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Suggestions on Stereo Amplifier and Streamer for B&W 804s (8 Ohm) & Turntable Thorens TD2001?

SimonS

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Hi,
I'm new to this forum, so have mercy with me and please forgive any unqualified or imprecise statements.

After trying a NAD C399 on my fairly old HIFI system with a pair of B&W 804S (CD-player (Technics PG5), turntable Thorens TD2001 with Lehmann audio black cube statement phono pre) I was quite impressed by Class D performance in lower frequencies (high and medium frequencies were neutral and could be a bit warmer and lively in my eyes). I didn't like the C399 AptX bluetooth reception quality (below 2m and breaking up when device is moving) and HDMI Arc restrictions (old Apple TV didn't work) though. Further, the poor plastic and rubber quality of it's remote control was below my expectations. I'll send back the C399 since this does not fulfill all my requirements although sound is satisfying.
After this mixed experience I've had a good conversation with somebody from this forum who recommended to post my question(s) in hope to get some ideas from you.

One idea was getting a streamer with a build in pre (e.g. an Atoll MS120 or Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (not a real pre amp). The new pre should have at least two line in/inputs (one toslink/cinch for CD/Blu-ray and one line in for my phono pre/turntable). As an power amplifier the first idea is an AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC Power Amplifier Class D Stereo Ncore NC502MP on 8 Ohm.

question 1: What do you think about this combination of streamer/pre amp with the audiophonics amplifier für this setup of streamer, Turntable, Loudspeaker, 12-14m² sound optimized room with an open side to the dinner room? The b&w are currently leaking bass control and power and are too sharp in the higher frequencies in my ears.

question 2: Which streamer/pre-amp would you recommend? I'd like to stream in good quality (Tidal / Spotify / Internet radio) and also connect my TV to it (chromecast, HDMI or HDMI Arc).

My budget is around 2k€ all in. Thanks for any hints and open for questions.
Thanks,
Simon
 

JeremyFife

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Hi, and welcome :)
Lots of great advice and help here - also some confusing diversions and distractions and too much choice. Bear with us.

It's probably worth trying to clarify what you are looking for ... why a combined unit? (neatness? nothing wrong with that).

Getting an analogue input on a DAC is the tricky part
One thought is the miniDSP Flex (single ended or balanced to match your power amp) ... plus a separate streamer like one of the WiiM units - even a mini is great.

Or something like the Eversolo DMP-A6 (Streamer/Dac) into a simple pre-amp ... some nice Schiit units, or Topping Pre90 measures well. You'd route your CD into the Eversolo, and both the Eversolo and the TT separately into the pre-amp (kind of two pre-amps, but it would be fine)

Alternatively, a decent Integrated amp with a DAC and a Pre-Out would do but you'd waste all that power circuitry.

Have a think and others may chime in too

Enjoy :)
 
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SimonS

SimonS

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Thanks for your opinion JeremyFife,
Not necessarily a combined unit I'm looking for, but indeed one that doesn't create ugly living rooms my wife would hate ;)

I like it clean and well sorted (which is currently not the case. The testing environment on the pic is definitely not a long term solution but gives a glimpse of the circumstances I'm in (small room, closer to walls).

Could you please share what specific advantages the Eversolo has over the Atoll MS120? It would be helpful to understand what sets them apart in terms of performance and features. I was testing the Lehmann audio statement phono pre with the atoll line in and then finally plugging this to line in of the ncore power amplifier (in this case it was the NAD c399, which meant two pre amplifiers, which is off course not optimal).

And would you also agree with the power amplifier or recommend something else?

Cheers
 

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JeremyFife

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Thanks for your opinion JeremyFife,
Not necessarily a combined unit I'm looking for, but indeed one that doesn't create ugly living rooms my wife would hate ;)

I like it clean and well sorted (which is currently not the case. The testing environment on the pic is definitely not a long term solution but gives a glimpse of the circumstances I'm in (small room, closer to walls).

Could you please share what specific advantages the Eversolo has over the Atoll MS120? It would be helpful to understand what sets them apart in terms of performance and features. I was testing the Lehmann audio statement phono pre with the atoll line in and then finally plugging this to line in of the ncore power amplifier (in this case it was the NAD c399, which meant two pre amplifiers, which is off course not optimal).

And would you also agree with the power amplifier or recommend something else?

Cheers
Hi, I don't know the Atoll so can't properly comment: the Eversolo has been reviewed here and found to measure very well so it's a known item. Without measurements it's hard to compare.
Perhaps someone else here has experience?

I hear you on the aesthetics, you have to be happy with that.

