I love music and I adore quality sound - I cannot listen to music on ordinary speakers/devices.
I have been trying to do my research on sound systems/speakers/amps etc.. and learn/understand the whole shebang, but I'm not that much of a tech head.
I want to buy the Klipsch RF-7 II tower speakers (I think they are passive, hence requiring an amp).
I want them for both my new TV and also the vinyl/turntable setup I am going for, which is as follows:
Turntable - ProJect Debut Carbon Premium with Ortofon 2M RED (cartridge) Phono (pre-amp) - ProJect Phono Box DS Speakers - as above Subwoofer - thinking either Klipsch R-12SW or R112SW Amp - ??
I have a few questions:
1. Am I on the right tracks for having all the essentials? 2. Can someone recommend a good amp to power my speakers and sub please, and does the sub need powering or does it have it's own amp? 3. Do I need a DAC for TV and connection to laptop? If so can you recommend a good one please? I was thinking of Audioengine D1 Premium 24 bit DAC Interface Connector. 4. Please suggest any alternative products if any of the stuff I mentioned are no good or don't fit together that well. 5. How would I set all of this up? Do I need anything else? 6. Do I need more speakers? I'm worried that the sub may be too much bass and drown out the tower speakers.
I apologise for my lack of knowledge - I've just signed up here because I read that I could get advice and guidance from enthusiasts and experts. I know that my questions and post may frustrate some of you as I may have made some rookie mistakes, and perhaps this type of post has been done a 100 or so times but wasn't sure how to get answers/help.
First thought is that I would not worry about buying a sub “for now”. I think it would be better to take that money and put more into a high-current amplifier for the RF-7 tower speakers. The Klipsch speakers are very efficient, which means you don’t need a lot of power to get loud volume. However, with two 10” woofers, a low powered amp will be weak in the bass/midbass area. A really good high-current amplifier will be able to push the 10” woofers much better and you may end up feeling like you don’t need a subwoofer at all. Please let me know your intended budget for an amplifier and I can help advise with some options.
Second thought. I see you have a “phono preamp” on your list, which is definitely required for the turntable. However, you still need a “normal preamp” to run the signal through and control volume – as well as be able to select from different audio sources (such as DAC or dvd/bluray or computer). That ProJect Phono Box DS might be a good option, but it uses an external switching power supply adapter. It would be much better to buy an additional external linear power supply, but this is obviously more money.
Third thought. That Audioengine D1 is really a very poor option for a DAC. It’s great for what it does (a cheap usb to analog convertor for computer desktop speakers). However, it is powered by USB cable and it is going to suffer greatly on sound quality when compared to other DACs.
Based on these thoughts and requirements, if you look at the bargain basement home theater processors, you can get a real gem. The HT Processors really don’t keep their value at all because of the perception that you need the latest and greatest digital decoding / HDMI2.0 / Atmos, room correction, etc. etc. As a result, the value drops like crazy the older they get (this is not like 2-channel audio!!!) The older HT processors can be used as an extraordinary preamp for the money
I think I have found an option that might be good for you. There’s an Integra DHC-60.5 home theater processor on ebay now for $439 from a seller that has 100% positive feedback (csdsl2000). Original retail was $2,000. Try making an offer for $400 – he’ll probably take it. Shipping is FREE on this one. This will work as a DAC and a preamp for any source. Even though it is a multi-channel home theater processor, it can be setup to only use 2-channel left/right speakers. It will allow you to grow if you want to add more speakers (such as a center channel or surrounds or a powered subwoofer). Coincidentally, it also has a phono/turntable input, so you would not need to buy that “ProJect Phono Box DS”. It is fairly recent and has HDMI inputs, so you can hookup a low-cost bluray player (such as a Sony) to play CD / DVD / Bluray stuff. It also has component and composite video inputs. Video outputs include HDMI / component / composite, so you will be able to hookup any television to it. The only caveat is that this processor does not have a “true analog pass through” mode, so any analog source (such as turntable) will be converted to digital and then converted back to analog. It does have a “Direct” mode, which limits the digital processing. In your situation, I don’t think you are at the level where “true analog pass through” will be beneficial. The amount of benefits/features this processor gives will outweigh this tiny detriment. It’s pretty much an “all in one” unit for DAC, audio/video processing, phono turntable preamp and general preamp. It has a really excellent linear power supply (for sound quality) and a whole lot of other options (network streaming for Spotify, Pandora, etc., video processing/upscaling, iphone/ipad remote app, etc.). I think it would be really hard to beat this for the price.
There are other cheaper options for older HT processors, such as Rotel RSP-1066/1098, B&K Ref 50, Proceed AVP, Krell Showcase. These will not have HDMI inputs, but some might have better sound quality. They all differ in sonic signature. B&K will have a very warm/rich sound. Krell will be very detailed and fast. Rotel will be on the detailed/fast side also. They will probably not have a phono input, so you may still have to buy the “ProJect Phono Box DS”. They are also much older and will probably not have the longevity of the Integra. You can also look at more expensive processors in the $500-1000 area. It depends on your budget.
As far as connecting a computer, your best option is to look for a USB-to-SPDIF converter. They can range anywhere from $50 on up to $5,000. It depends on your budget. The Wyred 4 Sound uLink is a very nice one for the money, but you can go cheaper in the beginning if you wish. Get the Blue Jean Cable Beldon 1694A for a SPDIF coax cable. It is the absolute best “for the money”. However, if you are just using a computer to play CDs, you are better off getting a low cost bluray player (such as Sony BDP-6700 for $99).
My approach would be different. I would ask myself some questions about "what I want in a hi-if or audio system?". After which deciding upon the room you will be listening will help pick speaker size and how much power you might need. My neighbor asked me to help him with an audio system. He wanted convenience and the ability to entertain people outside on his deck and inside his home in two rooms. We found the Sonos system was perfect for him and he luvs it. For serious listening, many here think one should audition speakers first, since everyone has a different coloration they like. Warm sound, dark and clinical, etc. Some brand speakers sound very good with vocals, acoustic and jazz. Others are better for rock or pop. Knowing this for yourself can help pick the RIGHT speakers for you. Take some music and visit some dealers to demo gear. This is very important because they can really help educate you and pinpoint your kind of system. Forums like this are just one part of this process. We all can educate you on different kinds of equipment and configurations, but you really need to LISTEN to audio gear too. In the end, trust your ears, not any hyped brand or model. BTW when I started my audio journey for the second time in my life I wanted a Home Theater and hi-if system both rolled into one. Now I have found that building two separate systems is better for ME. I have a budget HT system in my main living room and a dedicated room and audio system for hi-fi.
How did you come to make your speaker choice? There are so many in that price range.
if music was the priority, I would purchase a quality (within budget) integrated amplifier (preamp + amp). Many come with an internal phonostage with pre or sub outs. Some have HT pass through to allow use of a video processor for your TV.
If support for video is a priority then the suggestion for searching out a used high end HT processor is another route.
