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My hifi journey + what would you do?

TSX

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This is gonna be a long(ish) one, so please bear with me.

About 2 years ago, I had too much spare time (and money apparently? :facepalm:), so what better way to spend time (and money), than to upgrade my hifi system (which is hindsite was not necessary I guess). I've had my system since 2003 if I recall correctly. It consisted of a Rotel RA-1062 (2x60 integrated amp) and a Rotel RCD-1072 CD player. (Connected via RCA cables, so no fancy DAC.) Speakers were DSL R55 tower speakers. After I initially bought the system, I really never considered doing anything to it, as I liked everything about it. Sound, looks, everything.

In early 2014 we bought a small stylish internet radio with Spotify connect and line out, that we connected via mini stereo jack to RCA to the amp. Everything was fine, and I never really felt the need to do anything. We just listened to music and everything sounded fine. We got our first child in 2014, and the convenience of having all our CD's in an app + every CD we could ever think of, resulted in us never using the CD player. As time went by, the CD player did not work well anymore. The few times we tried to use it after we started streaming, the CD player skipped and jumped tracks. I got it cleaned at a hifi repair shop, but that didn't fix the "problem". I was told that, there was nothing to clean, and it might be because of vibrations, and that I should try to put the amp on top of the CD player. In over 15 years I've had the amp under the CD player, so it seemed illogical to me, that that would solve anything. And in fact it didn't. No difference. Still skipping and jumping around on tracks like a madman. I could live without the CD player as we never used it anyway.

Then came the digital TV out "problem" on our new TV, that we (mostly me) wanted to connect to the amp, so we could get good audio from the hifi speakers. That required a DAC, so I bought a 50$ S/PDIF & COAX to analog converter, and connected it to our amp. I know now, that the DAC was probably the worst DAC ever made in history, but it did the job. One day our "streaming radio" died, and I got a SONOS connect box instead. Connected it to the DAC via COAX and continued with Spotify that way. Again. Everything worked as required, so no need to upgrade. At this point in time, I felt that there was quite a pileup of boxes and cables, and I could probably find a smarter all-in-one solution. At that point everything went downhill :rolleyes::facepalm: On to the interwebs and reading reviews and watching videos of idiot audiophile YouTubers. I wish I never went down that rabbit hole.

Anyway. My first attempt to upgrade was the 2nd gen. Bluesound Powernode. It was buggy as hell (imho), and if I plugged a pair of headphones in the socket on the front, the speakers would still play at a very low volume! As I investigated, it turned out, that Bluesound at that point in time, was basically a beta product, with soooo many hiccups and angry users, so I returned it.
Next step was an integrated Marantz 60something If recall correctly. The sound from that unit was an obvious downgrade in sound quality from the Rotel (imho). To be fair I didn't give it much time, so maybe I could have done something to better it, but right out of the box, I didn't like it. So it got returned. Next unit was a Quad Vena II integrated amp. Lovely piece of kit. When I unpacked it, one of the binding posts was loose and rattled. Brand new unit. Returned it and didn't want to do anything Quad again. Until this point most things were bought online.

I then went to a local hifi dealer with a budget of 500$. I drove home with a 1500$(!!! :facepalm:) Roksan streaming amp. I really liked the design of the unit but over a weekend, I encountered numerous freezes/lockups, that required an "power unplug" reboot. Also the unit had an audible hum. That went back to the store. Then I tried a Hegel H190 (approx 2000$). I really like the design of the Hegel, but it didn't sound any better/different than my old Rotel, and the remote was a pain to operate. The Hegel also had an obvious audible hum. Side note: Hegel is a whole other story so don't get me started on Roon integration, "audiophile" airplay and sota DAC on the Hegels :mad:. Back it went. Although I've already then "travelled long miles" in my hifi journey, I was basically still at my starting point.

