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New Set-Up for Small Room - Does This Make Sense?

56suited

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I'm moving house and I'm finally getting my own dedicated office space, and I'm diving into the hi-fi world for the first time. What I'm hoping for is some feedback on my proposed set-up (I've bought nothing yet)...or if I'm missing something completely.

The room measures ~79" x ~113" (~201cm x ~287cm). Here's the criteria I've applied for equipment I'm planning to get:
  • Speakers must sound good against the wall. There's not enough space for 3' or 1m of clearance.
  • Equipment must be scalable and/or upgradeable. I shouldn't be forced to buy other equipment because either my space constraints change, or because the things I've bought don't allow for upgrades (like, a turntable that I can't buy better cartridges for).
  • There's a preliminary budget of ~€2,000. I don't want to spend more than this, so early on, because I still have a lot to learn.
Here's the equipment:
  1. Turntable: Pro-Ject Debut Carbon EVO, or Fluance RT85N, or Audio-Technica LP5X
  2. Phono Stage (optional, depending on amplifier or turntable, and cost): Ifi Zen Phono Pre-Amp
  3. Integrated Amplifier: Arcam A5 Integrated Amplifier, Bluesound Powernode, or SVS Prime Wireless Pro Streaming Amplifier
  4. Speakers: ELAC Debut Reference DBR62, or ELAC Uni-Fi 2.0 UB52, or Triangle Borea BR03
Problems/Headaches/Notes
  • I like the Arcam because of 2-way Bluetooth, and integrated phono stage. I need to do more research on integrated amps.
  • I don't know what I want/need for a turntable. I like the concept of a direct drive, but I can't get around the potential for noise, and the cartridges seem kinda crappy on the ATs. I like the auto-stop on the Fluance tables, but I can get at the EVO for €30-100 less, and the EVO has a carbon tonearm
  • The speakers I've listed are recommended for small rooms and sound really good with limited clearance from walls, but the ELAC ones are at 6Ω and the Arcam outputs 50W at 8Ω. Will they still work together? The Triangle BR03s are at 8Ω, but I've heard mixed reviews.
Any help, recommendations, or other guidance is greatly appreciated. I'm so excited to begin this journey.
 

EdW

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A question that many may be thinking. A turntable is very expensive and even the best offer forgettable audio quality compared to a modest DAC. Unless you have a very significant collection of LPs do you need a turntable? If not, why not spend the money elsewhere?
EDIT clarification
 
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A question that many may be thinking. A turntable is very expensive and even the best offer forgettable audio quality compared to a modest DAC. Unless you have a very significant collection of LPs do you need a turntable? If not, why not spend the money elsewhere?
EDIT clarification
I got rid of like 22,000 CDs acquired during my youth, and now all I have is Spotify and Tidal. Re-entry into collecting music via vinyl is sort of a nostalgic return to analog, embracing the artwork and old format with only a small selection of vinyl (I have 10 albums right now, and I have a list of ~200 LPs that I'll take time looking for and buying). It's going to be a lot of fun crate-digging at garage sales and other places. Call it a mid-life crisis.

Do I even need a DAC if my only other source of music would be Spotify or Tidal?
 

EdW

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I got rid of like 22,000 CDs acquired during my youth, and now all I have is Spotify and Tidal. Re-entry into collecting music via vinyl is sort of a nostalgic return to analog, embracing the artwork and old format with only a small selection of vinyl (I have 10 albums right now, and I have a list of ~200 LPs that I'll take time looking for and buying). It's going to be a lot of fun crate-digging at garage sales and other places. Call it a mid-life crisis.

Do I even need a DAC if my only other source of music would be Spotify or Tidal?
For Streaming you will need a streamer (a low cost option could be a Raspberry pi 4 running Moode or Volumio) and a DAC - preferably USB. The DAC is needed to turn the digital data from the streamer into left and right stereo analog line level audio signals for your amplifier. This DAC might be built in the amplifier, but if the amp has no DAC then an external USB DAC e.g. from Topping, SMSL is needed between the streamer and the amp.
External USB DACs often offer the best value in terms of audio quality for your money. You can also use a Toslink input on the DAC to route your TV Sound through your audio system.

I have owned Arcam amps in the past and have been very pleased with them.
 
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For Streaming you will need a streamer (a low cost option could be a Raspberry pi 4 running Moode or Volumio) and a DAC - preferably USB. The DAC is needed to turn the digital data from the streamer into left and right stereo analog line level audio signals for your amplifier. This DAC might be built in the amplifier, but if the amp has no DAC then an external USB DAC e.g. from Topping, SMSL is needed between the streamer and the amp.
External USB DACs often offer the best value in terms of audio quality for your money. You can also use a Toslink input on the DAC to route your TV Sound through your audio system.

I have owned Arcam amps in the past and have been very pleased with them.
That pretty much seals the deal on the Arcam 5 then, as I believe it has all the things: DAC, Bluetooth, a phono pre-amp. Thanks for being so helpful. Now I just need to resolve speaker and turntable questions.

One of the best parts of this... "journey"... before actually spending money on anything is the research and learning. Considering I knew literally nothing a couple of weeks ago, if I never pull the trigger at all, I'll still have learned something.
 

Timcognito

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Go used on the turntable to save money. They seem to be plentiful, at least here in the US. Also TT and LPs take up a lot space and time on up keep.
 
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Go used on the turntable to save money. They seem to be plentiful, at least here in the US. Also TT and LPs take up a lot space and time on up keep.
Those are two concessions I'm willing to make. I don't plan on having thousands of LPs. A couple hundred sentimental and close-to-heart timeless classics.

