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Advise on Speakers primarily for Music

Mogami Cables

jagdish_p

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I need advise from the Gurus on my dilemma explained below.

My requirement: 70% music and 30% movies. Most of my music comes from MP3s. I like listening to old Telugu/ Hind songs. Indian instrumental - Tabla, Veena, Flute, Mrudangam etc.

Room Size: 20 Feet by 17 Feet.

I do not have a dedicated room for Home Theater and the system will be placed in the living room. I have auditioned a few Home theater systems Onkyos, Jamo 606 speaker system, Kef, Diamonds, and Mirage etc. Frankly I did not like the high Bass levels and the surround effects as much as I thought I would. Probably this was because of the confusion I had in setting out to choose an HT system with an intention of using it primarily for listening to Music.

My budget is approximately 1.2 Lac for the speakers and electronics with out the TV.

Here are the options I have zeroed in on:

1) Wharfedale diamond 9.6 - 5.1 (with a 150 W Sub) and Denon 1909 AVR. I want to have the HDMI up scaling feature of 1909 for whatever it is worth. I received a quote for Rs 1.18 Lacs in Hyderabad would welcome feed back on the pricing. The sound is good but I am not entirely satisfied.
2) I also heard the Mirage Omni T 550 towers and liked the sound. Quote was Rs40, 000. I understand that these are a discontinued series, hence my reluctance to buy them and preference for diamond 9.6. Could not make out which was better.
3) Monitor Audio Silver RS6 towers with Denon 1909 AVR. I guess I will have to buy only the Towers and be satisfied with a 2.0 set up to stay with in the budget. However would like to keep the 5.1 option for the future and hence the Denon AVR 1909. I have not been able to audition these speakers in Hyderabad as no one seems to be carrying them. Please let me know where? I chose these based purely on the net reviews where these speakers are highly recommended for music.

4) A third option could be to Junk the HT set up idea and go for a purely Audio stereo with an Amp. Not sure if this will help in sound quality for playing MP3s.http://www.hifivision.com/images/smilies/confused.gif


Please advice on the speaker set up and also a good DVD player which can be used for MP3 playback. If this is not an option please give CD player options.

Sorry for the long post. Thanks for your patience. God bless you all for the really informative threads you have created.
 

gopi

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Wharfedale 9.6 is on demo in Vector Systems Punjagutta and you will be surprised by the diff between Dali Ikon 6 and 9.6 when placed next to each other connected to the same electronics.
Monitor Audio RS6 should be on demo on Sound and Vision Begumpet. I have listened to that couple of months back there.
Mirage Omni is surprisingly available at Reliance Digital Banjara Hills.

As for 5.1 vs 2 channel, if music just stick to 2 channel. No Denon AVR, a good integerated amp and CD player.

Monitor Audio RS6 and Dali Ikon have raised their prices a lot.

But still this might be a very good combo - NAD or Marantz Amp for 30k, Marantz or Cambridge CD player for 20k, 70k for your floorstander.
I don;t think you would need a sub
 

venkatcr

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Jagdish:

I am a little concerned about your choice of sources and the equipment you are looking at. Let me take the liberty of giving you a completely fresh look at things.

At the outset you are looking to play only MP3 music. This is inherently defective in terms of delivering the full spectrum of music. Secondly you are looking at using a HT system which again is not very much suited to deliver good music.

I can understand that you may have a large collection of MP3 numbers, and it may be more convenient to use MP3 on a regular basis. So the immediate objective should be to optimise the playing of MP3 to the maximum extent possible.

If you are going to use a set of MP3 numbers, one of the first things you have to decide is how to play them. The concept of MP3 has become popular primarily because it allows you to move away from a CDP or a DVD Player. Using a MP3 player such as an iPOD you can get reasonably good music with out having to look for a CDP that can play MP3 or a DVD Player that can do the same. One of the most elegant solutions for this is to use a iPOD and connect it to an audio system using Wadia's iTransport.

