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Thread: Audio and HiFi Systems

  1. #1
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Audio and HiFi Systems

    I've been searching around for some affordable but decent audio kit. The amount of stuff that's available is extremely intimidating, so any help would be appreciated.

    At the very entry level I could just go for decent 2.1 stereo PC speakers. I've been looking at the Logitech Z623s https://www.amazon.co.uk/Logitech-2-...dp/B00413BI7Q/

    The next step up from that is a pair of studio monitors. I don't know how much I'd spend, max about 300 for both I'm guessing. This would probably be the most affordable option with regards to getting the cash together and not saving for months on end (which knowing me is unlikely.) The question with monitors for me is the setup I have to feed into them. I'd just have a PC and standard 3.5mm jack. Even playing FLACs off my computer (but still mostly MP3 from Youtube and Spotify) I don't know if I'd need a proper soundcard to get the most out of my computer and the monitors.

    The high end goal, and something that'd be really tempting even if it meant a lot of discipline is an audio receiver and speakers. Preferably it'd be able to take output from my computer via WiFi and Bluetooth, and I could somehow link up my collection to be browse-able via the receiver's remote/built-in system. A built in CD player might be handy too. Decent extra input options would be great for down the line as well, both an ethernet jack should I ever hook up a simple NAS, and a phono input should I ever want to hook up a turntable, although the cost of that puts it down the line, especially with the cost of vinyl as an ongoing expense.

    On top of the receiver option is of course what speakers I get with it. I was doing some browsing and I'd be looking at about 300/400 for a receiver that wouldn't do everything I'd want. And the same again for speakers, plus about half that for a turntable. Overall I'd be looking at somewhere between 800 and 1,000 to get a system that would just about get me to barely entry level audiophile territory. It'd be killer, but it'd involve a lot of scrimping and saving. If I had a more affordable place sorted, plus a bit of work it'd be what I'd aim for.

    Basically, dear FHC, what I'm looking for is the pros and cons of the setup options, any info on what is actually necessary for each setup, and finally recommendations on what's a decent buy for each of the options I presented.

  2. #2
    Donor erichkknaar's Avatar
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    I can make a lengthy poast about this, but I have to ask a question first.

    I know from some day thread posts you said you wanted to get into reviewing bands. I guess the question is, is do you want to learn critical listening? or be more of a drink in the vibe kind of listener? Do you care if a recording is shoddy (not the same thing as lofi), and is that some thing you want to make part of your critiquing?

    Or are you just looking for some bump to worry the neighbors with?

    Kind of guides the choices.
    meh

  3. #3
    Joe Appleby's Avatar
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    Posting to subscribe to remember to post later today/tonight.

    Basically I am going to get myself a simple hifi set up and could answer some of your questions Mrenda.

    And I'm looking for your input as well Erich.

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  4. #4
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by erichkknaar View Post
    I can make a lengthy poast about this, but I have to ask a question first.

    I know from some day thread posts you said you wanted to get into reviewing bands. I guess the question is, is do you want to learn critical listening? or be more of a drink in the vibe kind of listener? Do you care if a recording is shoddy (not the same thing as lofi), and is that some thing you want to make part of your critiquing?

    Or are you just looking for some bump to worry the neighbors with?

    Kind of guides the choices.
    I think the quality of recording is important. Especially the ability to mess about with how its presented because I can listen to something on my various shit tier speakers (TV, laptop, and €60 2.0s) and get a different sound from each of them. I've reviewed stuff I heard on decent pub speakers (badly setup) and listened to recordings on my own system and had a completely different buzz from them each time.

    Annoying neighbours is a low priority, as I rarely turn it up to banging levels and I'm not the type of person to throw a party.

    As for the critical listening versus drink in a vibe, both are important to me is the best way of putting it. An example is I rarely get out the lyric sheet of something I'm listening to, but prefer to pick out important phrases, tones and messages from what becomes apparent on my listen through. If something is really good I'll sit down and listen to it multiple times, but for generic stuff where my opinion is set quickly I'll go with what I'm presented.

    The best example I can give is Ennio Morricone's recording from the Kremlin for his birthday. The recording sounded so rich, and beautiful even on entry level PC speakers via a Spotify stream that I'd love to hear them on a much better system. So on that level a good recording makes me want more, especially if the music is there in the first place.

