Need New 2 Channel System for under 25K


Hi,

Trying to help a friend set up a new 2 channel system for his office where he spends 12hour days.
Hi budget is $25K MAX on the entire system.  The office is 8'x12' with 8ft ceiling. It has a large desk and several book shelves and large window. 

He wants to stream from the Internet or from his NAS drive and play CDs.

He wants to spend the money in phases and he is not in a rush.  He also wants the system to be bookshelf based (make sense for a smaller size room like this), but wants to start by purchasing electronics first (this is because he has a pair of lower-midlevel Focal bookshelves and a pair of lower-midlevel Sonus Faber bookshelf's so he wants to play around with those speakers first and then upgrade to the strategic bookshelves when he gets some more funds.
 Ability to plug in headphones into the electronics is definitely a plus and headphones themselves are not part of the 25k budget as he has Sennheiser HD600 and his happy with them for now. 

According to him, physicals size of components is not that important to him, but I know that it will become important later in a small office like his.  He is also into esthetics of his systems.

So I we were thinking of going with 'used' components to get more value but with relatively newer models
For example, if it is possible to find in USED but good condition: 
 1. -Simaudio 680D V2, and 600I V2 together for $12.5K, that would be good  (no CD playback here however and no headphone amp, but thats ok)
 2. -Bit later get a pair of Focal Diablos for about $7.5K if possible 
 3. -That leaves about $5K for cables, power conditioning, cords, Interconnects, etc.

The electronics can stand on his desk (if they fit), or can be put on a rack (which would also need to be purchased)

The Simaudio components are good size and very good quality and I think the system would synergize together very well.

Can any one suggest something comparable or better for the money based on the requirements.  Also If we can get a comparable system in a different brand for less money, that would be great.  (i.e. Perhaps  Lumin Streamer/DAC with a Pass labs INT 250 and pair of Paradigm Persona Bookshelves :)

Please let me know if there are any other details I can provide.
Thank you in advance!

Ag insider logo xs@2xjmarshak
Just get Kii 3 or Dutch and Dutch 8c and a streamer, save 10 grand and get great sound.
@djones, active speakers is definitely a good option in this case. Thanks
Start with a Linear Tube Audio ZOTL40 INTEGRATED AMPLIFIER and a pair of Janszen zA2.1 Valentina speakers. Add your favorite CD player or DAC. This combo is the definition of synergy.
In that small room active speakers make sense, less components to try and fit somewhere and depending on the speakers built in DSP to help with room problems. 
@djones, the active speakers just need a front end + Dac to compliment them?  Can I assume the Kii 3 already have an analogue preamp as well?  I was thinking about trying to use active speakers form Focal before.  My concern was that they would be two  'brutally honest' since Focal's active speakers are usually used for professional uses (I think). 
@lancelock  thank you.  I think those speakers are larger than can be fit optimally in that room.
No DAC is needed for the D&D 8c the Kii has a control you can connect analog it has it’s own DAC as well. You can connect a preamp to the D&D with analog XLR. I just stream through Roon with Quboz and have my personal CDs ripped to Flac connected to the roon core. 
Thanks for clarifying @djones. So they even have their own DAC, nice! So both these speaker will work direct with (for example) Aurender N10 or Lumin U1 and handle output fidelity from these server/steamers well? I have not tried roon yet. Just Jriver, Plex and Aurender App.
The lumin U1 mini , auralic aries G1, Bel Canto eStream , aurrender N10, AES3 in works best on the Dutch and Dutch. Kii can use toslink, coax and USB in , on their control which works like a digital preamp. Whatever app the streamer uses will work you don't need roon. 
Considering the room integration challenges you have ahead, I suggest you consider starting off with a Trinnov Amethyst (about $10K retail) and adding powered speakers or monitors plus compact amps. This approach allows flexibility and future upgrades. $25K will easily cover this approach and minimize the frustration of room integration.

https://www.trinnov.com/amethyst/

" The Amethyst includes an 11-source preamplifier with built-in Speaker/Room Optimizer, Trinnov’s innovative HybriD Phono Preamp, a Network Renderer, a 24 bit/192kHz DA Converter and a 2-way intelligent, active crossover engine. It also features built-in Wifi connectivity for simplified operations making it the perfect centerpiece of any traditional or modern Hifi Installation."