Watching more idiot YouTubers, I fell in love with the Solidsteel speaker stands, and as my tower speakers obviously did not fit the stands, I was suddenly looking for other speakers. Don't ask me what part of my brain, that got that brilliant idea to get new speakers, when my quest initially was and all-on-one amp solution - definitely not speakers! Only first world problems I'm embarrassed to admit. My favourite local dealer had a "cheap" demo pair of gorgeous white ATC SCM19 (2200$ retail) that would fit my new stands well, so I bought them. (I'dont care how they measure, they sound like a million dollars in my opinion!) Next problem was getting an amp that could drive the darn good looking boxes. My Rotel 60W integrated did not have a chance to give them any justice, so I had to go back to my initially plan, and look at an all-in-one solution - now with a minimum of 100W and preferably 150W per channel. In the mean time I discovered the wonders of HDMI in hifi, and of course had to get an integrated with HDMI.

I got a Cambridge EVO 150. Everything fit the bill in that unit. 2x150W, HDMI, Roon, Spotify, Tidal, Airplay (if I recall correctly) and good looks. What a nightmare that unit was. I had soo many software related problems with the EVO (2000$ retail), that I could'nt believe it. It reminded me of Windows ME. I tried to contact Cambridge support numerous times but with no help. The usual "try to reboot, factory reset etc noob help)" I could try and wait, and maybe they could fix the problem in a future software update. I got a replacement unit from the dealer, as I've only had it for a few weeks. The 2nd unit was a never batch, and would probably work better. It did not :mad: The unit would turn on and off randomly, the screen would flicker and go black. The 2nd unit was even worse than the first. I got my money back. Never Cambridge Audio again.

I then fell in love with (mostly with the reviews from the same idiot YouTubers) the Audiolab 6000A. I found a 2nd hand unit cheap(ish), and bought it. In my haste to burn my money, I forgot it did not have HDMI and was way underpowered for my new speakers :facepalm:. The 6000A is really nice to the feel, the remote is garbage though but it sounds great with the right speakers I'll imagine. So after a few weeks I sold it with a small profit. What now?

My experience with the EVO made me very concerned about all-in-one solutions, so I wanted to go "oldschool" and look for separates from now on. I ended up with an ATC P2 power amp and ATC SC2 preamp (both 2K$ retail). That combo made the speakers sing like small angels. I got a D10S DAC for that system (and I've had jumped boats from Spotify to Roon and Qobuz by now), and I was really enjoying the system. After a few months my favourite hifi dealer got a pair of gorgous ATC SCM40 in white satin finish. I quickly forgot about my love afair with the Solidsteel stands, and traded in the SCM19 for the SCM40's. Before I got the SCM40's home we had to move to a new place, where I could get a 30m2 mancave in the basement so everything was ideal for me. Or so I thought. The basement was all concrete, and sound management was a war I'd rather be without. But looking back I now know a lot about acoustic treatment that I would not know otherwise, so I guess that the process was not totally in vain. Anyway. The build of energy in the basement with that setup, would result in physical earache (unbelieveable pressure) and a room mode at around 35-40hz that could jumpstart a freight train! My dealer was very understing to my situation and offered me to return all my gear I bought from him. Where should I go from here?

All of sudden I had forgotten that all-in-one solutions was a big fat NO, so I got a pair of KEF LS50 ll wireless :facepalm:. I had them for a weekend, and then returned them. They sounded OK, but not much better than a pair of stereo paired SONOS ONE's. I could not get HDMI to work properly with a Samsung TV, and had quite a few software hiccups. I also encountered numerous connection fails between the two speakers during the weekend I had them. There was no way on earth that I would consider a price tag close to 2K$ for those boxes. The finish on them are not great either.

A few weeks later I must have lost all common sense and got total memory blackout, because I got so excited about a pair of ATC SCM40A (the active version of the speakers that did NOT work in my mancave), that I could acquire with a substantial rebate, that I thought it was a brilliant idea get buy a set of 8K$ speakers + 2K$ preamp that would NOT work in my current situation. How stupid are you allowed to be! :facepalm::facepalm::facepalm:

After I got the SCM40A's I did do some substantial sounds treatment, that would radically change the properties of the room, but pressure buildup was still a problem I couldn't find a practically solution for. If you're still with me, then please remember all of this was a result of me trying to eliminate too many boxes in my setup and to get HDMI. Still no HDMI but a kick åss hifi system I really never needed, and a 10K$ hole in my (our) wallet :facepalm: My new "dream speakers" did simply not fit into my current hifi situation. I talked to my favourite dealer (probably the best and most kind and overbearing hifi dealer in the world) about my situation, and we made an arrangement, where I get some money back, and can get gear for the rest of the value the setup has.

