Best speakers/DAC combo worth 500/600€?
May 8, 2015 at 4:23 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 23

Bls440

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Hi,

I don't consider myself an audiophile yet, however I'm willing to spend around 600 euros max for a relevant upgrade of my M-Audio AV 40 speakers. I don't own a dac at the moment.
I've read a couple of reviews of the Audioengine 5+ (along with the D1 dac) that were very positive. Design wise, I also believe they would fit very well on my desk. But are they really worth it? Note that I'm exclusively listening to lossless music, and don't have a preference towards any genre. 

Thanks in advance!
 
May 8, 2015 at 4:32 PM Post #2 of 23

Music Alchemist

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The Focal Alpha 50 active near field studio monitor speakers ($598 for a pair) are the ones I want.
 
It would probably be best to get the best speakers you could afford, then just get an affordable DAC like the Schiit Modi 2. You could even return the DAC if you don't hear an improvement from just your computer.
 
May 8, 2015 at 4:43 PM Post #3 of 23

Bls440

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  The Focal Alpha 50 active near field studio monitor speakers ($598 for a pair) are the ones I want.
 
It would probably be best to get the best speakers you could afford, then just get an affordable DAC like the Schiit Modi 2. You could even return the DAC if you don't hear an improvement from just your computer.

Thanks for your input! Reviews seem exceptional on these indeed. By the way, are you saying that I wouldn't necessarily notice any difference if I were using a DAC?
 
May 8, 2015 at 4:57 PM Post #4 of 23

Music Alchemist

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  By the way, are you saying that I wouldn't necessarily notice any difference if I were using a DAC?

 
Yes. I compared my old Schiit Magni 2 Uber + Modi 2 stack to my laptop's headphone jacks and heard little to no difference between them, with the exception of hard to drive headphones. That's why it's important to compare to see if you hear an improvement. I guess the difference is more noticeable on higher-end DACs, but I haven't heard any yet.
 
May 8, 2015 at 4:58 PM Post #5 of 23

PurpleAngel

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  I don't consider myself an audiophile yet, however I'm willing to spend around 600 euros max for a relevant upgrade of my M-Audio AV 40 speakers. I don't own a DAC at the moment.
I've read a couple of reviews of the AudioEngine 5+ (along with the D1 DAC) that were very positive. Design wise, I also believe they would fit very well on my desk. But are they really worth it? Note that I'm exclusively listening to lossless music, and don't have a preference towards any genre.

 
Check the website AVforum, they are located in UK, might be able to tell you where the best deals are in Europe.
 
Seems to be a lot of positive feedback for the JBL LSR305 studio monitors.
 
For a DAC, check out the USB DAC at Hifimediy, $57 + shipping.
http://hifimediy.com/U2-DAC
 
May 8, 2015 at 8:02 PM Post #6 of 23

Bls440

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Check the website AVforum, they are located in UK, might be able to tell you where the best deals are in Europe.
 
Seems to be a lot of positive feedback for the JBL LSR305 studio monitors.
 
For a DAC, check out the USB DAC at Hifimediy, $57 + shipping.
http://hifimediy.com/U2-DAC

 
Indeed feedback seems to be again very positive. However, the shop where I'm buying from (where I get a very interesting discount code) do not offer them. I'm afraid I will have to pass. But thanks!
 
May 8, 2015 at 8:11 PM Post #7 of 23

Bls440

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Yes. I compared my old Schiit Magni 2 Uber + Modi 2 stack to my laptop's headphone jacks and heard little to no difference between them, with the exception of hard to drive headphones. That's why it's important to compare to see if you hear an improvement. I guess the difference is more noticeable on higher-end DACs, but I haven't heard any yet.

Ok, I take it a DAC shouldn't be a priority at this point.
The shop I'm buying from says the Alpha 50 are out of stock (soon to become available again though); they do have the 65 which also fall within my budget. Would you also recommend them? Many thanks again!
 
May 10, 2015 at 11:58 AM Post #9 of 23

Music Alchemist

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The shop I'm buying from says the Alpha 50 are out of stock (soon to become available again though); they do have the 65 which also fall within my budget. Would you also recommend them? Many thanks again!

 
Is it Sweetwater? Here's a link where it's in stock. And here is a Google Shopping link with many more.
 
The Alpha 65 has looser, more spread-out bass, from what I've heard. I'm only interested in the Alpha 50, personally, but they all seem to have positive reviews.
 
