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Building My First Stereo System.. Help!

Rega

incognito1235

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Hi,
I have been following this forum for quite a long time now since i decided to upgrade from my humble headphone(Senn HD203) and ipad combo to a home theatre system. Being an engineering student has really helped me in catching up with all the technological terms but i must confess when it comes to real hi-fi experience i am still a neophyte. Hence, i need your help in building my very first audio setup.

Few months ago, when searching on the internet for a 5.1 system I used to think all the home theatre systems in the world are made by either sony or samsung and the better ones are made by Bose... end of story. More the number of speakers better the sound. Funny how perceptions change so drastically. Thanks to all the forum members whose posts instilled a little bit of sense into this novice and persuaded to invest in a hi-fi setup... ??

I have since decided to make a music oriented system even though i watch a lot of movies (torrent d/l 10 - 20+ GB) and documentaries on youtube, just need to enhance the sound effects within a reasonable limit. All files are stored on hard disk including music ( flac, alac and 320kbps mp3). Considering to use my asus laptop as full time htpc.

I have shortlisted two amps, Marantz pm6005 and NAD D3020. don't wanna spend more on external dac. nad has a class D amp and only 30 wpc which does not inspire much confidence. performance wise which one would be better for both movies and music?

Selected these speakers for audition.
Kef Q300, Dali Zensor 3, Monitor Audio BX2, Wharfedale Diamond 220. Any other??? Budget is about 30-40K. Listen to a lot of classical music.
please give some suggestions as to which combo sounds best according to you. already feeling a bit nervous, albeit positively.

Thanks.
PS: Room size 17' * 11'
 
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shibashis

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Your speaker choices are great, audition these and you can decide for yourself. All of these are highly recommended in the so called 'entry-level' segment, and I can confirm that Q300 and Zensor 3 sound fantastic. Have not heard Monitor Audio so no comments there, but I prefer Q300 and Zensor 3 over Diamond 220. Your decision could be different, do listen to all of these and only then decide.

Kolkata has more options now and you can take some time to audition these all, this is the fun bit.
As far as amplifier is concerned Marantz is widely considered as a very musical and balanced amplifier in this budget. The D3020 has rave reviews all around, I personally have not heard it. Did you get a price for the D3020?

Now the Q300 is going to run up to 35-36 alone, is your budget for speaker+amp both or just for the amp?

There is a Cambridge Audio available in olx, you can check that, Dali and Cambridge Audio make wonderful combination.

Cambridge Audio 651A Stereo Amplifier (brand new condition) - Kolkata - TV - Video - Audio - Rabindra Sarobar
 
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shibashis

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Monitor Audio BX2 is my favourite amongst the listed speakers.
Keep Aviano 2 in your list and also Quad 11L classic (not that good for the price though, better if you can get a demo piece or used one)

Koushik da Aviano 2 is no longer available. SKS does not have it, I heard somewhere that they are not available in India any more for some reason. I wanted Aviano 2s when I was looking for my first setup, searched a lot but just could not find them.
 
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incognito1235

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....... The D3020 has rave reviews all around, I personally have not heard it. Did you get a price for the D3020?

Now the Q300 is going to run up to 35-36 alone, is your budget for speaker+amp both or just for the amp?

There is a Cambridge Audio available in olx, you can check that, Dali and Cambridge Audio make wonderful combination.

Cambridge Audio 651A Stereo Amplifier (brand new condition) - Kolkata - TV - Video - Audio - Rabindra Sarobar

thanks for your reply. i am yet to contact any nad dealer in kolkata. based on online search i guess it should cost something about 40k which is same as marantz. does sks stock them?
30 - 40k for the speaker alone. another 40k for the amp. also need to afford the stands and cables too within a total of approx 80k.
i did consider CA 3 and 6 series amps but the lack of any spdif inputs is putting me off.
 
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humblebee

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Marantz. Class AB makes a difference in my opinion. I can feel that.
(There is a Marantz AVR with Class AB amps if you can afford that much money & patience !)

I have Q Acoustics 2020i. Neutral sound. Goes well with Marantz. Realistic sounds. (I heard new series has come out. So maybe you can get 2020i for discount. Bass is acceptable though it took a while to get used to. But there is Bass control.)

I dont really miss the 5.1 effects. I too watch many movies and the added benefit of better Amp+Speakers is that all the sounds are not fatiguing and they sound better.
 
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shibashis

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thanks for your reply. i am yet to contact any nad dealer in kolkata. based on online search i guess it should cost something about 40k which is same as marantz. does sks stock them?
30 - 40k for the speaker alone. another 40k for the amp. also need to afford the stands and cables too within a total of approx 80k.
i did consider CA 3 and 6 series amps but the lack of any spdif inputs is putting me off.

SKS does not keep NAD, they have CA amps and other high end offerings.
Check with Harmonie Audio in New Alipore, they have Marantz for demo with Monitor Audio, Q Acoustics and Ushers.
Do check the Usher V601 with Marantz, if you ask me it is an absolute must do.
I own the V601 and absolutely love them. I am suggesting them only now as I know they are in your budget.
In the budget segment I will say that CA amps do very well when paired right. As Koushik Da mentioned they paired very well with Mordaunt Short Avianos but are not available now.
I used to own a CA 550A paired with my Dali Zensors, it was a very sweet sounding combination but the same amp did not at all do well with the Ushers.

