Great speakers, OK amp/dac, crappy source.
Personally I'd invest in a few good power cables, that will tighten up the bottom end and open up the sound stage. Next I'd look into upgrading the bluesound.
Yes, I agree. You have a very nice integrated. If it's one thing I have learned through R&D and experimentation is that your source is extremely important. If you don't have the sound quality from the start, there is no way you are going to get it back with cables/power cord/etc. Better cables and power cords can help, but they cannot fix a bad device. My vote would be to look into getting a very good DAC. Maybe you can give us your budget on how much you're willing to spend right now. Some ideas are offerings from Marantz, or maybe a Gustard X20 (Maybe a Schitt).
I didn’t realize that you were using the Hegel internal DAC. I assumed you were using the Buesound as DAC. That being said, it is still my opinion that an external DAC will do much better than the Hegel internal DAC. I wouldn’t mess around with upgrading the digital cable. In my experience, the cheap Blue Jeans "Belden 1694A" digital coax cable is extremely good. I have not tested super expensive digital coax cables, but this Belden has beat stuff up to the $150-200 level. Make sure you get a 6 foot cable (short cables are worse actually).
The Lumin D1 is an interesting device. I took a quick look. However, I think it has some things lacking. First, the power supply is basically a wall wart, and there doesn’t look to be any good power supply internally. Second is that it uses 49860 op amps for both I/V and output buffer. While the 49860 are okay, I think that using discrete circuits are much better. For $2,000, I would actually look elsewhere for a device.
The Marantz NA8005 has a lot of internal power supply management (which is critical in my opinion), such as large transformer, much voltage regulators, large capacitance bank, etc. It also has discrete analog output circuits (though only has RCA outputs). It has many of the streaming audio functionality (apply airplay, DLNA, internet radio, etc., IOS/android control app, DSD support), so you could potentially replace your Blusound unless you require wireless network.
The Gustard X20 has fully discrete analog output circuits and also supports balanced XLR audio outputs, but it is only a DAC (not a network player), so you’ll still have to use your Blusound for streaming/playing. It is somewhat cheaper than the Marantz. May be a better power supply than the Marantz, but no network streaming/playing.
Both are probably very nice choices in the $800-1200 area. I’m sure there may be other choices. With this cost, you could spend money on a couple of good power cables (for Hegel and new DAC) as well as a good interconnect (Maybe a Wire World, but there are many).
@yansad - The PS Audio NuWave looks nice. It has very good power supply and I like the fact that the output stage is Class A and uses discrete elements. I have no direct experience with PS Audio DACs, so you'll have to research on user feedback.
If you're really stuck on Tidal, then options are more limited. Also, if you require wireless. Maybe think about Oppo 103 + iPhone/iPad/Android + PS Audi Nuwave (or another DAC). ? The Oppo and IOS/Android combination will get you a whole lot, and I'm sure it's a much better digital transport than the Bluesound.
On another note, I notice that you have VOVOX vocalis speaker cables. I tested some VOVOX sonorous XLR interconnects a while back (they don’t have sonorous anymore, but it’s probably equivalent to the vocalis line). The sound was very balanced and all the frequencies were there, but it just did not reach out and grab me. There was not any excitement in the music. It was like the cable was holding the music back and wasn’t letting it breath. I inquired with VOVOX and found they used a 26 awg solid-core conductor. I’m assuming this was the reason for the constrained sound (there is controversy in the audio industry - some say the smallest conductor is the best if you can get away with it).
I ended up sending them back to the distributor and exchanging them for some Evidence Audio Lyric HG XLR interconnects. These used a 20awg solid-core conductor and sounded much better - more exciting with more punch and everything else. Since then, I have made my own cables that are just far superior (they come in at 17awg), but I have also listened to Wire World Eclipse 7. The Wire World are excellent cables as well. I think it comes down to awg in interconnects as well as all other cable (power, internal power, speaker, etc).
I have no idea how the VOVOX speaker cable sound or if they are restricting anything at all. Their website does say they use larger solid-core conductors in their expensive cable, but they don’t publish the final cable awg. If you were inclined, you could try an experiment. Get some 12awg OFC stranded copper speaker wire (really cheap - monoprice for $15). Burn them in for at least 24 hours and then give a listen. (I’ve recommended this in another thread as well). If it’s more open and exciting, it may point to the VOVOX restricting the sound. It’s up to you at this point what you want to do, whether keeping the 12awg or looking for a more expensive cable. I actually use the 12awg cheap stranded at this point, and it’s very excellent if you have good equipment. I just haven’t gotten to the point of looking at speaker wire (maybe next year).
