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A few thoughts on setting up a new hifi

My adventures in stereo

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A friend had suggested that, I should put together my thoughts on setting up a new HiFI system, for a budget limited beginner. Took me a while to get a starting point.



Source:

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The starting point must be a reasonable sounding, widely available source, which is cheap.A streaming solution seems to be the obvious choice, with its on-demand availability of a wide variety of music & the easy accessibility it offers.

The loss of dynamic range in compressed media, is something which bothers me, very much.I tend to prefer physical media, with vinyl, CD & SACD, sharing equally important roles in my collection. No one media has all the best recordings available & hence the need to follow optimal quality in the best available source. So, it was not an easy choice for me to recommend streaming digital media.

A streaming solution can be your window into the music world to try and sample your music of choice before picking it up in the appropriate media of your choice.



Streamer with DAC VS Streamer with External DAC:

I used a PC/MAC for a long time as a streaming device, this can be a reasonable choice Paired with a reasonably priced DAC, you can get a good starting solution. The programmed redundancy of a dedicated streamer irritates me.

I went with a cheap but well reviewed standalone streamer with optical out, connected to my DAC, have been very pleased with the result. The biggest advantage is how it gets out of the way and how I can control it from my phone, without fiddling with the device, once set up.

DAC: Topping Dx 7 Pro

Streamer: Wiim mini
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Amplifier:
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I prefer a pre Power setup, over integrated amplifiers.

After much first-hand experience with multiple Class AB amplifiers, from a variety of manufacturers

And not getting the sound I was looking for. I tried Class D, and with the Nu Prime ST 10 and felt it delivered much better performance over similarly priced & powered Class AB amps.

Rated at 150 W at 4/8 ohms, it can handle most speakers with aplomb

The diminutive size and weight defied, its performance.

I then moved on to a Purifi based monoblock system, for added headroom, at a reasonable price point.


Current Poweramp;

NuPrime ST 10

Audiofonics Purifi Monobloc

NAD C298 Stereo Poweramplifier



Speakers:

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I started off, using a variety of large towers and found them lacking in bass, always felt the need for a sub or two in my stereo rig. I was soon using dual DSPed subs and noted that the towers were redundant, hence moved to bookshelf speakers.

Getting a bookshelf with a flat response, which you can crossover with your subs is a gamechanger.

The flat response is not the final result but it gives the ability to modify your sound objectively to get an optimum response using DSP curves.

Current Speakers:

Revel M106

Focal Aria 906



Preamp:

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A good preamp, provides necessary integration for your system, having adequate inputs and providing XLR outs to your power amp. A revolutionary product I started using in 2022 was the minidsp SHD, which brings DSP capabilities to stereo systems with both REW & DIRAC live.

This refines your system & provides excellent bass management and ability to dial in custom curves, which provide an objective to control your systems sound to its best performance.
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Other Input Sources :

Building your music collection, with optimally chosen media from multiple sources will dictate what other input devices you need.

A good CD / SACD player and a LP player can be added later.

I suggest a CD transport with your existing standalone DAC, Vs an expensive CD player.

Very few CD players feature built in DAC, which can beat the quality of external DACs

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