If you're sticking with those speakers, I'd recommend a class D amplifier. There are loads of brands to choose from. I have a pair of class D monoblocks that I purchased here for $600. They put out 500 w into 4 Ohms, which is the stated impedance of my speakers. My speakers both have side firing 12" drivers and my amps control them just fine. I haven't found the need for a sub yet.
+1 on what @auxinput says about needing a preamp. I don't know if I'd go the HT processor route, as I prefer to keep everything stereo and analog, but a preamp is necessary. Unless, of course, you buy an integrated amp, which combines the amp and preamp into one chassis. You could even find an integrated with a built in phono preamp and get rid of the need for another box. And there are plenty of class D integrated amps to choose from...
Okay, no sub for now - 1 less thing to worry about.
I initially was only trying to get a setup for my turntable, but then my father was looking for a soundbar or speakers for the new TV we have in the lounge area so I thought of extending my setup to include the TV.
But if it's easier to purchase some average active speakers with DAC for the TV and then focus on my setup purely for music (vinyl on the turntable, and occasional iPhone/iPod/laptop connection) then I'll do that instead.
If this is a better approach then please recommend a good pair of active speakers and DAC - I was looking at the Audioengine A5+, any good?
Okay, so for my music setup, integrated amp (preamp + amp) or high end HT processor? I guess if no TV is in the mix then the integrated amp would be a better approach right? And I would still need a DAC if ever I wanted to plug in laptop for example, right? Any recommendations here? Unless of course you guys tell me that it's still a good option to try to incorporate the TV for my father and I should go down the HT processor route?
As for budget, I don't know how much I should be spending on an amp or HT processor. I want good quality, I like to have the best or close to. I know in this game the best could cost $25,000 for example, and I'm not going to pay that. But let's say $1,500 max, but of course if there are ones in the 400-800 area for example that will bring out the best of the speakers then great! I'll leave it up to you guys for recommending a few in different price categories with pros and cons.
Can you also please recommend a good phone preamp if the one I was looking at is no good?
I am interested in the Klipsch RF-7 II speakers based on some research and some reviews but I'm open to alternatives. I have a few others on the list that I was considering - PSB Image T6, Wharfedale Diamond 11.5, Aperion Audio Intimus 6T, Dali Zensor 7.
I guess, I'm open to any suggestions for both setup and type of devices, as well as the devices themselves.
Everything l came up with was all based on my research and knowledge but it clearly shows that I have a lot more to learn. Hopefully I'll get there and over time be able to experiment with different products and setups to one day contribute as you guys do :)
Many kind thanks once again, nice to know that there are audiophiles out there who are willing to share the wealth!
Besides being nice and tidy, what other benefits does an integrated amp (preamp + amp + phono preamp) have? Do you have any recommendations based the budget I mentioned? I don't know too many makes/models.
Does anyone have any reasons why I shouldn't go with the RF-7 II speakers?
How about DAC? Thoughts and recommendations please?
What sources do you have for the TV? Satellite? Bluray/DVD? Powered speakers are cheap, but you might still have to get some sort of HT Processor to handle the audio/video. It may be best just to look for an inexpensive AV Receiver and pair with some good but economical speakers. The ELAC B6 booshelf speakers (designed by Andrew Jones) have been known to be very excellent. Then pair with a used AV Receiver. You are still pushing $600-800 for this.
As far as the turntable system, one item that comes to mind is the Parasound Halo Integrated. Obviously, it is a preamp/amplifier combination, but it also has both a DAC and a phono preamp built in. The unit has a USB input for the DAC, so you can connect your computer directly to it. I think used ones typically come up for around $1600-1800. There's a new-in-box one on ebay for $1999. Just search for "parasound halo integrated". It also has an analog crossover and subwoofer output that would allow you to add a powered sub at anytime. It's very versatile.
There are other great integrateds, such as Hegel. Some of them will have a DAC built in. Almost none will have a phono preamp. You can definitely get better sound quality by having a separate DAC and phono preamp, but it can get expensive. You should probably post questions in other forums. Use the Analog forum for phono preamp questions. Use the Digital forum for DAC questions.
One DAC that comes to mind is the Gustard X20 Pro, with USB input for $869. This has been known to be a really excellent DAC for the money and will match DACs that are much more expensive.
As far as speakers, this is very personal as everyone has a different idea of what they like. I would recommend just going out and listening to different speakers to get an idea of the "kind of sound" you like. Certain brands have their own sonic signature and it will help to dial in the type of sound you are looking for. Speakers sound very different.
Check out Peachtree audio. They make some very solid integrated amps that have a built in DAC as well, though I can't remember if they have a built in phono too.. but they look great and apparently sound lovely. They utilize class D amps..
I believe you are on the right track keeping the TV and music systems separate. One option, check out the Yamaha 801 integrated amp. It has phonostage and DAC, has subwoofer output, at 100wpc will drive most an speaker in your price range. Retail is under $1000.
As auxinput posted, speaker choice is very subjective. You need to audition a few and make your own decision.
auxinput: The sources for TV will just be satellite, no Bluray or DVD. Those Elac B6 speakers seem like a great choice, and I assume you mention them because they are better than the Audioengine A5+ speakers? Could you also recommend a good AV receiver to go with them please?
Thanks for the advice on posting in other forums. I'll do that for the phono preamp and DAC. But thanks for recommending the Gustard X20 Pro. Before I move the phone preamp to another forum, I'd appreciate your recommendation on a good one to suit.
I know speakers are personal and everyone says I should go and listen, but I don't know of any decent hi-fi store that has these types of speakers and equipment to check out.
toddverone: Those Peachtree Audio amps look amazing. I'll take a deeper look to see if any have built in phono preamp. Thanks for suggesting.
mesch: Thanks for the integrated amp recommendation. And yes I have definitely decided to keep the TV and music systems separate. How does the Yahama 801 compare to the Parasound Halo?
If the sources for the TV will be satellite
only, then you don't necessarily need an HDMI processor/receiver. Satellite will always be compressed dolby
digital, so you can go old-school. Even
if you add on DVD/bluray, old-school digital COAX is still excellent.
The ELAC are excellent speakers for the
money. They are passive speakers
(require amplifier). The AudioEngine A5+
are powered speakers (amp built in). I
don’t know anything about that product.
However, if you are looking at powered speakers, I would recommend taking
a look at the Emotiva AirMotive series.
The AirMotive 5s are $499 (only 100 dollars more). They have better amplifiers (2x50 watts for
each speaker instead of 1x50). The two
internal amps power the woofer and tweeter individually. The tweeter is a ribbon driver, which will be
cleaner and less bright/harsh than other tweeters. If you are interested, call Emotiva and ask
if they have any “warehouse seconds”.
These are typically items that are returned within 30 days by customers
who are just “trying them out” – and they come with 1 year warranty. Even if they don’t, for $500 I don’t think
you can buy better.
Then just look for a bargain basement HT
processor, or a 2-channel preamp/DAC. An
HT processor will provide you the ability to grow if you want to add a center
channel or sub. Examples are B&K Ref
20 (if you want a warm sonic signature). Or Krell Showcase.