Power amp - absolutely, that's a good choice :)
 

JSmith

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Sorry, but I don't trust them after this... YMMV;


JSmith
 

JeremyFife

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Sorry, but I don't trust them after this... YMMV;


JSmith
Beat me to it, @VintageFlanker reviews are thorough and this raises real concerns
 
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SimonS

SimonS

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Wow JSmith and JeremyFife, this is quite concerning indeed. I liked the display, the design & touch overall, the remote control, the sound was also ok with CD & its internal DAC (putting aside a high-pitched beep in the standby mode). And now this devastating news. :eek: I guess Atoll is dead for me now.

JeremyFife mentioned the EVERSOLO DMP-A6 Streamer in combination with Schiit units, or Topping Pre90 into a pre-amp, which would probably exceed the budget of 2k€ (considering the power amplifier AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC, which sounds like a value for money giant). I do like the VU Meters and look of it, maybe you know streamers + pre amplifiers / DACs which cover my needs and fit into the budget?

I will mostly listen spotify/tidal, LP, CD and internet radio. a connection to my TV is also needed. So in total 1 analog and minimum 2 digital line ins needed.
Cheers, Simon
 
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JeremyFife

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Wow JSmith and JeremyFife, this is quite concerning indeed. I liked the display, the design & touch overall, the remote control, the sound was also ok with CD & its internal DAC (putting aside a high-pitched beep in the standby mode). And now this devastating news. :eek: I guess Atoll is dead for me now.

JeremyFife mentioned the EVERSOLO DMP-A6 Streamer in combination with Schiit units, or Topping Pre90 into a pre-amp, which would probably exceed the budget of 2k€ (considering the power amplifier AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC, which sounds like a value for money giant). I do like the VU Meters and look of it, maybe you know streamers + pre amplifiers / DACs which cover my needs and fit into the budget?

I will mostly listen spotify/tidal, LP, CD and internet radio. a connection to my TV is also needed. So in total 1 analog and minimum 2 digital line ins needed.
Cheers, Simon
It's what this site is brilliant for - use of measurements to filter out marketing claims from reality. And the huge number of genuine experts on here (and interested lay folk, like me)

The thing that is causing you difficulty is looking for a streaming preamp with a DAC and analogue input. That's a lot of stuff.

If you can accept a separate streamer then you have more choice. If you can accept separate streamer, DAC and pre-amp then it's even easier. VU meters are a complication... but there should be something out there.
My money (my personal choice) would go on a WiiM Pro streamer (£150 GPB ) and look for the pre/DAC that works for you
 
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SimonS

SimonS

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Hey JeremyFife,
Forget the VU meters if that's limiting us. I could live with many small devices as long as most of them are somewhere behind the curtains/hidden in the shelf ;)

I'll have a look on the Wiim pro (is the Mini worth a try as well?)

Any recommendation on pre/dac?
Cheers, Simon
 

EdW

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Hi,
I'm new to this forum, so have mercy with me and please forgive any unqualified or imprecise statements.

After trying a NAD C399 on my fairly old HIFI system with a pair of B&W 804S (CD-player (Technics PG5), turntable Thorens TD2001 with Lehmann audio black cube statement phono pre) I was quite impressed by Class D performance in lower frequencies (high and medium frequencies were neutral and could be a bit warmer and lively in my eyes). I didn't like the C399 AptX bluetooth reception quality (below 2m and breaking up when device is moving) and HDMI Arc restrictions (old Apple TV didn't work) though. Further, the poor plastic and rubber quality of it's remote control was below my expectations. I'll send back the C399 since this does not fulfill all my requirements although sound is satisfying.
After this mixed experience I've had a good conversation with somebody from this forum who recommended to post my question(s) in hope to get some ideas from you.

One idea was getting a streamer with a build in pre (e.g. an Atoll MS120 or Cambridge Audio CXN V2 (not a real pre amp). The new pre should have at least two line in/inputs (one toslink/cinch for CD/Blu-ray and one line in for my phono pre/turntable). As an power amplifier the first idea is an AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC Power Amplifier Class D Stereo Ncore NC502MP on 8 Ohm.

question 1: What do you think about this combination of streamer/pre amp with the audiophonics amplifier für this setup of streamer, Turntable, Loudspeaker, 12-14m² sound optimized room with an open side to the dinner room? The b&w are currently leaking bass control and power and are too sharp in the higher frequencies in my ears.

question 2: Which streamer/pre-amp would you recommend? I'd like to stream in good quality (Tidal / Spotify / Internet radio) and also connect my TV to it (chromecast, HDMI or HDMI Arc).

My budget is around 2k€ all in. Thanks for any hints and open for questions.
Thanks,
Simon
Be careful about the 8 Ohm nominal rating of the B&W 804s. At low/mod frequencies - where all the audio power is concentrated in nearly all music, the impedance may well fall below 4 Ohms. I can’t find any test reviews to confirm this but you may wish to check this out.
Most recent amplifiers can drive 4 Ohms and a reasonable quick confirmation in the specification would be that the power delivery into 4 Ohms would be substantially greater than into 8 Ohms, perhaps even approaching the theoretical ideal of 2X.
 

