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So many questions

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Nov 3, 2022
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I’m 61, born in 61 infact.

I got into ‘Hi-Fi’ back in the 70s I guess. The jargon back then was simpler. The options much less.
The family music player was a chipboard hinged box that was wrapped with vinyl. Oddly ! Or maybe it was leatherette. One speaker. Gold mesh grille.
It didn’t stop me playing Led Zep LPs that belonged to my sister who was away at Uni.
My best buddy at the time was getting into AMStrad, and then into Pink Triangle, his set up in a Council house Boxroom. The floor standers you had to negotiate around to get to sit in the listening spot ( the single bed). It was seriously loud.
The music was from a wide field of pop, RnB, despite the Punk era I guess Steve had taste.
So I saved up and bought a dual cs505, marantz pm10 amp,and I recall a cool looking Marantz cassette player with blue backlit dual VU meters.
I think I bought it used from the local tv/hifi store.
We saw cds come in, and vinyl decline.
There, that’s a bit of context for you … hope you enjoyed that ☺️

What the hell happened since then ?

I just want to listen to great music and mostly quite loud. I want the gear I have to be decent.

Arcam 290 amp
Kef floorstanders
Arcam 7SE (had for 20 yrs)

iPhone
Wiim streamer
DAC yet to be bought

I’m so confused, I just need a DAC choice that matches my amp/speakers don’t I ?
All I’m seeing is desktop DACs unless I spend £350 or more. What the heck is a desktop DAC?
I mean I know I could just not bother with an external dac. Maybe I should start there ?
The choice of DACs I find overwhelming.


I guess I’m saying I need an idiots guide. But not one from the pages of what Hifi that I could easily find online. I get the double blind test vibe on here.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on here for sure, but it’s really hard to decipher. I don’t want a degree in electronics.
Hope you feel my pain lol
 

sergeauckland

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Welcome to ASR. You'll get a LOT more 'sound' advice here than on the other, shall we say, subjectivist 'I trust my ears' forums.

Firstly, I wouldn't bother with an external DAC, as you already have one in any digital player, 'phone, tablet or PC which is almost certainly good enough to be transparent. Then, similarly any modern amplifier will also be Good Enough, if it goes loud enough. It ALL hinges on the loudspeakers, those determine what you hear, pretty much totally. If you haven't already got a decent amplifier, then go for active 'speakers which include amplifiers, and can be fed directly from any digital player. Something like the Kali LP6 will be an excellent start.

If you want a turntable, things get a bit more involved, but the same 'speakers will work just as well.

If ASR has shown anything, is that excellent sound can be had for little money, everything else is looks, brand values, bragging rights down at the pub, or just because one can.

Best of luck with the quest.
S
 

VMAT4

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Maybe the Topping E50 would suit your needs?
 
OP
Anynameyouwish
Joined
Nov 3, 2022
Messages
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Location
Gloucester UK
Welcome to ASR. You'll get a LOT more 'sound' advice here than on the other, shall we say, subjectivist 'I trust my ears' forums.

Firstly, I wouldn't bother with an external DAC, as you already have one in any digital player, 'phone, tablet or PC which is almost certainly good enough to be transparent. Then, similarly any modern amplifier will also be Good Enough, if it goes loud enough. It ALL hinges on the loudspeakers, those determine what you hear, pretty much totally. If you haven't already got a decent amplifier, then go for active 'speakers which include amplifiers, and can be fed directly from any digital player. Something like the Kali LP6 will be an excellent start.

If you want a turntable, things get a bit more involved, but the same 'speakers will work just as well.

If ASR has shown anything, is that excellent sound can be had for little money, everything else is looks, brand values, bragging rights down at the pub, or just because one can.

Best of luck with the quest.
S
Thankyou most kindly Serge.
 

Rja4000

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I’m 61, born in 61 infact.

I got into ‘Hi-Fi’ back in the 70s I guess. The jargon back then was simpler. The options much less.
The family music player was a chipboard hinged box that was wrapped with vinyl. Oddly ! Or maybe it was leatherette. One speaker. Gold mesh grille.
It didn’t stop me playing Led Zep LPs that belonged to my sister who was away at Uni.
My best buddy at the time was getting into AMStrad, and then into Pink Triangle, his set up in a Council house Boxroom. The floor standers you had to negotiate around to get to sit in the listening spot ( the single bed). It was seriously loud.
The music was from a wide field of pop, RnB, despite the Punk era I guess Steve had taste.
So I saved up and bought a dual cs505, marantz pm10 amp,and I recall a cool looking Marantz cassette player with blue backlit dual VU meters.
I think I bought it used from the local tv/hifi store.
We saw cds come in, and vinyl decline.
There, that’s a bit of context for you … hope you enjoyed that ☺️

What the hell happened since then ?