Wadia Digital

The iTransport has been acknowledged to deliver digital data in it's purest form. At less than 15,000, the iTransport challenges some of the most expensive ways of delivering music in digital form. Connected to a multi channel amplifier that can decode digital signals, you have an excellent system on hand.

In terms of multi channel amplifiers or AVRs, for purely music reproduction, I would suggest you move away from the Denon and Onkyo's and look to AVRs from companies such as NAD or Cambridge Audio. Some of the models you can look for are NAD T744, NAD T755, or the Cambridge Audio Azur 540R. These amplifiers use excellent circuits as well as advanced DACs such as Crystal CS42518 and DSPs such as CS493263. These companies believe that music is more important and they have attempted to carry the designs of their acclaimed 2 channel amplifiers to the AVRs also.

Neither of these AVRs will upscale. But this is very easily solved by getting an inexpensive scaling DVD Player such as those from Samsung, Philips, or Pioneer. I have using Pioneer DVD Players for quite some time, and they have been giving me excellent service. There are a number of threads on DVD Players, and one that has been current for quite some time is http://www.hifivision.com/dvd-players-dvd-hard-disk-recorders/1692-best-dvd-player-iwth-usb.html

So for under 25,000 you have a very elegant way of playing both your MP3 and your movies DVDs. Add an AVR for roughly 50,000, and you will gave some excellent electronics at your service. Even if you buy CD, you can use free software such as EAC to rip them on your laptop or PC system into good MP3 using high bit rate. Budget something like 50,000 for speakers, and you are all set. If you are very particular about speakers, you can always look at a 2.0 or 2.1 system for now, and expand slowly over time.

Now to speakers. The choices are wide and varied. You will have a huge number of suggestions including Wharfedales, Mirage, AE, MA, Mission, Mordaunt Short. All I can say is listen to as many as you can, and decide to buy the speakers your ears like. There are a number of threads that discuss Speakers and I am sure you will find a lot of information there.

BTW, the Wadia iTransport is a very small unit. If you have someone returning from US or Europe, it is very easy to carry inside your suitcase.

Cheers
 

moktan

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Venkat is it possible to connect my ipod to the transport and then feed the digital output to my Nad C 325 BEE and get a significant gain in SQ..does an external DAC also need to figure somewhere in all this? Sorry OP hope you will indulge me this one query. Thanks for being around venkat.
 

moserw

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My requirement: 70% music and 30% movies. Most of my music comes from MP3s. I like listening to old Telugu/ Hind songs. Indian instrumental - Tabla, Veena, Flute, Mrudangam etc.

Looking at your content why not think of assembling a PC for music or if you already have a PC then upgrading it. This will allow the option of keeping all the mp3s on the HDD and having them handy. This will beat a CDP/MP3 player for ease of use any day.
 

jagdish_p

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Wharfedale 9.6 is on demo in Vector Systems Punjagutta and you will be surprised by the diff between Dali Ikon 6 and 9.6 when placed next to each other connected to the same electronics.
Monitor Audio RS6 should be on demo on Sound and Vision Begumpet. I have listened to that couple of months back there.
Mirage Omni is surprisingly available at Reliance Digital Banjara Hills.

As for 5.1 vs 2 channel, if music just stick to 2 channel. No Denon AVR, a good integerated amp and CD player.

Monitor Audio RS6 and Dali Ikon have raised their prices a lot.

But still this might be a very good combo - NAD or Marantz Amp for 30k, Marantz or Cambridge CD player for 20k, 70k for your floorstander.
I don;t think you would need a sub

Thanks Gopi. I think I will take your advice and buy either the RS6 or the Dali Ikon 6 towers.
Havent heard then till date. Do you have an indicative pricing? I received a quote of Rs 70 K for the RS6. No idea about the Dalis.
 

jagdish_p

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Jagdish:

I am a little concerned about your choice of sources and the equipment you are looking at. Let me take the liberty of giving you a completely fresh look at things.

At the outset you are looking to play only MP3 music. This is inherently defective in terms of delivering the full spectrum of music. Secondly you are looking at using a HT system which again is not very much suited to deliver good music.

