with a file player and this amplifier is the most important here. He can play with panache, large volume, beautiful color. It is warm, there is no doubt about it and it resembles the sound of small tube amplifiers, but with a higher current efficiency. The bass is not too rigorously controlled, regardless of the settings. It is in it in perfect synchronization, one could say: spiritual communication. Similarly, the mountain - silky and smooth.
The file player (streamer) sounds in turn - there is no surprise - like a warm turntable. We are talking about warm colors, large vocals, relaxed mountain and midrange domination. Not everyone will like it and not every music genre will benefit. However, we are sure that no record, no recording, including Tidal, will sound bad or unpleasant. This is a reasonable compromise, which is in line with the Gold Note philosophy. This sophisticated sound designed for those who like peace and in his name are ready to sacrifice bandwidth and resolution."