  5. #5
    Movember 2012 Stoffl's Avatar
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    If you buy semiproper Studio Monitors do get a proper sound card for em. Think Xonar essence lineup. But do wait for a sale, I got my Essence ST for 120€ when a local vendor had insolvency sale. Was a very noticeable difference from onboard to the Xonar. It's all analogue so you need proper SNR rations and preamps.


    Regarding Monitors: Go to a proper shop that has listening arrays with switches so you can directly compare lots of monitors. Bring your own Cds.
    Adam F5 is somewhat in your price range and you'd get the same brilliant tweeter as their bigger A series brothers.
    Obviously don't expect the mighty low playing bass. Also no magnetic shielding. I see them at around 170€ a piece ocassionally.

    http://www.musicradar.com/reviews/te...onitors-591058

    I'm heavily biased to Adam Monitors but they just sounded the best to me. Adam A7X 4 lyfe.
    Huge Focal fan when it comes to Carhifi but their monitors were more expensive than adam and just didn't sound as good.
    Last edited by Stoffl; November 28 2016 at 08:01:11 AM.
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  6. #6
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    There's no local place selling anything. I'd have to travel to Dublin. And while I'm all for supporting local business Dublin isn't local to me (although still Irish,) and they're charging about €400 for something going online for about €220. So fuck that.

    And I have no idea what you mean by SNR rations, although a pre-amp with a phono input as well as the soundcard input might be handy.

  7. #7
    Movember 2012 Stoffl's Avatar
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    So travel to Dublin and have a listening session. You don't have to buy them there....hifi is extremely subjective. DO EET.

    SNR = Signal to noise ratio
    Last edited by Stoffl; November 28 2016 at 08:06:59 AM.
    2/10/17 Greatposthellpurge never forget
    23/10/17 The Greatreposteninging ?

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrenda View Post
    The next step up from that is a pair of studio monitors. I don't know how much I'd spend, max about €300 for both I'm guessing. This would probably be the most affordable option with regards to getting the cash together and not saving for months on end (which knowing me is unlikely.) The question with monitors for me is the setup I have to feed into them. I'd just have a PC and standard 3.5mm jack. Even playing FLACs off my computer (but still mostly MP3 from Youtube and Spotify) I don't know if I'd need a proper soundcard to get the most out of my computer and the monitors.
    Active monitors are easiest to setup and also the most bang for the buck in my opinion, since you're only paying for them boxes.

    Which ones you get actually among other things depends on where you live, a lot of manufacturers simply dont ship worldwide.

    I've got these https://www.thomann.de/gb/tannoy_reveal_502.htm
    In terms of sound i'm p. happy.
    Only complaint is - they've got a blue power LED on the back which can be annoying if you dont turn them off.

    For casual listening the DAC on your onboard soundcard should be plenty, they are actually p. good these days.
    Last edited by n0th; November 28 2016 at 09:31:38 AM.

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  10. #10
    DuPro's Avatar
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    Id avoid the shitty computer built-in audio at all costs.

    I built myself a streaming device made of Raspberry Pi and Hifiberry DAC, the Software doing the Audio processing and streaming is moodeaudio. The setup is remote controllable via Android app, you can connect a hard drive containing your music if you do not want to stream and do not want to have the PC running all the time.

    This little box is connected to an old Marantz Amp i bought used for 80€, Speakers are bookshelf Klipsch for 200€/pair.

    https://www.hifiberry.com/
    http://moodeaudio.org/

  11. #11
    Joe Appleby's Avatar
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    You know how I wanted to post first buy later?

    Some days are strange.

    Bought a pair of Dynaudio Emit M10s and a Yamaha A-S501 amp. Going to set it up in a bit and then hook up my Pro-ject Debut III as well as the chromecast audio.

    About the turntable, I already made a thread about that here in the music subforum ages ago. Turning tables. I'd link it if I weren't on the phone.

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  12. #12
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    I'll soon have about 400/€500 to spend on audio equipment on Amazon (local stores are out as it's a gift card.) Looking tonight makes me realise how little audio equipment you actually get for what is a significant sum of money for me.

    If I was to get a network receiver I couldn't get a phono stage, and sometimes even lines-in to hook up a turntable with a pre-amp. If I get a regular amplifier with phono there's no wireless, bluetooth and usb options. And then if I get something that approaches all of those needs I'd be without any cash for speakers.

    At this point I really need to decide if vinyl is a route I'm going to go down. I'd love to, but then there's the cost of the turntable, and the cost of the vinyl itself, plus storage.