I can understand that you may have a large collection of MP3 numbers, and it may be more convenient to use MP3 on a regular basis. So the immediate objective should be to optimise the playing of MP3 to the maximum extent possible.

If you are going to use a set of MP3 numbers, one of the first things you have to decide is how to play them. The concept of MP3 has become popular primarily because it allows you to move away from a CDP or a DVD Player. Using a MP3 player such as an iPOD you can get reasonably good music with out having to look for a CDP that can play MP3 or a DVD Player that can do the same. One of the most elegant solutions for this is to use a iPOD and connect it to an audio system using Wadia's iTransport.

Wadia Digital

The iTransport has been acknowledged to deliver digital data in it's purest form. At less than 15,000, the iTransport challenges some of the most expensive ways of delivering music in digital form. Connected to a multi channel amplifier that can decode digital signals, you have an excellent system on hand.

In terms of multi channel amplifiers or AVRs, for purely music reproduction, I would suggest you move away from the Denon and Onkyo's and look to AVRs from companies such as NAD or Cambridge Audio. Some of the models you can look for are NAD T744, NAD T755, or the Cambridge Audio Azur 540R. These amplifiers use excellent circuits as well as advanced DACs such as Crystal CS42518 and DSPs such as CS493263. These companies believe that music is more important and they have attempted to carry the designs of their acclaimed 2 channel amplifiers to the AVRs also.

Neither of these AVRs will upscale. But this is very easily solved by getting an inexpensive scaling DVD Player such as those from Samsung, Philips, or Pioneer. I have using Pioneer DVD Players for quite some time, and they have been giving me excellent service. There are a number of threads on DVD Players, and one that has been current for quite some time is http://www.hifivision.com/dvd-players-dvd-hard-disk-recorders/1692-best-dvd-player-iwth-usb.html

So for under 25,000 you have a very elegant way of playing both your MP3 and your movies DVDs. Add an AVR for roughly 50,000, and you will gave some excellent electronics at your service. Even if you buy CD, you can use free software such as EAC to rip them on your laptop or PC system into good MP3 using high bit rate. Budget something like 50,000 for speakers, and you are all set. If you are very particular about speakers, you can always look at a 2.0 or 2.1 system for now, and expand slowly over time.

Now to speakers. The choices are wide and varied. You will have a huge number of suggestions including Wharfedales, Mirage, AE, MA, Mission, Mordaunt Short. All I can say is listen to as many as you can, and decide to buy the speakers your ears like. There are a number of threads that discuss Speakers and I am sure you will find a lot of information there.

BTW, the Wadia iTransport is a very small unit. If you have someone returning from US or Europe, it is very easy to carry inside your suitcase.

Cheers

Thanks Venkat. That was really a top notch technical advice. What are the other options for playing files stored on HDD? I read the bit about using DVD player with USB option and FAT 32 formatting for HDD. Is this option in any way inferior to the IPOD / Wadia transport since the actual DAC happens only in the AVR? Am I missing something here?
I will try to get the Wadia from US .
 

jagdish_p

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Looking at your content why not think of assembling a PC for music or if you already have a PC then upgrading it. This will allow the option of keeping all the mp3s on the HDD and having them handy. This will beat a CDP/MP3 player for ease of use any day.

Thanks for the suggestion Moserw . The only way I can think of, for connecting the PC to AVR is by using the speaker Jack (audio out) on the mother board. I am afraid that this will introduce distortion. Is there any other way of taking out the digital signal from the PC to feed to the AVR?
 

moserw

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Thanks for the suggestion Moserw . The only way I can think of, for connecting the PC to AVR is by using the speaker Jack (audio out) on the mother board. I am afraid that this will introduce distortion. Is there any other way of taking out the digital signal from the PC to feed to the AVR?

That's very easy. You will get a sound card for Rs. 1200 or so with a digital out, just use that and connect to AVR via a coaxial cable.

