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Re-building my system for streaming-only and feeling overwhelmed...

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TL;DR - I have a budget of $5k for everything but speakers in a streaming-only system. I have no idea which components are most important.

Brand new to the forum, but not entirely new to Hi-Fi. I stream 100% of my music with Tidal HiFi. I recently changed everything in my system except the speakers and noticed a pretty significant jump in SQ. I truly didn't expect to see much of a difference. Reading through this forum, it seems I can probably do better. I've heard "if it sounds good, leave well enough alone," but can't say I agree. I will probably always tinker and look for improvements, but I'm feeling overwhelmed by the data and reviews I'm finding here (and in the audio world, generally). Not necessarily looking for specific product suggestions, but rather where to focus my attention (i.e. $$$) with a given budget. Sorry for the long post; hopefully you stick with me! I'll try to keep this all organized...

Previous setup:
Bluesound Node 2 --> Vincent SV700 integrated --> Klipsch Forte III

Current setup:
NAD C658 --> PrimaLuna Evo 100 --> Klipsch Forte III

With the switch, there was substantially more detail and separation. Another aspect that I find more difficult to put in words, but I guess I'd say the sound was "more full," and with a wider soundstage. The old setup just sounded flat by comparison. I wouldn't say the sound was "warmer," so I'm thinking the PrimaLuna didn't add much to my experience. Since essentially everything is new, I don't know which component is most responsible. In order of significance, my guess would be the DAC -> streamer -> power amp, but I really don't know. Both the NAD and PrimaLuna are returnable, and I haven't yet sold the Bluesound or Vincent.

I'm open to anything within a budget of $5k for everything but speakers, though less would be great. Another wrench in my dilemma is I'm about to add two Rythmik F12's, and would love a high pass for the Fortes. I also plan to use Roon. The Nucleus is appealing for sake of simplicity, but I do have a new Macbook that is entirely capable of serving as a Roon core. I'm not sure allocating $1500 of my budget to the Nucleus is the best use of funds. So, I need a streamer, DAC, pre, and power, all with a HPF and Roon ready. If you had $5k to burn, how would you allocate the funds?

I hope I didn't make this too complicated. Any advice is sincerely appreciated.
 

dshreter

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I would keep the C658 (because of Dirac) and spend the rest of my budget on the best active speakers from Genelec or Neumann my budget would afford.

Streaming, Amplification and pre-amplification are all transparent in modern systems so you can prioritize your budget on speakers for best effect.
 

Geertidow

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I would keep the C658 (because of Dirac) and spend the rest of my budget on the best active speakers from Genelec or Neumann my budget would afford.

Streaming, Amplification and pre-amplification are all transparent in modern systems so you can prioritize your budget on speakers for best effect.
Fully agree.
 

Eetu

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I suggest keeping the Bluesound if you enjoyed using it and pair it with a MiniDSP Flex (DSP DAC/Pre-amp). DAC a lot higher performance than the one in the NAD. It would get you Dirac and 2 additional fully adjustable outputs for integrating subwoofers. High-pass the Fortes, low-pass the subs, run Dirac, be happy.

This is if you've been satisfied with the Fortes. They are not the most neutral speakers but I'm sure that's part of their charm.
 
OP
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I would keep the C658 (because of Dirac) and spend the rest of my budget on the best active speakers from Genelec or Neumann my budget would afford.

Streaming, Amplification and pre-amplification are all transparent in modern systems so you can prioritize your budget on speakers for best effect.
Interesting. I hadn’t really considered actives, but I just went down that rabbit hole and am intrigued. I guess my main concern with that route would be the quality of the analog signal being delivered to the amp/speaker. What prompted my post was the realization that my system had a pretty significant bottle neck, in either retrieving the data from the internet (streaming) or converting it to an analog signal. The best actives in the world won’t sound great if they’re receiving a poorly compressed and uncompressed signal.

With that train of thought, the kef ls60w seems appealing. I’d have to assume they were optimized for streaming. But that does put me in a situation down the road given how rapidly that segment is evolving.
 

DWPress

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Since you mention you want to add a couple subwoofers that will necessitate a DAC with at least 4 channels so you can create HP and LP filter integrating them into your existing 2ch stereo arrangement. In that case you have a couple options, both mentioned above but with a twist:

The Minidsp Flex is a good candidate as it can also host Dirac. A Motu M4 or similar would also work fine. I run my Roon core on my M1 Mac mini and do XO and convolution (see my sig) then send to my multi-ch DAC.

Other option is active speakers with a LFE (sub) passthrough though I'm not sure the best method of integrating multiple subs that way.

In either case a digital input is either necessary or available and unnecessary AD/DA can be avoided.

Your existing gear is fine if you like it but would otherwise echo earlier sentiments of replacing the speakers as biggest chance to actually hear real improvement. Integrating the subs will be your next big challenge but plenty of good resources for that here on ASR.
 

dshreter

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Interesting. I hadn’t really considered actives, but I just went down that rabbit hole and am intrigued. I guess my main concern with that route would be the quality of the analog signal being delivered to the amp/speaker. What prompted my post was the realization that my system had a pretty significant bottle neck, in either retrieving the data from the internet (streaming) or converting it to an analog signal. The best actives in the world won’t sound great if they’re receiving a poorly compressed and uncompressed signal.

With that train of thought, the kef ls60w seems appealing. I’d have to assume they were optimized for streaming. But that does put me in a situation down the road given how rapidly that segment is evolving.
C658 will do a great job at all of the streaming and pre-amplification duties. Dirac is the real differentiator in comparison to the many streaming sources you could choose from though, and that makes a real and audible difference.

I would go with KEF if you wanted passive speakers, otherwise I’d personally choose one of the studio monitors for actives.
 

Geertidow

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C658 will do a great job at all of the streaming and pre-amplification duties. Dirac is the real differentiator in comparison to the many streaming sources you could choose from though, and that makes a real and audible difference.

I would go with KEF if you wanted passive speakers, otherwise I’d personally choose one of the studio monitors for actives.
In addition the C658 supports 2 subs that are analyzed separately with DIRAC, whilst a MiniDSP Flex has a stereo DIRAC module only.
The miniDSP flex is more fun and more tweaking, but the C658 was better regarding user interface. I owned both (currently the MiniDSP flex) and with the flex I do run in to a lot of issues (freezes, DIRAC loading incorrectly) and the C658 was more stable in that regard.

I mean if you get C658, C298 (or a cheaper ncore module), KEF R3 and a pair of subs you cannot go wrong I think.
Currently I am the poud owner of KEF R3, I owned the Genelec 8030c before.
For me the hiss of active loudspeakers was a dealbreaker.
 
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