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Home audio system help

ASK007

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Hi Everyone,

My first post here. I have been a lurker for a while and finally decided to ask for help rather than trying to figure this out myself.

A little bit about myself. I am not an audiophile but love music. My audio journey began in 2012 when I was at home for a year after college. Started with a 5 channel pioneer receiver, a sony ssf7000 pair and a small sony subwoofer. They sounded decent at first but I slowly realized the speakers sounded crappy. Then I went back to college and had on to 10 years of training. I always loved music so I always carried a system with me. Bought my own, cheapest, onkyo stereo receivers, a pair of pioneer speakers and a Dayton subwoofer. This lasted until 2016, and I finally bought my first decent speakers (atleast by my standards). A pair of Def tech 8060s. With their own built in subwoofer I got rid of the Daytons and put the left the pioneer unused (but carried them with me till 2023). I got married in 2018. Up until, 2020 we were dirt poor. Think combined 65k in the northeast kinda life. 2020 my wife got an awesome job and we were slowly able to pay off our debt. With covid, we saved some money and bought a HSU subwoofer (VTF3). It’s got the pioneer from my parents (who upgraded their system) and I had found my happy place.

Fast forward to 2023. I just finished my training up in the North East of USA and moved back down south close to my parents. Bought a house and things are awesome. Except for my audio issues. The movers broke the legs on the Def Tech speakers. This along with a 15 mo learning to walk has made it an issue to use these speakers. Also, my wife is going for a “minimalist” design language. Doesn’t want a bunch of wires running across the house.

So now I have a huge Tv over my fireplace and basically using the TV (which are not terrible by the way).

When I moved, I sold my pioneer receiver (we broke the remote and it was becoming a pain to use the receiver). I got a Marantz NR1200 stereo receiver to connect to my TV. And this is where my audio journey is stuck. My wife, seeing my unhappiness, has slacked off on the “no wires” policy.

Thank you for reading so far. Now I can finally tell you the problems that I am facing.

Firstly, the living room is large. It’s 20x25 and is contiguous with the kitchen and dining room with adds another 12-15ft behind the living area. The primary seating position is about 18-20ft from the TV. I have come to realize that the Marantz is woefully underpowered to drive bookshelf speakers. I tried a pair of KEF q350s and enjoyed them quite a bit with the added subwoofer, but my wife hated it. It sounded thin and lacking any kind of midrange. Once I started to pay attention to it, I noticed it too. Next, I went all out, and got to audition a pair of D&D8c. Those things did exactly what I was asking for. Sounded awesome in the room. Did not need a subwoofer. And actually fit on the bookshelf and away from my daughters hands. But alas, it was a compromise in other ways. You need Ethernet connections to both speakers (which is not a huge issue as I would have just needed to two more mesh routers but it as an added cost to an already costly speaker). Also, the use of Roon and using an amp to control its volume was too much. Connecting it to the TV was also a pain. Ultimately it came down to the fact that the speakers are $15k powered speakers, which might or might not be working in 5 years.

So we finally have decided to go back to getting a pair of floor standing speakers to get enough SPL for our room. I have a 20k budget and don’t know where to start.

I am looking at the MiniDSP flex as a dac/preamp (cause I do want room correction and subwoofer management), routed into a class power amp (either two mono blocks or stereo amp) and routing those out of the cabinets with two speaker wires to floor standers. As of now, my wife is ok with these two wires being visible. Provided all this will cost about 3k, that leaves me with a budget of 17k for speakers.

Here is what I want help with. What would be a good option for the purposes I have mentioned? Basically to listen to music, and watch TV/movies. This will be a 2.1 system with no intentions of adding more to this system later.

I am looking into the Perlisten and was wondering if anyone has any experience here. I am also look into the R11 metas, ascend acoustics Sierra elx, Martin Logan electro stats and some Zu audio products. Main thing is they should be fun to listen to but also be able to play cleanly through the frequency response.

Also, does the mini dsp work as a streamer? Or should I get a dedicated streamer like the Fiio. I will gladly listen to any recommendation on Streamer, dac, preamp and amplifiers also.

Really appreciate the help.
 

Keith_W

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Welcome to ASR! Exciting times for you ahead.

Let me see if I can summarize your requirements:

- No wires. Or as few wires as possible. Minimalist design language.
- Large room, 20 x 25, with open plan living area.
- Must be toddler friendly.
- Needs to connect to the TV, a streamer, and subwoofer.

Some comments on your shortlist:

- Zu Audio: I have not been impressed with these. They have audible coloration and are bass shy.
- Martin Logan ESL's: great choice ... if only one person is listening. The directivity is extremely narrow, which means the sweet spot is very small. They sound awful the moment you move off-axis. They are also very sensitive to speaker positioning and toe-in.
- KEF R11 Meta: this would be my pick of the bunch. The downside is that you need supporting electronics, like an amplifier, streamer, etc. Would this fit in with your wife's minimalist aesthetic?
- Ascend Sierra ELX: I have no comment because I don't know these speakers. Sorry.

