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A depressed audiophile needs help with a new computer setup

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
This was a simple post on another thread concerning dual sub intention but it explains my dilemma and expectations at this beggining stage. I've been tryin to learn as much as possible from you guys before purchasing but it's tough since I'm home bound and can't audition equipment.

(I am auditioning the Adam A5x's, the sub is not needed at this point. Im looking for a nice tube DAC, cabling and power cables first. I like what I've heard about the grant tubedac 11, any thoughts? The a5x's have a very tight bass and eventhough my heart was set on subs I don't think they are a priority after listening to these monitors in my 8x13 listening room. There are a couple of tracks where I know the LF goes deeper but that's only about 10% of my listening. I was just reminiscing in my planning stage because my former setup in a larger room also, was ifinity 4.2 setup with carver pre/dual amps and carver hologram CD deck with a nice vinyl sound.

I've lost more great audiophile setups in my life😥. My all time favorite was audiophile technic turntable with 8 in rosewood cabinet, shure (forgot model),carver preamp and amps driving bi-amped ADS towers, with my heart the legendary dragon nakamichi tape deck at the center. I could record an LP to cassette and blow away any original source including CD's detail with warm full tones though. I can still remember going to that place we all dream about while listening to music over and over. Well back to 2012, starting from scratch with MBP with a few mp3's on a external HD. But the A5x's have a great little sound with excellent detail now I just need to select a DAC that can warm them up without losing detail. I know there's other options out there but I got a deal for a pr for $700. I don't have room for separates now so please stay with the active setup if you don't mind.

Thinking about:
Tubedac 11
JK-ubsspdif mk lll
Pangea power cords for a5's + dac
Cardas clear USB
Kimber or KCI coaxial cable
I am using some monoprice coaxials for now from my MBP to the A5's via a 3.5 RCA adapter. I may have to stay with them since 25ft is pricy for better RCA cabling.
I might revisit the sub question after I get to this point but I am concerned that blending in a sub or duals in this room could be tough. I'm not a big bass head but when my music digs deep for that second or two it's nice to feel it briefly.

I feel better now this has been good therapy 😜)
post #2 of 9
Thread Starter 
PS, with my current Adam, RCA direct to MBP I downloaded the demo Amarra 2.4 and was so impressed. I was wondering if a low end dac would make a big improvement ? I guess the 2011 i7 Mac must have a decent internal dac. Remember I have no computer audiophile reference point so head-fier's I need your considerable experience.
post #3 of 9

Just some thoughts.

 

If you really need the lowest bass, consider a 2.1 setup.

In a small room a 2.2 is probably overkill.

 

If I listen to the analog out of my 2008 iMac, the sound is fair.

Compared with my Benchmark DAC 1, I miss the refinement, those tiny details making the difference between gear and ‘real’.

 

You might have a look at DACs with XLR out.

I’m not willing to spend $$$ on cables but you obvious thinks different.

Have a look at Mogami microphone cables.

Excellent reputation in the pro-world without breaking the bank.

post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roseval View Post

Just some thoughts.

 

If you really need the lowest bass, consider a 2.1 setup.

In a small room a 2.2 is probably overkill.

 

If I listen to the analog out of my 2008 iMac, the sound is fair.

Compared with my Benchmark DAC 1, I miss the refinement, those tiny details making the difference between gear and ‘real’.

 

You might have a look at DACs with XLR out.

I’m not willing to spend $$$ on cables but you obvious thinks different.

Have a look at Mogami microphone cables.

Excellent reputation in the pro-world without breaking the bank.

Thanks, so the dac does make a difference over the mac internal!  I was looking for a balanced tube dac/pre but most are in the 1k range which is a little out of my price range.  I was only interested in the preamp for the volume control since i don't do headphones.  I heard some where that using player volume was not a good idea, whats your thoughts?

post #5 of 9

By design any DSP including volume control requires the result to be dithered.

However, if you do so using a 24 bit DAC this is at -144 dBFS so way below the noise floor of any gear.

By design you lose some resolution doing digital volume control.

In practice one can decrease volume by 10-20 dB without audible degradation IMHO but this is a typical case of YMMV.

As the Adam’s probably have an adjustable gain you can trim them to slightly to loud and use digital volume control for the fine tuning.

I do prefer a DAC/Pre-amp with volume control for peace of mind and ease of use.

post #6 of 9
Thread Starter 
Any suggestion on a bal tube dac / preamp? Do you have thoughts on the tubedac11 and JK-USB/SPDIF converter? I can't say enough about the demo I'm doing of the Amarra 2.4. It might be a keeper since several hi-rez player shootouts have said its the best for a Mac setup over bit perfect, pure music, audivarra + being the runner-ups. That's the reason I started questioning the dac purchase altogether after hearing Amarra with just my a5's. But I do understand the details that are waiting to be exposed and I do want to warmup the sound a bit.

Thanks, I guess my post has flown under the radar on the forum I was so looking forward to diff equipment and setup recommendation.
post #7 of 9
If you are only using the computer for your source, consider a passive volume control vs a pre. If you are going to put in a vinyl spinner, then possibly a receiver for a pre. Another thought would be an integrated amp.

Also, consider ripping to a lossless format like flac vs mp3 unless you have space issues. I personally have a hard time between higher bitrate mp3 (192-320k) and flac depending on the material but flac/alac takes away any doubt about lost sonics.
Edited by Happy Camper - 10/25/12 at 6:03am
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Happy Camper View Post

If you are only using the computer for your source, consider a passive volume control vs a pre. If you are going to put in a vinyl spinner, then possibly a receiver for a pre. Another thought would be an integrated amp.
Also, consider ripping to a lossless format like flac vs mp3 unless you have space issues. I personally have a hard time between higher bitrate mp3 (192-320k) and flac depending on the material but flac/alac takes away any doubt about lost sonics.

Happycamper,
I'm using active monitors so the amp route is not necessary. The tubedac does have analog inputs so I will add a phono stage at some point to get back to some audiophile LP's, that should be fun 😍👂I plan on buying high rez flac once I get the basic setup in place. Any thoughts on a good phono stage to research? Also a turntable and stylus recommendation? Between rolling tubes and looking for vinyl I'm looking forward to some fun.
post #9 of 9
I have no experience in current vinyl gear so I'll step out of this conversation. But ripping your cds to flac was my point.
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