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Advice on Setup - HD650 + Speakers + Nuforce

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

Just looking for some advice. I currently have a pair of Sennheiser HD650's powered by FiiO E9/E7 combo. I am very happy with the sound from the FiiO considering how affordable it was but I want to upgrade to something a bit better now. I have done some research and I have decided to go with Nuforce, I know there are probably other DAC/AMP's I can get that will be better suited to the Sennheisers but I really like the Nuforce range, the design looks great, they are a lot smaller and more portable than other competitors and the way it can be placed vertically really helps as I don't have a huge amount of desk space.

 

Of course the HDP is the obvious one to go for and luckily someone is selling one at a good price here on the forums. Problem is however I am intending to upgrade my speakers very soon to a set of passive speakers. Now if I'm not mistaken the HDP can't power passive speakers, you need the Icon Amp for that. I believe the Icon-2 does however but (I don't know if I'm right in thinking this) the Icon-2 uses the same DAC/AMP from the uDAC which is significantly inferior to that on the HDP.

 

As much as I'd like to get the HDP + Icon Amp I don't know if I can afford it. Has anyone used the Icon-2 with the HD650's? Do you think the HDP + Icon Amp will be significantly better than just the Icon-2? About $250 better?

 

Any advice will be appreciated.

 

Thanks for Looking.

post #2 of 9

What will make the HDP $250 better than the Icon isn't its DAC (that supposedly came from their CDPlayer) but its headphone amp, at least as far as the HD650 is concerned. If I'm in your shoes and really need both speakers and headphones, I'll get the HDP now, save up, then:

1) get active speakers so you can use the HDP as a DAC and preamp
2) get the passive speakers you really like, then get the Icon amp, or any power amp. Who knows, maybe you can score a classic, big as hell power amp cheap if you know where to look and can get lucky - as long as you can mount them somewhere it won't be a problem on your desk, just use longer cables  and the HDP is the preamp so you won't have to reach for it save for switching it off.

 

Trust me it's better to invest better on one now and then later for the other - since you already have the HD650 and are only about to upgrade speakers, then prioritize the headphones first.

post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the advice. I've decided to go for the Icon HD as I found one for $225 and if I'm not mistaken the only difference is the fewer options of inputs which I don't need anyway.

 

Speakers wise, I've decided I'm going to want a sub anyway so I'm going to get a Cambridge Audio active sub which I can connect the passive speakers to and then to the Icon HD.

 

So the final set up will be the Icon HD, HD650's connected to the front jack, subwoofer connected to the back and speakers connected to the sub. And of course USB from Icon HD to computer. 

 

I think that should work, please let me know if you don't think it will.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ProtegeManiac View Post

What will make the HDP $250 better than the Icon isn't its DAC (that supposedly came from their CDPlayer) but its headphone amp, at least as far as the HD650 is concerned. If I'm in your shoes and really need both speakers and headphones, I'll get the HDP now, save up, then:

1) get active speakers so you can use the HDP as a DAC and preamp
2) get the passive speakers you really like, then get the Icon amp, or any power amp. Who knows, maybe you can score a classic, big as hell power amp cheap if you know where to look and can get lucky - as long as you can mount them somewhere it won't be a problem on your desk, just use longer cables  and the HDP is the preamp so you won't have to reach for it save for switching it off.

 

Trust me it's better to invest better on one now and then later for the other - since you already have the HD650 and are only about to upgrade speakers, then prioritize the headphones first.


Edited by andre56 - 6/12/12 at 3:51pm
post #4 of 9

Hope I'm wrong, but did you check the specs properly? How would you control the volume on the speakers, and what amplifier is driving them? The HD only has a Headphone Amp and DAC, no Preamp, hence the designations. Without the preamp function, the HD's volume knob does not work with the signal going out the rear RCA outputs.

If you're using active speakers now with a matched sub, it most likely has a 2.1 amplifier (2 channels for stereo speakers and 1 channel/mono for the sub), and that includes a crossover network to tone down the frequencies that don't need to go to the sub (mid- and high frequencies) and to the stereo speakers (low bass frequencies). Essentially you are not connecting the HDP an speakers to the sub - you are connecting them to the amplifier that is mounted to the sub's chassis to minimize the pieces in the kit. If this is the case just use the proper connectors/converters; your speaker system might have a 3.5mm phono jack, but you will use the volume control on the speakers. What speaker and sub are these anyway?

When you go for passive speakers later on, the consequence of using the HD instead of the HDP is that you really have to get the Icon2, which is basically an integrated amplifier since it has a preamp; you cannot use a dedicated power amp since there would be no preamp anywhere in the system to control it. Overall the HD vs the HDP in this regard won't really be a bummer, but you have to keep this in mind when you pick up the amplifier and passive speakers later on. And I won't recommend active studio monitors (they have their own amps) with the HD out of my preferences for convenience - most of them have their volume knob at the rear, which is why I prefer having a preamp feeding them a signal and leave their own preamp gain-matched or bypassed if possible.

 

post #5 of 9
Thread Starter 

Sorry completely forgot about this thread. Thanks ProtegeManiac for the help, it's much appreciated. The deal on the HD fell through so I've decided to go for the HDP, as they're more readily available and it's possible to get one for $300 which isn't too much more than the HD.

 

Basically I'm looking to get a Cambridge Audio X200 Sub paired with some Focal Little Bird satellites, or maybe Cambridge Audio's own Min11 satellites, not sure yet but leaning towards the Focal's at the moment.