JeremyFife

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Hi Simon,
WiiM mini is brilliant - cheap, but it's a bit-perfect streamer with a good App and you just don't need more if you are using an external DAC.

Have you looked through the Review Index on this site? (search for recommended DACs in your price range) - aesthetics and feature set are very personal so I'm loth to recommend when I don't have actual experience. There are comprehensive measurements and far too many comments on all of these.

Having said that ( :) ) I use the miniDSP Flex (Balanced) for exactly the same use case as you - digital and analogue inputs, DAC is not SOTA but any improvement is simply not audible. Allows DSP/EQ and subwoofer integration too.

Oh, I assume your Power Amp will have Balanced inputs? Makes a difference in that you need balances out from your DAC/Pre ... otherwise make sure what you choose has single-ended output.

One interesting option, just noticed on the Review Index is https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...audio-mini-i-pro-3-review-streamer-dac.21797/
That might actually be all you need. Matrix Audio are generally very well made too. If it doesn't stream the sources you want then just add a WiiM anyway.

Good luck :)
 
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SimonS

SimonS

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Hey, thanks to you @EdW and @JeremyFife my learning curve keeps steep and steady (what exactly is a DAC, balanced vs. unbalanced and so forth) thanks :)

1) seperate mini streamer: I find the Wiim mini a good option, however I could not find a compatibility for Apple iOS, or? We do have an old Apple TV, but this would be yet another device I can't get rid off... if I could at least get one bit-perfect streamer for both this would be the solution. Especially for 100 EUR (the ASR measurements were helpful as well). Not sure if the pro is worth the 70 EUR extra?

2) On the DAC: Besides the fact that I'm still learning on the benefits of seperate DACs the miniDSP Flex sounds good. Matrix Audio Mini-i Pro 3 could potentially be THE solution for my pre-amp, 1 analog & 2 digital input, streamer & DAC desire. I guess it also handles as a normal pre-amp with its volume control to be directly connected to my future balanced power amplifier (I understand the AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC Power Amplifier is XLR balanced). And does it support Spotify now (during the review, it wasn't) or is the Wiim mini needed? Happy to deeper dive on this.

3) On the 8 Ohm speaker nominal rating: I could not find any more information on the rating in English. But maybe this test and its graphs give some insights?

1695207319592.png

Cheers
Simon
 

JeremyFife

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Hi, there's a lot to get your head around :)
I'm learning too, so please take that into account - be open to other opinions (as long as they can be backed up by some sort of evidence)

DAC: Digital to Analogue Converter ... does what it says (your amplifier needs an analogue input, so you need one). As long as the conversion is good - as measured here - then you don't need to worry much about this. Most DACs are technically competent, and the difference between a good one and a great one is interesting from an engineering point of view, but it's not audible (at all). Choose a good one and then look at the features.

Balanced ... too much here for me to try to explain (or to understand, frankly) :) Your preferred power amp has balanced inputs, so it makes sense to use a DAC/Streamer/Pre with a balanced output to match. Balanced outputs tend to be higher voltage, which your balanced inputs expect. Balanced connections handle electrical noise better - which matters in a pro audio environment with very long cables and loads of other gear everywhere, less so for home hifi.
The opposite of balanced - single ended - is just fine but take some proper advice if you are mixing components. I think you power amp also has single-ended inputs (RCA) so you honestly don't need to worry about this.
Loads to read on this site if you wand to gen up.

WiiM mini does support iOS. Only advantage (for me) of the Pro is that it now has "Parametric EQ (PEQ)" which you might find worthwhile later on if you get interested in adjustments and room correction. Again, big subject - Digital Signal Processing (DSP).
The advantage of the miniDSP Flex is that it has a massive DSP feature set - very powerful. You'd need a streamer, but the WiiM mini would be ideal/

The Matrix Audio does, however, look like a nice fit for you. There's a new version out Mini i-4 (and Mini i Pro 4) that do support Spotify btw.

That Amplifier should have no real-world problems with your speakers btw - but - there is something to consider;
Not sure if these are yours: https://www.stereophile.com/content/bowers-wilkins-diamond-series-804-d4-loudspeaker-measurements
(Stereophile measurements are good, the subjective reviews can be less so)
Some issues with Bass, and "excessive high frequencies"
Other people here are much more experienced with speakers than I am, have a read around and hopefully a few others will comment too.

Be aware that the things that affect your sound the most are;
Your room! (this is why you might want to get into DSP/EQ)
Your speakers
after that, electronics are so good now that there's really not much to say - they are not the problem. Anything you are considering above is just great.