Used TTs? I suppose that's an option, but I'm worried about their state and hidden issues that I'll have to pay for maintenance on later. Do I really come out on top?
 

EdW

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That pretty much seals the deal on the Arcam 5 then, as I believe it has all the things: DAC, Bluetooth, a phono pre-amp. Thanks for being so helpful. Now I just need to resolve speaker and turntable questions.

One of the best parts of this... "journey"... before actually spending money on anything is the research and learning. Considering I knew literally nothing a couple of weeks ago, if I never pull the trigger at all, I'll still have learned something.
I took a Quick Look at the Arcam webpages. It seems that the A5 has SPDIF inputs only for the digital - i.e. Coax and Toslink. You will need a streamer with a Coax SPDIF Output to drive this. Unusually no USB input as far as I can see. Some streamers will have coax output but others such as a basic Raspberry pi setup will need a plug in ‘HAT’ card to give this functionality. A plug in card will probably be a little less expensive than an external USB DAC? The DAC chip in the A5 is a fairly old ESS9018 but this should be as good as the amplifier and will be better than turntable and cartridge.
 
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...but there's 2-way Bluetooth. Can't I just connect and play from my mobile device without a streamer?
 

Timcognito

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Used TTs? I suppose that's an option, but I'm worried about their state and hidden issues that I'll have to pay for maintenance on later. Do I really come out on top?
Well there is issue of quality and depreciation, much better quality at fraction of the price of new. I kept my very nice audiophile quality TT and 6-700 Lps even though I rarely play them, yet, many sell their here dust collecting rigs, and many well kept machines go on the market because aficionados are trading up. Do some research on used TTs because the old and good ones go fast and many classics like the Yamaha YP series from late 70s are around with Rosewood veneer, at good prices and are still going strong.
 

Daverz

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Looks like the perfect room dimensions for some studio monitors which can be connected directly to a computer running the Qobuz desktop app. For the LPs, I would find some nice shelves so you can reach for an LP to peruse while you're streaming the digital music from the computer.
 
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EdW

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...but there's 2-way Bluetooth. Can't I just connect and play from my mobile device without a streamer?
Never looked at Bluetooth for audio quality. Probably OK for some Spotify and general casual use but high quality uncompressed files may suffer degradation? someone else will need to chime in here to cover my lack of real world knowledge about Bluetooth audio quality!
 
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Looks like the perfect room dimensions for some studio monitors which can be connected directly to a computer running the Qobuz desktop app. For the LPs, I would find some nice shelves so you can reach for an LP to peruse while you're streaming the digital music from the computer.
Alas, I don't have a PC (only a MacBook Pro that is strictly for work usage), so it will likely be a TT, streamer, amp, speakers.
 

Daverz

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Alas, I don't have a PC (only a MacBook Pro

Oh, you'll fit right in here. ;)

that is strictly for work usage), so it will likely be a TT, streamer, amp, speakers.

A streamer is a just a small computer. If you can source a Raspberry Pi 4 or 5, these work very well for the purpose, but other cheap, small form-factor computers work just as well. Even a phone can be used for the purpose. Studio monitors have the amp built in to the speakers, and some can accept a USB audio connection, so you can connect them directly to a streamer.
 

gsp1971

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This thread might give some insight into the priorities.


Enjoy the journey.

GS
 
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I started scrambling, looking for same-brand (to eliminate dual remotes, and achieve best pairing) streamers and amps as separates, without killing my budget. So far, I've looked at the following, with the Cambridge being a distinct lag behind the Arcam because it doesn't have a phono stage:

- Cambridge CXA61 Integrated Amplifier and CXN V2 (Streamer)
- Arcam ST5 Streamer and A5 Integrated Amplifier

The research has just begun. Thanks to everybody willing to share their experience. Very happy the audiophile/hi-fi community isn't pretentious or exclusive.
 

gsp1971

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From your shortlisted speakers, the ELAC DBR62 has been reviewed here at ASR and has been placed on the recommended list.
Also, check out whether the NAD C368 fulfills your requirements.
 
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From your shortlisted speakers, the ELAC DBR62 has been reviewed here at ASR and has been placed on the recommended list.
Also, check out whether the NAD C368 fulfills your requirements.
That could work, paired with a NAD CS1 streamer? I'm spooked by audio quality degradation through Bluetooth now, and Spotify will likely be my audio source for a majority of music I will choose not to purchase on vinyl. I guess I could also drop to the 338 to give me budget space so I can still buy a quality turntable.

Also, will that amp play nice with the ELACs considering they're rated at 6Ω, and the amp is 4 or 8? Do I need to match the impedance exactly?

Solid analog chops from what I can tell. Thanks for the recommendation.
 
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EdW

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That could work, paired with a NAD CS1 streamer? I'm spooked by audio quality degradation through Bluetooth now, and Spotify will likely be my audio source for a majority of music I will choose not to purchase on vinyl. I guess I could also drop to the 338 to give me budget space so I can still buy a quality turntable.

Also, will that amp play nice with the ELACs considering they're rated at 6Ω, and the amp is 4 or 8? Do I need to match the impedance exactly?

Solid analog chops from what I can tell. Thanks for the recommendation.
Sorry I don’t know anything about Bluetooth 5.2 audio quality - how noticeable any quality loss is. I suspect it probably is only apparent on fairly careful listening

The Elac speaker has an impedance minimum of around 6 ohms. See @amirm review linked below


this minimum is reasonably benign and any amplifier capable of driving 4 ohms should have no difficulty driving the Elac DBR62. As long as the amplifier is rated to drive loads of lower impedance than your speakers you will be OK.
 
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