    Really what I need to decide is is it worth spending all the 400 on a decent amplifier that can do all that network stuff, then save for a pre-amp and speakers.

  13. #13
    Donor erichkknaar's Avatar
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    In my opinion, no, the extra cash on the network stuff isn't worth it, bymmv.

  14. #14
    Donor Aea's Avatar
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    DAC/AMP Combo + Powered Monitors should do the trick.

    Schiit has the Magni + Modi which should satisfy the first part for ~$200. You can probably do cheaper as this is slightly overkill for your setup.

    Then maybe the Yamaha HS5s. Not so well-versed on that side of things. You will definitely get more bang for your buck going with headphones.

    Set aside $20-40 for cables / adapters too.

  15. #15
    FatFreddy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by QuackBot
    Pastry.. That the best you can do?
    Quote Originally Posted by NotXenosis View Post

    M8, i have discussions that spam multiple accounts, you aren't even on my level

  16. #16
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    Presuming What HiFi isn't the devil I think I've decided what I could go for.

    An Onkyo A9010 amp. Phone input, as well as four regular line ins, plus a 3.5mm line in on the front. 200 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Onkyo-A-901.../dp/B00SH2JSJW

    Either

    Wharfdale Diamon 220 Speakers 175 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wharfedale-.../dp/B00P15KDCO
    or
    Q Acoustics 3020 Speakers 150 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Acoustics-3...dp/B00TR7JK7Q/

    A bluetooth receiver that handles RCA, or a soundcard that outputs digital (Coax or Optical)

    Cables

    And eventually I'll pick up a turntable. Either a second hand one near me, or a Project Elemental.

    I figure I can do everything short of the turntable for about 500. I'd try second hand but partly I don't trust a lot of the dodgy places near me, partly I would recognise anything decent, and partly I don't know how to inspect the equipment.

  17. #17
    Joe Appleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrenda View Post
    Presuming What HiFi isn't the devil I think I've decided what I could go for.

    An Onkyo A9010 amp. Phone input, as well as four regular line ins, plus a 3.5mm line in on the front. 200 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Onkyo-A-901.../dp/B00SH2JSJW

    Either

    Wharfdale Diamon 220 Speakers 175 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wharfedale-.../dp/B00P15KDCO
    or
    Q Acoustics 3020 Speakers 150 https://www.amazon.co.uk/Acoustics-3...dp/B00TR7JK7Q/

    A bluetooth receiver that handles RCA, or a soundcard that outputs digital (Coax or Optical)

    Cables

    And eventually I'll pick up a turntable. Either a second hand one near me, or a Project Elemental.

    I figure I can do everything short of the turntable for about 500. I'd try second hand but partly I don't trust a lot of the dodgy places near me, partly I would recognise anything decent, and partly I don't know how to inspect the equipment.
    Wharfdale's are well regarded.

    The Dali Zensor 1 are treated as an insider's tip.

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dali-Zensor.../dp/B0057X5KF0

    The amp is good, I would maybe go for the next higher one (9050?) to have a bit more headroom with the power.

    Add a Chromecast Audio (http://www.argos.co.uk/product/4979144) or an Amazon Echo Dot (https://www.amazon.co.uk/Amazon-Echo...dp/B01DFKBL68/) to give it a network player. The Chromecast Audio has a toslink mini (optical cable) so you can use that input. No idea if the Echo Dot has that as well. It does have the better interface simply by being voice. Disclaimer: those aren't available in Germany yet really, so I couldn't try it yet.
    nevar forget

  18. #18
    Mrenda's Avatar
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    I've just been looking at the Chromecast Audio, is it not 3.5mm to optical? Either way I'd imagine the Onkyo's Dac would better manage anything the Chromecast can do.

  19. #19
    Joe Appleby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mrenda View Post
    I've just been looking at the Chromecast Audio, is it not 3.5mm to optical? Either way I'd imagine the Onkyo's Dac would better manage anything the Chromecast can do.
    The 3.5mm jack is also an optical jack. It's called toslink mini. Pretty nifty.

    I'd trust the amp's dac a wee bit more simply for not being cramped into the small dongle.

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  20. #20
    מלך יהודים Zeekar's Avatar
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    So I've been reading this thread and I have to ask is there any cheaper way to get a decent sounding system than 500 at which Mrenda is looking at? I'm not a hardcore audiophile if that matters...

    I'm currently rocking a headset but sometimes I'd like to listen to music/watch movies without them.


    

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