I had given away my speakers to my mom and amp/CD to my sister. My mom moved recently and did not have space for the speakers, so I got them back. I had to get some kind of amp, so I bought a 2nd hand Denon AVR X1100W with the notorious defect display issue for 30$(!). It has HDMI (wink wink) :) To be honest it sounds great with my speakers (in direct mode) and my room, but the grass is always greener... So I browsed used hifi, and found a pair of "as new" Argon Forte A55 MK ll active speakers. 50% off the retail price and HDMI and analog/digital input. They sound great. Or should I say sounded in pretence. The speakars has an auto detect signal feature, that I could really not get to work satisfactory with my new Panasonic OLED television. About 50% of the time we turned on the tv, the speakers would not turn on. I think I've tried every HDMI related setting on the tv with no success. The optical input was also considerable more quiet than the RCA inputs?!? I don't know why. If my only use case was listening to music (connected to a D10S DAC "fed" with Roon from a Ropieee PI4) I would have kept them. They sound really great. But still no (working) HDMI. They were easy to sell again though.

So to sum it up. I've still got the same speakers I bought in 2003 paired with a "defect" budget AVR amp that sounds fine with my current "hifi" situation. And did I mention that HDMI works flawlessly ;) I use Roon over Airplay and that's fine too. I still have about 3K$ to spend at my dealer that's marked for hifi, so "unfortunately" I'm in a situation where I have to use them on some kind of hifi. Poor me :cool: Looking back I don't know what I was thinking with my initial 500$ budget ending up at 10K$. Typical "audiophile" logic I guess. Maybe I should leave my finances to my 8 year old son or 9 year old daughter. They'd probably manage it more wisely than me :facepalm::D

If you had an empty hifi rack, two empty spots on the floor and 3K$ to burn on hifi, what would you do today and why?

Thank you for reading this far. I really appreciate it!
 

Somafunk

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Active speaker system every time, I’d stick with my system in signature below, my active speakers & sub are £3k so I’d raid the piggy bank for a wim streamer and that’d do me, unless someone was selling Kii 3’s for £3k.
 
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TSX

TSX

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Active speaker system every time, I’d stick with my system in signature below, my active speakers & sub are £3k so I’d raid the piggy bank for a wim streamer and that’d do me, unless someone was selling Kii 3’s for £3k.
Interesting choice. Do you have a picture of your setup? I'd like to see how your Dynaudio LYD 48's are positioned.

Thanks
 

Fred H

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Chuckles and sympathy. I read here (and believe) that electronics are largely a "solved" problem -- particularly with the reviews here. So I'd probably try some other speakers. When/If you find some speakers you love, then change the electronics as necessary.
 

DVDdoug

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The weak link and the "biggest difference" is usually speakers and acoustics. If you want more bass you may need bigger speakers or a subwoofer. (I don't know anything about the speakers you have and I didn't research.)

Otherwise, the biggest difference between speakers is frequency response, and to a large extent that can be tweaked with EQ. (But boosting the bass can be tricky if your speakers can't handle the power or if your amp doesn't have enough power, or where you have standing wave cancelation because it takes "infinite power" to overcome the cancelation.)

And sometimes EQ is good "just for a change", rather than running-out and buying something new when you get bored with the sound.

If your system doesn't go loud enough you may need a bigger amplifier (and speakers that can handle the power).

After I got the SCM40A's I did do some substantial sounds treatment, that would radically change the properties of the room, but pressure buildup was still a problem I couldn't find a practically solution for.
The biggest acoustic problems are usually in the bass range and you may need bass traps. Bass traps reduce the reflected bass, which smooths-out the standing wave dips and the bumps. But, "Diagnosis before treatment". You can get a measurement mic for about $100 USD and the software is FREE.

