I cannot advise but one thought did come to mind. You might want to upgrade your cd player for the best system. Even poorly recorded music will sound better though you will hear more garbadge in the recordings too. I would play with cables as well.
I bet older East Indian material would sound much better on vinyl, but this is off the topic.
Leave your speakers on the stands. Make sure they're placed properly/optimally. If you haven't researched speaker placement, google search "Audio Physic speaker placement" and Master Set speaker placement." Both are excellent ways to get started. Different in approach, but the end result is what matters. I've used both, and the room usually dictated which sounded better. Can't say why.
"Can't say why" in my last post should have been "Don't know why."
A great resource for system setup and squeezing every last bit of performance out of it is Jim Smith's "Get Better Sound" book. It's far cheaper than any component you're contemplating buying, and I'm pretty sure you'll easily get an improvement that's far more than worth the cost of the book.
If you really, really need to buy something new, I agree with the previous poster - new source.
If it's a dedicated room, treat it. That will be LOT cheaper than any component (Audio Advisor has Sonex on sale right now), and will make an immense difference. Back in the day, I had LEDE (live end/dead end) setup, and the difference was immense, particularly with dynamic (rather than planar) speakers.
The Jim Smith book is a good suggestion. I also like "Good Sound," the Laura Dearborn book. Some parts are vexing for the in-the-know audio hobbyist, but there's good information in there as well.
Start with the small things, before investing in new equipment. If it's the Oppo 95, that's a very well-regarded music player, so you should be in good shape there. Good luck.
@Inna: I agree i do need to change my CD player. I am in the process of getting a better one. Thought about buying Vinyl. But me sitting in US cant do much about getting old Vinyl Indian recordings.
@Kbarkamian and Kevvwill: Thanks for the excellent inputs. I will try to go thru the sources provided to optmize my speaker placement and extract more out of my system. I live in a rented apt. So room treatments i would consider as last option.
I love the sound from my Harbeths. Exposure amp and Harbeth combo is overall doing good. But i feel like i need a second system for big, and punchy sound. I listen to music at very moderate levels. But I never heard big speakers in my apt setup. So i am thingking of trying floor standers like Proac D-18 or Usher Mini Dancer One.
This is what i will do. First i will get a decent CD player and then try to optmize my Harbeth based system to possible extent. After that also if i crave for a big and punchy sound then i will consider getting floor standers.
Also, speaker stands and cones or whatever between speakers ans stands can make quite a difference. What do you use now?
I personally treat all my cds with Optrix though it left some harmless residue on a few of them. Some people treat discs with Walker. It is much more expensive but may be worth it; I never tried it.
Personaly, I like the sound of CEC belt drive players and transports. Some Naims are very good too. Ayre as well.
Being a budget audio guy why do you need 2 systems?
rather start with upgrading the source with a dedicated cd player and slowly work around building one audiophile system. also spend some on cables .
@Inna: Currently i have wooden stands. Not the greatest ones. But as my Harbeht monitors are very light, i didnt bother to change them.
@Alfa100: I can see what you are saying. In fact for almost 5 hrs i had one system only. Then i assembled second cheap single driver based system for bedroom. Realized i am not using it there and moved it into hall.
As i am an apt dweller and with all the ambient noise etc i never bothered to optimize my system to audiophile standards! But now a days i am speding more time listening to it and thought i should improve it. That's the reason for posting.
While we are at this: would you guys recommend me getting rid of both of my systems completely and starting from scratch and building a simple but very musical system?
Is your Harbeth/Exposure system not simple and musical? Adding a great source will make it a good deal better IMO.
If you want more slam, maybe get a subwoofer like a REL or better yet a JL.
@Kbarkamian: Dont get me wrong! I do like my Harbeth + Exposure combination. Particualry for my Bob Dylan and Neil Young Collection i love this combo.
Before Harbeth's, at various times, i did use Yamaha, Usher S-520 and Spendor S3/5R speakers. Harbeths are the most i liked. But some times i do little bit miss lively sound of Yamaha's and Usher's (if this makes any sense). But no way i am a bass fanatic.
But looking at all the comments and suggestions, it seems everyone is suggesting to keep my Harbeth + Exposure combo. If i want to add a nice CD player, which one you would recommend (please remember i am a budget audio guy!)
REL or JL sub in apartment? He'll get evicted and fined in no time.
I would bother to get good stands with spikes or something else perhaps depending on whether you have carpeted or wooden floor and good cones between speakers and stands.
Not all wooden stands created equal you know, just like everything else.
@Inna: I agree with you. Considering the fact that i live in 3rd floor apt, people living below my apt won't appreaiciate loud and thumping music ;-)
My first hifi speakes were Yamaha speakers with a nice Yamaha stereo reciever. That time i bought wooden stands from best buy (the best they have got!). They are okay, but not solidly built.
Currently i use small isolation pads between my speakers and stands. In terms of source and stands i certainly need to imrove the things.
Any suggestions on CD players?
what is your budget for cd player?
I threw the sub suggestion out there because you said you wanted to try speakers with a "big and punchy sound" twice.
A sub doesn't have to be cranked up and shake the walls and floors. They actually have volume/level adjustments. They shouldn't be louder than the rest of the system IMO. What they'll do is fill in the rest of the frequency response, and give the Harbeths a bit of a break from trying to reproduce the lower end of their frequency response. A great sub dialed in and set up right can transform a system. Not an easy task at all, but it can be done. It doesn't have to be set any louder than a full size tower speaker would sound.
