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Setup I am considering, would love feedback

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 

Hi all,

 

I've been doing a lot of research lately, and I think I'm starting to narrow down what I want to get as my first quality computer audio system.

 

I'm thinking Stream Magic 6 (http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=952) into a pair of Paradigm Shift A2s (http://www.paradigm.com/shift/powered/A2/index.php).

 

Questions:

 

1) Thoughts on this setup? Missing anything? Wise choices?

2) This one is going to sound stupid, but, where would I plug in a pair of decent headphones into this system (I'm thinking these guys: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/477843-REG/Audio_Technica_ATH_M50_ATH_M50_Professional_Closed_Back_Studio.html). Do I also need an amplifier?

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

Brenden

post #2 of 12

I think most would recommend getting better source audio (CDs or FLAC files) instead of purchasing upscaling technology, and putting the money into a more basic but solid amp with a headphone out, or even better a basic amp for the speakers (for example audioengine N22), and a decent portable or desktop headphone amp (depending on your choice of headphone you'll want to research an amp that other have described has good synergy with it). 

 

The M50's are good if you listen to a lot of bass heavy music like electronic or hip-hop. They might not be the best choice for rock music or anything 'unplugged'. 

post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks for your response Greq!

 

Luckily I'm a little farther down the rabbit hole than that. I've already re-ripped all of my albums as FLAC (and indeed, I'll never go back!)

 

I can infer from your response that I would need a headphone amp as well with this setup. I appreciate your advice to check out the best headphones/amp combo re synergy .. that'll be an important consideration.

 

Would you say the setup is pretty solid if I add in a suitable headphone amp? (I have an Mbox2 I could rig as a headphone amp for the setup, but I don't think the headphone amp built into would keep up).

post #4 of 12
Hi Bendon - I think what you are looking at is a real good start! - Good quality kit, not huge bucks. You could do worse. I think you will be really happy there. Its a place to grow from.
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsommerhalder View Post

Hi all,

 

I've been doing a lot of research lately, and I think I'm starting to narrow down what I want to get as my first quality computer audio system.

 

I'm thinking Stream Magic 6 (http://www.cambridgeaudio.com/summary.php?PID=952) into a pair of Paradigm Shift A2s (http://www.paradigm.com/shift/powered/A2/index.php).

 

Questions:

 

1) Thoughts on this setup? Missing anything? Wise choices?

2) This one is going to sound stupid, but, where would I plug in a pair of decent headphones into this system (I'm thinking these guys: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/477843-REG/Audio_Technica_ATH_M50_ATH_M50_Professional_Closed_Back_Studio.html). Do I also need an amplifier?

 

Many thanks in advance.

 

Brenden

Hello and welcome! The Paradigm Shift A2 is a great pair of speakers. They have received numerous amounts of praise from many, plus they are a well known loudspeaker manufacture; so excellent choice! My only question is why did you pick out the Stream Magic 6 from Cambridge Audio?

 

Destroysall.

post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 

Thanks Destroysall!

 

Regarding the SM6, an employee at the local audio store introduced me to it. My decisions were:

 

1) Sound quality. It is widely acclaimed for sound quality, and the employee was raving about it. We haven't had one in town yet, though, so I can't vouch for it myself.

 

2) Network player. This really wasn't a consideration of mine at all, but I *do* have an Apple TV box and an iphone, so my thinking was that this would be a good unit to purchase for future expansion (e.g., audio for my entertainment unit in my living room down the road). Truth be told though, I probably won't use the network streaming function too much in the near future. Maybe there's a better option for me (including a headphone amp..?)

 

EDIT: I should also mention at $1,000, the SM6 didn't seem like much more of an investment to open up network streaming capabilities without compromising quality or functionality. I could be convinced otherwise though.

 

Looking forward to your feedback.

 

-b


Edited by bsommerhalder - 11/12/12 at 5:05am
post #7 of 12

Cambridge Audio has developed quite a reputation for themselves. However, I personally do not fancy how their DAC options upsample. Upsampling can be controversial, but personally I just don't like it and much more prefer Bit-Perfect digital-to-analogue converters. Plus, I feel that there are much better options or solutions available to you. I would recommend to you products from Schiit Audio, Arcam, and Musical Fidelity. Obviously these aren't the only options, but of course the budget would increase.

