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HiFi setup for diverse musical taste

Home Theatre Systems

powerslave

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I am in the market for hifi setup for following listening needs in decreasing order of time I listen to each of the genre

1. Old hindi classics (50s-70s era)
2. old stuff (santana, floyd, deep purple, Maiden, doors, Black Sabbath , Judas Priest)
3. Hindustani Classical (mostly Bade Ghulam Ali, Pdt. DV Paluskar )

My source is mostly going to be digital and as you would know for most of Indian music quality is going to be iffy .

I like to keep things for long and don't upgrade things until they break only on rare occasion have I upgraded things when I end up buying something which does not sing to me. So I am not looking for fast quick solutions.

I need a speaker and amp combine that will do justice to my tastes and will serve me long my budget for entire setup is around INR 2 for just a pair of speakers and Amp . Later I may think about a record player . I do not have any preference for a tube vs SS amp what I am looking for is something that will have some 'warmth' for except heavy metal most of my content is going to be gentle. I would like to buy from Bangalore itself for obvious reasons.
 

arunkvivek

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Hello Powerslave,
Budget - INR 2?
20-25K? - Limited options but possible. Chinese Amps + Wharfedale speakers or Boston Acoustic Speakers.
2L? Options galore to confuse you. Happy Auditioning!
 
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tuff

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Regardless of what your budget is, If your source is 'iffy' as you put it, The worse they will sound on a more resolving system. That said, If you can mention your source, as in cd player/computer playback/streaming sources what not, it would be quiet helpful for others to recommend. The DAC will play a important role as some DAC's are good at masking imperfections from a recording and make everything sound sweet.
 
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powerslave

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By 2 meant 2 l.

When I say source is iffy I mean old bollywood music that I have access is to is not on vinyl it is in form of either CD or so called high quality stuff on itunes et al. Rest of it is sourced from sources like HDtrack.com . For CD sources initially I intend to use my PS3 as I buy time for a good DAC , my intent is to get a good speaker and amp first rest will get added as time and finances permit . I know some might find this counter intuitive but digital stuff has a very small shelf life I would add a DAC or Streamer to my setup once speakers and amp is finalised. Other aspect is that I can easily source a entry/medium grade DAC from some colleague flying in from overseas .
 
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JayaRaa

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The first thing for you to do is to audition/demo what is available in your neighborhood. Contact the dealers, fix appointment & go to hear what options they suggest you. That way you will get a better idea of what works & what doesn't for you, post which the direction you need to head towards will become apparent. Trust your own ears first and foremost!
 
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Kushanava

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you can visit Rethm(ragarika.in) in Bangalore and audition the Bhaava speakers + Tube Amp+ Denafrips (ares) dac .
I think this would be a combo within your budget.
 
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arunkvivek

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I was tempted to recommend Rethms but powerslave has metal as part of listening interest. Would Bhaavas do justice? The rest of the genres would be well covered by Bhaavas.
 
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powerslave

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Thanks for the responses ; I hear you guys on the auditioning part but even there I can at most go to say 4-6 such places in Bangalore and they all might be running a diverse setup I may not be able to even get a home demo from all of them , my intent to post this question here was I am sure lot of folks in India might share my musical tastes so I was trying to narrow down my search by leveraging your experience in this space. For instance for a budget of 2L I thought I could only give 1-1.5 for speakers and then rest for an Integrated that would mean I would start first with speakers right ? This means unless I get lucky getting used ones Rethms or even Harbeths are ruled out, right ? I forgot to mention I would prefer bookshelf speakers over floor standers and my listening area is 10*12 feet . Spendors were on my radar as I heard they are cheaper than Harbeths but I want to avoid getting things shipped as things get damaged during shipping in India . So for now forget about an amp I would be happy to get a list of say 3-4 options for speakers alone as I gather that I could then select an amp pretty easily once speaker is fixed for I could then even take them with me to places for pairing with an integrated; is this right way to go about it OR should I evaluate the setup on a whole ? For instance say if I manage to get a speaker that does justice to afore mentioned genres that is not power hungry I am even ok with buying say a 10-50 watt amp .
 
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heliumflight

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You may please exclude Rethm as it will not suit Metal music. Try to listen to the entire combo together. Generally showrooms do pair the compatabile products together but do use your ears to take the final call. For Rock Music try to go for larger drivers.
 
