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Need holistic advice in building a component based complete digital home audio system

Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
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Location
Thane, Mumbai
#1
Dear friends,

I am a music lover in my late 30's. Till now I have been enjoying music on my desktop speakers Artis S700 (2004 vintage... good value) and creative Zen mp3 player with Brainwavz M3 (nice IEMs at 4K). I have an evergrowing personal collection of around 5000 tracks (FLAC or 320 kbps), ripped, meticulously tagged and categorised (using mp3tag) that I play on foobar2000 (fast and does best justice to my tagging effort). I like my music transparent, and avoid coloring it with equalisers, DSP etc.

My choice of music content is dominated by Hindustani Classical & Light classical, Hindi film classics (old and new), Indo-Western Fusion, World music, New-age/spiritual music, Folk and Country (western). Though there are times when I enjoy music purely for entertainment, most of the times it is a spiritual experience, to become one with it. :)

Now I plan to build an integrated home audio system. I want to build a composite solution that integrates my home listening, desktop listening and portable listening experiences. This also needs to be integrated with audio from my videos and TV.

I see the need for a few decisions to be made in this regard. And none of these can be made in isolation... the whole has to be considered as a single decision:

1. A capable digital music server: My current PC or another dedicated Media PC or just a Mp3 player such as Ipod or Hi-fiman?

2. A capable Wi-fi router for media streaming to have wireless streaming. I also need to understand whether that would impact the quality.

3. If there is a need for something like an Apple TV (or an alternate) which can be connected to my future audio system and LCD and can receive streaming from any server.

4. Choice of amplifier and speakers for the home system. I am not into 5.1 type home theater experiences (prefer movies for their subtler directional nuances and not for special effects). I want a solid 2.1 system which can produce exactly what has been recorded, with enough power for a small living room. I have been considering Audioengine A5, which inspite of being bookshelf speakers, have been reviewed to be capable enough. I am open for other configurations within an budget of 40K for speakers and amp together.

5. Is there a need for CD player, or the media server with our without wi-fi streaming can take care of it. I don't like to change CDs, and more importantly, I want to make use of my categorisation and tagging of my music to listen to a genre/artist/composer/raga depending on the occasion or mood.

6. Is there a need for a DVD player for video? Or can the PC take care of it?

7. Choice of LCD screen, esp the media type options to be future-enabled.

OVERALL:

I need to decide which of the above components, and any other, would I need to have. Then decide on their specifications and choices that can all integrate well with each other to create a seamless system.

I hope I am not asking for too much. I am a sucker for quality, detail integration. Also, I'd like to take personal interest so that I can enjoy the learning process as well as get best value given my needs.

WHAT I NEED FROM YOU FRIENDS:

1. Best: If I can speak to some of you experts who can help me think on the lines above? If you can PM me, I'd love to call you up (promise not to take too much of your time, unless you allow it) and where possible (I am in Mumbai), meet you.

2. Second best: If you can leave some choices, and ideas for me on the above questions. Tell me where I may be wrong as well. I am technically not a novice, but only a sophomore.

Thanks in advance. :clapping:
 
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GeorgeO

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Joined
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#2
Re: Need holistic advice in building a component based complete digital home audio sy

Ok let me try and do a quick response.

1. I use a NAS (ReadyNAS Duo), this is a computer like device which is a server/storage unit that can be accessed on the network. It has a 2TB HDD.

2. The router is a Netgear wireless router that can connect via ethernet or wireless to any device within range. I connect it to my Squeezebox for playing audio and via ethernet to my media player for video. No it doesnt impact quality for audio, but I dont think at this time video streaming of HD or Blue Ray wirelessly is possible-no doubt it's a matter of time before this is resolved.

I suggest that you read up on the forum a bit more and understand how people here( many threads are to be found) have found and solved problems similar to yours, and then post specific questions with brands and models to allow others to share their views.
 
Joined
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#4
Re: Need holistic advice in building a component based complete digital home audio sy

I would suggest to keep things simple and convert your exisitng PC to an audiophile source. Make use of a good graphic accelerator for video (ATI 5550, 4K) and ASUS Essence ST/STX (8-9K).

With these things in place, you won't need any additional DAC (the XONAR does its job rather perfectly) and all that'd be needed is a decent amplifier and speaker system.

Additionally, if music is your primary concern, you won't even be needing the subwoofer. A decent pair of bookshelf's/floorstanders will do that job.

I am myself in the lookout for a digital system and the only difference between yours and my requirements is that I prefer a standalone system that can act as my music source. Since I've no option available at the moment, I'll be going ahead with the PC based system only.

Will be keeping a close eye on the developments in this thread.
 

sridhar-v

New Member
Joined
Sep 26, 2009
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#5
Re: Need holistic advice in building a component based complete digital home audio sy

Hi!

I am also on the same journey & here are my 2 bit of advice:-

Unless you have a very large room/viewing distance settle for a Full HD 32" LED lcd. The experts say fuil HD does not make a diff. in 32 size but I am experiencing otherwise. Also I found that the Sd channels look bad on 42 & above. The particular model has led back lighting with spot control & it is much better that led edge lighting.

As for Music - the best option is to go for a MACMINI as your htpc & use it also as an Itunes server. It can be controlled by an IPOD touch or IPAD & if you have the stereo in a separate location from the TV you can use an Airport express for the local wifi ap & use its optical audio out to feed ur amp. (have tried this with my IMAC & airport express. - works flawlessly). Only thing is that any Apple setup is costlier than all other alternatives.

For the amp I strongly recommend Harman Kardon HK3490. Has a very good DAC built in (so you can give it direct optical feed) & a nice amp section. I had demoed it & found it drives large floorstanders with ease. Speakers will be ur individual choice - I have shortlisted JBL ES80.

regards

Sridhar
 
Joined
Feb 10, 2011
Messages
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Location
Thane, Mumbai
#7
Re: Need holistic advice in building a component based complete digital home audio sy

Dear GeorgeO, Spirivious, vasishta.sushant, sridhar-v and venkat-cr,

First of all, many thanks for your quick response and readiness to help. I feel fortunate to have these responses from you.

Being a beginner with lofty ambitions, let me first spend some time assimilating all the information you have provided in these replies. I would read up on all the components you have mentioned and understand for myself how they combine. This could take a few days for me.

After which, I may have some meaningful queries to plug the gaps in my understanding, which I shall pose again.

Meanwhile, if any other experts have different opinions/suggestions, please do post. I have a high regard for expert forums like this. When I bought my car 4 years ago, I got a excellent advice from a similar Indian forum, Team-bhp. And it surely helped me make the appropriate decision, which I am enjoying since.

Thanks and hats off, guys.
 
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