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Lurking for a while, first 2.0 stereo setup advice

nick779

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Hi ASR,

Long time lurker, finally piecing together a 2.0 stereo primarily for vinyl and BT streaming via spotify/sirius. I have a solid plan I think, but could use and constructive criticisms.

Placement issues: This will live in a slightly recessed area, in the middle of the long side of a 30' x 70' semi open concept room. It will be pulled about 9" from the wall for max clearance. I know this is awful placement, but it's the only spot available.

AT-LP60x - Replacing when the cartridge is done, probably going to a Fluance RT82.
Pluto 2 Phono Preamp
BLT-HD or similar BT streaming device that supports BT 5.0 and AAC. Will most likely use the internal DAC to keep processing out of the amp.
Yamaha A-S 501
Elac Debut 2.0 6.2 or Kef Q150, possibly emotive B1+

Speakers rejected for now:
Wharfdale Diamond 12.1/12.2 - finnicky placement
Polk Signature Elite - seemed mediocre for the money
Elac Reference 62 - Wife didn't like the wood grain colors, too light.
Elac Uni-Fi 2.0 - Amir's review was a turn off, but they do seem popular
Chane A1.5 - mixed reviews
SVS Prime Bookshelves - smaller driver, $600.
AA CBM-170SE - Amir gave these a meh, they're big, but reddit seems to like them
RP-500s - might be too bright from the horn
PSB Alpha P5 - 5" and mixed reviews
Dali Oberons - 5" and few available reviews
Considered the Polk R200, but I don't have the space to place those correctly.


I couldn't decide between the Elac Debuts or the Q150s so I bought both to try out. Even with a ~$600 budget, I couldn't find much that appeared to outperform these in a meaningful way that weren't fiddly to place. I am still thinking about trying the Elac References to see how they sound/look in the room.
 
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rdenney

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Where is the listening position?

If you are sitting at a desk and the speakers are within three feet, then the axial response will so dominate the near field that the room will have little effect except for the front wall, and at 9”, the null from front-wall cancellation will be high enough to treat absorbently if it’s a problem.

If you are way out in the room, it becomes much more complicated.

The DAC in the Yamaha is fine for now, and probably forever.

Rick “think more about speakers and placement first” Denney
 
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nick779

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Where is the listening position?

If you are sitting at a desk and the speakers are within three feet, then the axial response will so dominate the near field that the room will have little effect except for the front wall, and at 9”, the null from front-wall cancellation will be high enough to treat absorbently if it’s a problem.

If you are way out in the room, it becomes much more complicated.

The DAC in the Yamaha is fine for now, and probably forever.

Rick “think more about speakers and placement first” Denney
Almost always off-axis somewhere else in the room. Anywhere from 30-70 degrees 5-20 feet away. It's a "room" stereo for now, but when we move in ~4 years will be placed much more proper.

I'm leaning towards sticking with either the Q150 or the Debut 2.0s until we move, then going for some nicer bookshelves or floorstanders in the $700-1600 range then, when I know what room we have to work with. Alternatively, I could buy the Elac reference or something like the Polk R200 and just go to a ~$750 budget now.

Open to other suggestions though.
 
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Beershaun

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I'm not a fan of Bluetooth streaming because the end results generally sound bad and are very dependent on the implementation in your streamer. I'd suggest getting a raspberry pi 4 installing Moode audio and using Spotify connect to stream instead of Bluetooth.
 

Dilliw

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I have the BLT-HD and it is fine but I can verify that it does not support LDAC. Some of the other streamers with the CSR8675, however, will support both Apt-X HD and LDAC. I believe it was posted here that the OEM had to purchase an additional license.
 
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nick779

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TBH I'm rather pleased with the quality coming from the BLT-HD, it's VERY close to what Airplay 2 sounds like on my HT. I might explore the Pi server option down the road, but not right now.
 

ElNino

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Almost always off-axis somewhere else in the room. Anywhere from 30-70 degrees 5-20 feet away. It's a "room" stereo for now, but when we move in ~4 years will be placed much more proper.

I'm leaning towards sticking with either the Q150 or the Debut 2.0s until we move, then going for some nicer bookshelves or floorstanders in the $700-1600 range then, when I know what room we have to work with. Alternatively, I could buy the Elac reference or something like the Polk R200 and just go to a ~$750 budget now.

Open to other suggestions though.

