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What system would you build if you started from scratch?

streamophile

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Oct 7, 2023
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I've recently had the ASR-aided realisation that I would be better off if I sold my current system and started from scratch. I think I'll keep my Chromecast audio, but essentially I am in the process of getting some money from my Linn system and starting anew.

So, I wanted to start a thread to get some different ideas and opinions about what you would do if you were in my position.

Main considerations:
  • Use: All-digital system (streaming and TV functions)
  • Room: medium to small at ~2m distance (no acoustic treatment)
  • Budget: 1000 - 2000€
  • Second hand gear is perfectly fine
Considering the above and after some reading I was thinking of getting the following (pricing in € converted from Swedish krona):
  • Measurement mic: Umik-1 (110€)
  • DAC: Topping E50 or SMSL D-6s (150€ - 250€)
  • Active speakers: Genelec 8040 or 8030 (second hand: 600€ - 750€)
This would be the basic setup, which on the upper bracket sums up to around 1100€. This allows me some extra room for improvement after getting the above: If I can't get good measurements out of the system (I may have bad bass etc.) that if difficult to fix with only the bass control on the back of the Genelec and speaker placement, I think I will change the DAC for a minidsp Flex which provides DAC + DSP (~600€). After this, I'd go for a sub, but I have not researched that yet.

So, what are your thoughts? What would you do?
 
What source are you going to use? If you are using a PC, you can run DSP on it to fix your bass. This can be done at minimal cost, or even free (REW + Rephase + Foobar).
 
If you are doing TV, how are you decoding? Going toslink or something?

If you have an AVR with room correction, it will give you things like streaming and BT and HDMI eARC (so you only have one remote for everything). Most have pretty good PRE OUT for going to active speakers.

You could also consider the G2 or G3 or G4, which lose some of the advanced inputs but are less expensive with pretty much the same sound.

You should add a sub or two. Using an AVR decoder would help with subs too.

Otherwise, a minidsp Flex HT (which has HDMI eARC) instead of the Topping.

EDIT: The Flex HT is new and maybe not available yet? Also, it does not do dolby decoding, so your TV would need to output linear audio over HDMI. Would depend on your TV version.
 
@streamophile Perhaps consider a WiiM Pro Plus with Genelec's G One/Two/Three.

Disadvantages would be RCA single-ended output, no automatic EQ (Dirac etc.), and only four band Parametric EQ.

Advantage would be a very cost-effective streamer/DAC/EQ solution, leaving enough of your budget for two subwoofers for smoother bass response.
 
What source are you going to use? If you are using a PC, you can run DSP on it to fix your bass. This can be done at minimal cost, or even free (REW + Rephase + Foobar).
Hi! I will stream to CCA via Spotify/Tidal/Apple Music etc and use a TV via toslink/optical. Using a laptop is very impractical in my setting. I can do this initially as a "test" for DSP but would not be my final solution
 
If you are doing TV, how are you decoding? Going toslink or something?

If you have an AVR with room correction, it will give you things like streaming and BT and HDMI eARC (so you only have one remote for everything). Most have pretty good PRE OUT for going to active speakers.

You could also consider the G2 or G3 or G4, which lose some of the advanced inputs but are less expensive with pretty much the same sound.

You should add a sub or two. Using an AVR decoder would help with subs too.

Otherwise, a minidsp Flex HT (which has HDMI eARC) instead of the Topping.

EDIT: The Flex HT is new and maybe not available yet? Also, it does not do dolby decoding, so your TV would need to output linear audio over HDMI. Would depend on your TV version.
I have no AVR, I'm starting from scratch system wise. TV out would be digital, yes. I'm also considering the G models but they are more expensive, not less than their 80x0 counterparts, at least here. I think the flex HT is considerably more expensive than the base model and I don't see much benefit for my case.
 
@streamophile Perhaps consider a WiiM Pro Plus with Genelec's G One/Two/Three.

Disadvantages would be RCA single-ended output, no automatic EQ (Dirac etc.), and only four band Parametric EQ.

Advantage would be a very cost-effective streamer/DAC/EQ solution, leaving enough of your budget for two subwoofers for smoother bass response.
Interesting! So also sell the CCA and ditch the minidsp Flex and get only the WiiM Pro Plus.

Two questions:
1) Would you also include a DAC to combine streamer and TV digital out? If not how would that be integrated in to the system?
2) Why do you recommend the Gs vs the 80x0 series?
 
I have no AVR, I'm starting from scratch system wise. TV out would be digital, yes. I'm also considering the G models but they are more expensive, not less than their 80x0 counterparts, at least here. I think the flex HT is considerably more expensive than the base model and I don't see much benefit for my case.

