A good place to start might be the Music Hall receiver/dac (forget the name) but I've heard it and its a pretty decent piece. You would need to add a stand alone phono stage. The rcvr is about $700 used, I think. A decent phono stage would cost you a few hundred (Lehman Black cube maybe). Add a Denon 3910 universla player for maybe $400. Or you could rip all of your CDs to the iMac and skip the universal player; sink those $ into a better phono stage.
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1. As far as an integrated that also features a DAC, this is the only one I'm aware of: Peachtree Audio Decco. And, this little integrated is well regarded.
2. I think Dan is right, you'll have to get a new phono stage, which can be connected to the Decco.
3. Can a CDP be connected to an IMAC? Toslink? I'm not sure. One thing to keep in mind, SACD discs cannot be ripped, so if you have a SACD collection, you'll need a player.
There's lots of good multi-disc players out there, including the aforementioned Denon.
Thanks for the responses. I think I need at least 100 amps for these speakers, would probably prefer 150 to 250. That seems to leave out the Peachtree and maybe the Music Hall. I don't now have a SACD collection - but as my wife and friends complain that there is no gift they can get me when gifts are supposed to be given, I thought for their sake I might start one. I have been told the Cambridge 840c and 740c CD players can be used as a DAC from the iMac, and wondered if there are others. What about the paragon E preamp as a phono stage leading to the amp or integrated amp?
Sure, the MF A5.5 would work as the DAC is built in with the pre, and the amp. Here is the manual which has extensive references to PC/MAC integration:
Never heard the A5.5, but I own a good deal of MF equipment and enjoy the heck out of it daily.
BTW, I also have a SACD collection and while I do love the sound, I would not recommend starting a new collection as the format is dying. IMO you should look to the new Blu-ray HD formats. Or, just buy a good redbook CD player for now and wait until more BR audio titles are available and there are more BR hi-res audiophile quality CDPs to choose from. On the other hand, you may be able to pick up SACDs & players very inexpensively...
I see no one has replied so I'll add that if you buy from a reputable on-line merchant, they will let you try it in your house for 30 days. You do have to buy it, pay for shipping both ways, and wait for a refund, but if it's your only option, it's workable. IMO, Audio Adviser, is one such company:
Before I had my Gallo Ref 3.1s, I owned a pair of Kef 104/2s and drove them with Musical Fidelity electronics. Match made in heaven, really, a great combo. All British kit, you know!
Best bet is to find a good integrated (I have an MF A5 integrated, but will be selling that once i get my hands on a tube integrated) and a good DAC that reclocks the computer usb signal before sending analog to the amp (i.e. a benchmark dac which I had for about 10 months and just sold). Be wary...too much solid state with digital (particularly computer digital via USB) may come accross as bright depending on your setup.
One cheap approach would be a Trends 10.1 USB to Coaxial interface device that you plug your IMac into (I've an IMac as well), feeding any reasonably priced DAC of your choice (many great ones for $300-$500) and then connect that into an integrated of your choice (or your current amp/preamp). Key thing is to either get a USB DAC that has a good digital clock on board, or get a good usb interface device that reclocks for you (anything from the trends up to an Emperical Audio device like the Turbo-3, which is pricey). If you don't handle the reclocking, you'll end up with pretty bad sound.