Griff500

DAC / Pre Amp setup for SCM40A

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Super Dealer

Whatever you choose makes sure it plays everything you want to play, there will be no difference in sound quality between digital transports as long as they have a bit perfect output.

Probably the most important feature is the user interface the way you actually choose music.

Keith

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Super Wammer

I think we need to be 100% sure what sources you need to accommodate.  I see a Synology NAS in your profile.  Aside from that, do you have any ‘legacy’ sources like CD players, tape recorders or tuners?  What about records - do you wish to connect a turntable?  Do you have a preferred streaming service, like Tidal or Qobuz?

ATC make a fine CD player and preamp, the CDA2 Mk2 (£2,950) and also the C2 Mk2  preamp (£1775).  Your Auralic Aries Mini would, I believe connect to them as another source.  I’m not the person to ask about valve anything!  

As mentioned in your PMC thread, a Linn Akurate DSM is a streamer, DAC and preamp.  Early ones are under two grand, hence within budget, and the Katalyst upgrade costs a further £1800 (Auralic sale can help here?) which brings a fresh five year warranty on the lot.  An Akurate DSM can cope with a NAS, several digital or analogue inputs, and includes a decent MM and MC phono board. 

Lastly, as Keith mentions above, the ergonomics and associated app are an important consideration, especially for streaming. 

Edited by Nopiano
Typo
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In my personal experience, volume.controls in DACs are not.too hot. I would personally keep an active pre and a DAC / streamer supporting the right streaming service. 

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4 minutes ago, Nopiano said:

I think we need to be 100% sure what sources you need to accommodate.  I see a Synology NAS in your profile.  Aside from that, do you have any ‘legacy’ sources like CD players, tape recorders or tuners?  What about records - do you wish to connect a turntable?  Do you have a preferred streaming service, like Tidal or Qobuz?

ATC make a fine CD player and preamp, the CDA2 Mk2 (£2,950) and also the C2 Mk2  preamp (£1775).  Your Auralic Aries Maini would, I believe connect to them as another source.  I’m not the person to ask about valve anything!  

As mentioned in your PMC thread, a Linn Akurate DSM is a streamer, DAC and preamp.  Early ones are under two grand, hence within budget, and the Katalyst upgrade costs a further £1800 (Auralic sale can help here?) which brings a fresh five year warranty on the lot.  An Akurate DSM can cope with a NAS, several digital or analogue inputs, and includes a decent MM and MC phono board. 

Lastly, as Keith mentions above, the ergonomics and associated app are an important consideration, especially for streaming. 

I had forgotten about that NAS! Many, many years ago I had movies and music on it but I don't use it now and I don't buy CDs to rip. It's best to assume that I'll use Tidal (possibly a different service at some point but that's the one I am currently using).

I might want to connect a turntable in the future but that's almost certainly not going to be inside the next two years.

The app is important. I find the Auralic Lightning DS to be good but the Aries Mini has sometimes been reluctant to make itself visible on the network (that has improved significantly with the latest update, which I hadn't bothered to do for some time).

A used Linn with an upgrade would be a good way to get a decent system with a five-year warranty. That would put me up to around £4K. There are probably a decent number of options within that range, including Auralic.

Mytek have MQA, a very good mix of features and seems to be highly regarded, although I've not really seen much about the app .

I'm not sure if MQA is required to get the full benefit of Tidal Masters (I suspect I have just opened a large can of worms).

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Just now, It Cost How Much!?! said:

In my personal experience, volume.controls in DACs are not.too hot. I would personally keep an active pre and a DAC / streamer supporting the right streaming service. 

I thought a lot of the recent ones have analogue volume controls or significantly improved digital volume control?

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On 16/10/2020 at 15:55, CnoEvil said:

The Linn is constantly being upgraded through the firmware updates eg. Space Optimisation...and improvements can usually be retro fitted eg Katalyst. 

It can also be used to connect to the TV as it has HDMI sockets.

It's expensive, but more doable second hand....and it isn't forward sounding.

Ah the good old Linn style ....this is good/expensive but to really make it better you need 10k of Nordic named upgrades .......same old marketing ploy since 1980’s

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39 minutes ago, MF 1000 said:

Ah the good old Linn style ....this is good/expensive but to really make it better you need 10k of Nordic named upgrades .......same old marketing ploy since 1980’s

I disagree.

The firmware upgrades cost nothing. Hardware improvements can be evaluated and upgraded if worth it. 

