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Versatile mini/desktop setup

Mar 2, 2021
Hej there,

looking for some advice on a new setup for a family member, where I'm struggling to find an appropriate combination.
Currently there is a 25 year old Yamaha integrated amp which is reaching its end of life plus two large speakers which are rather "bookshelf plus".

The plan is now to set the base for a futureproof/flexible setup, that can be extended (as listening preferences might change).
Strong requirement though is to start downsizing the whole system, so that it takes the lack of space into account. (Current speaker and amp were "donations").

What is not yet defined is, weather the future speakers will be active or passive. And also for the time until the decision, already the amp could be removed from the equation (and shelf-space).

Needed inputs:
- Turntable, currently with a Pro Ject Phono Preamp with RCA out
- Bluetooth, for streaming Tidal from Smartphone/Computer
- TV, likely TOSLINK
(- As a bonus: There is currently a small Airplay2 active speaker in the apartment. If that could be integrated for Multiroom purposes, it would be a plus.)

So a mix of digital, analogue and wireless inputs is required.

Ideas on possible solutions:
  • All in one setup, such as a Pro Ject MaiA S3. Lots of analoge and digital inputs, analogue output that could be used as a pre-out later, bluetooth and a power-amp.
    • Pro:
      • Everything in one device, Bluetooth aptX, PreOut for versatility
      • minimalist design
    • Con:
      • High level of integration -> Compromise/influence on sound quality?
      • Weak power amp would require a dedicated power-amp anyways
      • Slightly over the top end of the available budget (approx. 500 EUR)
  • Argon Audio SA1, similar to MaiA S3.
    • Pro:
      • A bargain for what it is
      • Possibly slightly more output power than the MaiA and therefore a better companion until speakers get replaced
    • Cons:
      • Possibly every component is of even lesser quality -> if you need to upgrade, you'll upgrade everything.
      • Unnecessary Phono Stage
  • Dedicated DAC with separate Power Amp
    • Pro:
      • Both components can be adapted/replaced separately, greater flexibility for scaling
    • Cons:
      • Potentially a bit more costly
      • Uncertain ways how to make that a successful combination (see Questions below)

For the third option I am looking for recommendations.
So with the DAC setup, there needs to be:
  • a DAC with a regular line-in that can be passed to the pre-out (for the phono-pre amp)
  • a dedicated bluetooth transmitter that feeds into the DAC (if the DAC has no dedicated pre-amp)
  • a phono stage which converts to digital which can be fed into the DAC then
  • the DAC has to have enough inputs to switch through and an easy to access volume control (sometimes a simple knob is to be preferred over a remote control)

I came also across the amps from Topping (i.e. MX5) and SMSL - but these would only work if I went for powered speakers (which then also need the necessary efficiency)
Gutfeeling is, that passive speakers are going to make the cut, as powered speakers in a realistic price range are probably not good enough (and also they'd need some additional input selection etc.)

Thanks for your recommendations!


Addicted to Fun and Learning
Jun 26, 2016
Here is another option: RME ADI-2:

- ADC with built-in RIAA equalization. You can sell your Pro-ject phono stage if you think this one is better.
- Digital inputs: TOSlink, USB, SPDIF, and XLR
- No Bluetooth, so you need an external Bluetooth receiver.

Simply output the analog signal from the ADI-2 to an active speaker of your choice. This is the simplest and most compact setup I can think of.

I don't know anything about Airplay or anything Apple, sorry.
Mar 2, 2021
Thank you for your input @Keith_W :)
The RME ADI-2 is on my watchlist for a year and I'd buy it in an instant if I was to upgrade my own system.

My brother unfortunately isn't ready for this amount of spending - and also I believe he wouldn't value the audiophile benefits and perks as much as I'd do.

So for him the 500 EUR are a rather hard limit, but i'd like to prevent him from just buying electronic waste
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