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ad_fletch

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Hello,

I've been reading for quite some time all the threads I can find about how to do a decent but affordable 2.1 or (ideally) 2.2 setup for music.

Source is a Windows tablet running Foobar2000 + EqualizerAPO through a Meizu Hifi Pro dongle - prefer this to previous setup of Chromecast Audio (also EQed using REW and Poweramp).

I have an AVR with which I'm happy for HT, but not so much for music. I've pretty much given up chasing the perfect all-in-one unit, so my idea now is to use a separate integrated or pre/power combo for music (with a speaker cable switch box, since I don't have the room for a whole separate setup).

I have already reviewed the likely 2.1 candidates on this useful list made by @sigbergaudio, but so far the leading candidates all have issues:
  • Anthem STR/NAD Masters/Parasound Halo/Devialet Expert/Lyngdorf/Buchardt/Minidsp SHD/Antimode X4 - all out of my price range sadly (hoping for under US$1000).
  • Yamaha WXA50/WXC50 - happy with Amir's measurements, but posts on review thread suggest no adjustable LPF and no HPF at all - since I'll be using same speakers and subs, I'd have to fiddle with the crossovers on the back of each sub every time I switched from HT to music, which I really don't want to do.
  • Denon 800H/Marantz NR1200- no measurements I can find; suspect very likely to suffer from same issues as lower-end AVRs
  • Yamaha N803 - Amir's measurements show a ~20dB SINAD drop when you engage DSP, which I'd presumably need for crossover, so again no better than AVR I guess.
  • NAD D3020/V2/D3045 - do they have a proper crossover? This thread suggests that the jury is still out, and not much control anyway. Also lowish power - I have relatively efficient floorstanders (~90dB), but I feel they do best with a minimum of around 75W @ 6ohms in my 60m3 lounge room.
  • Elac Element - nice looking amp and even has some flavour of room correction, but Amazon reviews suggest serious usability issues with app control etc and I feel too old to deal with that stuff (also I have young kids - not much time for fiddling). Oh, and no measurements.
  • MartinLogan Forte/PW Amp - can't get it where I am for less than US$500 now, which seems like a lot given the measurements, which are really no better than most AVRs. I think if I were going for Anthem room correction, I'd just get an MRX310/510 AVR for similar price. Haven't seen one for sale this year in my area though.
  • NAD C328/338 - decent measurements on Stereophile (they use modified Hypex uCd apparently), but "subwoofer out" seems to be full range and only control is an 80Hz 'bass boost'.
So at the moment I'm thinking perhaps a MinisDSP DDRC-24 + a separate NC252MP-based power amp (I already have UMIK-1). Amir's measurements of Dirac-less version not stellar, but guess Dirac should make up for that...?

The main issue is my lack of time for tweaking the MiniDSP and measuring (family barely leaves the house - we have strict pandemic restrictions here), but I guess I can do it slowly and get there eventually.

Can anyone suggest a superior solution for under/around US$1k please?

One other salient detail to keep in mind - I'm in Australia, where the usual price of a Denon X3700H is US$2000 and an Anthem STR sells for US$5500. Shipping costs usually cancel out benefits of shopping in US/EU sadly. MiniDSP has great fast delivery with DHL though.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
 

Ongii

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Hi!
I had similar needs and ended up as follows:
HTPC -usb-> Focusrite 18i20 -analog-> old Marantz SR AVR -ls cable-> Loudspeakers
On the HTPC I have JRiver + Dirac Live and they do also the decoding of Dolby, DTS, etc. whenever I watch movies.
For music, this multichannel setup allowed me to do room correction with Dirac for all the channels, including the 2 subwoofers
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Interesting thanks…not sure I need a mic preamp (or 8 like your unit) though. Also can’t see anything about a crossover in its specs, unless I’m missing something. I’m hoping to move away from my AVR’s noisy power stage.

The idea of doing all the processing on PC is appealing, but I suspect my family would be reluctant to move away from our current Android TV platform, which is why I’m thinking of a parallel system for music.

