Road to a simpler hi-fi life

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StingRay

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Ray
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If I had 8000 GBP to splurge, below would me my system sir :)

1.ATC SCM40 actives
2. Fed by a Blueme HD Pro via optical.
3. 5V linear power supply for the Blueme HD Pro
4. Any tab of your choice with Bluetooth LDAC streaming protocol, a music subscription of your choice, and stream via Bluetooth to the blueme HD Pro.

P.S : I use tidal from a Samsung s7+ tab, and stream via Bluetooth to my blumeHD via LDAC codec. My blume is fed by a cheap 5v chi-fi lpsu from Jay's audio, via wireworld optical cable, this feeds a esoteric K-01 dac. And against all my prejudices, it sounded undistinguishable from a Lumin D2. So I now stick with this, and I now really enjoy watching music videos on my tab, with the audio being streamed to my 2 channel system.
Can’t see the Pro available in the uk. The HD version is but that does not have LDAC.
 
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rabski

Everything in moderation
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Richard
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Smaller valve amplifier and high sensitivity speakers, plus a return to the Node 2i or a similar streamer?

If you want 'musicality' and the stunning mids, then you won't go far wrong with something like an Audio Note Oto and a pair of their speakers. That will produce the sort of presentation the posts suggest you are looking for. Alternatively, Living Voice speakers if you will/do have a bit of room.

If you then do decide to move somewhere hot (pointless to base the entire system on that possibility some time in the future), substitute pretty much any Pass Labs power amplifier and a valve preamplifier, though the Oto doesn't run particularly hot.
 

michaelf1000

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Dec 31, 2021
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  1. No
Smaller valve amplifier and high sensitivity speakers, plus a return to the Node 2i or a similar streamer?

If you want 'musicality' and the stunning mids, then you won't go far wrong with something like an Audio Note Oto and a pair of their speakers. That will produce the sort of presentation the posts suggest you are looking for. Alternatively, Living Voice speakers if you will/do have a bit of room.

If you then do decide to move somewhere hot (pointless to base the entire system on that possibility some time in the future), substitute pretty much any Pass Labs power amplifier and a valve preamplifier, though the Oto doesn't run particularly hot.
Based on your thoughts it sounds like achieving the mid range happiness is not possible with a SS amp.

Have you heard the Buchardt A500 or know of anyone who has? It would be good to get some perspective on how far away it is from the system I had.
Compromise is always possible, if the system is enjoyable.
 

bencat

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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I would like to suggest a smaller and cheaper solution which will sound very good in isloation and if you intend to not listen to too much in the way of alternatives . Strange thing to say but it does make sense I will explain . AE 1 Active plus stands and Auralic Altair streaming pre amp . Both the speakers and the Altair have balanced options which is how I would go . The Altair will accept a USB HD with ripped music on and all the usual streaming services . The AE 1 are active and sound excellent .

I will now qualify my statement a little . Listen to AE 1 and everything musical is there really nice detail good bass and a very good musical sound that will let you enjoy your music . It is a basic two box system and has just two connection cables XLR one to each speaker . I have heard the AE 1 using the out from a CD Player and honestly i could quite easily just live with the plug and play ease and the quality of the sound . Now I was also able to hear in the same room a much more elaborate system with bigger passive speakers powered by powerful class d monoblocks and this was more real had bigger bass and better imaging . However it was many more boxes and way more expensive overall compared to the used AE 1 and a used streamer .

Only you know what level you can live with but in my view it is very sensible to start as low as you are prepared to go and then step up the levels till you reach the right sound and simplicity for you that works and you could live with . What I would not do is go for the best and most expensive system I could put together and listen to that and then go downwards from there .
 

Juancho

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Jan 22, 2014
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David
Here's what I would do.....At the Wam Fest 2018 one of the ebay sounds around was @greybeard's Croft power amp, LS3s, small sub, and an Oppo Sonica DAC. I was so impressed that I bought that DAC as a reference whilst building my own line of DACs. But it was the overall system that impressed as highly musical and engaging.