One suggestion I would make that you should explore is keeping the PC as the source/hub for playing music. Instead of going for an an AVR, you can get very good speakers to connect to the PC and the output will be as good as that of a stereo setup costing a lot more. In fact I am in the process of building a "music station PC" (my terminology) for a friend and moving all this music CD collection to FLAC so that he will be using the PC for listening to music instead of a CD player/AVR.
 

gobble

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Venkat is it possible to connect my ipod to the transport and then feed the digital output to my Nad C 325 BEE and get a significant gain in SQ..does an external DAC also need to figure somewhere in all this? Sorry OP hope you will indulge me this one query. Thanks for being around venkat.

The NAD c325BEE has a built-in input mini-jack for mp3/ipod players in the front. No need to spend $$$ for a seperate transport.

Cheers
 

venkatcr

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moktan said:
Venkat is it possible to connect my ipod to the transport and then feed the digital output to my Nad C 325 BEE and get a significant gain in SQ..does an external DAC also need to figure somewhere in all this? Sorry OP hope you will indulge me this one query. Thanks for being around venkat.

The NAD 325VEE accepts only analogue signals. It does not accept any digital signals. The iTransport does have analogue output in the form of an unbalanced RCA pair. If you are using this, there is no sense in going for the iTransport as it will not provide any significant improvement over other iPod docks such as ones from, say, NAD. The USP of iTransport is that it allows you to side step the internal DAC of the iPOD and use an external DAC for better musicality. When you use the analogue output, you are using the internal DAC of the iPOD, and for that either a 3.5mm to twin RCA cable or any iPOD dock will suffice.

jagdish_p said:
Thanks Venkat. That was really a top notch technical advice. What are the other options for playing files stored on HDD? I read the bit about using DVD player with USB option and FAT 32 formatting for HDD. Is this option in any way inferior to the IPOD / Wadia transport since the actual DAC happens only in the AVR? Am I missing something here? I will try to get the Wadia from US .

Yes, using a DVD Player with an USB and HDD is certainly an option. And if you set the DVD Player to pass the signals in digital form to the AVR, it will be no different from using an Wadia iTransport. There are also other methods also such as the Slim Devices Squeezebox that can stream music from your PC to your AV System. Each system has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Some of the advantages I can think of using the iTransport are:

1. There will be no need for a wired or wireless set up. The PC and AV systems can be in different rooms or even different floors.
2. You don't have to move your hard disk all over the place. You can use the iPOD instead.
3. There is yet some confusion as to which compressed formats DVD players will play. You may need to constantly looking for upgradations when new formats arrive. An iPOD, on the other hand, is good for most formats excepting FLAC.
4. The itransport is the only device in the world that side steps the internal DAC of the iPOD. If you use lossless compression files, this will be as good as using a high end CD Player. The iPOD becomes just a transport mechanism very much like your hard disk.
5. If you use an iPOD Classic with the iTransport, you will all the menuing options of the iPOD. If you connect a HDD through a DVD Player, you will need to keep the TV on for seeing and using the menu. DVD Players do not have very elegant software for playing music files. I am not sure, but I suspect, you have to select each song one by one for playing. The concept of choosing by albums, artists, genres, or composers are not there. What do you do if, one day, you are in the mood to listen to songs sung only by Rafi Saab, MS Subbhalakshmi, or Michael Jackson? I am not sure DVD Players can help you there. But I could be wrong.

Cheers
 

gopi

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There is a huge difference between using an analogue input jack for mp3 players vs the transport. If you buy transport you need to then buy a DAC as well. Now, the DAC you buy will do the conversion as against the mp3 player. What this means is that the better the DAC you use the better the sound will be. In short you can convert the system as an extremely high end system by using a high end dac. However if you are using mp3's of 128, 192kbps etc, don't bother about any transport.
 

venkatcr

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If you buy transport you need to then buy a DAC as well.

This is not necessarily true. Some of the modern AVRs not only have decent DACs bulit in, but they also have what they call MP3 enhancers. So an external DAC, if you using one of these AVRs, is not needed at all.

What this means is that the better the DAC you use the better the sound will be. In short you can convert the system as an extremely high end system by using a high end dac. However if you are using mp3's of 128, 192kbps etc, don't bother about any transport.