I would suggest you reconsider the Dutch&Dutch 8C's. According to the manual (page 12) you can use AES/EBU digital input, or analog input. You don't have to use Roon if you don't want to. All you need to do is add a streamer of some kind, just make sure it has AES/EBU output to avoid an unnecessary ADC step. My only concern with these speakers is that they should be placed on stands and not on the bookshelf for best performance. If you consider this to be toddler unfriendly, you should strike them off your list.

MiniDSP have different streaming options, including Roon, or a "universal streamer". I have no idea how well they work. Maybe someone else can help.
 

Waxx

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For that budget, get some Neumann KH420, they are clean, active (but with the right amp) so no extra amp needed and you got budget left. If not, but then you'll need powerfull amps, get some JBL 4367 (passive) or M2's, and you're still within budget. But those speakers are big, maybe to big for the wishes of your wife. The KH420 is still reasonable big.

All models are very neutral low distortion, and are tested here or by Erin (google them) in an objective (measured) way and are top notch, the best i know arround. And all are for a set less than 17K (your stated budget). All have grills (optional for the Neumann), to make them toddler friendly.
 

JustJones

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For minimalist vibe besides the ones mentioned so far.

Dynaudio Focus 50
Buchardt A700
Canton Smart Vento 9
JBL 4329p

These are simply some you might or might not want to research.

Only one I've heard the Buchardt A700 which was to much for my small room.

Dynaudio Focus I've seen measurements which look pretty good.

1706447985095.png

JBL 4329p


Canton I know nothing about.
 
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ASK007

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Jan 28, 2024
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Welcome to ASR! Exciting times for you ahead.

Let me see if I can summarize your requirements:

- No wires. Or as few wires as possible. Minimalist design language.
- Large room, 20 x 25, with open plan living area.
- Must be toddler friendly.
- Needs to connect to the TV, a streamer, and subwoofer.

Some comments on your shortlist:

- Zu Audio: I have not been impressed with these. They have audible coloration and are bass shy.
- Martin Logan ESL's: great choice ... if only one person is listening. The directivity is extremely narrow, which means the sweet spot is very small. They sound awful the moment you move off-axis. They are also very sensitive to speaker positioning and toe-in.
- KEF R11 Meta: this would be my pick of the bunch. The downside is that you need supporting electronics, like an amplifier, streamer, etc. Would this fit in with your wife's minimalist aesthetic?
- Ascend Sierra ELX: I have no comment because I don't know these speakers. Sorry.

I would suggest you reconsider the Dutch&Dutch 8C's. According to the manual (page 12) you can use AES/EBU digital input, or analog input. You don't have to use Roon if you don't want to. All you need to do is add a streamer of some kind, just make sure it has AES/EBU output to avoid an unnecessary ADC step. My only concern with these speakers is that they should be placed on stands and not on the bookshelf for best performance. If you consider this to be toddler unfriendly, you should strike them off your list.

MiniDSP have different streaming options, including Roon, or a "universal streamer". I have no idea how well they work. Maybe someone else can help.
I agree. I feel like I didn’t give the D&D a fair shake. Especially to build a proper system around it. Because I was floored by how good those speakers are for the size they come in. Truly magnificent.

I don’t know about placing them on stands. Ideal place, as they suggested, was close to a wall. And the bookshelf itself is large, with large enough space on the sides to not impede the cardiod design. They kinda were perfect until they weren’t. Once I get a chance, I ll take a couple of pictures of my room and explain the issue. But ya, sonic wise, they were excellent.
 
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ASK007

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For that budget, get some Neumann KH420, they are clean, active (but with the right amp) so no extra amp needed and you got budget left. If not, but then you'll need powerfull amps, get some JBL 4367 (passive) or M2's, and you're still within budget. But those speakers are big, maybe to big for the wishes of your wife. The KH420 is still reasonable big.

All models are very neutral low distortion, and are tested here or by Erin (google them) in an objective (measured) way and are top notch, the best i know arround. And all are for a set less than 17K (your stated budget). All have grills (optional for the Neumann), to make them toddler friendly.
So I did look into the Neuman. A lot actually. Mostly from lurking on this subreddit. I was a little concerned about the listening distance, given that these are primarily near field monitors. I also feel like it would be similar issues with the D&D. I honestly am very tempted to pull the trigger on these but very concerned for the above reason.

The JBL looks like a good choice too. I think the M2s are currently beyond my price twanged but the 4369 is something I am actually planning to listen to sometime soon.
 

radix

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An advantage of the 4329P is it's your amp and DAC all in one. But no room correction. And no HDMI connection. I'm assuming you want to use an HDMI ARC connection from the TV?

The Arendal speakers most all have wall mount brackets on them, so for toddler safety that is hard to beat. They are off the floor and connected to the wall. Neumann and Genelec can also do that easily. otherwise, tower speakers with a good grill might be an option.