I'm not saying a sub would be the best bet nor the easiest. Depending on how your speakers are interacting with the room and what you're looking for sonically, it may be a better immediate upgrade than a CDP.
As far as CDPs, it really depends on what you're looking for sonically and budget wise. Have you considered a DAC and using your Oppo as a transport? A DAC can sound just as good, and it'll give you the flexibility of digital inputs. There are a lot of great DACs out there at a lot of different price points.
I agree with Kbarkamian about either adding a good subwoofer, an external DAC or both to your system. Adding a subwoofer would help to give a fuller, more extended sound to the bass for Rock music and adding an outstanding external DAC could upgrade the sound of both Rock and Eastern music in your system. I also have a monitor system--Paradigm S1 V.3, with Eastern Electric MiniMax Plus DAC and Energy Veritas Sub. This combination is giving me a very satisfying and accurate sound on a wide range of recordings and music styles.
And if you are considering a sub in an apt building, something like the Auralex Subdude can do a great job of making it less audible for your neighbors. I also agree, that a sub isn't just for booming bass, but rather a good sub fills things out nicely at most any volume level.
I said what I did about sub because I know that there would be a tendency to listen at higher volume. I was not talking about integrating sub and speakers.
@Ebm and @Tabl10s: Not sure what you guys are trying to tell me!
@Alfa100 and others: my budget for CD player is around 500 bucks
@Kbarkamian, Steady339, Roscoeiii and Inna: I am ruling out Sub option as i dont want to get into trying to match sub with the speakers etc.
But i am definitely open to getting a decent DAC. Earlier i did buy CambrdigeAudio DacMagic, but results are less than what i expected (minor improvement only). So guys please suggest me some nice DACs as well as CD players.
The Rega Apollo may be available for your price or less. I think they're being sold new for about $650 now, as they're going to be replaced by the Apollo-R soon. If they're $650ish new, the used prices should drop. Although, I'm not a fan of buying used CDPs. People buy them all the time, I'm just a bit weary of buying them due to transport/laser life.
The NAD and Cambridge CDPs also get great reviews. If you were underwhelmed by the DAC Magic, I'd probably rule out the Cambridge CDPs.
Rktxyz, as important as DAC is, transport is no less important, at least. I don't follow digital devices closely and their current prices and don't really know what $500 buy these days. But, I think, you should be able to get something pretty good that retailed for, say, $1200 or so.
you can try some older high quality cd players,let say from marantz to pioneer ...or some others which were expensive 10-20 years ago
Hello Rktxyz, Like I posted in a previous response, I feel that an outstanding external DAC would be a good way to upgrade your system and support future system upgrades. I am running a Eastern Electric MiniMax Plus which is giving me excellent results. The Eastern Electric DAC has received many excellent reviews and placed high(2nd place) in a Stereomojo DAC shootout against other well regarded DACs. Here is the link:
The EE MiniMax Plus is the latest upgraded model with dual transformers in the power supply--one each for digital and analog to give improved dynamics over the original MiniMax.
Also, if you plan to play FLAC files from a computer the EE MiniMax Plus has multiple bit-rates USB support. I am getting outstanding results with the MiniMax Plus driven by the program Amarra/iTunes combo running FLAC files on my iMac. Hope this info helps.
@Steady339: Thanks a lot for the info on EE MiniMax. I will check that Dac. Currently i dont have any FLAC files. All my audio collection is only in CD format. Also i need to do a little bit more reasearch on DACs to understand sonic virtues of different DACs and technical features.
@Extravaganza: I have started looking at CD players and DACs. I am little bit worried buying used CD players. But if a slighly older model comes up a decent price then i couild consider it.
@Kbarkamian and @Inna: Rega Apollo at my price is definitely attractive proposition. I will check that out.
If needed i may sell my DacMagic and get a decent CD player or DAC.
What about buying a Oppo 83SE or Oppo 95. How does it compare against proffesional CD players from Rega etc?
Out of curiosity I took a look at what is available here.
A few players caught my attention: Audio Analogue, Cary, Otari, Revox and Naim with asking prices from $500 to $800. I am sure they all sound different, I am not familiar with any of them. Check them out.
I don't like Rega, consider it mid-fi budget company and just not interested in anything they make, be it analog or digital.
A new year revealation!
Just for fun, today evening i have connected following components together and it pleasantly surpised me!
HarbethP3ESR + Dayens Ampino + Dac Magic + Oppo 981 HD
I thought Ampino wont be able to drive Harbeths. It drove Harbeths without any difficultty and the sound was magical! First time i have holographic sound effect in my system. Tomorrow i will experiment little bit more to find is it due to Ampino+DacMagic or something else.
500 for cdp is low. try Rega apollo ,arcam or naim used
Look for a jas musik 1.2 used much better than the others recommended very smooth without losing detail best I have heard even above list. Add a good nos tube very hard to beat.
guys...thanks a lot for suggesting to improve my CD player. I have yet to buy a decent CD player or DAC. But by making minor changes to existing system, i can see what you guys are saying.
For time being i kept aside my exposure amp and currently using my Harbeths with Ampino (or Miniwatt) + Dacmagic. When used with Ampino treble extension is too good and sound is holographic. When used with Miniwatt voices are magical and my Indian music is sounding really good! Seems afterall Dacmagic is not that bad!
> But i feel like i need a second system for big, and punchy sound.
Rktxyz, the Usher will give you that. I have the BE-718 and the Harbeth P3. BE-718 is not much bigger than than P3, but it sounds huge. Feed it will a lot of power and you will be happy. I always feel that although the P3 is very delicate, full of details and space, but a tad too polite. The BE-718 definitely loves to party.