deepsleep

Streamer/DAC - Where did I go wrong ?

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Super Wammer

The problem with a 13x13 room is that it’s a square. It will be worse if it’s got a very high ceiling as the worst shape of all is a cube. How tall is the ceiling please?

Like others have said a sub can be a pain and I have never heard a well integrated one but there are people on here who have and they are regular posters. I am also not a fan of room correction and prefer to buy speakers that suit a room and maybe just use a small amount of eq to fix any problems after I have tried the normal things like rugs and curtains.

If you want a very explicit speaker to really hear what your front end is doing then Wilson Benesch might mate well with your McIntosh. I owned a pair of WB Arcs and Curves. The ARCs should work well in your room. They sound like a very clean modern studio monitor. Much much more revealing than Harbeth. (I went from Wilson Benesch to Harbeth)

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Subs don't really add a massive amount of bass to most stereo systems unless you have a bass management system that can split the low end so that everything under 80hz is being sent. Otherwise, you're just tastefully underpinning your speakers around 40-50hz area. That will add extension, but it won't add more bass punch the way a floor stander will.

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3 minutes ago, Timbo21 said:

Subs don't really add a massive amount of bass to most stereo systems unless you have a bass management system that can split the low end so that everything under 80hz is being sent. Otherwise, you're just tastefully underpinning your speakers around 40-50hz area. That will add extension, but it won't add more bass punch the way a floor stander will.

Bear in mind that the Harbeth's are -3dB down at 75 Hz:

https://www.harbeth.co.uk/hifi-speaker/11/Harbeth-P3ESR-loudspeaker

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Just now, MartinC said:

Bear in mind that the Harbeth's are -3dB down at 75 Hz:

https://www.harbeth.co.uk/hifi-speaker/11/Harbeth-P3ESR-loudspeaker

Wow. Well, I really recommend the OP get's bigger speakers. 

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39 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

It's got one feature my wife really wants: Air Play.    I've read for and against the sound quality thing as well.  No idea myself as I've not heard it, but since it is just such good value for money, I'd gladly sell the current one and get the new one.  :)

Thanks, I see. I will look into some more. Even a pimped one. 

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Super Dealer
1 hour ago, Timbo21 said:

Subs don't really add a massive amount of bass to most stereo systems unless you have a bass management system that can split the low end so that everything under 80hz is being sent. Otherwise, you're just tastefully underpinning your speakers around 40-50hz area. That will add extension, but it won't add more bass punch the way a floor stander will.

MIniDSP processor and a microphone, perfectly integrated subs, frequency, gain, phase , order, high/low pass all for a couple of hundred dollars.

Keith

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My opinion FWIW is those speakers are just too small. However, I feel really peed off that the OP has been trying to achieve a final system but has ended up being used as some sort of cash cow, even when trying to swap/part-ex his gear. I hope he finds a solution soon.

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Posted (edited)

Get the speakers and room right first. Play with positioning and acoustic treatments if needed. 

Then your amp and everything else after that will be diminishing returns.

A good dealer should know these basics.

Edited by michaelgb

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Super Wammer
4 hours ago, deepsleep said:

I am immensely grateful for the useful responses to my post (cry for help).

The upgrade journey has been going on for the past 18 months with the dealer suggesting add-ons whenever I complained about any shortcoming.

I had already informed the dealer that I was looking for a pre-retirement end-game system - no more upgrades, lifting heavy boxes or bending over fiddling around with cables.

I'm not saying that I preferred the Naim sound to the Chord rather that the huge price difference didn't seem justified in my case (my friend is delighted with the benchmarking).

The MScaler wasn't intended as a stepping stone towards the Dave but rather a means of 'improving' the sound of my 16bit FLAC library - as already mentioned, quality of music production means many tracks will continue to sound flat even after upsampling so I would have been better off buying 24bit Hi-res versions of the same tracks instead.

I did demo Chord amps (TToby and SPM-1050) to try and stay with the same brand but the warmth and mid-range of the McIntosh was instantly noticeable.

As for speaker choice, I did demo B&W 804 D3 with the McIntosh which sounded really good in the demo room but my listening space at home is only 13ft x 13ft and I was concerned about potential boominess so didn't try them at home.

At home, each speaker is 9ft away from my listening position.

My relatively small listening room meant I didn't consider floorstanders and monobloc amps.

The Harbeths were recommended and I was initially very satisfied but after a few months I found them to be a little bit bass light with certain genres and in particular watching DVDs and the dealer suggested connecting a subwoofer to the McIntosh to address this !

As for dealer demos - I was usually loaned kit over a weekend or during the weekdays - not the several weeks needed to fully bed in.

So what am I going to do now ?