 

As far as network players are concerned, do you happen to use iTunes for music playback?

 

Destroysall.

post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 

Cheers, I'll look into those products you suggested. I had a weird feeling about upsampling, but folks seemed to praise it. I was under the impression it only upsampled tracks with lower quality.

 

I'm using Foobar right now with my FLACs for listening at my computer and I use iTunes to sync with my iPhone. I'm considering going ALAC so that I can have lossless on my iPhone as well (plus it'll play nicely on my Pioneer DEH-P880PRS in my car). I guess you could say I'm a little between media players right now.

 

-b

post #9 of 12

I primarily use ALAC files myself. They are not different from FLAC files as both are lossless codecs, yet others may or may not agree on that. I do have FLAC files, but I only listen to them when I am at my desktop. Most of what I hear are in ALAC, AAC, or the actual CD itself. 

 

However, the reason I had asked you this is because you can always use the Apple Airport Express paired with a Optical-input DAC to allow "network" or wireless music-streaming. Though you will need to use iTunes if you decide to utilize this route.

 

Destroysall.

post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by GREQ View Post

I think most would recommend getting better source audio (CDs or FLAC files) instead of purchasing upscaling technology, and putting the money into a more basic but solid amp with a headphone out, or even better a basic amp for the speakers (for example audioengine N22), and a decent portable or desktop headphone amp (depending on your choice of headphone you'll want to research an amp that other have described has good synergy with it). 

 

The M50's are good if you listen to a lot of bass heavy music like electronic or hip-hop. They might not be the best choice for rock music or anything 'unplugged'. 

 

I would even suggest just buying an HT receiver with network features for half the cost of the Cambridge Audio Streamer, and then put the money towards a headphone amp and more money into passive speakers. 

post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 

You know what I'm really taking from this? Not to worry about the streaming capabilities now, as that can be added later. Now I just need to decide on a different DAC and headphone amp. The research continues .. your suggestions will help me to focus it.

post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by bsommerhalder View Post

You know what I'm really taking from this? Not to worry about the streaming capabilities now, as that can be added later. Now I just need to decide on a different DAC and headphone amp. The research continues .. your suggestions will help me to focus it.


Brenden,

 

The Stream Magic 6 is first and foremost a network streamer, so if you aren't looking to stream to a system in another room I think most of the value of that product is somewhat lost in your application. If I assume correctly that this is going to be for listening exclusively at your PC then I would agree going for a better DAC/headphone amp/set of monitors would be a better first step. If you, on the other hand, wanted a way to stream your library to another stereo system in another room over a network then I would say something like the Stream Magic would be more appropriate.

 

For your application, the AT M50s aren't power hungry headphones so I don't think you need to go too overboard on that. I would suggest you check out the Audioquest Dragonfly DAC/headphone amp as a potential product for your application. About the size of a thumb drive so if you have a laptop/on the go application it is easy to take with you. It has a built in headphone amplifier that should be more than adequate for the M50s. It also can operate in a "DAC only" mode for connection to your studio monitors- when you turn the volume on the Dragonfly to 100% it (for lack of a better word) bypasses/disables the headphone amp so you aren't "double amping" the signal sent to something like your Paradigms. At $250 or so, this could be a great multifunctioning tool for your setup.

 

Foobar is configurable to provide bitperfect output (I have no firsthand knowledge of how to do so) to your DAC, but if you were open to an alternative, you could check out JRiver Media Center. For about $50 it has highly customizable, powerful decoding/conversion/ripping capabilities and can help you get bitperfect output to your DAC. It can also operate as a media serverif you purchased something like the Stream Magic further down the road, and it has a pretty nice remote control application that you could use on your iPhone. Again, Foobar can be configured to offer similar "bitperfect" functionality to JRiver, but I thought I would make that suggestion as JRiver has a few little extras that may be useful down the road like that media server. I think they have a 30 day free trial as well.

 

Good luck with your search!

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