There's a few variants on that I would recommend:

For amplifiers a Radford sta 25 or 15 or a modded /upgraded Audio Innovations s500

For speakers there are many but small and highly musical the Rogers LS3 or JR149, which is available very cheaply.

For streamers if you want USB get an Innuos Zen Mini but make sure you also buy the Phoenix USB reclocker which is a game-changer for the sound quality

If you want i2s get a Magna Mano streamer. i2s gives a very nice lift of SQ over USB or SPDIF

There are many DACs that could fit the bill from the aforementioned Oppo Sonica (no ,longer available)-just listen long and hard and make sure it's musically engaging! .

I actually have a Radford sta35 and JR149s and I often think when they're coupled to the right DAC or streamer do I really need anything more?
 
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bencat

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HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Here's what I would do.....At the Wam Fest 2018 one of the ebay sounds around was @greybeard's Croft power amp, LS3s, small sub, and an Oppo Sonica DAC. I was so impressed that I bought that DAC as a reference whilst building my own line of DACs. But it was the overall system that impressed as highly musical and engaging.

There's a few variants on that I would recommend:

For amplifiers a Radford sta 25 or 15 or a modded /upgraded Audio Innovations s500

For speakers there are many but small and highly musical the Rogers LS3 or JR149, which is available very cheaply.

For streamers if you want USB get an Innuos Zen Mini but make sure you also buy the Phoenix USB reclocker which is a game-changer for the sound quality

If you want i2s get a Magna Mano streamer. i2s gives a very nice lift of SQ over USB or SPDIF

There are many DACs that could fit the bill from the aforementioned Oppo Sonica (no ,longer available)-just listen long and hard and make sure it's musically engaging! .

I actually have a Radford sta35 and JR149s and I often think when they're coupled to the right DAC or streamer do I really need anything more?
Just a small addendum to this the Croft Amplifier in question was a Croft 3 OTL amplifier and I now own that amplifier . This does not sound like your average push / pull valve amps such as the Radfords (which sound very good in their own right just different) . So getting a similar sound may be a little more complicated .
 
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Juancho

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Just a small addendum to this the Croft Amplifier in question was a Croft 3 OTL amplifier and I now own that amplifier . This does not sound like your average push / pull valve amps such as the Radfords (which sound very good in their own right just different) . So getting a similar sound may be a little more complicated .
Different indeed. But similar in being highly musical, engaging across all musical styles and majoring on sane budgets, real estate etc etc
 

DomT

It’s all about the music
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Jul 23, 2019
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Dom
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Based on your thoughts it sounds like achieving the mid range happiness is not possible with a SS amp.

Have you heard the Buchardt A500 or know of anyone who has? It would be good to get some perspective on how far away it is from the system I had.
Compromise is always possible, if the system is enjoyable.
I suppose that this depends on a persons perspective. Clearly a valve amp orientated person is going to more strongly suggest that a valve amp os the obvious choice but some people find that certain speakers can help with certain s/s amps. I was really impressed with the current Accuphase amps but they don’t have a product for you.

Audio Note do have a new integrated amp with DAC that could be worth considering. I think that it’s an EL34 and so will not get that hot. Add an Innuos or Bluesound streamer and some Audio Note J or E speakers. Actually this is probably a pretty spot on suggestion for you.
 

michaelf1000

Newbie
Wammer
Dec 31, 2021
53
24
23
Tranent. SCOTLAND
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
I would like to suggest a smaller and cheaper solution which will sound very good in isloation and if you intend to not listen to too much in the way of alternatives . Strange thing to say but it does make sense I will explain . AE 1 Active plus stands and Auralic Altair streaming pre amp . Both the speakers and the Altair have balanced options which is how I would go . The Altair will accept a USB HD with ripped music on and all the usual streaming services . The AE 1 are active and sound excellent .