If you want something dramatically-different, get some surround speakers and try some of the "soundfield" settings on you AVR. I like to use a "Hall" or "Theater" setting with regular stereo music to get some delayed reverb in the rear channels. Of course, it makes movies more fun too, and I have a shelf-full of concert DVDS, most with 5.1 surround.

Audiophoolery might be worth reading before you spend too much more money. ;)
 

Somafunk

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Interesting choice. Do you have a picture of your setup? I'd like to see how your Dynaudio LYD 48's are positioned.

At the risk of everyone slapping their forehead and saying “again?”, I use the usual secretlab chair for desk use, 80% of the time I’m sat in recliner 2/3rds into the centre of the room sweetspot

51724319233_a597d2d68e_b.jpg
 

terryforsythe

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1. I bought a MiniDSP SHD ($1,200) pre-amp/DSP a year or two ago. It really helped improve the sound quality of my system.

I have an old Velodyne subwoofer (over 25 years old) that only includes a switch between 0 deg. or 180 deg. of phase shift, and only a single passive filter for the amp driving the speakers. This is not adequate for smooth integration of the subwoofer with the speakers - predominantly phasing issues. I lived with it for years, but was never fully satisfied.

The SHD addresses this issue with fully adjustable time delay and crossover frequency, as well as a number of active filter topographies. Using REW to measure in-room frequency response, I experimented with various filter topologies and crossover frequencies, and adjusted the time delay for the speakers accordingly, until I found the best settings for my system in my room. Wow, what an improvement that provided. Probably the best improvement I could have made to my system absent ditching the bookshelf speakers and subwoofer and going with large, expensive tower speakers.

Also, the SHD includes Dirac Live for digital room correction. I found that it further improved the sound of my system in my room.

2. I have a 20 year old Adcom GFA 5802 amplifier. It sounds good, and has tons of power, but I often wonder if a more modern amp with better SINAD would provide an audible improvement.

The Topping LA90 Discrete ($799) looks tempting. https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...topping-la90-discrete-amplifier-review.43756/.
I was considering using a pair in bridged mono mode, but I have read numerous posts in this forum regarding quality issues with those amplifiers. Is it worth the roll of the dice? I don't know.

The other amplifier that looks tempting is the Hypex Nilai500DIY stereo ($1,279), which is a class D amplifier and comes in kit form.
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/hypex-nilai500diy-amplifier-review.41669/. That amp also is on the shortlist if I ever do decide to buy another amplifier.

A consideration is that if I buy a pair of the Toppings and don't hear a noticeable improvement over my Adcom, some vendors have a trial period and I can just return them. With the Hypex being a kit, I don't know whether their is a trial period. Do you send the assembled kit back, or disassemble it and send it back? Something I'll investigate if/when I get more serious about another amplifier.
 
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Angsty

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If you had an empty hifi rack, two empty spots on the floor and 3K$ to burn on hifi, what would you do today and why?

Thank you for reading this far. I really appreciate it!
Before offering advice on how to spend your money, first succinctly answer “what were the three biggest lessons you learned from your journey?”

I’ll reveal up front that I have a bias for “buy quality and hold”. I’ve had my speakers and amp for 17 years and my preamp/DAC for slightly less. My latest purchase this year, a phono preamp, is actually over 20 years old.
 
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TSX

TSX

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Before offering advice on how to spend your money, first succinctly answer “what were the three biggest lessons you learned from your journey?”
Lesson one: Don't trust anyone with a smidgen of financial interest in the answer of your question.
Lesson two: Good enough is good enough.
Lesson three: "Do I really need this? Honestly, do I?"
 

JeremyFife

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Lesson one: Don't trust anyone with a smidgen of financial interest in the answer of your question.
Lesson two: Good enough is good enough.
Lesson three: "Do I really need this? Honestly, do I?"
Learning from lesson #3 ... you said "I've still got the same speakers I bought in 2003 paired with a "defect" budget AVR amp that sounds fine with my current "hifi" situation. And did I mention that HDMI works flawlessly ;) I use Roon over Airplay and that's fine too"

Take your budget and go on holiday ... come back and listen to music ... enjoy life :)

Otherwise there are plenty of ways to spend money!
 
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TSX

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JeremyFife

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I will. But I still have 3K that's bound to hifi, that I cannot get in cash.
Aha - got you!

