Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Quality Computer Audio Setup - What DAC & Speakers?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Quality Computer Audio Setup - What DAC & Speakers?

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 

I have an enormous digital library, 500+gbs, almost all of it is at 320kbps. 

 

My current speakers are AudioEngine A5s. I'm looking to upgrade my entire setup or get a really nice DAC. I was looking at the audioengine D1, but figured there was a better DAC to get.

 

I would spend up to 1000 on a DAC and if it made more sense, upgrade my speakers too. I don't want to get into marginal stuff - I just want to get a high quality computer audio setup. 

Let me know what you guys think and I really appreciate any thoughts, comments, and advice!

post #2 of 28
Sell your speakers and put most of your money into speaker upgrade. That's where the best SQ benefit comes from.

Do you use headphones with this setup? If not, you can get a straight DAC without a headphone amp. Something like the Schiit Modi or ODAC would work great.
post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

I won't be using headphones no.

 

So I can get a way better choice than the audioengine A5s? Shouldn't I get a better DAC to match it? A tube amp one or something? 

post #4 of 28
Thread Starter 

I mean, I was thinking of just grabbing the audioengine D1 and pairing with the A5s - is that not a good choice?

http://www.amazon.com/Audioengine-D1-Premium-24-Bit-DAC/dp/B006IPH5H2

Was also looking at the neuhaus T2, tube amp. I just want something that sounds amazing. Willing to drop a good amount!

http://www.neuhauslabs.com/

post #5 of 28
The Audioengine A5 are powered speakers with built in amplifiers. They don't need the speaker output of the neuhaus T2 which has a built in amplifier. If you want to use that, get passive speakers. But I wouldn't spend $800 on it unless I was running $1000 speakers or better. The best SQ benefits come from putting money into the speakers, not the electronics.

I would imagine that the Schiit Modi and ODAC might be a little more resolving in the Audioengine D1, but I don't know that for a fact.

You said you have a $1000 budget. You can do better than the A5s for that if you sell them too, with putting no more than a couple hundred into a DAC.
post #6 of 28
If you want audiophile grade speakers, research the Ascend Sierra-1s. Pair them with $100 Schiit Modi DAC and an Emotiva mini-X a-100 for $220.
post #7 of 28
Thread Starter 

So if I go out and buy $1000 speakers, a $200 DAC is totally matchable? No need to get a better one?

 

I don't need an epic loud setup, the A5s sound plenty loud - just looking for significantly higher quality. 

 

What do you think I should get? Grab a Schiit Modi and another pair of self powered speakers? 

 

Thanks for your thoughts man. 

post #8 of 28
There is very little SQ increase from going from the Modi to a $400 or $500 DAC. But if you buy good speakers, you'll notice the difference.

If you want better powered monitors, research the Adam 5X. They have an excellent reputation.
post #9 of 28
Thread Starter 

Ah I see. Is going for powered monitors a bad choice? I'm just trying to avoid buying so many components. But if that sacrifices quality..then I wouldn't do it. 

 

The Adam 5X with a Schiit Modi would be significantly superior to the A5s? I'd probably be willing to drop around $1500 on a speaker setup dedicated to my desktop computer including the DAC. 

post #10 of 28

This is just my opinion but spending that sort of money on a DAC is overkill for the speaker you own.  Split your budget down and research your options.   My advice would be to allow 1/4 of your budget to the DAC unit then the rest on either some better quality active speakers.  

 

If I was in your situation and only looking for music playback I would look at some KRK RP8 monitors, or if you prefer the RP5's and a sub then fill out your budget with a DAC.

 

You also have the option of amp and bookshelf speakers, worth thinking about.

 

Your budget is pretty big for buying blindly and it sounds like you are pretty unsure how to spend it.  Are you running from a PC currently and if so, do you know what is driving your audio.  Another point is you are playing low res mp3 and high quality monitors may not "improve" how your music sounds, it may just reveal the flaws.  Active monitors do have a habit of showing issues in bad recordings rather than making them sound better.