EDIT: I guess maybe a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 would give me 4 outputs like a MiniDSP DDRC-24, but I'd have to do the subwoofer crossover in software. Since the cost of both is almost equal in Australia, I'm leaning towards the MiniDSP.
 
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tjf

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Hello,

I've been reading for quite some time all the threads I can find about how to do a decent but affordable 2.1 or (ideally) 2.2 setup for music.

Source is a Windows tablet running Foobar2000 + EqualizerAPO through a Meizu Hifi Pro dongle - prefer this to previous setup of Chromecast Audio (also EQed using REW and Poweramp).

So at the moment I'm thinking perhaps a MinisDSP DDRC-24 + a separate NC252MP-based power amp (I already have UMIK-1). Amir's measurements of Dirac-less version not stellar, but guess Dirac should make up for that...?

The main issue is my lack of time for tweaking the MiniDSP and measuring (family barely leaves the house - we have strict pandemic restrictions here), but I guess I can do it slowly and get there eventually.

Can anyone suggest a superior solution for under/around US$1k please?

One other salient detail to keep in mind - I'm in Australia, where the usual price of a Denon X3700H is US$2000 and an Anthem STR sells for US$5500. Shipping costs usually cancel out benefits of shopping in US/EU sadly. MiniDSP has great fast delivery with DHL though.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.


I know what you're going thru, I've been searching for this kind of rig as well, and your cost limit of $1K Aus is gonna be tough, and will probably limit you to whatever entry level AVR you can find that has adjustable Bass Managment -- a tall order even within the AVR world to get the crossover capabilities you're hoping for...

** Based on your $$ constraints, possible contenders still end up being a very small group of options, but you may want to take a flyer on the Elac device while it continues to exist in the marketplace (never a safe assumption when it comes to an Elac product) :

https://www.elac.com/home-theater-amplifiers/discovery-series-dsa101-g/?r=us


** Otherwise, it's MiniDSP for you -- with all that implies for ease of use (?!) and performance limitations -- the Elac device may not ultimately be any better measured performance-wise -- but -- perhaps saving up some budget $$ for the MiniDSP SHD Power? Then supply the dual powered subs to go with your 90db sens main speakers for the SHD Power's modest amp section?

https://www.minidsp.com/products/streaming-hd-series/shd-power


** My current plan (after scrimping + saving my $$) will be a RME ADI-2 DAC (with it's modest DSP EQ) as DAC/EQ/Preamp -- and this:

https://sublimeacoustic.com/products/k231-stereo-3-way-active-crossover

Luckily I have amplifiers avaialble for this scenario...
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Thanks for that - you're probably right about the budget. Maybe it'll have to be $1k this year and another $1k next year!

I'd love to check out the Elac in person, but hi-fi shops haven't been open here for some time. Even the apps are hard to road test, because they usually stall at the "can't find device" stage....
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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One question if I may @tjf - it seems almost none of the preamp/DSP/XO/DAC boxes I'm looking at have trigger outputs to fire up the power amp - not even the ADI-2 DAC. Will you have to fire up everything manually like a cave-audiophile?
 

tjf

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One question if I may @tjf - it seems almost none of the preamp/DSP/XO/DAC boxes I'm looking at have trigger outputs to fire up the power amp - not even the ADI-2 DAC. Will you have to fire up everything manually like a cave-audiophile?


Yes, you'll need to revert to the "glory-days-of-high-end-audio" when we all had to do the "Power Amps ON LAST/OFF 1ST" plan...
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Hmm, one shop in Sydney has the non-pro ST2 for AU$11,495. Could upgrade my whole audio system, TV and throw in a mountain bike for that!

Then again, there’s one on hifishark in Italy for 1600 Euros, so maybe 2nd hand is the way to go with Trinnov….
 

Shanman

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Schiit Freya S is back in stock and has 2 sets of pre-outs, it was recommended that one set could be used for the sub.

Maybe good for your needs?
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Thanks, but really after built-in crossover.

It seems Topping D30 pro would do same job as Freya S - has dual outputs and good measurements…?

