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Buying my First Music System- It is not that simple!!!

Mogami Cables

MADMAX

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Hi Guys,

After 2 months of research and auditions I had zeroed in on
quad 11l2 (33k) and the Marantz 5004 (19K).

Loved the sound of it. Was about to pay for it until... my wife suggested that we should try listening to an Mp3 since we were listening to wav files till then.

The world shattered in front of me! The sound of it was so disappointing.
The source made a massive more than 100 % difference.

I always expected a generation loss but not to this extent. This beautiful combo that I had chosen suddenly sounded like a very average music system

So the sales guy suggested buying a DAC. He even attached and made me listen to the same mp3 track. It sounded 20- 25 % better.
But it left me confused. I left the store and I have decided to get my own music and audition again( hope that helps)

Now my questions are:

Will buying a DAC help me solve the source problem and if yes by what percentage?

Is there a problem with the speakers or amp that I have selected?
Please suggest me other options that might solve the problem.



My specs

MUSIC ONLY
Budget: 50 -60 k ( extendable for DAC)
Source: Laptop MP3's/ Andriod Phone/ Ipod
Type of Music: Rock ,Country & Bollywood for wife

Please help me guys. I am disappointed :sad: and stuck.
Love music to much to drop the idea of buying a music system!

Regards
 
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doors666

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the issue is not with the music system, but with the mp3s. most of the decent music systems cant handle mp3s very well. try higher bit rate mp3s, use an ipod as a source for mp3s, that might improve it a bit. you will never get the cd quality out of it though.
 

ShutterX

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Agreed. Always get 320kbps bitrate mp3s. Anything belw that sounds useless. Or the best thing... buy cds... :p

Sent from my Nexus One using Tapatalk 2
 

ruenigma

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Ok so if I understand correctly the setup sounds great with lossless music (WAVE) and terrible with compressed content (MP3) right?

Why am I not surprised?

Ok lets take an analogy, you go to buy a LCD/Plasma the blue ray looks great and SD TV looks terrible. Its the problem with the content. The MP3s (the fraunhofer algorithm) honestly is a crime against music.

So either rip all your content to FLAC/ALAC/AIFF/WAV or listen to the CDs. Online music stores like flyte in India don't sell lossless content yet.

BTW mp3 or lossless you are still better off buying a decent sound-card/DAC if you intend to listen to the Quad+Marantz setup with PC. It'll make a world of a difference from any onboard source.
 

ruenigma

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the issue is not with the music system, but with the mp3s. most of the decent music systems cant handle mp3s very well. try higher bit rate mp3s, use an ipod as a source for mp3s, that might improve it a bit. you will never get the cd quality out of it though.
Its not like the systems cant handle lossy music. Its just garbage in garbage out. The garbage on crappy system gets brushed under carpet due to lack of detail and is evident on a more revealing setup that's it :)
 

utkarsh

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I never like the SQ when connecting iPhone,iPad to Marantz. The audio quality sounds muffled. You should use 320Kbps mp3 files and use MDAX feature in Marantz .The MDAX (Marantz Dynamic Audio eXpander) performs dynamic analysis of compressed signals, such as MP3 or AM/FM, and recreates the missing high frequency spectrum for enhanced sound.

Before buying Marantz 5004 you should visit the link about pop of death. http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1179621
 

balu613

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As other posters have observed, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. With storage being plentiful and cheap these, I am wondering why you would want to listen to mp3 (even at 320K) in a home system?
 

deba

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If you are after true hifi then dont listen to MP3 files. Mp3 sounds good in portable sound systems and its not meant for hifi listening.
 

jls001

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To your list, add a CD player.

Alternatively, as many are doing now, assemble a dedicated music PC (using a decent sound card), rip all your CDs as lossless files and play from PC. To start with, even the analog output from a PC sound card will be quite good and will be comparable to the analog output from most entry level CD players. Do use decent interconnect cables from sound card output to amplifier input. It matters a lot.

Why PC and not CD player? Because PC is more flexible in format support (with the right media playing software you can play FLAC, WAV, AIFF, Monkey's Audio, etc). No CD player in the market supports these lossless compressions. Secondly, you can easily make playlists and listen to tracks you like. Of course there is a school that says one should listen to whole albums and not bits and pieces.

Later, as funds permit, you can invest in external DAC which you can feed from the SPDIF digital output of the sound card. This should take your music to the next higher level, provided you invest in a better DAC.

No mp3, AAC, etc, as source please. They kill most of the dynamics in music and take away a lot of the details.

PS: Your better half is very smart with her suggestion.:)
 
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MADMAX

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As other posters have observed, you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. With storage being plentiful and cheap these, I am wondering why you would want to listen to mp3 (even at 320K) in a home system?
Thanks for all your replies. But I am left wondering what should I do next.

My problems are

All my music 160 gb (some timeless classics) are in MP3 format
To start looking all over for these tracks is next to impossible.

What my question is:

Is conversion of all my Mp3s music to wav a solution?
Will conversion make my existing music(mp3s) sound a lot better?
 

anm

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conversion is not an option.
Start building a flac/ CD collection gradually.
Where did you get your mp3s from? What happened to original CDs? You can rip again over a couple of months/ years.
 

koushik

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Better systems are transparent and pulls out fault in source files all so more!