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prem

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Deep purple, Floyd, Tull, Doors, AC/DC, Santana, Nirvana, Stevie Ray, Dire Straits, Fleetwood MAC, Neil Young, Clapton, etc all sound fabulous on Rethms. Don’t know about Judas Priest and Maiden
 
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Kushanava

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Thanks for the responses ; I hear you guys on the auditioning part but even there I can at most go to say 4-6 such places in Bangalore and they all might be running a diverse setup I may not be able to even get a home demo from all of them , my intent to post this question here was I am sure lot of folks in India might share my musical tastes so I was trying to narrow down my search by leveraging your experience in this space. For instance for a budget of 2L I thought I could only give 1-1.5 for speakers and then rest for an Integrated that would mean I would start first with speakers right ? This means unless I get lucky getting used ones Rethms or even Harbeths are ruled out, right ? I forgot to mention I would prefer bookshelf speakers over floor standers and my listening area is 10*12 feet . Spendors were on my radar as I heard they are cheaper than Harbeths but I want to avoid getting things shipped as things get damaged during shipping in India . So for now forget about an amp I would be happy to get a list of say 3-4 options for speakers alone as I gather that I could then select an amp pretty easily once speaker is fixed for I could then even take them with me to places for pairing with an integrated; is this right way to go about it OR should I evaluate the setup on a whole ? For instance say if I manage to get a speaker that does justice to afore mentioned genres that is not power hungry I am even ok with buying say a 10-50 watt amp .

I think the smaller rethms(bhaava) would be in your price range..choice of bookshelf is a different thing but you would be covered with 90% of your music choices for sure.i wouldnt skip the rethms without auditioning it..they are too good a speaker to be ignored..but everyone hears differently and there is no best choice.
 
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arunkvivek

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[QUOTE="powerslave, post: 772922, member: 88133"I forgot to mention I would prefer bookshelf speakers over floor standers and my listening area is 10*12 feet . [/QUOTE]
Since you are interested in music, you cannot wall-mount the bookshelfs (you would lose out on the fabled image if you do so). Having a BS on a stand and Floor standers mean the same in terms of real estate/speaker positioning within the room - A point for consideration.

You can consider Acoustic Portrait FS and their Swara AMP as well. They have great synergy and would fit in your budget. If you audition and negotiate, you can get their cables as well. The AP FS has been reviewed by our forum member and there is one FM - @aurobindosaha who is using it. You can request an audition at his place to get an idea.

There is also a Bangalore FM who has Lyrita's latest Bookshelves with him along with Lyrita's electronics. A lot of happy Lyrita Owners on the forum. The speakers are priced around 60K IIRC + you can go for top end tube gears from Viren sir. You can request an audition with the FM and decide (check the most recent pages of Lyrita Owners thread in our forum).
 
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arunkvivek

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If you set apart 1.5 lacs for speaker and amplifiers, you can utilize the balance 50K for room treatment+cables. Smaller room poses greater challenges in terms of reflections and bass boom. Please check the posts by @sound_cycle on room issues faced and how they were corrected.

At 1.5 lacs, you would lose a few options with speakers and amplification but 50K would definitely ensure if not enhance the VFM of the gears of 1.5L that you make (IMO).
 
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powerslave

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Just an update heard the P3ESR at Absolute Phase today ; I won't analyse the sound for it is all over the web but what I liked best was their output despite their size ; they can fit into my living room with ease ; I know people will question my sensibilities but in a typical apartment space is a luxury. I would love to hear ProAc and Spendor offerings in the same class but looks like we don't have anyone in Bangalore who deals in above brands. I did call up the folks in Chennai and Pune but got a rather cold response. Question for P3ESR owners how good are these for stuff like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden ? Although my heavy metal listening times are reducing as I age but I cannot simply rule it out of my selection criteria. I had reached out to Viren sir from Lyrita audio some time ago he was very nice and kind to entertain my queries however unfortunately without auditions I cannot make any progress there.
 
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sidvee

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Just an update heard the P3ESR at Absolute Phase today ; I won't analyse the sound for it is all over the web but what I liked best was their output despite their size ; they can fit into my living room with ease ; I know people will question my sensibilities but in a typical apartment space is a luxury. I would love to hear ProAc and Spendor offerings in the same class but looks like we don't have anyone in Bangalore who deals in above brands. I did call up the folks in Chennai and Pune but got a rather cold response. Question for P3ESR owners how good are these for stuff like Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden ? Although my heavy metal listening times are reducing as I age but I cannot simply rule it out of my selection criteria. I had reached out to Viren sir from Lyrita audio some time ago he was very nice and kind to entertain my queries however unfortunately without auditions I cannot make any progress there.
You should consider ATC SCM11v2. Will easily rival the Harbeths. And they will be better for hard rock/metal IMO, having owned higher end speakers in both.
Dealer is Cinema Focus in Chennai, not sure if they have demos there, but driveable from bangalore
Cheers,
Sid
 
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plasmoid

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Hi Powerslave...nice to see a fellow Maiden& Priest fan(my fav bands for the past 33+ years). Just thought I would put in my 2 cents here since our musical tastes are similar. 95% of my listening is classic heavy metal and hard rock(no death or black metal). The rest is stuff like Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd, Dire Straits, Santana, U2 etc. I am far from an audiophile but like my music warm, airy and smooth.

Sorry for his post being a bit long but I just wanted to relate my experience and help you out as best I could.