If you're listening that far off-axis, I'd probably go with a wider directivity speaker than the KEFs, so if the choice is between those two models, I'd go for the Debut 2.0s. If I'm understanding the way you're describing the room right, your open concept room here actually works in your favor here, in that there's no opposing wall nearby behind your listening position. (Where open concept rooms become more of a problem is when the speakers need to be positioned in a way where one of your common listening positions is to the rear of the speakers.) There may be an issue with getting enough bass and SPL (20 feet away requires more power), but this will depend on your listening levels too.
 
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nick779

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If you're listening that far off-axis, I'd probably go with a wider directivity speaker than the KEFs, so if the choice is between those two models, I'd go for the Debut 2.0s. If I'm understanding the way you're describing the room right, your open concept room here actually works in your favor here, in that there's no opposing wall nearby behind your listening position. (Where open concept rooms become more of a problem is when the speakers need to be positioned in a way where one of your common listening positions is to the rear of the speakers.) There may be an issue with getting enough bass and SPL (20 feet away requires more power), but this will depend on your listening levels too.
I'm honestly surprised to hear that. I thought the Kefs were generally regarded as having a wider dispersion sweet spot.

One thing I will note, the Kefs didn't bother me at all and sounded pretty balanced with the partial port plug in that area. The Elacs are giving me a borderline headache after a few hours of backround listening. Not sure if that's the brightness or something unrelated.

I have two months to decide, so plenty of listening to do.

__________________ <- Stereo, speakers sticking about 2" past the edge of the wall. _______________________| |___________________________________ | | | | | Dining room Living room | | | |______________________________________________________________________________|
 
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ElNino

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I'm honestly surprised to hear that. I thought the Kefs were generally regarded as having a wider dispersion sweet spot.

The way to judge this is by looking at the horizontal heatmaps Amir posts. I'm not sure Amir has measured the Q150, but here are the Q100 and Debut 2.0:



You can see that the Q100 narrows more quickly (the red part looks more like a sword than a lathe-turned lampstand tipped on its side).

The Elacs are giving me a borderline headache after a few hours of backround listening. Not sure if that's the brightness or something unrelated.
In that case, I would trust your ears.
 
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nick779

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The way to judge this is by looking at the horizontal heatmaps Amir posts. I'm not sure Amir has measured the Q150, but here are the Q100 and Debut 2.0:



You can see that the Q100 narrows more quickly (the red part looks more like a sword than a lathe-turned lampstand tipped on its side).


In that case, I would trust your ears.
Interesting. That's a prior version, but I can't imagine it's that different.
 

ElNino

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Interesting. That's a prior version, but I can't imagine it's that different.

Modern KEFs tend to all have a similarly comparatively narrow directivity by design. It's neither good nor bad in the sense that it's not generally a determinative factor in overall listening impressions, though some people do have directivity preferences. It does affect how the speakers interface with the room though (for example, it can be good for "live" rooms with a lot of reflective surfaces).
 
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nick779

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Modern KEFs tend to all have a similarly comparatively narrow directivity by design. It's neither good nor bad in the sense that it's not generally a determinative factor in overall listening impressions, though some people do have directivity preferences. It does affect how the speakers interface with the room though (for example, it can be good for "live" rooms with a lot of reflective surfaces).
Amir gave the Wharfdale 12.1 some solid directivity ratings with about the same error as the Elacs. Might as well try them too as they seem to have a less bright top end.
 

Beershaun

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I am very happy with the elac dbr62. Amir gave it excellent reviews and does not have the high frequency bump that the debut 2.0 has. I'd recommend looking at dbr62 instead of the other elacs.
 
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nick779

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I am very happy with the elac dbr62. Amir gave it excellent reviews and does not have the high frequency bump that the debut 2.0 has. I'd recommend looking at dbr62 instead of the other elacs.
That's what I was thinking, I wasn't even looking at the Uni-Fi. The stupid color is a dealbreaker for my wife though as we have all darker wood tones.

I'm going the try the Wharfedales, then make my decision between the three unless I think of something else to try. I just find it odd that that listening fatigue is coming back again. When I was HT shopping, I tested a few Miccas and they gave me intense headaches and sinus discomfort, the second I installed AA HTM-200SEs they went away near immediately.

One thing that I'm wondering about is if my amp was running out of steam at the volumes I was testing. I currently have a scratch and dent A-S 301 that is going back for a few different reasons (replacing with A-S501), but its "only" a 60wx2 amp with only 30Wrms at low distortion. The Elacs being a 5-6ohm speaker might be pulling too much current and potentially displaying some distortion. The 3.7-8ohm Kefs did not seem to do this at the same levels. I could be completely wrong though.