For NAD check with Promises, right opposite Kalamandir.
 
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drgb

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Hey,
Firstly, kudos on the choice of speakers! All of them sound great. Which one you finally select will depend a lot on your personal taste and preferences.
Now, about the amp. Although there is some merit in buying these new age integrated DAC-amp combos (hassle-free, space saving, etc.), I would always recommend using dedicated devices for each task in the stereo chain. Consider me old fashioned but I believe that by separating all your components you have the opportunity to mix-match and get the best sound out of your system. Also, this allows you to upgrade specific components in the chain according to (your) needs/circumstances.
Having said that, the above amp options are great and will give you amazing sound.
The pm6005 however might not meet your needs as it does not take USB inputs (only coax and optical).

Marantz US | PM6005

So until your laptop does optical or you have a 3.5 to optical converter, you'd have to mark the 6005 off your list. (The 7005 however does USB too).
I have not heard the NAD but it sure has got excellent reviews all over the web.

If I may proffer a suggestion, you should go with the NAD C326BEE, coupled with the ODAC (JDS Labs). Not only does this combo sound excellent, it will definitely rival the output from 6005 any day.

Whatever you choose, I'll suggest you buy the source first (amp+dac or the integrated amp) and then audition your speakers with your own files if you can.

Hope this helps, best of luck! :)
 
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incognito1235

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^^
i believe in the same logic too, having a dedicated device for a specific task does have its benefits and quite practical too in the long run. however, since this is going to be my first setup within a limited budget i didn't feel comfortable with the idea of matching seperate amp-dac combos to get the best result. nonetheless, i will try out the ODAC if it's available here in kolkata.
the lack of usb input is going to be a problem should i choose marantz over nad or seperates but i will build a skylake based htpc once the chips are available. the laptop is about to give up the ghost anyway. just need to find an lga1151 mobo with spdif coax out. in the meantime, the tv can act as an intermediary between the laptop and amp in order to transmit digital signal. let me know what you think.
 
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shibashis

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I am not sure how you are looking to incorporate the TV in the chain, elaborate further please.

In the long run a DAC should be in the picture for a stereo setup, that is the route most go for. Digital media -> DAC -> Amplifier.
Separate DACs mostly do sound better, that is the general consensus.
I do not think you will get ODAC here, it will have to be imported.

For now you can start with an amp and speaker and use the amp's inbuilt DAC.
For USB to spdif you can look at something like this,
http://www.amazon.com/Peachtree-Audio-T1-24-96/dp/B00AEN0SIW
 
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incognito1235

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sorry for the late reply..
checked with harmonie audio, they dont have marantz amps except some cd players. auditioned MA BX2 with CA Azur 651A. I don't have much experience in hifi but the clarity and refinement was quite impressive. midrange is well articulated with the right amount of bass. overall very balanced sound. listened to q acoustics after that, MA was definitely way better in all respects. price quoted:
MA BX2: 36k
CA AZUR 651A: 48k
enquired about the upcoming model CA CXA60, it had a price tag of about 60k i think. not yet available though. CXA80 at 80K.

next up was sks traders at paddapukur. the zensor 3 was paired with marantz pm5005 amp and pm5005 cd player. the 6 series will arrive later this month according to the owner. nevertheless the difference between the two was diminutive. it didn't take long for me to fall in love with this speakers. the refinement was less than the MA speakers but the soundstage was equally impressive. connected my ipad using 3.5mm to rca cable and played lindsay stirling's crystallize. the dynamics and tight punch at the bottom end was so great it felt as if i'm in ecstacy. now i am utterly confused between these two great speakers. will give sks a visit soon since they have the 6005 available. the z3 was quoted at 31k and 6005 at 40k.
they have the dacmagic 100 which i am contemplating pairing with pm5005. will this be a god combo?

(earlier checked with solfege to enquire about 6005. their quote was 44k AFTER DISCOUNT of only 900 :sad: absolute daylight robbery...... called inox acoustics and got it down to 38k including shipping. :yahoo:)

will audition kef and wharfs next and the nad too. if i get more confused then than i am now i will just flip coins and decide..:eek:hyeah:
 
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incognito1235

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I am not sure how you are looking to incorporate the TV in the chain, elaborate further please.

In the long run a DAC should be in the picture for a stereo setup, that is the route most go for. Digital media -> DAC -> Amplifier.
Separate DACs mostly do sound better, that is the general consensus.
I do not think you will get ODAC here, it will have to be imported.

For now you can start with an amp and speaker and use the amp's inbuilt DAC.
For USB to spdif you can look at something like this,
Amazon.com: Peachtree Audio T1 24/96 Adaptive USB to SPDIF Converter: Industrial & Scientific

here's the plan:
(laptop) > hdmi > (led tv) > spdif optical > (amplifier)
i don't know if it will degrade the sound quality and to what extent but this is only going to be a temporary workaround. once i upgrade to skylake the amp will be connected to pc via coax or optical.
is it possible to ship the peachtree t1 in india? please inform me about the details. a cheap spdif adapter like this one will be more convenient. i was thinking about fiio but the extra features will be unnecessary.
 
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