You can try to find a used 2-channel preamp
with a built in DAC, but it’s likely to be much more expensive. Although I did look at Audio-GD. You can get an Audio-GD NFB-11.28 DAC/preamp
for $330 plus shipping (probably about $50 to USA). The Audio-GD have been around for a long time
and have always been very high sound quality.
The ELAC + receiver combination is not going to be anywhere the level of
sound quality that an Airmotive 5s + Audio-GD NFB-11.28 combination. The Emotiva/Audio-GD is going to be very high
resolution and excellent. You would have
to spend a lot more on a receiver to be able to match the Emotiva/Audio-GD
level, and at that point you are going to be way over the $1,000 mark and it
still may not even be as good (there’s just so much more you have to pay for in
a receiver and it’s not worth the money if you’re not going to use it – such as
8-11 extra channels, room correction, HDMI, etc.). You should be able to configure your
satellite receiver to output 2-channel stereo audio through the digital
connection and then get a Blue Jean Cable Beldon 1694A 6 foot digital cable to
connect them ($20). Another good thing
about this combination is that both items will be new/newish and you will have
good longevity (when compared to buying really old stuff).
Relating to my DAC recommendation. Just to let you know, I have spent the last
several years, as a hobby, doing extensive R&D on DAC/preamp circuits. Modifying and rebuilding circuits, I/V, gain
stages, power supplies. I have gone
through many iterations to determine what works and what doesn’t (i.e. cap
choice, negative feeback, I/V, power supply, op amp choice, etc. etc.). The Gustard X20 pro does many things “right”. Separate linear power supplies for digital
and analog (where many others use switching power supply for digital sections –
BAD). Metal walls to shield sections
from EMI/RF. Excellent choice of caps
and layout/design. Fully discrete analog
output stage. Excellent digital clock
(looks like a TXCO clock, maybe even an OXCO clock). Fully balanced/differential from the DAC
chip. For $869, this DAC competes with
others in the $2,000-3,000 level. You
can read tons of forum feedback on this DAC.
You will probably get a lot of other opinions for “best DAC”, but I
think this is an excellent choice. I was
actually planning on getting one of these next year for my next project because
it is such an excellent platform/design, but I found a much better DAC to work
with. I plan to get the LKS MH-DA004
which is twice as expensive at $1599 with USB (but it looks like a giant killer
that will compete in the $3,000-5,000 area).
Actually, the LKS is about 95% close as to how I would design something
if I had the capability to do it from the ground-up. The Gustard is second at about 80% maybe.
I took a quick look at the Yamaha 801. It’s pretty good. However, remember you are comparing a $799
retail integrated to a $2495 retail integrated.
The Parasound is just going to be in another league. I do agree that the Yamaha would be a good
choice if you are at that budget level. It
looks like you can get a used one for around $475. The Parasound transformer and power supply
look to be beefier. The Parasound is
also going to use much higher quality internal components. The Parasound is just going to sound much
more refined and could have a lot more brute force for bass punch/muscle.
As far as the Peachtree, I have listened to
Class D stuff and I have decided that it is not for me. Many others love the Class D. When I listen, I can agree that it is
extremely clean sounding. However, it
just does not have that “organic” feel – there is no emotional connection for
me to the music, also not as much high frequency “air”. Many others love the Class D, so I’m not
attacking the technology. However, there
are a couple companies that are putting a discrete Class A input stage on the
amplifiers that make it sound sweeter and livelier. The two examples I know of are the PS Audio
S300/M700 amps and the Nord “One Up” series (I would recommend the Sparkos
opamp option over the Sonic Imagery if you are looking at one of these). I haven’t heard them, but I would think they
would sound less “sterile” than the other Class D offerings.
If you are considering an external DAC like
the Gustard, then there are probably better integrateds than the Parasound
Halo. Especially if you are also looking
at an external phono preamp. It really
depends on your budget.
I do know someone who has excellent results
with the PS Audio Nuwave phono preamp.
Like I said, I have no experience with phono preamps, so I could not
Speakers – this is difficult. If you post a
question like “what is the best speaker for $1300”, you will get 15 different opinions
and “everyone is right”, lol. And the
recommendations will be all over the board, just making you more confused. Do you have a Best Buy / Magnolia Hi-Fi near
you? It’s a good place to start. Just go in and ask to listen. It will at least give you an idea of basic
B&W, Martin Logan, Definitive Technology sounds. Then you can post a question like “I like the
sound of the B&W xx model speaker.
Is there a better choice given the type of sound that the B&W
provides”. Then you can get into a
discussion on how one speaker is different from another speaker. Without a baseline, it’s almost like asking a
blind man to describe what “seeing” is like.
Auxinput has been very generous in his provision of extensive and excellent advice. Most certainly the Parasound Halo is better built than the Yamaha at 2.5 times the price.
My recommendations were to pertain to the music system as I would prefer to spend most of my dollars there. I don't believe in spending to much to augment the TV experience. For that I would purchase a used AVR and set up a LRC 3 channel system.
I recommended the Yamaha as it is a quality product that, was within budget (as I understood it), and it made for a simpler system, having a DAC, phonostage likely as good as the Project that was proposed, and has the possibility of adding a subwoofer.
Laher, could you please provide a better read on your budget for the two systems?
For my father's TV setup it can look something like this: - Emotiva AirMotive 5s (powered speakers, i.e. built in amp) - HT processor (Krell Showcase or B&K Ref 20) OR 2 channel preamp/DAC (Audio-GD NFB-11.28) -
configure satellite receiver to output 2-channel stereo audio through the digital connection and get a Blue Jean Cable Beldon 1694A 6 foot digital cable to connect them
Questions: do I need a preamp for powered speakers? do the HT processors you suggested have built in DAC and/or preamp?
For my vinyl setup it can look something like this:
- tower speakers (passive, make and model TBD) - integrated amp such as Parasound Halo (phono preamp, preamp, amp, DAC) OR integrated amp (one that does not have DAC) + external DAC (
Gustard X20 pro or LKS MH-DA004) - turntable (still thinking about the
ProJect Debut Carbon Premium with Ortofon 2M RED cartridge)
Questions: do I need to consider anything else in this setup? what type of cables do I use? If I do go with the external DAC, please suggest a better integrated amp (as you mentioned). If this doesn't include phone preamp then I could consider the
PS Audio Nuwave phono preamp, but perhaps it's better to have an integrated amp that does include this and just have the external DAC, what do you think? perhaps there are even better integrated amps for the money that don't have phono preamps and then I get both DAC and phono preamps as external.
I totally appreciate your comments about speakers, and I know how difficult it is to give advice without a foundation to build upon. I live in the UK and just moved to a new city and I have not been able to find a decent hi-fi store, they all seem to be commercial shops that sell the standard sony, panasonic, samsung type speakers that non audiophiles will buy.