You can even build a sophisticated active system using the Amethyst for under $25K.

Full disclosure: We are Trinnov dealers and use their ST-2 with all our active speaker systems.

The Amethyst has an excellent DAC built-in. I recently ran our music server directly into it (not using our usual DAC) and was pleasantly surprised the it performed is on par with our $30K DAC, actually better in some ways.

Mike
@arion Mike thanks you for elaborate proposal.  I understand your motivation for having me look at these products and would need more people  (none dealers) to opine on the same. 

@dejones - thanks for the further details on the monitors. Interesting.
What a fun budget :-) 12 hours a day need be fatigue free !

DCS Bartok with Ayre or Pass integrated. Decent CD transport or rip to NAS and away you go. 
Also since headphones in the mix in a pretty small space consider the Magneplaners desktop system w under the desk bass panel for in the future.... super fatigue free 
And if you want a killer DAC/cd player convo w volume control consider the Aesthetix Romulus- 2 additional levels of future upgrades past base model - you would need a streamer - Auralic, Innous both fine. The Aesthetix has 4 small tubes.
@tomic601 Thanks.  Really good points.  No fatigue is really important.  That's why I started with Simaudio stuff.  From my experience, very light on the pressure to head. And you are right, it is a fun budget, one can own more than one car for that money (used of course :)). The brands you recited are inline with some that I am considering.  Tubes would be a nice touch for him.  He mentioned that hewould want to have tubes somewhere in the system.
You are quite welcome - always fun to spend $ in the pursuit of music.

Tubes OK then i would then also recommend the Aesthetix Mimas integrated - DAC or Phono stages are card based and slot right in. I have heard the above With Vandersteen Treo CT and it is super smooth, detailed yet fatigue free. 
As a manufacture we make it a point to sample dozens of product every year. My motivation is to point people to excellent products and positive solutions. You should seek users opinions. If you misconstrued my suggestion as me trying to sell you something, I apologize. That wasn't my intent. We typically don't even sell Trinnov products without our speakers.

You might also consider building a system around a Lyngdorf TDAI-3400. We have no affiliation with Lyngdorf. The main focus of my suggestions is room integration. The room is 50% of the formula to getting good sound. These systems with advanced room correction (not cheap DSP) will make it much easier to get great sound.

An added benefit to these systems is that they have multiple presets. That means you can have a configuration (preset) for background music, critical listening, loud rock-n-roll, jazz or whatever you want. You can select these presets on the fly. So, when you are done with lunch and listening to music and it's time to get back to work, you can select the background music preset. 

Mike
Interesting, and I was suggesting to him to minimize number of components, to 2 max 3 if absolutely necessary, just because its a small space.  Streamer/DAC and Preamp/Amp.  Unless ofcouse he goes with Active speakers, in which case it might be just one component on the desk.
Definitely go the Dutch & Dutch route.
The room being an office I assume room treatment is out. Our collective experience tells us that there is nothing less fatiguing than a well balanced sound with minimal room interference and phase anomalies. 

Decent speakers properly aligned (with advanced room correction) to the room will likely sound better that great speaker in a room full of issues. The quality of components does matter but they won't compensate for room issues. 
Good point @arion.    Agreed.
arion59 posts

His post would be the first thing I would address, as much room treatment as you can stand THEN, make your selections. Unless it is the way it is going to be, already.  I personally know every nook and cranny in the rooms, and shop I use.

The treatment can be VERY nice and add  a full 1/4 to1/3 INCREASE in a better listening environment.  What did cost 25K, now cost 10K or less and a better, less fatiguing, room. 

5K for cabling is now 1K total, grid treatment (electrical) 300.00 usd as opposed to 2K because of boiling highs, 25K is a LOT of money.

Room treatment, which includes bass management, is 70% (or more) of ALL the distortion you're going to introduce, control, or KILL, in that room. The other 30%, mids and highs are easy to treat, with  easy to look at solutions.
DSP, servo bass (less boom) and treatment.. 1,2,3..

Second, treatment "today" is by no means the studio look of yesterday, very "fengshui", AY...

