Audiophiles hi fi appreciation thread old and new

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  • Buy my hand-made sub please thanks #spam­35/

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  • Nice build. What's the rms and peak? (we use this for home systems? Or only car audio?)

    Edit: what's the Watts?

  • Get @dbr to make you a pair.

  • Totally into that. Hit me up @JB

  • Streaming was hard for me to adapt to. The idea of not owning the material part of the music is still hard for me to accept. I'm enjoying whittling down a big collection of CD's to a shelf of classic albums and searching for new music faster and more effectively than ever before. With Roon and Tidal I'm having a great time finding and listening to new music, the best time ever imho. I do have most of my music cd's & vinyl digitised too. It's not a minimal approach :)

    I've just set up a Sonos connect:amp with some white Q Acoustic 2020i's in my kitchen. Very impressive little amp and the wifi connection capability is great. The phone app is a little bit clunky but most of them are.

  • I don't live in the UK anymore otherwise I totally would @dbr

  • Do you think Roon is worth the cost even just as a front end for Tidal? Or are you using it as an interface for locally stored/streamed music, too?

  • Fair. Speaker stands aren’t really postable if they’re done right.

    Incidentally, if anyone in London wants me to design and make a pair I’d be well into it. Maybe a steel / valchromat combo...

  • If you used it only with Tidal you will want to be using it in a stable high speed internet environment. I think it's worth the cost but that's a personal choice, it will take a few years for the cost not to matter. The lifetime membership in dollars is a pretty good proposition if you get a lifetime of use out of it. Like most people I have discounted that possibility in my mind. Software is notoriously flaky as a long term bet.

    I use it with a large library on disk simply because I'm old enough to have a large digitised library. Roon have recently expanded their radio function to include Tidal. If you start from a well known track either on Tidal or your own library it will serve up choice tracks for days. It can't do it with the more eclectic dance music that I have. If you start with Sarah Vaughan you'll get dinner time jazzy blues for days, it is especially good with the jazzy genres, probably a reflection of the average age of users.

    The main attraction of Roon is the added metadata. It's like a massive music encyclopaedia, the interconnections between artists etc. When you find a band you like it helps connect the dots to the next band. Also just the reviews and background info on artists that you are discovering.

  • I’m really interested in whether Roon is significantly better than Plex. I’d love to be able to justify an upgrade :) I think plex has the same features as Roon (auto tagging with metadata, gigs, auto playlists, band history from, similar artists, etc) but I’m not sure if I’m missing something in Roon that I’m just not aware of. I’m not a huge fan of the Plex UI (actually, it’s ok, just dark!), product development is leisurely (no published roadmap) and there isn’t a CarPlay app for it which is super annoying. Any other killer features you can share to help me justify switching to Roon?

  • I use Plex for movies and TV streaming. The audio tie in with Tidal is a secondary thing.

    Easier to use than Kodi (XBMC) because I can't be arsed to do the full customisation.

  • The thing with Plex is that it has loads of different interfaces depending what you're running it on. Some are much better than others (the win 10 one is probably the worst) so it's worth a play with a few different versions.

  • Lower end hi-fi question; my current set up is project debut carbon or chrome cast audio (vinyl or streaming) > Cambridge audio topaz am5 amp > wharfdale diamond 9 speakers which sounds nice & I've been happy with over the years but I feel like it could be better in some circumstances - would upgrading the speakers to something like Dali spektor 2's or Q acoustics 3020i's deliver a decent improvement or would they be being held back by the budget nature of the amp (I won't be changing the record player)?

  • I had a look at Plex and it seems to miss the endpoint management, dsp, and Roon rock capability. With Roon you can see exactly what it's doing with the files from the original bitrate through the dsp and out to the endpoint. This kind of transparency becomes more important if you are using MQA or DSD with exotic convertors.

    It's true that the metadata has become more available, Qobuz and Plex are good examples where metadata, booklets etc. are becoming the norm. However, Roon have had a long time including the Meridian Sooloos phase to use the metadata system they created for Roon radio which means less reliance on playlists.