I'm not sure if this helps but my vinyls are mainly jazz, blues, soul, but if and when I do plug in iPod/iPhone or laptop then I will play music with more bass and more of a punch like hip hop, house, rock, RnB.
Thanks Mesch for the consideration against my original mentioned product for the same budget, it's good to know that I have a good option (Yamaha 801) for around that price bracket. And I agree in not spending too much on the TV setup, my father isn't that interested in having the best, but I will also be watching and listening on this setup so I'd like it to be decent enough.
I guess to answer everyone's question about budget (which is difficult because I hadn't really considered it and set any limit):
For the TV setup - maybe betwen $1000-1,500 but of course if it's possible to go lower than great. For Vinyl setup - anywhere between $3000-5000 but this is for me to so willing to go higher as necessary.
If it helps in providing amp recommendations, I don't think I'll want to add a sub to the TV setup but may want to on my vinyl setup but earlier comments said that with the right amp and setup, the types of tower speakers I was considering will have enough bass, so this is fine for me. So it's not an essential to have that option for my vinyl setup.
Thanks again all for your knowledgeable expertise and insights and for your patience with me as a newbie.
Though I certainly understand the interest in powered speakers, I prefer ownership of a separate amplifier and speakers. This allows one greater flexibility to change out speakers. Given this preference, for the TV system I would consider the purchase of an integrated amplifier w/DAC and a set of speakers. I also am more inclined to use a subwoofer with video than with audio. As a FYI, there is a Yamaha A-801S amplifier being offered here on AG. Not trying to push you in that direction, just believe it to be one quality full service integrated for your budget. There are others.
Regarding a vinyl/digital based system with emphasis toward vinyl, within a $5000 budget, it might serve you to start a separate thread asking for advice for the turntable/arm/cartridge for such a system. One could easily be justified in placing the same budget towards the TT as the speakers in such a system.
I would strongly consider searching the used market for speakers as well as an integrated amp, DAC, and phonostage however packaged. Your speaker choice will establish the need for amplification power. Stay away from speakers that are hard to drive. Seek out quality over quantity power.
Wow, you’re in UK? That does make things a lot more difficult
because most sellers in USA will not ship to UK.
Okay for your TV setup, I would nix the
idea of an HT Processor because it is going to be hard to find something that
can ship to you within your budget. So:
- Emotiva AirMotiv 5s - $499 USD (check
with Emotiva to see if they will ship this to UK)
- Audio-GD NFB-11.28 $330 USD plus shipping
(they will ship to UK)
Alternatively, you could move up the
DAC/preamp to an Audio-GD NFB-29.28. It
is twice as much at $638 USD. However,
it is a better DAC/preamp and it also has more inputs (for both analog and
digital), just in case you need to expand.
It depends if you want to spend the extra money.
Or you could do like mesch says and get a very low-cost integrated with some ELAC B6 speakers.
In addition, you will also need that digital
cable (Blue Jean Beldon) and a set of RCA audio cables that are long enough to
reach the AirMotivs (maybe something like 6 feet?). You can start with cheap cables initial if
you want. Or buy something like the
Audioquest solid-core interconnects.
Regarding your vinyl/dac system, the
challenge here is that the availability/shipping AND the UK exchange rate is
going to kill you. For local stuff, you
can try looking on the Ebay “UK” site (https://www.ebay.co.uk/). I see several integrated amps from Ebay “UK” that
I would put on a list:
HEGEL H200 Integrated Amplifier USED - £1,499.00
/ $1,969 USD. This is only an integrated amp with no
additional phono or DAC. It is the most
powerful of this short list and the Hegel is known to be very refined
sounding. The Hegel will likely be the
best out of this list, but you would have to buy both an external DAC and phono
Parasound Halo Stereo Integrated Amplifier
DEMO - £2,195.00 / $2,884 USD. This has everything built into it already. Parasound is known to have a lot of
punch/slam (maybe even more than Hegel?).
It’s a great starter platform, but you can always expand/improve by
adding external DAC or phono preamp. This
DEMO on Ebay UK is actually more than USD Retail, so if you were interested in
this one, I would just buy a new one from Audio Advisor in the USA (they will ship
to UK as long as they ship to your credit card address). It may be hard to find a used one that will
ship to UK.
I included two, one used and one new, so
that you can see a range. The Arcam will
be very sweet sounding and easy to listen to (it is biased into Class A to 20
watts, but will output up to 120 watts per channel). It will not have the slam/punch as the
Parasound/Hegel. This includes a phono
Marantz PM-14S1 Integrated Stereo
Amplifier-Gold USED - £1,799.00 / $2,363 USD. The Marants is voiced to be warm sounding,
warm rich. People love the musicality of
it. The jazz type music does very well
on all types of equipment, but since you do like to listen to hip hop / rock /
R&B, the Marantz will probably not be fast enough for the punch/slam you
want (it will be slower and more laid back).
This includes a phono preamp.
Buying an external phono preamp (such as PS
Audio Nuwave) or an external DAC (Gustard/LKS) will always sound better than
what is included in these integrated amplifiers. It all depends on your budget. I would probably lean towards an external DAC
because the ability for a DAC to generate a more “analog” sound requires much
better equipment. The DAC included in
the Parasound is okay, but nothing extraordinary.
I can give you a starting points for
speakers (listed on Ebay UK):
New... Monitor Audio Silver 10 3 way 250w
floorstanding speakers in Black Oak NEW - £1,150.00 / $1,510 USD. The Monitor Audio has been known to be a very
clean sounding and detailed speaker.
This one has two 8” woofers which will give you good bass punch (as long
as you have enough amplifier power). The
C-CAM tweeter is based on ceramic and is very nice. If you look at other Monitor Audio speakers,
it’s important to know that the ribbon type tweeters can sound more laid back
(which may not be what you want if you listen to hip-hop / R&B).
Cables are a whole new conversation. Lol. The opinions will always be all over the
board, but in my experience solid-core conductors always win in my tests. I would avoid anything silver (my own
opinion), but rhodium plated are excellent.
If it were me and I was starting out, I would look at the best
Audioquest interconnects that still have gold-plated RCA plugs (avoid silver-plated
in general). The Wire World cables that
have copper conductors and silver-clad RCA plugs are also very excellent (such
as Eclipse 7).
I have contacted Emotiva’s UK distributor and they said they are finalising shipping details as it’s been a nightmare trying to keep the costs down. Once they sort this they will bring over a load of Airmotiv’s.
I was checking out the 6s, they seem bigger and better than the 5s and only $100 more. If I went for the Airmotiv 6s instead of the 5s would the Audio-GD NFB-11.28 still be sufficient enough? Or would I need to consider the 29.28?
Thanks for the cable recommendations, I’ll probably jump straight in and get the good ones as per your selection.
- - -
So if I were to do it right first time round for the vinyl setup then I should go with the Hegel integrated amp, the Gustard DAC, and the PS Audio Nuwave phono preamp. Is this regardless of which speakers and turntable I choose?