I will now qualify my statement a little . Listen to AE 1 and everything musical is there really nice detail good bass and a very good musical sound that will let you enjoy your music . It is a basic two box system and has just two connection cables XLR one to each speaker . I have heard the AE 1 using the out from a CD Player and honestly i could quite easily just live with the plug and play ease and the quality of the sound . Now I was also able to hear in the same room a much more elaborate system with bigger passive speakers powered by powerful class d monoblocks and this was more real had bigger bass and better imaging . However it was many more boxes and way more expensive overall compared to the used AE 1 and a used streamer .

Only you know what level you can live with but in my view it is very sensible to start as low as you are prepared to go and then step up the levels till you reach the right sound and simplicity for you that works and you could live with . What I would not do is go for the best and most expensive system I could put together and listen to that and then go downwards from there .
Bencat, thanks alot for your suggestion. This sounds like another way to "skin the cat" (apologies to unskinned cats). It sounds like this provides convenience but also a fair bit of quality built in. My preference is for stand mounts as I have not had good experiences with floor standers. The £8k budget was added to provide enough headroom to get the right stuff and not limit advice. Totally agree to move up the chain an see what suits. All the best.
 

michaelf1000

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Dec 31, 2021
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  1. No
I suppose that this depends on a persons perspective. Clearly a valve amp orientated person is going to more strongly suggest that a valve amp os the obvious choice but some people find that certain speakers can help with certain s/s amps. I was really impressed with the current Accuphase amps but they don’t have a product for you.

Audio Note do have a new integrated amp with DAC that could be worth considering. I think that it’s an EL34 and so will not get that hot. Add an Innuos or Bluesound streamer and some Audio Note J or E speakers. Actually this is probably a pretty spot on suggestion for you.
I will have a look at the Audio Note. Hopefully its not too underrated power wise. Do not really want to limit myself for future speakers / room sizes. Thanks for the info on Accuphase. Could I pair Accuphase integrated with some medium speakers and a Bluesound or similar to get the midrange magic ? I have not heard Accuphase.
 

rabski

Everything in moderation
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Dec 2, 2006
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Richard
HiFi Trade?
  1. No
Based on your thoughts it sounds like achieving the mid range happiness is not possible with a SS amp.

Have you heard the Buchardt A500 or know of anyone who has? It would be good to get some perspective on how far away it is from the system I had.
Compromise is always possible, if the system is enjoyable.
The Pass Labs are solid state, and IME very much capable of the 'magic mids'. They are, however, class A and thus are likely to run fairly warm.

I'm afraid I haven't heard the Buchardt. I have little experience of active speakers. Not that I have anything against them, but my system is somewhat (yeah, somewhat...) valve oriented, so there is no point for me.
 
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DomT

It’s all about the music
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Dom
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  1. No
I will have a look at the Audio Note. Hopefully its not too underrated power wise. Do not really want to limit myself for future speakers / room sizes. Thanks for the info on Accuphase. Could I pair Accuphase integrated with some medium speakers and a Bluesound or similar to get the midrange magic ? I have not heard Accuphase.
Midrange magic is such a personal thing that you will need to listen for yourself. I was seriously impressed by the Accuphase E270 and more so the E380 that I had on home demo to compare against my Audio Research SP17 (valve) and D130 (s/s) but I preferred my ARC but not *because* the preamp is valve.

I can run my Benchmark DAC straight into the power amp and the music sounds more ‘immediate’. @bencat ‘s idea is a good one and I own the Auralic Altair. But using my Benchmark DAC into the ARC D130 I prefer to listen with the SP17 valve pre in the chain; you may or may not do but I suspect that you would say that the midrange magic isn’t there enough - but maybe with Harbeths it could be? I haven’t tried the Auralic with just a power amp. The versatility of the Auralic Altair G1 is amazing.
 

DomT

It’s all about the music
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Dom
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I will have a look at the Audio Note. Hopefully its not too underrated power wise. Do not really want to limit myself for future speakers / room sizes. Thanks for the info on Accuphase. Could I pair Accuphase integrated with some medium speakers and a Bluesound or similar to get the midrange magic ? I have not heard Accuphase.
If using high efficiency speakers like the Audio Note ones then they will not be under powered unless you like to listen at 100db
 

michaelf1000

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Dec 31, 2021
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The Pass Labs are solid state, and IME very much capable of the 'magic mids'. They are, however, class A and thus are likely to run fairly warm.

