Component recommendations for Wilson Audio Alexx


hi forum - i'm especially interested in opinions from fellow Wilson Audio Alexx owners on this topic.

I took delivery of my Alexx a couple months ago and am looking at upgrading my streamer/DAC and pre-amp. I feel all set on my amp, which is a Soulution 710 and my cabling, which is purist audio for speaker cables and XLR interconnects. I only listen via streaming and use Tidal hifi, which has masters/mqa, so would prefer a DAC that could support that.

my main dilemma is while my local dealer is fantastic, they carry a relatively narrow range (at the upper end) for streamer/DAC and pre-amp. Their main lines for streamer/DAC are dCS and Linn. I think they also carry Naim but to be honest it's never in the reference room for some reason. In the pre-amp space, it is ARC and D'Agostino. I have read lots of reviews on MSB, CH Precision, Aurender, Lampizator on the DAC side and Soulution, CH, ARC, Kondo on the preamp side, but it's very difficult to actually demo any of these brands.

On the specific questions, I'd love input from other Alexx owners on 1) what setup you've landed on for your digital source and preamp, and 2) what options did you explore (or have) and decide against?

Budget is not a big deal, but if it gets spend-y I look at the pre-owned market first for electronics.

Thanks forum!
kantian22
Post removed 
I think the best DAC for you will be the one that costs the most and needs a $2,500 power cord to allow it to "open up" after you spend $1,000 first on isolation feet.

Don't forget the $4,000 USB or Coax cord and a pair of Unobtainium XLR interconnects at $5,000/pair.

Can probably get discounts on the cords if you buy the DAC first...;-)
  kantian22
I have read lots of reviews on MSB 

Get an MSB R2R Ladder Multibit Dac, your system deserves it, a friend has similar.
MSB Discrete,Premier, Reference or Select which ever you budget allows.
Use it's volume control direct into your Solution 710 and forget about a preamp.

Cheers George
Thanks @georgehifi  - i love the MSB aesthetic and virtually every review sings its praises. good suggestion on the direct to amp...that obviously frees a lot of budget. That is the setup your friend runs and you both think it sounds great? Thanks for the suggestion on real-world application.

You’re buying Alexx speakers which I imagine are awesome. The dac direct to amp theory is concerning in that you ‘may’ end up making decisions based on the ‘savings’ of going direct and then find that you’re not happy without a great preamp. In buying the Wilsons you’ve made a commitment to excellence. Be careful on the front end and don’t try to cut a corner that may or may not degrade your final results. 
kantian22 OP
That is the setup your friend runs and you both think it sounds great?
Yes both of us and it’s very similar.
Just go direct to amp with any of the MSB’s they all do it, it’s the most transparent, uncolored and dynamic way you’ll hear your system.
Live with it for a while 6mt’s or so to let it and you settle in (some call it burn in). Then after you can always get some preamps to try to see if it betters the sound. I doubt it very much, as the output stage in any of the MSB’s would better most ss preamps output stages, especially tube.

Cheers George

ianrmack,

Your response to kantian22's  inquiry comes off as snarky and sarcastic. Are you a bit envious of his endeavor to get the most from his audio system within his means? We all have our budget parameters/limits and certainly there’s quite a broad spectrum. if you meant this as humor, my apology.

Charles

DCS is the best for digital front end. Boulder or Ayre for electronics, or AR if you want tubes. I wanted to like CH Precision. It definitely is not in the same league sonically. I laugh when I see things like Lampizator - the unintended consequences of the internet.
Kondo VERY euphoric IMHO
@mtdining What about Spectral electronics and Wilson speakers? 
@kantian22 Spectral SV is very special and very similar to Soulution (very low distortion) 
@kantian22 Also consider the Solution 560/760 DAC to match your amp.  Gives you the pre-amp functionality to drive your 710.  
thanks again @georgehifi  for the suggestion and 1st hand experience with that setup. i do acknowledge @4425 point, but baselining the listening with dac/streamer direct to amp and then testing the pre-amp integration would sort this.

@mdp632 spectral has come up a few times in my research, but I haven't given it serious consideration. i'll take a closer look...no local dealers in my area (that i'm aware of), which can make it bit of a pain. On Soulution, i've gotten mixed reviews even from Soulution dealers on the DAC, at least when compared to MSB or dCS. 

@charles1dad  - thanks - that was my read, too, which is why not even acknowledging the response without more clarity on intent :)

seems the outcome is definitely MSB and dCS should be in the top 3 for a "listen off" and maybe a 3rd brand. i like the idea of direct to amp and then bring in pre-amp...that seems surest way to ensure money best spent and can also assess impact on sonic performance step-by-step.

thanks forum!
Thanks again @georgehifi for the suggestion and 1st hand experience with that setup.