Reading your "question 1" properly again, it is quite possible that the electronics won't change the issues you are hearing. It may be the way your speakers are interacting with your room, bringing out some problematic speaker characteristics.
It sounds as if your speakers have some issues anyway ... have you tried moving them around, rearranging furniture - moving them closer to or further away from walls etc?
Perhaps you should be changing your Speakers, before tweaking the electronics?
 
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SimonS

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Hey,
awesome crisp explanations! I agree with you on room and speakers (although the stereophile reviews are based on a later B&W model, which tends to have more issues with Bass and high frequencies. As long as the future solution sounds as good as the NAD C399 and solves the other issues I had with this amplifier I'm more than happy (which were: high and medium frequencies could be a bit warmer and lively in my eyes, AptX bluetooth reception quality (below 2m and breaking up when device is moving) and HDMI Arc restrictions (old Apple TV didn't work), poor plastic and rubber quality of it's remote control.

I have now ordered for testing:
1) Matrix Audio Pro 4
2) AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC Power Amplifier Class D

The only small (or big) disadvantage with the Matrix Audio Pro 4 might be the lack of a EQ (Dirac, Audyssey XT32 or Anthem). Would miniDSP SHD be the solution for this? Any other thoughts? I do like the "more" bass in my room as long as its under control (with the C399 it was).
Cheers
Simon
 

JeremyFife

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Sounds like a bloomin' marvellous system :)

Getting DSP into this is, of course, tricky :) Trouble is, you either need to add DSP between Source and DAC (not possible in an integrated solution like the Matrix Audio) or downstream ... if you add the miniDSP SHD, which is all digital, then you can't use your DAC and you'll need another one.

Options, as I see it (all keeping the Amp);
1. Matrix Audio - accept that you don't have EQ - or find an analogue EQ downstream
2. WiiM Pro (4-band PEQ, limited but functional) + Matrix Audio : i.e. only use the Matrix Audio as a DAC / pre-amp
3. WiiM Mini + miniDSP Flex
4. WiiM Mini + miniDSP SHD + DAC

You don't have to use a WiiM streamer, but it helps with the examples.

or ... you get an AVR which will give alternative room correction options, and include amplification (or just an AVR processor) ... getting complicated :)
I don't know enough about this to recommend anything, but there are options in the Review Index

Edit: apologies, I must have been thinking of a different miniDSP product: this https://audiosciencereview.com/foru...sp-shd-review-updated-dsp-dac-streamer.18681/ has a DAC and can stream Spotify (your preference?) ... This works with your Amp!
 
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JeremyFife

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3.B Wiim Mini + miniDSP Flex Digital + DAC
500USD Cheaper than 4.
Why Flex Digital+ DAC? Curious .
The balanced Flex has a great DAC (not SOTA sinad, but there's more to consider than that. Difference is inaudible)
 

Miniyouuuu

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By using separates you’ll be able to make improvements in the future. Otherwise you’ll get stuck with miniDSP internals.
Maybe reachable improvements are low, but is your choice.
 
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SimonS

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Soo,
Received both
1) Matrix Audio Pro 4 (850 Eur and received the package within 22h!!!)
2) AUDIOPHONICS LPA-S500NC Power Amplifier Class D (790 Eur from France)
and had a chance to compare them with my old Onkyo TX-NR818 av receiver and, as far as I remembered, with the NAD c399 (where my biggest points of criticism were: high and medium frequencies could be a bit warmer and lively in my eyes, AptX bluetooth reception quality (below 2m and breaking up when device is moving) and HDMI Arc restrictions (old Apple TV didn't work), poor plastic and rubber quality of it's remote control.


- Let's start with the remote control: small but fine, well made and with mobile phone app / touchscreen on the device for further settings OK for me.
- Reception via WiFi is integrated, so it's flawless.
- The connections are also top quality
- HDMI arc picks up everything that comes in.
- overall manufacturing quality was good (accept a small colour difference on the left side of the aluminium case
- sound: Since the c399 is already gone, I couldn't make a direct comparison of the sound. But from memory, the current setup sounds very similar in the analogue range. Can't really tell much difference here. Even compared to the Onkyo, the difference is not huge. Somewhat more authentic, linear and crisp, treble is not as dominant as with the Onkyo, bass is where it should be, nice and narrow and dynamic.
It was exciting to hear digital vs. Onkyo and in my opinion also against the NAD: the CDs sound wonderfully resolved, voices are in the room, bass is even crisper and the stage is really great in a direct comparison. My wife first suggested that I had deliberately set something wrong with the Onkyo when we switched to this (direct mode w/o dirac). The DAC is really amazing!

Although the lack of a EQ (Dirac, Audyssey XT32 or Anthem) might limit my options in the future (thanks Miniyouuu and JeremyFife for listing options) I'll most probably keep both the matrix and audiophonics. If you have further budget options for integrating EQ let me know.

Cheers, Simon
 

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