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Currently I'm spinning disc through an Ayre and want to move on to the new Technology, (dac/streamer /server) and would like to have some flexibility with a $3000 limit.  Any ideas, suggestions on how to start this journey?  I'm having real difficulties deciding on speaker cables that I really don't need, not so with the dac/streamer.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                     

                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

 

 

 

 

 

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An Ayre Codex-used is under $1K, and a Bluesound Node can be had cheaply on Ebay or bought new for around $500. That is what I used for a few years.

The Bluesound has a pretty wide range of streaming services, for the money.

Higher quality streaming would be found on Aurender, and Innuos. I am using the latter for my streaming and am in love with Roon. (Aurender is kind of limited to Qobuz and Tidal, unfortunately).

A used Innous Zen Mini is around $1.3K with the LPS, though Johnny Rutan says to just get the Mini and put on an AQ power cable.

As you have a $3K budget, you could splurge on a used Ayre QB-9 Twenty instead of the Codex- much better and more current.

 

The biggest issue with digital streaming is that it is evolving quickly, and things just seem to get better every year. Perhaps one of the best reasons to buy used.

B

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Since I know nothing about this Technology I want to keep it as simple as possible and the best sound for the money.  John also mentioned the Innuos when we last talked and  I assumed that the Innuos Mini had a dac.  So Bob are you using your Innuos with a dac?  I recall you speaking of experience with dacs from Ayre.

After your statement about  how quickly streaming is changing  it would be prudent to maybe not allocate $3000 to start.  Never used any of this gear so I'm really looking to ask many questions.

Jim spoke of Naim but isn't that a little Expensive for a beginner?  

Would you guys recommend Bluesound?  I have read about Bluesound, but I think that I'm looking for something a little better.

What is the deal on servers and what are you all using?  

Jordan

 

 

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6 hours ago, dsisssup said:

What is the deal on servers and what are you all using?  

Jordan

 

An old PC or MAC or a new Intel NUC can all be used as a Roon server.
And they have a try it for free option to hook you.

Best to start with having some of the CD already ripped to whatever file structure ahead of time so that you have something to put onto a library.

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John Darko has a bunch of videos about the Intel NUC which give you a good overview of that system.

The Innuos are servers/streamers that are pretty versatile and can use Roon- a pretty nice streaming interface that connects to a lot of different services.

Bluesound Node, does contain a pretty decent Dac- for the price, but using the Ayre Codex or QB-9 brings it up a couple of notches. The Bluesound App is pretty good, too, but not as nice as Roon.

 

$3K is a pretty good starting point, especially if you buy used.

 

I ended up going whole hog and bought a used Brinkman Nyquist. Normally, I wouldn't invest so much, but the Nyquist really sounds amazing. My first thoughts were 'Gee, this reminds me of vinyl! 

I was not unhappy with the Ayre DAC's- they sounded very nice and I have no doubt you will enjoy them as well- but I just needed to scratch that itch for perfection. 

 

B

 

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I have been forced over the years to go 100% digital. It can be simple or complex. Simple is always best as digital needs to play well with their other components. Innuos is a great solution, but Auralic makes some great boxes and all punch above their weight classes. I rarely go used with digital, unless it’s the current or possibly that last gen of the device. That’s just me. Call Johnny and ask about Auralic as well as the Innuos. See which best serves your needs 
 

 

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First, full disclosure - I'm not a Roon fan.  It doesn't sound quite right to me and I just care about the sound quality.  I can find metadata with my iPad.

Check out Daphile >>  https://www.daphile.com

It will run very well on an i3 based NUC.  For example, something like this >> https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1648386-REG/intel_bxnuc10i3fnkn1_frost_canyon_nuc_core.html

Just add your own memory, SSD, and isolated linear power supply.

It's a complete operating system based on a subset of a Linux variant, optimized for audio playback.  No Windows, nuthin.  In our case, it's "headless".  No display, no keyboard, none of that.  You control Daphile through whatever web browser you like, on a tablet, laptop, or whatever.  

Daphile has the distinct advantage that you can load all you want to play into memory from the SSD, which gives better performance, at least in my experience.  (Obviously, that part doesn't apply to streaming - but, I'm also not a fan of streaming...)  

I've found that it's very desirable to make sure that all the digital gear is as isolated for common mode currents in the power connections as you can make it.  There's commercial products that will do this, although I have no experience with the commercial offerings.  Having everything isolated really matters, because, well, too long to explain here.  Here's some light reading:

https://www.jensen-transformers.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/08/generic-seminar.pdf

https://bennettprescott.com/downloads/grounding_tutorial.pdf

https://www.jensen-transformers.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/AES-Ground-Loops-Rest-of-Story-Whitlock-Fox-Generic-Version.pdf

Note that Whitlock suggests using audio transformers for isolation.  There's two downsides to this.  One is that high quality audio transformers are expensive and rare.  The other is that high quality audio transformers have a fair amount of capacitance between the windings in order to make them good for basic audio signal transparency.  That means that at high frequencies where the digitally generated garbage dwells, there's a a lot of coupling across these windings.  

