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Just fired up my first ever Hifi set-up. It's OK?

ash87

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Hi ASR,

After nearly a year of reading and learning, I finally took delivery of all components of a new system and have music going:

Raspberry Pi 400 running Volumio & streaming Tidal Connect Hifi> Schiit Bifrost 2/64 > Topping Pre90 > VTV Purifi 1ET400A w/ stock Hypex buffer > Focal Chora 826 (Everything plugged into a ZeroSurge 8R15W-I)

After dreaming about a new set-up for so long, my expectations were pretty high in terms of listening enjoyment. Sitting here on the couch it just seems OK. Not really anything magical. If anything, I feel like my ears hurt a little bit, even at moderate volumes. Is that what they call "bright"? But at the same time sounds ever so slightly dull/muffled?

Maybe I just need to get used to it? Lower my expectations for the budget I spent? Let me ears get tougher? Wait for burn in that supposedly is as real as the boogie man? I do feel like I'm going to struggle enjoying this system if it is going to cause me discomfort/mild pain in my ears.

Looking for some opinions on what others would do to improve this set up. Everything is still within return windows. It's just barley north of 5k, and I would like to keep it there or at the most under 6. Revel has a sale on F206, so maybe speaker upgrade as an option. Another thought switch for a Naim integrated amp. Or possibly even tubes with something from PrimaLuna. Upscale Audio is pretty local so I could go check out something there if I needed to; that's where I got the Choras. I don't need the Pre90 anymore, the Safe Volume setting is not what I thought it was (and I could use the remote consistently to save my life).

Any input would be appreciated. Really don't think I'm gonna be OK with this set-up long term.

Thank you,

Alex
 
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A

ash87

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Why do you have a preamp in the setup? Take it our and see what you get.
The preamp supposedly had a max volume limit so that my kids wouldn't blow up the system. Also wanted a physical knob somewhere.

I just took the preamp out and am giving a listen now. First impression is that there is a bit more of a crackle/static/white-noise in the backround. Will keep listening this way and see the difference. Volumio has a max volume limit so I have that on for now.
 

Curvature

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Limited data above. A few problems are evident.
 

Mart68

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The 826 don't measure so well in terms of FR




Suck out from1.5-4Khz may account for the 'dullness', then the peak right after for the discomfort.

Have you experimented with speaker position and angle and what is the room acoustic like?

You may need better speakers to get properly blown away. Most of the sound is speakers and room acoustic. If they are not good then changing anything else will not fix it.
 

GXAlan

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First impression is that there is a bit more of a crackle/static/white-noise in the backround.
You have a loose cable somewhere. Definitely should not have any static or crackle.

The Focal’s are bright.

While neutral is better, some sparkle isn’t bad. It’s also better to have to EQ the treble down as opposed to have to boost it.

In this case, three tricks can be used.
1) apply an EQ to bring down the treble
2) toe in your speakers so that they cross well in front of where are sitting. You will hear more off axis for the tweeter and the cross feed can change the way you listen.
3) get the speakers closer to a wall or corner to increase the subjective bass.
 

ToriCatcher

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The preamp supposedly had a max volume limit so that my kids wouldn't blow up the system. Also wanted a physical knob somewhere.

I just took the preamp out and am giving a listen now. First impression is that there is a bit more of a crackle/static/white-noise in the backround. Will keep listening this way and see the difference. Volumio has a max volume limit so I have that on for now.
I doubt the pre90 is adding audible noise or distortion, tho not impossible.

To my limited understanding, such an impression as you describe is definitely possible with the "right" hills and valleys in the frequency response. I'd recommend either play more with placement or go straight to a dsp solution.

Regardless, if it was me, I would hurry to return that Chora 826 for the Revel. Should be a world a part (I had a chance to subjectively compare their bookshelf versions, and that left an impression on me).
 
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ash87

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Haven't played too much with speaker placement. I am not discounting speaker placement and room influence at all. I know it will make the whole situation better. I'm just going on first impressions here assuming there will be some refinement down the road.

I will say taking the Pre90 out seems to be much better. I don't feel that same pain in my ears. The more I listen, the more I like it without the preamp in there. The bass seems fuller and the music seems more aired out (for lack of a better phrase). Funny thing, my dog was hanging back in my kids room all this morning, then when I took the preamp out she came around. Not saying causation, but correlation for sure.