    It's probably only a little bit better for a lot more money, like a lot of things in life!

    If you end up building a server on an NUC and running a household full of endpoints you are probably getting your moneys worth. I use it to run 2 households full of endpoints with all kinds of convertors and it works very well at that.

  • I'm running a pair of 2020i's at the moment and they are very impressive. I think Wharfedale came with some that were supposed to be a tiny bit better. A lot of it depends on the space you have and budget but I'd save for a pair with integrated amps if you are worried about amp matching.

    The biggest problem I've had matching amps was putting an amp with too little power together with larger speakers, it can affect the bass as that's where the biggest current draw is. Your amp should have 40% or more power available than your speakers rms max. It's counterintuitive but you need more power for the very short peaks in the music program otherwise you'll be creating distortion in the amp which can damage the speakers. At 25w per channel you are inviting that sort of problem.

    In terms of the sound quality of an amp it's usually the pre amp stage that does most damage, all the pots and switches, Cambridge audio are not too bad but you'll not want to compare it to the 'straight wire' approach of a boutique pre amp mono blocks. One possibility could be a second hand Sonos connect:amp. 150w per channel will drive a lot of speakers, if you get a chance you should try a different amp with your current speakers to see if you hear any difference.

  • Hey man, thanks again for your posts. I knew this was going to be a rabbit hole, and i’m fully in it now so may as well see it through!

    So, about this part:

    You can get a Gigbyte Brix with optical and analogue out with 512Gb SSD which will kick seven shades out of a cheapo NAS and Sonos Connect

    In what sense will it be superior? It’s a genuine question: I don’t want the source in my Hifi to be compromised. I’m guessing processing power, which translates to streaming capability? A consideration with high demand applications e.g. video, multiple users etc?

    Edit: my late night baby-cradling Internet trawling also indicates that increased ability to buffer audio is beneficial to sound quality.

  • Good to know. Interesting. Thank you. I ask as I did the trial in conjunction with Tidal and personally saw no value over Spotify's artist/genre features. I am sure I was missing stuff, but even so, it's lifetime cost is five years of Spotify. Who knows where streaming will be in five years time.

    I think I may go back to Spotify to be honest. Lots of music is missing from Tidal that I listen to regularly and I hate to say it, but my equipment/my ear really doesn't seem to hear any difference between the Ogg Vorbis 320kbps Spotify tracks and Tidal HiFi or Master when using my laptop with my Dragonfly (can decode MQA). I also feel like MQA is some marketing BS. And it's more expensive and the UI isn't as good, nor is the community playlist aspect which I enjoy and so on and so forth. Maybe one day I'd re-sub but for now I think Spotify wins for me.

    On some tracks, I can hear a slight difference but I have to listen in a really unnatural, analytical way that I'd never do in real life. So, yeah, bye bye for now, Tidal.

  • Thanks I'll have a look in to it some more - the room (or indeed the whole flat) isn't that big so it's not going to be going super loud, more about sound quality at medium volumes.

  • Welcome to the rabbit hole that is digital streaming.

    Ok the short answer as to why a NUC is better than a NAS in your circumstances is simply (a) raw compute power and (b) data access time. With a large library of audio files on a budget NAS you will be looking at 30 seconds or more to return a list of directory contents, and the little cpu will struggle so you'll get constant dropouts. This is not about sound quality but its actual ability to read a file, encode it and push the data to the network interface fast enough. Remember, higher quality = far more data to process. A cheap NAS will be so slow as to be unuseable, even for one user on a fast network. I know, I've tried and failed miserably.

    The other issue is to do with the quality of your DAC and how it is introduced to the signal path. People generally get hung up on resolution and conversion bitrate (e.g. 24bit / 96Khz is generally accepted as plenty good enough), but IMO what is equally important and often overlooked are the Total Harmonic Distortion, the Dynamic Range and Jitter.