Sell, or donate, everything ... start again.

Start with speakers: $2k on something that measures well and that you like the sound of IN YOUR ROOM (i.e. you need to have a proper home demo). Personal preference matters with speakers ... but perhaps take Kef R3 as a benchmark?

100$ for a UMIK-1 measurement microphone
How big is your room? How far away do you sit. How loud do you listen?
Use your old Amplifier and your new speakers, measure your room

What are your sources? Streaming and your TV? Do you NEED hdmi or can you use optical output

Measurements (and help here) will help you understand if you need room treatment - perhaps a nice rug :) or a Sub. You should certainly see if you need a lot of room correction EQ or just a touch.
Knowing how loud you listen at your listening position will tell you how much power you need - probably not that much.

Perhaps then a simple streamer with optical input and a good DAC, like the WiiM Pro Plus ($220?) which also has 4 PEQ bands that might just be enough. Nice Amp for around $500.
Something like $180 left ... put it towards a Sub

Alternatively, go Active ... you should get something pretty nice for $2.5k ... and just add streamer/DAC

Many more options
 

Angsty

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I will. But I still have 3K that's bound to hifi, that I cannot get in cash.
I see the situation now. For $3K, I’d buy the NAD C 3050 BluOS-D for $1800 (has HDMI and Bluetooth) and Polk Audio Signature Elite ES60 for $1200 per pair, if you are into towers and need low end bass. The 3050 was the 2023 EISA Integrated Amplifier of the Year.

For a price increase, a pair of Polk Audio Reserve R700 tower speakers for $2200 would perform even better.

Polk speakers have increased dramatically in performance in the past few years, but still offer high value. Either Polk should navigate well between music and movie duty.

 

pseudoid

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If you had an empty hifi rack, two empty spots on the floor and 3K$ to burn on hifi, what would you do today and why?
It had to be the longest ever, but you did warn us and I am surprised my ADD did not kick-in while reading it... and it all made sense!;)
I think you went down some wrong rabbit-holes in your escapades for attaining audio simplicity/nirvana.
I say:
"There is no longer any need/justification for 'big', 'used', and 'AiO'."
... audio gear, that is!
I was surprised that you did not go postal w/multi-channel and all its complications. << Kudos!
 

Roland68

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This is gonna be a long(ish) one, so please bear with me.

About 2 years ago, I had too much spare time (and money apparently? :facepalm:), so what better way to spend time (and money), than to upgrade my hifi system (which is hindsite was not necessary I guess). I've had my system since 2003 if I recall correctly. It consisted of a Rotel RA-1062 (2x60 integrated amp) and a Rotel RCD-1072 CD player. (Connected via RCA cables, so no fancy DAC.) Speakers were DSL R55 tower speakers. After I initially bought the system, I really never considered doing anything to it, as I liked everything about it. Sound, looks, everything.

In early 2014 we bought a small stylish internet radio with Spotify connect and line out, that we connected via mini stereo jack to RCA to the amp. Everything was fine, and I never really felt the need to do anything. We just listened to music and everything sounded fine. We got our first child in 2014, and the convenience of having all our CD's in an app + every CD we could ever think of, resulted in us never using the CD player. As time went by, the CD player did not work well anymore. The few times we tried to use it after we started streaming, the CD player skipped and jumped tracks. I got it cleaned at a hifi repair shop, but that didn't fix the "problem". I was told that, there was nothing to clean, and it might be because of vibrations, and that I should try to put the amp on top of the CD player. In over 15 years I've had the amp under the CD player, so it seemed illogical to me, that that would solve anything. And in fact it didn't. No difference. Still skipping and jumping around on tracks like a madman. I could live without the CD player as we never used it anyway.