Thanks for the cable guidance, I’ll be sure to keep it in mind when I get them.
Those speakers sound great! I guess I’d be silly to ask if they are powerful enough. l’m definitely looking for clean, warm, and detailed speakers for my jazz and blues vinyls but I also need that deep and crisp punch from the lows to compliment the more modern music that I sometimes listen to (ie. hip hop, house, rock). Will the Hegel bring that out in these speakers?
I’m familiar with dome tweeters and also ribbon tweeters but what are C-CAM tweeters? How does the sound differ to the other two?
In case I have trouble finding these, could you recommend another tower speaker for me to consider please?
Thanks mesch. So you think I need a sub for the TV setup or will the built in amp and external preamp/DAC bring out enough bass in the Airmotiv 6s?
For $100 more you get larger drivers, twice as much power, twice as much
weight in the cabinet. The 6s will play
lower (bass) and will have a more refined sound in comparison, so it is
definitely better. I was just trying to
play in your budget sandbox and the 5s was already more than what you were
looking at with the Audioengine A5+. I
also threw the more expensive NFB-29.28 out there as an idea because the
cheaper 11.28 had limited inputs (only 3 digital inputs and no analog
inputs). The more expensive NFB-29.28
also has two sets of RCA outputs – you could use one of these sets to connect to
a subwoofer in the future to help fill in the very low bass.
You could upgrade either the Airmotiv or
the Audio-GD DAC and get better sound – or upgrade both. It all depends on your budget and what you
really want. The 6s will definitely be
an improvement in sound experience (but punch/bass for TV). I think the cheaper NFB-11.28 will be totally
fine for your situation. Just know that
you are limited on expandability.
CABLES: I make all my cables by hand. They use Furutech Rhodium Carbon Fiber XLR
connectors and 20awg solid-core OCC copper conductors in a double-braided
configuration (making a 17awg interconnect).
The cost would be about $800 for me to make a 1-meter pair for
someone. This has been the best sounding
cable with the most resolution I have heard to date. I have had the opportunity to compare it to
the Wire World Eclipse 7 XLR cable at $450 for 1-meter (NOT the Silver
Eclipse). The sound was very similar and
the Wire World was an excellent cable. All
the detail was there, but the Wire World was just slightly softer / laid-back
in comparison. The Wireworld design is
not quite solid-core (all the conductors are set side-by-side like a ribbon
cable), but it is not nearly as bad as stranded conductors either. For the money, it is an awesome able.
IMPORTANT: On another note, one more thing
you should be aware of is the A/C voltage.
I know 220V is usually normal in Europe, where US is 120V. Some equipment can be configured/switched to
use different voltages, some equipment will automatically sense and
adjust. Some equipment will need to be
send to manufacture to be modified internally.
You might was to make sure from the seller if a non-adjustable item is
configured for your local A/C voltage.
if I were to do it right first time round for the vinyl setup then I should go
with the Hegel integrated amp, the Gustard DAC, and the PS Audio Nuwave phono
preamp. Is this regardless of which speakers and turntable I choose?
Yeah, this would be a very fine setup regardless
of turntable. There could be other good
choices for phono preamp, and it is obviously based on what you can get shipped
There are a couple Silver 10 available on
UK Ebay site. Hopefully, these links
The Monitor Audio would definitely have the
combination of warm/detail and low end punch that you want and still be in your
budget. They are 4 ohm speakers, so the
Hegel would probably be the best integrated out of the list, since it has the
largest power supply (critical for low impedance speakers).
There are some B&W CM8 or CM9 speakers
on UK Ebay. The B&W will have a
warm/full midrange due to the Kevlar midrange driver. The Kevlar does have a breakup issue where the
midrange is somewhat smeared, but it is still very nice sounding. However, these B&W speakers will not have
the low-end punch that the Monitor Silver 10 has. The B&W’s have very small
5” or 6.5” drivers in comparison to the two 8” drivers in the Silver 10.
I would avoid Tannoy speakers. In my listening tests, I did not like them
because they were so laid back. I have
also heard that Sonus Faber is laid back as well.
Older tweeters were typically soft-dome
(which is a synthetic material) or metal dome (such as aluminum or titanium
dome). The soft-dome were very nice
sounding and did not have breakup/resonance issues, but they did not have quite
as much resolution. The metal dome
tweeters help with resolution, but the metal material would breakup/flex/resonate
are the tweeter frequencies and this caused the sound to be very
bright/harsh. The ribbon tweeters do not
have this breakup problem, but they also sound laid back and are not as
exciting. The C-CAM tweeters are based
on ceramic material, which is an excellent and stiff material. The newer
ceramic / beryllium / diamond tweeters have better performance, but they can be
a lot more expensive.
I was using B&W Diamond (D2) series speakers,
which I find to be excellent (but they are wayyy out of your price
budget). I was looking to upgrade and
the Monitor Audio Platinum was on my list, but I decided to go with B&W D3
because of the diamond tweeters. The
Monitor ribbon tweeters were noted to be not exciting (but still extremely
smooth and nice sounding). I am very
happy with the B&W D2 and D3 series.
I put the Silver 10 as a recommendation because it does use the C-CAM
tweeter. For your budget, I can’t think
of another speaker I would recommend. I
will say that I am not well versed in speakers and there are a lot of other
options out there.
Regarding your question on sub. A subwoofer is usually needed when the listener
wants extreme bass response in movies/tv.
I’m talking about earthquakes, explosions, massive bass thumps. It’s a matter of taste. If you just want to watch “general TV”, the
Airmotiv/Audio-GD is fine. If you were
really concerned, you could get the more expensive NFB-29.28 and add a
sub. The Airmotiv will play “full range”
and the subwoofer crossover would be set low at about 40-50hz to fill in the
very low bass.
As auxinput stated, use of a subwoofer is not a necessity. Depends on type of main speakers and desires regarding movie augmentation. No way I believe the Yamaha to be better than the Hegel. I do believe it would serve well in your TV system and for anyone considering a $2000-$3000 budget one. The A-xxxS series represent great value for full function integrateds IMO.
Wishing you the best on your quest! Looking forward to hearing of the results.
Awesome response as always auxinput, you always explain things and provide good detail, thanks!
Thanks to your interest in my projects I now have everything I need to set the wheels in motion.
However, one last thing: I’m a little confused on the cables. And by the way, it’s so cool that you make your own, fascinating stuff!
For the TV setup (preamp/DAC and speakers, plus TV/Satellite), what cables do I need? Can you recommend some good quality ones (make and model)?
Same for the vinyl setup please (turntable, phono preamp, integrated amp, speakers).
I know you’ve mentioned a little bit about RCA cables and also a digital cable. But I guess just wanting to understand more so that I can confidently go out and buy them. When I searched the ones you suggested there seemed to be so many different types. Plus it would help to know what cables go where in the connection process.
Mesch, thanks for the good wishes and also for your interest in my projects and helping me out. I’ll keep you updated for sure!
