Now what

Here's my dilemma (maybe it's just audiophilia)...

Chased electronics in family room surround. Settled on used Meridian gear and love it.

Ended creating living room (adult room) 2 channel system. I use a custom built computer server with EMU1212 interface card. Seems detailed and clean giving me dig out option if want to add hiend DAC down the road - seems on par and maybe better than my mf25.

Had Von Schweikert VR4jr's with Coda V10 amp then Halo a23 amp. Wasn't thrilled given price tag and hype. Great detail and deep bass, but mid bass so so (maybe my speaker wires as i later found out). Also seemed too loud on upper regions. Right now I'm using NHT 2.9's which perform well. Excellent bass, tight mids and seems to have excellent decay . I listen to jazz (Claire Daly, Wynton Marsalis) and alternative music (alice, soul coughing) as well as some other things. Thing I love about the meridian stuff is the great 'texture' and detail. Can't afford the bigger meridian's (dsp5500 +). Have hefty amp, Halo A21 now. Like lots of texture....

What speakers should i consider in the used market 1000-2000 range? Or should I just look to a tube preamp or DAC (ack dack, benchmark, meridian)? I find myself boosting some of the treble frequencies in foobar2000 on my music server. Started to think maybe I should consider sub-satellite system for detailed mids and deep bass (25-30 low end response).

- TRawson
Audio Physic Virgo II. Great texture, detail, warm midbass also with a great deal of detail. There aren't many speakers I cna think of that can provide the tremendous detail and clarity through the midbass that these do, yet not sound lean. They do not go very deep in the bass, though, and the port can occasionally sound a bit flabby on deep notes. Pairing with one of the Audio Physic subs helps a lot. Some critics think the midbass is over rich, but I disagree; I think this is because we're so used to listening to lean audiophile speakers.
Thats all good gear. Especially the Von Schweikerts. If you are handling volume control through your Computer, I suspect that could be part of your problem. Before dropping too much $$ on more speakers, use the Digital out to a Pre/DAC combo. Theta made one some years back. I cant remember the name exactly, Theta DSPre or PrePrime One or something like that. I can tell you this, I had a Theta DSPro Basic One and for the few hundred it cost it was killer. If it doesnt work out, you should be able to sell it and recovery nearly 100% of the cost.

....or maybe the Benchmark DAC with volume control. I havent heard it but it has gathered some good reviews.

I think you would be best served by getting that volume control out of the digital domain, or at least out of that Computer case and into a separate chassis. At the very least, the AC should be cleaner without a bucket of chips, drives, and fans sucking on one power supply.

Also dont forget room treatments. Most rooms have problems in this very area.
I use a Halo P3 preamp. Had tried computer as volume control as well with no problems (to compare removal of p3, shortest path thing). I use the P3 for this single source and remote control convienence. Had been tempted to try a Audio Research LS16 tube pre that a local dealer wants to clear out at good price, equivalent to audiogon price. Had listend to VR4jr's hooked up to DK design and shangling cd and sound perfect - just that overall setup is beyond my budget right now. I really like using music server and so far seems clean. I'm just afraid I'll like it too much and it's a bit more than I want to spend.

I'm leaning toward DAC tryouts... The dac's of the emu1212 card are geared more toward recording/studio. Thus maybe why everything is clean and clear, but less 'emotion'.

Another tough thing is the setup, I sit to far away. If I sit in the sweet spot, powerful image.
Rawsonte, I see. In that case maybe an inexpensive outboard DAC. I still presume you are feeding the Preamp with an Analog line level signal from the Computer? So the EMU is probably handling DAC and then its internal OP amplifiers send the line level signal out to your P3 (which is a quality preamp BTW). I suspect the EMU (line driver stage) or its enviroment may be the culprit. I am not all that familiar with the quality of the line driver section of the EMU so it is only a suspiscion.

I am looking at it this way...

Let the EMU and Computer do what they do best, Digital. Then let an outboard DAC do what it does best, turn that digital into analog. This was the way I ran my music server with that Theta DSPro I mentioned previously.
Yep... it's the output of the EMU that doesn't match. Supposedly, from head phone fanatic forums, the EMU1212 is supposed to have great DAC's rivaling 1000-2000 cd players. However, I feel headphones are a different animal. I received a meridian dvd player (albeit a 586.2 which is supposedly 80% meridian unlike the 596/598 and on - thing is heavy as hell), which is also supposed to be great for cd play, gave it a whirl and there it was. Much richer sounding yet still detailed. Dunno if it's some special meridian tweak that creates their sound because it's very similar to how my dsp5000's (in family room surround system) sound. Like a trademark tone... Yet never had that quality using meridian prepro's (561 & 568.1) with analog amps & speakers. Oh well, that's a diff tangent. I didn't have a complete level match when A/B'ing, but could hear the difference distinctly. EMU was very clean and detailed, but didn't have that "body" or weightiness (but not veiled) sound to it. I imagine it falls in line with 'pro studio' sound, as it's roots are. But the meridian was destined for my family room but at least isolated it. Made me realize how neutral the NHT 2.9's are, respond very well to changes upstream.
Another thought I had for added flexibility was...

Some CDPs have Digital inputs. A Quad 99 CDP has both Coaxial and Optical inputs and volume control (just in case you dont want a stack of boxes). I hear quite a bit of praise for this unit and it sounds wonderfully flexible for a situation like yours. Oh yeah, less than $1k used. Make sure its the "CDP" model.

If you like Meridian (who can argue with that) I am sure they make a stand alone DAC and I vaguely recall that they may have made a CDP that had digital inputs.