    These first two are not new to audioheads coming from the analogue world but seem to go out of the window when considering consumer-level digital equipment. (for the sake of completeness: THD+N is the noise introduced to the signal path, so less is better. Dynamic range is the ability to deliver signal amplitude; more DR is better so that detail is not lost in quiet sections of your music). Jitter is roughly to do with the timing of data sent to the DAC and its ability to resequence the packets before conversion.

    Consumer electronics manufacturers rarely publish these specs for their devices. On the other hand, the specs for a DAC connected to a NUC via USB (or even optical) like the ones mentioned are published and significantly better with regard to sound quality.

    I guess what I'm saying is that for sound quality, especially on a budget, you have to flip your thinking a bit; try to invest most of your budget into a decent DAC and then figure out the cheapest, most effective way to cleanly deliver a digital file to it. UI is important but it can come later. If you lock yourself into a proprietary, relatively lo-fi solution it will be difficult to break out later.

    That said, there is a perfectly good place for Sonos, chromecasts etc. which is to use them only as streamers of digital data and have a separate DAC connected to their optical out ports, which is what I do in my bedrooms and study. But I already had a decent NAS and even then for my main hi-fi setup I run a NUC + DAC instead.

  • seems to miss the endpoint management, dsp, and Roon rock capability.

    Thanks man, that's helpful. What end-points do you use? Now that the chromecast audio is discontinued (great little plex endpoints by the way) I'm not sure if I'm going to get stuck in a dead-end, as there's no real replacement for them that I can see. So Roon becomes a more serious option.

  • With a large library of audio files on a budget NAS you will be looking at 30 seconds or more to return a list of directory contents, and the little cpu will struggle so you'll get constant dropouts. This is not about sound quality but its actual ability to read a file, encode it and push the data to the network interface fast enough.

    With my #fanboi hat on: this is mitigated in a Sonos style solution that indexes the drive over night and has its own library of music with direct pointers to file locations. No need to wait for the NAS to enumerate directory listings across the network at playback time.

    Also, I totally agree about the DAC comment, as you know. It was a significant upgrade for me when I switched to using the digital out of my Sonos Connect into a Cyrus DAC XP preamp an DAC combo. Good upgrade path available when using a streamer that has such a digital out.

  • These Kanto stands are great. Solid AF. Definitely superior to the Focal stands that preceded them. Not as well finished from an aesthetic perspective, but isolation is far far better. Definitely getting less bass escaping into my floor boards. Internal wire routing and a swiveling top plate. Very good indeed. Put the tweeters at ear level too. Everything just sounds that bit tighter.

  • I have a mixture. RME AES card in a mac tower, A&H SQ5, Dynaudio Air 20's, Marantz SA8005, Lavry DA10 and lots of consumer level stuff, Libratone, Airports, Sonos. That's one reason Roon made sense for me.

    As an example with Roon I can set conversion to the native rate of the hardware add impulse response files maybe eq or headroom management, volume levelling all calculated at 64bit and up to the highest DSD levels if that floats your boat. It will also do MQA conversion. I don't use MQA but there are some good arguments for having the studio authorise a master and there's information contained in the wrapper that lets your system determine which filters to use etc.

    HQPlayer is another interesting piece of software. It has loads of exotic digital filters and you get a chance to listen to the different effects.

    Biggest problem with Roon is the price. Once you get past that it's a really good option although Spotify integration would be great. I think Spotify is the better streaming service but I struggle to know what is on Spotify that's not on Tidal because I have no problem finding stuff on Tidal. Maybe Roon just makes it easier to search Tidal.

  • I'm new to Sonos and only using it in a clients house but I can't work out if I can choose a track and ask it to play similar tracks after that one has finished.

    On Roon that's called Roon radio and it will just keep picking tracks based on the first choice until you ask it to stop. It does a very goo job of it and you can force it to use only your library or pick from anything on the streaming service.

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Audiophiles hi fi appreciation thread old and new

Posted by Avatar for coppiThat @coppiThat