Around 16 years back I bought my first real 'hifi' amp and speakers. In those days there was not a lot on offer. Marantz and Yamaha (2 models each) were the popular choices for 2 channel integrated amps(NAD 370 was available in the grey market). Speakers available were Mordaunt Short, Acoustic Research, Wharfedale, B&W, Jamo and Cadence. I had auditioned a Cadence tube amp and speakers and to be frank with you Jazz and Classical sounded amazing but heavy metal sounded awful on that:). It basically was very revealing and brought out all the harshness and noise. I finally auditioned Marantz and Yamaha with Mordaunt Short speakers. I was sold on the Marantz but the speakers didn't put out enough bass slam for metal(kick drum sounded a bit too weak).The treble and midrange were super smooth.

I auditioned some more speakers (mentioned above) and found Wharfedale to be the warmest. Also those days only Jamo and Wharfedale had official dealers and a full range. Found most of the Jamos bright and the warm ones I liked were of my budget. The Wharfs sounded the best with my Marantz. The range included Diamond(neutral sounding), Valdus(big bass with two woofers but unrefined midrange and treble), Atlantic( warm with good bass with refined midrange and treble). I almost settled on the Atlantics when the store owner pulled out another model and had the last piece. These were the Sapphire 87s. We hooked up my amp and in a few minutes I knew I found my perfect speakers. Same refined midrange and treble as the Mordaunt Shorts with deeper bass. I have been happy with this set up for the past 16 years:).

A few suggestions based on my past findings:
  1. Always take your favorite cds when auditioning and most importantly take your time. You might find a particular amp/speaker combination sounds good for the first 5-10 minutes but not so much later. Go back 2-3 and make absolutely sure. The store owners/managers in those days were very hospitable and did not mind this.
  2. For heavy metal listening, always buy an amp with tone controls. Heavy metal mastering is far from the best and it's always good have the ability to fine-tune according to your listening preference. I even have an equalizer but I use this mostly for room correction/bad recordings. Also not worth buying some high end stuff as it will sound more revealing and hence worse with metal. My friend recently bought a high end stereo setup with Marantz pre and Nad power amp hooked up to PSB speakers. Dire Straits. Jethro Tull, Pink Floyd sound absolutely mindblowing with a huge soundstage and amazing tonality. Heavy Metal on the other hand sounds unlistenable for more than 10 minutes.
  3. Amp-Speaker matching is very important. My friend at the time had a pair of Mordaunt Short 908s with side firing woofers. My amp sounded terrible with these. Huge bass but very boomy. Weirdly enough his Onkyo AVR sounds great. Some combinations just don't work.
  4. Your music source is also very important. CDs that were mastered before the loudness wars(circa 1994) are with full dynamic range intact and sound great. The ones that came after sound harsh and congested. Heavy metal was one of the genres that were worst affected by this. I have been collecting for a long time and have kept all my old pressings and fortunately didn't fall for the whole REMASTER hype. I generally don't buy these, but if i really need to , I listen to them only on my discman.
  5. Last but not least, it's good to take suggestions from others but finally trust your own ears and judgement. One man's noise is another man's music and vice versa.
GOOD LUCK!!
 
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powerslave

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Thanks for the inputs Plasmoid ; interesting that you mention about tonal controls for I have observed that aside from some specific high end brands the intg. amps in mid range these days don't come with tone controls . I am in speaker selection phase so I will keep your inputs in mind . Right now I have two choices i.e. either take my budget and allocate about 60-70% of it to 'best' speakerI can buy and then hope to get an amp in remaining budget to drive them with aim of upgrading the amp later . Another option is to split the budget rather evenly but I get a feeling that like all things in life latter would get me neither here nor there . In the meanwhile I am getting a Shiit DAC (mostly Modi).
 
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arj

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Lot of great inputs above for you to mull over so let me give you another perspective which you could also consider.

One advantage you have is that you can start simple. eg something like a NAD C368 which is an AMP + Dac all together along with a matching speaker. The Quad VA one looked like a very interesting amp+ DAC to me which although only 15 W ( which is more than enough for a Rethm speaker) but has all the inputs including Bluetooth and USB as well.

This way you keep your system really simple and also cut done on cables which can make any system look messy
 
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plasmoid

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Thanks for the inputs Plasmoid ; interesting that you mention about tonal controls for I have observed that aside from some specific high end brands the intg. amps in mid range these days don't come with tone controls . I am in speaker selection phase so I will keep your inputs in mind . Right now I have two choices i.e. either take my budget and allocate about 60-70% of it to 'best' speakerI can buy and then hope to get an amp in remaining budget to drive them with aim of upgrading the amp later . Another option is to split the budget rather evenly but I get a feeling that like all things in life latter would get me neither here nor there . In the meanwhile I am getting a Shiit DAC (mostly Modi).
Marantz, NAD and Cambridge Audio all have tone controls across their product ranges. They also have a 'direct' button to bypass the tone controls. I feel it better to have them with the ability to bypass if not needed, than be stuck without them.
 
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