What exactly was bad when you heard mp3 after wav? Those were the same songs in both format? Was it brighter, harsh, low in frequency response in extreme ends or tonality or something else?

Marantz goes well with Quad speakers as former is detailed and transparent and later is warm sounding. We need to know what was bad in mp3 so that we can suggest some remedy considering that you have large collection of mp3s and will be difficult to get wav/flac/CD of all of them.
Like, if it was harse and bright, you can try and pair it with NAD and see if it works for you and so on.

Lastly, Quad 11L2 can do better if driven with a better Amp than 5004. And please consider a better source player than you have mentioned. Laptop(onboard sound card), mobile or ipod - Marantz and Quad deserves more, com'on! Atleast a sqeezebox or NuForce DAC if not dedicated CD player.
 
Last edited:

nmurthyk

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Hi MADMAX,

I came through similar phase. I don't think all your mp3s sound horrible. Many of those mp3s still sound good. What you need to do is to start with your mp3 collection with this music system. Get a Computer or Media player device (such as squeezebox or WDTV) as source and add a DAC later between the source and Amp.
Buy CDs of your favorite albums first and try to download higher bit-rate mp3 from net. You can leave the songs as is if they sound good (you can enjoy many songs in mp3 format until you compare them with CDs of the same).
I have build my albums in similar fashion over a period and the process is still going on. This way you can enjoy most of the music with reasonable quality without buying all the CDs once.

All the new mp3s with 320kbps bit-rate are reasonably good and are easier to download from net.

Hope you enjoy your journey in the HIFI world.

Regards,
Murthy
 
Last edited:

iaudio

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madmax,

Try something, use Foobar or EAC to rip one of your Audio CDs to 320kbps mp3. Take this to the store, listen and see how it fares( by the way, what was the source/player at the store?).
Having your music as mp3 is not the end of the world. If ripped well, 320 kbps( and sometimes even lower bitrate) can sound quite good.
Ofcourse, when you have an option to go lossless, do so! There is a limit to what so called MP3 enhancing algorithms on certain products can restore, what has been lost to compression or poor encoding in the first place.A good amp+speakers which is more resolving will be not as forgiving of bad media as a boombox may be.
I too have a budget hi fi system at home and in many cases I do enjoy music in mp3, aside from Audio CDs, flac and wav. Yes, it is listenable.
 

doors666

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My specs

MUSIC ONLY
Budget: 50 -60 k ( extendable for DAC)
Source: Laptop MP3's/ Andriod Phone/ Ipod
Type of Music: Rock ,Country & Bollywood for wife

Please help me guys. I am disappointed :sad: and stuck.
Love music to much to drop the idea of buying a music system!

Regards
Is this a system solely for the purpose listed above? mp3 on laptop, phone/ipod? Dont you plan to listen to cds etc on this system.

There are systems that do make mp3s sound reasonable. They are engineered that way. I have seen huge differences between the listenability of mp3s on different speakers, keeping the source and amp the same. If you despo want this kind of a system, look for different speakers. These might not sound that good (still pretty good though) with good quality cd recordings.

Hint: The better quality a system (usually also means more expensive), the more trouble it will have with mp3s, there are exceptions though. There you go, I just saved you a bunch of cash.:)
 

iaudio

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OP can get an entry level usb dac like udac, HRT MS2, Audinst mx1 etc to use with his laptop. Gradually, he can build a FLAC/wav/Cd collection. In the meantime he will still have something to listen to.
 

MADMAX

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Is this a system solely for the purpose listed above? mp3 on laptop, phone/ipod? Dont you plan to listen to cds etc on this system.

There are systems that do make mp3s sound reasonable. They are engineered that way. I have seen huge differences between the listenability of mp3s on different speakers, keeping the source and amp the same. If you despo want this kind of a system, look for different speakers. These might not sound that good (still pretty good though) with good quality cd recordings.

Hint: The better quality a system (usually also means more expensive), the more trouble it will have with mp3s, there are exceptions though. There you go, I just saved you a bunch of cash.:)
Thanks again for all your replies. All the posters have been very helpful!

Although I plan to buy a DAC later right now it is out of the question.
90 percent of my music is Mp3's stored in HDD and laptop and hence to build a collection with better specs afresh again will take some time and lots of effort!
But I really dont want to buy the speakers and amp alone. I would always have the feeling that I that I dont have 100 percent output from the system.
Guess I will have to wait and gather some more cash as the cost of the DAC alone is 40 k!


@ Doors666- Please help me understand which are the are systems that are engineered to handle MP3 much better.
 

doors666

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not systems, but speakers and they are diy. you need to hit the drawing board again, go with cds and mp3s and listen to systems again and decide which one suits your needs. Your current choice has proved inadequate for some of your needs, so go find more suitable ones.:)
 

ruenigma

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Guess I will have to wait and gather some more cash as the cost of the DAC alone is 40 k!
What DAC are you considering at 40k? :eek:

Don't forget the golden ratio of 30:30:30:10
30% of your setup cost to the source, DAC in your case. 30% to the amplification, and 30% to the speakers. Now since you've already spent close to 40K on amp and speakers, you can think of getting a decent entry level DAC like the HRT MS II, Audinst HUD MX-1 etc. These are very good DACs mind you. So instead of splurging a fortune on the DAC take it slow start with a decent entry level setup and keep on upgrading as needed.
 
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