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Wanted...Help, guidance, a guru

Eidie

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I started my journey with a NAD 3020e, Wharfedale Diamonds and a Dual turntable.
The vageries of life have left me with a Denon AVR fed by an ipad via analogue. This is not acceptable.

I have been lurking here for a few months & have been impressed with the knowledge, empiricism and cordiality.

So please help....

I wish to compile my last system. I have a neurological disorder which means I will never work again (I’m 50). I have had to sell my house and from the proceeds I have a budget of $11k au ($9k us ish). I live in rural Tasmania, a state with one Hi-Fi shop, where they are very helpful but “have never heard a Class D amp we like”, so auditioning is not an option.

Imagine you were in my place. What would you do? My thinking....

March Audio p451 or p452 amplification (depending on rest of system cost). Open to other suggestions (I am attracted to the Orchard Starkrimson) but a local supplier and I like Alan’s attitude.

Kef R3 speakers (a compromise, my current living space really needs floorstanders but I’m likely to end up in supported living before too long so smaller speakers are wiser). Currently have Krix KDX. Fine speakers that have served me well but a bit anaemic.

I cannot settle on a DAC. Bearing in mind this is to be the last.

Until last weekend I was looking at MQA dacs. I wasn’t happy with this! but it was the only way I could get hi-rez(ish). Qubuz is now available in Oz. Yay! So a non-MQA DAC....

An Okto DAC8 stereo ticks all the boxes but.....cost, lead time (I may not be able to work it by the time it arrives, early 2025).
A RME ADI-2 DAC fs, attractive, but limited inputs (if the budget will stretch a cd-transport is on the cards. A Nuprime CDT-8 so AES would be good) and the Pro version is too rich for my budget.
Minidsp SHD, fantastic features, very useful room correction but expensive (in Aus) & performance bettered.
Finally....Topping D90 non-MQA. Exemplary performance but would likely need a pre/headphone amp (question to follow).

I have a large collection of ripped cds. Does a digitally implemented volume control degrade the SQ of a 16-44.1 file more than a hi-res file?

I am open to the idea of keeping the speakers (with a March p252) & investing in some quality headphones (Focal Clears maybe) and an appropriate headphone amp. Can one use XLR doublers on the output of the DAC to feed this and the speaker amp?

So, please help me put together the last system, save me from drowning in choice.

Many, many thanks. I’m glad I found you!

Edit: My current space is large: 40m2, 2.5 to 3.5m ceilings. With my entire life is in it (kitchen, bed, dog). Seperates are attractive should something fail. I may be able to repair/replace. I have no income, longevity is important.
 
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JamesYeomans

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Welcome! :)
Just want to point out that you really don't need to spend that much on a DAC, unless you specifically need extra features they might offer.
I have a Topping D90 (needed the XLR outs), 2 x Topping D50s, a Soncoz SGD1 (needed the XLR outs, the extra USB input and the SPDIF output to feed my Genelec Ones) and a Tempotec Sonata HD Pro. They all sound the same to me i.e. superbly transparent.

Room correction can be done for free (with REW) if you get a measurement mic and put the time in to research it, or you can buy something like this (you'll still need the measurement mic): Home - Dirac. Both of these solutions will work fine a with a cheap DAC like this one Topping E30 DAC Review | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum (though you may want to consider a DAC with XLR outs, to avoid potential ground loops if using with PCs, though I've never run into that yet & use PCs all around my house) via a PC/Mac.

No, with a modern DAC like those mentioned above, the volume control will not impact SQ. Though worth noting, the lower the volume the closer you get to the noise floor. Only likely a problem with very sensitive IEMs
 
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Eidie

Eidie

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Welcome! :)
Just want to point out that you really don't need to spend that much on a DAC, unless you specifically need extra features they might offer.
I have a Topping D90 (needed the XLR outs), 2 x Topping D50s, a Soncoz SGD1 (needed the XLR outs, the extra USB input and the SPDIF output to feed my Genelec Ones) and a Tempotec Sonata HD Pro. They all sound the same to me i.e. superbly transparent.