But, since currents travel in loops, you can also break the loop - at least as best you can - by isolating at the power connections.  Since we ideally only want 50 or 60 Hz sine waves to go through our common AC mains connections, adding high frequency isolation in the power lines should have no negative effect on the sound quality.  That's presuming that the isolator is well designed and that the designer of the rest of your gear didn't rely upon common mode currents to mold the sound to their taste.  That latter thing goes into the "loss of dynamics" discussion that people like to go on about.  But, it's a hobby and everybody can apply whatever seasoning they like.

I am a fan of Ayre digital gear.  We use a QB-9 Twenty DAC here.  It only has one function, which it does very well.  The Twenty upgrade was really a great investment, at least in my opinion.  I have no desire to upgrade the DAC at all.  Even if I found a winning lottery ticket on the sidewalk worth bazillions, I wouldn't be shopping for a new DAC.  (Kentos or Seven XTRM's would be high on the list, though.)  YMMV, as they say on the interweb thingy.

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Lost' of great stuff BK.  I will say that if you have a top streamer and the right software to control it and lower the jitter, it can sound GREAT.  I was one of the first to be delivered the Ayre QX5/20 and I have had many of my friends buy the Codex as well as the QB9 and 20 mod.  I do think Ayre is one of the few out there who got digital from teh beginning.  Can't go wrong. 

The reason I love Auralic is the price points they hit, they are built like tanks and are EASY to use.  that's the problem with most of digital.  For many, even finding the right PCM setting or using an app can be difficult. I only got Roon this week. I use it when I don't care about sound etc...  When I want to sit and relax, it's JRiver for my system.  I think most just want a one box solution that can go true balanced into their balanced amps (most Vandy owners use balanced from what I can tell.  That would be a great thread to start wouldn't it?). 

 

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A Lumin U1 Mini and a stand alone DAC have been a great option for me.

I think a Lumin U1 Mini runs about $1700-$1800 used. Sometimes as low as $1500.

It can stream Tidal, Qobuz, Spotify, and you can Airplay to it as well. I also have a USB thumbdrive (2GB...?) plugged into back of the U1 Mini with some of my CD collection that I can't find on streaming ripped onto it. You can likely use a bigger external hard-drive for this purpose as well. (But please verify that first. I haven't tried it.)

The Lumin app is very simple and reliable and doesn't get in the way of the music. I also use Tidal Connect, which I prefer most of the time. It is nice to be inside the actual streamer app, which has a more robust and intuitive interface, and more flexibility and depth, and supplementary content.

For my taste, a U1 Mini means flexibility, as I can try different DACs. (Currently using an Yggdrasil.) Planning to look at new DACs this summer. (I'll likely start a thread and ask you all for recommendations at some point.) I have not found any reason to believe that a streamer upgrade from the U1 Mini will be necessary any time soon.

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I had all of them in at one point or another, or have recently auditioned them.  The Halo was their TOTL. I'll post over there, but for me the order was easy (the newest Ayre with the upgrades is supposed to take it to a new level. I didn't have time to listen, which was too bad. I loved it when I owned it. They upgraded all the things I felt it was lacking.

Ayre, Halo, Chord and DCS for me. I know the DCS dealers love it etc..,but I just can't get into the music with the DCS.  I don't know what it is, but it just doesn't do it for me and I've sent a lot of time with it since it came out.  The top Halo rounds out this group for me.  You all know I ended up with the Brinkmann Nyquist and I'd do the same if I had to do it all over.  The newest has gobs of info, but like live music, it never hits you over the head with it.  

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  • 1 month later...

@ctsooner I bought a used Chord Hugo TT2 about a week ago. Trying it out for a in both my main system and in my office with headphones. Not in love with the control layout, and I have some QC concerns.

Ultimately I’m interested in getting an Ayre QX-5 Twenty for the main system. Looking to buy one on the used market, but they sure don’t come up very often.

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11 minutes ago, ursus13 said:

Ultimately I’m interested in getting an Ayre QX-5 Twenty for the main system. Looking to buy one on the used market, but they sure don’t come up very often.

From what I heard from Ariel at Ayre, the QB-9 Twenty is pretty close to the other current Ayre Dac's with regard to sound.

Bob

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The QX5/20 probably wont' be on the market much at all. they keep upgrading the software and it's a complete digital hub.  It's a great value at the list price.  I found that even streaming from. the QX5/20 vs many dedicated streamers that it was pretty even in SQ.  That's saying something.  If you are running an all digital system, even their volume controls are outstanding to use.  I know many who have the QX5/20, a top amp and a pair of speakers and call it a day.  They also seem to keep their value in the used market very well.  

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I have a theory on this.

Always look to see what products are NOT readily available on the used market.  Those are the ones people are happy with and don’t want to sell.

Of course, that limits the opportunities to get good products used.  Maybe the best approach might be to contact authorized dealers for the well loved products and let them know your interest in a used sample.  So, for example, when somebody wants to trade up from their Quatro CT’s to Kento’s, it’s likely they’ll see their Vandersteen dealer.  Most dealers probably love having a ready customer for the trade-in.