I am talking Streamer/Pre here. I don't own their Amps or Speakers, which are not to my taste - especially the expensive ones.

Edited by CnoEvil

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34 minutes ago, Griff500 said:

I might want to connect a turntable in the future but that's almost certainly not going to be inside the next two years.

This is a potentially big factor in your choice. Without this I'd be leaning towards a streamer/DAC/pre-amp in a single box but generally these won't allow you to connect a phono stage, and you may not want to even if you could. How likely do you think this is really. Obviously lots of people here are vinyl fans but personally I don't know why you'd bother going down this particular faffy and expensive rabbit hole :).

34 minutes ago, Griff500 said:

I'm not sure if MQA is required to get the full benefit of Tidal Masters (I suspect I have just opened a large can of worms).

Short answer yes. Unless there is a strong reason you favour a particular product without MQA support I'd be looking for one that does in your position.

Given that you used one for demoing your speakers and liked the sound I assume an Auralic Altair G1 is high on your list of options? To be honest I'm surprised you haven't bought one already :P.

The only streamer/DAC/pre-amp I've used is the miniDSP SHD I own but I wouldn't particularly suggest this for you. A product that is similar in a number of ways that I think it might be worth you trying to Demo would be a NAD C658. This uses the popular Blue OS and includes Dirac Live support. The latter will give you some ability compensate for how the different rooms you'll be using your speakers in will affect the sound.

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Bluesound Node 2i + used Hugo TT?

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Super Dealer
18 minutes ago, Warszawa said:

Bluesound Node 2i + used Hugo TT?

Hey, good suggestion. 

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Super Dealer
1 hour ago, Griff500 said:

I thought a lot of the recent ones have analogue volume controls or significantly improved digital volume control?

Yes variable analogue output and properly dithered digital attenuation, the ( very slight) issue is that with digital attenuation you attenuate the signal but not the background noise, with analogue both are attenuated, having said that you have to really use a lot of digital attenuation for it to be an issue, hence variable analogue.

If you are thinking about analogue sources, then consider A/D as well as D/A, personally I would get a small ,quiet dedicated computer and then choose a dac/adc that has the features you require, over at ASR there is a list of the finest measuring designs and they are not expensive, far from it.

Keith

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Super Dealer
1 hour ago, Stargazer said:

As to DACS I read that Border Control brings that charm and warmth to the ATC SCM40A.....

It is certainly in the top five worst measuring, which is an achievement of sorts I suppose.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/borderpatrol-digital-analogue-converter-se-measurements

Keith

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Can you listen to a few alternatives, including some budget options? Well-designed digital sources and DACs sound near enough the same to me - so I'm currently running some nice active speakers from a £20ish USB soundcard, and another pair of speakers from a Chromecast audio :) I've nothing against buying shiny kit (and a well-designed streamer will have a good user interface) but it's worth comparing products costing thousands to budget options before splashing out!

You could get something with DSP built in and the potential to run a crossover - to help you integrate your speakers into the different rooms, and to add a sub if you end up doing so?

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1 hour ago, MartinC said:

This is a potentially big factor in your choice. Without this I'd be leaning towards a streamer/DAC/pre-amp in a single box but generally these won't allow you to connect a phono stage, and you may not want to even if you could. How likely do you think this is really. Obviously lots of people here are vinyl fans but personally I don't know why you'd bother going down this particular faffy and expensive rabbit hole :).

Short answer yes. Unless there is a strong reason you favour a particular product without MQA support I'd be looking for one that does in your position.

Given that you used one for demoing your speakers and liked the sound I assume an Auralic Altair G1 is high on your list of options? To be honest I'm surprised you haven't bought one already :P.

The only streamer/DAC/pre-amp I've used is the miniDSP SHD I own but I wouldn't particularly suggest this for you. A product that is similar in a number of ways that I think it might be worth you trying to Demo would be a NAD C658. This uses the popular Blue OS and includes Dirac Live support. The latter will give you some ability compensate for how the different rooms you'll be using your speakers in will affect the sound.

Phono... in reality, unlikely.

Altair G1 is a  possibility, although I need to check what Auralic are doing about MQA at the moment. Maybe a Vega G1. Brooklyn Bridge is still an option. A used Linn Akurate DSM looks like a decent bit of kit at the high end of my intended price range.

I've got my Aries Mini still that could feed a better DAC/preamp.

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