Gopi, though I agree with your philosophy of 'better DAC better sound', I don't want to put Jagdish into a endless loop of chasing mirages with diminishing returns. He has a stated requirement with a fixed budget. The objective should to see what is the best he can do with these assumptions.

I am not discussing here about bit rates and quality of MP3 music etc. Just trying to see what is the best Jagdish can do to meet his requirements.

Cheers
 

gopi

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Venkat,
I was actually replying to gobble's comments without seeing yours.
As for your suggestion, I think there are couple of things to think here:
1. ipod + wadia + dac
or
2. PC + Wifi Transport + DAC -- this is the option that I favor and I am myself onto.
The reason primarily is that ipod and Wadia, though can techincally give the same sound quality, we are seriously limited by what ipod does.
Secondly, we are restricted by the Hard Disk size and I have to say that is some serious limitation. I recently converted 4 Movie CD's to lossless files and 1GB was gone. That to me means, that even a 160GB ipod cannot hold more than 600 albums. This might seem a lot, but it is still a limiting factor, when you think that in the second option you can actually have it limitless. Also, regarding the formats that can be played is endless with PC vs ipod. You are stuck with iTunes for organizing as against ipod, though I really like ipod. Last, but the best thing is that you actually have the beautiful computer as your user interface, instead of that of ipod. Searching by typing in is awesome and quick. You can form dynamic smart lists and even listen to online radio's etc.
The options are limitless to me with a PC + Wifi Transport. So, thats my favourite. Now, if the user has the mp3's in quite some lossy formats, then still we can go for the second option and buy a cheaper DAC.

So, for his budget my recommendation will be, assuming he has a PC and a hard disk:
1. Apple Airport Express for 5k
2. Beresford for 8k or Cambridge Audio DACmagic 24k
or
1. Squeezebox Duet for 20k
+
NAD C355bee or Marantz PM7003 or Cambridge Audio 640A - 30k
+
Monitor Audio RS6 or Dali Ikon 6 - 70k
+
Cables and interconnects - 5k
 

venkatcr

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Secondly, we are restricted by the Hard Disk size and I have to say that is some serious limitation.

Agreed. At the same time you can use your hard disk to store all you want and use the iPOD as just a transport. In my iPOD I only keep the songs I am listening to now, and simply wipe it clean once every two weeks. That way I stop from adding junk to the DB inside the iPOD.

Also, regarding the formats that can be played is endless with PC vs ipod. You are stuck with iTunes for organizing as against ipod, though I really like ipod. Last, but the best thing is that you actually have the beautiful computer as your user interface, instead of that of ipod. Searching by typing in is awesome and quick. You can form dynamic smart lists and even listen to online radio's etc.

Agreed. If Jagdish is ready to use the PC as a media center or HTPC, that is the best option.

NAD C355bee or Marantz PM7003 or Cambridge Audio 640A - 30k

I think Jagdish is looking for a 5.1 system so an AVR will be a better option.

Cheers
 

moserw

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Gopi,

Which DAC are you using? I was planning on the Beresford, but that does not seem to be happening. DacMagic was another option but after reading Asit's comments on its performance in another thread I am wondering if at 25K it will give that much improvement in performance.

My music is mainly high quality mp3s at 320 kbps or more and lossless like FLAC. BTW I am re-ripping all CDs to FLAC so long term all the mp3s will be replaced with FLACs.
 

venkatcr

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DacMagic was another option but after reading Asit's comments on its performance in another thread I am wondering if at 25K it will give that much improvement in performance.

Moser, if you get the opportunity, you must audition the DacMagic. It uses some of the most advanced DAC processors and filters in the world. In Asit's audition, I suspect that the shop keeper was not able to set up the DAC properly. DacMagic is a complicated piece of hardware. In addition it may bring in a level of transparency to the sound that some may not like.