To connect satellite to Audio-GD: Blue Jean Cable Beldon 1694A – 6 feet. I always
recommend 6 feet even if the satellite receiver is right next to the DAC. A
digital cable that is too short will have signal reflections internally and
will smear the sound.
To connect Audio-GD to AirMotivs: you could
pick one of the gold-plated Audioquest cables, such as Tower / Evergreen /
Golden Gate / Big Sur. It depends on how
much you want to spend on your TV setup.
The more expensive Audioquest cables have better copper conductors and
the high-end ones have a NDS electric shield.
The Airmotiv speakers are likely to be placed further away from the
Audio-GD so the cables are likely to be 6-9 feet long (or 2-3 meters). These Audioquest are probably what I would recommend
because longer RCA cables will increase the cost. It’s not worth it to get something like Wire
World Eclipse 7 for this TV system (which would be $700 USD for 2 meters)
FOR YOUR MAIN TURNTABLE SYSTEM:
To connect an iPhone/iPod, you will need an
Apple Lighting to USB camera adapter and then a normal USB cable:
Keep in mind that this only supports the
latest generation iPod (iPod Touch 5th/6th
generation). That page has a "compatability" section that shows the iPhone/iPad/iPod devices that are supported. It would connect like this:
iPhone ==> Lightning-to-usb-adapter
==> normal USB cable ==> Gustard DAC USB input
I have read that some DACs do not play well
with iphone iOS in recent updates. You
can google around if you are interested. For laptop, you just need to connect
the laptop directly to the DAC with a normal USB cable (6 foot length of
course). In fact, you can just
unplug/plug the same cable between your laptop and your iPhone/iPod.
Probably the best way to play music on the
DAC is just use a laptop with media player software such as JRiver or
other. This will also allow you to play hi-res
and DSD files to the Gustard DAC.
You can get better more expensive USB
cables if you want, but to start out I would just use the basic cheap USB cable
and see how you feel. The better ones
are made from silver/silver-plated conductors and they charge/discharge electrical signals faster
which is more accurate for the high-speed digital signal.
To connect the rest of your sources to the
Hegel, you will either need “single-ended” RCA or “balanced” XLR cables. I will always recommend going with XLR if you
can. For example if you bought the Hegel
and the Gustard, you could connect them using XLR interconnect cables.
The Hegel integrated has one set of XLR
inputs (some integrateds, like the Arcam, do not have XLR inputs at all). If you look at the Gustard DAC and the PS
Audio Nuwave phono preamp, they both have XLR outputs, so you would have to
decide which one got to use the XLR inputs on the Hegel. You can use RCA cables for the other device. Since you said that you only “occasionally”
listen to digital music, maybe the better choice would be to put RCA on the
Gustard DAC (unless you bought a phono preamp that did not use XLR).
There are a ton of different RCA/XLR cables
and tons of different opinions. I generally
avoid silver/silver-plated conductors for audio interconnects because I have
found silver will tend to push upper mids/highs and be lean on bass. It also imparts an artificial character to
the sound (making it less real or natural).
There are many who love silver and silver cables could be good in some
systems. They would not be good in this
system. That being said, the Wire World silver-clad
plugs are really not that bad and they do not forcibly introduce so much of
that “silver” sound.
So, my recommendations are the same for
either RCA or XLR cables (big surprise):
Less expensive gold-plated Audioquest
cables, such as Tower / Evergreen / Golden Gate / Big Sur
More Expensive Wire World Eclipse 7
The Eclipse 7 also makes an excellent cable
for your turntable, unless the turntable already has a cable built into it). The Wire World will have more resolution in
the sound (better details / attack) and will likely have tighter and punchier
bass. It is significantly more
expensive, so it entirely depends on your budget. It is perfectly fine to mix Audioquest and
Wire World cables in your system, or different models of Audioquest. Once again, it all depends on your budget.
You will also need speaker cables to connect
the Hegel to speakers. You can start out
with normal 12awg stranded Oxygen Free Copper (OFC) speaker wire if you want. This stuff is extremely cheap, like 50 feet
for less than $20. It’s really not that
bad, but better speaker cable will definitely sound better. If you were interested, I would start looking
at the Audioquest Rocket 33 / Rocket 44+ / Rocket 88. You can sometimes get used Audioquest speaker
cable, but I would make sure it does not have any silver elements (like
If you got the Monitor Silver 10 speakers,
try to look for a speaker cable that has “bi-wire” on one end so that you don’t
have to use a jumper. On the Audioquest
Bi-Wire, make sure the high-frequency connectors are connected to the top
binding posts. The Audioqest speaker
cable uses variable gauge solid-core conductors. It will use larger gauge wire for bass and
smaller gauge wire for mid/tweeter.
It appears that iPhone/iPod will not allow digital connection with some DACs. You can try this with the Gustard, but honestly I think the best solution would be a laptop or desktop running media software such as JRiver. JRiver has an excellent app (JRemote) that you can install on iPhone/iPad to remote control the JRiver on the computer (as long as you have a wireless computer network). With JRemote you can view the music library in JRiver and play anything.
So, laptop/desktop is best solution (as I said you can always try the Lightning USB with Gustard). Desktop will have a much better power supply and a better USB circuit. Desktop computer is a LOT bigger and requires external monitor, but you can get a really good USB card to connect to the DAC, such as the SOTM, PPA (Paul Pang) or JCAT:
I thought of another thing. If you really wanted to use XLR cable for both DAC and phono preamp, you would have to get a separate preamp and amplifier (instead of an integrated). Some preamps will XLR inputs for two sources (though many will only have one or none). This will drive the cost up a lot more and you will also need another XLR cable between preamp/amp. I think we are already way over the $5,000 USD point with the system we are discussion. Doing a separate preamp/amp could potentially push the cost up to the $8,000-9,000 point. As you said, since you only "occasionally" listen to digital music, it may not be worth it. The Wire World RCA cables for Gustard will still be very excellent (unless your phono preamp doesn't use XLR).
The SOTM would probably be best if you used the stock computer power supply, with the JCAT being second. The Paul Pang really needs an external linear power supply, but it is likely to be the best if you use a linear power supply.
Please note that I am going to extremes here. In your situation, I would just start out using a basic laptop for digital music to the Gustard -- you may be perfectly happy with this. If you feel this sounds "weak" or "grainy" or "dirty", you can always upgrade to a desktop and/or USB card in the future.
Once again you have received great advice from auxinput.
With cables I would encourage you to start out taking a basic (budget) approach throughout. Many quality used (or discontinued new) digital coax, RCA or XLR interconnects, speaker cables can be purchased on E-bay for reasonable cost.
As an example I have purchased Audioquest cables this way for several applications: VDM-3 digital coax Diamondback and King Cobra ICs both RCA and XLR Type 4 and Rocket 33 bi-wire speaker
Other brands may be more available in the UK.
Another approach for a good starter speaker cable is to purchase Canare 4S11 by the foot and terminate amp end single and speaker end bi-wire. A great starter cable on a budget.