So far I haven’t seen anything other than MiniDSP 2x4HD or Behringer DCX2496 for an all in one unit under my budget. Actually had a DCX2496 many years ago for a Linkwitz-inspired open baffle project, but it wasn’t 100% satisfactory. Amir has measured its sister the DEQ, which is probably similar internally.

Edit: now Allo Piano 2.1 has come on to my radar. Does anyone have exp with that unit? Uses pair of TI 5142 DACs according to this post - would love to know how it compares with 2x4HD.
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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For those playing along at home, I’ve found an interesting option - the DEQX PreMATE:

1D8A92A8-71E4-430D-B9AB-1B06E135DBFB.jpeg


Check out John Atkinson’s measurements. Could be a strong competitor to the MiniDSP SHD if budget allows.
 

Ata

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Hello,

I've been reading for quite some time all the threads I can find about how to do a decent but affordable 2.1 or (ideally) 2.2 setup for music.

Source is a Windows tablet running Foobar2000 + EqualizerAPO through a Meizu Hifi Pro dongle - prefer this to previous setup of Chromecast Audio (also EQed using REW and Poweramp).

I have an AVR with which I'm happy for HT, but not so much for music. I've pretty much given up chasing the perfect all-in-one unit, so my idea now is to use a separate integrated or pre/power combo for music (with a speaker cable switch box, since I don't have the room for a whole separate setup).

I have already reviewed the likely 2.1 candidates on this useful list made by @sigbergaudio, but so far the leading candidates all have issues:
  • Anthem STR/NAD Masters/Parasound Halo/Devialet Expert/Lyngdorf/Buchardt/Minidsp SHD/Antimode X4 - all out of my price range sadly (hoping for under US$1000).
  • Yamaha WXA50/WXC50 - happy with Amir's measurements, but posts on review thread suggest no adjustable LPF and no HPF at all - since I'll be using same speakers and subs, I'd have to fiddle with the crossovers on the back of each sub every time I switched from HT to music, which I really don't want to do.
  • Denon 800H/Marantz NR1200- no measurements I can find; suspect very likely to suffer from same issues as lower-end AVRs
  • Yamaha N803 - Amir's measurements show a ~20dB SINAD drop when you engage DSP, which I'd presumably need for crossover, so again no better than AVR I guess.
  • NAD D3020/V2/D3045 - do they have a proper crossover? This thread suggests that the jury is still out, and not much control anyway. Also lowish power - I have relatively efficient floorstanders (~90dB), but I feel they do best with a minimum of around 75W @ 6ohms in my 60m3 lounge room.
  • Elac Element - nice looking amp and even has some flavour of room correction, but Amazon reviews suggest serious usability issues with app control etc and I feel too old to deal with that stuff (also I have young kids - not much time for fiddling). Oh, and no measurements.
  • MartinLogan Forte/PW Amp - can't get it where I am for less than US$500 now, which seems like a lot given the measurements, which are really no better than most AVRs. I think if I were going for Anthem room correction, I'd just get an MRX310/510 AVR for similar price. Haven't seen one for sale this year in my area though.
  • NAD C328/338 - decent measurements on Stereophile (they use modified Hypex uCd apparently), but "subwoofer out" seems to be full range and only control is an 80Hz 'bass boost'.
So at the moment I'm thinking perhaps a MinisDSP DDRC-24 + a separate NC252MP-based power amp (I already have UMIK-1). Amir's measurements of Dirac-less version not stellar, but guess Dirac should make up for that...?

The main issue is my lack of time for tweaking the MiniDSP and measuring (family barely leaves the house - we have strict pandemic restrictions here), but I guess I can do it slowly and get there eventually.

Can anyone suggest a superior solution for under/around US$1k please?

One other salient detail to keep in mind - I'm in Australia, where the usual price of a Denon X3700H is US$2000 and an Anthem STR sells for US$5500. Shipping costs usually cancel out benefits of shopping in US/EU sadly. MiniDSP has great fast delivery with DHL though.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

Greetings from Australia!

