Creating a Room of Sound (In my apartment)
Dec 28, 2008 at 2:03 PM Thread Starter Post #1 of 14

Dana646

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Posts
18
Likes
0
For Christmas I was given a MacBook Air and a time Capsule.
While backing up my music files (about 150 gigs worth
L3000.gif
), I decided that I need a home audio set up that would allow me to play the music just using the equipment I have and maybe the addition of a media server, graphic equalizer and new speakers.

Does this sound about right to optimize my basic music listening experience? Or would I need more? I'm not too technically proficient, but want to make my living room into a warm listening environment, and would love to control it all from my couch.

Thanks!
 
Dec 28, 2008 at 2:29 PM Post #2 of 14

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,597
Likes
498
You should be able to use the Time Capsule as a media server - I think it's pretty much an Airport with a hard drive. You can connect it to a DAC which you'd connect to a preamp, amplifier and speakers. You'd be able to control the music through iTunes on your laptop. A graphic equalizer isn't necessary, but you could use one if you wanted.

There are a lot of options for all of these things. How much are you looking to spend on the setup? What kind of music do you listen to? How big is the room you're going to use the speakers in? My advice would be to put as much of your budget as possible into the speakers - nothing is more important for sound quality.
 
Dec 28, 2008 at 3:19 PM Post #3 of 14

Dana646

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Posts
18
Likes
0
I listen to soul, bluesy rock, and jazz,and my living room is 14x18 with a 14 foot ceiling (pre-war in NYC w/ brick). The speakers I use now are Bose and on stands. I love their clarity, but dislike the lack of depth they offer and want to switch brands.

I would not like to spend more than $500, but after looking at DACs on Ebay that figure seems a little low.

Would a DAC be the best first purchase and build from there?
 
Dec 28, 2008 at 3:54 PM Post #4 of 14

Uncle Erik

Uncle Exotic
Joined
Mar 18, 2006
Posts
22,597
Likes
498
Have you ever tried a dipole speaker? Those radiate sound from the front and back, which gives you a huge amount of depth and a realistic soundstage. Most aren't dynamic speakers - they're electrostats, ribbons, planars, and AMTs - so you get the crisp detail you like. Even better, larger rooms with high ceilings are ideal. There's nothing quite like a dipole soundstage. You should have a dealer in the city that offers speakers by Quad, Magnepan or Martin Logan. Take a CD over and give them a listen.

One of the most popular inexpensive models is the Magnepan MMG. They're $600 new. You can find used ones for less at Audiogon, and there are other models you might be interested in. Take a look around the "Planar" speaker section at Audiogon, since there might be an inexpensive pair near you. I use a pair of ESS AMT-1 speakers and a pair of ribbons I built a few years back.

As for powering speakers, you might want to look for a receiver with an optical input in the back. There are more and more on the market these days. They have a DAC built in, as well as enough power to push a pair of speakers. You could just jack you Mac/Time Machine into it and use iTunes.

I'd look for a used pair of MMGs (there's a pair on Audiogon for $425 right now) and a receiver. A quick search pulled up this one:

JVC RX-5060BK RX-5060B A/V Receiver Dolby Digital, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS, DTS 96/24AM, FM STEREO CD TUNER AMPS AUDIO VIDEO DEVICES

I don't know how it sounds or if the retailer is reputable, but $150 would get you a receiver with optical in and 100W. This with the used MMGs would be a little over your budget, but would give you what you're looking for. You should be able to shop around and save a few more dollars on a receiver, too.
 
Mar 12, 2009 at 6:31 AM Post #5 of 14

Dana646

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Posts
18
Likes
0
Thanks for this info!
I have been checking prices on eBay and Audiogon but waiting for the prices to fall a bit before I dive in to creating my ideal listening room. Can't wait to start making purchases!
smily_headphones1.gif
 
Mar 13, 2009 at 9:39 PM Post #7 of 14

gregorio

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Posts
4,058
Likes
2,160
Quote:

Originally Posted by Uncle Erik /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My advice would be to put as much of your budget as possible into the speakers - nothing is more important for sound quality.


My advice would be to put money into the acoustic treatment of your room. The acoustics of the room is at least as important as the speakers you place in the room.

G
 
Mar 14, 2009 at 3:19 AM Post #8 of 14

compuryan

1000+ Head-Fier
Joined
Sep 10, 2006
Posts
1,408
Likes
10
Location
Dayton, OH
With your budget, I might spring for something like the Audioengine A5 speakers and spend the remainder of your money on a quality DAC. A separate amplifier will only eat up your budget, and I've heard wonderful things about the A5. And, detail-wise, a good source is really going to make a difference imo.
 