The advantage of eARC vs TOSLINK is you get integrated control. The TV remote will control the eARC system. It should be controlling the volume in the Flex, not the TV, so the audio signal is still 0 dBF out the HDMI regardless of volume, so the flex has a full range signal to DSP.

If you are going to do toslink out, you could consider a DDRC24, which would give you 2x4 for a 2.2 system and control the volume and input from the TV. This is assumin you can stream to your TV? Not sure what model you have.
 
Subwoofers with diy monitor:

Bliesma t-25b
Bliesma m74b
Purifi PPT 6,5 inch woofer

Powered by a hypex fa253.
 
The advantage of eARC vs TOSLINK is you get integrated control. The TV remote will control the eARC system. It should be controlling the volume in the Flex, not the TV, so the audio signal is still 0 dBF out the HDMI regardless of volume, so the flex has a full range signal to DSP.

If you are going to do toslink out, you could consider a DDRC24, which would give you 2x4 for a 2.2 system and control the volume and input from the TV. This is assumin you can stream to your TV? Not sure what model you have.
I did not get the audio reason, but the "one less remote" argument is not all that appealing tbh.

Sony X90J but I would use the TV for movies and series so audio there is less important and then I'd have a dedicated audio streamer. Here I'm assuming that the TV is not a good stramer and that I'm gaining something with the separate CCA/WiiM, but maybe I'm wrong?
 
I am not sure what the audio quality difference is between a Wiim Pro (for example) and the X90J. I would suspect not much audible difference, but I've never measured it.

I suspect what @staticV3 suggested of TV -> Wiim Pro -> Genelec is a clean and cost effective solution if you are OK using mic + REW to make your own EQ.

Here's another option. If you convert the TV's digital out to AES XLR (a toslink to spidf converter, plus a cable), you could ditch the DAC entirely and feed the Genelec 8330 right from the TV. These also include the Genelec SAM DSP correction. The speakers are more expensive, but you do not need to buy a DAC. I'm not sure this saves $, but it loses a box. Or if you do use a Wiim Pro, it has coax out that could drive the 8330 with digital in rather than analog and use the SAM room correction. I'm not sure how the price difference of 8330 + SAM vs 8030 + Flex works out.
 
1) Would you also include a DAC to combine streamer and TV digital out? If not how would that be integrated in to the system?
The WiiM Pro Plus is a DAC with Toslink In, a DSP, and a streamer all in one.
2) Why do you recommend the Gs vs the 80x0 series?
They have RCA input to match the WiiM's RCA output. That's the only reason.

If you end up with a DAC with Differential output, then the 80x0 series would be a better choice.
 
The WiiM Pro Plus is a DAC with Toslink In, a DSP, and a streamer all in one.

They have RCA input to match the WiiM's RCA output. That's the only reason.

If you end up with a DAC with Differential output, then the 80x0 series would be a better choice.
In a quick search I've seen some reports of issues with distortion in the WiiM's DSP at high amplitudes. Is this a thing?

Not sure what you mean by differential output. Do you mean balanced outputs instead of RCA? If that is the case wouldn't RCA to XLR work to connect the WiiM and the Genelec 80x0.

And while I have your attention, how would you go about deciding the x in the 80x0. SLP, bass extension, something else?
 
Could you provide a link to the DSP distortion issue?

Yes, differential ouptut = balanced XLR. RCA to XLR cables would only provide 1/2 the voltage and would not solve ground loop or interference issues (if you have any). Active RCA to XLR or transformer adapters would. That said, it's perfectly OK to use an RCA to XLR cable to drive balanced input, as long as you don't need the noise immunity.

You should look at how far away you sit from the speakers and what SPL loudness you want at that location. None of them will have enough bass extension to not get a sub, and once you have a sub, most any of them would be OK in terms of bass. If you are going to try and go without a sub, then you likely want the largest you can afford. But one or two subs is usually more economical than trying to get HT bass from a non-sub.

One thing to consider is the Wiim Pro only has R+L output, not a sub out. This means you will need to use Y cables between the sub and the speakers (or daisy chain them). So, the Genelecs will get the full range signal. You want to get large enough ones that can handle the bass with a nice roll off.

The 8030C, for example, has a very nice roll off at about 60 Hz. There do not seem to be any issues with LF resonances, though the LF distortion gets rather large at 96 dB SPL. You'd likely want to cross this over at a higher frequency if you want to go to very high volume.



Screenshot 2023-10-27 at 6.51.44 PM.png



If you look at the 8050, you see it does much better controlling distortion at 96 dB down to maybe 80 Hz.