Can I ask, what is your current AVR and speakers? I am very happy with my recent second hand acquisition of a Denon X2500H and even the room correction via Audyssey MultEQ XT exceeds my expectation when done properly. But, I am thinking of injecting a good DAC + preamp + Purifi based AMP for two-channel music at some point in the future.
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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My AVR is a pre-HDMI hybrid digital unit from JVC - a bit like the Panasonic XR57 that Amir reviewed some time ago. Almost certainly would measure poorly, but its analogue inputs sound 'right' which is good enough for me. Don't get to watch movies much anyway, and evening TV listening has to be quiet due to family. Might upgrade to a Denon X3600H or X3700H one day when they drop in price.

Speakers are VAF from Adelaide - a discontinued model. They're due for replacement too, but waiting until the threat from small children subsides.... Also have some nice Note Perfect (Melbourne, also discontinued) bookshelves which I might substitute in when I get the subwoofers dialled.

Planning to order Audiophonics nCore this week, but still hesitating over how best to drive it.
 

Ata

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Same here, I have VAF DC7 I put together about 20 years ago, still sound good, and measure great! Currently used as surround channels in my new home theatre setup, after being unused for over 14 years.
 

phoenixdogfan

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Interesting thanks…not sure I need a mic preamp (or 8 like your unit) though. Also can’t see anything about a crossover in its specs, unless I’m missing something. I’m hoping to move away from my AVR’s noisy power stage.

The idea of doing all the processing on PC is appealing, but I suspect my family would be reluctant to move away from our current Android TV platform, which is why I’m thinking of a parallel system for music.

EDIT: I guess maybe a Focusrite Scarlett 4i4 would give me 4 outputs like a MiniDSP DDRC-24, but I'd have to do the subwoofer crossover in software. Since the cost of both is almost equal in Australia, I'm leaning towards the MiniDSP.
You are already doing the crossover in software. There is a thread posting now that involves using a Motu M4 with a Raspberry Pi4 as a streamer, running its DSP. Whole thing won't cost much more than $400.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...nterface-motu-m4-phenomal-dsp-streamer.24493/
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Thanks @phoenixdogfan - looked into Motu M4 but it is out of stock everywhere in my country, and hard to get even in the States it seems. Oh and doesn’t have unified volume control for 4 channels.

Check out this rabbit hole on RPi + Allo Piano 2.1 + Volumio on diyAudio. In theory you can get XO, DSP and full remote control over a 2.1 or 2.2 setup with that hardware for under $200, but the Piano DAC is a bit of an unknown quantity. Also TI software to control the PCM5142’s DSP is hard to get (supposed to be only for integrators).

Of course, there’s also the question of having hours to mess with linux, learn DSP programming etc when you’re supposed to be working and looking after kids. Still, potential to save a lot of dough….
 

Epos7

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I think we're in a similar boat. I have a Denon 3700H on the way, and am trying to work out how I can use its pre-outs for the front two channels, into a stereo preamp that lets me switch to my music system. Both will share the same L+R speakers and subwoofers. Center channel on the AVR only.

I too am looking for the right pre-amp. Currently have my eye on the Topping Pre90, though I haven't worked out all the details.
 
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ad_fletch

ad_fletch

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Pre90 is interesting. At first I thought that it sounded like the D30/DX7 Pro with their XLR/RCA volume issues, but its volume memory per output capability might just be what's needed. I wonder whether, with the Denon in the chain, you'll get the full benefit of the Topping though....

It's baffling to me that it's so hard to get a function built into every AVR, even the cheapest ones (ie adjustable sub crossover with trims for each speaker) in an affordable, well-measuring DAC/preamp.

I guess people wanting to use subs for music (and not satisfied with an AVR) are still a minority in the market.
 

Epos7

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When listening to music I'd be skipping the Denon entirely - either a DAC or turntable into the Pre90.

For home theater use, the Pre90 would really just be serving as an input selector and undoubtedly the Denon preamp stage would be of lower quality.

The issue remains how to integrate a subwoofer or two. As you've said it's easy enough with an AVR but I'm not entirely sure it could be done with the Pre90. I suppose something like the miniDSP 2x4 in between the Pre90 and power amp would likely work if I told the AVR to send the LFE channel with the L+R outs.
 
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