Then came the digital TV out "problem" on our new TV, that we (mostly me) wanted to connect to the amp, so we could get good audio from the hifi speakers. That required a DAC, so I bought a 50$ S/PDIF & COAX to analog converter, and connected it to our amp. I know now, that the DAC was probably the worst DAC ever made in history, but it did the job. One day our "streaming radio" died, and I got a SONOS connect box instead. Connected it to the DAC via COAX and continued with Spotify that way. Again. Everything worked as required, so no need to upgrade. At this point in time, I felt that there was quite a pileup of boxes and cables, and I could probably find a smarter all-in-one solution. At that point everything went downhill :rolleyes::facepalm: On to the interwebs and reading reviews and watching videos of idiot audiophile YouTubers. I wish I never went down that rabbit hole.

Anyway. My first attempt to upgrade was the 2nd gen. Bluesound Powernode. It was buggy as hell (imho), and if I plugged a pair of headphones in the socket on the front, the speakers would still play at a very low volume! As I investigated, it turned out, that Bluesound at that point in time, was basically a beta product, with soooo many hiccups and angry users, so I returned it.
Next step was an integrated Marantz 60something If recall correctly. The sound from that unit was an obvious downgrade in sound quality from the Rotel (imho). To be fair I didn't give it much time, so maybe I could have done something to better it, but right out of the box, I didn't like it. So it got returned. Next unit was a Quad Vena II integrated amp. Lovely piece of kit. When I unpacked it, one of the binding posts was loose and rattled. Brand new unit. Returned it and didn't want to do anything Quad again. Until this point most things were bought online.

I then went to a local hifi dealer with a budget of 500$. I drove home with a 1500$(!!! :facepalm:) Roksan streaming amp. I really liked the design of the unit but over a weekend, I encountered numerous freezes/lockups, that required an "power unplug" reboot. Also the unit had an audible hum. That went back to the store. Then I tried a Hegel H190 (approx 2000$). I really like the design of the Hegel, but it didn't sound any better/different than my old Rotel, and the remote was a pain to operate. The Hegel also had an obvious audible hum. Side note: Hegel is a whole other story so don't get me started on Roon integration, "audiophile" airplay and sota DAC on the Hegels :mad:. Back it went. Although I've already then "travelled long miles" in my hifi journey, I was basically still at my starting point.

Watching more idiot YouTubers, I fell in love with the Solidsteel speaker stands, and as my tower speakers obviously did not fit the stands, I was suddenly looking for other speakers. Don't ask me what part of my brain, that got that brilliant idea to get new speakers, when my quest initially was and all-on-one amp solution - definitely not speakers! Only first world problems I'm embarrassed to admit. My favourite local dealer had a "cheap" demo pair of gorgeous white ATC SCM19 (2200$ retail) that would fit my new stands well, so I bought them. (I'dont care how they measure, they sound like a million dollars in my opinion!) Next problem was getting an amp that could drive the darn good looking boxes. My Rotel 60W integrated did not have a chance to give them any justice, so I had to go back to my initially plan, and look at an all-in-one solution - now with a minimum of 100W and preferably 150W per channel. In the mean time I discovered the wonders of HDMI in hifi, and of course had to get an integrated with HDMI.

I got a Cambridge EVO 150. Everything fit the bill in that unit. 2x150W, HDMI, Roon, Spotify, Tidal, Airplay (if I recall correctly) and good looks. What a nightmare that unit was. I had soo many software related problems with the EVO (2000$ retail), that I could'nt believe it. It reminded me of Windows ME. I tried to contact Cambridge support numerous times but with no help. The usual "try to reboot, factory reset etc noob help)" I could try and wait, and maybe they could fix the problem in a future software update. I got a replacement unit from the dealer, as I've only had it for a few weeks. The 2nd unit was a never batch, and would probably work better. It did not :mad: The unit would turn on and off randomly, the screen would flicker and go black. The 2nd unit was even worse than the first. I got my money back. Never Cambridge Audio again.

I then fell in love with (mostly with the reviews from the same idiot YouTubers) the Audiolab 6000A. I found a 2nd hand unit cheap(ish), and bought it. In my haste to burn my money, I forgot it did not have HDMI and was way underpowered for my new speakers :facepalm:. The 6000A is really nice to the feel, the remote is garbage though but it sounds great with the right speakers I'll imagine. So after a few weeks I sold it with a small profit. What now?

