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Looking for recommendations for a new setup

holicst

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May 29, 2020
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Hello everyone,

We will renovate our flat soon and this is a perfect time to upgrade my audio setup. I'd very much appreciate any feedback from the ASR community.

This is what I want to replace:

- B&W 685 mounted on the wall
- Onkyo TX-SR505E integrated amp
- currently the only source is a PC, connected using a cheap noname USB DAC to the RCA input of the Onkyo
- I'm looking for a 2.0, or 2.1 (if extremely good value then 2.2) setup, no multichannel stuff and surround sound is needed

With regards to the future usage, I plan to install a powerful QNAP NAS on which I'll have Roon running. The QNAP NAS will have an USB out going to the new gear. Additionally, we'll watch TV again (now we only watch movies on the PC connected to the TV, but I'll buy a new TV too that will have Netflix etc. built in), so the gear should have ideally an HDMI eARC input as well.

The main usage will be music listening, I don't watch movies where I'd need deep rumbling of explosions etc., so I'd prefer a setup without a subwoofer. Regarding music listening, I'd like to have something that works well with all genres (classical, rock, metal, some pop, folk etc.). I believe I don't listen very loud, but I have no measurements on this. Additionally, our flat is in a condominium with 6 apartments, so we have neighbours below us. (we plan to install some sound insulation layer below the floor).

Here is the floorplan and a few images. As you can see, the living room is in the attic, so the wall that the speakers fire towards is not vertical. We plan to have about the same interior (rug on the floor, sofa, curtain etc.) and a bit higher drawers behind the sofa. The whole media furniture will be replaced according to the speaker selection.

living_room_ASR.jpg


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IMG_20210620_150622.jpg


I've made a lot of research and came to the conclusion that the following are crucial for good sound:

I, Equipment: here I have absolute freedom :) The total price of all components should be between $3.000 and $10.000, but I don't necessarily want to spend all available funds. So if 90% of the sound of the 10K system can be achieved by spending 3K, then I'll keep the 7K and spend it on whiskey :D

II, Speaker placement: as the living room is small, speakers can only be placed pretty near to the wall (5-15cm)

III, Room treatment: I have limited options here because absorbers, diffusers and bass traps etc. are not wife-friendly :) So maybe something that is unobtrusive and looks good may be considered, and of course smart placement of stuff we have in the room anyway.

IV, Room EQ: ideally the new audio gear should have this, so both the TV source and the Roon source will be optimized. This is not mandatory, as TV will be used mostly for watching sports. If the audio gear does not have any Room EQ but I can do it on the QNAP source (in Roon??), that is fine too.

So far regarding the equipment, here are the options I've come up with:

A, All in one wireless solutions:

A1, Buchardt Audio A500 or A700 + Platin Hub
Pros: compact, all in one, well regarded, good measurements, built-in room correction, great low-end extension, great design
Cons: currently buggy hub, A700 is relatively pricey, can only be bought from the manufacturer
Questions: does it make sense to buy the A700 or will the A500 be sufficient? It has an extremely good low end for a bookshelf speaker.

A2, KEF LS50 Wireless II
Pros: compact, all in one, well regarded, good measurements, some built-in room correction, great design, good price, available locally
Cons: limited room correction included (you can choose from a few presets), limited bass extension
Bonus: works very well with the KEF KC62 subwoofer (high pass filter, same mobile app etc.). So if I decide to go with a sub, there is a great matching one for this.
Question: does this work well near the wall?

B, Traditional passive speakers and related gear:

B1, SVS Prime Pinnacle
Pros: well regarded (EISA 2021 best product award, good reviews etc.), good bass extension, good price, available locally
Cons: average design
Question: does this work well near the wall?

B2, Revel F208
Pros: well regarded, excellent measurements , available locally
Cons: expensive
Question: does this work well near the wall?

B3, Focal Kanta N2 / Aria 936 / Aria 948
Pros: nice design, good reviews, available locally
Cons: good price (except for the Kanta N2)
Question: does this work well near the wall?

And naturally there are dozens of combinations for all the DACs, preamps, amps and integrated stuff that are needed for the passive options. I like Matrix Audio, RME ADI-DAC, Benchmark and Topping products, but I have no preference. Actually I never had any of them but read a lot :)

Other considerations:

- I'm on the measurement/objectivist side. I'm not looking for colored sound or tube amps. I'm also not a SINAD maniac, but try to get the highest SINAD for the given price range, but not forgetting about functionality..
- I'd like to add a good headphone amplifier (if it is not included in the gear), so then I'll need an analog out. If it is in the gear then it should be able to drive a Dan Clark Audio Aeon 2 properly.
- a bonus in a Bluetooth input for the whole chain, but not important.
- the less components (and wire clutter) the better.
- ideally the gear should be available to buy in Hungary where I live, or at least in Europe.
- I saw a lot of good feedback on the IsoAcoustics Gaia III isolation feet, possibly I'll get that as well, if fits the budget.
- the renovation will end in Q1 of 2022, so any upcoming stuff can also be considered.

To sum this up, I hope that by spending some money I'll get an audibly better setup.

Many thanks in advance for all hints, tips and opinions.