Noted that the 826's are bright, maybe with Pre90 it was just making the brightness that much more intense.

There's just a bit of white noise on quiet parts. I guess crackle isn't the best word for it. Cables are pretty solid, using Blue Jeans locking bananas and they're real tight. XLR everything else.

Just using digital volume control through streaming software.

Will definitely consider the Revel.

May still need some kind of preamp to make this work for TV. My understanding is that TV via optical>DAC>amp will be full volume signal. I was deciding between a DAC & Preamp separate or getting the MiniDSP Flex. I assumed SQ would be better on separates so that's why I opted this way and gave up the DSP for a later time.

You guys are awesome. I love the support I get here (even the facepalms). Thank you.
 

Sokel

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If you here any sound -any sound AT ALL- that's not in the music you listen there's something wrong.
Wrong connection?Defective device?
Start from there.
Are your country's electrical plugs the one you can plug both ways?
 

HarmonicTHD

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Haven't played too much with speaker placement. I am not discounting speaker placement and room influence at all. I know it will make the whole situation better. I'm just going on first impressions here assuming there will be some refinement down the road.

I will say taking the Pre90 out seems to be much better. I don't feel that same pain in my ears. The more I listen, the more I like it without the preamp in there. The bass seems fuller and the music seems more aired out (for lack of a better phrase). Funny thing, my dog was hanging back in my kids room all this morning, then when I took the preamp out she came around. Not saying causation, but correlation for sure.

Noted that the 826's are bright, maybe with Pre90 it was just making the brightness that much more intense.

There's just a bit of white noise on quiet parts. I guess crackle isn't the best word for it. Cables are pretty solid, using Blue Jeans locking bananas and they're real tight. XLR everything else.

Just using digital volume control through streaming software.

Will definitely consider the Revel.

May still need some kind of preamp to make this work for TV. My understanding is that TV via optical>DAC>amp will be full volume signal. I was deciding between a DAC & Preamp separate or getting the MiniDSP Flex. I assumed SQ would be better on separates so that's why I opted this way and gave up the DSP for a later time.

You guys are awesome. I love the support I get here (even the facepalms). Thank you.
I am with my co-posters. Preamp should not make a difference audibly unless sth is broken. You might perceive a difference because you expected to make a difference.
IMHO. Changing speakers and getting RoomEQ (REW plus UMIK1) are the most influential factors to great sound. (Remember as a rule of thumb: electronics are by orders of magnitude the smallest contributor).
 

NiagaraPete

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You probably should have got a DAC with a volume and saved a ton not buying a pre-amp.
 

fpitas

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To this day it puzzles me how DIY speaker FRs are often better than expensive commercial speakers. Cmon people. It just isn't that tough!
 

beren777

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I started my journey in incremental steps and eventually ended up with my current system:

Revel M126Be bookshelf speakers (shop around and ask dealers for discounts)
MiniDSP SHD (the Flex didn't exist yet)
Purifi EVAL1 kit in Ghent case
Tidal as my usual music source via the SHD's built-in streamer, or a CD player

After much playing, I've turned off room correction in my small/medium listening space. I had tried a sub but found it was perfectly fine to my tastes without one. Opening the windows seems to do more to improve the sound in the room than digital room correction in my space.

Your mileage will vary.
 

GXAlan

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To this day it puzzles me how DIY speaker FRs are often better than expensive commercial speakers. Cmon people. It just isn't that tough!
What is missing is that not everyone likes a neutral speaker.
 

GXAlan

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But most do.

For those that don't, there is equalisation, which can be tuned to preference. Speaker responses cannot.
No arguments here. Just explaining why big, successful companies choose not to sell neutral speakers. They aren’t dumb— they are making business decisions.
 

fpitas

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No arguments here. Just explaining why big, successful companies choose not to sell neutral speakers. They aren’t dumb— they are making business decisions.
While admitting they have their own (sales) agenda, it's hard to believe that goofy dip followed by a peak, right where the ear is most sensitive, is a selling feature.
 

tonycollinet

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No arguments here. Just explaining why big, successful companies choose not to sell neutral speakers. They aren’t dumb— they are making business decisions.
When it's expected that the majority of listeners are going to prefere a flat anechoic response - I think they are just dumb. Or don't care.
 
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