My experience with the EVO made me very concerned about all-in-one solutions, so I wanted to go "oldschool" and look for separates from now on. I ended up with an ATC P2 power amp and ATC SC2 preamp (both 2K$ retail). That combo made the speakers sing like small angels. I got a D10S DAC for that system (and I've had jumped boats from Spotify to Roon and Qobuz by now), and I was really enjoying the system. After a few months my favourite hifi dealer got a pair of gorgous ATC SCM40 in white satin finish. I quickly forgot about my love afair with the Solidsteel stands, and traded in the SCM19 for the SCM40's. Before I got the SCM40's home we had to move to a new place, where I could get a 30m2 mancave in the basement so everything was ideal for me. Or so I thought. The basement was all concrete, and sound management was a war I'd rather be without. But looking back I now know a lot about acoustic treatment that I would not know otherwise, so I guess that the process was not totally in vain. Anyway. The build of energy in the basement with that setup, would result in physical earache (unbelieveable pressure) and a room mode at around 35-40hz that could jumpstart a freight train! My dealer was very understing to my situation and offered me to return all my gear I bought from him. Where should I go from here?

All of sudden I had forgotten that all-in-one solutions was a big fat NO, so I got a pair of KEF LS50 ll wireless :facepalm:. I had them for a weekend, and then returned them. They sounded OK, but not much better than a pair of stereo paired SONOS ONE's. I could not get HDMI to work properly with a Samsung TV, and had quite a few software hiccups. I also encountered numerous connection fails between the two speakers during the weekend I had them. There was no way on earth that I would consider a price tag close to 2K$ for those boxes. The finish on them are not great either.

A few weeks later I must have lost all common sense and got total memory blackout, because I got so excited about a pair of ATC SCM40A (the active version of the speakers that did NOT work in my mancave), that I could acquire with a substantial rebate, that I thought it was a brilliant idea get buy a set of 8K$ speakers + 2K$ preamp that would NOT work in my current situation. How stupid are you allowed to be! :facepalm::facepalm::facepalm:

After I got the SCM40A's I did do some substantial sounds treatment, that would radically change the properties of the room, but pressure buildup was still a problem I couldn't find a practically solution for. If you're still with me, then please remember all of this was a result of me trying to eliminate too many boxes in my setup and to get HDMI. Still no HDMI but a kick åss hifi system I really never needed, and a 10K$ hole in my (our) wallet :facepalm: My new "dream speakers" did simply not fit into my current hifi situation. I talked to my favourite dealer (probably the best and most kind and overbearing hifi dealer in the world) about my situation, and we made an arrangement, where I get some money back, and can get gear for the rest of the value the setup has.

I had given away my speakers to my mom and amp/CD to my sister. My mom moved recently and did not have space for the speakers, so I got them back. I had to get some kind of amp, so I bought a 2nd hand Denon AVR X1100W with the notorious defect display issue for 30$(!). It has HDMI (wink wink) :) To be honest it sounds great with my speakers (in direct mode) and my room, but the grass is always greener... So I browsed used hifi, and found a pair of "as new" Argon Forte A55 MK ll active speakers. 50% off the retail price and HDMI and analog/digital input. They sound great. Or should I say sounded in pretence. The speakars has an auto detect signal feature, that I could really not get to work satisfactory with my new Panasonic OLED television. About 50% of the time we turned on the tv, the speakers would not turn on. I think I've tried every HDMI related setting on the tv with no success. The optical input was also considerable more quiet than the RCA inputs?!? I don't know why. If my only use case was listening to music (connected to a D10S DAC "fed" with Roon from a Ropieee PI4) I would have kept them. They sound really great. But still no (working) HDMI. They were easy to sell again though.

So to sum it up. I've still got the same speakers I bought in 2003 paired with a "defect" budget AVR amp that sounds fine with my current "hifi" situation. And did I mention that HDMI works flawlessly ;) I use Roon over Airplay and that's fine too. I still have about 3K$ to spend at my dealer that's marked for hifi, so "unfortunately" I'm in a situation where I have to use them on some kind of hifi. Poor me :cool: Looking back I don't know what I was thinking with my initial 500$ budget ending up at 10K$. Typical "audiophile" logic I guess. Maybe I should leave my finances to my 8 year old son or 9 year old daughter. They'd probably manage it more wisely than me :facepalm::D

If you had an empty hifi rack, two empty spots on the floor and 3K$ to burn on hifi, what would you do today and why?