I just want to listen to great music and mostly quite loud. I want the gear I have to be decent.

Arcam 290 amp
Kef floorstanders
Arcam 7SE (had for 20 yrs)

iPhone
Wiim streamer
DAC yet to be bought

I’m so confused, I just need a DAC choice that matches my amp/speakers don’t I ?
All I’m seeing is desktop DACs unless I spend £350 or more. What the heck is a desktop DAC?
I mean I know I could just not bother with an external dac. Maybe I should start there ?
The choice of DACs I find overwhelming.


I guess I’m saying I need an idiots guide. But not one from the pages of what Hifi that I could easily find online. I get the double blind test vibe on here.

There’s a wealth of knowledge on here for sure, but it’s really hard to decipher. I don’t want a degree in electronics.
Hope you feel my pain lol
Hi

Welcome to ASR's elite club of 61ers :cool:

You want something simple and LOUD ?

Either you purchase big tower speakers, or mid sized speakers with a powerful amp.
The size/power will also depend of your room size and listening distance.

That's for the "Loud" part. No miracle. Good speakers, big enough, with powerful amplification.
(Don't let yourself be fooled by small speakers. They can be excellent. But not loud.)

There are plenty of choices, of course.
If you're not happy with your current speakers start from the "recommended" list here or somewhere where similarly detailed measurements are used as base for recommendations, make your short list, and go to a shop where you'll be able to listen to some of your favorite music (in mono), compare and decide.

For best experience, you should EQ your speakers to tune them to your room.

For the rest, it depends how you want to consume your music.
What are your sources ?
Streamed music ? A huge vinyl collection ? CDs ?
Do you want TV or home cinema as well ? Do you want multi room ?

Personnaly, I favor streaming (Qobuz), I ripped all my CDs and old DATs, and my vynils don't leave the bookshelf. I also like multiroom and the TV.

Those choices of sources and DAC are mostly driven by functionalities.
Room correction, parametric EQ, Bass/Trebble are all useful functionalities.
"Sound quality", for this type of equipment, has mostly become a marketing legend, nowadays.
As long as your streaming source is CD quality and you avoid Bluetooth...
 
Last edited:

Tom C

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Please try not to get hung up on the phrase desktop DAC. The implication is that it has a particular purpose, or is particularly suited to a desktop application, but a quality desktop DAC is all anyone needs for two-channel stereo, no matter how big the rig. $350 is plenty to spend, if all you want to play is digital music and streaming.
As our esteemed @sergeauckland (who has forgotten more than I’ll ever know) has said, your phone and/or Wiim is all you need for transparency.
Your Arcam 290 accepts rca inputs on the back, so your best off getting a DAC with rca outputs. That way, you don’t need a converter. But XLR (balanced) vs RCA (unbalanced) is more than just the style of connector. They also have different voltage levels, and it’s better to have the voltage levels match. XLR has the higher voltage level vs. RCA. Overdriving the input of your amp won’t sound good. I can’t think of any situation where that would be an advantage. So, I’d recommend a DAC with rca outputs. You don’t need a remote, since both your amp and your Wiim have volume controls. Whether or not you’d like another remote for the DAC volume is your call.
 
OP
Anynameyouwish
Joined
Nov 3, 2022
Messages
18
Likes
14
Location
Gloucester UK
Hi

Welcome to ASR's elite club of 61ers :cool:

You want something simple and LOUD ?

Either you purchase big tower speakers, or mid sized speakers with a powerful amp.
The size/power will also depend of your room size and listening distance.

That's for the "Loud" part. No miracle. Good speakers, big enough, with powerful amplification.
(Don't let yourself be fooled by small speakers. They can be excellent. But not loud.)

There are plenty of choices, of course.
If you're not happy with your current speakers start from the "recommended" list here or somewhere where similarly detailed measurements are used as base for recommendations, make your short list, and go to a shop where you'll be able to listen to some of your favorite music (in mono), compare and decide.

For best experience, you should EQ your speakers to tune them to your room.

For the rest, it depends how you want to consume your music.
What are your sources ?
Streamed music ? A huge vinyl collection ? CDs ?
Do you want TV or home cinema as well ? Do you want multi room ?

Personnaly, I favor streaming (Qobuz), I ripped all my CDs and old DATs, and my vynils don't leave the bookshelf. I also like multiroom and the TV.