For your size room, I'd personally want a good size driver (or array of drivers) to move enough air. You're likely sitting 12-15' back?

The minidsp flex is not a streamer. I like the Wiim line. The Wiim mini is all you'd need for a toslink connection to the flex.

I think you want the Flex HT with HDMI input. That would simplify to minidsp to amp or active speakers, plus sub.

Some of the NAD equipment has DIRAC in it too. You could consider those. Maybe the NAD 389/399 integrated with DIRAC and HDMI ARC? I've not used them, so I don't know how well integrated the HDMI input is.

You should think about remotes and usability. Do you want just one remote, in which case I think ARC/eARC is important. Or can you live with two? Do you want the audio system to turn on when the TV goes on with one button press?
 
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ASK007

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An advantage of the 4329P is it's your amp and DAC all in one. But no room correction. And no HDMI connection. I'm assuming you want to use an HDMI ARC connection from the TV?

The Arendal speakers most all have wall mount brackets on them, so for toddler safety that is hard to beat. They are off the floor and connected to the wall. Neumann and Genelec can also do that easily. otherwise, tower speakers with a good grill might be an option.

For your size room, I'd personally want a good size driver (or array of drivers) to move enough air. You're likely sitting 12-15' back?

The minidsp flex is not a streamer. I like the Wiim line. The Wiim mini is all you'd need for a toslink connection to the flex.

I think you want the Flex HT with HDMI input. That would simplify to minidsp to amp or active speakers, plus sub.

Some of the NAD equipment has DIRAC in it too. You could consider those. Maybe the NAD 389/399 integrated with DIRAC and HDMI ARC? I've not used them, so I don't know how well integrated the HDMI input is.

You should think about remotes and usability. Do you want just one remote, in which case I think ARC/eARC is important. Or can you live with two? Do you want the audio system to turn on when the TV goes on with one button press?
You brought a very valid point. That was going to be my next question regarding the JBL4329 to JustJones. Given the large room size and the need/want to add a subwoofer, I am definitely looking into room correction. This will complicate things. But as a plug and play option, it seems to check a lot of boxes.

My seating position is about 18-19ft from the front wall/TV.

I would like HDMI arc but it’s not absolutely necessary especially if I am buying passive speakers with dedicated amplifiers.
 

radix

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You brought a very valid point. That was going to be my next question regarding the JBL4329 to JustJones. Given the large room size and the need/want to add a subwoofer, I am definitely looking into room correction. This will complicate things. But as a plug and play option, it seems to check a lot of boxes.

My seating position is about 18-19ft from the front wall/TV.

I would like HDMI arc but it’s not absolutely necessary especially if I am buying passive speakers with dedicated amplifiers.
The 4329p does have a sub out, but for a TV integrated system I'd get something else.

If two remotes is OK for you, then you have a lot of options, but I think something with eARC would be great. Though it is important to check how well integrated the eARC is. I think some systems have ARC or eARC but do not integrate well. I cannot remember which right now, but if you search for HDMI ARC here you'll likely find them.
 
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ASK007

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Update:
I ended up buying the 4329p. These are awesome speakers. They are a pretty penny, but I think they are well worth it. They are slightly shorter but slightly wider than D&D. No where near as beautiful as the D&D but that’s subjective.

I have been using them without the subwoofer, as the subwoofer feels redundant in my room. These things can easily hit 30hz in my size room with ease. I was really surprised.

It’s “almost” perfect. The high end is a tad bit forward compared to the d&d (possibly due to the scoop out in the mid range mentioned in the Erin’s video?). The cabinet is also more resonant. I initially thought that this maybe an issue with my placement on the shelves, but the D&D were perfectly fine there. I think the lack of the Cardiod design does hurt it a little bit with my placement. But given its price point, (1/3 of the D&D), these are pretty awesome.

Also, connecting to the wifi has been a pain. I have failed initial connection for the past 3 weeks after multiple attempts. I don’t know if this is due to my internet/google home set up or if it is due to the speakers itself. I have been using Bluetooth and optical for most music listening but obviously these are not super ideal compared to direct streaming/lossless audio. I am about to contact the seller and/or JBL for more input on this as I think these are keepers despite the issues.

Full disclosure: I initially tired to order the KEF LS60 but had issues with my credit card going going through and got these instead in a fit of frustration. For the price difference, the KeF might be a slightly better bang for the buck (haven’t heard them tho). Also, these are a far more kid frankly, albeit the lack of HDMI arc does make it less versatile.

Finally, I ordered from crutchfield. Great customer service. But the speakers arrived in a pretty beat up box. These was a hole extending through all the boxes (double boxed) up to the actual speaker. Luckily the speaker itself looked fine. This has made me debate about getting a replacement (which they offered). Don’t know whose fault it is but I think UPS. I had no such problem with the D&D despite arrive in bigger boxes and being double the weight. The D&D were the best boxed electronic I have ever had, although they were also the most expensive.
 
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