 

Simply put, with that budget, buy nothing without listening first.

post #11 of 28
The Adam 5X is a better quality speaker than the A5s. It is a studio monitor though. It's always possible that you would like the A5s better for some personal preference reason. Guitar Center carries Adam monitors, so you might be able to listen to them if you have one nearby, or at least could buy them there and demo them at home.

The Sierra-1s are considered one of the top audiophile bookshelf speakers for $1000 and are a good price because they are from an Internet only speaker vendor. The Ascends are a whole different class from the A5s in quality. It's a different kind of speaker from a studio monitor like the Adams, although Ascends are known for having a fairly neutral response.

The advantage of the passive speaker is how you can repurpose them. You could decide later that you want a HT setup and buy a receiver and other Sierras to fill out the setup. Powered monitors aren't really meant for that.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 

Good points Tablix. Thanks for your thoughts. I am indeed unsure on how to invest into a setup. 

 

I think the AudioEngine A5s sound great, I'm really happy with them, but I know I could get a better sound. I just don't know what to get and what to do to accomplish that.. haha :)

 

I was attracted to the tube amp DACs as I figured it would give a heavy vinyl warmth or something (which I dig). I listen to a wide variety of music, but a ton of ambient/drone/minimal classical etc. 

 

What do you think I should do? Again, this is for a computer setup only, all my library is 320kbps and this is the only place I listen to music, so I'm trying to make the best of it! (its a brand new top of the line iMac, 27inch, 3.4ghz intel core i7, 32gb ram)

 

I mean, I'm willing to drop some good cash into a setup, but not sure what to get.


Edited by christophhh - 5/10/13 at 2:10pm
post #13 of 28
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cel4145 View Post

The Adam 5X is a better quality speaker than the A5s. It is a studio monitor though. It's always possible that you would like the A5s better for some personal preference reason. Guitar Center carries Adam monitors, so you might be able to listen to them if you have one nearby, or at least could buy them there and demo them at home.

The Sierra-1s are considered one of the top audiophile bookshelf speakers for $1000 and are a good price because they are from an Internet only speaker vendor. The Ascends are a whole different class from the A5s in quality. It's a different kind of speaker from a studio monitor like the Adams, although Ascends are known for having a fairly neutral response.

The advantage of the passive speaker is how you can repurpose them. You could decide later that you want a HT setup and buy a receiver and other Sierras to fill out the setup. Powered monitors aren't really meant for that.

Yeah those ascend sierra-1s seem pretty wicked!

post #14 of 28
All this coin dropped on "high-quality" equipment, and yet you still use compressed audio. I've seen significant improvements in sound on inexpensive, but modified equipment when switching to pure CD rips into WAV format vs. very well encoded 320's. It's something to consider.

If your first thought is that you can't hear a difference between 320's and straight WAV rips then maybe a change in equipment is not necessary, unless you just want more bass or piercing highs. I only say this because you said you don't want to invest in marginal differences. And it makes no sense to buy revealing hardware if you're bottle-necked by your recording, anyway.
post #15 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Logistics View Post

All this coin dropped on "high-quality" equipment, and yet you still use compressed audio. I've seen significant improvements in sound on inexpensive, but modified equipment when switching to pure CD rips into WAV format vs. very well encoded 320's. It's something to consider.

If your first thought is that you can't hear a difference between 320's and straight WAV rips then maybe a change in equipment is not necessary, unless you just want more bass or piercing highs. I only say this because you said you don't want to invest in marginal differences. And it makes no sense to buy revealing hardware if you're bottle-necked by your recording, anyway.

There's a distinction to be made between encoding format and mastering quality. In practice, only one of these makes a significant difference.

 

The argument would have been more compelling if the OP were using some encoding format significantly short of 320kbps.


Edited by 3X0 - 5/12/13 at 1:52pm
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Computer Audio
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Computer Audio › Quality Computer Audio Setup - What DAC & Speakers?