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Help with my setup! Newbie here.

Abide

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Hey everyone! I just discovered this forum about a month ago, and I officially have the bug haha. I need some help with my setup as I'm getting a little overwhelmed with everything. The biggest thing I need is to figure out how to future-proof my setup, here is what I have so far. Please have grace for me as i am a newbie to all of this, but have had so much fun so far, and thanks to this forum my setup sounds INCREDIBLE!!

AMP : Topping PA5II Plus
DAC : Topping E70
PRE-AMP : IFI ZEN PHONO (thinking of getting the Cambridge duo, since it was so highly rated here!)
TURNTABLE : Pro-Ject Debut Pro
SPEAKERS : KEF Q150
TV : speakers and also used for the tv

So here is where my question lies, I love my setup as is I just don't know how I would run a subwoofer. My desire is in the next year to complete my setup and add a subwoofer. I want the sub to also work for my whole setup... TV and turntable. I'm not sure if I need a different amplifier that has more inputs or if there is a way to add a sub to my existing setup. the way everything is run is...


> (RCA cord) IFI ZEN > (RCA cord) PRO-JECT DEBUT PRO
Topping PA5II Plus
> TRS cord > TOPPING E70 > (Optical cord) TV

Hope that visual makes sense. All of the inputs are taken (other than RCA from the DAC) so i was curious if it is even possible to run a subwoofer through that input and it still work with both my turntable, or if i am bottlenecked with this setup. If there's a way to run a sub that would be amazing, but I'm also open a suggestion for a different amp (if needed, as i love my PA5)


Thanks in advance!
 

JeremyFife

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It's an interesting, fiddly problem. There are options, of course, but all need some changes.

The only point where all your sources come together is in your PA5 II. There's no pre out or sub out.

Some passive subwoofers will let you pass your Amp output through to your main speakers (and act as a low/high pass filter on the way). I seriously doubt that your PA5 II has the power to drive a passive sub as well as your Kef's though. Passive subs are probably not the way to go anyway. Suggest that you discount that option.

Change the PA5 II for an amp with a pre-out, there are plenty. Get an active Sub. The sub should deal with the low pass filtering but you will probably still be sending a full range signal to your main speakers, which is not great. Your PA5II is pretty great though, it would be a shame to change it just for this.

Add a preamplifier between your sources and the amp with two outputs: one to your PA5 II and one to an Active Sub. Can be a simple one. You still have the problem of sending a full range signal to your main speakers.

Change your DAC to one that accepts an analogue input and can manage sub integration. I've still not seen a better solution than the miniDSP Flex which does exactly that and also provides full DSP. It's not cheap though, compared to the rest of your system (which is actually very like mine, including the zen Phono, which I like)

There are bound to be other / better solutions but that should give you something to think about for now.
Key, as far as I understand it it to have decent High/Low pass filtering in place so that you relieve load on your main speakers by not sending the bass to them (below your chosen crossover frequency). That also applies to taking the load off your PA5 II so ideally, that crossover point needs to be before you try to amplify the signal.
 
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Abide

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Hey thanks for the thoughtful response!! I’m still new to this, so I’m still learning but it seems like the pre amplifier option might be the best option! Would you explain to me a bit more about that and what you mean by not having a full range system? Also are there any good preamplifiers that could work for my setup that are around the $200-300 range?

Thanks again!!
 

JeremyFife

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Hi,
I'll have a go ... hopefully someone with more experience of subwoofers will also contribute.

You do have a full range system, no need to worry about anything there.

What I mean is for your amplifier, speakers and Sub to work best you should really only send the correct, relevant frequencies.
You should send the bass (typically 80Hz and lower) to the sub. Most subs have filters built in to deal with that. Basically, your sub will be fine.
You should then send only frequencies above 80Hz to your PA5II and to your Kefs. That takes a strain off your amp and speakers because they no longer have to try to produce frequencies that need a lot of power to handle.
It's the best solution, but it's not a problem if you can't do it - it certainly won't be worse than you have now, you are just missing out on a potential improvement.

A preamp is, at its simplest, just something that takes multiple inputs and let's you choose between them. They have volume control.
Your Topping E70 is a great DAC and is also a preamp but only for digital sources.

Integrating your, analogue, turntable at a point before your PA5II is the challenge. You need to do this if you want to have your sub work for the turntable too.
Doing it on your budget is also a challenge (but that's the fun part).

I have one unconventional suggestion. This is what I would do though.
Get a WiiM Pro Plus (250 usd, I think)
It's a streamer ... but it also has a good ADC (Analogue to Digital Converter) and a perfect digital output.
This gives you;
Turntable -> Zen Phono -> WiiM
WiiM -> E70
TV -> E70
E70 -> PA5II (cable is xlr to trs)
E70 -> subwoofer (cable is rca)

Now, your analogue turntable has been digitised which means that your E70 can work as a preamp for your whole system. Your E70 has two outputs; one can go to your amplifier and the other to a subwoofer.

In top of that, the WiiM is a brilliant streamer so you add a new music source (Tidal, Spotify, internet radio ... many others). It also adds basic PEQ for simple DSP but you can read up on that later.

See what you think
 

Salt

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Take a Y cable from preamp and active subwoofer where gain and cutoff is determined.
 

JeremyFife

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Take a Y cable from preamp and active subwoofer where gain and cutoff is determined.
Simple, clean.
Thoughts on the preamp? Something like a Schiit Sys (100 USD)?
 
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Abide

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Ok so again I’m a total newbie haha. So help me understand this if you could, as far as how I would connect this. Also I love the price of the schiit sys, I know I could get away with that price point with the wife ! So how would I hook all that up with my current setup? Let’s use the schiit sys as the pre amp for example sake.
 

JeremyFife

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Pretty straightforward;

Turntable -> zen phono -> Schiit (RCA)
TV -> E70 -> Schiit (RCA)
Schiit -> Y-splitter cable (RCA)
Y-splitter -> PA5II (RCA) -> Kef
Y-splitter -> subwoofer

Now you have two volume controls, E70 and Schiit. Not a problem.
You can set the E70 to Max and use the Schiit for everything - no remote though.
Other options, so experiment.

Good practice, and something to get used to is to ALWAYS set the Schiit to minimum before you turn anything else on and again when you are finished.
This prevents your system turning on at full volume, scaring you schiitless an blowing speakers!
 
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