It seems to me that a big part of the audio market is people wanting to try everything in a seemingly random manner, rather than trying to converge on a system they really like to listen to.  Hey - to each their own; it’s a hobby.

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38 minutes ago, BKDad said:

I have a theory on this.

Always look to see what products are NOT readily available on the used market.  Those are the ones people are happy with and don’t want to sell.

Of course, that limits the opportunities to get good products used.  Maybe the best approach might be to contact authorized dealers for the well loved products and let them know your interest in a used sample.  So, for example, when somebody wants to trade up from their Quatro CT’s to Kento’s, it’s likely they’ll see their Vandersteen dealer.  Most dealers probably love having a ready customer for the trade-in.

It seems to me that a big part of the audio market is people wanting to try everything in a seemingly random manner, rather than trying to converge on a system they really like to listen to.  Hey - to each their own; it’s a hobby.

I'm with BK.  Been telling friends that for years and years now.  It's another good reason to have a good dealer or three to work with like most of us do.  I also noticed that cost in digital doesn't mean better.  Go listen to as much digital as you can and you will fully get it.  As much as I love getting a 'deal' on used gear, BK. is correct.  I'd personally rather buy a new Auralic DAC than keep looking for a used QX5/20 (or any other used product you may be trying to find).  

Your dealers will often have a less expensive option that could become an easier path and nearly (or sometimes just) as good.  I have Rutan looking for a specific preamp for me until the one I will most likely want comes out.  I bet many of us have a similar situation or have.

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Over my 45 years of being available to our customers and the countless seminars I have participated in here are several observations.  1-Most people who own Vandersteen products are confident in their own likes and dislikes.  2-Are music lovers first with some technical understanding.  3-Are not looking to buy trophies.   4-Are value oriented.  5-Have frequent exposure to live music and a passionate about it.  6-Are not very influenced by reviews but respect other views.  7-Are dam hard to get to upgrade because they are content! ARG.  Vandersteen products are rare used when the total numbers are considered because they chose them carefully and they just keep playing music for years.  There are hundreds of loudspeakers and no right or wrong but there is a "right" for every person who buys a product because it works for them!  For those who do not have this confidence they are in for a lot of work, frustrations, expense and a constantly moving target with little chance of getting a "system" optimized for their needs and room.  This part of the hobby I have very little interest in.  RV

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55 minutes ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

7-Are dam hard to get to upgrade because they are content! ARG. 

Guilty as charged!

We used 2Ci’s for a quarter century.  I wasn’t willing to upgrade until we reached the point where I was confident we had attained 97%+ of their potential with the rest of the system and optimal placement and tilt for the 2Ci’s.  Still, at every point the sound quality was completely enjoyable.

Of course, once we upgraded the loudspeakers that revealed several layers of improvements that could be made.  Now, we’re very close to where I had always hoped we’d get to.  Very close.

I really should make a sincere effort to find a new home for the 2Ci’s so that somebody else can enjoy them.  The problem is that most people aren’t even a little interested in much beyond the latest and greatest.  Or, they only care about “the deal.”  To quote somebody else, “This part of the hobby I have very little interest in.”

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Mr. V. makes some great points.

6 hours ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

1-Most people who own Vandersteen products are confident in their own likes and dislikes.  2-Are music lovers first with some technical understanding.  3-Are not looking to buy trophies.   4-Are value oriented. 

These reflect my own experience.

B

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9 hours ago, Richard Vandersteen said:

Over my 45 years of being available to our customers and the countless seminars I have participated in here are several observations.  1-Most people who own Vandersteen products are confident in their own likes and dislikes.  2-Are music lovers first with some technical understanding.  3-Are not looking to buy trophies.   4-Are value oriented.  5-Have frequent exposure to live music and a passionate about it.  6-Are not very influenced by reviews but respect other views.  7-Are dam hard to get to upgrade because they are content! ARG.  Vandersteen products are rare used when the total numbers are considered because they chose them carefully and they just keep playing music for years.  There are hundreds of loudspeakers and no right or wrong but there is a "right" for every person who buys a product because it works for them!  For those who do not have this confidence they are in for a lot of work, frustrations, expense and a constantly moving target with little chance of getting a "system" optimized for their needs and room.  This part of the hobby I have very little interest in.  RV

Joe H told me that Vandy owners are suave and smart.
Not wanting to be left out, I had no choice but to get them.

But now I have imposter syndrome.
(I cannot seem to win,)

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Others keep Audiogon and others online sellers to thrive.  If they had to rely on Vanderstens being sold or a few other top lines, they'd go broke.  Few of us are chasing the rabbit down the hole.  We know what plays best with our speakers and that's what we do.

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@ctsooner,

Perhaps this is something peculiar to Vandersteen. But, I think Vandy owners have it easy compared to other audiophiles. 

We know what we like speaker-wise. so matching equipment becomes much easier. Vandersteen Time/phase speakers seem to work best with zero feedback amps. And, guess how many manufacturers offer zero feedback?  (Answer: not many).

B

Edited by GdnrBob
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