Mar 18, 2009 at 10:54 AM Post #9 of 14

Dana646

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Posts
18
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by gregorio /img/forum/go_quote.gif
My advice would be to put money into the acoustic treatment of your room. The acoustics of the room is at least as important as the speakers you place in the room.

G



What do you recommend as treatment?
There's only so much I can do with brick walls.
 
Mar 18, 2009 at 11:04 AM Post #10 of 14

Dana646

New Head-Fier
Joined
Dec 28, 2008
Posts
18
Likes
0
Quote:

Originally Posted by compuryan /img/forum/go_quote.gif
With your budget, I might spring for something like the Audioengine A5 speakers and spend the remainder of your money on a quality DAC. A separate amplifier will only eat up your budget, and I've heard wonderful things about the A5. And, detail-wise, a good source is really going to make a difference imo.


I am negotiating with someone to buy a Valab NOS TDA1543 DAC for about $185. I'll check out the Audioengine A5s, but the price looks to be $350 and up and that exhausts my budget.
 
Mar 18, 2009 at 12:52 PM Post #11 of 14

gregorio

Headphoneus Supremus
Joined
Feb 14, 2008
Posts
4,058
Likes
2,160
Quote:

Originally Posted by Dana646 /img/forum/go_quote.gif
What do you recommend as treatment?
There's only so much I can do with brick walls.



The problems is that brick walls (or any walls) absorb some sound frequencies and reflect others. These reflections then interact with the sound emanating from the speakers and ruin their response. There is absolutely no point in buying good speakers and putting them in a lousy environment. The first requisite for a good sound system is the environment, otherwise you are just wasting money buying decent speakers. Think of it this way: Owning a car designed for racing is great fun but you are only going to see the benefits of the racing car compared, to a family car on a race circuit. If you just potter down to the local mall you are not going to see the benefits of the race car and might as well have just bought a family car.

I cannot tell you exactly what you need to do to treat your room, without seeing or hearing the room but the basic rule is, no hard reflective or parallel surfaces without diffusion or absorption. Of course you can spend magabucks on room treatment but you wouldn't need to go that far unless you were going to put expensive speakers in there (and you wanted to hear the improvement).

G
 
Mar 18, 2009 at 2:29 PM Post #13 of 14

Bmac

100+ Head-Fier
Joined
Feb 23, 2009
Posts
300
Likes
14
That's a pretty big room volume wise. I would think you would want bigger speakers than the A5 for a full sound in there. The A5 only has a 5" woofer, if I were you I would be looking at a minimum of 6.5 for a big room like that.

Also, I would stay well away from most receivers, especially cheap ones. Sure that JVC is rated at 100 watts, but that is at 10% THD. If sound quality is of even remote importance to you, you do not want that much distortion!

I would look for a decent budget DAC like you are, a solid budget integrated amp from a reputable manufacturer like Cambridge, NAD, Rotel or Rega, and some large, decent budget bookshelves like the Wharfedale Diamond 9.2 or 9.3.

The Cambridge 540a (60 watts with 0.002% THD) and 640a (75 watts with 0.002% THD) can be found used in the $200-$250 range. They are quality pieces of kit and will offer considerably better sound than a cheap receiver and have more than enough power for most budget speakers.

There are Wharfedale 9.2's and 9.3's that have both been going in the $200 range lately on Ebay. With a little bit of hunting and some good deals that will give you a solid little hi-fi system for about $600.
 
Jul 6, 2009 at 12:46 AM Post #14 of 14

ironmine

500+ Head-Fier
Joined
Jun 13, 2008
Posts
643
Likes
70
Location
Far East of Russia
Quote:

Originally Posted by gregorio /img/forum/go_quote.gif
The problems is that brick walls (or any walls) absorb some sound frequencies and reflect others. These reflections then interact with the sound emanating from the speakers and ruin their response. There is absolutely no point in buying good speakers and putting them in a lousy environment. The first requisite for a good sound system is the environment, otherwise you are just wasting money buying decent speakers.

I cannot tell you exactly what you need to do to treat your room, without seeing or hearing the room but the basic rule is, no hard reflective or parallel surfaces without diffusion or absorption.
G



There's another way to counteract the acoustic deficiencies of a room. You can diagnose your room with a mic and software "Room EQ Wizard". You'll find, among other ugly things, resonant frequencies - so called "peaks". You can set up filters in this software to bring these peaks down. Then you can use a VST plugin called Electic-Q to equalize your music files in Foobar2000 to bring these peaks down.

I did it and I was amazed how clean my music started sounding. Tons of new details, previously obscured by protruding frequencies, were discovered. Give it a try!

However, this method will not allow you to effectively bring up "nulls" (opposite of "peaks).

So, I would say, the combination of passive room treatment plus active equalization is a way to go to audio nirvana!
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Top