Room correction can be done for free (with REW) if you get a measurement mic and put the time in to research it, or you can buy something like this (you'll still need the measurement mic): Home - Dirac. Both of these solutions will work fine a with a cheap DAC like this one Topping E30 DAC Review | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum (though you may want to consider a DAC with XLR outs, to avoid potential ground loops if using with PCs, though I've never run into that yet & use PCs all around my house) via a PC/Mac.

No, with a modern DAC like those mentioned above, the volume control will not impact SQ. Though worth noting, the lower the volume the closer you get to the noise floor. Only likely a problem with very sensitive IEMs
Thank you James! I have looked at Dirac. I’ll be using a Lenovo i3 ultrabook to supply the stream and have been concerned that it will not have enough power to run a Dirac VST plugin (probably in Audiovana). Really want to stay with balanced. My increasing decrepitude means having all control within arms-length, and the amps distant.

Would love to hear your thoughts regarding processor power required for playback software with plugins.
 

Vict0r

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We're gonna help you out, I'm sure! Your budget allows for stellar sound, even out there in the Australian wasteland. ;)

Have you considered the following, for the ultimate bang for your buck digital rig?

- Motu M4 Balanced USB DAC with XLR out
- Genelec 8340A SAM active monitors (these have built-in room correction, no Dirac necessary)

The Motu M4 allows for XLR out with volume control to your active monitors, as well as another line out signal to a headphone amp.

This rig will leave enough in the budget for an excellent headphone amp (Objective2, Atom, L30) and a headphone of your choosing. Hell, if you shop smart you probably have enough left for a cd transport (I use an old Sony BDP-S370 bluray/SACD player that has optical out to my PC. Don't need the transport itself to sound good when you can extract a digital signal from it), and perhaps a faster laptop as well. :)
 
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Eidie

Eidie

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Well...

Drowning out the Kookaburras takes some doing. And the Tazzy Devils (the screams! They haunt you!).

I hear where you are coming from.

Thank you Victor.

My current space is big. 40m2 with 2.5m to 3.5m ceilings. I’d thought studio monitors would struggle. Happy to be corrected.
 

Katji

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Active speakers, with integrated DSP. Like small Genelec.
Simplify.
Just sort out how to manage USB cable from laptop or phone. (If the laptop is for general purposes /browsing at the same time, and it moves between couch and bed. (My only hassle.)


My current space is big. 40m2 with 2.5m to 3.5m ceilings. I’d thought studio monitors would struggle. Happy to be corrected.
That's quite big. But...
 
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Purité Audio

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Noam Chomsky, as the other posters have stated, digital is done, loudspeakers and their interaction with the room are where the major gains are to be found.
Keith
 
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Eidie

Eidie

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A pair of the Genelec 8430As at the end of the earth are $5300 with GLM. If they can Bang! a great suggestion. I will investigate.
 

Vict0r

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Does that output DSD over optcal out when you play SACD?
My Pioneer DV-565A doesn't do that. :(

No, DSD gets converted to PCM when you take the optical signal. Its HDMI port does send out DSD, though. I personally don't care, since I only use it to listen to regular CDs. I don't own a single SACD. :)
 

JRS

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Noam Chomsky, as the other posters have stated, digital is done, loudspeakers and their interaction with the room are where the major gains are to be found.
Keith
No kidding--Noam said that. I agree with many, if not most of his observations, but had no idea he was an audiophile. For sure he nailed that.
 

DanielT

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Currently have Krix KDX. Fine speakers that have served me well but a bit anaemic.
If you like them then maybe a complement of subwoofer is a way forward?:)

I just like a lot of bass when I listen to music, hence my suggestion for sub. I would have thought of that if I were in your shoes. With that said, it is not certain that you would think that a sub is a sensible investment.

What kind of music do you listen to?

Please note I am not a guru. I just could not help but write in your thread.:)
 
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