Well, I'm going to simplify my setup and listen to that for the next 4-6 weeks: Auralic Streamer > Hugo TT2 > McIntosh Amp > Speakers

This will allow me to gauge how much the extra bits and pieces were actually adding to the sonic picture.

Btw, I did discuss the prospect of changing some of my kit with the dealer but I was dismayed by the suggested part-exchange valuations.

After reading the responses, I am keen to replace the Harbeths...I won't go back to the dealer (he was suggesting IsoAcoustic Isolation last time we spoke) !

I was going to "like" this post until I got to the last sentence... simplify the set-up and live with it for at least a couple of weeks but for goodnes sake don't change the highly regarded speakers - yet. See how you feel (first) and try not to think and analyse too much. After a couple of weeks, I'd suggest (and not while you're feeling) you then think about what you do and don't like, what might be missing from your sound. Finally, if all else fails, take some measurements. This last point is an "in" joke; don't.

There are so many factors interacting here, between various bits of your kit, between your kit and your room, and between your room and your ears. Take it steady.

Here are some personal reflections to confuse you:

  • Chord digital kit: I am always impressed but I can't say I particularly enjoy. When I do enjoy, it often depends on other factors.
  • Chord amplfiers: glad you didn't go there, they do nout for me
  • Naim: beloved of many dealers (if not your local one), they rarely fail to impress me at first listen but usually, in my experience, become fatiguing far too rapidly
    • If you can borrow your mate's Naim kit for a few days then you might start to get a clearer idea of whether you find it impressive or enjoyable - or both
  • Harbeths: highly rated by many here; though I have yet to hear a pair, I'd caution against ditching these too soon
  • I ditched a pair of "ProAc" (not actually ProAc but modern Celef; think Tablette 10) standmounts because of the range of music I enjoy which includes bass-rich tracks but I have to say I still think they are/were unbeatable on many types of music.
  • All systems are about compromises and priorities; you have an accurate, highly detailed front end, which is fabulous if that suits your tastes and works well with the rest of your system. Some of the systems I have enjoyed most are not the most accurate or detailed

The main thing is to breathe deeply rather than panic, especially the sort of panic which involves spending money.

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Super Wammer
2 hours ago, BeeRay said:

What improvement has the Node2i got? Reading elsewhere some users don't find it sounds any better.

2 hours ago, ChemMan said:

It's got one feature my wife really wants: Air Play.    I've read for and against the sound quality thing as well.  No idea myself as I've not heard it, but since it is just such good value for money, I'd gladly sell the current one and get the new one.  :)

Features (Airplay) not sound; for all intents and purposes, I'd think of these as the same box. I've heard people argue the case for a slightly improved sound on the Node2i  but I'm not convinced it's anything other than new = better. And that miht b using the internal DAC; I struggle to see how the actual streaming bit could be better, if used into a standalone DAC; see related threads.  I have both Node2 and Node2i, but life is too short to do a blind-listening test and report back, seriously.

Sonically, I would expect the Auralic to be up there and absolutely not a weak point.

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3 minutes ago, TheFlash said:

I struggle to see how the actual streaming bit could be better, if used into a standalone DAC; see related threads.  I have both Node2 and Node2i, but life is too short to do a blind-listening test and report back, seriously.

Sonically, I would expect the Auralic to be up there and absolutely not a weak point.

I don't doubt any of this.  The Auralic app really bugs me though and is a possible deal breaker. Sounds quite good however.  So far it's my favorite sound wise in a Streaming-DAC all in one box in the ~€2000 range.

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Super Wammer
Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, ChemMan said:

I don't doubt any of this.  The Auralic app really bugs me though and is a possible deal breaker. Sounds quite good however.  So far it's my favorite sound wise in a Streaming-DAC all in one box in the ~€2000 range.

Apologies for the bum steer... I mentioned Auralic because the OP has one and I really don't think he should be ditching it. I researched the streamer thing as you may recall and it came down to Auralic vs Bluesound; I went for the latter for the reason you mention but sonically switching out the Auralic isn't going to change a lot or fix anything much.

Edited by TheFlash

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10 hours ago, TheFlash said:

Apologies for the bum steer... I mentioned Auralic because the OP has one and I really don't think he should be ditching it. I researched the streamer thing as you may recall and it came down to Auralic vs Bluesound; I went for the latter for the reason you mention but sonically switching out the Auralic isn't going to change a lot or fix anything much.

Agreed on all accounts.

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Posted (edited)

The speakers are good, they have a certain sound, but in my view they are the best of Harbeth. 

1. Don't panic.

2. Do not buy or sell anything for 3 months. 

3. Tinker with removing bits and settings, more often than not these modern DACs, streamers and upscalers  sound quite different on different settings.

4. If you want more bass, get a Velodyne DD10+ or do what Keith says. I can't believe I am agreeing with Keith. 

5. Borrow stuff from mates.

Edited by It Cost How Much!?!

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