@laher – Some more information. PS Audio is discontinuing the Nuwave Phono
Premp and selling it at a big discount (about 48% off) for $999 USD. If you are interested, you could contact them
to see about shipping to UK and to make sure it is configured internally to
support your local AC voltage (either 110V or 220V):
It appears that the PS audio Phono is
highly configurable to match up with a lot of different turntables (maybe not
all of them). Another feature is that it
has an analog-to-digital converter. This
allows you to connect it to your DAC to play the audio. I have heard this is a very detailed sound,
but maybe not quite as “analog”. It’s
just another option for you to work with.
was an email I sent to another friend advising on a turntable RCA cable. He actually bought the Equinox and says it
sounds excellent as a turntable cable.
teo_audio has some very
interesting thoughts on turntable cable burn-in. He says that turntable
cable never burns in because the voltage levels never reach proper
Almarg also says that
that it’s critical to have as low as capacitance as possible in a phono/tonearm
cable. I remember reading once a long time ago that phono cables should
be very small gauge (like 28awg). This could be why.
on that, it seems to me that one cable I would consider for this would be the
Wireworld Equinox 7 RCA. It uses very small 31awg OCC copper
strands. It is not quite solid-core. The strands are grouped into
collections of 5 strands, which are all side-by-side (like a ribbon
cable). It’s not a fully stranded cable, but it’s not fully solid-core
either. It uses 10 strands for each conductor, making it a 21awg cable.
The small strands give you the low capacitance (good for tonearm) and the
collection for 21awg lowers the resistance and would open up the sound. It’s important to note that the more
expensive Eclipse 7 cable would not work as well because the copper strands are
little bit larger 29awg.
If all seems legit then I will go ahead and order one. I do
not know any other online shop that sells them. Do you?
Do I need to tell them about AC Voltage for the UK?
I think I will buy the Big Sur Audioquest cables, I found
them on eBay. Do I need a particular length like with the digital cable? Or is
it just determined based on how far I want the speakers to reach?
I can’t seem to find any online shop that sells the Blue
Jean Belden cable, do you?
What is the price of the Monitor Audio Silver 10, and the PS
Audio NuWave Phono Converter brand new? I found both on eBay UK for what looks
like good prices. Are you able to have a look for me and tell me if they look
like good buys? Is there anything particular I should be asking before
For the Vinyl setup, I thought about it and I will not use
iPod/iPhone, only laptop. So if there are no complications with this approach
then I will stick to integrated amp as it is cheaper and easier. Will the
Gustard still be the right DAC for me? Do I need to consider a USB card for the laptop or does that only apply to desktop (which I don't have).
What is JRiver? I have not heard of this software before but
it sounds interesting.
Thanks for all the cable and setup advice, I will follow up
on these in time to come. I want to get the TV stuff sorted first and then
slowly (due to the wife, not budget haha) start on the Vinyl stuff :)
Big Sur Audioquest RCA cables – you just
need to determine the length based on how far away the speakers are.
Monitor Audio Silver 10 retail for a pair is
£2110 / $2800 USD
That Oak version on ebay is a nice one and
a good price.
The PS Audio Nuwave Phono retail new price
is currently about £750 / $999 USD because PS Audio is discounting it almost
50% off. They are discontinuing the
model. That ebay one is £600 (cheaper),
so it’s up to you if it’s worth saving a little money.
That Hegel 200 on ebay is used. It was original
retail for £3313 / $4400 USD.
Here is a better place to buy Gustard if
you are interested. It is rarely on the
used market. Make sure to get the USB version:
If you have a laptop, you do not need a USB
card. I would try the laptop out first
and see if the sound is good enough for you.
If not, you can look at getting a USB Reclocker such as the Wyred 4
Sound Recovery. Or buy a Windows PC
Desktop and an audiophile USB card, but I would try the laptop out first.
JRiver is media player software that can be
used to play all different types of media and sound files:
In my opinion, the Gustard is a really excellent DAC for what you pay for it. I don't think you will get better unless you spend a lot more (like twice as much or more). Here is a 12 page discussion on the Gustard X20 pro:
Interestingly enough, he is using it through some AirMotiv speakers! lol. Lot's of good feedback on this NFB 29. One of the comments that stood out to me:
The nfb11 has some harshness to it in the treble regions that the nfb29 doesn't have... The 29 is more dynamic, more detailed and overall better. Much bigger sound stage, much better separation and imaging.
Though, if you spend more you get something better, obviously.
Or you can try to find the newer Yamaha HS8 monitors, but will be even more than the Emotivas. Not sure if these will be better than the Emotiva. Emotiva has a lot more power and will probably be more laid back sounding than the Yamaha. The Yamaha are very neutral, but also very revealing. They have a larger 8" woofer so they would play a lot lower than either of the Emotiva monitors.
It could be small differences, but the new HS8 doesn't push the midbass as much and is a little clearer in the midrange. Not sure if you would really notice.
I don't have experience with any of the other monitors. Some have Class D amps, which I have found to be very extremely clean sounding but lack engaging music. With Class D, there is just no emotional engagement with the music for me. Recording engineers are using these Class D amps a lot because it helps them hear the mix much clearer, but it may not be what you want for home listening.
I have been seriously considering upgrading to the Stealth 8 for a couple years now, but other things have been higher priority.
You may want to consider the NFB 28.28 instead. It has balanced XLR outputs as well as RCA. The Yamaha studio monitors have both balanced XLR and a 1/4" TRS plug inputs. They do NOT have standard RCA inputs, so if you chose the 29.28, you would need special RCA-to-TRS or RCA-to-XLR cables.
If you get the NFB 28.28, you can use standard XLR cables, which are available from Audioquest.
I bought the HS80Ms (the second eBay link you sent me). I was able to hear them and I was thoroughly pleased :) The seller had them plugged into a sound card and that into a laptop. What benefits/differences will a preamp provide? Same question about the integrated DAC element of the NFB that I’m buying?
How much of a problem will it be if I buy the 29.28? Are those type of cables easy to find in the same quality as the Audioquest ones you recommended?
Internally, these two models are almost
exactly the same. The “28” model output
stage is engineered to work for XLR balanced output. This means that the “29” RCA-only model is a
tiny bit better when using RCA cables. In
your situations, this is pretty much splitting hairs and I don’t think you
would really notice the difference. You
would be better off getting the “28” RCA+XLR model so that you could support
both types of cables if you wanted.
As I said, the Yamaha HS80M only has XLR
and 1/4" TRS inputs. You can get
special RCA-to-TRS cables on ebay and other places. These are typically pro-audio cables and are
made by vendors such as HOSA or Mogami.
They will NOT be as good as Audioquest cables. HOSA cables are cheap. Mogami can be pretty okay (probably good
enough for your situation).
None of the audiophile cable makers will have
special RCA-to-TRS cables. You could
always have somebody chop the ends and wire them into TRS connectors, but it’s
more labor and money obviously. I think
it’s better just to get the “28” model so that you can get audiophile level XLR
cables to connect to the Yamaha monitors.