Thank you for reading this far. I really appreciate it!
To be honest, I'm stunned, so first a few words of advice:
- Slow is faster! Always!
- Never make impulse purchases (except for music)
- Put your hi-fi system aside for a few days and calmly think about what you are missing, what you need and what you would like to have. Sometimes you need an empty space to be filled with new ideas. Maybe it will be 2 Sonos or a big Avantgarde Acoustics Trio, who knows?
- Listen to speakers or devices quietly and let it sink in.
- Take a few weeks or months and then re-examine your purchasing intentions and motivation. A lot of things became clear then.
- Change your viewing direction from time to time. Your requirements could also have been met with a Rasberry with Volumio including a comfortable tablet control and a good DAC for 200-300$/€. Alternatively, a cheap AV receiver with streaming function, HDMI/eARC and integrated DAC would have covered all wishes, plus a player for CD, SACD, DVD, BD, etc.

Your story reminds me of 2 hi-fi enthusiasts who I accompanied for a while over 20 years ago, looking for their “dream hi-fi system”. They didn't know each other, but things ran parallel, like twins.
I supported both for a few weeks (listening sessions, visits to dealers, looking at used devices) and the result was two excellent systems for their respective budgets.
After a few months, both of them called me to listen to their systems. It was just horrible and bad. When they visited other dealers, the two of them had been persuaded to buy various gadgets and devices (active speaker cables, active RCA cables, tube DACs, strangely distorting amplifiers, etc.) and had also spent 2-3 times as much as before.
One of them still had his old components and was shocked at how much better they were when we built the old system in parallel.
 
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OJAUSSIE

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You mention in 2003 you had Rotel components that you seemed pleased with. Then you mention the CD becoming faulty. Then you mention Roksan, Hegel, Marantz, Bluesound, Quad Vena II, Cambridge EVO 150 & 2nd hand Denon AVR X1100W. I think that was all? As you found out most of the brands except possibly the Marantz were true to their name. The manufacturers listed are very poorly assembled and over priced IMHO. Given your current dilemma I'd simply go back to Rotel. They make a complete range of components that would fulfill your requirements and are very well made and keenly priced with excellent audio performance. I hope this helps?
 
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gsp1971

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Dear @TSX ,

It is said that "Experience is the name we all give to our mistakes". We've all been there one way or another.

Having read your story, I would keep the Denon AVR X1100W since it covers many of your needs, including amplification, HDMI, Roon, etc, and I would build on it.

(a) you can get a source
You don't seem to have a source. If you like movies as much as music, you can get a Blu-Ray player. I have an Oppo BDP-105 and through it I can play CDs, SACDs, Blu-Ray discs, and also connect a portable HDD drive via USB in which I have ripped my disc collection. So lots of functionality to be found in a Blu-Ray player

(b) you can get a sub

(c) you can upgrade your speakers

(d) you can invest in room acoustics with something like a miniDSP, if budget allowed.

Good luck!

GS
 

TLEDDY

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Carver Silver Seven Tube Monoblocks. Excess of $25K
Levinson HQD System. Painful to recal $$$; with Cary 805 Monoblocks for stacked Quads; custom Readon Class A tube for Decca tweeters and a Krell for 18 inch Subs
Sanders 10e + Benchmark electronics. Excess of $15K (Best I have ever owned)

Over the course of purchases dating from 1958, including hardware and software… likely the cost of a nice little house in Winter Park, Florida.
 

dan_uk

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At the risk of everyone slapping their forehead and saying “again?”, I use the usual secretlab chair for desk use, 80% of the time I’m sat in recliner 2/3rds into the centre of the room sweetspot

51724319233_a597d2d68e_b.jpg
Nice setup... Are those two grey panels, acoustic panels behind? Did you perform any kind of analysis or just place them behind each speaker? Things of something similar myself.
 

Overseas

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Get some good PA components for the yard, barbecue etc. Like some Yamaha PA speakers, they are truly great.
 
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