Cheers,
Tamás
 

pozz

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Hi Tamas

In your room, if you have music playing and aren't on the couch, maybe standing in the kitchen and cooking or eating at the dining table, almost all the sound will be reverberant and indirect. So your speaker choice has to reflect optimizing either sound on the couch (emphasis on best direct sound) or the sound everywhere in the apartment (emphasis on best indirect sound).

Personally, having moved a bunch in the last few years and set up my system in very different rooms, I'd pick the best indirect sound. Of your choices, this one fits the bill:
KEF LS50 Wireless II
Coaxial, good directivity. No worry about a lot of variation horizontally or vertically off axis. No problem mounting them on a wall.

Again, personally, I would say a sub is necessary. A properly integrated sub does not have boom or do anything other then extend the sense of depth and let you hear more of the recording.

The KEF KC62 sub is pretty expensive. If you're ok with getting something bigger, one of the known performant brands would be better: SVS, PSA, Rythmik, Arendal, JTR, others. If you're limited by size, consider the SVS 3000 Micro or SVS PC4000, which also have limited PEQ through phone app. If end up going with the KEF KC62 anyway because of the HP filter or other features, that's still a good choice because of easy integration, etc.

The Roon EQ will serve your purposes too, if you can measure your room.

So all in all you did good research and I think your way forward is pretty simple.
 
OP
H

holicst

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Joined
May 29, 2020
Messages
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Hi Tamas

In your room, if you have music playing and aren't on the couch, maybe standing in the kitchen and cooking or eating at the dining table, almost all the sound will be reverberant and indirect. So your speaker choice has to reflect optimizing either sound on the couch (emphasis on best direct sound) or the sound everywhere in the apartment (emphasis on best indirect sound).

Personally, having moved a bunch in the last few years and set up my system in very different rooms, I'd pick the best indirect sound. Of your choices, this one fits the bill:
Coaxial, good directivity. No worry about a lot of variation horizontally or vertically off axis. No problem mounting them on a wall.

Again, personally, I would say a sub is necessary. A properly integrated sub does not have boom or do anything other then extend the sense of depth and let you hear more of the recording.

The KEF KC62 sub is pretty expensive. If you're ok with getting something bigger, one of the known performant brands would be better: SVS, PSA, Rythmik, Arendal, JTR, others. If you're limited by size, consider the SVS 3000 Micro or SVS PC4000, which also have limited PEQ through phone app. If end up going with the KEF KC62 anyway because of the HP filter or other features, that's still a good choice because of easy integration, etc.

The Roon EQ will serve your purposes too, if you can measure your room.

So all in all you did good research and I think your way forward is pretty simple.

Thank you for your valuable input! Actually, my wife is not a big audio fan and I cannot cook, so the kitchen is not a priority :D I'm looking for the best sound in the primary listening position. However, the KEF is really an easy and all in one solution. Maybe I'll also ditch the HP amp and buy a Hifiman Deva or Ananda BT to further reduce the number of devices in the living room, and go with a Topping EX5 + DCA Aeon2 in the work room.

Would the subwoofer be fine near the corner (next to the left speaker)?

I've quickly looked it up and looks like REW is a free software for room EQ and its results can be easily imported to Roon. Is this as good as Dirac Live and other offerings?

Thanks again!
 

pozz

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Would the subwoofer be fine near the corner (next to the left speaker)?
The best place is found by trial and error. Try a bunch of spots and measure, then EQ. If you're restricted for location, then just measure and EQ.
Is this as good as Dirac Live and other offerings?
Using REW effectively requires some knowledge of acoustics. Dirac is automated to a large extent. There are a bunch of threads about how best to get EQ working. Worth consulting those.
I'm looking for the best sound in the primary listening position.
I've been using pro active speakers for a long time, so I'm disposed to recommend those companies. I'm less familiar with consumer brands (not bothered with aesthetics other than black or white coating) and generally wouldn't buy passive speakers.

I'm using Neumann KH80s and Arendal Sound 1723 1S in my living room. Excellent for a small space, though definitely SPL limited. If I were to replace the KH80s, the price jumps massively: D&D 8c, Genelec 8351B, Neumann KH420, Tom Danley Hyperion. There isn't enough of a difference for me to justify anything in between, at least at the moment. But that's my case, since I bought mine when I lived in a much smaller space. In yours, I see nothing wrong with a KEF LS50 WII/Meta, Revel or JTR speakers in each case plus sub. Genelec speakers plus sub and GLM are also excellent, as is Neumann's offering. JTR is the most different out those above due to narrower directivity, which you might like.

These speakers all aim for neutral response, so they do not sound markedly different from each other. There really is no best here unless you listen to a bunch yourself to get a sense of what you'd like, or dive into the science and define your priorities in terms of performance. I don't think you can go wrong either way, really.
 

gonzoucab

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Mar 10, 2021
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I will focus in getting the best speakers posible.

Elac has good speakers at an incredible price

Carina Floorstand Speaker
FS247.4 4ohm
$2600

You need to ad DAC, get any Topping and you are fine..


For The amp, you can try https://shenzhenaudio.com/collectio...32bit-768khz-ds512-maximum-power-reaches-200w

This amp is difgital so you dont need a DAC

Total: $3600

Add a SVS pc4000 sub for $2000

everything $5600 and is gonna blow you off
 
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