If you ended up already ordering the “29”
model and cannot change the order, you can try to get some Mogami RCA-to-TRS
cables. Or something on UK Ebay such as:
As far as your preamp question, the
NFB-29.28 or NFB-28.28 are already preamps that have a DAC built-in. We call it a “preamp” because it has the
ability to adjust the volume up/down via the front panel knob or remote. You can get a separate preamp if you wanted,
but you don’t need to. It would just be
another element in the audio chain to affect/mold the sound.
There are some Audio-GD models that are
considered a DAC only because the output level is fixed (non-adjustable).
Given your amp only has XLR inputs, I would purchase the model that has XLR outputs. Given that the DACs are also preamps, I would try them in my system directly into the amp prior to considering the purchase of a separate pre. Otherwise I would purchase a DAC with fixed output. It may be that the Pre/DACs you are considering cn be switch to fixed output.
Thanks for the clarification auxinput - I have ordered the NFB-28.28. I imagine it will take some time to arrive considering it's coming from China.
Apologies, maybe I didn't ask the right question(s) or phrase them very well.
My current understanding of a preamp is that it will clean up the signal and boost/prepare the signal to be strong enough for further processing. Is this a correct summary? I was trying to get your technical input on what the preamp will actually do for me considering that there is already an amplifier in the speakers. What would the sound be like without the preamp?
My understanding of a DAC is that it converts the signal from digital (1s and 0s) to analogue (wave form) which is the preferred format for speakers as well as analogue being the original format of the recorded sound. Again, is this correct? What will the sound be like without a DAC? Is the integrated DAC in the NFB powerful?
We previously discussed cables: the Bluejean cable is a coaxial cable right? Do I plug this into the TV or the Satellite box? Also, the link that you provided for the Belden 1694A Bluejean cable has different application/channel/boot colour options - what options should I be selecting to place my order? https://www.bluejeanscable.com/store/shopbycable/1694A.htm
Is a coaxial cable the best cable/connection for the preamp and TV/Satellite? Perhaps it's the only option? The reason I ask is because I'm just wondering what would I need to do if there is no coaxial input (that's spare) on the TV or Satellite box?
- As a way to switch between multiple sound
sources (i.e. CD player, tape, etc.)
- Be able to provide a way to adjust volume
- Contains a circuit that has enough current
to drive certain amps (sometimes digital sources do not have enough current in
the analog output circuits).
You can add a preamp into the mix, but it
is not really needed with the NFB-28.28.
The NFB already has a volume control.
You can attached multiple digital sources to the unit as well as one
analog source (the IN5 RCA inputs). The
current in the NFB should be fine to drive any amp you attach. The Yamaha studio monitors will have a preamp
type circuit inside because it needs an active analog circuit for the crossover
to separate the woofer amp and the tweeter amp.
In your situation, the only reason to add a preamp is if you felt the
NFB was lacking in some way. For
example, if you had a CD player that was very bright/harsh sounding, you could
get a tube preamp or a warm-sounding preamp to put in between. This would further modify the analog waveforms
from the DAC to calm down the sound.
Honestly, I think the sound quality of the Audio-GD
is high enough that you would have to spend a lot of money on a preamp to get
something better than what is already output from the NFB (like $2,000 or more).
You are correct in the understanding that a
DAC converts digital data (0s and 1s) to an analog waveform. Anything coming from satellite TV or CD or
bluray is going to be transmitted in digital format, so there has to be a DAC
somewhere. Many satellite receivers have
a DAC inside because you will usually see left/right analog RCA outputs, but
the quality is going to be poor compared to Audio-GD. The conversion from digital to an analog
waveform is where the sound quality of the Audio-GD is superior. The power supply and DAC / analog circuits
are significantly better. You can always
get better than the NFB, but it will cost more.
Just look at the NFB-27.77. The
chassis is twice as large. Three
separate power supplies (one for digital and two for analog). Fully balanced analog circuits. Over twice as expensive.
It’s not that the DAC chip should be described
as powerful. You want to get a DAC that
is clean/accurate. Large capacity linear
power supply, fully discrete analog circuits, good design approach, etc.
On the Blue Jean 1694A, select “Digital
Audio” for the application for sure. They
use specific RCA connectors and the RCA connectors are different for other
purposes (such as subwoofer, stereo, etc.).
The cable color doesn’t really matter.
I usually just get black, but you can get anything you want. Obviously, get the “RCA/RCA” connectors. Remember, 6 feet long (to avoid short cable
There might be a small chance that the
satellite receive does not have COAX. In
that case, you will probably need to use a toslink digital cable. The lifatec toslink cables are the best for
the money that I know of. The length
Thanks, makes sense about the preamp/DAC. Looking forward to seeing what the NFB will do.
I checked the back of the TV and the back of the Satellite box.
The Satellite box only has two USB ports and 1 optical out. The HDMI and 2 Satellite ins are being used.
The TV has 2 USB ports, 4 HDMI ports, 1 Satellite in, 1 optical digital audio out, and 2 ports which I’m not sure what they are - 1 says audio out/ H/P and the other says RS-232C (SVC only).
The Lifatec Toslink is an optical digital cable? It seems like this is the cable I will have to buy right? And I think it would be better to plug it into the TV as the TV is also used for Netflix not just the Satellite.
Well, initially you only said satellite. Including the Netflix stuff may cause some difficulty. You could try connecting a toslink from the TV, but you have to make sure that it can be setup to ouput a stereo digital signal (Netflix will have stuff like multi-channel Dolby Digital Plus).
The Lifatec toslink is an optical digital cable.
For Yamaha, you should look for Audioquest XLR cables. You may need to look around for a UK Audioquest distributor, maybe something like this:
Apologies, I didn’t realise that the TV has a built in Netflix app.
Okay so XLR cables from speaker to NFB and the the optical digital cable from NFB to either the TV or the Satellite box. Do I need to worry about a particular length of cables like before with the bluejean?
On the back of the speakers there are controls for level, mid EQ, room control, high trim, and low cut. Would you mind please explaining what these functions do and how I would used them?
The length of toslink doesn't matter like COAX. As I said, you could try using the toslink output from the TV, but it's likely that it won't work with a 2-channel DAC like the Audio-GD. You may have to get a cheap Sony bluray player to stream Netflix. These have an setting in the Audio section for "Downmix: stereo". It will output a 2-channel digital signal for the Audio-GD DAC and you can use the bluejean 1694A for this. Then just use a standard toslink for the satellite. It's important to go into the satellite receiver menu and make sure that "Dolby Digital" is disabled so that it sends a stereo digital signal through toslink.
The back of the Yamaha has switch settings. These are basically EQ settings to boost/cut certain areas (such as bass / midrange / treble). It is best just to set these at "0" or "Flat" to start with.
Please re-read this entire thread very carefully. We have already covered the ideas of an HT Receiver or HT Processor. This is what you would need for HDMI stuff. During our discussions, the direction went towards a high-end 2-channel DAC.