What I was trying to get across, because your purchasing very $$$$$ hi-end, any dealer "worth his salt" would only gladly demo his $$K preamp "in your system" up against going direct from the MSB.
This way there is no outlay for the preamp for yourself if it doesn’t cut the mustard, if you buy one you "could" end up stuck with it to resell at a substantial loss from the new purchase price. (like a new car value drops at least 15% when it’s driven out of the showroom) My view is the odds are with you going direct.

Cheers George
kind of funny in that in contrast i think that if you try an A+ pre in the mix you’ll prefer it and it won’t take long. however YMMV
Based on recent reports you might want to add the newest EMM gear to the list along with the Lumin X1 if all you're going to do is stream Tidal or another service. 
Excellent and wise advice has been provided in this thread. Kantian22 is in a position to acquire exceptional audio components and needs to be methodical in his approach. Direct DAC to amplifier versus insertion of a superb preamplifier. Listen and "trust" your ears. You’ll find countless debates in audiophile forums on which approach is superior. There will never be consensus as it's too personal a decision with multiple factors/variables  to consider.   When all is said and done, have confidence in yourself and trust what you hear. Kantian22 you have an opportunity to assemble a truly fabulous audio system and I believe that you will.
Charles
DCS is the best for digital front end. Boulder or Ayre for electronics, or AR if you want tubes.
Any reference as best is of no value and such a claim is either a sales pitch or personal preference. There are far too many product lines out there for anything to be the best.

I always found any system with DCS to be sterile. Maybe it was other system components or DCS, but sooner or later, I would have expected at least one system "builder" to get it right. I tried an Ayre amp in my system some years ago....same experience! No experience with Boulder but there are many reports here about their amps being the same. One exceptional product line comes to mind: Symphonic Line. Go take a serious listen to this and report back.

AR is best if one wants tubes? Please elaborate what other tube product lines you have owned, compared, auditioned.

I laugh when I see things like Lampizator - the unintended consequences of the internet.
What is there to laugh at? You see things? Have you heard this product line, either at an audio show, a dealer, or in your home?
I have owned the Lampi B6 for 6 years now, and the sound is truly amazing with some tube rolling efforts in the audio and PS sections. I admit, it does look like a DIY assembly, but there are many people who claim direct wiring is superior to PC boards. And such a layout allows for much easier update of passive components as they come along.

And what are the unintended consequences of the internet here? What exactly does this mean?
@kantian22

The EMM Labs DV2 is worthy of your consideration. A reviewer on Enjoy the Music paired with the Soulution 511 and had great success. See the YG Hailey 2 review.

Agree with the other post. Be wary of posters on this thread who are hyperbolic in their "Best " of claims. Most likely a dealer posting only the brands they represent. Too bad you don’t have to disclose that here like in other forums.

There is no "Best" of anything in this hobby. However, finding the best synergy that you subjectively prefer is what matters.
I agree with the above posts, I don’t see how one can proclaim that any single audio product is the "best". My listening encounters with DCS mirror the description of jafox  of. But I also understand that the DCS could sound astonishing good to poster mtdining based on his particular taste.

Again a matter of taste but some listeners would prefer the Lampizator Pacific to a DCS product. It just depends on what you want in terms of sonic character. There's truly something for everyone. 
Charles
Thanks @jackd and @mdp632  for the endorsement of EMM. I’ll do more reading on them, Spectral and CEC as contenders for the 3rd brand to shortlist. 
I agree with @jafox and @charles1dad that “best” as an absolute is unlikely. I think there is definitely a premier tier and then many variables play into what would be a person’s favorite in their room and in their system.

it will likely be a while before I’ll get all of this together for bake off and a decision, but I will post back when I do!

i have a call tomorrow with MSB’s nat’l sales manager so I’ll get the ball rolling with them.

happy listening everyone, and most importantly stay safe!!

cheers
@jackd , @mdp632 , @jafox , @charles1dad , @georgehifi  - just a quick update on this one. The decision is in and my dCS Rossini will be arriving in a couple weeks! I'm very excited. I really tried to get a demo of an MSB Reference DAC, but in discussion with MSB and a couple dealers, they required that I pay full price upfront for the demo, be liable for any damages to the unit and cover shipping. On top of that, MSB pushed me to a dealer where I had a bad experience, but when I told them this, did not match me with another dealer.

My local dealer went out of his way to secure me a reviewer sample of the Rossini at thousands off list, full warranty, product not registered, can still apply toward the dCS trade-up program in the event I want to go to Vivaldi, and allowed me to trade my existing preamp and streamer.

So, even if MSB is a little better, it would need to be substantially better than dCS to overcome the economic and customer service difference.

Thank you again everyone for your great input!! 
Congratulations kantian22 it seems that you got a terrific deal with the DCS Rossini . It's good to know that you have an audio dealer who worked earnestly on your behalf.  I'm looking forward to your further thoughts and listening impressions. 
Charles