 

If I'm not mistaken I can connect the speakers to the sub which I believe has an in-built amp and then connect the sub to the pre amp connections on the HDP and then use the HDP to control the volume? Someone please correct me if I'm worong.

 

Untitled-1.jpg

minxx200subrearcontrlsconnect575.jpg


Edited by andre56 - 6/27/12 at 6:36pm
post #6 of 9
Unless the subwoofer is specifically designed for use as the center of a multimedia system as in most bundled 2.1 speaker systems for computers, chances are it might not have an amplifier for driving passive speakers. Based on that photo and what little specs and photos are on Cambridge's website, I can't see any information that says the X200 has an amplifier for passive speakers or that the Min11 are active speakers. The X200 has its own amp as most amplifiers do but the Min11 satellites are still designed for use with a separate receiver, so you'll still need a separate amplifier between them. BTW, Focal has a 2.1 (2 satellites, subwoofer integrated onto the amplifier module) Little Bird system, why not simplify your system with that? And with the compact subwoofer on your desk, you won't need large drivers to get it loud by your ears, unless what you want is to blow your windows off. It's like how Polk Audio has, in the past, installed subwoofers on the dashboard of show cars so you won't need excessive time alignment and crossover processing to psychoacoustically put the bass in front (ie, sync the sound of the front speakers with the bass reflection off the windshielf). Some crossovers like the Nissan Rogue even have their factory subwoofer on the dash since it's cheaper for Bose to do that instead of giving customers a stereo that has the features of the Pioneer 80PRS and the look of an aesthetically integrated stereo receiver. --- In any case, do you really need speakers this small? Because if I have a headphone amp with a preamp output and enough money for the pool of speakers you're choosing from, I'd rather get good studio monitors, as they already come with matched amplifiers for each driver (tweeter, midbass). If you really need the bass, some manufacturers sell subwoofers, too, although studio subs tend to cost more than similar-size HT subs. Or any combo of the HD/HDP with any of the NuForce Icon amps driving small Hi-Fi speakers (2-way. 4" speaker) and maybe a small active sub. My headphone amp now has no preamp/DAC output, but I like it enough I won't trade it, but down the line I'm planning on getting an Icon2 or Dia, then those 4" full-range Tang Band drivers from Parts Express and build my own compact, sealed speaker cabinets without the hassles of designing a good crossover for it.
post #7 of 9
Thread Starter 

I have seen the Focal 2.1 kit, would be the preferred choice but unfortunately it's just too expensive for me, it's almost double the price I can get the Focal satellites & X200 sub for. 

 

I think you may be right, the sub has it's own amp but will not power the speakers, if you look at the following thread it seems you need separate power for the speakers.  

 

http://www.avforums.com/forums/what-speakers-should-i-buy/1567211-help-small-speaker-system-cambridge-audio-minx-s212-good.html

 

Do you know of any other small subs that will power a set of passive speakers. Do you know if any of these will?

 

Audioengine AS8

Focal Cub

 

And I have considered getting some studio monitors but I just dont really have the space, the sub will have to go on the floor, I don't have much desk space and I know I wont get any respect from saying this but aesthetics are quite important to me, I'm a designer and studio monitors are just not aesthetically pleasing at all. I basically want a good sounding 2.1 system as small and neat as possible, I do really like the Focal Little Bird speakers, just need a sub to pair with it.


Edited by andre56 - 6/29/12 at 9:12am
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 

What about this system as a whole, looks quite promising. And I think the speakers are passive, powered by the sub so shouldn't I be able to swap the Focal speakers in at a later point?

 

http://www.audiopro.com/node/109

 

453_Large.jpg

post #9 of 9

Sorry, internet at my hotel for the weekend was useless, just got back today. I don't know any other subs though, but that Audiopro system seems to be a good option - just don't blindly buy the Focal monitors without trying them with the amp in that one; chances are they voiced the speakers and amp together and that increases the likelihood that the amp might not work at its best with a good number of other speakers.

 

And don't worry about catching bad rap for thinking aesthetics is important - what people who do that don't realize is that they usually just have a different aesthetic taste, and its when aesthetics gets too far ahead of sound and yet people think that sound is "the best" that gets a bad rep around here - like Beats and Bose. Even I appreciate aesthetics - the K701 and Focal Diablo Utopia won't win most designers' hearts because they're bulky for most people, but many will always say that they are aesthetically pleasing to look at.

 

Still, if aesthetics and specific application - size, 2.1, etc - is that important, and you can afford to get these other products, why not just get all the other NuForce gear?

NuForce HDP - DAC for the whole system, headphone amp for the HD650
NuForce Icon Amp - Amp for speakers
NuForce W1 - Mini-subwoofer http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/subwoofer/index.php

And then either one of these for speakers:

Nuforce SX speakers - http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/speaker/index.php

Tangent Evo - http://www.nuforce.com/hp/products/speaker-evo/index.php

 

 

Although if you're a designer and you can work well enough with wood and fiberglass, you can go to PartsExpress and build your own speakers to add to the HD or HDP. The advantage of course is that if you get good, small drivers, you can build small enclosures and your skills and vision will prevent their enclosures from being boring, bulky boxes:

2.1 channel amplifier - http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=300-771  (No need to fiddle with the electronic innards, just hook this up and mount on the sub cabinet)

5.25" subwoofer - http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=264-831

3" Fullrange drivers - http://www.parts-express.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?Partnumber=264-844

 

And here's a link to the Projects Gallery on Parts Express: http://www.parts-express.com/project-gallery/index.cfm

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