I'm afraid I haven't heard the Buchardt. I have little experience of active speakers. Not that I have anything against them, but my system is somewhat (yeah, somewhat...) valve oriented, so there is no point for me.
Thanks Rabski. I see a PASS amp is listed on here somewhere. If your system is pretty much how you want, no real point in introducing other stuff as you say.
If using high efficiency speakers like the Audio Note ones then they will not be under powered unless you like to listen at 100db
OK DomT, understood. (y)
 

michaelf1000

Newbie
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Dec 31, 2021
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  1. No
Midrange magic is such a personal thing that you will need to listen for yourself. I was seriously impressed by the Accuphase E270 and more so the E380 that I had on home demo to compare against my Audio Research SP17 (valve) and D130 (s/s) but I preferred my ARC but not *because* the preamp is valve.

I can run my Benchmark DAC straight into the power amp and the music sounds more ‘immediate’. @bencat ‘s idea is a good one and I own the Auralic Altair. But using my Benchmark DAC into the ARC D130 I prefer to listen with the SP17 valve pre in the chain; you may or may not do but I suspect that you would say that the midrange magic isn’t there enough - but maybe with Harbeths it could be? I haven’t tried the Auralic with just a power amp. The versatility of the Auralic Altair G1 is amazing.
Thanks DomT, more good thoughts for me to consider. No doubt we will one day have to do without valves due to cost or lack of supply. I wonder what system everyone will have then ? o_O
 

Pedro2

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Sep 9, 2018
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Peter
HiFi Trade?
  1. Yes
I would like to suggest a smaller and cheaper solution which will sound very good in isloation and if you intend to not listen to too much in the way of alternatives . Strange thing to say but it does make sense I will explain . AE 1 Active plus stands and Auralic Altair streaming pre amp . Both the speakers and the Altair have balanced options which is how I would go . The Altair will accept a USB HD with ripped music on and all the usual streaming services . The AE 1 are active and sound excellent .

I will now qualify my statement a little . Listen to AE 1 and everything musical is there really nice detail good bass and a very good musical sound that will let you enjoy your music . It is a basic two box system and has just two connection cables XLR one to each speaker . I have heard the AE 1 using the out from a CD Player and honestly i could quite easily just live with the plug and play ease and the quality of the sound . Now I was also able to hear in the same room a much more elaborate system with bigger passive speakers powered by powerful class d monoblocks and this was more real had bigger bass and better imaging . However it was many more boxes and way more expensive overall compared to the used AE 1 and a used streamer .

Only you know what level you can live with but in my view it is very sensible to start as low as you are prepared to go and then step up the levels till you reach the right sound and simplicity for you that works and you could live with . What I would not do is go for the best and most expensive system I could put together and listen to that and then go downwards from there .
Good advice re spending, I feel. The danger will always be to go to the limit on budget but then get locked into spending even more when the sound isn’t quite right.

Not sure what you’d make of actives - the only way to find out is to listen to some. When you factor in the cost of power amps, they’re often excellent value and can also sound superb (including the AE1a).

ATC actives are usually considered better sounding than their equivalent passive siblings, irrespective of power amps used (although as actives go, they ain’t cheap!).
 

rdale

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Richard Dale
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Good advice re spending, I feel. The danger will always be to go to the limit on budget but then get locked into spending even more when the sound isn’t quite right.

Not sure what you’d make of actives - the only way to find out is to listen to some. When you factor in the cost of power amps, they’re often excellent value and can also sound superb (including the AE1a).

ATC actives are usually considered better sounding than their equivalent passive siblings, irrespective of power amps used (although as actives go, they ain’t cheap!).
I went for a simpler life with an all active system - KEF LS50Ws + KEF R400b subs. That’s the entire system and it sounds great in a large room with a lot of acoustic treatment. I do have a couple of valve amp based systems too, but I still find the all active system sweet, detailed and dynamic.
 
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