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MacBook Pro direct to 1et400a to Kef R3?


New Member
Nov 3, 2023
Hi All - I'm just getting into high-end audio and could use some advice.
I've been watching countless youtube videos for a couple months and have priced out dozens of different setups.
The audio I have any recent experience with is limited to consumer-grade headphones (ath-m50x, airpod pro) and a gen-3 scarlett 2i2 I've been using for zoom calls at work.
I use Apple music for most of my music, and have an M1 macbook pro I can use for an audio source.
The room I want to set this up in is 11' deep and 23' wide, and 8' tall, with concrete floor, thick stone wall with uneven surface, and partially vaulted 1/4" birch plywood ceiling.
I'd like to spend somewhere around $1k-$3k for a system, and maybe start with good solid basics and add on to it or trade up later.
I'm in my mid 40's and have normal hearing for my age, with a musical background - mentioning that because I don't have perfect hearing, but I care a lot about what I can hear.
I like most genres of music: heavy metal, American folk, electronic, classic jazz, singer/songwriters -- especially things that are just really well recorded.

So here's my question:
Can I start with a pair of Kef R3's and a Buckeye 1et400a plugged direct from my macbook pro, or would that blow up the speakers? Should that sound good? Are pre-amps required, or can I rely on the volume control on my laptop?
Can you treat an amp like that just like headphones, plug and unplug it hot into the macbook headphone jack, or do you need to turn it off before disconnecting?

And then a bunch of notes about things I've been thinking about:

Some of the other options I've considered:

freya+, 1et400a, R3 (used non-meta, or meta?)
freya+, 1et400a, ubr62
minidsp flex, 1et400a, R3
ubr62, ps-audio sprout
R3, ps-audio sprout
ubr62/R3, cambridge audio CXA81
denefrips hestia

I'd like to add a sub at some point too, thinking svs sb-3000, and also interested in adding a geshelli DAC.

Could I start with 1et400a and R3's, then later add some pre-amp when I want to add a sub?

Freya+ (or Kara?) seems like good value for a pre-amp that can do 2.1, and I like the flexibility of xlr or rca inputs and outputs, but the room correction of the minidsp might be nice.
Ultimately, by getting into this am I signing up for buying and selling a bunch of gear until I find what works?

Any guidance appreciated!
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