On the Wyred 4 Sound. I will agree that a Wyred 4 Sound modified Sonus Connect can make an excellent digital transport. Keep in mind that the Wyred 4 Sound mod will have one fixed output sampling frequency (they recommend 96Khz). Also, keep in mind that the Sonus Connect does not have USB to allow connection of an external USB drive. You'll have to stream files from a computer or NAS device. But it does have Tidal, lol. Wyred 4 Sound are selling upgraded new Sonus Connects for $890 ($340 for the sonus, which is a good price) - or you can buy used and send it in for upgrade. It is not a DAC, just a transport, so you'll still be using the Hegel DAC (unless you also want to buy a new DAC).
Looking at the update process of the sim audio mind its crude compared to the bluesound node 2. I would agree that the internal DAC of the node 2 is not great however, it will play MQA which many external DACs will not. Connecting the node 2 to a higher end external DAC will definitely an upgrade. I have my node 2 going through a Wyred Remedy to a Modwright Elyse DAC and it sounds amazing. The node 2 will stream CD quality from Tidal and HD tracks you may have on a local NAS, Sonos players will not stream HD.
sim audio is a streamer without dac so i thought its a good option to connect it to the hegel internal dac. a future upgrade can be buying external dac instead of hegel internal or upgrade to hegel h360.
buying the wyred remedy is a bit problematic since i have to spend $400
without trying it first since there is no dealer at my country.
What exactly is different in your set up to the store you listened at? If you purchased all the named items from them (Spendor, Hegel, Bluesound, Vovox), I’d look at everything else first. If the dealer has/had the same set-up I’d think they’d have the best suggestion as to where to start, but your room (over or under-damped), speaker placement, ’clean’ power & your cables are all going to be--and remain--influences regardless of what else you change.
I'm following this thread with great interest since I'm on a similar upgrade path except I'm using the Bluesound's internal DAC and streaming HiFi Tidal wirelessly. The funny thing is when I asked a while back, most folks seemed to think the Bluesound DAC was fairly decent. I guess it's all relative. Does any of the components mentioned above allow wireless streaming?
Question for OP: Have you compared the Bluesound internal DAC with your Hegel DAC? Just curious.
I vote for trying a different DAC. FWIW I purchased a Bluesound Node 2 back in April and retired my 2012 Mac mini (i7, 256GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Amarra Symphony, Audirvana +, JRMC, Pure Music) .. the Node 2 is really quite good. I prefer both of my DACs (Chord Qute EX and Schiit Bifrost Multibit) to the on-board DAC in the Node 2. Not surprising really. BTW, the DAC in the Node 2 is a Burr-Brown PCM5122 and isn't bad at all.
I tried the H160 with my Bifrost and the Bifrost provided superior sound to the onboard DAC
Granted, It is tricked out with good cables and a V-link192 to handle the USB interface.
I was very surprised by how much difference the Bifrost made, given the reputation of Hegal - it put me off their products somewhat.
A new DAC might get you to where you want to be, but be sure to get one that does not rely on USB power. Both the Bifrost and Gungnir utilize power from the USB cable to power their USB interface - not good - a Musical Fidelity DAC would be my choice, based on how good their V-Link192 performs.
sadiehazel - thanks for the heads up on the Bluesound/Gungnir.
I've been pondering a Bluesound Node 2 purchase and was wondering what it might sound like when coupled with my Bifrost into my 2 channel system..
Your comments have tipped the scale on the + side
I'm currently using iTunes for Library Management and Audirvana for streaming content, which can be "a little problematic" at times
A couple of questions:
- did you find the app that controls playback to be intuitive in its setup and use
- do you happen to know if it will interface directly with the iTunes directory
I did ask the guy at the store, but he just wants to sell me something, so "of course it will link to the iTunes Library", but I'd rather have third party verification :-)
Thanks in advance
((The problem is that i don't get the high end feeling i got at the seller store.
Before spending any more money which the well intended folks will do for you here.
Lets get a few pics of the set up in relation to you listening chair.
Perhaps an easy link into your virtual system.