Room treatment (know your room)
Grid, treat it, or pay for it. NOISE reduction, equipment protection, SQ
Source choice, then equipmentment selection/speaker selection.
If you throw out one you're chasing your tail so to speak...
Being a mechanic 101.. LOL

I just did a system with a Sony ES transport, Tube headphone pre, class d 2.1 amp and all the STUFF including cables, 645. 00 usd.
Infinity RS4bs (110.00 and came with a new surround kit), and QSO 808 vmps monitors, for the 20-100 bass response, 100.00, local pick up.

Simply mind blowing, 30 plus people couldn't believe 650.00 for true reference quality sound. 25hz to 21k 93% sensitive. It truly matched more than 1/2 the folks there.  No one had less than 3K in a system at home. Some 50K per room, and a few rooms.

Regards
Makes sense @oldhvymec thanks for emphasizing that room impact is 101. In my original point, I mentioned what’s in the room to underscore what would need to be overcome. I have a little experience in treating rooms fairly inexpensively, so I did not want to make that an issue. But it should be noted that we have that covered (hopefully well). Also, definitely like the recommendations with DSP capable components to help with further corrections.

Like some people have noted, my friend has a fairly nice budget for a small system and this budget can go  a long, long way, but only if that 8'x12' (fairly cluttered) room is 'acoustically hospitable'.
Hi, As an update,

My friend is shying away from active monitors. Wants to have more options with using different components with time.  I get that.

So right now, we are narrowing down the Integrated Amp to be one of the Pass Labs models.  I personally never head their integrated (just had their separates), but I assume they are fabulous like all their stuff.   If we still can find a good Simaudio Integrated, would consider

We also want to narrow down what DAC/Streamer to get to match. 

Auralic Vega Gx? /PS Audio Direct Stream Sr / Lumin / Simaudio??

Right now, bookshelves are still slated to be Focal Micro Utopia Bes or Diablos

After my subwoofer, the second most important feature of my office system is a big, fat volume knob that I can reach from my computer when I answer the phone.  Especially if I can't find the remote, or pause the DAC, etc. etc.
What kind of music does your friend listen too? What kind of sound is he/she looking for? Is this primarily for low volume listening? Is this strictly a 2.0 setup or would a sub be considered (given that monitors are preferred)? 
 I think for $25k whatever your friend ends up will sound good... how good depends on the room and the questions above. I would probably spend 40% on speakers, 30% on source(s), 20% on (integrated) amp, and 10% on cables, power conditioning, isolation....then again, I would buy analog actives and a real nice DAC/PRE (and a CD transport if I wanted to spin the silver discs) and call it a day. ATC SCM 19 actives (not bookshelf speakers, save $ on stands) for example. just my $.02. 
@coffeeman - You are 100% right about that volume knob,
its got to be close! :)

Regarding the sub, we will need to see. Good point that the system should have the option to add that sub in lower hz are required for correction. Its a ’small’ room and fatigue will become a big factor, so trying to keep away from subs if possible but the ’Option’ to have a sub at some point makes sense. Thank you.

@nealkot,
I asked him your questions and answers are below: 

  1.What kind of music does he listen to in the office? - Jazz, Classical

  2.What kind of sound is he looking for?  - Soft, crispy, clear

  3.Does he listen at  low, med or high volume? - Low and Med

  4. Would he consider a sub - Yes

Basically,  He can use his larger systems for big sound stage, etc.
Personally, I like your percent break up costs by equipment type. I would have used more for the Amps/Preamps and less for the front ends, but I think you are right for modern systems, especially for a smaller office ones. Again, not sure he will warm up to active speakers but I always wanted to try ATCs :). We will see if we can find some options to consider.  Thank you for your recommendations.
I might need to revise my response, as I listen to a lot of recordings that a few of my clients would not recognize as "music", so easy access to the big, fat volume knob would be number 1.  The subwoofer would be number 2.  Sounding good a low volume would be number 3.  

Sorry, I know we are talking about your friend's priorities, not mine.
.....yeah, I get it. In a main system, I would spend more on the amp. But in the office, I think he might get more “bang” out of a $5000 Integrated amp (Bryston maybe? Prima Luna? Luxman?) and a $7500 DAC than the other way around.....