Manual : https://pdf.crutchfieldonline.com/ImageBank/v20141023130200/Manuals/022/022AS301B.PDF
Page 15 at the bottom.
A-S 301 - CD, etc. to SPEAKERS (20 Hz to 20 kHz, 30 W, 8 Ω) 0.019% or less
A-S 501 - CD, etc. to SPEAKERS (20 Hz to 20 kHz, 45 W, 8 Ω) 0.019% or less
 
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Beershaun

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More power is generally better. I used an old AVR driving 125w @8ohms and it was great with the Elacs for stereo use. I'd work backward from your speakers and your room though. Get the best speakers for you and your room and then pick the amp based on them.
 
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nick779

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Well, between the Q150, Debut 2.0 6.2, Diamond 12.1s, I'm torn.

The Elacs are definitely going back, I just don't like their sound signature.
The Q150s are pretty solid. Adequate, but still tight bass with partial plugs, good mids, and analytically clear treble (to me). My main issue is that they dance on the edge of being fatiguing.
12.1s have a midrange and treble that is 99% of what I want, but the bass suffers compared to the Q150s. If I could get this speaker with the bass of the Q150 I would be golden.

I'm tempted to try the 12.2s, but I'm not sure I want to spend the extra $250 over the Q150s if I do like them. I'm also worried about placement being problematic with the not so great location. On the bright side though, they would probably be plenty when we move in a few years and I wouldn't want/need towers as much.

Edit: Well, turns out it was a corner bass boost. The port of the Kefs was about 1.5" lower than the 12.1s placing it slightly below the edge of a partial wall near the speaker. If I raise the Kefs 2" they have similar bass extension to the 12.1s, but with a less desirable mid & treble.

I suppose if I intend on keeping these speakers a while I might as well splurge knowing I am getting what I really want. The Wharfdale 12.2s should be here on Tuesday.
 
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ThatM1key

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Like Restorer-John says, these Yamaha's have more power then what there rated and the volume on both channels are always equal. I have the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2's and the Yamaha S301, I love this setup. The only thing wrong about this AMP is probably the internal DAC, it's mostly likely junk, that's why I use an outside DAC, the Topping E30.

As a Polk Audio guy, I understand why you didn't Pick the Polk Audio (I assume) ES20, it's a rip off at $400 and it's just a simple rework of the Polk S20. The Polk Audio S20 was a very good replacement for the old Polk RTi A3 & RTi 6 for the same $300 price and it battled well with the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 for a long time. The new Polk XT20 is priced the same as the old Polk S20 but I am super certain it performs a lot worse, I mean look at the build quality: cheaper box, no powerport, no magnetic grille and exposed driver speaker screws. When Polk cheaps out on build quality, they cheaped out on sound quality too, they don't make hard hitting cheap looking "hot hatches".
 
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nick779

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Like Restorer-John says, these Yamaha's have more power then what there rated and the volume on both channels are always equal. I have the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2's and the Yamaha S301, I love this setup. The only thing wrong about this AMP is probably the internal DAC, it's mostly likely junk, that's why I use an outside DAC, the Topping E30.

As a Polk Audio guy, I understand why you didn't Pick the Polk Audio (I assume) ES20, it's a rip off at $400 and it's just a simple rework of the Polk S20. The Polk Audio S20 was a very good replacement for the old Polk RTi A3 & RTi 6 for the same $300 price and it battled well with the ELAC Debut 2.0 B6.2 for a long time. The new Polk XT20 is priced the same as the old Polk S20 but I am super certain it performs a lot worse, I mean look at the build quality: cheaper box, no powerport, no magnetic grille and exposed driver speaker screws. When Polk cheaps out on build quality, they cheaped out on sound quality too, they don't make hard hitting cheap looking "hot hatches".

To be fair, had by budget been a little higher the Polk R200s have had really great reviews as of late and I was considering them. The old generation of S series speakers were received well and were common budget picks, but these cash grab ES models seem to have no improvement over the S.

That said, I took delivery of Wharfedale Diamond 12.2s today. They were a bit above my budget, but seem to be the "entire package" and will work in most any size room when we move. I still need to do more listening tests, but they seem promising so far. They lack the "sparkle" and analytical clarity in the vocals and some instruments, but it sounds so much more balanced/full bodied than the KEFs.
 
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