Cheers
 

gopi

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moser,
I will be shortly getting a DACmagic mostly. Another friend of mine in Hyderabad is also looking for a DAC. There are few things I would like to add on why I prefer the DACMagic. I have listened to CA 640cV2 and I liked it. I think this is a crucial reason. I liked it over NAD and Marantz. Its not the most transparent for sure. The one I listened to was on the warmer side with a good nice emphasis on bass. Now, from all the reports to me its quite clear that Dacmagic is mostly equal to the 640c and not the 740c. This is what Asit noticed also. Asit also didn't like 640C when compared to CD6002 and liked 740c noticably better and that was the reason he bought 740c. Also, the Cayin he compared is a very good CD player and really is in the league of 740,840. So, DACmagic might have fallen short and I am not surprised. But the question is what other DAC can do it better than DACmagic. Fine, we might look for people coming from abroad to help us out here in getting few DAC's. Otherwise locally I don;t see any cheap choices. There is Beresford. Between Beresford and CA, my take is there might be not much difference and price difference might not be worth it. However, I need USB connection and since, I have heard 640C atleast I know what to be prepared for. Also, the difference filters though subtle are a nice touch.
If not these DAC's then we are left with little choice in India in this price range. Please let me know if there are any.
If you however can spend more, close to 40k range, then I think you can go a clear steup up with Stello or PS Audio DLIII. There is MHDT Paradisea which have been reviewed well and costs around 25k if somebody can get it from US and you like the idea of tubes.
There are the cheaper likes of Citypulse, Zhalou etc; But here my opinion is split. I know people who swear that these can be well compared to Stello, Benchmark etc; Some others say that they are clearly not as good. If you want to give these a shot, it might be worth it, but in general in India resale might not be that high.
Given that I wanted to spend less than 20k , with a good resale value I think CA Dacmagic is the best bet. So, going for it.
 

venkatcr

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Now, from all the reports to me its quite clear that Dacmagic is mostly equal to the 640c and not the 740c. This is what Asit noticed also.

This is something strange. The DacMagic should actually be far better than the 640C, and either equal to or better than the 740C. Take a look at its technology:

  • Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF) asynchronous upsampling technology converts 16-24 bit audio (at any standard sampling frequency between 32-96kHz) to 24 bit/192kHz
  • 32 bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
  • Dual Differential Virtual Earth balanced filter topology low order two pole linear-phased Bessel filter takes advantage of high sampling rate achieved
  • Twin WM8740 high quality DACs in dual differential mode for excellent stereo imaging
  • Incoming sampling rate indicator 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz

The 640C uses the same Wolfson DAC, but does not have the ATF, nor the balanced Bessel filter.

Given these features are more in tune with the 740C and 840C, the DacMagic should sound as good or even better than the 740C. If it does not, does it mean that CA has purposely kept it's features on a lower key so that it does not hurt the sales of the 740 and 840? It will be interesting to do a detailed test of the DacMagic.

Cheers
 
Last edited:

reignofchaos

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This is something strange. The DacMagic should actually be far better than the 640C, and either equal to or better than the 740C. Take a look at its technology:

  • Adaptive Time Filtering (ATF) asynchronous upsampling technology converts 16-24 bit audio (at any standard sampling frequency between 32-96kHz) to 24 bit/192kHz
  • 32 bit Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP)
  • Dual Differential Virtual Earth balanced filter topology low order two pole linear-phased Bessel filter takes advantage of high sampling rate achieved
  • Twin WM8740 high quality DACs in dual differential mode for excellent stereo imaging
  • Incoming sampling rate indicator 32/44.1/48/88.2/96kHz

The 640C uses the same Wolfson DAC, but does not have the ATF, nor the balanced Bessel filter.

Given these features are more in tune with the 740C and 840C, the DacMagic should sound as good or even better than the 740C. If it does not, does it mean that CA has purposely kept it's features on a lower key so that it does not hurt the sales of the 740 and 840? It will be interesting to do a detailed test of the DacMagic.

Cheers

Looking at the specs, the DacMagic has roughly the very same specs as the analog section of the 740C. However there's one crucial difference AFAIK - the 740C has a clean internal power supply while the DAC must do with a wall wart. This could be a serious short coming. No amount of digital filtering can fix a crappy power supply.
 
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