May 10, 2015 at 1:18 PM Post #10 of 23

Bls440

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Is it Sweetwater? Here's a link where it's in stock. And here is a Google Shopping link with many more.
 
The Alpha 65 has looser, more spread-out bass, from what I've heard. I'm only interested in the Alpha 50, personally, but they all seem to have positive reviews.

No, some french online store (son-video.com). They do have a wide range of products though. I'm expected to use the discount code soon, so I will have to make up on my mind between the Alpha 50 / 65 before the end of next week. Thanks a bunch though!
 
May 11, 2015 at 10:54 AM Post #12 of 23

cel4145

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Would the Encore MDAC be a relevant choice along with the Alpha 65?


At quick glance, it seems that the Encore is a dac/headphone amp. Optimum for your speakers is to have a line out (or pre-amp out) to connect the DAC to your speakers. Does the Encore have this? Or does it all go through the headphone amp?

The Fiio E10K is a good USB dac that has both a headphone output and a line out to connect speakers. The ODAC would be an excellent DAC choice if you don't need a headphone amp: http://epiphany-acoustics.co.uk/products-page/dacs/e-dac-24bit-miniature-usb-dac/. Might be some other vendor in the EU that could supply it to you cheaper.
 
May 11, 2015 at 12:22 PM Post #13 of 23

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I just got the Focal Alpha 65 and they are really good compared to other equivalent spec active monitors out there.  Be forewarned that these do not come with any volume control; unlike their next level up (CMS).  So whatever you connect with needs to properly attenuate.  I had the iDSD micro in front of it and pops loudly every time it turns on/off or goes in/out of standby.  Also, the 65 are quite a large cabinet so ensure you have adequate desktop space.  Mine actually sounds better when I'm at the back of my room as opposed to extreme nearfield.
 
Cheers,
-H
 
May 11, 2015 at 1:56 PM Post #14 of 23

Bls440

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  I just got the Focal Alpha 65 and they are really good compared to other equivalent spec active monitors out there.  Be forewarned that these do not come with any volume control; unlike their next level up (CMS).  So whatever you connect with needs to properly attenuate.  I had the iDSD micro in front of it and pops loudly every time it turns on/off or goes in/out of standby.  Also, the 65 are quite a large cabinet so ensure you have adequate desktop space.  Mine actually sounds better when I'm at the back of my room as opposed to extreme nearfield.
 
Cheers,
-H

This is indeed good to know. Since you own the Alpha 65, may I ask you which DAC are you using with them?
 
cel4145's suggestion regarding the Fiio e10k might be interesting, since I'm also occasionally using a pair of sennheiser hd 570.
 
Given my budget and also the discount that I get buying the Focal Alpha on that french store, I'm willing to spend between 100 and 200€ for a proper DAC. So far I'm hesitating between the Fiio e10K, Schiit Modi 2 and the Audinst HUD-MX1.
 
May 11, 2015 at 4:35 PM Post #15 of 23

HedgeHog

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  This is indeed good to know. Since you own the Alpha 65, may I ask you which DAC are you using with them?
 
cel4145's suggestion regarding the Fiio e10k might be interesting, since I'm also occasionally using a pair of sennheiser hd 570.
 
Given my budget and also the discount that I get buying the Focal Alpha on that french store, I'm willing to spend between 100 and 200€ for a proper DAC. So far I'm hesitating between the Fiio e10K, Schiit Modi 2 and the Audinst HUD-MX1.

As mentioned, I have the iFi iDSD micro DAC/headphone amp.  In my setup, I have the PC -> USB cable -> Schiit Wyrd -> USB cable -> iFi IDSD micro -> RCA out -> Schitt SYS (connected backwards by using the RCA out as input) -> Focal Alpha 65 (connected to IN 1).  The reason for the SYS is to utilize it's volume control as a line level attenuator and flipping the two inputs as two outputs.  The attenuation minimizes (almost eliminates the pops) and provides a bigger scale on the iDSD for its own volume control.  This is required because at very low volume (9 o'clock to 11 o'clock), channel tracking is very poor on the DAC and I get barely any right channel signal.  Now I can use 12 o'clock to 3 o'clock on the iDSD and turn the volume on the SYS for listening.  Alternatively, get the Focal CMS 50 but cost a lot more.
 
I haven't heard the other DACs so I cannot say how they will sound but I like the iFi for PCM and DSD compatibility.  You may even get by selecting the iDSD nano (it's a bit cheaper than the micro).
 
Cheers.
 
-H
 

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