Screenshot 2023-10-27 at 6.55.22 PM.png


This all gets back to the question, how far away do you sit and how loud do you want to listen and what subs do you have. If you cross the 8030 at say 120 Hz, it will likely do very well even at high volume.
 
Could you provide a link to the DSP distortion issue?

Yes, differential ouptut = balanced XLR. RCA to XLR cables would only provide 1/2 the voltage and would not solve ground loop or interference issues (if you have any). Active RCA to XLR or transformer adapters would. That said, it's perfectly OK to use an RCA to XLR cable to drive balanced input, as long as you don't need the noise immunity.

You should look at how far away you sit from the speakers and what SPL loudness you want at that location. None of them will have enough bass extension to not get a sub, and once you have a sub, most any of them would be OK in terms of bass. If you are going to try and go without a sub, then you likely want the largest you can afford. But one or two subs is usually more economical than trying to get HT bass from a non-sub.

One thing to consider is the Wiim Pro only has R+L output, not a sub out. This means you will need to use Y cables between the sub and the speakers (or daisy chain them). So, the Genelecs will get the full range signal. You want to get large enough ones that can handle the bass with a nice roll off.

The 8030C, for example, has a very nice roll off at about 60 Hz. There do not seem to be any issues with LF resonances, though the LF distortion gets rather large at 96 dB SPL. You'd likely want to cross this over at a higher frequency if you want to go to very high volume.



View attachment 321663


If you look at the 8050, you see it does much better controlling distortion at 96 dB down to maybe 80 Hz.


View attachment 321666

This all gets back to the question, how far away do you sit and how loud do you want to listen and what subs do you have. If you cross the 8030 at say 120 Hz, it will likely do very well even at high volume.
Sorry for the late reply!

Regarding listening position and volume, it is very manageable for the 8030s in my situation. My wife HATES anything above 80 dB, and that has kind of influenced me so I rarely go 85 dB. They will be placed on either side of a TV in a small living room at a distance of at most 2m to the listening position.

It is my intention to get a sub, but in time. So indeed the WiiM Pro Plus would be a problem with the lack of sub outs. It seems that the only route is minidsp flex balanced once I have some money, which would then nicely segway into a sub as it is easy to integrate with the DSP capabilities. But price is keeping me from going there just yet. A DAC as a preamp and fiddling with positioning seems the only budget option at this time.
 
I've recently had the ASR-aided realisation that I would be better off if I sold my current system and started from scratch. I think I'll keep my Chromecast audio, but essentially I am in the process of getting some money from my Linn system and starting anew.

So, I wanted to start a thread to get some different ideas and opinions about what you would do if you were in my position.

Main considerations:
  • Use: All-digital system (streaming and TV functions)
  • Room: medium to small at ~2m distance (no acoustic treatment)
  • Budget: 1000 - 2000€
  • Second hand gear is perfectly fine
Considering the above and after some reading I was thinking of getting the following (pricing in € converted from Swedish krona):
  • Measurement mic: Umik-1 (110€)
  • DAC: Topping E50 or SMSL D-6s (150€ - 250€)
  • Active speakers: Genelec 8040 or 8030 (second hand: 600€ - 750€)
This would be the basic setup, which on the upper bracket sums up to around 1100€. This allows me some extra room for improvement after getting the above: If I can't get good measurements out of the system (I may have bad bass etc.) that if difficult to fix with only the bass control on the back of the Genelec and speaker placement, I think I will change the DAC for a minidsp Flex which provides DAC + DSP (~600€). After this, I'd go for a sub, but I have not researched that yet.

So, what are your thoughts? What would you do?
I think this is a pretty good build for the budget. I have a similar budget for a desktop system (once I sell a few pieces of the old system) and landed on the 8030c myself. I think at 2m distance the 8040 is also a valid choice.

You will probably want subs, so leaving a few €€ to spare makes sense here.

You can do DSP cheaper than with the MiniDSP for a setup like this, however. CamillaDSP on RPi or even an entire mini-PC can do it for less, which leaves money for the 2nd sub.

Personally I am using a DX5 lite for this setup, will be using USB in from the PC and optical in for a WiiM mini so I can use it as part of a whole-house setup, with XLR outs for the 8030s. I will probably just run EQ on the PC since it's desktop-oriented anyway.
 
I'd just buy a pair of Dutch and Dutch 8C's, a couple of SVS SB 2000's, and a way of crossing them over at around 100 hz, namely DLBC, on a fanless PC or Mac M1 mini and be done with it.
 
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