Those choices of sources and DAC are mostly driven by functionalities.
Room correction, parametric EQ, Bass/Trebble are all useful functionalities.
"Sound quality", for this type of equipment, has mostly become a marketing legend, nowadays.
As long as your streaming source is CD quality and you avoid Bluetooth...
Amazing, Thankyou. All great great info.
What is parametric EQ , just setting the equalizer ?
 

sergeauckland

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Amazing, Thankyou. All great great info.
What is parametric EQ , just setting the equalizer ?
There are essentially two types of equalisers. Parametric and graphic. Parametric is so-called because one sets the parameters, such as centre frequency, cut or boost in dBs, width of effect (also called Q). Most PEQs only have a limited number of equalisers (typically something like 5 or 6) that can be set to different parameters.
A graphic equaliser, as it's name suggests, looks like a graph of the frequency response required. I has a number (say 31) bands of boost or cut, originally each on a manual slider control, now tends to be on a screen, software controlled. Each type of equaliser has benefits, the PEQ more for permanent settings, the GEQ more for setting on the fly.

S
 

Doodski

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I suggest a JDS Labs Atom DAC+. It tested well here at ASR, it has 5 minute auto power OFF and auto power ON and is small and easily hidden if wanted and only costs $109. It's all you need. No LED, OLED display required because it does everything automatically.
 

JeremyFife

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Welcome :) it's nice to feel young on these forums ('64!)

I was in a similar position to you - coming back into hi-fi with an analogue head. Lots to learn, if you want, and lots you can just enjoy simply and cheaply. Hi-fi is so much better now!

I'd say the first thing to do is to relax, there's no right answer and it is really easy to make good choices. If you want a deep understanding of all this then this is a brilliant site, but the subject takes time.

I've found that there are two distinct areas; the kit you buy and the adjustments you make.

The kit is the easy bit; look at the Review Index.
Electronics are a solved problem - any Streamer, DAC and Amp you see with good reviews will work beautifully; they just have different features. That's true at pretty much any price point. Turntables (and phono stages) generate huge debate :) but we're more familiar with them, so just go with what you know. Any digital source (like a streamer, or PC or phone) needs a DAC, and may already have a good enough one built in. $200-$300 gets a great one (but you won't hear the difference)

Speakers are more variable and there is more personal choice involved and more dependency on how loud you want them to go in what size of room. Loads of advice here if you just tell us what you are looking for. Again, look at the Review Index for Speakers that measure well. There are pros/cons on Passive (Speakers with external Amp) vs Active (Amps built in) but good speakers are good speakers ...

Making adjustments: Taking measurements, applying EQ, getting tools to do that for you (DIRAC) and treating your room - these are all the bits that were new to me (and still are). You can do this afterwards though, if you want to. This is the bit that elevates cheap kit to amazing sound - or that takes the very best kit and ruins it's potential

Keep asking, and enjoy the music :)
 

Rja4000

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Amazing, Thankyou. All great great info.
What is parametric EQ , just setting the equalizer ?
Parametric EQ is an EQ where, for each frequency band, you may chose gain (+/-), center frequency and correction width (which varies as reverse function of "Q" factor).
Some DAC allow multi band parametric EQ in hardware (the most known is the non-inexpensive but state of the art RME ADI-2 DAC).
 
OP
Anynameyouwish
Joined
Nov 3, 2022
Messages
18
Likes
14
Location
Gloucester UK
Welcome :) it's nice to feel young on these forums ('64!)

I was in a similar position to you - coming back into hi-fi with an analogue head. Lots to learn, if you want, and lots you can just enjoy simply and cheaply. Hi-fi is so much better now!

I'd say the first thing to do is to relax, there's no right answer and it is really easy to make good choices. If you want a deep understanding of all this then this is a brilliant site, but the subject takes time.

I've found that there are two distinct areas; the kit you buy and the adjustments you make.

The kit is the easy bit; look at the Review Index.
Electronics are a solved problem - any Streamer, DAC and Amp you see with good reviews will work beautifully; they just have different features. That's true at pretty much any price point. Turntables (and phono stages) generate huge debate :) but we're more familiar with them, so just go with what you know. Any digital source (like a streamer, or PC or phone) needs a DAC, and may already have a good enough one built in. $200-$300 gets a great one (but you won't hear the difference)

Speakers are more variable and there is more personal choice involved and more dependency on how loud you want them to go in what size of room. Loads of advice here if you just tell us what you are looking for. Again, look at the Review Index for Speakers that measure well. There are pros/cons on Passive (Speakers with external Amp) vs Active (Amps built in) but good speakers are good speakers ...

Making adjustments: Taking measurements, applying EQ, getting tools to do that for you (DIRAC) and treating your room - these are all the bits that were new to me (and still are). You can do this afterwards though, if you want to. This is the bit that elevates cheap kit to amazing sound - or that takes the very best kit and ruins it's potential

Keep asking, and enjoy the music :)
You’re a great listener ! Thankyou Jeremy.
 
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